Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Can We Exercise Our Imaginations?

I recently saw a tweet from an agent who said she wanted to thwack the next writer who talked about his or her muse. She asserted that writing’s hard work and that you can’t wait for inspiration to strike.

I agree with the “not waiting” part but I also think we can develop our ability to be inspired. We can make it a proactive process.

This notion was triggered by my responses to two photos I ran across. A dear friend sent a photo of her grandsons at play -- that unabashedly joyful time as children where we easily suspend reality. How great it would be to recapture that feeling of expansiveness and freedom? We could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything. Talk about inspiring!

The second photo is of my father. I didn’t know my dad very well – and know very little of his life shortly after WWII when he lived with his friend, Dutch, in San Diego. A cousin sent me the photo to the right. My dad’s on the right in the photo but he doesn’t look like the dad I knew growing up. When I first saw the photo I thought to myself, “There’s a good story somewhere in there.” That’s because I took the time to notice details – the white tee and cuffed jeans, the large Schlitz beer in his hand, the bracelet around one wrist, his odd expression.

Do you agree that we can train ourselves to be inspired? Or is inspiration something that comes from outside of us? A little of both?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Does Your Gratitude Adjustment Include Leprechauns and Red Leotards?

Last week, Andy’s back went to spasms so I had to drive him to a massage appointment one evening. Bored and with nothing to do in the waiting room, I began leafing through a small book on the coffee table titled 14,000 Things to Be Happy About by Barbara Ann Kipfer.

The author kept a list for 20-something years and then threw it all together for a book. (What can’t be published these days?)

Some things that made Barbara Ann happy were:

  • Absurd – leprechauns, red leotards, Sun-In hair lightener , the TV show “Dallas”

  • Admirable – world peace, love, justice

  • Redundant – happy times

  • Obvious – wine with a friend, fresh flowers, D.H. Lawrence, wedding cake

  • Inspired – smell of Play-doh, X-acto knives, little boxes of breakfast cereal
Reviews on are mixed. Seems readers took issue with items they refused to believe made Barbara Ann (or anyone) happy. They really didn’t *get* it. The book is about using our own imagination; remembering all those things that make us happy that may or may not make sense to others.

The little book was a much needed gratitude adjustment for me. I’ve started my own list. It may not be publishable but it’s a great reminder that we’re all so very different – and that’s a little fantastic (to borrow a phrase from the Fantastic Mr. Fox).

Here’s something from my list: seeing a car go by with a dog sitting in the passenger seat like a person.

Won’t you share one thing that makes you happy?