Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Seven ways to be inspired

A good friend once told me that to be inspired is to be in spirit. I always wondered what spirit looks like. I’ve come to the conclusion that ‘spirit’ is much like ‘love’ – hard to define but easy to see and feel when present.

Leonardo da Vinci continues to inspire me. I call this mixed media painting I created the other day, ‘Three times inspired’ – combining a drawing of Leonardo Da Vinci’s study of the mind, my psychology studies and creativity (watercolours). Had so much fun drawing and painting this the other day.

In a world that can seem at times to be lacking inspiration and feeding on negativity, fuelled by anger, it can be hard to feel inspired. Here are a few of my tried-and-true ways to feed your inspiration. I hope a few ideas spark something in you.

Follow your passion

Notice what gives you a buzz and fills you with joy. If you’re struggling to identify your passion reflect back over your life and remember the times you were happiest.

Most recently when I look at the photos from my trip to Milan, Florence and Puglia in Italy three images stand out for me, capturing times when I was ecstatic with joy:
1.) surrounded by books in one of the most gorgeous book stores I have ever seen, owned by the most inspirational woman – Isabella. Here’s a piccie of me holding an Italian translation of Isabel Allende’s novel in a fabulous bookstore in Bari, Italy owned by Isabella.

2.) fabulous photographer Loc Boyle took an amazingly creative photo of a few of my new found photography friends while we were ‘assisting’ him in the streets of Martina Franca Taranto, in Puglia, at midnight – upside down in a wine glass!

3.) the third photo is of me arm deep in plaster, learning fresco in Florence and recreating a portion of Botticelli’s Primavera.

Workwise some of my most inspired times of late have been helping people identify and pursue their passions at work and in life. It’s so exhilarating seeing them caste aside their old selves and recreate new selves that give them the courage, confidence and permission to fly.
Following your passion can also involve things that give you a sense of meaning and purpose – identifying things that really annoy, anger, frustrate or upset you and that you feel inspired about resolving are good signposts to follow.

I get upset when I see people sad; and I get really irritated by ugly, uncared for surroundings – nasty graffiti really gets me going, as does listening to people bitch and backstab others. Helping people become happier and bringing more joy into the world are key passions I love to unleash.


Who inspires you?
Notice who inspires you and take a leaf out of their novel. Right now I’m lucky to be inspired by my clients, including those I am training to be coaches. I love the way they have the courage to move toward their preferred futures helping others they interact with along the way. Training coaches passionate about what I am – helping others follow their bliss – is doubly inspiring!


Follow your leaders
Who comes to mind when you think of people living an inspired life? First thought, best thought.

Photographer Carla Coulson, and authors Nora Roberts, Anna Campbell and Isabel Allende are just some of the people who come to mind. They’ve all had the courage to follow their passion for creative careers. Myself and eleven other photography enthusiasts followed Carla around Puglia, Italy gobbling up the tantalising smorgasbord of photography tips and inspiration she fed us during her photography workshop.

It was so inspiring. Not only did I meet Carla – a passionate woman who’s been an inspiration ever since I red her book Italian Joy, but for the first time in my life I was surrounded with other people who shared my passion for photographing beauty. Following my ‘leader’ and being around like-minded people topped up my inspiration well. Oh, and of course I was in Italy! The photo below is of eleven crazy female photographers and ONE shy quiet little guy … on our Caravaner’s Photography Puglia Workshop with Carla Coulson (things John for sharing!)

Who inspires you? Who could you follow? How?


Learn something new

After Milan I went to Florence where I did a fresco workshop to help with the scene I’m writing for my historical novel Mona Lisa’s Secret. I immediately fell in love with the technique. I went completely open-minded to the course and without realising it beforehand I quickly discovered the art of fresco combined so many things I love: watercolour painting, grinding pigments, mixing colours, sculpting, alchemy, and of course just getting my hands dirty. I haven’t felt so happy in years. It was heavenly being surrounded by artists in the centre of Florence.

What’s something new you’d like to learn?


Feed your soul
You don’t have to go to Italy to nourish your spirit. Surround yourself with everything that makes you feel inspired. Make it multi-sensory. What colours, sounds, tastes, textures etc. makes you sing? Wearing lace and velvet makes me feel inspired and I can do that anywhere!

Doing what you love also feeds your spirit. I agree with mega best-selling author Nora Roberts when she says, “I need to write to be happy.” As one of my client’s who has been suffering from depression for years said to me recently, “I know I need to be creating to be happy, I haven’t drawn for years.”

What do you need to do to be happy? Are you doing it?


Disconnect to connect
I’ve become painfully aware how cell phones, iPads and other devices, that supposedly connect us to everyone, are actually disconnecting us from life. Stepping away from technology opens your eyes to the beauty and inspiration that surrounds us and improves our relationships.

Only the other day I saw a dad and his young son out for a pizza dinner at Scopa. What should have been wonderful father-son bonding looked excruciatingly lonely. The son, aged nine or so, had his cell phone, neon screen blazing, pressed almost to his nose throughout the whole meal as he scrolled through his Facebook account. Clearly connecting to his digital friends was more important than being face-to-face with his dad.

Similarly, I was flabbergasted while in Queenstown cruising Lake Wakatipu aboard the iconic steamship the TSS Earnslaw. Rather than soak up the incredible scenic beauty people had their faces riveted to their screens – most likely informing the world where they were and what they were doing. Crazy!


Change jobs
If your job is draining you of energy know when to quit. “I’ve never seen him so happy and motivated and inspired,’ said one woman when her husband changed career. After years of being unhappy at work, and knowing desperately that he really wanted to be his own boss, Pete finally ‘felt the fear and jumped anyway’.  It was an inspired calculated move fuelled by knowledge that he was moving into the passion-zone and firmly out of the comfort rut.

Are you happy at work? Is it time to ‘spring’ into a new career?


Inspiration is a vitamin for the soul

“All we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” ~ Charles Kingsley

These are just a new of my favourite ways to feed my inspiration. I hope they have been inspiring. Everyone needs a boost from time-to-time. Please feel free to share and do sing out if you need a helping hand – we’d be happy to help.

p.s. One of the gal’s (Julie Rowe) I went on a photography workshop with posted this piccie of us all deep in this wonderful underground treasure trove in Puglia, Italy – with the ever-inspiring Carla Coulson and the fabulous Loc Boyle. Made my heart glad remembering.

Mimmo Vestita, kindly opened his beautiful Mediterranean Roman Villa and garden to us Casa Vestita in the town of Grottaglie (revered for it’s beautiful hand-made ceramics) and led us down in to the exquisite Byzantine crypt that renovators found while restoring the garden. Closed for over 400 years, it was an incredible experience.




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