30 Mar 2011

Breathing In - Word of The Week

Inspiration n: Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity Ety: c.1300, "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that under which the holy books were written, from O.Fr. inspiration, from L.L. inspirationem (nom. inspiratio), from L.inspiratus, pp. of inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in-"in" + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit)

(Listen to this whilst you read this post - I wrote this post listening to it)

There is a lot of talk about inspiration being something that `hits` you. That comes out of the blue and kind of, clonks you on the head - a `lightbulb` moment. That's not really how it feels to me. 

Inspiration to me is a state of being. It's an emotion or a state where my head and my heart and everything in my body is aligned perfectly. I feel every bit of oxygen in my body, that my blood is flowing smoothly, that my eyes are open wider, that my ears are listening more keenly and that I am receiving knowledge with every cell of my being. I guess it is akin to a religious experience. I feel that I am my truest self in that moment and so anything I produce - be it writing, blogging, cooking, climbing, talking - is my most honest creation. 

In the movie Stigmata, Patricia Arquette's character is possessed and she quotes from the new testament "the Kingdom of God is inside you, and all around you, not in mansions of wood and stone. Split a piece of wood... and I am there, lift a stone... and you will find me." 

I'd never heard these words before and they stuck with me. I'm not a religious person but I try to find beauty everywhere, even in the most unlikely places. And that, to me, is inspiration - it's everywhere, you only have to open yourself to seeing it.
So yes, I am inspired when I'm doing mundane ordinary things - sitting on the tube, wandering around the supermarket, doing the laundry, when my brain is open to other stuff and it's not cluttered up with thinking and talking. I guess that if you wanted a list of things that inspire me I would choose:

  • watching dogs (and cats too) - they teach me so much about the simple pleasures in life that make us happy. Having fun, being silly, being loved, running around outside, playing, lying in a warm sunny spot. 
  • Watching the sky. Wondering what the sky looks like over other places in the world - Paris, Dublin, Jerusalem, the outback, the Himalayas, Omaha, Peru. Are there other people there, gazing out of their window? What are they thinking? What are we all thinking?
  • Listening to music, when it makes me feel far away from my humdrum life and makes me think about other lives and how other people live.  In fact I have a `writing` playlist on my ipod. I will do a top 10 for this :) But the Chill Out list features on it.
  • Walking into an empty room, in the late afternoon sunlight and watching the dust motes sparkle.
  • Being in an old place. Like an church, or a museum. Or really, any place that gives me goosebumps when you can feel the `hum` of history.
  • Sunrise and sunset. Thunderstorms, snow, rain. I'm not alone in being inspired by natural beauty. Why is this?
I guess I just want to try to convey, in writing, how this feels, to take beauty in the ordinary. To be happy and satisfied with what we have. That sometimes you go on a massive long journey to come back to what you know.

I guess I have maybe three authors that I look to for this in their writing. I hope I can manage to write, in my own way, with their light, elegant touch. These authors are Alice Hoffman, Anne Tyler and Elizabeth Berg. All of their books are beautiful and wonderful presents to yourself. My favourites are:

Alice Hoffman

Anne Tyler

Elizabeth Berg
Talk Before Sleep (warning, this will make you cry, my copy is tear-stained!)

Before I finish this post, just a couple of thank yous! Firstly if you've not noticed, the blog has it's own page on Facebook that you can `like` and keep up with new posts - visit here to do just that. But it's thanks to this amazing post from Novel Publicity that I did it.

Also thanks to the lovely ladies over at More To Life Than Shoes for sending me a copy of their *awesome* new book to review. It was bloody fabulous so I hope to pop up a review of this next week. In the meantime, check it out on amazon. Also Martha Lane Fox tweeted me as a result of this book!

So I'll be back Friday with an interview with Six time British Rock Climbing Champion Gaz Parry and a totally awesome photo essay from him as well. Thanks for all your support for the blog - we hit 8k views this week, so cake + champers to all of you lovely viewers MWAH!

Thank you and goodnight

Stupidgirl has left the building


  1. Reminds me of something I read about the Beatles and inspiration. Paul McCartney always thought inspiration comes from nowhere like a bolt from the blue, but Lennon always said you have to immerse yourself in a world to become inspired. He believed he needed to be fully immersed in the musical world in order to write.

    I'm inclined to side with John! And with you when you say inspiration's in being open to what's around you. For me, it's also about becoming absorbed in something to the exclusion of everything else.

    Really thought provoking post, thank you!

  2. True, just record what you see and inspiration will follow. Remember what you hear. Store it in your skull or put it down somewhere. Then pull it out and shred it up into a 'salad.' If we don't close ourselves off, we will never be uninspired......Sommetimes even a line overheard on a TV commercial playing in the background is enough to get me going.

  3. I love this and can totally relate. Whenever I write, I feel like I am truly me. It's magical and yet grounds me at the same time.

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  5. I agree totally: inspiration comes from being really present and appreciating (cheese alert) the miracles in everyday life. Right now I am inspired by the riot of colour that Spring brings. The infinite variations in the colour green alone!

  6. I realised that, very rudely of me, i had not replied to any of your lovely comments on this post.

    I am glad you liked it :)

    Bird - yeah Lennon had it spot on. Besides I always thought he was the true spirit of the beatles.

    Kim - it's nice isn't it, just to be yourself with no editing or approval from anyone. I think that blogging/writing is very liberating and cathartic in that way.

    Siren - spring is gorgeous! Speshly right now with the AMAZING weather (folks it's about 20c/70f in London atm!!) Awesome-ness

    Keep on being inspired people - and loving the world around you. It's awesome even when it's shitty


  7. Great post StupidGirl. Loved how you related the Bible quote to the beauty all around us :)



  8. Rach - thanks! Glad you liked it :) appreciate you taking the time to comment