creativity, inspiration, personal

notes on creativity

Someone sent me this video today of NPR’s Ira Glass talking about creativity. I feel what he is saying to be wholly true; feel it in my bones. I know I’ve struggled with this for much of my life. There were a few years when I was too young to know or care whether what I was making was great or not. I remember being quite proud of myself when I “published” my first book – which consisted of a tiny notebook that I filled with stick figure illustrations and a story about me and my cat, Duchess. I knew it wasn’t great, but I still made it, and I didn’t care. Similarly, I didn’t really care that I said the wrong line once in a play I was performing in. I still did the play. I still wrote little books and journal entries.

Somewhere along the way, I stopped doing these things as much, except for writing, which I hardly ever shared with anyone. So, for myself and everyone, here’s some inspiration to do the work and say “f*** it” to everything else. Putting a plug in creativity will never help – even if it’s terrible, it has to flow in order to get to anything good.

“It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

~Ira Glass

And here is another fantastic video on creativity from Elizabeth Gilbert.

food, tea

the future of tea

Tea is having a moment – or is it? According to this recent Fast Company article “Giving Tea the Blue Bottle Treatment”, tea sales still only account for $10 billion a year, compared to $30 billion for coffee. It seems like the issue is how to present tea. Is it a tonic for the ill? A gateway to a more powerful meditation experience? Is it a sensitive beverage you should pick out with the help of a “tea curator”?

by Celine Grouard

by Celine Grouard 2

Or maybe it’s just a drink, kind of like coffee. It’s tasty, fun, and in the end, you can make it however you please.

Read more of the article by Rebecca Greenfield here. Photos by Celine Grouard.


essay, personal

tiny shifts and transformations


I once remarked to my mother that Gwyneth Paltrow looked “different” after having kids. I didn’t mean to make a judgment on whether different equaled better or worse (I’d say Paltrow is more beautiful than ever these days), but my mother replied, in a very soft voice, “Well…it changes you.” At that moment, I thought she must have misunderstood the tone of my voice, must have thought that I was making a snarky comment, but upon further reflection I decided that she was just answering quietly, thoughtfully, because her answer was the result of an acceptance of the unabashed, deafening, extraordinary truth that accompanies all of life’s little and big changes – we are never, ever the same. She answered slowly to feel the weight of her own words.

Just as she was forever changed by the arrival on earth of me (and my 5 siblings – she really liked having kids), I was forever changed with her departure from it. I can blame some struggles we’ve all had on her passing, and I can also identify positive shifts that have come up out of the rubble. As far as my life is now, I am thankful for it as it is. Do I miss her every day? That should go without saying, but I know that she of all people would want me to focus on what I have, not what I am lacking. Continue reading




We can learn a lot from failure. This truth is accepted as a given, but still a tough one. Typically, we treat failure like an angry dog charging at our heels, and run away. Faced with the possibility of embarrassment and defeat, we’d just rather fix everything as soon as possible and move on. But sometimes the lesson is held within the discomfort that follows a lost job, a missed opportunity, or an unhealthy relationship. We can often reach the most helpful insight thru the dark moments. Granted, who wants to stay in these moments very long? But if we recognize the lesson as our primary goal rather than simply getting away, we will ultimately be better off.

Just for today, let’s aim to learn the lessons from failure and discomfort before we show them to the door.

photo courtesy of holeytoledoprdxns.

language, travel


There are few places in the U.S. that are truly unique – New York City comes to mind, as well as New Orleans, and Los Angeles is unique in its fervor and sprawl. But most places are very similar – We all speak the same language for one thing, though Spanish is growing and some English dialects have strong idiosyncrasies to make them nearly unintelligible. By and large though, English will get you around, and will be the language you hear most often. Not so in other parts of the world. My paternal grandmother took me on my first international trip, to Israel and Egypt on a tour of the holy lands with some pyramids thrown in. All of a sudden, I was seeing things that were very different, very strange. Though we traveled with a tour, I was amazed at how different everything was, and how if I left the circle of the tour, I was suddenly a part of this new and different world, and I had no idea what anyone was saying. This was especially true in Cairo.