5 Inspirational Web Sources

Thankfully, the inspiration does not always have to come from within. There are so many touching stories in the world and the internet is a great channel to communicate these messages. I wanted to share, because sometimes you have read stuff by other people in order to make your own story complete. At least I do. Not all posts at all sources are worth watching or reading, but most of them are. I don’t like people to impose stuff on other people. We are all free and so, if you don’t think these sources are truly inspirational, no worries! In fact, I am very curious what would inspire you!

1. F**k It!

I have to start with the people behind the F**k It books and retreats, the lovely Gaia and John. I am more like John, the thinker. I am drawn towards Gaia, with her inner strength and intuïtion. Man, I can still learn from her: to be able to trust in the earth to carry you. To rest on the energy that is inside and around you. What I love about F**k It, is that they are open, non-judgemental. You can believe whatever you believe and you can join them or not, either way is fine. And I love their humor. Especially John is what we call in the Netherlands a ‘dry’ Englishman. I love it. You can find them on Facebook and at their own website of course.

Fuck It(You know what the funny thing is? I started going through their images on Facebook and I couldn’t choose. A lot of it still makes a lot of sense (even though some stuff is really clear and obvious), I have to reread that book again!)

2. Justine Musk

I have probably mentioned her before. The pieces she writes, man, that is some powerful sh*t! These are long pieces and it started coming back to me this week that taking time for these articles actually inspire me to be more me and to believe that the choices I make and the steps I am taking are good. I read this piece and today I have told a friend of mine, I was worried about her. Perhaps it’s not exactly what the articles encourages, but I wanted to hear her truth. And by asking her, I was telling my truth: I wanted to connect with her again.

3. The Elephant

For this website you need a subscription. Or, when you are good with reading just 15 articles weekly, you can sign up for the free newsletter. The latter I did, because, well, money is an issue. Anyhow, I love the articles coming into my mailbox. Even the pictures are just inspiring. It’s on mindfulness and how you can live a more conscious life. Worth checking out.

Quote Elephant4. Upworthy/ Button Poetry

Yes, it is getting less and less special, we haven’t heard of these and into the yes, we know. Okay. But I have seen some pretty amazing stuff on there. Mainly videos by Button Poetry on the most courageous topics. Like for example on rape. Or this video on how women grow in, instead of out.

5. Aww Club

Sometimes you just need a friendly smile, a hug and a picture of cute animals.

Happy Dog

 

Best Seller Syndrome

I have it again, the best seller syndrome. It is probably the main reason why I can’t seem to stick to blogging for a longer period. I am writing about it now, hoping to shake it off. I have learned last year that when I share, things get better, people seem to relate or want to pick me up when things go awry. Sometimes, just sharing makes my heart whole again. So here it goes.

The best seller syndrome is a form of writersblock which makes you think that you can only write something when it’s a best seller. Which builds up the pressure and makes me panic, because, seriously, will I ever write a best seller? How will you ever know that the words you write are good enough? Good enough to be read or good enough even to be written down.

Obviously this is a paralyzing disease, a heart stopper, a sad page in a life’s book. When I did the workshop with Ernst-Jan Pfauth, Dutch überblogger and now publisher of the internet hit De Correspondent, he said: you are not as good as your last post, you are as good as the flow of posts. Apart from the fact that this makes the threshold a lot less high, because you can write very short messages, even only share links, it also makes sense.

Pablo Picasso said: inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.

Nobody said it was going to be easy. Nobody said writing is a walk in the park. Nobody said best sellers are written overnight and in one flawless stroke of brilliance. I guess I just labor on and reach for the stars, I might end up in the clouds.

Nothing Compares To A Cup of Hot Chocolat

“Je voudrais un… chaud… chocolat”, I said in my best French.

The woman laughed with her eyes and asked if I would like anything else. Although I was inclined to get me some ‘Eclair Caramel’ I decided against it. “C’est tout”, I responded. She smiled and took the menu away.

I was sitting alone at Angelina, a French tearoom on Rue de Rivoli, next to the parc overlooking the Louvre. The book I read listed ways that the brain is tricking us to make the most efficient, but sometimes not the best, decisions. I let the information fill my brain as the noise of the people around me filled the space.

The lady served me a little cup of whipped cream, unsweetened, and a little pot of hot chocolat. And of course an empty cup where I could mix the two. (I would like to say it is PURE HEAVEN, but you have to experience it, I guess)

The first sip melted on my tongue and the bitter taste of real chocolat filled my veins. My senses were wide open and I could see the ladies across the room looking at me, enjoying my hot chocolat. At these moments, the world desolves. The chairs disappeared into the floor along with the chatty Americans who surrounded me. The walls widened, the waitress left via a backdoor and the ceiling opened up. The second sip expanded the universe and transformed it into the soft texture of a light cloud with golden linings. The bitter combining with the soft sweetness and the chocolat feeding my female system of life. Happiness was on the verge of breaking through.

Unfortunately the environment was too loud and I am too little conscious of the now, also due to a lack of sleep. I was thrown back into the real world, with the loud tourists and the waitress putting the tab already on my table, as it is common in Paris. Before you are finished you are kindly requested to leave, as to make place for others.

But the thing I would like to take away: food and drinks are an excellent source for inspiration and creativity. If only we could copy the taste of chocolat, real hot chocolat and make it into a painting. Or really transfer it into words. This is a cowardly attempt to try, but I had to jot it down. When I make these memories tangible, I can bring back these memories back more easily.

Also, when you are in Paris, and looking for a place to hide from the rain, or rest your tired feet. Try Angelina. It is one of a kind in its hot chocolat.

The Death of An Expectation, the Birth of A Story

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I have thought about a few possible titles for this post. Something like; The Bended Narrow Hallways of the Hotel Du Globe. Or: Smothered By Crooked Walls. Even possible: The Shortest Night of This Week. I was hoping this could be tomorrow, when I am visiting my lover, but I have a feeling it will be tonight.

But all mocking aside, I am probably in the tiniest of hotels in Paris. I have seen some. Tiny hotels in Paris is like saying green grass or white snow, but this one holds the crown. Apart from that, the walls are not straight, they are slightly bend over. The floors dance with the walls, which makes me a bit dizzy, really, when I look too long at it. It could be an ‘authentic’ hotel, if I couldn’t hear the neighbors taking dumps or watching tv (or sneeze).

Okay, okay, seriously, if I wanted to complain, I should take my business to Trip Advisor. Which I will, tomorrow when I have WiFi again (no, there is no WiFi at this hotel). So why write about it on this otherwise so cheerful blog?

Two reasons:
1. Getting your expectations right is the best thing you can do in order not to be disappointed. True, normally when I travel for work I stay in the most luxurious hotels. But since I am not paying, I should keepy expectations low at all times. It’s close to the venue so that’s a plus. Above that, when I will be travelling on my own in December, this will be the type of hotels I will be staying at since my budget will not allow me to upgrade as much as I want to. Learn to deal with these experiences is probably the best approach and this is what I will try with all my best.

2. This is probably the best setting for a dangerous and mysterious scene in a short story, which I will be writing soon. The hallways are a magnificent setting for one detective (no more, because that will not fit) to see the first blood drops on the leaning in walls. Following them he will enter this small room, the door is wide open and the covers are on the floor. The curtains are torn down, the lamp has fallen over the bed and the plasma television has come done from the wall. On the bed is a man, strangled by the phone cord. The blood trails doesn’t lead to the man. In the corner is a girl, she is shivering. The white nightgown is colored red, she holds her legs as she looks freightend at the policeman. ‘Bonjour’, he says while reaching out to the girl. ‘Ca va?’ She only looks at the officer, then back to the men on the bed. ‘You are safe now’, the policeman says. She shakes her head as the man coughs, grabs his throat and lift up his head. With one movement the policeman grabs his gunsl while he tries to see if the man has any weapons. He overlooks the gun in the right hand of the man, who coughs and aims. The girl screams.

Well, at least now I am certain this is going to be a short night. Thank god I am not wearing a white nightgown.

Birthday of A Non-Children’s Illustrator

Google is celebrating the birthday of the late Maurice Sendak who drew fantastic stories about monsters and real life events. For children. And adults. The great interview on The Believer with Sendak when he was 83 shows him as a opinionated man with a sweet side and a ferocious past. When talking about the future of publishing, his answers shows his self mockery, which I love in people:

BLVR: What do you think of e-books?

MS: I hate them. It’s like making believe there’s another kind of sex. There isn’t another kind of sex. There isn’t another kind of book. A book is a book is a book. I know that’s terribly old-fashioned. I’m old, and when I’m gone they’ll probably try to make my books on all these things, but I’m going to fight it like hell. [Pauses] I can’t believe I’ve turned into a typical old man. I can’t believe it. I was young just minutes ago.

Read the whole article here.

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Making Collages To Get Inspired

As writing exercise I grabbed some magazines and scissors. I started cutting out faces, words and spread them on the table. I put them together and stuck them on a piece of colorful paper. The result is a story worth picture, building on emotions and getting the words on paper.

write_boards

Yesterday, I did it again at a workshop, the result is below. It got me inspired to do some more.

Collage 2

What do you do to get inspired?

Go And Play Around

Go and build your own hide away (by Studio 314, click for source)

Go and build your own hide away (by Studio 314, click for source)

The sun is shining outside and my mind is lingering to the park just outside the office walls. We looked jealously at the children spending the afternoon on the grass, running around, falling down, getting up. Laughing. Wouldn’t it be great to go back to preschool? Go back to Kindergarten?

Well, aside from the sheer joy of the freedom to run around, it would be great for our creativity too. I have been writing this before on my Dutch blog, mentioning the verb ‘to fröbel’. I don’t know if this translates, but to fröbel is like tinkering and playing around. It is after a name, no surprises here: Fröbel. He is the guy who invented Kindergarten, which means ‘children garden’ translated from German.

Back then I wrote about my adorable nephew who was not yet 1 at the time (he is now 2, and he remains the most adorable boy in the world):

I have watched with fascination how he dragged around a little book on a string. Or how he looked startled when a tower of plastic cups, carefully built up by his aunt, fell down after he pushed it. Or how he was drawn to buttons, knobs and necklaces. So curious, constantly wondering as it seems: what will it do? And particularly: can I put it in my mouth?

Fröbel was encouraging these youngsters to try out what things (or plants, since Fröbel encouraged children to go outside and find inspiration in nature) do, how they work. Of course slightly adjusted when things seem to go wrong, like putting stuff in their mouth which are small and poisonous. This creative, exploratory attitude towards our outside world makes us human. We not only look and copy, but explore for ourselves in our own individual, original way.

Most uplifting to Fröbels’ story is his claim that every child is creative by nature. Creativity is not directly related to making art though, but to solving problems and mastering challenges. By stimulating this at a young age, we help our children to be more equipped for life and to be better at what he or she does. On top of that, playing around gives us the ability to develop our own unique self. To tackle challenges in our own particular way, to make unique art and write original stories (although, all is relatively).

However, playing around, tinkering is sometimes referred to as bad. We ask our children to stop play around and eat their darn food. We tell our employees to focus and get to it. We obey ourselves to quit fiddling around, and get the f**k to work! NOW! We should realize that when we say this we are playing ourselves, our children and employees down: although we sometimes need some adjustment, playing around makes us more equipped to deal with challenges, makes us more creative and more unique.

Go (outside or inside), play around, and come back as the better, happier you.

What Happened? Where Did I Go?

The patient is a restless girl, who doesn’t handle illness very well. At the beginning of the week she told a friend who had been ill, that she would very much like a few days in bed. Be careful what you wish for, a lesson to be learned. Yesterday, the patient stayed in bed for a whole day, missing out on the last improv game of the season. Today, she is up, but not running. She is missing out on a day of volleyball.

Missing out on *things* is probably the worst thing for me, because I like to do a lot. Meet my friends during these things and have great stories afterwards. I have been away for a day, but this is hard for me. I only like to lay in bed when it’s voluntary.

On the other hand, being home without constant input from the outside, makes me more aware of what I was doing: running. I was running from one place to the next. Yes, I had fun, but who am I? Am I only someone who is social? No, I am me too. Coming back to myself, is confrontational, but it makes me come back to my values too.

In the end we only can be truly creative if we have our own values, make our own choices and decide what is best for us. It’s a lesson to learn: take time to retreat. To learn that we can’t come back to us while in flight. When we sit down, look ourselves deep in the eye, only then we can really come back to us.

Working Hard Isn’t The Only Solution

Being MeIn Dutch there is a saying: doe maar normaal, dan doe je al gek genoeg. Which means: act normal, then you’ll be crazy enough. It’s a mind fuck, excusez moi pour ma francais. In the Netherlands we have this tendency not to stand out, the culture doesn’t promote weirdness or excesses.

The thing is, we got to be a successful country by working hard. We have this culture, coming from Christianity and Calvijn in particular, that we are predestined and therefor we are never special. Just predestined. This encouraged the Dutch people to not go big on emotions, not show our successes and to live a sober life and work hard.

Growing up in this culture, made me a child of this religion, even though my parents don’t believe in that God. I believe in working hard, sure, and until last year I had trouble expressing my emotions on the moment they occur. And even though I worked hard, I didn’t stand out.

That began to itch. I am different than the rest. I have my own stories. I make my own decisions.

The funny thing is, our country has come to embrace more and more. We are one of few countries that allow the usage of soft drugs. We are one of the first countries to support and encourage gay marriage. Without working on it deliberately (or have we?), we have become a country of different views. We have become a multicultural country. We have become a country where working hard isn’t the only thing that makes the clock tick.

The phrase should really be: act crazy, then you’ll be normal enough. Only when we embrace the crazy, the different views, the new influences are we able to live together in peace. And to use the inspiration for our own enrichment. We combine colors that make this beautiful new painting of acceptance, inspiration and creativity.

Aspirations And Dreams

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You have probably all heard the acquisition of Tumblr by Yahoo (for a whopping 1,1 billion dollar). Lots of worries and doom scenarios about the future of Tumblr, because being bought by a giant all eater is not always best for the value. But I guess there is one big plus, alright two. First: the ceo is a woman. What could go wrong there? Second, look what Yahoo has done to Flickr. Looks great. I think.

The best way the value of Tumblr is described, is when entrepreneur Keenan Cummings, the found of Days, is talking about aspirational identity, about what you can be in the future. It is not something that you can never be that person, but it is something you think you’ll be in two to ten years. No wonder there are a lot of youngster on there, but that’s also the reason why I like it.

I go to Tumblr for my shot of dreams, shooting the what-ifs in my veins and sniffing the freedom that I want, too. I love my job, to make that clear, but sometimes you just want to escape and run away to the great wide open, to the wild fields and to the spot high in the mountains where you can park your minivan. Or to look at art or cartoons that I would want to make and vision for myself a great career in art. On top of my marvelous job of course, I mean, why can’t I have all.

Let’s all dream away together, and it doesn’t matter if that’s on Tumblr, or somewhere else, although part of dreaming is not having to put in any effort (like finding a new Tumblr). But think about the endless possibilities and let the world be the world for a while.

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