Inspiration.

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Not so much.

Last weekend I attended a writing retreat. Three days of prayer and a choose your own writing adventure retreat.

It was wonderful.

This was the second year of a January weekend writing retreat, although I’ve gone to two other retreats with this director, and they are all special in their own ways. Last weekend was also very unusual. It was entirely on Zoom, and while that sounds daunting, it was nothing but fantastic all around. I think we’ve all adapted nicely to our technological advancements during these pandemic times.

On the very last morning, our subject was inspirational writing.

As it happened, prior to the weekend, I had been trying to write a reflection on the insurrection at the Capitol the week before, and it just wouldn’t come out. I’ve been told in previous writing classes that for the free write, if you can’t think of anything, just start writing. Something will come.

So that’s what I did, and I thought I would share it with you as we begin another weekend in a new era of this new full-of-potential year.

Inspiration writing is hard.

How do I conjure just the right balance of motivation, spirituality, and reflection on any given topic?

Am I supposed to inspire you?

Tell you what I find inspirational?

Be more subtle than that?

Johnny-on-the-spot and the spot is quicksand.

I made breakfast. It was terrible. Except the tea. The tea was good.

It’s cold now.

Profile – Connie Schultz

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​I discovered Connie Schultz several years ago. I know that it was on the MSNBC program, Morning Joe, and I know that I intentionally turned the show on, wanting to see her specifically. What I don’t remember is if I watched it thinking, oh, that’s Sherrod Brown’s wife, she’s a writer, let’s hear what she has to say…or if I saw her, and said, oh my gosh, I love her, her husband is Sherrod Brown, I need to check him out. Either way, I’ve fallen head over heels in writerly and senatorily love with both of them, together or apart, it doesn’t matter.

One (two) of my heroes.

There’s some recent talk about a White House run, and if that happens, I will follow them, support them, campaign for them all the way to said White House. And if not, I will count Senator Brown and Ms. Schultz as firmly in my corner even though other than President, I can’t vote for him; I live in New York. However, he speaks for all of us progressive Democrats, and to be honest, what’s good for his state, is good for all of our states. They both speak their minds, and they both speak truth to power. They call it like they see it, and they both do it with a down-to-earth, neighborly, we’ve known you forever way that’s honest. I can only hope that we haven’t forgotten the importance of honesty in this country.

They are for working people what Babe Ruth is for baseball.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize winning author (2005 for commentary), a commentator both in print and on television of politics, journalism, and life in general. She currently writes in syndication for Creator’s Syndicate after writing for the Cleveland Plains Dealer for eighteen years. She has published two non-fiction books and is currently writing her first novel.

She and Sherrod Brown have been married for almost fifteen years. She is a a mother of four and a grandmother of seven, and I think if she were actually reading this, and I left that last one out, she would be less than happy with me. They are a blended family, and when she shows pictures of their kids, I have no idea who belongs to who because they are all one family, which is just remarkable and somehow ordinary.

I recently read an article about her by Michael Kruse of Politico (2018) and I watcher her TEDx video from Cleveland State University (2016) that gave me two snippets that I relish as part of my own self and my own journey as a writer, a woman, and a mother, and ir was a clear reminder of why I respect and adore her so much.

How could I not be a liberal?” [Politico, Dec. 21, 2018, when talking about her working class roots, her route to college and single parenthood, unions, grants, health insurance.]

Every moment that I had lived before I got into that newsroom was job experience.” [TEDx, Dec. 14, 2016]

I love her style, her attitude, her kindness, but also her take no nonsense attitude. Say something incorrect or bullying and she will come after you, but not as a bully. She is a teacher (of journalism at Kent State University in her home state of Ohio) and of life and continues to inspire me and cause me to aspire to be her in all of the ways I can attempt (through her Facebook and Twitter). I also want to be able to wear a hat like she wears a hat. I love hats, but I can’t pull them off. She can.

She is everything.

She is also proud of her work (and her family’s) but modest of her accolades. This is but one article that I share with you, but there are others if you Google. However, for the real deal, follow her on either her Facebook or her Twitter. Or both.

47/52 – Yvette Nicole Brown

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Picture used from Yvette Nicole Brown’s website. Picture Credit: Tina B. Henderson (c)2017


The first time I saw Yvette Nicole Brown was on AMC’s Talking Dead. She was a guest, invited on to talk about AMC’s hit TV show, The Walking Dead. When she pulled out her Walking Dead notebook that she kept notes in, I grinned. I also had a Walking Dead notebook. After I agreed with her show theories about three times, she became a favorite of mine. I looked forward to her appearances on the show.
During one episode about Fear the Walking Dead, she referred to her Instagram, and I followed. I had only intended to follow for a few weeks. I mean I didn’t watch any of her shows despite liking her as a person on the talk show.

At some point during those few weeks, I got to see her as a person. She posted honestly, about everything. She posted links to organizations that do good. She posted graphics with encouragement. She posted politics.

If I had to pick two words to describe Yvette Nicole Brown, I would choose Honest and Encouraging. And Kind. And lovely. And supportive. Her Instagram was a breath of fresh air, and not only that, it gave me some moments of clarity and showed me how to stop and take a deep breath.

Her website has the title: Actress, Host, Champion of Kindness, and that pretty much sums up this lady born in Cleveland in 1971. She holds a Bachelor’s in Communication, and was cast in her first role from sending a postcard to the casting director. She has done numerous commercials and small roles, moving to series regular on The Odd Couple and most recently co-starring on The Mayor on ABC. She voices Amanda Waller on DC’s Super Hero Girls and Luna on Elena of Avalor. She is currently also the host of Syfy’s Cosplay Melee. Her CV is too long to list here, but visit her website; you won’t regret it.

Yvette Nicole Brown is uplifting and inspirational. She shares her faith readily, and through that helps me explore my own continuing to grow faith, and helps make me a better person. Just simply by her being a better person. She also doesn’t roll over, she doesn’t pull her punches, and she does it all in a way that she doesn’t regret. I really do admire and try ot emulate her. It is a privilege to read her on a daily basis. I thougth it appropriate to showcase her today, on Thanksgiving, when she gives so much to be thankful for, but not only that, reminds me, and her fans, of what’s important and not to forget what we should be thankful for.

8-52 – Lin-Manuel Miranda

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​Lin-Manuel Miranda can be found all over online. He is currently (at least physically will be back after the tonight’s Oscars) in London working on the Mary Poppins sequel. He has a lively, vocal, opinionated, kind, social media presence. His official website is http://www.linmanuel.com and has all of his current projects and official means to follow him. Other ways of seeing and hearing him are: FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

He spends a lot of time, along with his projects, talking often about his family, but he guards his son’s privacy. Please remember not to post pictures of his son if you see them out in public.

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Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

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The news is still breaking so I apologize for not having a link for the obituary. If you google, there should be several to choose from.

This has been a very sad and difficult week to see people who were such inspirations throughout my life pass away. Those of us who grew up listening to David Bowie and watching Alan Rickman, it’s been extraordinarily hard, which is to say nothing of their families and friends. One of the reasons for these feelings is how much they both transcended genres and decades, exhibiting their talents for all to admire and emulate. Like David Bowie, Alan Rickman could be a chameleon, blending into the background with his subtlety or facial expressions or taking the lead with his huge presence, always looking as though he were snapping a long jacket behind him; for two examples of that, look to his Sheriff of Nottingham and Professor Severus Snape.

Like Bowie, Alan Rickman was 69 (he would have been 70 on February 21st) and he died too early from cancer.

In my twenties, I went through a spell of watching everything done by a couple of actors. Harrison Ford was one, and Alan Rickman was the other. (Norman Reedus is becoming a current one.) I tried to find all of his movies and watch them one after the other. This was probably after Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He was one of my favorites in that movie. That movie was one of my favorites. In fact, the theme was my wedding song. I could recite his lines verbatim for an annoyingly long period of time, especially threatening to ‘cut your heart out with a spoon!’

I was thrilled when he was set to play Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies. I couldn’t think of a better choice for the range of that character. Having read the books, I knew what was coming in book/movie seven and Alan Rickman is perfect from sadistic bastard to regretful antihero with the emotion and humor and everything else that his brilliance could come up with for each of his roles.

That journey through Alan Rickman’s filmography brought me to a few gems that I might not have found otherwise. I’ve included those two here along with some others that I’ve seen and would highly recommend, although choosing anything from his imdb or Wikipedia filmography lists would be well worth your time.

The January Man – Ed

Closet Land – The Interrogator

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Judge Turpin

Die Hard – Hans Gruber

Quigley Down Under – Elliott Marston

Galaxy Quest – Alexander Dane

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (voice of Marvin)

Portraits in Dramatic Time – this is the brilliance equivalent of Patrick Stewart reading a grocery list. (See video below)

Lee Daniels’ The Butler – President Ronald Reagan

And of course, the aforementioned Harry Potter Movies Series (as Professor Severus Snape), and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (as the Sheriff of Nottingham)

Recs- Inspirational Book

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I’ve been reading this book for about two years.

Every day I would pick a random page and read that page. I’d bookmark it so I knew if I’d read it before.

Twice my Kindle reset me and deleted all my notes and bookmarks, so I had to start again.

I’ve finally finished it, but I’m thinking of starting it again.

Because it’s random you can’t predict what uplifting passage or word of advice will come your way on a given day.

I’ve found it very powerful.

I think you will too.

Under the Tamarind Tree A Secret Journey into Our Souls: Inspirational Quotes About Life, A Reminder of the Inner Magic by John Harricharan

Inspirational – Christopher Reeve

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Ten years ago today, I was having labor pains at St. Peter’s Hospital. The television was on. Christopher Reeve died on this day a decade ago, my middle son was born in two days and my Mom died in fifty-seven.

That year began an unconscious depression that usually lasts from October 12th until December 8th. It’s a hovering cloud of darkness that overshadows everything else. It took me a long time to go from this is the first Christmas without my mother and my son’s first Christmas to this is my son’s first whatever. I’m not sure it left at all that first year.

I hadn’t realized the depression that I was in. Rampant mood swings, emotional outbursts of all kinds, hysterics, but somehow I managed to take care of my two boys. Of course, my husband helped, but there was no help for me. What was happening to me was that the dam broke and mental issues that have plagued me since childhood burst through. I wouldn’t know this until eight years later when things came to a head and I was finally diagnosed.

There literally is a rock bottom and I was down in it. There wasn’t always understanding but without the support and reassurances from a good friend, I don’t think I’d be here today. I got medical treatment and professional therapy as well as being hyperaware of what was going on in my head and with my body.

I don’t think you can say that there’s a cure for depression; nor many of the other mental ailments that are invisible but that thousands of people live with daily. For me there are constant checks and balances, awareness and coping tools that sometimes include hiding out and often include writing, an amazing positive for my mental health and in my life.

Next week, I plan on sharing some of these coping tools as well as others’ coping mechanisms. I find that a wide range of means of managing the unprompted reactions to each of our own mental illnesses gives us strategies for getting through those rough patches that often seem rougher when we have no control over them.

These tools give us that control, even if sometimes it tells us, stay in bed for an extra ten minutes or get up and eat breakfast and get a dose of energy.

Sometimes it takes a combination of things to get us into a beneficial place, and that place can last one day or a week or more. Or less, which is why it is good to have another strategy ready to try out.

On this tenth anniversary, I’ll share Christopher Reeve’s quotation from Wednesday because it really gave me valuable insight into never giving up. We can slow down for whatever causes that slow down, but never give up. That road will still be there when you’re ready to take that next step, and that will that he’s talking about doesn’t always come from a deep, inner place, but sometimes we need our strategies to get us to that place where we do summon the will. It’s different for each of us.

“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbably, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.”

 

Dana and Christopher Reeve

Dana and Christopher Reeve