Ten Tips for Finding Inspiration in the Grey of Winter
In this middle of winter, the grey days have seemed more frequent lately. This grey, middle of winter is also symbolic of where we are in regards to the pandemic. It is grey and bleak, but with the promise of light and a new normal ahead. A life that will hopefully be a bit more interesting than the one we have now which limits our exposure to other human beings and includes a little too much bingeing on television.
In the fog of the grey, I was not inspired to blog last week, or maybe I was too busy watching the inauguration unfold amongst the other recent strange happenings at our nation’s capital. So much to process! But, when I woke up this past Saturday morning, the actual and metaphorical grey wintertime was significantly wearing on my mood. After slogging through Saturday, I woke up Sunday deciding it was time to find some inspiration and joy.
I got up and set about doing the things that bring me joy, peace, and inspiration. These actions really did do a 360 on my mood, almost immediately. Read below to see if you can’t jumpstart your inspiration for life, work, and play. I actually did a a little of all of these in the course of the last few days and my life feels like it is back on track again.
Ten Tips for Finding Inspiration
1. Organize yourself.
Before anything, I organize. The house needed to be put in order—beds made, papers put in the recycling, and work put in folders where I could find it later. I even planned a meal or two so that I could get what I needed at the grocery store the next time I was out. I pulled out my planner. That means I’m really getting serious! I wrote down the things I knew I needed to get done over the week. If you don’t have a written planner, I highly recommend one. I use Ink+Volt and have found it easy and helpful.
2. Normalize your life.
Because so many things in our lives don’t feel normal right now, doing the things that feel routine can be calming. When you feel calm, you have more energy for inspiration. Just sitting down on a Sunday to read the paper, catch up on my email, and start writing my blog are routine things that get me into a rhythm with life. After sensing so much disruption in the recent weeks, both nationally and personally, this “back to a routine” felt stabilizing and peaceful.
This week I had the opportunity to get together, socially-distanced outside, with some friends around a fire pit. I don’t remember laughing that hard in a long time. We need to find opportunities to do that, even with the current restrictions. I also like to find comedy shows which make me laugh. Netflix has a “best of 2020” and there are lots of funny videos and silly Bernie memes. And I have a couple of buddies that Marco Polo almost every day which always inspires. Do what makes you smile or laugh and turn up the joy.
4. Model inspiring people.
There are some people who amaze me at their perseverance and steadiness. Reflect on the ones that you find inspiring and let them lead you by example. I know that reporters have gotten a really bad rap, but I think the journalists who show up every day to report on the news are amazing. They are interested, curious, bright, caring, and engaged. These are all qualities I truly aspire to. And who could be more inspiring than Amanda Gorman. If you want to resonate with inspiration, go back and read or listen to her poem that she read on inauguration day.
It doesn’t really matter what you create, but the act of creating is important for your soul. Creating can take the form of art, but it can be thousands of other things as well. I am enjoying cooking more lately and see it as a form of creating. I love playing the piano, putting together yoga classes that people enjoy, and creating new presentations and meditations to share with others. What feeds your creative spirit? Do something regularly that inspires your creativity.
6. Move your body.
Everything gets a little stagnant when we don’t move. I actually don’t think my thoughts are as clear unless I go take a walk sometime during the day and do some yoga. Stretching, breathing, and moving are essential inspiration generators for me. Or, you might just put on some music and dance. Whatever you do, move in a way that feels delicious and do it every day for a stream of joy to be ever present in your life.
7. Find a teacher or a teaching that inspires.
I love to read inspiring books related to the spiritual philosophies I practice. Reading a little bit every day inspires me to connect with my deeper self–that place from which true inspiration arises. Mindfulness and yoga practices are particularly suited to connecting you to this place as well. Feeling the need for some extra inspiration, I signed up for a 7 week course taught by Lama Rod Owens called Love and Rage, related to his book by the same name and one that my book group is reading. The interviews I’ve heard with him have been inspiring, and I look forward to getting an energetic transmission from his live online teachings.
8. Bring in the beauty.
Beauty makes me smile and it can also happen in small ways. A bouquet of flowers on the kitchen table always brings a smile to my face. Art brings me joy and I love visiting a local museum—in person or virtually. Even though I don’t have to dress up to go to work because I work from home, I like to dress for myself anyway–putting on clothes and earrings that make me feel good when I look in the mirror. House plants bring beauty in the house during these times when grey seems to be the predominant color outside. What type of beauty is missing in your life, and how can you creatively add a spark to your environment or your own body?
9. Visit nature.
I do love to get out in the woods and am fortunate enough to have them nearby. But, no matter where you live, even most urban settings have nature built into them. Go walking through the trees and be aware of the birds and other animals scurrying around. Be present. Breathe in the beauty of nature.
10. Ask for what you need.
In order to be inspired, sometimes you need to figure out what you want and ask for it. For instance, if I want to be more inspired in my relationship I need to ask for what I want from my partner. This requires that I know what I want, not just communicate an unclear discomfort with how things are. Be specific about what would bring your life and your partnerships more joy and then make a plan. You might be surprised at the response you get. People usually respond to clear and caring requests. It is inspiring to be in relationships that teach and support you.
Sometimes things seem a little overwhelming, particularly when we’re feeling down and grey. Take a few small steps in one of the areas I mention here and notice how you feel. When you feel a little better, you’re usually able to do a little more. Momentum happens and before you know it you are busting through the grey and out into the light again.
I could write so much more on this topic, but I hope this starts you on the path of inspiration and joy. Iff you need more help, you might consider taking the course called Awakening Joy, led by my colleague, James Baraz. The class starts in the next week but will be available all year.