Inspiration vs. Perspiration

At my mastermind retreat last week (the reason I was MIA from my blog), I had several conversations with fellow business owners about content schedules. Many of them — and many of my clients as well — create content calendars for their blogs and newsletters weeks or even months in advance.

I was being hard on myself at that moment. I mean, I missed both of my blog posts last week because I hadn’t properly scheduled my time around this retreat. Frankly, I was overwhelmed and something had to give.

Several times in the past, I tried to create lists of blog topics and schedules of what I would write when. The problem for me is that it seems so unnatural.

Writing for me is about inspiration first, perspiration second.

I can’t commit to a calendar where I write posts on ‘The Top 5 Things You Need to Know to Do Something” on Tuesdays and share recent projects on Thursdays, or anything like that. It feels disingenuous. I would rather share with you what’s happening in my life at the moment I’m writing. I would prefer to be honest with you about what’s working and what isn’t, rather than “creating” content.

I want it to come from my heart, not my head.

That’s not to say the head stuff isn’t good, or that perspiration isn’t good. Once I have the idea, it’s that perspiration part that makes it happen. I value that push. I just happen to love pushing even more when something resonates with me, when it comes from a deeper place.

So I don’t think you should choose between inspiration and perspiration, but recognize how one can lead to the other and how much more exciting it is when that happens. That’s why I’m blogging what I know, what I want to share, and hope that you connect.

Begin Again

Workaholic mode has been destroying me

Last week, I took a sabbatical from work to reorganize, reimagine, reinvigorate myself and my work. I started my website development business in April 2013. The first few months were slow; in July I didn’t even make enough money to pay my rent. But by the autumn, I was picking up more projects and had a steady income that allowed me to breathe much easier than I did in those summer months. Since then, it feels like the business has grown exponentially and I found myself in full-fledged workaholic mode, working 12 to 14 hour days for 6 days every week. Living in that mode is unsustainable. It’s been destroying me.

It was time for a change

So on my sabbatical week, I asked myself what I wanted to change, what I wanted to do better, what help I needed. I redesigned my websites so they work better for me and reflected who I am now as a developer. I carved out a chunk of work to pass to a friend who will be helping me regularly. And most importantly, I decided what I need to bring (back) into my life.

And the beginning needed to be different

I’ve done this before: said I was going to start blogging regularly, but failed horribly, abandoning my blog just a few weeks later. I’ve done it with so many projects I wanted to work on, skills I wanted to learn, adventures I was trying to plan.

But sometimes you arrive at a point and you recognize that everything will be different. Because it has to be. Because if it isn’t, you won’t survive. Because it’s finally time to begin again. It’s a moment of rebirth.

Ditching lofty resolutions

I knew I couldn’t tackle change like I had in the past: by deciding I would change everything when I woke up the next morning. I had crazy goals: exercise every day, learn a new language, blog and use social media regularly, eat healthy… It was too overwhelming, and changing everything is hard to remember to do. Honestly, by trying to make drastic changes, I was setting myself up for failure. I knew it.

It’s like every New Year’s Resolution I broke in the past. New Year’s never had enough magic in it.

I attempted a lofty resolution again this summer: I wanted to reclaim my mornings (which were often taken over by emails and clients). My friend Erin and I discussed this at length, since she was in the same spot. I even made a list: at least 30 minutes of exercise followed by stretching, some journaling, meditation, and a leisurely breakfast. How often did I manage a morning like this? Only once. It was too much.

Hello, little changes that stick around

This time, change will be gradual. I’ve set small goals for myself, little actions I can take that will have big effects on my happiness. Write on my blog once a week. Pull my bow back 10 times every day. Walk for at least a half hour four times during the week, whether it’s at the gym or in nature. Meditate for 10 minutes. There’s a little list of joy that’s growing, a collection of changes that will be integrated slowly, with new ones added as others take hold. I’ve started with three changes this week, and this blog is one. (Note: A friend recommended irunurun, an app that helps keep you accountable.)

I’m sticking around, and I hope you will too.

Tell me yours

What three little changes will you start with?


A Wish List

I turn 33 in 3 days. I love the time around my birthday, not because it’s the holiday season, but rather because my birthday has always been a reflection point for me, a time to dream, make wishes, and plan.

For the last three years, I’ve been making lists, strange lists of what I wanted in my new year. I ask for odd things like an accent or to hear bells or take a stroll in the woods. Almost every wish is granted, not always the way I expect it to be, but always in a more beautiful way than I could have dreamed.

So I’ve started to make a new list for this year. Here are its beginnings:

  • a garden and grove of fruit trees
  • words that haven’t been spoken yet
  • a spot to write
  • a picnic at an abandoned homestead
  • a field of wheat at sunset
  • serenity
  • an opening to something unbelievable
  • a home that wraps itself in the sounds of nature at night
  • a star
  • certainty with a splash of confidence and a dollop of generosity
  • lightness of spirit

There’s more to come. And what a good year it will be…

Re-Inventing Purpose

I’ve been searching for two decades.

Since I first began to daydream about what I would be when I grew up — a ballerina, an astronomer, a fashion designer, a marine biologist, a singer, an actress — I was desperate for a role that “fit.”

I sat in university classrooms, trying to decipher codes and puzzles made with numbers and ideas. I looked in bookshops everywhere I went, even if I didn’t know the language. I switched from one job to another, constructing dreams and plans around each, ways to move forward, to be more.

And while I gained knowledge, met interesting people, and found work that allowed me to live comfortably, I never discovered my purpose.

Until last Wednesday at about 9:25am. That’s when it finally hit me.


I sat at my desk meditating, trying to be grateful for my purpose in the world (whatever that was), when my purpose walked up and smacked me across the face. It had been right there the whole time.

I always thought that a person’s purpose came in some great act: through their research or writing, a scientific discovery, a job well done, a passion given life.

But that was only a piece of the truth.

I realized my purpose is in every moment, in everything I do, in every interaction and relationship I have. Eight years ago, my purpose was in working with children and showing them how smart they were, once they knocked their obstacles down. Now it is in every post I write, every act of kindness and love. It’s in designing websites and teaching archery and smiling at strangers.

In living and loving and being who I am, I live my purpose.

Maybe there are other big bright things in my future, and everything I do now prepares me to shine like that. But this moment is filled with as much purpose as those future ones. And that realization has been a game changer.

Have you found your purpose yet? Or are you still searching?

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Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.