Creative Inspiration, Disguised but Breathing

I wanted to write all day today. Felt all these feelings, had the words for them, knew exactly what Ruth Stone was talking about when she felt the urge to grab a pen and run after a poem, pulling it by the tail before it found another poet. But my kids needed me–all of me.

So I waved to the poem and nodded to the inspiration. I let it storm through me and heard it slam the door like it was leaving. I threw a pen to another poet. I said good luck. I didn’t worry about what was lost or if it would return because I’ve learned the secrets of this inspiration. It pretends to leave–makes a big fuss like it’s breaking up with me, begging me to chase it, wanting me to feel like it will never come back. It’s all a hard-to-get game, and I’m on to it. Not falling for it. I know you’re there, Inspiration. There’s no sand timer on your magic. You’ll wait if I tell you to wait. You’re part of me–you can’t leave.

It didn’t leave. It laid low for a bit–part of its game plan–but I trusted it was still there and, sure enough, felt it breathing late this afternoon, spun into a different kind of poem it hadn’t intended being.

Nella’s tutor came to work with her, so I nudged Lainey and Dash outside to get out of the way. Lainey grabbed a writing prompt book her grandpa Brian got her for her birthday along with a notebook and pen. “Let’s write together outside,” she said. And for an hour, we sat under the hot sun in rickety beach chairs, watching Dash ride trikes Flintstone-style and trading stories initiated by kid prompts. You’re an astronaut on a spaceship. Describe your perfect day in space. You find a bone in a parking lot. Finish the story. Listen to your surroundings right now. Describe the first sound you hear. There’s a fortune teller in the window. What happens?

My pen moved fast across the page, powered by the inspiration that humbly returned to the scene. I knew you’d come. Nice to see you.

She read her versions–somersaulting on spaceships, gasping at the discovery of dinosaur bones in the Costco parking lot, listening to bird whistles–and I read mine, both our stories manifestations that Inspiration is a beating heart already in us, waiting to be heard–not a fleeting outside source that sweeps in and out, taunting us in a chase to catch it.

It won’t always look like what you thought it would.

Like tonight. When I passed duties to Brett and ran to the office to have some alone time. The kids whined and the frustrations built and the dinner plans folded and the starry-eyed wedding aisle gaze was nowhere to be found. And love and romance and all the reasons we chose each other are hard to find–wanting me to feel like they’ll never come back.

It’s all a hard-to-get game, and I’m on to it. Scarcity. Not falling for it.

I know you’re there, Inspiration. There’s no sand timer on your magic. You’re part of me.

It won’t always look like what you thought it would be. Not the South Beach weekends we enjoyed with no kids. And hell, not the movies.

But sure enough, it’s there, and if I listen, I can feel it breathing, spun into midlife family poems.

We can write all different kinds of poems, giving Inspiration versatility, well-roundedness.
Today, we write poems of summer afternoons with watermelon in sticky hands.

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And strong-willed boys begging to climb…

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…but, thank God, resting too.

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We write about little family joys that mean just as much, if not more, as big life things…like three lemonade glasses sitting beside the pool.

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Homemade pizza parties.

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And lemonade stands.

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Treasured smiles…

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Late night swims.

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We write about our own childhood wonder that reignites, thanks to our kids, thirsty for the world.

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We write about how we never thought we’d be here…but we are…and we’re so happy we’re learning things we never knew we needed to know.

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And we nudge that Inspiration, show it who’s boss.
Tonight, romance looks like two tired parents, an open couch, and a recorded episode of Naked and Afraid (we’re obsessed). But inspiration’s still breathing, spinning its magic, even when we fall asleep ten minutes in. Don’t get too excited. Naked and Afraid is a Discovery channel show.

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Leave a Comment
  1. LOVE the photos–esp. the one of Dash up high in the swing with the tree and the perfect summer sky. Also two of Nella–the one in her blue dress and the one with the hat. Girlfriend’s got STYLE!

  2. I’m a relatively new reader to your blog and I just love it … Your words … Your pictures … everything :) I teach kindergarten in Montreal and for the first time since I started teaching almost 20 years ago there is a little boy with Down Syndrome joining our kindergarten family. Thanks to you and your little Nella I saw him with very different eyes than I would have a few weeks ago. Thanks for that :)

  3. What a beautiful post— and wise words on Inspiration. I don’t think I’ve heard it put quite like this before. :)

  4. annmarie says:

    we are obsessed with Naked and Afraid as well….and always fall asleep halfway thru…family life is the best life…and not always what we expected either <3

  5. These words are such a gift today, thank you! Love this perspective and needed the reminder. Glad your Inspiration found its way into this post. As mamas and creators and wives and all the other hats we wear everyday, it’s easy to feel as if those creative juices have run dry, when in fact, they are simmering below the surface just waiting to be tended to.

  6. I have been meaning to tell you I really love the new look of your blog!! Thanks for this post, I will share it with my husband as we are totally feeling that slim chance at any romance with an 11 month old who simply refuses to not be touching me 24 hours a day. I try to remind him these things will come back around but it’s tough in the trenches! Love Nella’s glasses – can you share the brand?

  7. My Lainey got her bandana dress this weekend! I love them. And I love your post:) I totally understand the romance part. Our 4 kids are now 10,9,7,and5.5. For years there was no dating. Just exhaustion. But now that they are older, we make sure we get our time. It may be something as simple as shutting our bedroom door to drink Green Apple Hard Cider and laughing at The Bachelorette, but it’s OUR time.

  8. It slams the door and pretends it’s leaving for good…

    Such a wonderful image. And yay you for figuring out what’s really important and who’s really in charge. This post is such a welcome relief from the ones that tell is we must give in to inspiration no matter when it shows up.

  9. A-freaking-men :) thanks for writing.

  10. Monique says:

    Hey, my husband and I watched a Naked and Afraid last night too. Must be a tired parent favorite!! As always enjoy your pictures and words.

  11. Thank you for writing and sharing, Kelle! Your writing weaved with your photos are so beautiful, real, raw and bring me so much joy. You remind me that, while I am a Mom and all the things that come with that, I am also still me, Terra, with my own thoughts, imagination, ideas and inspiration. It’s there, I don’t have to go chasing even if it did slam the door on me. This really resonates with me and brought tears to my eyes, because I do find myself chasing and in doing so tends to feel always just out of reach, but your words washed over me like a cleansing rain and reminded me who is in charge and to have faith and trust in myself. Just open the dang door. :-)

  12. Jennifer says:

    My thoughts have often wandered to Ruth Stone’s message when I let the words pass me by – passing out cold kiddie drinks and band-aids rather than reaching for my pen. Thank you for reminding me not to fear the escape of an idea. So helpful to turn that escape-idea on its head and to instead notice that there is always the flicker of inspiration waiting within – waiting for a bit of oxygen and a bit of time so that it can burst into flame.

  13. Tracy B says:

    Can you please share the name of the book of writing prompts? I’m an elementary school administrator and I’m sure our teachers and students would love something like that!

  14. Pat elliott says:

    Kelle you are an excellent parent! I loved the part of the blog today that you told about writing with Lainey! You are teaching her to use her imagination… And what a great one she has!! You ROCK as a mama and teacher!

  15. Those pictures of Nella are beautiful!

  16. Isabel Guerra says:

    You take the best pictures, always capturing beautiful candid moments. It also helps that you have super cute subjects. Thank you for inspiring me to pull out that camera of mine and figure out when to use which settings!

  17. Beautiful verbiage – I just ate up the words in this post. I just started following your writing and love how you layer in photos to your entries.

  18. I read these words and offer you a long distance fist-bump. I know so well the capricious nature of the words that swirl in our heads when we cannot or will not yield, and your description is spot on. Thank you.

    Two more things came to mind, the first Elizabeth Gilbert’s Ted Talk on “Your Elusive Creative Genius” which I’m willing to bet you’ve seen, and second, this piece of poetry from Amena Brown. If you don’t already know Amena Brown, brace yourself for some serious swooning.

    • Whoa. Watched this and LOVED it. And my, did she give a performance of those words from her heart. I could FEEL it. Thank you so much for passing it along, Jess.

      • Kelle, I was just introduced to her and her work this past weekend when I saw her perform at a poetry slam and was blown away. If you were a Judy Blume fan as a kid (I’d bet you were if I were a betting woman), watch this one:

        Alright. I’m going to stop throwing poetry at you now. Have a wonderful night. Chase down some words.

  19. Simply beautiful!

  20. I’m 24 years old and Nella is my fashion inspiration.

  21. really beautiful post

  22. Absolutely beautiful words for the soul thankyou so much just what I needed to read kellie enjoy these precious moments and log them in your memory because one day you will be able to write and you will long to bring these inspirational memories to the surface xxx

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