Inspired Days, Life Simplified

Inspired Simplicity

It began with a single piece of paper: a list started at 3:07 a.m. in the best handwriting I could manage at that hour.

It wasn’t a “to do” list. It was more a way of being list, a “live more from the heart” list:

Be inspired




Stay real

Let go



At first, I just glanced at it when I wrote, but after a week or so I’d memorized it and it became a daily practice I could do any where, anytime – a way to reflect and plan.

I noticed be inspired was the best starting point for me. It was the one thing that led to all the others. Like a first stepping-stone, inspiration gave the day sequence and coherence.

“Does this inspire me?” Quick question. One I asked throughout the day. I either felt it or I didn’t – no over-thinking or second-guessing… life simplified.

Creativity: Outside the Lines

Outside the lines

We want to be the same person at work as we are at play. We want to be authentic, inspired and spontaneous 24/7 and contribute in ways that matter.

We’re re-thinking the rules and our interest in creativity has taken hold. It’s mainstream now.

The questions are different. Can I look at this in a new way? What kind of difference will it make? Where does creativity come from? Are we born with it – can it be learned – how? and my personal favorite?…how can we make this crazy idea work?

I’ll be using this story to begin my next talk for a small start up owned by a woman who said it took a long time to make this dream of hers come true – she picked her staff really carefully and wants to do everything she can to have them stay. She’s sure encouraging their creativity is one way to do that. I think she’s right.

I haven’t used this story before but I haven’t been asked to design a talk that covers creativity in the kind of depth she wants or to make “absolutely” sure I include a mindfulness meditation at the end.

It comes from a semi-retired teacher who summed it up by saying she knew there’d be turning points and moments of truth in her career, she just didn’t expect one like this to happen so soon.

Erin was a really quiet child. Compared to the rest of the class anyway. Pre-school, 2nd day, a teacher who’d just graduated.

She’d been warned about Erin. The principal said, “Watch out for that one.” But it was almost lunch and she had no idea why.

Time to pass out the crayons for some coloring inside the lines – fine motor skills evaluation. Standard procedure.

The pictures are passed out. They all begin to color, except for Erin.

Her hand shoots up and she says, “Can I make my own lines?”

Without thinking, the teacher says yes, (NOT so standard procedure) and suddenly there are twenty some little excited hands in the air. So she gives them all permission and writes in the margin of her lesson plan free art” (Again NOT so standard).

Being asked and saying yes was a big risk for her. It turned everything she’d learned about education up to that point upside down – she was breaking all the rules, but she says, crazy or not, it just felt so right.

She was ahead of her time and miles outside the lines. Thank you Erin.


I like to give a handout to provide easy to watch starting points from a variety of disciplines for people who want to know more. My hope is there’s something for everyone. Here’s today’s working draft:

Ken Robinson (Creativity / Education)

Simon Sinek (Know the Why / Business Strategy)

Alan Iny – Thinking in New Boxes: A new Paradigm for Business Creativity

Brene Brown (Daring Greatly)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (The Flow)

BBC Documetary – The Creative Brain How Insight Works

Thea Alvin (Applied Creativity)

Susan Greenfield – Outside the Box: The Neuroscience of Creativity

Rick Hanson – Practical Neuroscience of Positive Emotions


By the Heart On the Byward Market


Byward Market

“So, what has you by the heart these days?” she said with one of those looks that only friends who’ve know us forever can have.

I didn’t have an answer. So I decided to spend a day walking through the Byward Market. It’s always filled with people and brims inspiration.

I bought fresh cut flowers and found a bench where I could write. I wanted to imagine life stories for the endless stream of passers by and look at my own with new eyes.

I felt content. You know, the kind of content that grabs your heart and makes you fall in love with the whole world, with just being alive. Can happen is a second. Usually does.

That knowing had me by the heart. Then she did:

I heard her laughter before I saw her – bare shouldered, arms flying, sandals in hand, sun burned nose. I didn’t want to stare, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her and it took a second to understand what was happening.

The flower sellers had just watered everything. There were puddles everywhere and THIS grandmother was a woman on a mission; granddaughter in tow, she was jumping in all of them.

“I spy with my little eye…another one!” she’d say pointing and off they’d run.

Puddles-1-1024x682 It was one of those moments when you can actually feel delight moving through space. You catch it from another person and it becomes yours too.

That kind of childlike exuberance is such a simple natural thing, but the gift of witnessing it, knowing it was a once in a lifetime moment and inexplicably had me by the heart filled it with mystery.

It had come from nowhere and was totally unexpected but I had an answer to my friend’s question… moments like that day’s.