So Inspired Feed

Chef’s Table & The Road Less Traveled!

How about a Netflix Binge for some creative inspiration this week, girls?

I've mentioned here that my husband and I are foodies, that we love to cook and experiment in the kitchen, and that we love to watch cooking shows together! So, we found "Chef's Table" on Netflix while we were holed up this winter, and thought we'd enjoy it! And, oh my gosh, did we ever, but not in the way we expected!

It turns out that the series was about so much more than food. Each episode focuses on one world renowned chef. As you watch, it quickly becomes clear that these world-class chefs (from across the globe) are artists of the truest kind, and that their medium is food! And, regardless of your artistic gift and your particular medium (be it canvas, fabric, food, music . . .), these stories are incredibly inspiring!

This series is definitely a feast for the eyes! I've never seen such beautiful, edible creations in real life. But, what I loved most, what I found so inspiring were the stories about their journeys to discover their own creative gifts. Each of them shared their unique experiences of setbacks, confusion, and struggles. Many of them shared the challenge that confronts all artists – to stick with the norm, or to break with convention, follow their hearts, and do something completely different! Several of them found that convention and tradition just didn't "fit" them. And, many felt a profound sense of meaninglessness while stuck in tradition, and became so discouraged in their journeys that they wanted to quit.

Yet, each of them persevered. They found the unique gift that they had been given to share. And, they built world renowned restaurants as galleries to share their creativity and art with world!

These chefs really reminded me of another favorite poem of mine by Robert Frost:

"The Road Not Taken" (1920)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

These chefs defied convention, and took the road less traveled! How inspiring is that? ;)


The Power of Joy

Let's talk about joy today ladies! Because, it turns out that it's really good for you and for the world ;)!

"The Power of Joy – How the Deliberate Pursuit of Pleasure Can Heal Your Life" by Christiane Northrup is truly a favorite of mine! In fact, if life ever gets too heavy burdened with duty and work around here (and sometimes it does) or if I feel like we are getting into a boring, grinding rut (and sometimes we do), I put this CD in and listen to it, because I realize I haven't been scheduling in enough "joy" time for us! I've had the CD for several years now, but I checked, and the program is available on Audible! It's just over an hour long, but full of fun stories, laughs, fascinating scientific studies, and it builds a strong case for actively taking steps to create more joy in your life on a regular basis (oh, and gives you a 10 Point Prescription for how to do just that)!

I love Christiane's positive, cheerful spirit! She is what I will call a reformed Medical Doctor-OB/GYN, who now teaches alternative medicine approaches to life. I agree with her that it is not our destiny to get old, decrepit, and sick! Rather, we are meant to be" healthy, happy dead"! That's what we're shooting for, and it turns out that joy is one of the tools to live that way!

She first defines joy, and then shares the many benefits of joy: 1) it always brings out the best in you; 2) it makes you younger; 3) it increases DHEA the youth hormone and mother of all other hormones; 4) it enhances your immunity; 5) it improves your metabolism; 6) joy creates success [Side Note: Success does NOT create joy – it's the other way around); 7) it enhances your creativity and intuition; 8) it increases your serotonin and decreases cortisol and other stress hormones and helps you sleep better; 9) it increases nitric oxide and blood flow; and 10) it makes you irresistible! And, I'll just add my own thought here – joy is contagious, your joy can really lift the spirits of those around you!

So, here are some of the things that really struck me:

1.     She starts off by explaining: "Here's what I know about life on earth. It is sexually transmitted." (crack me up J)! Life is created joyously and it is meant to be lived joyously! (Good point, Christiane!  Good point!!)

2.    Although it's our natural state, joy doesn't come easily for us in America because we have been raised on the "no pain, no gain", "finish all your work before you can play", and the "you're having too much fun" mottos! She calls this an "addiction to suffering", and says that because of it we've learned not to trust joy. But, thankfully, she points out, this old model is on its way out. Because in truth, pain only leads to more pain.  It's actually joy that leads to more joy, and, it is joy that is going to change the world.

3.    Joy is also difficult for us because of the survival mechanisms of the brain that cause us to ruminate on the negative. I've seen this in many other readings as well. Our brain is geared to remember painful, dangerous events to protect us from future harm. But, Christiane gave some stats that shocked me! We have about 60,000 thoughts per day, and around 87 percent of those are negative and repetitive – yikes! And, 99 percent of those negative thoughts are a gross misrepresentation of reality (so, ya know – not very trustworthy ;)!

4.    Have you all looked at Masaru Emoto's work "Messages in Water"? It's fascinating, but true. Thoughts have quite an impact on the hydrogen bonds in water! Just google it to see photos of water that has received hateful, negative input (the formations are ugly, chaotic, lacking in balance and symmetry), compared to water that receives positive messages of love, joy, symphonic music (the formations are beautiful, like snowflakes, with gorgeous balance, harmony, and symmetry)! Here, let me find one for you because this is something you have to see! Okay, I found one (but, seriously, there are a lot more, so google it ;)!

(Photo 1 – "thank you"; Photo 2 – "love and appreciation"; Photo 3 – "you make me sick, I will kill you")

And, as Christiane points out, our bodies are 85 percent water! Perhaps Napolean Hill is correct in saying that our "thoughts have the peculiar quality of becoming their physical equivalents" – so we want loving, joyful ones!

5.    There are two main motivations in life – doing/not doing things out of fear of consequences, and doing things because they bring you joy! The only sustainable choice for your health and well-being is to do things because they bring you joy!

6.    She argues that chemical imbalances do not really exist, and explains that the best pharmacy you will ever find is between your two ears because every thought you think sets off a cascade of biochemical actions that go out to every cell in your body.

7.    Her prescription for joy includes several things like choosing joyous entertainment and joyous company, and she points out that joy is not about avoiding suffering, grief and pain, which are a natural part of life. She reminds us that our experience of joy is proportional to the amount of suffering we've experienced! Here is more good news – our brains are actually changing all the time! It's called neuroplasticity. And, neurons that fire together wire together! So, the more you experience and savor joy, the more you connect those joy neurons in the brain, and the more you hard-wire those connections, the more inclined you are to experience greater joy – isn't that awesome? ;)!!

8.    She encourages us to make a list of all of the things that bring us joy, and start putting those things into our daily lives! This will be a challenge, because we have that addiction to struggle. She said that if she was asked to do something fun, she had a million things that she "should" do instead – boy can I relate J!! But, joy is extremely important for our own well-being, and for our loved ones as well (probably more important than getting the floors mopped J)!!

9)     It's always shocking to me when I reflect on what really brings us joy, and how little time we actually devote to it when our lives get out of balance (my husband and I were raised on the no pain, no gain, get all your work done before you can play model, but we're working on not working so hard and simplifying and enjoying life more ;)!!!

10)    I was surprised just how interconnected joy is with gratitude – many of the benefits of gratitude I shared with you are the same as the benefits of joy. And, the gratitude journal is a way of really allowing the joyful things to sink in (yes, girls I'm firing and wiring those neurons ;)! I think back to my gratitude journal, because those are the moments where I experience real, satisfying, fulfilling joy. And, it's funny because they're all the simple stuff of life – cooking for my family, candle light dinners and date nights with my husband, one-on-one time with my kids (which is rare these days), spending time with Tate, creating new things and sewing, sharing here with you all on the blog and receiving your sweet comments, peonies blooming, watching the baby robins, a long, hot bath, a walk on a breezy spring evening, reading (an actual book with pages), getting out into nature and taking a hike or camping, bonfires . . . .

So, what brings you joy? If you're like us, and you get into a rut sometimes, or your life gets heavy burdened with too much work and no play on occasion, or even if you just feel like your life is lacking joy, I think you'll really enjoy this program!



Happy Wednesday Ladies! There are so many things that inspire me – books, songs, movies, people, and quotes. And, today, I've got a poem for you all. I hope this poem will inspire you and be a source of encouragement to you when life is hard – as it has been to me for many years now. It's my favorite poem, or at the top of the list. It means so much to me that I actually embroidered each verse onto a block and made it into a quilt. It was my second quilt, I made it all by hand (this was even pre-owning a rotary cutter and mat;). I think I love it so much because it contains the essence of our ultimate human freedom and our unlimited power to create a life of love, joy and peace, regardless of our circumstances. The first 11 verses of the poem were written by Kent Keith, and the 12th verse was added by Mother Teresa.


People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.

Be kind anyway.

If you are honest and fair, people may cheat you.

Be honest and fair anyway.

If you find peace and happiness, people may be jealous.

Be peaceful and happy anyway.

People really need help, but may attack you if you help them.

Help them anyway.

People claim to favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs.

Fight for the underdogs anyway.

The biggest ideas can be shot down by people with the smallest minds.

Think big anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight.

Build anyway.

The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you've got, and it may never be enough.

Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it was all between you and God.

It was never between you and them anyway!

So, why do I love this poem so much?

1.    First, let me say that I don't read this in terms of religious duty or of rules to follow, or in terms of the legalism that Jesus fought so hard against (Jesus was all about the heart ;) – that would kill the spirit of the whole thing.

2.    Rather, I think this poem is about the last and ultimate source of our human freedom and power. There are so many things in our lives that we are not in control of – we don't get to decide what country we're born in, we don't get to pick our parents or our personalities, we don't get to choose how people will treat us, we can't control the government, or the weather . . . !

3. Yet, we do have this ultimate, incredible power and freedom to choose one last thing! It's a power and a freedom that no one can ever take from us. And, that is the power to choose how we will respond to whatever comes our way.

4.    And, if we don't recognize this power and freedom – and use it, if we believe we are powerless, well, that's a quick road down the path to anxiety and depression.

5.    I believe that our base nature as human beings is good, loving, kind, compassionate, creative, and generous . . . but, our egos can really get in the way of all of that. "Ahhh, the ego" (I love that line in the movie "Bruce Almighty", remember when Morgan Freeman says that to Bruce? Cracked me up :) – and I digress)! Anyway, we are at our weakest and least free when we make life a battle between ourselves and another person or our circumstances.

6.    But, when we see life from a different paradigm, when we see the bigger picture, that something greater lies within us, and we have the power to choose to respond out of that – well, we can bring good things into the world!

7.    Finally, this poem makes me think of the people who, throughout history, have lived in the spirit of this poem, and who inspire me so much. I think of the people in the Nazi Concentration Camps, I mean seriously, the absolute worst conditions even fathomable. Yet, there were people in those camps that exercised this, their last of human freedoms and power. They chose to share food with others, though they themselves were starving. They chose to share their blankets with people who were cold, despite the fact that they, themselves, were freezing! And, I just read this last night about these amazing women in my book "Mindful Eating" by Jan Chozen Bays, MD

"During World War II a group of women prisoners in a Japanese concentration camp in Sumatra wrote down musical scores from memory and formed a choir. Too weak to stand, they performed sitting down. Half the choir died in a year's time. But they forgot the terrible hunger of their emaciated bodies as their hearts were filled with the music they created together. 'Each time (we had a concert) again it seemed a miracle, that among those cockroaches and rats, and the bedbugs and the dysentery, the smells of the latrines, that there could be that much beauty, that women's voices could actually do this, and bring this to this horrid camp,' one of the singers later recalled."

8. The sheer power of the human spirit to bring forth love, kindness, compassion and beauty, in spite of any circumstance astounds me. And, that human spirit, it's in you, it's in me, it's in all of us. This poem reminds me of that. It brings me back to the amazing potential of the human spirit when my ego has gone amuck. It reminds me, that no matter my circumstances, I have within me the power and the freedom to respond with love, with kindness, with compassion and understanding, and the power to keep building, to create beautiful things, and to give the world the best I've got. That's why I love this poem.



P.S. Here are a couple of pictures of my "Anyway" quilt! It's so old, it doesn't match our décor so it's not hanging up anymore – and being my second quilt it doesn't have much in the way of "quilting skilz", but truly girls, this one was made with a whole lotta love and heart ;)!

Defending Your Life – A Comedy with Some Important Life Lessons

I have a fun movie for you all this week. It's called "Defending Your Life", and it was written and directed by Albert Brooks.

It's a comedy, but it really does contain some important life lessons. My husband and I both really enjoyed this movie. At the beginning of the movie, Albert Brooks' character Daniel dies, and he is transported to a place called Judgment City, where his life is put on trial. The trial is complete with a Prosecutor, Defense Attorney and two judges who will decide his fate.  The Prosecutor shows clips of his life to prove that he's failed (poor Daniel – the prosecutor has a lot to use against him), and his defense attorney shows episodes to defend his life. To make matters worse, he meets the lovely Julia (played by Meryl Streep), who is having a wonderful time because her trial is going really well.  There's a bit of a love story there, too. So, if you're looking for something good to watch this weekend, give this a try. It's a funny, heart touching movie with important life lessons, all in one (my favorite kind of movie). 

SPOILER ALERT – I'm going to talk about the movie now – so if you'd rather watch it first, stop reading here ;)!

There were several things that struck me about the movie (ya know, little take away things to ponder ;)!

1.    Distracted driving is dangerous - so we really should just say "No" to that!

2.    It was intriguing to me that the single issue at the trial was whether Daniel had overcome fear in his life.  And, as the movie progresses, it becomes clear just why overcoming fear in our lives is so important.  It's critical because fear is the thing that keeps us from all of the good stuff in life - the love, the joy, the peace - all the things we really care about. 

3.    My favorite scene in the movie is when Julia and Daniel are having dinner, because you get to see so clearly how much fear is hampering Daniel's life, and how, having overcome it, Julia is just relishing in the simple pleasures of being with Daniel and eating Pasta!

4.    Hey, if you had the chance, would you do it?  If you could eat all of the delicious food in the world that you wanted with no weight gain and no health consequences for 5 days, but you had to have your life put on trial, would you go for it?  Yikes, I can think of so many "Daniel" moments right off the top of my head - but, I mean still, 5 days of consequence free eating . . . ;)!

5.    I know it sounds trite, but I believe!  LOVE CONQUERS FEAR!  We see it in the movie, that the singular thing that overcomes fear is love!  In the end, it's his love for Julia that makes Daniel throw all caution to the wind, and courageously fight for the woman he loves. 

6.    Going back to Pressfield, and "The War of Art", he points out that the fear we feel about doing something is really just a measure of how much we love it in our hearts.  The greater the fear, then deep inside your heart, the greater the love.  So, the secret, I think is - don't feed the fears!  But, look instead for the love - the love for the person, for the great cause, or the love in creativity - and feed that.  Feed it A LOT!

7.    Finally, it's still such a shocker, but it is in fact the truth.  We are here one minute, and the next minute, well, we're not!  It's going to be true for all of us, and for our loved ones, too!  And, the bite is - we don't even know how much time we have or our loved ones have left!  So, best to spend our lives, whatever time we do have, in love rather than fear.

I really hope you enjoy this movie as much as we did ;).  I thought I'd leave you with a few of my favorite quotes about love:

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength.  Loving someone deeply gives you courage." -- Lao Tzu (author of the Tao Te Ching)

". . . perfect love casts out fear" -- The Disciple John (Bible)

"All you need is love." -- John Lennon

LOVE WINS!!! (Always)



So Inspired by “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield

Have I mentioned to you all that, in addition to sewing, I love to read? Well, I do, and I have a particular genre that is my go to. I very rarely read fiction, though occasionally I love to get lost in a good story. But, for the most part, my reading genre is non-fiction, and my go to of choice are books about life and how we live it well.

I'm grateful I can do two things I love at one time – sew and read (or, in this case be read to) – thanks Audible! Anyway, I've read so many good books that have inspired me and changed our lives for the better, and that I've wanted to share with you! So, I'm starting a new category called "So Inspired", where I'll share a little about the books that have inspired me (and probably some documentaries, too ;)!

I can think of no better book to start with than "The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle", by Steven Pressfield. The book is about much more than creativity. In fact, I think it would be better titled "The War of Trying To Do Anything Good With Your Life." Do you have something on your heart that you really want to do with your life, but you never seem to get around to doing it? Is there anything that you think you really need to do or believe in your heart of hearts you should do, but you don't do it? If so, I think you'll really like this book.

Let me just say, I LOVED IT! I've listened to it several times! It is short (less than three hours on Audbile), but it packs a powerful punch! It is a no holds barred, in your face, shot to the heart – reminding you that you have a purpose in life, a gift to share with the world – and, well, you best get to it.

Pressfield explains, in part one, that any time we try to create something or to operate on a higher plane, we will meet with a force he calls RESISTANCE! Resistance is born out of fear (and self-doubt), and Pressfield details the symptoms of resistance ("unhappiness, low grade misery, we feel like hell, we're bored, restless, and we can't get no satisfaction."), and goes on to explain how it manifests! You can read the book for more, but the culprits I most personally recognized were procrastination, distractions, and rationalizations –uuggghhh – my capacity to rationalize is off the chartsl. You see, we all have two lives: 1) the life we actually live; and 2) the life we dream of living. What stands in between, Pressfield argues, is resistance!

In part two, he talks about turning Pro (i.e. beating resistance)! And, this section reminded me of Picasso's famous quote – "Inspiration finds you working". We must beat resistance at its own game. We beat it by doing one thing, and one thing only – doing our work!

Finally, in part three, Pressfield explains that there is also (thankfully) a counter-force to resistance, an energy that comes to our aid when we try to operate on a higher level in life or when we attempt to create. He refers to these counter-forces as talent, angels and muses, and goes into detail about how we can align ourselves with and get in touch with the counter-forces that come to our assistance! Courage and humility in the face of resistance call forth these forces ;).

There were so many interesting things in this book, but here are a few that I found particularly noteworthy, and am still ruminating on:

1.    Tom Laughlin's work with cancer patients (i.e. helping them to follow their lost dreams, and many of them having their cancer go into remission) – isn't that fascinating?

2.    The Latin root of the word "amateur" is love. The prevailing theory on this being that we love a craft so much, that we cannot bear to profane it with trying to make money at it. Pressfield disagrees with this, saying that amateurs don't love the thing enough – if they did, they would make it their profession. I'm still up in the air on this one – what do you all think?

3.    He quotes Socrates – "The truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self- mastery, while those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them." Hmmm???!!!

4.    Fear and self-doubt are not all bad. They are also a barometer of how deeply you believe in and care about whatever call of the heart you are resisting, and the level of resistance is an indicator of "how important doing your work is to the evolution of your soul." Shwew – now, that's good news ;)!

5.    I found myself wanting to argue with him on many points 1) I'm a wife and mother and grandmother, and that requires a delicate balance, 2) we all have several gifts to give, not just one and depending on the time, one gift may take precedence over another 3) waiting and patience are a good thing, and leaping before you look can be a bad thing, 4) there are times in the week and month, and seasons in life when we need to rest, rejuvenate, take a break from our labors, find clarity . . . . I imagine if I got to talk with Pressfield about these things, he'd say, "Kelly, that's resistance. ***See resistance tactics I found familiar above (rationalization). The jury is still out for me on these, because in all honesty, I think I'm right, yet I also agree with Pressfield that these can, and have in my own personal life, taken the form of resistance.

I truly love this book, it's inspiring in so many ways! In fact, I credit this post to Pressfield and his book, "The War of Art!" Because, you see, resistance says this should be just a fun, upbeat, cutesy, sewing, cooking, isn't life grand blog – I mean who wants to talk about the unpleasant stuff of life. But, my heart screams – NO! Life is hard, and we are all suffering in one way or another, we all grapple with many of the same issues, and, while it's a good thing to share fun and sewing, it's equally important to have real conversations, to share our challenges and struggles, and the wisdom we're gaining and the steps we're taking to address those things! And, sharing about this bigger topic of life and its challenges must be pretty damn important to my soul's evolution, because I've met an incredible amount of resistance (over more than a year) just to get started by writing this first post! And, I think the resistance for me in this is huge precisely because there is something that I love and care about very deeply, and its people, our joys and our struggles, and how we can cultivate better health, more happiness, and a greater sense of wholeness in our lives. I spend far more hours in a given week thinking, reading, and applying what I've learned about how to live well then I ever could sewing ;)! Don't get me wrong, sewing is part of living well for me, too (so there will still be lots of that here), but, I'll also be sharing more posts like this one – about the challenges we face and things I've found helpful and inspiring along the way!



P.S. HA! Pressfield would be proud. I beat resistance – at least for today ;)!!!

P.S.S.  Not that there is anything wrong with blogs focused on fun and sewing!  They are an inspiration to me, I follow many of them, and I love them, and am grateful for them!  The importance of inspiring creativity and making beautiful things cannot be overstated.  We all have different things we are passionate about and unique combos of gifts to share - that's what makes this world such an amazing place to live in ;)!!!