Inspirational Blogs and Websites

A Little Inspiration…

I’ve been wanting to compile a list of the most frequent places I visit on the web.  All these blogs and websites are ones I visit at least once a week, if not every day.


For creative inspiration, to feel good, to get direction, to understand writing, art or photography a little better, and to learn.

I will never stop learning.  I thrive on learning new things every single day.  Each of these websites teaches me something every time I visit.

If you’re a creative person – a writer, artist, photographer, or otherwise right-brained – I recommend you take a look at these sites.

They might change your life!

Some of them are well-known.  Others are getting started.  Either way, you’ll walk away feeling better about yourself.

Take charge of your life


Brain Pickings  – this website has lots of inspirational posts on a variety of subjects.  One of my favorite recent posts is about Bruce Lee and his rise from obscurity to being an American cultural icon.


Leonie Dawson – I just love this woman!  She’s Australian and created a business for herself based on doing her art and signing people up for her Life + Biz Academy.  I’m thinking about signing up, actually.  I’m still thinking about it – it’s a commitment – but I keep thinking something like this could change my own life.  (And no, I was not compensated to link to her site.)


Motivation to Move – I started listening to Scott’s podcasts a little over a month ago and I’ve been hooked.  He can change your life in 9 minutes a day.  He has lots of great podcasts on changing your outlook and motivating yourself to follow your dreams. (I wan’t compensated for this one, either – I just happen to like the message.)


Maria Brophy – I love her blog because she demonstrates, together with her husband Drew, that if you’re willing to put your mind to it, you can live the life you dream of.  It takes perseverance and patience, but it can be done.


The Skool of Life – I recently found this website.  The post that resonated with me?  Well, all of them, actually.  He’s a surfer, was unemployed, experienced immense personal growth, learned to live on a tight budget and then got an incredibly stellar dream job.  Check him out.  All of his posts.  Pretty incredible.


Lifehack – I discovered this website through a job board, actually.  I might become a staff writer for these guys (keep your fingers crossed for me).  As soon as I saw this site, though, I was hooked.  Who doesn’t want to read about the 20 Best Inspirational Speeches From the Movies?  Or find out about more inspirational stories?


Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary – I discovered Sue’s blog a little while ago and I keep thinking that her site is one I’d really like to emulate.  She’s got photography, art, symbolism and a deep appreciation for Mother Earth.  She understands the cycles of life in the same way that a jeweler makes a perfect ring.  Be prepared for bliss with a touch of soul-grounding advice.


Scribbles and Smiles – I have to include Melanie’s blog here.  Every time I visit, I feel like I’m reading about myself.  I don’t know what it is, but I love a kindred spirit when I see one.  We live thousands of miles apart, but I can tell you that every time she posts something, I can’t wait to read.  I get everything from inspiration to how she deals with life’s issues and I feel like my cup fills up when I visit.

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Another Jennifer – I love this blog.  Ever since I found it, I’ve had this nagging feeling (but in a good way!) that I need to give more of myself.  In fact, I came up with a ginormous idea about philanthropy after reading her blog.  I am working out the details and I don’t want to reveal anything, yet – I have to make sure it’s viable – but let’s just say that I think I need to start a non-profit.  After reading about Jennifer’s efforts, I keep thinking that I need to make a difference more than just with my teaching, blogging or creativity.  I need to make a dent in the human time continuum.


The Wakefield Doctrine – When I found this blog months ago, I can’t tell you how much I’ve come to just adore the theory of clarks, scotts and rogers.  In case you couldn’t tell from this post I’m composing right now, I’m a clark.  SUCH a clark.  I understand people so much better and it helps me relate to the world on a whole new level.

Do You Have Inspirational Websites You Visit?  Let me know in the comments.


Change Your Thinking and Change Your Life – Wordless (Wordy) Wednesday

Years ago, as I sat in my high school Physics class, the teacher was talking about atoms and subatomic particles.  And without getting into the complicated theories of science, it all comes down to this: matter is energy.

All life is made of matter and energy and at the tiniest of levels, waves.

Thus, one could argue that thoughts that emanate from the human mind are waves.  They come from our brain matter, which is a powerhouse of energy.

Thus, if you’re a positive thinker, you generate positive waves and negative thinkers do the opposite.

If you don’t believe me, think about a group of people in a workroom at their place of employment.  Two people are talking and they’re having a good conversation about the events of their weekend and they’re pretty happy.

In comes Mr. Crotchety.  The first two people ask him how his weekend was and he starts to complain: it rained all weekend, he didn’t have time to get everything done, and his wife was nagging him.  Suddenly the first two people aren’t as happy anymore.

They’ve picked up on the negative energy from the first person.  Then, all three of them might start commiserating about their drab and dull worklife.

That story up there is a version of a true story that happened over and over at a place where I used to work.

I’d walk away feeling so disgusting that eventually, if I didn’t actively avoid the negative-Nellys, I would be dragged down with them.

While their complaints may have been valid, focusing on them only made everything worse.  It was that negative energy manifesting and growing within their minds.

White phlox
White wild phlox – and a little inspiration


But, Isn’t Positive Thinking Just Hype?

Consider some of these quotes that I found around the web:

Thoughts have power; thoughts are energy. And you can make your world or break it by your own thinking.

–Susan Taylor


 Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.

— James Allen


If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.

— Peace Pilgrim

In the examples I used at the beginning of this post, I wanted to illustrate the fact that the people with whom you choose to surround yourself AND the thoughts which you entertain tend to reflect your innermost attitudes and thoughts.

It’s the idea of the Law of  Attraction.

Everything you are experiencing now you have actually drawn to you. Accepting this is the beginning to generating a life of health, bliss and abundance. Especially, since you now know you can choose your thoughts and therefore create a reality you really want to live in.

–Leona Janice Graham

Thus, if you’re unhappy, think about the company you might be keeping or the thoughts that fill your head.

Those times in my life where I’ve let negative thoughts take over were the times when I was most distressed and unhappy.  The times when I  let self-doubt, guilt, feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and low self-confidence occupy my thoughts is when I noticed that others around me tended to reflect those same vibes.

A few months ago, I made a resolution to not entertain those thoughts.  I have worked and worked to not give them space in my head.

And it’s changed my life.  

I’m not a magically happy person.  I’m someone who makes a choice to be happy.  And no, I don’t have rose-colored glasses on; they’re clear.  I’m just as prone to complaining about things as the next person: not enough money, not enough time, not enough this or not enough that.


How Can You Choose To Be Happy?

It’s not hard, but it takes practice and patience.

I’ve talked about having gratitude.  You need that.

I’ve talked about giving to others – in time, money, things you make, or with things you do.  You need that, too.

I’ve talked about mantras.  Say that which you aspire to be – ten, twenty, or even two hundred times a day.

Replace negative thoughts with positives.  Even when you don’t want to. Make yourself do it.


And With That, Have a Wonderful Wednesday – Join the Blog Hop!

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There are no rules.  BUT – next week we’re going to be changing things up a bit around here.

First, I’m going to start calling this blog hop Wonderful Wednesday because “wordless” is pointless, don’t you think?

AND, I think it would be fun to start creating a theme for each week.

AND, not to add rules, but there’s a lot of “link and runs” that I get on Wednesdays.  It’s great that people are coming by, but it’s just to link, without leaving any comments or interaction.

I like interaction.

I really do.

So, next week, I’m thinking we’ll have

Wonderful Wednesday,

with it’s own button and theme.

Since it’s spring in the northern hemisphere, the flowers are in full bloom, a flower theme would be fun.  Then, we could link up blogs that went with the theme.  Get your cameras ready!

For those of you in the southern hemisphere, you could also find flowers: chrysanthemums and many other varieties are in bloom.  So be sure to come back next week for a fun blog hop!

And, if you haven’t entered the giveaway for my “Desert Oasis” artwork, click here to enter.  🙂

Link up here:

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Artwork Giveaway: Desert Oasis

Finished Another Drawing: Desert Oasis

Desert Oasis Sharpie Art
My latest creation

I finished another Sharpie drawing over the weekend. Can I just tell you how much I like to create things? Part of why I love blogging so much is that it gives me the opportunity to do all the things I love.

If you know me at all, you’ll know I’m addicted to color.  I love black and white photography and Sharpie artwork that I do, but I always return to color.  There’s just something about the vibrance and energy colors have that are just so pleasing to me.

Are they pleasing to you?

Why the warm colors?

Usually, I use a range of colors from the spectrum.  On the last piece I created, Flowers and Bee, I used warm and cool colors.

This time, I decided to just use warm colors: magenta, red, orange, yellow, and of course, black and white.

Perhaps it’s because I’m just so thankful it’s finally starting to warm up and I can go outside with out 7 layers of clothes on.

Perhaps it’s because I’m craving a trip out to the desert southwest – New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona…my homelands.

Something Funny Happened…

With the final stroke of my Sharpie marker – it was with new a black one – nice and pointy – a thought buzzed into my mind.  No, “buzzed” isn’t the right word.  It was more like a neon sign burned itself into my brain: GIVEAWAY.

I put the marker down and ran inside (I was working out on the porch) to get a glass of water.  I gulped it and nearly choked because I was so excited about this.

It’s my first giveaway.

I don’t know why I haven’t been doing more of these.

I want people inspired, dammit.  I want them inspired through my artwork and photography and words…

And what better way than to give it away?

But First, There’s A Story

It’s something I’m inventing.  Right now, as I go.  I’m going to channel my Gerald McDermott.  You know: the guy who writes those awesome children’s books.  After this you have to let me know: could this turn into a children’s story?  It’s my second one (the first one I’m actually working on with drawings and such, but…silly me…the script for it grew legs, crawled away…or maybe it got eaten by Da Vinci…who knows…).

How the Desert Got Her Colors

When Great Spirit finished painting the mountains and the seas, he sat down on a rock.

He took some time to rest for awhile and stared at all the beautiful land and water.

A small lizard came up to him and sat on his knee.

“Great Spirit,” the lizard began.  “All the world has color.  All the places are beautiful.  There’s one place you’ve overlooked.  I know it’s easy to overlook because it doesn’t have much water and it gets so hot there, but I still think it’s a beautiful place.”

“Tell me, Lizard.  What is this place?”

“It’s the Desert.  She has no color, but I still see her beauty.  Will you paint the Desert for me?”

“But why?  Tell me how she’s beautiful.” Great Spirit looked at his little friend.  He knew that even Lizard could teach him a thing or two.

“There are mesas where the ravens fly.  The sky hugs the sand like two people in love. Colors would make them whole.  The cacti reach for the sun, but look so stark and less than beautiful without colors.  The armadillo’s shell could be so brilliant and tell a story.  The coyote might be less apt to do trickery. The sun’s rays will dance with colorful joy when they meet the colors of the desert.”

“Okay.  After a rest, I will do it,” Great Spirit said.  “Will you wait with me, Lizard?”  Great Spirit and Lizard sat on the mountaintop, surrounded by trees and watched the stars that night.  The next morning, they headed over to the desert.

“Lizard, what color should I paint the sand?” Great Spirit asked.

“Red.  It will complement my green skin so well.”

Great Spirit waved his wand.  It was done.

“What color shall I paint the mesas?”

“Red, with splashes of yellow and blue.”

Great Spirit waved his wand.  It was done.

“What color shall I paint the cactus?”

“Green.  Green is the color of the trees and plants that you painted in the mountains.  Green would be pretty here, too.”

Great Spirit waved his wand.  It was done.

“Anything else?”

“Yes,” said Lizard.  “You painted the sky blue, as well as the sea.  But will you make the sky a deep periwinkle blue?  I think it will be so beautiful with the reds and greens.”

Great Spirit waved his wand.  It was done.  And he smiled.

“Thank you, Great Spirit, for making my home one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”

That evening, Lizard and Great Spirit rested on the top of a mesa as they watched the twinkling starlight bounce off the colors of the mesa.

There you have it.  An off-the-top-of-my-head-children’s-story.  I have no idea why I felt compelled to create that story just then.  Somehow, it felt right.  And when things feel “right,” shouldn’t you just go with it?  Do you like it?

The Specs on “Desert Oasis”

Size: 18″ x 24″

Media: Sharpie marker on acid-free paper (not that Sharpies are acid-free…but well…)

Completion date: May 2013

Price: $100 (this is its value)

Head over to The Sharpie Artist to see my other works.  You’re not only being supportive but if you do buy one, you help me to keep creating.  Yippee!

Otherwise, enter the giveaway!  It starts today and ends at 11:59 p.m. on June 4, 2013.  I will draw a name (via Rafflecopter) sometime on June 4th, with a blog post to announce the winner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why Do You Blog?

This is one of those questions I ask myself and others ask me, too.

And it’s the theme for Finish the Sentence Friday, hosted by Janine, Kate, Dawn, Stephanie and Kristi.

If someone said, here, work for 8-14 hours a day, write, research, and do what you love, would you do it?  You won’t make millions; you probably will make enough to buy a cup of coffee now and then – would you still do it?


I would.

It’s all for the fringe benefits.  Yes, I have selfish, ulterior motives.

What?  Blogging is selfish?

You see…I originally started this blog as a place to park my photos.  I was thinking it would be exclusively for my photography.  And yes, I still like to display my photos here.

But then I thought it would be cool to write about those places I photographed, so I said this blog was about writing, too.  It fit in nicely with when I did NaNoWriMo.

Well, I missed incorporating my artistic skills into my work, so I incorporated all that.

Slowly, something else started happening.  It was like all the above was a seed.

A little seed that with regular cultivation, watering and fertilizer, it started to grow and change.

I wasn’t entirely sure of the direction, but whatever it was, I liked it.

It dawned on me:

I was attempting to inspire.

I was attempting to use my creativity to spread positive, feel-good messages.

photos of purple flowers
Purple flower

So that little seed I planted became a flower that, in retrospect, was a metaphor.  It was something that only looking back did I realize what I was doing.

  • More and more people began responding to my writings.
  • My heart swelled with this need to write about what I personally wanted to read – by things that inspired me.
  • Thus, I wanted to be a mirror that would reflect that which fills my soul.

And, of course, I fall short of my own advice or sentiments; I have bad days like everyone else.  I have days where I’m just not feeling it, or where I only feel like taking a walk in the woods to allow Mother Nature to fill me with her wisdom.

Still, even on those bad days, I fill my vase with enough petals of wisdom and inspiration, that it’s not long before my heart is pumping strong again.

Along the way, I’ve met so many beautiful souls.  I’ve met people who, by just being who they are, give me those same tidbits of wisdom and awe and we’ve become kindred spirits.

The support and love I’ve received have changed me.

Now I’m that seed that turned into a flower.

Other blogs are like the sun’s rays that allow me to grow.  The words that encompass someone else’s inspirational journey are the water droplets that make my leaves grow.  Beautiful photos and artwork are the inspiration that give me the will to grow tall and strong.

I’ll use this opportunity to thank my readers for all the love and inspiration.  I hope to give back at least a little of all the blessings I’ve received.




Introducing Da Vinci the Dog and WW Blog Hop #21

Originally, I had another post I was going to do for Wordless Wednesday, but then Julie did a post about her family dog Kaiser.  I got all sentimental and thought of Hash Brown.  Then I realized I hadn’t introduced my most recent fur-kid.

His name is Da Vinci – named for the Renaissance man who was an artist, mathematician, sculptor, engineer, inventor – all qualities my husband and I hold in high esteem.  When the name popped into our heads, we said, “Da Vinci it is!”

We were going to wait awhile before getting a dog.  But, living in the country/forest, a dog is almost a necessity.

Lots of animals and critters hang out in the woods, especially at night.  Most notably were two feral cats who kept coming around the house and trying to entice our two house cats, Pepe and Ralphie.  Then there was Fred Possum who discovered how to use the cat door.  The wild turkeys and Mr. Bear were also creeping closer and closer.  Let’s not forget the coyotes.

That may sound like a lot to contend with, but actually it’s pretty cool: there’s lots of life and diversity near us, and it’s all part of life in the country.

We needed another canine friend to help us out and keep the cats safe, though.

Da Vinci is still learning the ropes.  I admit, I’m looking forward to the day we can let him out the door and he’ll know what to do and not run off.

Right now, though, we have fun watching him chew on bones (and not our slippers), pounce on his squeaky piggy (and not the cats), running amok around the yard (and not in the house, overturning tables), eating doggie snacks (and not the cat food cans from the recycling) and causing general, sweet disarray.

Oh to have a puppy.

Enjoy some photos I snapped of him:

Da Vinci
Da Vince the black lab
Da Vinci
Da Vinci laying down
Da Vinci the dog
An almost black and white photo of a black and white dog


And it’s Wordless (Wordy) Wednesday.  Link up, have fun, visit some blogs and bark twice!

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How the Rain Makes Life More Beautiful

pink rose
Knock out rose with water droplets

A gentle rain has been rinsing the Earth for the better part of the day.

It is these gentle rains that put me in a reflective mood…and compel me to take photographs of gorgeous things in my yard/forest.

The rain makes everything more stunning.  Picture the rose above without any of those droplets.  Would you stare at it for as long?  There’s something about those water droplets that makes the photo look…

…clean? renewed? refreshed?  crisp?

Maybe it’s all of the above.

I would argue that a photograph with water droplets looks more interesting than the same photograph without water droplets.

The beauty of rain is more than droplets on leaves or petals, though.

It’s the peaceful sound of cleansing and life-giving hydration.

I live in a particularly rainy part of the country.  Not many people know this, but western North Carolina gets A LOT of rain and I’ve heard that it’s just a few inches shy of rain forest classification.

With all that moisture comes lush, diverse greenery.

Rain is symbolic of the completion of a cycle.

In scientific terms, you have evaporation and condensation.  It doesn’t sound very romantic.

Mother Nature’s take is definitely more pleasing: the spring rains that cause the generation of all the plant species and renewal of life.  She doles out a substance that, without it, all terrestrial life forms could not exist.

People know this instinctively: how many people have created poems, songs, books, meditations, or art in honor of the rain?

Part of the beauty in rain is that it’s universal.  It’s been part of the cycle of this planet since the beginning of Time.  Our ancestors witnessed the same drops we’re witnessing now.

In fact, looking at a water droplet is like looking into a rainbow of history.  Before that water droplet came out of the sky, it was absorbed into the air, and before that, it existed as a liquid on the earth.  After evaporating it came back to the earth and the cycle continues over and over again.  Now there’s a more romantic notion of the scientific explanation.

But you don’t need science to tell you how to listen and absorb the beauty of something that is so essential for all life.

I think of how our rain is tainted with chemicals of our human-made products.  I have always felt that this was an unwitting consequence of modern progress.

Sometimes, though, I feel like progress actually hinders us from being completely human and hearkening back to our roots, to a simpler time, place and existence.

Perhaps that’s something else that makes the rain beautiful: when you pay attention, it forces you to slow down.  You and I are genetically programmed to respond to the sounds of Nature, if but only we listen.

Azalea in the rain
Azalea with water droplets

The Beauty of Rain

Your wet caress slaps my face

and yet I smile

For you nourish my spirit

And renew my connection

To the Divine

I dance and feel


across the epochs

Light shines and you cast

A rainbow upon my thoughts

I am free to grow

Nourished by your cleansing

I lay down strong roots-


Just hydrogen and oxygen

And yet a miracle out of


-Cyndi Calhoun, May 2013

Side note:

I love where this blog is going.  It has become my spiritual outlet and I want to thank you, the reader for following along.  Stay tuned: updates are coming as well as some goodies.  🙂

spirea flowers
Flowers from our spirea bushes

Red Rose Meaning and Pictures…and Wordless Wednesday

You knew this post would be “wordy,” right?

If you saw yesterday’s post, you’ll know that I went for a beautiful walk and created a poem about finding inner peace that was inspired by my walk at Lake Junaluska.

I couldn’t pass up photographing the rose garden they have growing near the western shore of the lake.  I found a beautiful red rose and decided to keep photographing it, but changing the settings on my camera.

Sometimes you just have to do these things.

In that moment, I was in the zone.   And as I quieted my mind (which happens naturally as you get ready to shoot a photo), I noticed subtler thoughts running through my head: creativity, passion, success, fulfillment, hope, love, and even happiness.

roses pictures
Four shots of roses

It’s interesting that I was thinking all that while I was shooting photos of this rose, too.

Traditionally, the red rose is a symbol of love and passion.  It can also be a sign of immortality or even connote a memorial to someone.

It’s not surprising, then, that so many people choose the red rose as a symbol of their love or relationship as a gift to their significant other – even if they don’t know the exact meaning behind it.

But there are other meanings, too.

It is a flower that has been around a long, long time.  Ancient societies regarded it as a symbol of life itself or even portraying deep emotion, as well as love.  Even during the Roman times, people associated it with the mythological Goddess of Love.

In modern times, it’s often what a partner in a new relationship will give to the other as a sign of romantic interest.  Perhaps that’s why this flower also carries a message of courageousness, beauty and perfection.

red rose picture
A soft red rose

I have a confession to make.  I didn’t really like roses until I got older.  I don’t know…they were that flower, you know…the one that all the popular kids went on and on about…and I preferred my daisies and Black-eyed Susans.

That is until I discovered that there is literally a rose variety to satisfy every taste.  I needed hardier varieties in my yard: a lot of shade, acidic soil, and a general absentmindedness when it comes to gardening make rose cultivation a bit challenging for me.

I planted some rosa rugosa a few years back and it didn’t survive.  I planted it too close to the walnut tree.

But in the last couple of years,  I got a Rhode Island red rose that’s a climber and it’s happily growing up the side of my house.

Feeling more confident, I planted some those Knock-out Roses in my yard, too.

Though the Knock-outs are hybrids (meaning you don’t want the hybrid variety when it comes to eating them…more on that in a minute), they really turned me around when it came to appreciation for roses.

If the rosa rugosa had survived, I would have said the same thing, though.  I wanted that stuff growing wild in my yard because I envisioned making rose hip soup and putting the petals in salads or serving the candied petals with dessert.

There’s Something Else…

Roses (specifically the rosa rugosas – they’re “pure” roses) have incredible medicinal value.

If you gather young petals (before you see evidence of pollination), their scent is strongest.  The petals are full of vitamin C and if you gather their seeds later on, they are little vitamin E factories.

Rose petals and young leaves purify the blood.

And wouldn’t you know, people have used the rose petals as an aphrodisiac and in love potions.

One of my personal favorites using roses is with rose water.  Though I have never tried to make it myself, I use it on my skin daily – either as a pure solution or with glycerin.

If you have some gin or vodka, you can make your own rose-water.  Basically you let the petals steep in the alcohol and distilled water for about two or three weeks, take the petals out and store in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator, unless you want to spritz your face with it in the summertime).

Still, you can do so much more with the rose: make jam, potpourri, syrup, vinegar, vinaigrette, and even sauces to drizzle over your chicken.

And, of course, the rose is the national flower of the U.S.

One thing I try to do when I gather plants, look at them or even photograph them is to take a few moments and give thanks: for their beauty, for what they provide, and what they represent.

Do you have a rose story?

And now…

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The Wordless (Wordy) Link-up.  No rules: provide a link to your blog and make it interesting so people will want to visit you.  🙂

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