Motivation to spring forward
Thank goodness for spring.
Those four words seem simple enough, but there’s a lot of backstory behind them. Spring is not just one of my favorite seasons for the blooming flowers and mid-afternoon rain showers. I also celebrate a birthday, along with my friend Teri, which usually means cake. Plus it’s the time of year when all the newness in nature trickles over into my psyche and I approach life differently. My dreary eyes open and I begin to view the world around me in earnest.
I crave motivation as much as cake.
Living in the midwest, I’m much like a bear in the winter. I hunker down and hibernate in my house, not something I’m especially proud to admit. I find myself nesting more, which likely has a lot to do with having a toddler and first grader to nurture. In Colorado, I spent my winters getting outside to ski, soaking at the hot springs or taking walks with my dogs under the bluebird skies and sunshine. I was lucky to be in eyeshot of Mount Sopris daily, which had an uncanny way of motivating my creativity, just as the snow-covered peaks of Aspen did for John Denver.
It’s no wonder he was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Empty cornfields don’t exactly have that same magical, motivating effect on me. Although our house does back up to one of the most beautiful views of Indiana sunsets I’ve ever seen. So much so, I’ve dedicated many of the photos on my iPad and Instagram to the splendor of colors – in all shades of pinks, oranges and yellows – that streak the sky as the sun sets on our rural small town.
Maybe I do understand how John Mellencamp writes his songs.
I guess what I struggle with in being creative for a living is the difference between inspiration and motivation. They are two very different variables for me. I’m often inspired — every day to be exact. Inspiration can be as easy as logging on the Internet to watching Rachel Ray or HGTV. I might read a mommy blog on raising a creative child or see a crafty do-it-yourself decorating idea on Pinterest and feel like I’m ready to take on the challenge. Maybe even change the world.
Then I lose the motivation by the next day and put it off, forever.
I’m the type who typically excels as part of a group. I’m a self-described team player. That’s where I find motivation, through the encouragement and energy from others. I’ve always loved working in a newsroom, for example. Each day begins with a goal requiring all team members to fulfill their part of a project that ends with a final print, every single night. Timelines and margin for error are small. The opportunity to inform and educate through accurate reporting and writing is great.
“Once a journalist, always a journalist” is very real for me.
In column and blog writing, much of daily life spills into my work, and vice-versa. In welcoming spring, I embrace that opportunity to take all that inspires me and mold it into motivation. It’s a delicate balance for a freelance writer who works alone. I look to nature for that needed push. Something as simple as tulip leaves emerging from the damp earth help my cause. I always feel the shift from winter to spring more than any other seasonal change. That might be because I usually eat my way from fall into winter.
So the transition is much more cozy and lethargic.
I’m already feeling the spirit-lifting inspiration spring offers in my everyday world. That could be in my now-walking, talking toddler who I know — through good, old-fashioned mother’s intuition — is destined for a funny, creative personality. He has this side-eye look and smirk he gives that already cracks me up. And hearing him sing “E-I-E-I-O” from “Old McDonald” and “doo-dah doo-dah” from that old “Camptown Races” minstrel melts my heart and makes me want to write a children’s book immediately.
I just need to take that inspiration and turn it into motivation.
April E. Allford has big plans to reduce boxes of her stuff and organize the garage this spring. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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