Creation Inspiration: Start A Quote Book


Ever come across a passage, poem or quote that really speaks to you? How do you remember it? Do you dog-ear the page? Highlight the passage? Pin the quote to your words of inspiration board? Save them all in a memo on your computer? Read it once and let it go? I used to do all of the above until about a week ago when I finally decided to start a quote book.

I picked up a small notebook at a local shop and started by jotting down all my absolute favorite quotes from over the past few years. I dug up those random note cards, looked up all my highlights in my kindle app and wrote down all the saved bookmarks and highlighted passages that have spoke to me. It’s quite therapeutic to focus on a quote, record it and to be able to look back at all the words that connected with you at different times in your life. Think of a quote book as basically your own little playbook or pep talk. Sometimes we need a few words of inspiration to get through the day or to remember to treat ourselves properly. Our thought patterns can be chaotic. Sometimes they are a disservice. It’s helpful to bring yourself back to center with a few words of encouragement, cue the quote book!


Here are a few of my favorite quotes, passages and poems to get you started:
Talk to yourself like you would someone you love.

Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you or home is nowhere at all. – Hermann Hesse

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. -Rumi

Cry everyday if you want, not because you’re sad, but because the world is so beautiful and life is so short.

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance. -Oscar Wilde

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift. -Mary Oliver

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Asking Too Much by Andrea Gibson:

“I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with.

Tell me why you loved them,

then tell me why they loved you.
Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through.

Tell me what the word home means to you

and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name

just by the way you describe your bedroom

when you were eight.
See, I want to know the first time you felt the weight of hate,

and if that day still trembles beneath your bones.
Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain

or bounce in the bellies of snow?

And if you were to build a snowman,

would you rip two branches from a tree to build your snowman arms

or would leave your snowman armless

for the sake of being harmless to the tree?

And if you would,

would you notice how that tree weeps for you

because your snowman has no arms to hug you

every time you kiss him on the cheek?
Do you kiss your friends on the cheek?

Do you sleep beside them when they’re sad

even if it makes your lover mad?

Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion

or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain?
See, I wanna know what you think of your first name,

and if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mother’s joy

when she spoke it for the very first time.
I want you to tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind.

Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel.

Tell me, knowing I often picture Gandhi at ten years old

beating up little boys at school.
If you were walking by a chemical plant

where smokestacks were filling the sky with dark black clouds

would you holler “Poison! Poison! Poison!” really loud

or would you whisper

“That cloud looks like a fish,

and that cloud looks like a fairy!”
Do you believe that Mary was really a virgin?

Do you believe that Moses really parted the sea?

And if you don’t believe in miracles, tell me —

how would you explain the miracle of my life to me?
See, I wanna know if you believe in any god

or if you believe in many gods

or better yet

what gods believe in you.

And for all the times that you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself,

have the prayers you asked come true?

And if they didn’t, did you feel denied?

And if you felt denied,

denied by who?
I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror

on a day you’re feeling good.

I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror

on a day you’re feeling bad.

I wanna know the first person who taught you your beauty

could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.
If you ever reach enlightenment

will you remember how to laugh?
Have you ever been a song?

Would you think less of me

if I told you I’ve lived my entire life a little off-key?

And I’m not nearly as smart as my poetry

I just plagiarize the thoughts of the people around me

who have learned the wisdom of silence.
Do you believe that concrete perpetuates violence?

And if you do —

I want you to tell me of a meadow

where my skateboard will soar.
See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living.

I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving,

and if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes.

I wanna know if you bleed sometimes

from other people’s wounds,

and if you dream sometimes

that this life is just a balloon —

that if you wanted to, you could pop,

but you never would

‘cause you’d never want it to stop.
If a tree fell in the forest

and you were the only one there to hear —

if its fall to the ground didn’t make a sound,

would you panic in fear that you didn’t exist,

or would you bask in the bliss of your nothingness?
And lastly, let me ask you this:
If you and I went for a walk

and the entire walk, we didn’t talk —

do you think eventually, we’d… kiss?
No, wait.

That’s asking too much –

After all,

this is only our first date.”
I hope these words that have had an amazing impact on me touched you as well. I have so many more inspiring passages, some that come from books I read or wanderings on the internet or by way of friends, all these words are so important that I wish to never be without them and therefore the reason I created a quote book. Quote books are also an amazing gift especially if you customize them for the particular person or even more so for a particular time in a person’s life. I hope you’ll make one this year and continue to fill it until you’re forced to start volume two.

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Sarah’s Five Must See Documentaries on Netflix

Hey booboos! It’s not a stretch to say this post lacks a bit of substance, but these five documentaries are chock full. If I’m not watching adventure or travel documentaries, it seems the only type of TV I truly like is that which practically rips my heart from my chest. If I’m sitting wide-eyed, unblinking and holding both cheeks in my hands then I’m enjoying myself, even if it looks like I’m about to cry, which I probably am. I’m sure you’ve watched Making a Murderer by now. If you haven’t, kick off your ‘questioning life and existence’ documentary binge by watching it on Netflix. Making a Murderer really reawakened a true crime obsession that I’ve had for at least a decade. My family was less than thrilled that one summer at the beach when I bought five true crime books, all with various blood patterns splattered across the covers. If you’re not into true crime, don’t worry, these documentaries cover a broad range of topics, but fair warning, all are pretty dark.live-seasoned-netflix-documentary-suggestions

 

Amanda Knox – The story of American exchange student, Amanda Knox, when she is tried and convicted of murder in Italy. This documentary is enthralling because it features in-depth interviews from Amanda herself as well as her boyfriend at the time (also convicted) and the detectives who worked the case. Truly a terrifying story because I realized anyone can get caught up in a serious situation.

The Square – A current, first person account of Egyptian revolutionaries organizing against the regime. The Square shed a lot of light of a story I knew relatively little about. It’s a documentary that encourages empathy and cultural understanding by highlighting another country’s relationship with their own government.

Audrie & Daisy – Is a heart wrenching look at the effects of bullying in today’s world where photos and fibs are spread online like wild fires. Audrie & Daisy helped to remind me of the struggles that young girls and boys face each day throughout middle and high school. If you have children, this is an important documentary to watch, but not necessarily with them. Have tissues handy.

13th – The 13th highlights government policy that led to the massive success of private prisons in America and the perceived motive of those moves. This documentary serves up stats and information that will come in handy during your next cocktail party debate about the prison system in American without you having to read The New Jim Crow, which is an enlightening book that I’m constantly telling everyone to devour.

The Culture High – Possibly the hardest documentary for me to watch, The Culture High, features graphic scenes and stark realities of the war on drugs in America. The criminalization of drugs in America is a topic I’ve personally had to deal with and suffer the consequences of, which is why I cried throughout this movie, knowing how lucky I was and how unlucky others were when dealing with the same drug possession charges.

If you’re wanting more, I highly recommend these true crime documentaries, none of which are on Netflix at the moment: Central Park 5, The Jinx, and The Staircase.

Now go! Go feel pain, agony and helplessness and hopefully gain more empathy for our fellow man’s struggle.

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Living The Tao of Pooh

“The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”

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Hi friends!  A couple weeks ago, I took a quick trip to Philadelphia to help my childhood friend move into her first home.  As I’m waiting at the airport, I thought of another amazing friend and sent him a quick text, ‘hey, pick me up on your motorcycle!’ I totally expected the text to be the start of another conversation instead of an actual accepted invitation. A few hours later, I’m waiting at the PHL terminal and a shiny blue motorcycle pulls up. I’m handed a helmet, I swing my leg over the seat and we’re off, speeding down I-95 towards the city of Brotherly Love.

After an iced chai and a funny catch-up chat, we headed to his house in my old neighborhood, Fishtown. I sat down and looked over his prints from a recent trip to the UAE, Oman and Turkey. While I could have looked at them for hours, the photo editor in me flipped through them insanely fast only allowing a fraction of the photos to leave an imprint in my mind. I can still imagine them today. I’m excited to see how he uses my favorites, but also the images that I may have passed by too quickly. Photos are magical in that the way in which you use them can completely alter the image and message. Saleem has an uncanny ability to work with his photographs in this manner.

While I was shuffling through the images, I kept thinking of my childhood friend, Steph, the one I was supposed to be helping move in. I was torn in opposite directions, stay and hang out with Saleem who so kindly picked me up from the airport or rush off to Steph’s since she was expecting me. I hated the creeping feeling of guilt so after a quick pitbull play session and a few minutes of chill time in the backyard I said my goodbyes to Saleem.

saleem-ahmed-turkey-1 Continue reading

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Feeling Inspired

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Can you smell fall in the air? While I’m looking forward a season of cozy days spent indoors, our camping trip last weekend and photos of the changing scenery make me want to get outside. Even knowing that tomorrow afternoon I get to sit on the sidelines and watch Alex’s soccer practice has me excited (and brings me right back to the many fall seasons spent playing soccer when I was growing up).  It’s all just a reminder of how important it is for our souls to spend a bit of time outside, especially during these transitions from one season to another. Spend some time outdoors this weekend, letting yourself take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the changing seasons. xo

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Lessons of Blogging

It has been over eight years since I first created a blog. My first post is too embarrassing to link to, but it was a montage of peace signs found around Philadelphia. Not much has changed. Over the years, I’ve written about culture, nightlife, nature, traveling abroad and random tidbits. I’ve tried out three hosting platforms, various styles of posts combining images and sometimes longwinded recolections of life events. A few years ago Katie and I teamed up to create a shared journal: Live Seasoned. The quality of past (and not so past) posts and photos sometimes make me cringe, and I probably have more typos living on the web than hairs on my head, but whatevs. I love sharing ideas and starting conversations not only with Kate, but with all of you.

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Here’s what I’ve learned:

Write about what you love – even if everybody ignores it. It happens more often than not. You’ll pour your little soul into a blog post, finish it up at 2am and deem it the best damn thing you’ve ever written. Twelve people will look at it and only four will make it through the entire post. You’ll cringe at the bounce rate, but you’ll do it again next week and your heart will feel happy. Five years from now you’ll get a random email of thanks from a stranger for that blog post and you’ll think, ‘well, at least it has 13 hits now.’

It’s takes effort to be authentic. Just like waking up every morning and striving to be an individual, it does take some effort to remain authentic. You’ll fall into a rut where every post and picture on your IG feed looks the same and you’ll think, ‘oh, maybe I should love pineapples too! Everyone else loves them..’ NO! You do not have to love fucking pineapples, if clementines float your boat, you post about clementines.

Your audience decides which posts do best, you do not. Even if you want everyone to love volunteering, they probably won’t. You want to draw attention to slave labor in Thailand? No one cares. They want what they want. Give it to them, but don’t stop posting about the things that matter to you. If it’s important to you, it’s important to someone else too.

People love the shit out of selfies. Feeling vain every time you post a selfie? No? That’s good because people eat that shit up. You’ll have to get over it. I did. Well, I’m trying. I still grumble about it to friends, but I no longer hide behind my camera, I step in front of it as well and guess what? People love that shit! They want to see you, the voice of the blog, they want to know you, so let them.

Likes mean nothing, but sharing means something. It’s true. Liking a post on social media is great, but it’s the comments, sharing and back-links that give your site traction. Be thankful for all of it, but really let back-linkers, commenters and sharers know how much you appreciate their ongoing support.

You’ll wonder why the fuck you spend so much time writing a blog. You will. There is SO MUCH STUFF on the internet. Sometimes it seems like you’re just throwing more shit on the pile, but as long as it’s good shit, helpful shit, shit that will improve someone’s life in some way, you should keep adding it to the internet. Keep creating.

You may take a teensy break. Or you may stop writing for months at a time. That’s okay. Don’t apologize for it. Life is important, you may get busy living it, but when you have a second, come back to your blog. Your readers missed you and they want to know that you’re still alive.

Be prepared to be googled and judged solely on your blog content. Sometimes I forget that everyone googles. Shit. When you post insanely personal blog posts about breakups and IUD insertion, expect colleagues, clients, long lost friends, people you met randomly for five minutes, and even potential employers to google you and see those posts where you laid it all out there. They will see them and they’ll bring it up in person and it will be awkward as fuck.

You will try to censor yourself. Write, revisit, and re-write, but don’t silence yourself. Feeling vulnerable is completely natural, but we all appreciate truth. Be brave! Also, use spell check.

There are things you could and should be doing to improve your blog. Get over it. Put forth the effort or let it marinate for a bit, but don’t feel bad about your blogging efforts.

Do you. Whatever your blog is, whatever it becomes, you do you. You’re even allowed to curse.

Photo by the lovely Jai Morton.
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5 ways to go the f to sleep

live-seasoned-2016-malaysia-by-saleem-ahmed

Does sleep elude you? I’ve been there. Most times it’s due to stress or other irregular factors, but sometimes I just can’t fall the f*ck to sleep even if it’s imperative. First things first, put your damn phone down, unless you’re trying to sleep right now.. in that case, read on:

  • Read a book – reading is my first snooze move. Pick a book that you’d like to read, but is either a little bit beyond comprehension or slow moving. Whatever you do, don’t grab a nail-biter because then you’ll definitely be up all night. I usually pick up something by one of my heros, John Muir, when I want to induce drowsiness. His writings are basically a peek into his diary, interesting, but at times long winded and wordy. No offense Mr. Muir!
  • Write in a journal – if you’re not a big reader, try writing before bed. If I go this route, I usually jot down a quick recap of my day, while also mentioning what I plan to do the next day. Writing in a journal is an easy way to do a brain dump of sorts. Flush out anything you’ve been needing to say or express and leave it in your journal instead of your mind while you get ready for bed.
  • Breathing meditation – pranayama (sanskrit word for breathing) is an amazing tool for relaxation. Even if you’ve never tried pranayama before, you’re capable, it’s simply being mindful of the breath. Lay on your back with one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Take a deep belly breath in while you count to four, hold for two seconds then exhale long and slow for four seconds. Repeat this breath cycle without letting your mind wander, continuously focusing and counting your breath until you feel relaxed and ready to slip into a slumber.
  • Yoga nidra – yogis everywhere are probably rolling their eyes since yoga nidra is waking sleep and therefore one isn’t necessarily meant to snooze midway through, but I have to admit that I fall asleep nearly every single time.  It’s actually a problem, but at least I’ve discovered a great way to drift off to dreamland.  There are actually a few yoga nidra recordings meant to put you to sleep and here’s one that’s particularly good. Everyone is different though, so seek out recordings that speak to you and make you feel relaxed. Remember, you don’t need recordings specifically geared towards sleep since all nidras are calming and will likely put you into some type of trance state.
  • Conduct a full body scan – this is my favorite way to encourage sleep and something that I use quite frequently. Start by shaking out your limbs and settling down onto your mattress. Get comfortable. Mentally tell yourself to relax each body part, starting with a segment of the body and disecting it into smaller parts from there.  It should sound something like this, “relax your right foot, relax your big toe, relax your second toe, relax your third toe, relax your fourth toe, relax your baby toe. Now relax the top of your foot. Relax the bottom of your foot. Relax the ball of your foot, the arch and the heel of your foot. Now relax your ankle, etc…” I recommend breaking down each body part as much as possible, but you can focus on larger part groups (ie the right leg instead of the right shin, calf, knee, back of the knee, etc) if sleep is less elusive for you.

That’s how it’s done folks! Fall asleep faster with these five natural nap inducers.

*Photo of a famous Sarah Schu power nap in a ridiculously dirty Malaysian guesthouse captured by Saleem Ahmed.
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The Upside of Quitting

This post was inspired by this podcast, which I listened to a long time ago and tried my hardest to ignore until I couldn’t anymore.

sarah schu by saleem ahmed

We all do it. Nope, not quit, I mean we all hang on too long. We grasp at various things in our lives as if we can’t go on without them when really those things may not be serving us anymore. Jobs, projects, relationships, material items..

This year has been really strange. To be honest, I feel like I’ve been in a fog since January. Lost. Confused. Paralyzed by options and decisions. Unable to move forward yet unable to stand still. Unsure of my path. Constantly telling myself that change is inevitable and good (I truly believe it) yet still uncertain about where the fuck I’m going. I know that’s okay. I tell myself that every damn day. I’m telling myself that at this very instant. I’ll tell myself that first thing when I wake up tomorrow and right before I close my eyes to sleep.

Over the course of the last seven months, I’ve shed most things. I’ve quit multiple jobs. Jobs that I once loved. Jobs that used to feel fulfilling, but suddenly seemed hollow. I basically quit this blog, a project I was dedicated to for over two years straight.. until one day I just wasn’t anymore. My boyfriend (and best friend) and I decided to break up after more than three years together. I moved out of the best apartment I’ve ever lived in. I gave or tossed away most of my things. I downsized.

I sheltered myself from the outside world and focused on making it through the weeks and weeks and weeks. Quitting, giving up, abandoning areas of my life that I once valued highly and dedicated myself to felt a lot like failure. It didn’t feel good, but deep down it did feel right.

It’s hard to manage when it feels like everything is churning, but eventually the sea will settle and everything will stop. Even then the calm is terrifying. Maybe more so than the churning. It’s like the silence after an enormous crash. Something, everything, has just happened, but now it is still and where do I go from here? I’m not sure, but I know there’s an upside of quitting. I can’t say for certain that I’ve found it yet, but I’m trusting in the process. I’m going with my gut and I’m pushing the fear of uncertainty aside each day until opportunity presents itself.

sarah schu by katherine albin

I hope when you are dealing with enormous change you will allow yourself the same space to heal and grow. I also hope you will take long walks in the woods with friends and allow others in so they can encourage you to come out once more.

These images were shot by Saleem Ahmed & Katherine Albin. Two wonderfully talented photographers and friends.

 

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A New Season

Hey there, we’re still here! Somewhere.

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As the weather has changed, we’re finally enjoying spring in the mountains and have turned our attention outside. Breakfast on the deck, planting a little bed of veggies, cleaning up the pond, afternoons at the park, which morph into evenings and dinner in the park. It’s all amazing, but it’s pulled me away from the computer, which is both good and bad. I love all of the time in the sun and fresh air, and there’s nothing that puts a bigger smile on my face than digging in the dirt (especially when the boys help), but I do miss documenting our days. So, I’m hoping to get back here, even if it’s at a more relaxed pace over the next weeks/months.

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The photos in this post are from a Mother’s Day hike that Alex and I took up our mountain to the old cabin in the woods. I wanted to spend one-on-one time with each boy on Sunday, and when I asked Alex what he wanted to do, “hike to the cabin” was his idea. It was so perfect. There was only one moment when I threatened to leave him in the woods – three year olds are tantrum masters. But we recovered, and then had a great time exploring that cabin.

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Every time I visit the cabin, I’m in awe of what it must have taken to trek all of the materials to that spot, and I’m also left with so many questions. Who was it? Why there? when did the cabin start to fall apart? It looks like such a quality piece of work, not a temporary shack. And it’s so cool that I wish I could freeze it in time, but I know that we just have to let nature take its course.

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On this particular trip Alex came to the realization that “maybe this was a house!” and “maybe somebody lived here!”. It was amazing to watch his little brain grasp these big ideas, especially as he started to wonder what happened to the cabin, where did its floor go, etc. etc.

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And in other news, little Luc started walking over the weekend! Soon the three of us will be taking that hike together.

And with that, I’m signing off to get back out in the garden. I’ve been working hard in that space and am so excited to share/document the work.

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