Meaning Begins With An Inkling
Here's how to notice them.
A faint tap on my window roused my attention. In truth, it made me jump, mostly because the window would not be a window a person on the outside could reach without a ladder.
There, hovering outside the glass like a fairy, was a hummingbird. Its wings were copper-lined from the midafternoon sun. It seemed to want my attention, enough so that I laughed at myself as I sucked in my gut, because of course I was sitting in that person-living-alone slouched-on-the-couch position that no one ever sees.
It appeared she was window shopping. Or perhaps she was seeking knowledge that she would carry along on her way. Or maybe, just maybe she dropped by to deliver a message of some sort. Hummingbirds are, after all, nature’s gossipmongers.
She didn’t stay long, a few, maybe ten, seconds, but long enough that I felt a connection with the little messenger.
There was a researcher at UCLA, Melanie Barboni, who was known as the “hummingbird whisperer.” She developed a kinship with the colorful array of birds that she fed and nurtured every day. Her experience was that they do communicate with us and develop a sense of trust when attention is kind and consistent. They even perched on her hand and ate out of her palm, and when she was late with their feeding they let her know it, chirping and flitting about, even dive-bombing her office until she took heed. It was clear that the exchange of information had taken place and a bond was formed.
It got me thinking about how we pick up our information, what sticks and what doesn't. Some science shows humans have over 6,000 thoughts in a day and in the same timespan our brain receives 34 GBs of information, which is why we must be cognizant of where we focus our attention to capture what's important.
As a writer and an observer of life, I pay attention to the details of a passing moment. Something jumps out at me, separates from the pack of other thoughts, tickling my imagination for a bit until it becomes something more, a little reminder, a higher concept idea, or a nugget that creates meaning that feels like a life throughline.
They sometimes seem obvious, as so often life's little reminders are, but only if we're paying attention.
It was an inkling I received from the hummingbird.
Inklings can also come from a word or phrase, read or spoken, or words overheard in a conversation. The word pops out and starts to percolate in my mind as a possible metaphor for deeper meanings. It could be something I witness that’s out of the ordinary. And, often, it’s in nature.
Or a mishap or disruption occurs, once explored reveals a larger theme that can often lead to a transforming message.
It’s an inkling. An inkling sparks a larger thought. An inkling gives a clue or hints to something bigger. A glimmer. Every grand idea or innovation begins with an inkling.
Inking is defined as “a slight knowledge or vague notion.” Furthering the breakdown of the word, inkling originates from the 16th century, from the Middle English word yngkiling which means “whisper.” And, the word inclen, “to hint at.” And, the word inca means “suspicion.”
The British word inkle, as a verb, means to utter in a hushed undertone.
So, when we get an inkling, it’s the whisper, the hushed undertone of an idea. Isn't that delicious?
It wasn't lost on me that the inkling for this post came from a hummingbird. This blog, Thought Changer, is all about inklings that spark new thoughts or ways of looking at life, that lead to positive change. The artwork in Thought Changer's banner, created by my talented dear friend, Ferrell Marshall, stemmed from the idea that a changing thought begins as an inkling light as a feather and becomes a thought to pass along, to share, to pollinate for change and inspiration.
The idea is to pay attention to the inklings, to nurture them, at home, at play and at work.
Brainstorming is all about inklings. They are a part of the magic that takes place in my work with creative clients. We listen deeply for the whispers inside of the idea, of the work in progress, to discover hidden gems. We follow the inklings. Then, the magic is in the details as the project comes together.
Inklings allow us to expand, grow, create, love, raise our consciousness and share amazing ideas with our world.
My greatest wish for you, dear reader, is that you feel inspired to start noticing your own inklings, listening to their whispers, as you, each day, create your work and a life of meaning.
Photo by James Wainscoat on Unsplash
Finding Space in All the Noise
The calm lake beckoned. The house was still sleeping as I fixed my coffee, wrapped in a blanket against the early morning chill, and found a perfect spot in an Adirondack chair on the dock over Lake LBJ.
Not a ripple. The houses across the lake reflected in perfect mirror images on the water's surface.
Ah. Exhale. I took a sip of coffee and started the guided meditation in my favorite app. Then...
A leaf blower with the whirr of a foghorn on a freight train blasted onto the scene.
And. It. Echoed. Tenfold across the lake.
I tried to stay zen, to focus on the muddled voice of the meditation guide only catching every few words. I turned it up but it was useless, the noise drowned everything out. I plugged my ears with my fingers in hopes it would reduce the noise. I so wanted to enjoy these quiet, stolen moments. I tracked the gardener, willing him to stop, thinking, if only the noise would end, then I will find peace.
But, he continued to the next yard. And, then, the next. So, I got pissed at the noise, kept fighting against it, willing it to go away, hoping the damn leaf blower's battery would die.
Right, so that worked. Not. I had to laugh.
It got me thinking about noise, in all its forms, all the noise around us, all the time. The definition of noise is a sound or thing that is "unpleasant or that causes disturbance." So, when you think about it, noise is not just physical noise. It's digital noise, mental noise, and emotional noise. It's excess clutter that starts to feel loud when it's too much.
It's incessant if we let it be.
And, an interesting thing happened. As soon as I focused, not on the annoying noise but, on following this thought - the noise in essence disappeared. Of course, it didn't actually disappear, but it was no longer present in my space, in my sphere of attention. I stopped noticing it.
As soon as I leaned away from it and surrendered to the resistance instead of fighting against it, a space opened, room for consideration, for wonderment, for creativity.
Hmm. Something to think about next time there's too much noise.
Today is a Clean Slate
The sunrise is a clean slate.
That was the thought, the inkling, that popped into my head while meditating in front of the morning's sunrise (the photo is the sunrise off my patio).
It got me thinking how, even as daily tasks and to-do's can at times feel like Groundhog's Day, the fresh perspective of a clean slate at the dawn of each day provides an opportunity to create a more satisfying and expansive experience.
Each day. A clean slate.
It rejuvenates the status quo. It changes the more-of-the-same game. It's a shift in energy.
It can give our big continuing projects, our most important WIP's, new life.
Just the notion of a clean slate feels like a cool breath. In fact, just uttering the phrase feels fresh. Give it a shot.
Today is a clean slate.
Each day is its own opportunity, its own time capsule.
So, then the sunset provides the space for the final strokes of the day, the opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment and gratitude, just for this day.
What will you create today?
Something to think about...
An Anthem for a Certain Age
When is it you become a person of a certain age?
As I was drifting off to sleep on the eve of my recent birthday, I recalled a comment I’ve heard so often in conversation with friends in Hollywood. “If you’re a woman of a certain age you can’t get arrested in this town.” Everyone nodded, like it was a given, a looming sentence we all should prepare for, a label slapped on our foreheads without our say.
The history of the label, which could be put on a man or a woman (most often placed on women), doesn’t have a flattering origin either. It dates back to the 1700’s when Lord Byron coined the phrase to refer to “spinsters” and “unfortunate women” without many prospects.
Today it calls to reference an age range or place in life that’s unspeakable, as in too old to mention the number as it would be embarrassing if it's said out loud. A certain age is also defined as “intentional vagueness.”
It got me thinking, it’s time to reclaim and reframe this label. To own it in a new way.
This trip around the sun I find myself contemplating confirmations, things I’m sure of. In fact, certainties. Things that are not vague. The assurances. Internal nods. The knowing that comes after years of trying, and doing, and being. Self-trust that is sharpened with age.
With this idea, a certain age becomes the age of certainty. Yes! I am a person at the age of certainty.
Even more to the delicious point:
I am a woman of certainty.
The beauty of this is it honors the aging and saging process because it's always evolving. It takes time and seasoning for true certainty, can’t-rock-my-axis kind of certainty, deep knowing but-of-course certainty, quiet wisdom certainty. God, that’s a good feeling.
It’s knowing and living your core truths from which you don’t waver. A sense of certainty is being clear on the yeses and the noes.
I am a woman of certainty.
It’s a sense of home, where, in a world of uncertainties it’s grounding to know this in your core.
So, as I reflect at birthday time, as I do every year, here are a few things of which I’m certain.
For me, certainty is not about being set in my ways but it’s having the discernment and self-awareness to know what’s right for me.
I own my story, not anyone else’s.
Most of the time people don’t notice your shortcomings. They’re busy dealing with their own.
Being well-informed means looking at and trying to understand all sides of the issue. Not easy at times, but important.
Curiosity is way more productive than judgment. Be curious, not judgmental.
Kindness matters. It opens doors, seals connections, and makes people feel safe.
Pauses are vital. They hold promise and provide the breath for solutions and answers and calm and rest and integration and genius, and time to catch up.
Smile, it releases tension.
Underindulging is satisfying.
Spending time with great books and great writers makes me a better writer. And person.
Saying “I love you” breeds vitality. My friends and I tell each other we love each other all the time.
Life is creativity in motion. We are always creating, whether it’s drama or opportunity or connections or works of art on the page, spreadsheet, or canvas – creating with intention builds a life with meaning.
Resistance is a constant force to reckon with. I find leaning into it helps find the path through it, in other words, just take the next step, write the next word, get out the door, pick up the phone.
Our greatest teachers often show up unexpectedly. And they keep showing up until we’re ready to learn what they’re there to teach us.
Balance is the place between effort and ease.
Joy is always bubbling beneath the surface.
Animals are the highest form of angels.
Our quietest fears are where we feel uncertain. A good question to ask is, what am I uncertain about right now?
And, as a woman of certainty, I’m certain there are still many things I’m uncertain about. I welcome them with curiosity.
Care to join me?
Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash
When You Follow Your Own Advice
It's about time for the midyear check-in on my word theme for the year: to record ahas about how things are going and if any shifts have taken place. And, then I share them with you.
Well, I've been stuck around the sharing part. Stuck. Ironically, my word this year is Motion. I've been stuck in motion.
The truth is I've been in the midst of massive motion lately, lots going on in my work life, and changing locations, from LA to Austin, to be near family for the foreseeable future. So, massive motion swirling - physical, energetic, mental, material, emotional. All in about a three-month span.
So how did that lead to a feeling of being stuck in motion?
I haven't been writing. As a creative being in a mad love affair with words, not writing regularly feels like a piece is missing; a big enough piece that it permeates everything else. Barely eeked-out paragraphs and an occasional journal entry have seeped through, but my daily writing commitment has gone by the wayside. I've been in a bit of a quandary about it, beating myself up, at times questioning my drive and desire.
Then, one morning as I lie in bed asking myself why it's been happening and what could I do about it, I thought of a life-changing experience I had a couple of years ago where the advice I gave myself in the big moment was a just tiny thought, a simple charge. When asked how I did it, I said, "just the next step."
It got me thinking about following our own advice and what a good reminder that is. We most often know exactly what we need at a given moment.
So I sat with that. Just the next step. What is the next step? My next step was to journal about it and that entry became the genesis for this post. Feels good to put some words together and share again.
A daily writing habit still felt far away. Judgment still crept in: what about the other stuff you're supposed to be, wanting to be, writing. The stuck was still stuck.
My writing teacher gave me a small portal when I lamented to her about it. I used to be so prolific, I say. I don't know what's wrong with me, I say. She said She's still in there, your writer, your characters, your ideas. Ready to welcome you back when you're ready.
Then, it hit me: What would it feel like to actually take a break, and call it a break? A writing break.
What is taking a break?
It's stepping away, a pause, a planned breather from the thing you're not doing anyway and beating yourself about it. It's not putting it on the calendar nor the to-do list. It's not fretting about it.
Feels kinda scary.
And, new. Not new in the sense of, for me, not writing. But, new in the idea of planning not to write. Because writing is always in the back of my mind: gotta write, gonna write, want to get my words in, daily pages. I didn't write.
It also takes the pressure off. Much of the time we like pressure, time crunches, deadlines, pushing ourselves to complete, excel. Yep, I'm there with you. But, breaks are necessary. Settling into it feels like taking the foot off the gas pedal and setting cruise control. A long exhale.
FOMO creeps in a little like I'll miss an idea or lose valuable time. But, back to my teacher's words: she's ready to welcome you back when you're ready.
When the break is over.
Back to following my own advice: Just the next step.
I have it. The next step is a planned vacay from writing. It's already on my calendar. I'm already feeling withdrawals. And, space.
I'm sure I'll write about it.
What advice of your own do you often heed?
Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash