Sources of inspiration

Spools of thread at Great Stuff by Paul Antiques in Frederick, Md.

Many books, podcasts, blogs, videos, and movies inspired me in the years leading up to the launch of this blog. Tracing their influence on my life is almost a story of its own. I give much credit to these resources, and I am thrilled to share them with others.

In addition to the links below, I suggest looking up these folks on social media. Many of them are on multiple platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), and they offer lots of motivating and insightful words and images on an almost daily basis.

Lastly, I’ve given myself a nice long “To Do” list of new resources to check out. I expect this list to continue to grow, and I welcome suggested additions from readers.

Phase 0: Early exploration

Flower at Lake Linganore, New Market, Md.

These are a few of the books I was drawn to in the years that led up to the actual lead up of Bittersweet Nugget. For a long time now, I have been fascinated by how people find happiness and why some people are more driven toward achievement than others. This period was an early exploration into some of those themes. I wasn’t sure yet where I was going with any of it, but I sure was curious.

The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) – book by Don Miguel Ruiz

The Art of Growing Up: Simple Ways to be Yourself at Last – book by Véronique Vienne (This looks like a book you would put in your bathroom or on the nightstand in a guest room, but it was surprisingly moving.)

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character – book by Paul Tough

Outliers: The Story of Success – book by Malcolm Gladwell

Phase 1: Focusing on health

Peas in a pod, in my kitchen, New Market, Md.

Food turned out to be the key that opened the door to this adventure. In an attempt to feel healthier and to slow down the march of time, I started to look at my diet. The changes that I made in how I cook and eat gave me increased energy and even affected my frame of mind. At the same time, the blogs that I turned to for recipes presented the possibility of blogging as a creative outlet.

I also started reading about drinking and mindfulness as additional factors that could contribute to my outlook and my capacity to thrive. This blog will not preach any specific eating habits to readers; I will only suggest that a focus on physical health can touch other areas of your life in very interesting ways.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – book by Michael Pollan

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways, – book by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig; and Whole30 website

Well Fed – blog  by Melissa Joulwan

Nom Nom Paleo – blog by Michelle Tam

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol – book by Ann Dowsett Johnston

Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety – book by Sacha Z. Scoblic

Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life, book by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Phase 2: Reading and relating

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Entrance to Harpers Ferry Books in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Yay—I was on a roll and really reading again! These writers awakened my passion for storytelling, for connecting with others, and for putting it all out there. They are my heroes.

The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion – book by Meghan Daum

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – book by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar – book by Cheryl Strayed

salt. – poetry book by Nayyirah Waheed

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened – book by Allie Brosh; and Hyperbole and a Half blog

Phase 3: Discovering podcasts and TED Talks

“Savage Beauty (OH)” by Tristan Eaton in downtown Cleveland, Ohio

Thanks to some friends and co-workers, I started listening to podcasts and checking out TED Talks. I fell even more in love with Cheryl Strayed, and I discovered the great Brené Brown. Suddenly I was ravenous for more sources that could inspire me and point the way forward.

Dear Sugar Radio – podcast by Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed

Happier with Gretchen Rubin – podcast

Call Your Girlfriend – podcast by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

The Power of Vulnerability and Listening to Shame – TED Talks by Brené Brown

Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work – TED Talk by Shawn Achor

Phase 4: Ready to launch

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Hot air balloon from Tailwinds Over Frederick taking off at Shade Trees and Evergreens in Frederick, Md.

This was it—the final push I needed to move from the contemplation phase into finally preparing for the launch of my blog. Elizabeth Gilbert became a major influence. And the Pixar flick Inside Out played a role in inspiring the name of this blog, which came to me in the middle of the night just days after watching the movie.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – book by Elizabeth Gilbert; and Magic Lessons podcast

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead – book by Brené Brown

Being Boss – podcast by Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson; and DIY Coaching for Creatives email series by Braid Creative & Consulting (Kathleen Shannon)

Inside Out – movie by Pete Docter and Ronnie Del Carmen

Phase 5: Ongoing enlightenment—more resources to check out:

Shelf in Wonder Books, used bookstore in Frederick, Md.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person – book by Shonda Rhimes

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – book by Carol Dweck

Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead – book by Tara Mohr

TalkRx: Five Steps to Honest Conversations That Create Connection, Health, and Happiness – book by Dr. Neha Sangwan

The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help – book by Amanda Palmer

Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life – book by Glennon Doyle Melton

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul – book by Danielle LaPorte

Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges – book by Amy Cuddy

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work – book by Shawn Achor

The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control is the Engine of Success [or Mastering Self-Control] – book by Walter Mischel

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – book by Charles Duhigg

Writing Class Radio – podcast by Andrea Askowitz and Allison Langer

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life – book by Anne Lamott

Poetry and various writings by Pema Chӧdrӧn, Louise Erdrich, Khalil Gibran, Mary Oliver, Roethke, Rumi, Warsan Shire, Mark Nepo, and the list goes on . . .

I’m always open to new sources of inspiration, so feel free to share your favorites!

And if you haven’t done so yet, consider checking out my About this blog page.