I’m Gonna Make it After All….

Many thanks for this guest post by my daughter Nicole Gatling. Being in the design industry, she is gracious enough to share her insights on three simple inspiration tips. Enjoy!

How Staying Inspired Has Saved Me

I just started a new job where I feel like a mix between Anne Hathaway in “The Devil Wears Prada” and Mary Tyler Moore. I wake up excited for the day, dig my heels into the ground when I walk in the door and try to swing at the curve balls that get thrown my way. It’s the kind of job that just fits. Like a good boyfriend. You know you’ll both learn and grow into the people you’ve always wanted to be and have fun in the process. It might not end in “forever”, but it’ll propel you in a good direction. Of course, it’s not perfect-nothing really is. Just like Anne or Mary, I have days where defeat seems to be chasing me, every slip up gets noticed by my very own version of Miranda Priestly and I agree to tasks that send me on an adventure in the attic praying I don’t fall through the ceiling and land on the CEO’s desk (that’s another post).

On my best days where I can hear “Love is All Around” playing in the background as I hop up the steps to my office and on my mascara running, 3 cups of coffee, “this won’t work”, mass email battle-filled days–it is a fight to stay inspired.

Fortunately, my good friend and mother, Maria Gatling, is a teacher of one of the most important practices we can take up. Staying inspired. It sounds like pie in the sky ideology, but think of the last time you felt truly inspired. The kind where this energy to create, love and be well rushes through you like an unstoppable current and you want to do something great. It can be a rarity for most of us, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it shouldn’t be.

There are a couple of things that my mom teaches that are simple to practice and yield results that are both surprising and fun.

1. Hang an inspiration board. When I first started my job, my walls were beige and bare. No, no, no. This would not do! A couple of weeks in, I hung a giant bulletin board on my wall and started pinning up things I loved, inspiring quotes, advice, pictures of pretty things, any thing that made me say “I want that”,  “I love that” or “YES!”

The board does 2 things for me that make me better at work and at home. First, it reminds me of what I love, what I want, how I want to think and what is good. Reminders like this can change our attitudes and redirect us in the midst of stress or creative drought. Looking at my board every day inspires me to stay focused on a bigger picture than the stack of case studies in front of me and this kind of focus makes me a better worker.

Second, the board pushes me to be on the look out for good things. Sadly, there have been days where all my eyes have seen is my work email on the computer screen and the traffic in front of me on I-45. When our minds are not engaged and excited, how can we be?  I work in a creative industry and it’s a battle to stay “creative and inspired”. I need to take time to find the interesting, weird, beautiful, funny, surprising things.  Every day, I take 3-5 minutes and visit a site or flip through a magazine and grab an image or two that strike or stir me. I print/cut them out and put them on my board. 3 minutes is a vapor and it’s exercise for my eyes to continuously be on the hunt for inspiration. I’ve learned it’s just about everywhere….if you’re looking.

2. Do something that is not work. I just bought a guitar off Craigslist for $75. Music has nothing to do with my job, but I love it and doing something you love will keep you going on days where you think “why did I sign up for this?”. I don’t plan on auditioning for American Idol anytime soon, but I completely unplug from the world when I start trying to learn a song and strum along.  It recharges me and when I am done, I realize I didn’t think of anything besides how pretty E minor sounds to me. We work a lot. Too much sometimes. Doing something that I own and enjoy makes me happy and rinses the gunk and stress of life off my mind. There is incredible value and inspiration in that.

 3. Create Your Space. I miss siting in my mom’s studio, watching her paint and brainstorming ideas. She has done a wonderful job creating a space that is hers. It’s where she works, creates, thinks and it is often a refuge. I don’t have an actual office in my apartment, but I converted my dining area into my space. It was the first area I set up when I moved in. I spend some evenings working on my photography and I love sitting at my lamp-lit desk, record playing, and a mason jar of color pencils at my reach in case I get a genius idea after a glass or two of wine. My space is small, but it’s cozy and sacred. It’s where I sketch out ideas and create. Owning your own space gives a confidence and happiness that carries into your work.

Doing these three things is fuel for staying inspired. Life, work and love is most often messy and a battle. Fighting to stay inspired turns us into a force to be reckoned with. We become better thinkers, workers and lovers. As I navigate through my new job that I love, I don’t fight to stay on staff. I fight to stay inspired, because I want to do good work and my company and network deserves for me to come in with inspired and smart ideas.

Thanks for reading my guest blog! I relocated to Houston from Austin in the spring (gasp, yes you read that right and yes I miss Austin). The humidity here is fierce, but there is good culture, food and lots of transplants looking to meet and share ideas. I work in marketing for an awesome packaging design and display company and attempt everyday to begin and end the day, inspired.  ~Nicole

Connect with me via email:  nicole_williams@mac.com

FB: http://www.facebook.com/nicole.williams.14289   

Web: http://www.nwdphotography.com

Until next time, be well, sleep well, love well, and create something every day! ~Maria



  1. So I tried to post this on my phone and it didn’t upload…
    Nicole you are fabulous – as a writer, photographer and person

    You remind me of Allison at your age…
    same degree
    same job
    same interests
    She bought a guitar

    Now she has kids and tapes their art work along the hallway – doesn’t have to be a masterpeice not does it need to be taped perfectly.
    She bakes and can flood a cookie like a real pastry chef- but only bakes for family

    Yesterday Graham jumped in my car and told me his art teacher was the smartest person in the world – I asked how he knew that – and he said bc she knows everything – he said Miss Anderson likes him bc he loves art

    I am so glad I am your mom’s friend and I love how the three of us met

    Destiny is a funny thing – sometimes things don’t happen for a reason – you just have to…
    Let it Be – that is going to be on the cover of my handmade Christmas card this year.

    May I use your writing on this topic to teach my students about column writing. You put syllables together like a pro.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s