Finding Inspiration, by Sarah Orman of My Modern Diary
Find Inspiration

Defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something,” inspiration has a terrible habit of evading us when we need it most. Writer’s block, photographer’s rut, painter’s standstill, call it what you will, there is no mistaking its unwelcome presence when it halts an artist’s rhythm, lingering like a fog that refuses to be evaporated by the winter sun.  

During a time where creativity is both respected and encouraged as a real career pursuit, I often find it difficult to continually remain at my most productive self and to banish the despondent thoughts that creep into one's daily life as a result of being uninspired.

There are days filled with excitable enthusiasm as I begin to pursue an idea that entered my crowded mind just minutes before turning out the light the evening prior. Equally, however, there are moments of self doubt and times filled with despair as my creative ability wanes in favor of a more fatalistic perspective. It's honestly a constant struggle.

One of the biggest conflicts I contend with when I’m feeling uninspired is the simple idea of being novel. Despite a touch of pessimism when inspiration eludes me, I sincerely believe it is one of life's greatest accomplishments to possess originality in its purest form. It is unarguably a trait we would all like to be blessed with from time to time. With that being said, however, I can't help but question what it means to truly be original.

My battle with the idea of originality began when I joined the sector of people we refer to as creatives; a thriving industry segment defined as those with the ability to create for a living. Used forcibly in an attempt to emphasize the message that his or her creation was the first of its kind, "original" became a common adjective used repeatedly in every day dialogue and I soon began to associate it with its lesser desired opposite, unbeknownst to the excitable claimant. And while I realize my words may seem a little cruel, I beg you to look beyond my cynical facade and delve deeper into the very idea of originality for yourself.

Take the great Monet for example. Undeniably one of the most renowned painters of the 19th century impressionism movement, it was the ethereal beauty of the French landscape and the way in which the light fell on his many subjects that inspired Claude Oscar Monet during his stride. Today we stand in awe before his famed Water Lily series, perfectly embodying the movement’s dreamy aesthetic. Yet prior to the breathtaking depictions of his gardens in Giverny, it was fellow artist and friend, Eugene Boudin, who admittedly inspired Monet to begin exploring landscapes. With this in mind, one could argue that even the most famed original works of art were born out of influence.

Beyond the obvious visual craftsmanship of painting, influence and inspiration is perhaps most notably evident and celebrated without question in the art of cuisine. The sequential history of cooking unquestionably paved the way for many of today’s highly acclaimed chefs, most of whom are proud to pay homage to the famed culinary professionals who inspired them. Thomas Keller for example, often referred to as America’s greatest chef, makes no secret of the people and places that have influenced his food. Furthermore, he speaks openly about channeling his envy of others in the industry and how he uses it to establish personal goals.

In short, inspiration lies everywhere. In its most obvious form today, it is an image shared via social media. Subconsciously, it is a familiar smell that conjures up memories of a time or a place gone by or simply pausing to appreciate one's surroundings. For Monet it was the heart-stirring French scenery combined with the appreciation of another’s work that led to the creation of his most beloved, iconic landscapes.  For Thomas Keller and his treasured Napa Valley restaurant, The French Laundry, it was the illustrious chefs from the gastronomic capital of the world united with Keller’s own culinary experiences as he traveled through the French countryside that influenced such monumental success.

When I'm feeling overly ponderous, I intentionally turn to some of my favorite artists in search of an awakening, seeking inspiration by choosing to flick through a cherished magazine or read the latest on an influential blog. For the most part, I am able to uncover the incentive I need to continue my creativity and while the end result may not be immediately apparent, I know that the words and images I happened upon during my quest are stored subconsciously in my memory for a future spell of stalemate brainstorming.

At the very core of my opinion is the simple notion and understanding that every idea, every thought, every inventive conception is inspired by someone or something. The theory of originality has admittedly become much harder for me to accept in a world filled with creatives, in its place, however, is the ability to recognize who and what motivates my own artistry and to be honest in both accepting and acknowledging it, just like Monet or Keller.

And so the next time I’m feeling unimaginative, I will pause to recall that there is zero shame in turning to your comrades to reignite that spark. Rather than dwell in our own uninspired self pity or worse still, frown upon those who appear to have drawn inspiration from someone else’s brilliance, we ought to put more energy into acknowledging and celebrating where one’s revelation might have come from. Credible creations are and will continue to be formed by seeking the inspiration that is indeed all around us, and whether they are truly authentic or not is quite irrelevant, after all; perhaps even Monet and Keller were not wholeheartedly original in their excellence.

Written by Sarah Orman Photograph by Jodi & Kurt Photography

Katie O. SelvidgeComment
Home, by Sarah Orman of My Modern Diary

She had bid farewell to England several years ago. With her planned departure from the motherland, she had fearlessly chosen to say goodbye to her immediate family in favor of spending the rest of her life with the man she loved. It hadn’t been an easy decision to make back then, especially given the close bond she shared with her tightly woven circle of family and friends, yet she had known there was no other way.

As she sat at the desk contemplating her situation one gray November afternoon, a solitary tear escaped from her sad, swollen eyes and dissipated on the ink stained paper, a letter to her parents across the ocean. The ache of absence magnified as the words of affection blurred behind the salty spot. No one told her how trying the distance would be she thought, no one mentioned the cruel longing with every birthday, anniversary or family get together.

She pulled a carefully folded sweater from the closet and drew it close to her tear stained face. She inhaled deeply, the familiar smell of home from her last visit to England beginning to fade. It had been almost five years since she’d waved goodbye at the airport, the conflicting moment etched on her memory for eternity. The anticipation of waking up next to her best friend every day had been overwhelmingly arresting, equally, the sorrow that had tugged aggressively at the corners of her excitement left her robbed of truly feeling anything. An unwelcome equilibrium she had tiptoed between every day since.

When the scale was tipped heavily in the direction of despair, troublesome thoughts linked with her inability to have a physical presence in the lives of her loved ones back home would cloud her capacity to think beyond the immediate grief of being lonely. The harsh realities of an absence with no end in sight were sometimes viciously debilitating, and it often took all of her strength and determination not to crawl beneath the soft blankets of her bed to seek comfort and solace in the only place she knew it existed when she felt so low; sleep.

She missed the fells, sporadically decorated according to the season with grazing cattle or sheep. She longed for bucolic sunsets and star strewn skies, for the peace and quiet of her parent’s household and the comfort of home cooked delights. Her mind would often wander to times gone by, recalling evenings filled with much merriment as her parents and siblings gathered around the dining table, feasting, rejoicing. There were so many things she ached for, yet nothing was quite as compelling as the desire to be surrounded by her family when the wistful effects of homesickness gripped her.

With each melancholic episode there was a sinking feeling of remorse as her husband looked on in helpless incredulity. She couldn’t predict where or when the agony of missing England would choke her current disposition, although she had learned to avoid many of the catalysts she had discovered since Virginia had become her place of permanent residence.

She folded the note and slipped it inside the neatly addressed envelope. With it she tried to bury the oppressive vacancy that was sure to sadden her partner on his return from a hard day at the office. Without warning, however, a quiet smile began to grace the scene as her mind wandered to the very reason she had left her family behind almost five years ago. She had chosen without hesitation to end the one distance her heart could no longer bear in favor of the many separations she battled now. And although she missed her homeland and her family more than ever, she knew she had made the right choice.

She stood forcefully, moving with a newfound purpose to sit by the window, where she patiently watched and waited; for tonight there was comfort in a place she had momentarily forgotten as the painful reality of the distance between today and her former life England had almost begun to consume her. He would hold her and all would be well, because home was now here with him.

Written by Sarah Orman Photograph by Jodi & Kurt Photography

Katie O. SelvidgeComment
A Simple, Intimate Desert Wedding
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The desire for small, intimate weddings or elopements seems to be increasing in popularity with our newly engaged readers. And, we love it. We love when couples choose unique and authentic ways to express the most sacred vows they take whether it be in a luxurious ballroom or the beautiful desert—choosing what is most meaningful to them. Here is what photographer Gaby Jeter had to share with us regarding Kitaro and Alexa's desert ceremony:

Kitaro and Alexa, from Switzerland, always wanted to get married in Vegas, as they both don't like big flashy and traditional weddings where everything is according to a fixed plan and everyone is stressed (they've attended a few of those, and it's not their style). 
Instead, they opted for an intimate, simple and beautiful ceremony in the desert. They wanted their day to be about love, friendship, laughter and overall FUN. They wanted to make sure that celebrating their special moment of becoming husband and wife was joyful with those they feel closest to.

Photography by Gaby J Photography  Pop Up Ceremony + Flowers, Flora Pop Hair & Makeup by Ruby Finch Salon dress by BHLDN Getting Ready Location, Palms Place