The Power of Inspiration: How it Can Change Our Lives
Caitlin, thank you so much for chatting with me today. Welcome back to the podcast. Thank you.
Thank you, my friend. It’s good to be back.
Oh, it’s so good to have you. We’re talking about your incredible new book, The Hope Dealer. And I was hoping we could start with you reading the introduction because I feel that’s really special. And really important in terms of finding inspiration, finding hope and understanding the place that has, within us and around us. And I just love you to stop there.
That’s so beautiful. I would love to. Settle in everyone, storytime. Okay, so, introduction. I believe that inspiration has the power to change us. It can spark our imagination, stir the creative forces within us and spur us into action, thereby altering the course of our lives. Inspiration is what motivates us to create, be it art, food, music, poetry, or change within ourselves or the world around us. Inspiration sustains us, excites us and empowers us to think, feel and act in new ways. It helps us to see things differently, to open our imagination to new possibilities. When we open ourselves to new possibilities, we reconnect with a sense of hope. Hope is, after all, a form of inspiration and a potent one at that hope has the dual role of not only inspiring us, but also inviting us to trust. Our highest hopes are always rooted in a longing for positive change and the belief that change is possible. In fact, the word hope itself is imbued with a sense of trust and confidence. One of its origins is the old English word “Hopa”, meaning confidence in the future. It is my own hope that this book inspires you and gives you confidence in the future. The pages that follow are full of perspectives, prompts and questions that invite you to relate to things like rejection, sorrow, stuck-ness, self-doubt, emptiness, vulnerability and grief in new, empowering and hopeful ways. My intention is that these words inspire you to set fire to limiting beliefs, reframe resistance, and rejection, and say “sayonara” to self-doubt and perfectionism while building intuition, resilience, courage, and compassion. The messages are intended to help you reconnect with a sense of positivity and self-trust so that you can tune into your highest, most hopeful self, every single day, no matter what comes your way. Do you want me to continue or should I pause there?
Crafting Life Experiences Into Meaningful Reflections Through Writing
Pause there, because that is so incredibly beautiful. And it touches on everything that I want to talk about today. That is hope. That is trust. That is reframing. And inspiration for me has taken me on so many journeys be–not that I like labelling things, but whether we could say good or bad. But it is–it has all come from inspiration. And I love this book. So, so much. And I would love to start with your inspiration for writing such a beautiful piece of work.
Well, thank you for saying that that is next my day to hear it. And it’s so interesting. The way that this book kind of came about, and even just the feeling of putting it out in the world, I guess the place to begin would be to talk about writing itself. And what that means to me because I–before I had anyone to write for, I wrote for myself, because writing for me has always been a form of alchemy. So it’s been this opportunity to process and digest life experiences, and then transform them into something beautiful, and hopefully something useful. And so it’s always been this sort of intuitive practice of trying to articulate the positive lessons offered by every experience, no matter how, no matter how challenging. So I think that, you know, the tone of all of these writings is really around optimism. And I think that that sense of optimism and that sense of hope, come from a willingness to find the silver linings, right? To a willingness to take the bitter and turn it into something sweet and something meaningful and something nourishing for the path ahead. And so that’s why I write in the first place, it’s as an act of alchemy, as a way of learning about life, about a way of finding meaning in life, a way to understand and then to try and embody the lessons that life has offered. But it’s not just sort of like making field notes, right? So when we share our writing, it makes an offering out of what we learned along the way. And so I began to share my writing with this humble hope that my words might make somebody else’s experience a little bit easier or a little more inspired or a little more empowered. And, you know, often what I write about is my own experience, but I often, I do write a lot about, you know, things that I witnessed in the world or themes that I noticed in people around me and things that they might be struggling with. And it’s really such a privilege to be able to share it. And so how I began to share it was I had a blog, and–and then my husband and a couple of friends and I started a street magazine, as you do here in Byron Bay. This is a, I can’t even remember how many years ago it was. But we started the street mag in Byron Bay, and it was like a black and white print mag that came out every week. And it was super fun. We had all of these cool, you know, columns with like, good guides, and that kind of thing. So that you could kind of pick it up and instantly, like, understand what was happening in town where you could eat, where you could see, you know, DJs, or music or what was happening. But we also had, like a book review column written by my coworker at that time, who’s now the owner of Open Book, which is an amazing bookstore in Perth. She wrote a book review. And we had Tarot scopes, which were like your, you know, your horoscopes, but a tarot card drawn for each sign and that kind of thing. So we had all this fun content. And one of the gals that was working with us is like, “Caitlin, why don’t we take your, your blog posts and your Instagram posts and like, why don’t you make a call? Why don’t you have a column?” It had literally never occurred to me, like, that’s the funny, that’s the funny part is like, I’m here, I was a writer, and it never occurred to me to like, actually share my work. And so I said, okay, yeah, let’s do it. And the reason that I was mentioning that is because it became this weekly series. And the theme really started to emerge. Because when you’re showing up in your writing something every week, you start to sort of notice, like, oh, there’s, there’s, there’s themes here, right,? And–and so that was important, but what’s more important was that readers, like, came up and talked to me in the grocery store about it. And they would say, “Oh, you know, this, this, you have no idea how much I needed this week’s message.” But that just really hit home for me. And I would have friends going to other people’s houses and seeing that they’d clipped out the column and put it on their fridge or that they had all of the columns on their fridge or that it was on somebody’s bathroom mirror. And it was so important for me to be able to A. to interact with my community in that way. But B. to see the way that like having something tangible, to hold on to. And that sense of divine timing of like, that message landed for me at the right time, how important those two things are. And so that was really the inspiration behind creating this book, which was many years ago. But that was the origin story was this, like, I wanted to create this interactive tool, where you could still have a sense of receiving that–that right message at the right time, and to package them together. So that, you know, it was a collection of writings that were all around these themes that I just mentioned earlier when I read the introduction, so it’s super gratifying and exciting to see it, like, all together in a book now. But I have to tell you that like, there was a moment, there were a few moments where I was like, no one will read this, like why this is, you know, you’re, you’re editing it, you’re reading it, and you’re going this is shit. And I tell you that because I think there’s often this like overconfidence, that’s sort of like promoted by people like me. And I have no bones about sharing the fact that self-doubt is just a byproduct of living a creative life. And it’s part of the process. And it’s part of that. It’s learning to dance with it, right? And that voice gets smaller and smaller and smaller and quieter and less dominant. But even people even published authors, right? I’m a second-time published author, but I’m still dancing with that. Resistance and that self-doubt and that little voice and I’m overriding it. And I just want to share that because that’s one of the big themes that I talk about in the book. And that’s why it’s so important to me to talk about those things is, because everyone is feeling that way. It’s not just you, right? It’s not just us, I think we get caught into that space and like I’m the only person that doubts whether this is good enough to share.
Facing Challenges With Emotional Courage
So when that came up for you, how did you get past it?
Um, well, it’s a practice, right, like everything in life, but I think that I’ve, I’m emotionally really courageous. So I would say like, I’m quite willing to, like, put it all out there and bare my soul. But what was a turning point for me was actually when I lost my little brother four years ago, he died suddenly. And I think that that really brought a lot of things into focus for me. And one of them was, I don’t want to live a small life, I want to live a brave, big life, right? And I’m not going to waste my energy on self-doubt. Because I believe that I’m here to help. And if this book or whatever project I’m working on at the moment, could be of service to one person or 10 people or 100 people, that’s enough. Like, that’s enough of a reason to put it out there. So that’s one piece of it. The other–the other piece of it is I don’t take credit for any of this, right? Like, none of this is actually mine. To me, all–all creativity is just sort of like a download from the Divine, right? And I’m not saying that, like, as if I have some kind of access to the Divine that other people don’t. Like, I don’t have the Divine’s 1-800 number, but I think we all have that. That is–that is what we all have, we all have gifts, we all have the ability to sort of deliver something, right? Into the world. And if I believe that, which I do that these are gifts that are on loan to me from the Divine for this lifetime, maybe for more lifetimes, I don’t know, then who am I not to share them? Because it’s not mine. So it’s none of my business. Right? So it’s sort of like that it is not mine in the first place. It’s removing the sort of ego out of it. And that’s really freeing. So I think those are the two sorts of perspectives that, like, I want to be courageous because I want to live a big brave life. And these aren’t my, what I’m sharing isn’t mine anyway, it’s just sort of an offering. And I’m a conduit for it. So let me get out of the way.
How To Reconnect With Joy And Rediscover Fulfillment
Whoa, get out of the way, ego. Beautiful lesson. And I really love your story, because it–the writing piece. I mean, you follow joy, right? I mean, that’s what it was. And that’s what has ultimately led you to this path. And so following that joy, how do we, how do we get back there, because I feel like, especially these last few years where things get a bit tough. And so, you know, we feel like we have to knuckle down and just, you know, get things done, get on with it. And we kind of lose a sense of what brings us joy, and all those little things that are really important to be able to do and–and, you know, move ourselves away from that, I guess that hustle. How do we get back to experiencing joy?
Like, joy is such a juicy topic. And I think that there’s, there’s, like, a variety of pathways into joy. But I would say some of the most important sorts of principles are that can help us find our way into more joy is–oh my gosh, like we could record a whole series on this. But–
I’m down, if you’re down.
Jackie and I have never met, don’t, like, so we’ll be back for 10 more episodes. So. Okay, the first thing is pleasure, right? And so we have this sort of to access pleasure. Typically, what stands in the way of it is an obsession with productivity. Right. And so all of the things that actually bring us deep, meaningful pleasure. It doesn’t mean that they’re like, you know, big fancy things, or that they take lots of time, it’s just that they are satisfying. They usually don’t have an outcome, a tangible outcome. And that’s really uncomfortable for us, because we’ve been trained to be productive. We’ve been trained to trade, you know, time for money and achievement for self-worth. And so for a lot of us, just even carving out space for something that is purely pleasurable, is there’s so much resistance to it. And so I think the first thing we have to do is name not and go. All right, like that’s not my fault. That’s sort of something that all of us are dealing with because it’s, it’s–it’s a cultural sort of dilemma, right? So we have to name that. And then from there, it’s like, okay, well, how can I actually build pleasure into my day? Because I think pleasure is a pathway to joy. I don’t know if I sort of said that. But pleasure is a pathway to joy. So how do we build space for that in our lives, and I think that even just, like, carving out, you know, a pocket of time in your day to do something that is completely unproductive and completely pleasurable, is–it’s a revolution, right? Like, it’s an act of rebellion against all of those forces that are trying to keep you that are benefiting from you, your attention being poured into productivity. So I think that’s one pathway. And I think curiosity is another pathway to joy. So that is sort of the same as pleasure, it’s like just following, you don’t know where it’s going to end up. So you don’t know if it’s going to be productive, right? And it’s just sort of like letting that tail of curiosity lead you down a path. And I know that curiosity is something that you really treasure and–and prize in your life, Jackie. And I think that it’s–it’s such an important principle. And the people who, like, I look around at who are, you know, in the later stages of life that I’m like, they’re super amazing and inspiring. It’s theirs, they’re curious to the last day, you know, they’re open to the last day, I’ve been emailing with an 89-year-old who’s learning to meditate. And she borrowed my first book, I believe, meditate from the library. I am so inspired by her because she’s 89. And she’s like, I’m gonna, I’m gonna learn to do this now. And so I think that, yeah, you look around at the people who are like, still very much alive and awake in life, and they haven’t sort of folded in on themselves. And they’re curious, and they’re open. So I think that’s another–I think that’s another pathway towards joy. I think the other thing is, like playfulness. So undervalued.
How Joy and Playfulness Can Strengthen Us and Help Us Grow
So, something like an example of playfulness is, like literally playing, like, so my mom’s just arrived from the States for–to be with us for the holidays. And I’m so excited for so many reasons. But one of the things I love is that, like she’s really into playing games. And so she’s–she’s brought this, like, dominoes game with her. And she’s taught me to play and now all the two older kids can play. And so last night, my mom, my husband, and the three kids, and I–we’re all sitting around a games table that we have, we have an official games table.
And we played this game together. And it’s like, it’s–it’s pointless, right? Like, it’s not productive. Like, you know, yes, we do keep score, because we’re competitive. But it’s pointless, but it is such a satisfying, joyful way to spend time. Right. So it’s like, again, another example of how all of those concepts kind of, I guess, weave together. But yeah, I mean, I just don’t think that pleasure is valued enough. And that playfulness, that curiosity, all of those things are so undervalued in our culture.
How hilarious is it that your mum bought a dominoes game? And yet I don’t know if this is a pun, but I’m gonna use it. The domino effect on everyone and the joy that–that spreads with everyone. How beautiful is that?
it’s–it’s so fun. And do you, do you know what’s what I love is that so she learned to play it. She lives in a building, like a condo building, and in St. Louis, and in the States, and she has this great group of friends in her building. And these gals get together every week and play this game together. And they range from, you know, 96 years old, all the way down to you know, I think the youngest gal that plays them is like maybe in her late 30s, early 40s. So it’s all these different women at different stages of life, sitting down to play a game. And so she learned it from them and then she’s brought it here but I have to tell you, I just–I just love all of that. But I have to tell you that she bought, she brought it down and she opens like first of all, she’s like Mary Poppins. Okay, so like she unpacks the suitcase and you or like she like literally had like a backgammon board that was needle pointed by my grandmother and then she’s like, Oh, and here are like 12 silver goblets I thought we could serve ice cream out of them like she literally just like pulls all my husband’s like where’s like how who fits this in their luggage?
Who let you into the country?
So, but anyway, so she pulls this like this–this dominoes game out and it is this, like, metal briefcase. It’s like about yay big. And it’s this metal briefcase, it looks like a briefcase that you carry cash in. And I’m like, what is that? Like? Are you a member of the cartel now? She’s just like it’s my new dominoes set that I brought down? Yeah, yeah. Like what do you just like got my husband calls, $100 bills. He’s like, you just got like mustards, like, stacked in there.
Like, what’s up with that lining?
Exactly. Exactly. I’m going to unpick it and see if it’s really just felt. So yeah, anyway, I digress. But-but yeah, it’s that beautiful, you know, that like the spirit of playfulness, and it’s no, it’s not productive. But it’s sitting together, you’re fully present. You’re playing. So there’s no real outcome. That means anything, right? So I think that’s another–another beautiful path in and I’ll just say one more thing on that note of pleasure, which is just that I think that we often have been taught that, like, pain is our only teacher and I write about this in the book is this idea that, you know, no pain, no gain. And everything that sort of strengthens us in life comes through hardship. I think that is true, that that pain is a teacher and that challenges are opportunities to evolve in very profound ways. But I think that pleasure is overlooked as a portal into deepened presence, a deepened sense of peace, and satisfaction, and self-understanding. And that matters too.
Absolutely, I feel like joy is our compass.
How To Incorporate Joy Into Our Lives Through Sustainable Habits That Benefit Everyone
Let’s then–let’s talk about how we can then incorporate that into our lives. If we’re feeling like, we need a bit of that joy, we need something. How can we build a new habit? Or even I mean, there’s so much talk around habits as well. And that can you–can you know, eye roll, which is fair, but how can we look at it in a way or reframe it as this exploration of finding joy and making new habits that are sustainable, and can include everyone around us as well?
Yeah, do you think, it’s like, it’s contagious, isn’t it? Um, well, I think like, yeah, I feel you on the habits thing, and this sort of, like, hack, like life hacks, it’s like it’s, I think we’re all feeling a bit weary of that, like, I’m not trying to, like, self optimise, it’s like, I just want to be happy and peaceful and free, right? Like, yeah, I don’t need to be superhuman. Hmm. Um, that being said, I think that what can be helpful is, so most of us are very good at like, structuring our time, because we’ve been well trained, just sort of measure our outputs, and measure our time, and block out, you know, time for this and that. So I think that you can kind of leverage that. And that ability and that skill as, literally creating these sort of pockets of pleasure in your life. So you could literally make a date on your calendar for it and set a reminder, you know, and even if it’s only 15 minutes, a day, or twice a day for 15 minutes, that’s enough to start to build it into your day and let it become a practice that you and a touchstone for your day and then I think what you find is that you reach for it more and more. But I think initially, it is important to just go–like if you just wait for the opportunity for pleasure to strike like it will never happen, right? Because we are very good at filling our time and our space with more and more and more and more and more. And if we’re left with just something–an empty pocket of time, then we’re gonna go like organise our sock drawer or clean out the kitchen cupboard. or do some other productive activity, that might feel really good, but it’s not pleasure. So I think you do have to be sort of like disciplined about creating space for it in your life initially. And then it becomes the thing that you reach for intuitively. Right? It’ll become–it’ll become part of your rhythm. Do you think that helps? I don’t know.
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