After 2 years, I now have over 100 batches of cold process soap under my belt and almost as many batches of melt and pour soap. Most of my batches have been successful but I’ve had my fair share of failed batches.
Sometimes the failures get me down but I try to remember that every failure is a chance to learn and improve my skills and this gives me the motivation to keep going. I’m looking forward to what I’ll learn with my next 100 batches!
Lately, I’ve been in a creative rut. I’ve been focusing on making fresh batches of my best selling soaps but I haven’t tried anything new in a while. The problem is a lack of focus more than a lack of ideas. There are so many great scents, colors and techniques that I could try but I haven’t been able to settle on one.
Then, a few weeks ago, I took a mid-week trip to the Cleveland Botanical Garden. With 10 acres of outdoor gardens and two glass houses that contain a Madagascar desert environment and a Costa Rican cloud forest (complete with birds, butterflies and leaf cutter ants), this place is my Disneyland.
My group took a guided tour through the gardens and during the tour, a few of the volunteers stole the stage from our tour guide. One sweet lady in particular took the time to explain the histories of how indigo and madder root plants where turned into and used as dyes.
I have both indigo powder and madder root powder in my soap making arsenal so I listened intently to everything she told us. I bought these natural colorants several months ago but haven’t been inspired to use them. Listening to her talk and hearing her passion about the plants surrounding us gave me the spark I needed to get those colorants out and start using them. I now had focus. I would use indigo powder as a natural colorant in my next new batch of soap. From there, the ideas for scents and designs started to flow.
My advice to anyone looking for creative inspiration is simple: Step out of your daily routine and try something new. It’s hard to be inspired when every day feels the same, especially when your day job involves sitting in a grey cubicle jungle. Break your routine, see a new place, talk to someone who’s passionate about what they do and inspiration will find you.
Do you have a special way to find inspiration? Share your thoughts in the comments section!
Image credit: Jane Goodall by Nick Step, on Flickr. CC BY 2.0.
Today, I’d like to wish a happy belated birthday to one of my personal heroes, Dr. Jane Goodall. Her birthday was on April 3rd and she turned 81.
Jane Goodall has dedicated her life to one mission: studying and protecting our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee. She left home for the wilds of Africa in her 20s with little knowledge of the terrain or the animals. She didn’t even have a scientific background to rely on. She turned her love of animals and her natural curiosity into a career that has spanned six decades, and she shows no signs of slowing down.
Jane is an inspiration to me for one reason: her fearlessness. When I was a girl, I remember hearing about this woman who lived in Africa with chimpanzees. I watched National Geographic specials about her and marveled at how a tiny blonde woman could live in the jungle with wild animals. Wasn’t she afraid of the insects and spiders? Didn’t she worry about the chimpanzees, or other wild animals, attacking her? I could barely go down to the basement for fear of seeing a centipede. I wished I had Jane’s courage.
In college, I had the thrill of seeing her speak live. She came out on the stage and greeted the auditorium with her customary chimpanzee greeting. She didn’t blush or even seem embarrassed after doing it. She spoke for over an hour without stammering or forgetting what she was going to say. Her voice didn’t shake. Not once. I was as intrigued by her self-assuredness as I was by what she had to say about her studies. I had an intense fear of public speaking and took a D in a public speaking class because I was too afraid to finish most of the assignments. I wished I could speak like Jane.
Jane travels over 300 days a year to speak about animal rights and to educate people about her beloved chimpanzees. That’s a lot of travel for an 81-year-old scientist. Doesn’t she get tired or sick? Isn’t she afraid of falling and hurting herself or of someone taking advantage of her because of her age or of getting stuck in a ditch on the side of the road? I hope when I’m 81, I can still travel like Jane.
In recent years, I’ve started to conquer my fears. During a recent trip to Costa Rica, I took photographs of huge scary spiders instead of screaming and squashing them with my shoe. I’ve zip lined off mountains and in the rainforest. Scariest of all, I started Emmet Street Creations, a business that allows me to do something I’m passionate about. I still struggle with public speaking and I’ll never warm up to centipedes, but I’m making progress. I’m starting to live more like Jane.
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