Inspiration Kindled

Reading, Writing, Living. Inspire each day!

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inspiring this week: personality, learning, vocation, purpose, & improving ideas

inspiring, trying to balance

Happy Mother’s Day!!!

This week has been a roller coaster ride.  If you’ve visited Inspiration Kindled at all, you might have seen my post on participating in the 1000 Day MFA.  In addition to that challenge, on Monday I spontaneously decided to join a Medium post-a-day challenge.  So far it’s been a really cool experience, but suffice to say it’s A LOT on top of blogging, reading/writing, running my FBA business, and being a mommy!

My family has also been struggling to get my husband situated with new work after he quit his residency in January.  Finances have been tight and tensions have been high.  I’ve felt at times like nothing I’m doing is making a difference to reach other people OR to help my family.

Despite this, I feel I’m ending the week on a high note thanks to my church’s Mother’s Day sermon this morning.  You can read my reflection on that here.  We all need a refresh once in a while, and I’m glad I have church and my family each weekend to give me just that.

My inspiration picks for the week:

From Inspiration Kindled:

Check out what I’ve gained from tackling the 1000 Day MFA on the blog this week if you missed it!

I’ve also posted A LOT on Medium as part of the post-a-day challenge.

Quote of the week:

“One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged.  Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” ~ Lucille Ball

As ever, wishing you an inspiring week!

what I’ve gained from tackling the 1000 Day MFA

1000 Day MFA

I first read about Shaunta Grime’s 1000 Day MFA DIY challenge a few months back.  It’s not an actual program, and it certainly doesn’t boast a real degree.  But what it does offer is an experience that will make any reader/writer more prolific.

To undertake the 1000 Day MFA, you must:

  • Read one short story, one essay, and one poem every day
  • Watch three movies every week
  • Write one short story every week
  • Read one writing craft book every month
  • Read one novel every month
  • Write one novel every year
  • Repeat for 1000 days

There’s an official facebook group for those participating.  The cost is $10 a month, and although I haven’t joined myself, I’m sure it’s worth it if you can come up with the money.

I was intrigued and inspired by this challenge, so much so that I read Shaunta’s article no less than five times.  It was something I told myself I’d maybe do someday, but couldn’t handle at the moment.  When I kept going back to it, and back to it again, eventually I bit the bullet.

I’m now three-plus weeks into my MFA journey, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t very far.  Here are a few things I’ve learned.

Writing Every Day Is the Best Idea Ever

Every writer waxes poetic about the benefits of developing a daily writing habit.  It’s not like I thought they were wrong.  My problem was that as much as I wanted to be a writer, writing was often painful for me.  IF I managed to shut off my inner editor, as one is supposed to do, I couldn’t shake the thought that every word I typed out really sucked.  I hated my perceived lack of control over what I was producing.

Notice I wrote that daily writing was painful, because it’s not so bad anymore.  On the ever-famous scale of ten, my writing has gone from around a nine to about a four.  I’ll take it.

So not only am I actually producing a heck of a lot more, I’m doing so much more willingly.  I’m braver now.  I’m less afraid.  I have a voice.  I even bit the other bullet and joined the Medium Post-a-Day challenge.

I don’t know what else to say about this, so I’m going to leave you with…

sky is the limit

Short Stories Are Awesome

I’ve never been a short story person.  Writing-wise, I’ve never been a short kind of person at all.  If an essay had to be five pages long, I’d often wind up in the vicinity of eight.

Since starting the challenge, I’ve written four short stories.  Four.  The first of these was around 3500 words, but the others have averaged in the 700s.  You have no idea how freeing this is.

Like anything else, writing is motivated by accomplishment.  Writing a short story every week has given me a rapidly-growing portfolio of completed work in seemingly no time at all.  I’m not giving up on novels, but I’m certainly a short-story convert.

You can read one of my stories, The Violinist, on Medium.

Essays Can Be Awesome. Sometimes. Maybe.

Does anyone read essays for pleasure?  Somebody must, as I’ve seen anthologies of them at bookstores.

I’ve never been tempted to pick up one of those books and read it.  Not even once.

Maybe this is because my understanding of essays is somewhat limited.  After all, my American education on essays consisted of a) writing them on some (often boring) assigned topic or b) forcing myself to read them in order use them as a resource for said assignment.

Not a very encouraging standard, I’m afraid.

Since beginning this challenge, I’ve forced myself to read maybe ten essays.  Another ten were okay to read – they at least had an interesting premise.  And then there were a few I surprisingly enjoyed.

I’m convinced now that essays can be pleasurable, and I’m determined to educate myself on the different types of essays and which kinds and which authors I find appealing.  Who knows: maybe I’ll even write one someday!

In case you’re interested, the essays I enjoyed are:

(I feel it’s important to note the not insignificant possibility that I read essays every day and enjoy them and don’t know they’re essays.)

That’s all on this for now, friends, but if you’re interested in this challenge, please do read more about it.  I may or may not share personal progress updates in the future!

inspiring this week: vocation, procrastination, facebook, and the secrets of life

inspiring scene

This week is a big one, because I’m sending this post out as my first inspiring this week newsletter!  If you’re reading this in your email, God bless you!  If you’re reading this on my website, welcome!  If you like what you see, you can subscribe below.  I’ll probably be posting inspiring this week for the rest of the month, but from then on it will be strictly email-only.  Don’t miss out!

Inspiring this Week:

  1. Find Your Calling ~ The Penny Hoarder tipped me off to this great resource, which was designed to help young adults choose careers using both current job data and personality testing.  Of course, you don’t have to be in high school or college to take advantage!
  2. Why Do We Procrastinate? ~ Christine McAlister offers some unique insights into this universal human behavior.
  3. How To Customize Your Facebook News Feed to Maximize Your Productivity ~ How did I not know this stuff?
  4. Prioritizing these three things will improve your life – and maybe even save it Fantastic insights from the most recent international TED conference.  Don’t skip this one!
  5. The Secret To Life That I Learned At A Nursing Home ~ Simple but powerful advice from Benjamin Foley.

From Inspiration-Kindled:

In case you missed it, here’s what I posted this week.

Quote of the Week:

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” ~ Walt Whitman

If you haven’t already subscribed, please do so below!  I’d love to have you as part of our Inspiration Kindled family <3

Wishing you an inspiring week!

my favorite single-serve microwave brownie

Brownies are one of my favorite things, but they’re sugar bombs.  They’re also one of the few desserts I still, as an adult, cannot stop eating.  That’s why single-serve is the way I often go.  Plus, who doesn’t want a microwave brownie that’s ready to eat in minutes?

The trouble is, most single-serving brownie recipes actually make me feel worse about the sugar overload, not better.  Why?  Most recipes have around a 1/4 cup of sugar.  That’s four tablespoons – or 50 grams – which is way over the recommended 20 gram daily limit.  We’re talking about one snack here, people!

So I searched for healthy brownie recipes, but for the most part, everything I found disappointed.  Bad taste, bad texture, and pretty much nothing like an actual brownie.

Until I found this recipe.

I love this for so many reasons: it’s a much more reasonable portion, it actually tastes like a brownie, and the texture is pleasantly soft and turns gooey in the mouth.  Also, it’s super quick to make – just 30 seconds in the microwave!

That said, I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe as linked above:

  • reduced the sugar by a lot.  I personally only use 1 tsp, but I think 2 tsp would better suit the tastes of most people, as I like my chocolate bitter.
  • balanced out the cocoa powder and the flour.  Cocoa powder is more nutritious and less calorie-dense, and also more chocolatey flavor = win.
  • added mix-ins.  So far I’ve tried peanut butter chips, chocolate chips, caramel, and walnuts.

Note that I’ve never made this recipe with gluten-free flour or any kind of sugar or oil substitute, so I can’t vouch for the results if you try that!


microwave brownie

Single-Serve Microwave Brownie

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp oil (I use canola)

2 tsp water

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 Tbs cocoa powder

Scant Tbs flour (I use white whole wheat)

Chocolate/Peanut Butter chips, nuts, or other mix-ins (optional)

In a small bowl or ramekin, add the sugar, water, oil, and vanilla, stirring a little until the sugar starts to dissolve.  Add the dry ingredients and mix well, then spread the batter until evenly distributed.  Sprinkle with mix-ins, if using, and gently press them into the batter.  Microwave brownie at 1000 watts power for 30 seconds.  If desired, top with a dollop of ice cream or whipped cream.

What are you waiting for?  Go enjoy!

Or maybe you’d like to try this single-serve chocolate chip cookie instead?

inspiring this week: science, dystopia, avocados, groceries, & writing

This week, I’ve been attempting all the things.  Expanding this blog (I also published this week’s post on Medium, to no acclaim,) chugging along at the 1000 Day MFA, sourcing for my FBA business, visiting family, trying my daughter + the potty for the first time (this was not a good equation,)  and of course keeping my house clean.

So how has it all gone?  Pretty well, actually, aside from the potty training.  I have a new productivity system I’ve been trying out.  You’ll probably be hearing about it soon ;=).

For now, here’s my inspiring picks for the week:

Can Bill Nye Save The World?

An honest and thorough critique of Bill Nye’s new Netflix show.  Michael Schulson discusses fairly both the good and the problematic.  If you’re still on the fence about whether to watch, this may be the article for you.

I Grew Up In a Fundamentalist Cult – ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Was My Reality

This is so much more than another cult story.  It’s a frightening analysis of the current state of America, and a history of how we got here.

Avocado Mayo

My love of avocados is relatively new, but strong!  I can’t wait to try this recipe.

I Cut My Food Budget by 80% For 30 Days

The title of this article immediately caught my eye.  Though our family has a much smaller grocery budget than most, I still actively seek new tips to cut back.  But 80%?  80%!  Kate Jones offers a fresh perspective on typical grocery and restaurant spending as well as a great reflection on life and minimalism.

Dear Writer,

Art vs. Content, and why you need both.  Refreshingly honest.  Check it out here.

Now you can subscribe!

Also, I have some great news!  I finally have an email list, and I’d love it if you subscribed.  Starting soon, I’m going to be transitioning inspiring this week into a newsletter that includes an inspirational quote plus links to any blog posts I’ve published in the past week, and I want to make sure you still have access!  You can sign up at the bottom of the post <3

Wishing you an inspiring week!

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