Inspiration is Fickle and Lazy

Are you a creative waiting for inspiration to arrive? Most likely you’re out of luck. Inspiration is fickle and lazy. It is far more reliable and rises to the occasion when you exercise it every day.

Image of a person sitting on the end of a wall, a shadow against the dusk or sunrise--waiting but inspiration is lazy and fickle

Why Waiting Doesn’t Work

Inspiration isn’t a spontaneous burst of an exciting original idea. Nor does inspiration mean you immediately get up and take action and create something. We can’t go out to the garden and pick the latest ripe fruits of inspiration. And there’s no department at the hardware store where you can pick up a batch of inspiration. 

Why do we think that inspiration comes through inactivity? It probably goes back in history. The Greeks had their muses to pray to and get inspiration from. Perhaps it goes back to cave men’s tall tales told around the campfire. I think it comes from the emotional response we often have when we see an original idea displayed as a completed project. We think, wow, I would never have thought of that. With that thought, we transform the work the maker put into that creation into something mythic. Inspiration like that becomes an unattainable goal only reached by some sort of magic. 

There are lots of writers who tell us inspiration is spontaneous, it comes without intention, and it’s transcendent. Well, yes, and no. Inspiration appears to be spontaneous when you don’t pay attention to how your creative brain works. In other words, you don’t know where that idea came from or why. Often, inspiration comes without intention, in that you hadn’t thought of that approach or idea before. And it can be transcendent.

Unfortunately, when you sit and wait for inspiration, it rarely happens. Inspiration is fickle and lazy unless you set up the right environment for it.

It isn’t Biological

Unlike hunger, inspiration isn’t a biological need. If you don’t eat, you get hungry. If you ignore that need, your hunger gets stronger and stronger and stronger until all you can think about is getting food. You go long enough without food and you’ll die. But when inspiration doesn’t happen spontaneously, there are no signals from your body that you are missing it. There’s no biological need to find it. Some say this is because inspiration isn’t natural. I say it’s because inspiration is lazy. It comes from our subconscious mind. And our subconscious mind only allocates the amount of energy needed to reach a goal (whether that’s a goal we’ve chosen or it’s a subconscious choice.)

Inspiration and Excitement aren’t Enough

We’ve all gotten an idea, gotten excited about it, maybe planned out all the steps to take it from idea to completed project. Then, the excitement passes and somehow we never get around to doing anything more about that idea. Why do we do that? 

Excitement isn’t motivation. According to Merriam-Webster, when something excites us it is “a call to activity” or it arouses “an emotional response,” it “energizes.” But excitement’s energy is limited. 

So, waiting around for inspiration—you aren’t putting any energy into it. It’s doubtful you’ll get energy or inspiration out. Waiting for inspiration your motivation, your drive is to maintain the wait. And wait.

Instead of waiting, rewire your brain and your habits to encourage and be ready for inspiration.

How Inspiration Works

According toThe scientific study of inspiration in the creative process: challenges and opportunities,” by Victoria C. Oleynick, et al., “Inspiration is a motivational state that compels individuals to bring ideas to fruition.” I disagree. Inspiration can happen without the motivation to complete the project. 

Motivation is a stimulus, or influence, or incentive, or drive. When you combine the proper motivation with your inspiration, that incentive or drive keeps you going to complete the project. If you have a deep desire to be creative, that’s at least part of your motivation and where I think the study got confused.

I think this short video gives a much better explanation of how inspiration works.

So if you feel uninspired, how do you wake up your fickle and lazy inspirational muscles? 

ReWire Your Brain

Stop thinking that inspiration is out of your control. There are ways you can cultivate inspiration and if you’re ready, you can pluck ideas like fruit off a tree.

Nurturing Environment

Instead of creating an environment that waits and hopes for inspiration, set up a nurturing environment where inspiration can grow. Make certain your work area is pleasant, well lit, and has bits of inspiration around you. Bits of inspiration? You know, that piece of art that wows you or the photo that reminds you of a time great inspiration. Music, or figurines or toys or books, can be inspirational. Give it some thought. Maybe you’re inspired by a crowded and cozy office with overstuffed furniture. Or you might find a minimalist office to be best for you. Some studies suggest that the color blue inspires creativity . Maybe you find a rainbow of colors to be more inspirational. 

Mindful Observation

Be mindful—everywhere and all the time. Observe people and creators and nature… By being mindful of what is happening, what sensory details exist, you’ll start noticing things you’ve never noticed before. You may have to practice. Go to a park, a museum, a coffee shop and take five minutes to be mindful. Don’t take notes during those five minutes, just be present. Take it all in. After the five minutes, record what you noticed. Writing it down or sketching it helps solidify the practice. It makes it easier to do the next time… and you’ll get better at noticing random details. Inspiration thrives on random details. 

Recharge Your Curiosity

Did I mention inspiration thrives on details? Give yourself permission to do a deep dive into something that sparks your curiosity. Did you ever wonder how they make boards bend for curves or what some foreign country was like? Indulge your curiosity. Build your sense of wonder. I wonder if… If you are like me and can get lost following detail after detail like Alice followed the White Rabbit, use a timer to limit your “lost” time. True, the bit you indulge learning about today may not be today’s inspirational moment, but it’ll be sitting in that subconscious mind of yours waiting for the right mash up that will spark the next idea.

Practice Pie-in-the-Sky Thinking

Set time aside to dream the impossible. Consider even the most outlandish ideas. Force your lazy inspirational muscles to stretch and come up with new ways of thinking. The fantastic will open you up to possibilities. At first, this might feel as if you are wasting time. Don’t give in to the logical brain. Let that creative, imaginative, subconscious feed you crazy ideas. This teaches your subconscious that it can mash together things your logical brain wouldn’t dare. Record your crazy ideas. You never know when that crazy idea crashes into another and becomes the best inspiration you’ve ever had.

Find the Practice that Works

Image of the outline of a profile person's head with the brain and spinal cord outlined to the right the index finger of a right hand sends a jolt of electricity to the brain because inspiration is lazy and fickle but you can make it work for you.

What you find inspirational won’t be exactly like what I find inspirational. I offered 13 ideas on how to be more imaginative in a previous post. Repeat after me. Inspiration is fickle and lazy, so I make it work for me.

What’s your best mind-hack to rediscover your inspiration?

Image Credits

Top image by Avi Chomotovski from Pixabay 

Last image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Reignite Your Creativity

Sometimes ideas seem to hit you like a tidal wave. They come so fast and so hard you can barely keep track of them all. Other times it’s as if you’ve awakened in the middle of of the 5.5 million square miles of the Antarctic desert. Cold. Dry. Miles from anything resembling a creative idea. What do you do? You start in the dark to reignite your creativity.

Image is of smoke rising from a match whose flame has been extinguished--don't worry you can reignite your creativity.

Start in the Dark

You’re looking at me like I’m crazy, right? Give me a minute. You’re already in the dark as far as your creative ideas go, so why not give it a little therapy? Step away from your creativity. 

Drink in other people’s creativity. What do I mean? If you’re a writer, read a really good book. Or a terrible one. If you’re a knitter or quilter or painter, visit a museum or art display of your favorite artist. Feed your muse with inspirational examples from others in your field. 

Good or bad, doesn’t matter. Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds and textures and world of your area of creativity. Two words of caution: no comparisons. You’re looking for different angles, not to judge how worthy or unworthy you feel. Give yourself permission to ask what if? What if I could do this? How would I do it differently? 


Let it go. Er, let go of your inhibitions and play like a child. No, your play doesn’t have to be within your area of creativity. No rules. No limits. Just have fun. Splash in a puddle. Finger paint with your non-dominate hand. Sing nursery rhymes. Read poetry aloud in a Bugs Bunny or Betty Boop voice. Chose an activity you remember enjoying in your childhood and do that for an hour or two. Remind yourself of the imagination and energy you had when you were a child. It’s still there, just buried by the demands of society and responsibilities of adulthood. Let it out as often as you need it to reignite your creative sense of play.

I created the video below a few years back, but I think it speaks to why you should play.


Your creative light can flicker or dim whether you’ve just started or have been at your creative craft for a very long time. When that happens, fear often floods us. We’re afraid we aren’t good enough, or that we’ve used up all our talent, or that we’ve lied to ourselves about our abilities. Remember, 

Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. “

Dune by Frank Herbert

Use your mental imagery to see your goal. Make positive connections with your craft. See yourself being practicing your craft successfully. Where are you? Who is there with you? What are you wearing? Be specific. 

Some research has shown that mental practice is almost as effective as true practice. It’s not woo-woo, it’s training your brain. It may not make you successful, but it will give train your brain to feel and think about creativity in a positive rather than fearful way. 

Engage Your Five Senses

In another kind of play, play with your senses. All five of them. Take one at a time. Focus on just that one sense for as long as you can. You’ll be amazed how much more you discover when you’re focused on one at a time.

It doesn’t matter what type of creativity you’re involved in. Find something to look at that you can look at for a long time. What colors and shapes do you notice first? What do you notice when you’ve been looking for more than a few minutes?

Engage your hearing. Listen to music, poetry, nature, or even total silence. Take a deep breath and listen. What do you hear? What else can you hear? 

Focus on taste. Try something new or an old favorite, but really focus on what that tastes like and how that taste changes what you feel and think.

Take a sniff of a flower, a seasoning, or the air. Close your eyes and draw that aroma in. What memory or emotion does it stir? 

Touch. Let the world of textures and shapes talk to you through your fingers. Let your fingers take a stroll across new shapes and textures. Then try feeling some familiar shapes and textures. How does the new make you feel verse the familiar?  

Remove the Negative

Sadly, sometimes the most negative people in our lives are family. Sometimes they are quite vocal in their negativity. Sometimes it’s their energy that is negative.

It can be difficult to keep your passion alive when those around you think your art or your talents are worthless. Focus on finding positive people who can help keep your energy and passion up. Online communities can help. Search your favorite social media site for like-minded individuals. Ask your librarians if they know of creatives like you. Find your people. Supportive people. Tune out as much of the negative energy as you can.

Give to Get

Give back to your creativity community. Share your passion. Share your knowledge. Volunteer to teach a youth group. Support others by going to their shows, their book releases, or whatever. The more you share, the more give, the more you keep your passion alive. 

Ask Yourself Questions

Ask yourself the right questions. Not can I do this, but if I knew I could not fail, what would I do? You can be or do anything. Put it in writing and place that writing where you will see it every day. 

Ask yourself how will today’s creative decision affect my life ten or twenty years from now? 

Finally ask yourself, does this bring me pleasure? If it’s not bringing you pleasure, why are you doing it? If it’s for delayed pleasure from your craft—say you’re learning a difficult skill—then remember the big picture. 

Reignite Your Creativity

Image is of a pair of hands cupped together, holding a candle. The candle's flame rises into a heart shape when you reignite your creativity.

You are not alone. Creative energy ebbs and flows for all of us. 

I’m here to help fan those creative flames. But you can’t rely on me or anyone else to keep you passionate about your projects. Only you can keep the flame that is your dream alive. 

Remember your passion. Re-ignite your creativity.

What do you do to reignite your creativity?

Image Credits

First photo by 2 Bro’s Media on Unsplash

First video by Lynette M. Burrows and Lumen5, originally posted as Energize Your Imagination July 10, 2018

Second Video by on Youtube

Final image by Vic_B from Pixabay 

Self-Validation Tools For Creatives

Responses to last week’s post “Stop Labeling Yourself an Imposter” showed me I wasn’t alone. Many creatives are caught in that self-destructive loop. It revealed that many of us don’t know how to self-validate. We need a set of self-validation tools for creatives.

Image of a woman sitting cross-legged on a red couch against a red wall and above her head is a neon sign that reads feelings--a lead in to an article on self-validating tools for creatives


Creatives often look for validation from creators we respect or from the consumers of our creations. That is not healthy for our arts or for us as individuals. The list of self-validation for creatives is the same as for any human, but many creatives spend their free time developing tools for their creativity while neglecting themselves. 

Neglecting yourself either physically or emotionally will ultimately affect your ability to accomplish what you want to accomplish. You know the physical toll your art takes on you. You know how you can counteract that. Do you know the toll your emotional side takes?

You are your most important asset. Invest in knowing yourself and recognizing unhelpful thought distortions.

Thought Distortions

Silhouette of a man sitting on a chair slumped forward and holding his head. The background shows negative thoughts- he needs self-validating tools for creatives

Our brains protect us from danger. We survive because our brain is always on alert for signs of danger. It makes connections so that hearing a roaring dinosaur or saber-toothed tiger means danger and signals us to fight or run in an instant. When we live in environments where we are often in immediate physical danger, this ability is vital to our survival.

Unfortunately, our brain still works this way when we don’t live in such physical danger. It continues to make connections between thoughts, ideas, actions, and consequences, whether or not there are actual connections. You come to believe certain things are true when they are irrational or distorted or false. You act on those ideas without thinking about them any further. Psychologists call those kinds of thought, thought distortions.

Thought distortions are when your brain lies to you. What? You say that doesn’t happen to you? Consider these common thought distortions:

  • I cannot do this thing all other creatives can do, so I am not creative. (All-or-nothing thinking)
  • You miscount your stitches for a dozen rows and give up on that project you’re knitting because you just aren’t good enough. (Overgeneralization)
  • Several of your beta readers don’t get their comments back to you, which must mean that they hated your book. (Mind Reading)

There are many other types of thought distortion. Positive Psychology’s article, “Cognitive Distortions: When Your Brain Lies to You,” lists sixteen types.

10 Self-Validation Tools

1. Increase Your Self-Awareness

The more aware you are of your feelings and how other people and your environment affect your feelings, the more likely you will stop thought distortions. How do you increase your self-awareness? 

There are many online self-assessment tests to help you learn about yourself. Look for ones by psychologist or mental health specialists. Tests like Myers Briggs personality test may help. Take them, but don’t accept their analysis 100%. Use the results to explore what they mean to you. If you have a strong emotional response to a result, don’t blow it off. Stop and analyze why you respond that way.

Be present. Meditate or do yoga. Practice mindfulness.

Keep a thought journal. Remember, a journal doesn’t have to be a diary, it can be a collage of images, it can be colors—use the ways you best express yourself. Document not only how you feel but what or who affected your emotions.

Read. There are thousands and thousands of self-help books. Find one that appeals to you, one that will help you become more self-aware. Give yourself time to read and think about what it says and how that relates to you.

2. Don’t Over Identify with Your Feelings

There is a difference between saying, I am angry, and saying, I feel angry. Your feelings are not who you are. You may feel angry many times, but you are not anger. Notice how it’s much more likely you will over identify with a negative emotion like anger or fear than a more positive emotion like love. I am love can be just as harmful as I am angry.

Emotional responses are normal. But remember that you are more than one thing. You are many things. You have many feelings. Recognize all your feelings.

3. Practice Acceptance

Notice your feelings without judgment. I feel angry. Sit with your feelings. Allow yourself to be angry or sad, or even happy. Give yourself the time and space to feel that way. Accept your feelings. Comfort yourself the way a kind parent would. It is normal to feel angry in this circumstance. You won’t feel this way forever. It is a feeling. You can feel it and not act on it. It’s okay. You’re okay.

An image of a brain labeled Practice presence with all kinds of positive thoughts within the brain--this brain is practicing self-validating tools for creatives

4. Ask Yourself What Do You Need

If you are not used to knowing what you need, this will take practice. Ask yourself, do I need time alone? Often, your first answer isn’t a genuine need. Dig deeper. Do I need to speak kindly to myself? Do I need a hug? Do I need some physical exercise or sunshine and fresh air? Try to recognize your needs without using food, unless you are genuinely hungry. Many of us use food to stuff or not feel our feelings.

5. Turn Shame Into Praise

I didn’t do it perfect, I’m such a loser is hurtful. Why do that to yourself? If you can’t be kind to yourself, you can’t accept anyone else’s kindness. Turn the unkindness, the shame, into praise. Honey, no one gets it perfect the first time. Look at you, you’re learning a new skill. Pretty good for a first try. Look at what you did! You did so much better than your last attempt. You are good enough exactly as you are. With practice sessions like that, you’ll be great in no time.

6. Practice Positive Self-talk

Similar to turning shame into praise, you need to practice positive self-talk. Negative self-talk, like calling yourself names or telling yourself you shouldn’t even try or you’ll never fit in, is more hurtful than someone else saying that to you.

Practice positive self-talk at least once a day. Write three things that empower yourself. Then say those things aloud to yourself at least once a day. Every day. For at least eight weeks, give yourself a dose of positive thoughts every morning. Ideally, you’ll do it every evening, too. Even, or maybe especially, when you don’t feel it. How much better you feel at the end of that eight weeks and how much easier it is to say those things will amaze you. Rinse and repeat with a set of different positive things to say about yourself.

7. Know Your Strengths

Sometimes, it is difficult to know what our strengths are. It may take a lot of self-examination and even then, we rarely see ourselves objectively. Ask a trusted friend to name the strengths they see in you. If this friend is kind and trusted, ask them to name one weakness they see in you. 

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you perform better. Can help you focus on areas of improvement. Sometimes the best improvements you can make are to your strengths. 

8. Celebrate Your Victories

Congratulate yourself for every victory, even the small ones. Find (non-food related) ways to reward yourself for the larger victories. Allow yourself time to watch a new movie or to play a game or walk in your favorite park. Make your celebrations proportional, but give it enough time to sink in.

9. Read Inspirational Things

Inspirational quotes and memes are helpful, but sometimes you need more inspiration. It isn’t always easy to find inspiration. The news rarely reports positive things. You’ll have to look for them. What inspires me and inspires you may be opposite things. That’s okay. Find articles and books (physical, electronic, or audio) that are inspirational to you.

10. Be with Inspirational People

Illustration of three women of different skin tones and different imperfections and the label reads Perfectly Imperfect, they used self-validating tools for creatives
Perfectly imperfect afro women with freckles and vitiligo characters vector illustration

Yes, even in the age of COVID, this is possible. You can practice social distancing and wear a mask at conventions or conferences. Of course, there are many online options like Zoom and Skype. Even reading the biography or the works of inspirational people can count.


If you have clinical depression, are under mental health care treatments, please consult your mental health professional about how these things will work for you. If you are not currently under the care of a mental health professional, please get help. We need you and your unique talents in the world.

Self-Validation Tools for Creatives

There are dozens of more self-validation tools easily available on the internet. Here are links to some of my source material to get you started. 

Sharon Martin wrote a helpful article titled Validate Yourself.

Psych Central lists 4 ways to validate yourself.

Thought Catalog also has an article about validating yourself.

You are Not Alone

Everyone suffers from some negative self-talk. Certainly, many creatives need to learn ways to self-validate. Even people who think themselves non-creative suffer from thought distortion. But look at you, awareness is half the battle. 

Now that you’re aware, what will be your next step to self-validate?

Image Credits:

First Photo by Brock Wegner on Unsplash

Positive brain Images both by John Hain from Pixabay 

Would You Take the Rugged Road Trip This Young Woman Did?

Born into one of the wealthiest families in Kentucky, Susan Shelby Magoffin journaled her trip. She and her new husband followed the Santa Fe Trail from 1846 to 1847. Would you take the rugged road trip this young woman did?

black & white image of Susan Shelby Magoffin in a dress and seated. She is holding something that may be an envelope.
Magoffin, Susan Shelby. 1827 – 1855. Photograph, ca. 1850. Missouri History Museum Photographs and Prints Collections. N12846.

Early Life

Susan Shelby was born on the family plantation near Danville, Kentucky, on July 30, 1827. The granddaughter of Isaac Shelby, a hero of the American Revolutionary War and Kentucky’s first governor, she enjoyed the perks of one of the wealthiest families in Kentucky. She had personal servants, an education, and all the finer things in life.

Samuel Magoffin

The son of an Irish immigrant who had prospered in Kentucky, Samuel Magoffin’s family lived in Kentucky, too. He and his brother, James Wiley Magoffin, had been active in the Santa Fe trade since the 1820s. They traveled widely in the United States and Mexico. They amassed a considerable fortune.

On November 25, 1845, eighteen-year-old Susan Shelby married Samuel Magoffin, 45. 

Like other Anglo-American merchants, the Magoffin’s economic ties spread northeast to New York, where Samuel and Susan honeymooned, and south to Chihuahua.

A Trading Expedition or a Rugged Road Trip

Instead of settling into a home in Kentucky, Susan and Samuel prepared for a trading expedition south to Chihuahua and Saltillo, Mexico. 

Image of a the back of conostoga wagon headed west. One of two horse can be seen pulling the wagon.

According to Wikipedia, their outfit included “fourteen big wagons with six yoke each, one baggage wagon with two yoke, one dearborn with two mules (this concern carries my maid) our own carriage with two more mules, and two men on mules driving the loose stock.” They also traveled with a cook, a coop of live chickens, and Susan’s dog, Ring. 

She had a relatively comfortable traveling life. They had a large tent, a bed with a mattress, a table, chairs, and carpeting.

Her Journal

Susan thought she was the first “American lady” to have made the trip. And according to, she was one of the first Anglo-American women to travel the Trail and enter New Mexico.

Susan documented her journey almost every day after she and Samuel left Independence Missouri Her journal is one of very few that documents life on the Santa Fe Trail from a feminine viewpoint. It includes references to the Mexican-American War (April 25, 1846 to February 2, 1848).

She must have loved her husband as she called him mi alma throughout her journal.

Snippets from the First 46 Days

Image of the route the Magoffins take from Independence Missouri to Chihuahua, Mexico.

June 10, 1846: The Magoffins leave Independence, Missouri. Susan is excited to begin the trip.

July 4, 1846: Their carriage rolled over.

July 13, 1846 Susan writes, “Passed a great many buffalo, (some thousands) they crossed our road frequently within two or three hundred yards. They are very ugly, ill-shapen things with their long shaggy hair over their heads, and the great hump on their backs, and they look so droll running.”

July 21, 1846: Their tent collapsed in a violent storm.

July 26, 1846: Magoffins arrive at Bent’s Fort, Colorado. Ill, Susan takes to bed on her arrival.

Bent’s Fort, a trading center, was also the launching point of America’s invasion into New Mexico. 

Susan mentions that the soldiers waiting for their orders gambled. They had a real race track and billiards room, and had fighting cocks.

July 30, 1846: Susan’s nineteenth birthday

July 31, 1846: Susan suffers miscarriage.

In a few short months I should have been a happy mother and made the heart of a father glad.

Bent’s Fort to Santa Fe

August 7, 1846: Magoffins leave Bent’s Fort. 

August 15, 1846: Perhaps influenced by Susan’s brother-in-law, Mexican governor Manuel Armijo orders his soldiers not to fight the Americans. General Stephen W. Kearny leads the army into Santa Fe without opposition.

August 25, 1846: Susan and company arrive at the first New Mexican town, “Mora creek and settlement.” 

She describes the houses there as “genteel pigstys in the States.” But she adds,

Within these places of apparent misery there dwells that ‘peace of mind’ and contentment which princes and kings have oft desired but never found!

She’s awakening to an alternative way to think about the non-anglos. 

I did think the Mexicans were as void of refinement, judgement & c.[ulture] as the dumb animals till I heard one of them say “bonita muchachita” [pretty little girl]! And now I have reason and certainly a good one for changing my opinion; they are certainly a very quick and intelligent people.

August 26, 1846: They reach Santa Fe. 

October 7, 1846: Magoffins leave Santa Fe, ten days after the army.

From Santa Fe to El Paso

November 1846: They arrive in San Gabriel. Susan is sick with another fever.

She learns some of the traditional New Mexican ways of “housekeeping” and how to make tortillas. She thinks making tortillas is a lot of work. The same “old lady” who taught her tortilla making shows Susan her knitting techniques. Susan shares her own knitting technique, which she says is “the much easier mode of the U.S.”

January 1847: Magoffins leave San Gabriel.

February 1, 1847: They travel south through the Jornada del Muerto (journey of death), a hostile and waterless stretch of desert. Susan wonders if she would “ever get home again?” 

February 17, 1847: They reach El Paso del Norte and stay at the house of the priest Ramón Ortiz y Miera, a spacious house surrounded by orchards and vineyards.

From El Paso to Chihuahua, Mexico

February 9, 1847: They reach Doña Ana on and then continue to head south to Chihuahua and Saltillo, following the route of the American army under General Doniphan. Susan’s health deteriorates.

September 8, 1847: Her journal ends on September 8, 1847. Shortly after that, she fell ill with yellow fever. Around the same time, she gave birth to a son in Matamoros, Chihuahua, Mexico. The boy did not survive.

By today’s Google map, the trip is 1,551 miles by foot and would take 508 hours. Sixty-three and a half days if you managed an average of 8 hours walking each day. Susan’s journey, while not all travel days, took fifteen months.

The Trip Home

In 1848 The Magoffins left Mexico on a ship to New Orleans, then went north to live in Lexington, Kentucky. 

Susan gave birth to a daughter, Jane, in 1851.

She and her husband settle at Barrett’s Station near Kirkwood, Missouri, in 1852.

Shortly after giving birth to her second daughter, Susan Shelby Magoffin dies on October 26, 1855. She is

Her Legacy

Throughout her trip to Mexico, Susan Shelby Magoffin kept careful records of plants, animals, and people she saw.

Susan recorded the excitement, the routine, and the dangers of her journey. Her entries showed how she grew in intelligence and experience, how she faced disillusion, and coming to terms with herself.

Missouri Historical Society librarian, Stella Drumm, edited and published Susan’s journal. The Trails West: Susan Shelby Magoffin and the Santa Fe Trail video below tells about that.

Visitors to Old Bent’s Fort in Colorodo today can visit a recreation of Susan’s room on the upper level in the Northeast corner of the building.

You can find The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin 1846-1847 on Amazon.

Image of the book cover of The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin shows bold text and a distant conostoga wago traveling over rugged terrain.

Would you take the rugged road trip this young woman did? Would you write your thoughts in a journal? Just think, some future day a future reader might read your journal of your car or airplane trip and think it a rugged road trip.

If you enjoyed reading about Susan, you may like to read My Soul to Keep, the thrilling story of a young woman who breaks the rules of the Fellowship Dystopia in an alternate 1960.

You Can Be Resilient

“Resilience is the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress.” (from Merriam-Webster Dictionary.) We’ve all been under compressive stress. COVID-19, political tensions and upheaval, racial tensions, economic and personal issues have created a pressure cooker that will not go away with a wave of a hand on January 20th or any other date. So you need to know how to be resilient. When you feel you’ve been stretched to the breaking point, you have to bend with the wind, be resilient.

image of a woman covering her face while at a laptop and images of problems family, education, finances, etc float around her--she needs to know you can be resilient

What Resilience Isn’t

Being resilient doesn’t mean you won’t have stress or trauma or emotional pain. 

It’s not something you’re born with or that you lack due to genes. 

And it’s not something only certain people can have. 

What Resilience Is

Resilience is like a muscle. It must be exercised, practiced. It takes time and intention. But it can and will get stronger.

Psychology Today says there are factors that can help make you more resilient. A positive attitude, the ability to regulate your emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback allow you to adapt, to be resilient. 

And according to the American Psychological Association resilience has four core components: connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning. 

Positive Attitude

A smile face as the center of a daisy--not the kind of positive attitude you need to be resilient

Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean be a Pollyanna who doesn’t see reality. It’s the ability to see the positive in all outcomes. When you have a positive attitude, you believe in looking for answers, in trying again.

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Thomas A Edison

Some people seem to be born with this ability. But you can learn to have a more positive attitude. Recognize when you are having negative thoughts. Turn around negative thinking by rephrasing that thought. Don’t deny your feelings, but redirect them. 

Negative thought: This is going to bad day. 

Rephrased: I’m afraid it is going to be a difficult day, but it’s also an opportunity to find new solutions. 

After you’re more practiced at positive thinking, you may be able to rephrase it as I’m looking forward to the challenge to find new solutions.

Ability to Regulate Your Emotions

The ability to regulate your emotions doesn’t mean you need to become a robot without emotions. Regulating your emotions means being less emotionally reactive. Keeping yourself from “going off the deep end.” 

Instead of telling yourself, I will not get frightened, you tell yourself, If I see a fearful picture, I will stay calm. Seems too simple, right? That’s because the intent isn’t to take away the fear, but to reduce the knee-jerk response.

Read more about regulating your emotions. 

Ability to Learn from Failure

We humans tend to pretend failure doesn’t exist. If we look at failure at all, we look to the inspirational stories of how someone who failed repeatedly became a success. 

Instead of being paralyzed by a failure or bad outcome, instead of asking why me, look for things you could do differently.

When we learn from our mistakes, we are stronger and more likely to be successful the next time.


hands holding a smartphone with icons of social networks floating above and around the phone.

Cultivate your connections to friends and family. We humans are social creatures. Yes, even introverts are social creatures, though not as social as others. We need connections. 

During this pandemic, it’s difficult to maintain those connections but not impossible. FaceTime, Zoom, Facebook’s Messenger Chat, email, telephone calls, and other internet services can help you keep those connections. 

When you are going through a difficult time, you may withdraw from people. Don’t. Reach out. Friends or family who will listen and be supportive are invaluable.

Resilient people have at least one or two people they can turn to for support. 


Taking care of your physical self is essential. It’s much more difficult to be resilient if you aren’t at your optimal health. Enough sleep, exercise, and a mostly healthy diet will help. Too much alcohol, recreational drugs, or over-indulgence in unhealthy behaviors will sabotage yourself. 

Read more tips on self-care.

Healthy Thinking

illustration of a happy brain lifting hand weights.

Look at the entire situation. See not just the negative, not just the positive, not just the neutral parts. Healthy thinking is balanced thinking. 

Pay attention to your thoughts and self-talk. Practice positive self-talk, bolster your self-confidence. Practice gratitude, journal, meditate, practice positive thinking. Use your mental health first aid kit. You have one, don’t you?

What is unhealthy thinking? 

  • Filtering—when you filter out all the positives or all the negatives
  • Personalizing is when you automatically blame yourself for the negative outcomes.
  • Catastrophizing—expecting the worst outcome. If one thing goes wrong—the rest of the day will be a disaster.
  • Polarizing—seeing things as either good or bad with no middle ground.

If healthy thinking is too difficult, reach out to a connection or seek professional help. Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.


Find meaning in your life. No, I’m not talking about religion necessarily. Find the things that give you purpose. Create. Help others. Meditate. Take nature walks. Volunteer (safely—you know the drill). Take action—do one thing each day toward a goal outside of yourself. You’ll be amazed at how the little steps can make a big difference in your sense of self-worth and self-control.


I don’t know about you, but I have felt stretched to my personal limit more than once during these past seven or eight months. I needed a reminder that I am, that I can continue to be resilient. I’ll bet you needed to know that you can be resilient, too. It’s okay to feel beaten down some days. Remember your healthy thinking skills, reach out to your connections, focus on self-care and what is meaningful to you. You can bounce back. In fact, I’ll bet you have bounced back more than once. Please share your stories of resilience, of how you bounced back in the comments.