Happy National Coffee Day

Cup of coffee to promote National Coffee Day with the text: What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup. ~Henry Rollins

How To Find Writing Inspiration Through Photos

Some days it’s hard to write.

You’re feeling uninspired and the well is momentarily dry.

Maybe it’s because you didn’t plan today’s post in advance and you’re scrambling for something to muse about. Maybe the current state of affairs in the world leaves you feeling drained and empty.

Whatever the reason, I can usually find ideas from several reliable sources that spark creativity. The two that come to mind today, World Photo Day, are pictures and the Hashtag Holiday calendar.


Photography

Photos often elicit emotional responses based on the subject matter. Animals engaged in silly behavior tickle our funny bones. Misty forests and empty beaches evoke calm. Devastation from acts of terrorism startle our very souls. 

Our own family albums are robust with memories of birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and graduations. These are the right-of-passage celebrations routinely captured for an honored spot in the pages of our personal history books.

But, what about those mundane occasions that I call “still-shot” moments? In a flash they transport us back, sometimes decades, to a time and place that make us feel like it was just last week. 

I have many of these pictures. One is of my brother and I flying a kite in the neighborhood field. It was the early 70s. There are a few patches of snow still clinging intermittently to the brown grass, signaling what was probably a March day. I remember those spring seasons as being more drawn out; alternating between light snowfalls, chilly rain showers and winds that signaled a change was eventually coming.

Recognizing our plaid coats and winter boots, I can almost feel the dampness from that cold, overcast day. The kite was a Jolly Roger pirate design and the sound of its thin plastic rattling against the gusty breezes echo in my mind. I can see my Dad’s face, a young father in his forties, wanting to capture a time that he knew would be gone too soon.

The old saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” despite being overused, is nonetheless true. Photos are powerful and impact both our senses and memories, sources ripe for creative endeavors like writing. 

If you’re stuck for inspiration check out some images. Websites like National Geographic, NASA, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art are just a few of the endless opportunities found on the Internet. Even a scroll through stock photo sites can jostle ideas about topics you hadn’t considered before.

And don’t forget the family photo albums. You may start out looking for something specific to write about and find a dozen other unrelated gems!

Hashtag Holidays

Long before the Internet, nonprofits and global entities created “awareness days” to educate the public on important local and global issues. 

Fast forward to 2020 and these awareness days have morphed into hashtag commemorations. These unofficial holidays work well with social media, which uses hashtags, or labels, to easily group information with specific themes or content. They are a great tool for brands to reach their target audiences, while the public can connect and share with businesses and each other. 

You can find a hashtag holiday for just about any category:

  • Animals
  • Art & Entertainment
  • Cause
  • Culture
  • Food & Beverage
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Religion
  • Seasonal
  • Special Interest

The sub-categories are endless. Some examples:

  • National Walking Day – (Health)
  • National Bloody Mary Day – (Food & Beverage > Cocktails, Liquor)
  • National Hat Day – (Arts & Entertainment > Fashion)
  • National Cuddle Up Day – (Relationships > Love, Romance)
  • National Squirrel Appreciation Day – (Animals > Pet, Wildlife)
  • National Oreo Cookie Day – (Special Interest > Brand)

With so many subjects to choose from, it’s easy to pair an observance with a topic you’re considering. Or, it may just prompt an entirely new idea!

So, for #WorldPhotoDay I’m including a few of my own favorite captures, taken with an iPhone. As I go through the camera roll I’ll keep an eye out for any random ideas that come to mind. 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then there’s a wealth of material in front of us at any given moment. Some days we just have to look a little harder.

  • Close up headlight of antique car
  • Red autumn leaves scattered around the base of a tree
  • Landscape of red barn set against green background and blue sky
  • Rainbow over the ocean
  • Exploration Tower in Port Canaveral, with beautiful sunset in background.

3 Powerful Reasons Why Touch Can Change Your Life

Woman with a cat on her shoulder.

Credit:  Martina Pazienza/Pixabay

According to the Hashtag Holidays Calendar today is #CuddleUpDay” (and they don’t mean with your smart phone or Netflix account!

Whether it’s a significant other, family member, or a beloved pet, physical contact connects us to those we care about in an intimate way.

I have fond memories as a child of my grandma stroking my back to help me fall asleep. Or, later as a parent, answering my young daughter’s request to “pet her cheeks” when I held her in the rocking chair. We all benefit by and appreciate the affectionate touch of a loved one.

There’s also “bad touching” or the complete absence of touch, both of which have especially negative and lasting consequences. People who suffered physical/sexual abuse or were neglected as children face many problems as a result.

Either way, research has proven that the power of touch is unmistakable and dramatically impacts our quality of life:

#1 – Promotes Physical & Emotional Health

  • Lowers heart rate & blood pressure
  • Boosts immune system
  • Activates the vagus nerve in the brain which is involved with the compassion response, which impacts personal & societal relationships
  • Triggers oxytocin – (aka the “feel good hormone”) which inspires positive thinking and optimism
  • Triggers endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers
  • Triggers serotonin – regulates mood & prevents depression
  • People become healthier over time 

#2 – Provides Intimacy

  • Touching is a non-verbal communication that signals cooperation 
  • This intimacy applies to personal AND professional relationships (i.e. hugs, handshakes, high-fives)
  • Strengthens team dynamics – Research of the NBA showed that teams whose players touch each other more often won more games

#3 – Prevents Violence

  • Science has proven that touching & cuddling in early life leads to more emotional stability
  • Children who are neglected and without maternal bonding tend to be more violent
  • Children who receive physical contact in a loving, caring manner have less violent tendencies

Non-verbal communication is the way we transmit information without speech. Our posture, facial expressions, stance, gestures, etc. display our emotions without us ever saying a word. 

eye roll

Credit: giphy.com

Even when we try to hide them there are subtle clues that reveal our true feelings. (Remember that the next time you tell a lie or try to disguise your anger!)

So, take advantage of all the ways to show your love and affection to the people who matter most. And taking time to cuddle up with them is a great way to celebrate the relationship, as well as the holiday!  🙂