Here ya go
Copyright 2004 Sun-Sentinel
FREE YOUR MIND . . .
By Rhonda J. Miller
To live on the pulse of inspiration is to embrace the energy of a song, a
painting, a book. That's how Maya Angelou renews her inspiration.
Angelou -- writer, composer, singer, dancer, actor, professor -- taps
inspiration through the operas of Puccini, the voice of soprano Maria
Callas, the music of Ray Charles and Shania Twain, lots of country music,
Irish music, the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Langston Hughes, art
galleries or the Paradise Lost of John Milton.
"Listen ... listen ... listen to the human spirit," Angelou chants over the
phone from Oakland, Calif., during a stop on a lecture tour.
To listen to Angelou, inspiration is everywhere. And it's the topic of her
keynote message at the conference "Inspiration Tap Into the Source" on
Friday in Miami.
The theme of the conference, which runs Friday to Sunday, is a response to
the pervasive sense of fear since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, says
Alison Granucci, executive program manager for conference sponsor Omega, a
holistic education center outside New York City.
"People seem to want to go beyond themselves, and the conference gives them
skills and perspective to take back to work, relationships and their
communities," Granucci says. "The times call for us to have a global and
"We've noticed that more people are coming to our conferences that deal with
creativity, rather than just self-help. People are turning to the creative
arts for refuge and healing," Granucci says.
"Talent, creativity and inspiration are always in the air," Angelou says. "I
think each human being is born with it, but each person has to make a
decision to use the energy or inspiration around them.
"Inspiration is like electricity. You can plug into two holes in the wall
and electrocute a person or you can light a synagogue or a cathedral."
The works of Angelou and other conference headliners, including
self-empowerment guide Wayne Dyer and creativity author Julia Cameron,
suggest that waiting for inspiration to strike is like sitting at a banquet
table and not eating.
If you starve, it's your own fault, because a person can choose the
nourishment of inspiration through a movement of the hand, the mind or the
Perfecting a personal recipe for inspiration, however, can take a little
Speaking of recipes, cooking is inspiring, Angelou says. Her latest volume,
the reason for her current tour, is the cookbook Hallelujah! The Welcome
Table A Lifetime of Memories with Recipes (Random House, $29.95).
For decades, Angelou, 76, has been inspired by creativity across the
spectrum of the arts.
"One leads to the other," she says.
Angelou danced with the legendary Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham, sang at San
Francisco's Purple Onion, was influenced by the late Cuban salsa singer
Celia Cruz and in 1957 recorded an album called Miss Calypso.
In her 1970 breakthrough autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she
fearlessly documents rape by her mother's boyfriend when she was 8, as well
as the pain and warmth of being black in segregated America.
The troubled Earth and its warring peoples became the inspiration for her
poem On the Pulse of Morning, which she read at President Bill Clinton's
"I think each situation calls for its own devices. Each person has his or
her own tools," Angelou says of tapping into inspiration.
So when night melts into morning, each person in his own way might summon
courage to face the question "Is this an inspired life?"
"Anyone can choose to live an inspired life. It's not just for the elite
few," says Cameron, author of The Artist's Way A Spiritual Path to Higher
Creativity (Jeremy P. Tarcher, $15.95) and other books on the creative
Cameron will give a full-day intensive workshop on Friday and shorter
workshops during the weekend in which she will share her three tools to
create a life true to its owner Morning Pages, a weekly Artist's Date and
"I hope my tool kit is humble enough and portable enough that anyone use
it," Cameron says from her home in New York.
The kit is not an actual toolbox, but the combination of techniques she
began developing more than 20 years ago while working through her own
writer's block. She polished the techniques with friends and other artists
who were inspired by her results and asked for help in getting out of ruts
in work, perspective or relationships.
"The trick is to find a way to walk through the human condition or difficult
situation. If you work with the tool kit, you come in contact with a sense
of benevolence," Cameron said.
Artist's Way work begins with Morning Pages, three forever-private pages of
longhand intended to encourage people to be piercingly honest. Cameron
designed a large, hardcover journal for Morning Pages that is sold as a
companion volume to her books. But she encourages people to use any type of
notebook that is convenient and that they will use daily, from an
inexpensive spiral notebook to a gold-edged blank journal.
"I consider Morning Pages to be a form of meditation and prayer. They are
fragmented stream of consciousness and skitter from topic to topic," Cameron
says. "Morning Pages give me grounding and a plan for the day."
While the writing might be done later in the day, first thing is best.
"That's when you get the power from them," Cameron said. "They alert you to
choice points throughout the day."
Her second tool is a weekly Artist's Date, a solo expedition purely for
enjoyment, from an hour of browsing through a five-and-dime to sitting by a
"Morning Pages can be pointed to taking care of life as we've got it,"
Cameron says. "An Artist's Date opens windows to things you wouldn't think
of. An idea can just come out of the blue."
The third tool is walking, once a week or more, the traditional and safe way
to clear the mind by taking a break from the noise and demands of routine.
People tend to walk intuitively, for instance, when they are wondering
whether to stay in a relationship or look for a new job, Cameron says.
"Even a 20-minute walk can shift consciousness," Cameron said.
In her own life, her tools helped her decide to put her home in Taos, N.M.,
up for sale and move to New York City to write musicals. "I was begging for
direction," Cameron says.
She has been working on her musical, Magellan, for seven years. It's in the
"Musicals are very difficult," she said. So is the transition to New York.
"I'm very much of a nature lover," Cameron said. "I live in New York with a
sense of longing for the West."
She walks in New York to ease the longing and connect to the city.
Place isn't an issue for Dyer, who moved to Boca Raton in 1976, where his
wife and the younger of his eight children live. He also has a home in
Hawaii and travels the globe on speaking tours. His latest book is The Power
of Intention Learning to Co-Create Your World Your Way (Hay House, $24.95).
"Those who are supposed to be our enemies are really just other people who
want to live their lives," Dyer says by phone from Hawaii, expressing hope
that personal peace and empathy can help create peace between nations.
Dyer says that intention, a first cousin to inspiration, can help people
avoid problems like obesity and addiction and lead them to choose positive
"There is no depression in the world, just people thinking depressing
thoughts," Dyer says. "If you are connected to the source, you live in a
state of awe, appreciation and joy."
Rhonda J. Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication Date Saturday, October 23, 2004
Edition Broward Metro
Publication SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL