Tales From A Hungry Life

May 13, 2015

Inspired and Amused

by Maria Schulz

Sometimes, it’s hard to be inspired enough to do the things you love to do. Take writing, for instance. There’s nothing I enjoy more than sitting down to write a new story, blog post, or even a letter to a friend. But there’s also nothing more frustrating than finding your inspiration tank on empty, and no matter how hard you crank that ol’ engine, it just doesn’t start.

When I get to this point, I try different ways to jump start my creativity:

1. Read the Entertainment section of the newspaper. I usually find something funny or outrageous that riles me up and makes me want to write. Think The Kardashians, the Oscars, or Dancing With the Stars (as ridiculous as it may be, I still love Dancing With the Stars). Gwyneth Paltrow is always good for a laugh too, especially when she says things like how easy moms who work in an office have it compared to afflicted actresses like her who must work on a set. Sure! I know lots of office workers who get paid $10,000,000 per job.

Always inspires

Always inspires

2. Tap into pop culture. I tried to watch the Bruce Jenner special, but I started to feel like he was a guest I’d invited into my house, and now he’d overstayed his welcome. The show was too long! We were told the same thing about 700 times. I think it’s great that his family supports him. I find it surprising that Kris Jenner was NOT okay about his desire to change (think of the PR potential there!). My biggest gripe with the show was that it was dull. I think there must be lots of much more interesting individuals going through similar challenges out there that would love to talk about it.

writer's block

3. Read inspiring quotes. Lots of great authors have wrestled with this problem long before I started complaining about it. Mostly they say: park your butt in a chair and just start writing. So here I am. What do I do now?


4. Exercise. There’s nothing quite like walking around in the bright sunshine to make you feel better about the world in general. I let my dog choose our path (yes, I know: Cesar Milan would tell me that I am not being a true leader. Who cares? My dog has more imagination than his dogs). At the end of the walk, I’m happier, my dog is happier (and sleepy), and I can sit down to write.

How to be awesome...

How to be awesome…

5. Take a class. There are lots of web-based seminars and workshops that will help you get motivated and inspired, even if they inspire you differently than originally planned. I recently took a class online called something like “8 Great Traits of The Terrific, Talented, and Totally Awesome.” It started out with a story about a dog in a power suit who was apparently having a crisis of confidence and ended up by teaching me great nuggets of wisdom, including: Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Creative!, Go For It! , Don’t Stop Now, Embrace Your Focus, Your Creativity is a Fountain…Let it Flow, Reject the Naysayers, Make the Future Pay, Can an Ant Move a Rubber Tree Plant? and You Are Worth Loving! By the end, the dog was very confident, and I was laughing very hard. It left me inspired, amused, and wondering how I could get a job teaching courses like that. Thank goodness it was free.

Like this dog. Only in a suit.

Like this dog. Only in a suit.

6. Talk to your Kids. There are so many times that a simple conversation with my girls has given me an idea for a story or a blog post. Their take on gym class, crazy classmates, summer reading lists, and life in general takes me back to my own days in school, cracks me up, and inspires me. If you can’t remember something hilarious that happened in school when you were a kid, you just aren’t trying.

These kids playing dodge ball look way too happy

These kids playing dodge ball look way too happy

7. Cook. Making something delicious that my family enjoys is my quest, and it can be as simple as finding the Holy Grail. You’re never quite sure you’re going to succeed, but you feel compelled to keep searching. I have delighted and tormented my family with my cooking on many different occasions. My girls are still talking about the Eggplant Fontina Gratin dish I made years ago that they both hated with the intensity of a thousand blazing hot suns.

Hot, hot, hot

Hot, hot, hot

My husband, on the other hand, thoroughly enjoyed the Chicken Saltimbocca that I made one night after I tried it (and loved it) in an Italian restaurant in Manhattan. He keeps buying all of the ingredients, just in case I want to make it again. So really, it’s a win/win since I’m creating memories that will be cherished for a lifetime (my kids love making fun of my cooking).


Plus, when I cook, I find that ideas come to me about that story I’m writing, or I figure out how to fix the problems I’ve been having in a chapter, or even get an idea about what the cover of my next book should look like. So whether dinner is the bomb…literally…or a home run, I am inspired.

chicken saltimbocca

Recipe: Chicken Saltimbocca

Here’s that dish that my husband enjoyed so much. It’s very easy to make and it’s delicious too. Enjoy!

So, what inspires you? What helps you be creative when the old well runs dry? Which recipes are a hit–and which ones are a miss–with your family? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!



  1. Just a few random thoughts: Gwyneth who? I like the other one with the big backside. Which brings me to Bruce Jenner I have to finally admit this to the world I am really a woman and your mother was really a man. Don’t ask me to explain the miracle of birth. The dog thing you mentioned only made me think, “My that dog has a very long tongue.” I always tried to talk to my kids and still do but truthfully I don’t think they want to inspire me. Not you of course. You are my favorite Daughter. My High School years in many ways remind me of yours. Our marks were at both ends of the spectrum. We both loved an English class because of the teacher, mine was Miss Marge don’t remember what she taught but loved to see her stand at the front of the class. Oh by the way Saltimbocca is Italian for Salt in the mouth which is better than the Spanish Boca Raton which means mouth of the rat. That certainly wouldn’t whet anyone’s appetite. Liked your blog hoping it will unblock my block. I leave you with this thought “Writer’s Block” is brain constipation and to rid yourself of it all that is need is a good enema. Make mine Scotch. ,

    Comment by Bglou — May 13, 2015 @ 2:44 pm | Reply

    • Somewhere between the Bruce Jenner and the Scotch comments, I began to feel like a lot more about my childhood makes sense. How nice that I’m your favorite daughter. You’re my favorite father! Thanks for commenting.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — May 13, 2015 @ 3:09 pm | Reply

  2. I like the 1+1 = 2 photo… that’s Me! What inspires me…? Well, interestingly, as tired as I am from work these days (age – hot flashes – general malaise) I am surprisingly still inspired to think of creative ways to teach my children. Our theme for the month now is Teeth. We have teeth all over the room, we draw teeth, cut pictures out of magazines and identify good or not so good food for your teeth, we are making marshmallow mouths which are cute, we are dramatizing a dentist office and I even bought Angry Birds mouthwash for them to use, the dentist is wearing a mask and before the exam ensues, which is sticking a spoon into the mouth to see if there are any cavities, the patient must wash his/her mouth out with bubble gum flavored mouth wash and spit it in the sink. This has been soooooooo Wonderful! They want to play dentist office all the time. It doesn’t matter that one of my dentist boys gave one of my patient boys mouthwash to rinse with, but he inadvertently drank it down. He lived. That was weeks ago! I have small inspirations to get my head shaved, but can’t seem to cut the hair beyond the ear level, I’m a chicken. Also, this has to be menopause. And, OH My, last evening after a nice dinner of salmon and farfalle pasta with broccoli I was so totally inspired to go get a McDonald’s vanilla milkshake, convinced my husband that he wants one too and left to go get it, this inspiration came from a little boy in my class who looked up at me from his cot and said that he was gonna have McDonald’s for dinner. Little things can become the biggest inspirations. Shortly after, husband and I are completely silent except for all the slurping goin’ on. Mmmm, mmmm!! On a personal note, Mother Angelica (EWTN) completely inspires me to persevere in my walk of faith, reading the Saints lives and wisdom, today Feast of Fatima, lots of praying going on today!! Amen! And, sadly, after reviewing my high school’s reunion page, it was posted In Memory of the classmates who have died, and looking at those faces, remembering them from that time and shocked, utterly shocked to see so many, and very young, it inspires me to keep on loving my life no matter what state I am in, love it, and live it for their memory, so that it will not be in vain, to think of them and pray for them and be inspired to notice God in all our moments of life!

    Comment by Anne — May 13, 2015 @ 8:25 pm | Reply

    • Teeth and vanilla shakes are awesome! Your kids must love your class. I’m sorry to hear about your friends from high school who are gone…bummer. But they are inspiring you to keep the faith and love each day. That’s quite a legacy. Thanks for the thoughtful comment and for reminding me what’s really important. I’m going to go get a vanilla shake now. 🙂

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — May 13, 2015 @ 9:15 pm | Reply

  3. Maria, I am inspired by the heat of a sunny day and the wind blowing leaves around during a fall day. Does that translate into anything creative? No, but it makes me remember days gone past that were like these. I do know I am most productive when I’m pissed off and have to right a wrong (or just prove I’m right). When I cook every recipe is a hit at home because no one else had to do the cooking. Kate will not eat certain dishes and when I make them she is so happy because she can have spaghetti or tuna fish instead.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — May 30, 2015 @ 1:59 pm | Reply

    • Whatever gets the old wheels spinning! I still need a nudge every now and then to stay productive. Hooray for Kate–she always sees the silver lining!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — May 30, 2015 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

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