Her spirits rose…that’s what it says up there in the primroses. I love to encounter those words in novels; they signal a gloom passed, an obstacle overcome, a new resolve. The heroine drinks a cup of tea, solves a problem, glimpses a newly blue sky – and spirits lifted, she gets on about things.

I used to debate with myself about which came first: Do my spirits rise, so I get to work? Or I did I get to work and my spirits rose? Now I know – a lot of years, exhibits and illustration work, garden and house work later – that I get to work and cheer up.

Work can mean any work here – but most particularly work we don’t have to necessarily do – like giving the kitchen a deeper clean or trying to paint that picture or create a new garden. I know the work itself buoys after I focus.

But beginning can’t always be willed, and I try to pay attention to how that engagement happens. For years I’ve kept track in my daily journal of artists, authors, and others who inspire when they describe the getting started – the rules, the routines they employ. Gathering those words of wisdom will be part of this exploration – a Commonplace Book it might have been called in the old days.

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