The Blog Library

Inspiration is Fool’s Gold, UNLESS –

Inspiration is Fool's Gold, UNLESS -

I used to be an inspirational quote squirrel –

writing quotes down on scraps of paper and backs of envelopes, ripping out magazine pages, filling journals or virtual sticky notes, or sending myself emails full of inspiring words.  I’d collect whole caches of inspiration “for later use,” sometimes forgetting entirely where I put them, sometimes stumbling on them in times of need.

Now they’re all organized in one Google doc that’s always at the top of my drive.

So you think I’d be insanely productive all the time, right?  Now that I have a dissertation’s worth of curated inspiration at my fingertips?

Nope.  Because inspiration is fools gold.

It’s not worthless.  It’s shiny and glittery and feel-good pretty.

It’s enjoyable to consume.

Like that endless spin through your Pinterest boards where you zone out and your heart flutters at all the things you could do.

But you can’t take inspiration to the bank.

You have to do something with it.  That’s what makes it valuable.

“Doing something” is different from the wash of “awww” or “ahhh” or you feel when you see some inspiration.  It’s what comes after that – that’s what counts.

Sure, “doing something” can be as subtle as allowing yourself to mentally break free, forgiving yourself, letting go, seizing courage, or taking some positive emotional step.

“Doing something” can also be finally mixing up that homemade play-doh with your kids, calling a property owner to get permission to shoot at that mysterious location you saw last week, organizing and labeling everything in your freezer, whatever.

“Doing something” is essentially any change, large or small, that comes about from encountering inspiration.

“Doing something” is the opposite of just saving it for a “later” that may or may not come.

At the end of life, it’s not that the person with the biggest inspiration folder wins.

It’s the person with the biggest ‘life’ folder.

When the universe brings you the inspiration you need, don’t just hit the Like button.  Say thank you by doing something with it.

YOU are what makes the inspiration valuable.

Today, dig out your inspiration folder.  (I know you have one.  Don’t even shove your hands in your pockets and whistle at the ceiling like you don’t know what I’m talking about.)

DO something with the things you’ve collected.  Make a change.

If it involves posting something, hit me with a link in the comments.  We’d love to see.

Posted in


Keep reading:


  1. Jenny on August 8, 2013 at 2:49 am

    I love this post, Jenika! It is so *easy* to squirrel away those great quotations and feel like by understanding them you’ve moved in some way.
    The change have to report isn’t photo related – I started running! I used an awesome app called Get Running that starts super slow – which was a good thing because I hadn’t done any running since high school. In just seven weeks of obediently following the voice of the app (which I named Poppy) I am running for 25 min straight with a minimum of misery. And the best part is when my five year old wanted me to chase him tonight, I could chase him and chase him and chase him.

    Thanks as always for your inspirational posts! And for encouraging the actions to go along with it,

  2. Beryl on August 8, 2013 at 11:13 am

    Oooooo how I love this Jenika! I have one of those folders (ok multiple folders), most of them sitting on Pinterest. This idea actually pairs well with the post I just did yesterday (link below). I found that my inspiration folder was WAY overwhelming (I find TOO many things I want to do) so I spin my wheels and do nothing. So I narrowed my list down to 5 things and it feels much more manageable. 🙂 Today I plan to actually schedule that sewing class I keep saying I’m going to take “one day soon”. YAY!

  3. Amber on August 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    Thank you. This post was great. I need this, maybe not so much for inspiration, but I am guilty of it with education. Always learning more and not necessarily using what I learned. Maybe now it is time for me to start doing more and using what I have learned…

  4. Valari Canonico on August 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    I love this! And so timely for me. I always admire the beautiful images taken with girls/women with those beautiful floral hair wreaths. I have a shoot on Friday and I decided I was going to make one of those wreath,s by golly! Loved the way it turned out and can’t wait to shoot with it tomorrow.

    Thank you for the reminder that it’s the doing not the thinking that makes the difference!

  5. Trent on August 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    How many photographers does it take to change a light bulb? 136.

    – 1 to actually change the light
    – 33 to say they could have done it better
    – 24 to say that there would have been more soul and dynamic range in the light bulb changing if they would have used film
    – 41 to say that no one should be paying attention to that photographer changing the light bulb because they’ve only been changing light bulbs for 2 years and with the digital age it’s just too easy for newbs to start changing light bulbs when they should be studying the art of light bulb changing
    – 3 to say that the photographer should only change lightbulbs on facebook – not on a blog
    – 17 to rhetorically ask “have they ever even used a darkroom???”
    – 13 to post more or less related inspirational quotes
    – 4 photographers to say “good for you!”

    Be that 1 photographer who changes something. And… good for you! 🙂

    • Jenika on August 8, 2013 at 3:04 pm

      hahaha, BRILLIANT. Love it! 🙂 Thanks for posting, Trent.

  6. stacy k on August 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    So true … and so very convicting! Thanks for posting!

  7. megganjoy on August 9, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    Trent: That made me laugh out loud.

    Love this post. I have a inspiration workflowy list a mile long, I needed to hear this.

  8. Eugene Egorov on August 9, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    That’s geat post! And “pin it” button at the end. )))

  9. Lawrence Bredenkamp on August 26, 2013 at 1:35 am

    I live by quotes but also often forget where I put them all … one day I promise to get organised.
    Thanks for sharing

  10. Megan DiPiero on September 3, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    So good. So true! Great thoughts. I’ll definitely work on that “life folder.” This is such perfect timing cause I’m currently reading a book called “The War of Art.” That’s right– The War of Art (not, the Art of War.) You would love this book. It’s all about waking up each day and battling Resistance to create that greatness within.

  11. Anushri on September 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    This is such an apt post for my situation in life….I ve gotten inspired in life many a times but never actually got down to going for my dreams… Life has changed n now I m taking that big step the greatest risk… Which now looks more like an opportunity to change my life for the best…I am thankful that u wrote this post n glad I saw it…

  12. Dolf Groen on September 23, 2013 at 9:45 am

    I agree with you, inspiration is great, doing something with it is better.
    It’s better to be sorry for the things you’ve done than for the things you haven’t done.

  13. Sara Tallent on September 25, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Well, darn! I want to put this in my inspiration folder! But since I read this, I’ll just comment with a big THANK YOU here, and go get something done. But not on pinterest ;). This is the reminder I needed to keep pushing forward today, so thanks!

  14. ~S~ on October 23, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration and challenging your reading audience (especially myself!) to actually “DO” something with our own inspirations.

    I’ve been in a deep rut (more like a great black pit) for an extremely long time…photography over a year, writing….almost two years, music….a year…..creating through sewing….yet another year…all due to severe physical limitations from a two severe car accidents, and a minor car accident and several bad falls the sum of which has put me on permanent disability while living in severe chronic pain every single day to the point that I’ve been bedridden and unable to do any of the above that I used to LIVE for before.

    As I lay here day in and day out…alone in my room, I remember all of the things I used to be able to do, all the hopes and plans and dreams that I knew I’d accomplish before I reached 50 and yet now with just 11 months left to go, I can either chalk it up to miserable failure due to circumstances beyond my control and continue on in my severe depression and despair and hopelessness…or do as you wrote above,

    “But you can’t take inspiration to the bank. You have to do something with it. That’s what makes it valuable.“ Doing something” is different from the wash of “awww” or “ahhh” or you feel when you see some inspiration. It’s what comes after that – that’s what counts.”

    Today I initially started to read this entry because at first it was the photograph which mesmerized me…trying to figure out what it was when I knew I’d seen a knob like that before…maybe on one of my Dad’s antique hurricane lamps to make the wick go up and down or something…but then I saw the title and the picture lost my attention as I read through your post and it literally hit me like a ton of bricks.

    No, I CANNOT do the things I used to do the way I used to do them…but I CAN figure out how to do them differently in a way that will accommodate the changes to my physical abilities. I want to quit using the term, “permanently disabled” and make myself stop seeing my limitations as “impairments” and view them rather as opportunities for “improvements” on the best way to do the things I did before the accidents.

    I will no longer allow the catastrophes that have destroyed my life to become my downfall and ruination. I will begin today…I HAVE begun today…just by logging on to this site and reading up on photography, then complete writing a comment.

    I know it will take a while to get completely back in the groove somehow…some way…but I will invent a way if there isn’t one to be found!

    Yes…I will annihilate the depression, the despair, the hopelessness and replace it with…not just inspiration, but HOPE….because when hope, inspirations and dreams put on work clothes they become tangible and concrete….things which we can see, touch, hear and sometimes even taste or smell…

    I’ll make myself stop dwelling on the wreckage that has been my existence and the rapid deterioration of my quality of life…focusing instead on constructing a new stratagem to expedite my journey back to learning how to live authentically…with enthusiasm and a heart full of gratefulness that I was given another chance to become what and who I was destined to be…to achieve and realize my full potential…so that I may, as you so deftly wrote, “…the person with the biggest ‘life’ folder”!

    p.s. What IS the photo a picture of?

  15. Anthony Rampersad on July 2, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    I read an article (I’m refraining from calling it an “inspirational article” less I get shot) which said that there’s more “potential” in the graveyard than anywehere else. “Skill”, “Potential” “Inspiration” all count for nothing unless they’re applied and made to count for something. I personally believe ard work and dedication can trump all of them put together.

Leave a Comment