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Where I get my inspiration from....

A few summers ago, my parents visited from South Africa and both spent some time helping with the soap: my mom wrapped countless bars and my dad made a couple of batches with me. Running a small business from home can be quite solitary, and it was wonderful to share the work with someone.

My dad started his working life as an analytical chemist, and I had him at “and then we’ll weigh out the caustic soda”. His approach to soap making, then, was quite different to mine, which mainly involves believing in the recipe, the process and deciding whether it’s a radio, Lizzo or Springsteen kind of day. But all his questions got me thinking about the recipe, and the process, and about how there will be people out there who don’t use an online soap calculator to work out their recipes. I’ve not been inspired to try this (yet!), but I’d love to know if there’s a soap maker reading this who has.

We talked as we made soap. I laughed at how he made a careful list of ingredients and ticked them off as he weighed and measured – but then, why would you not do that if it’s important to get it right and you’ve not done it before? Why would you not take extra care if measuring was critical to the outcome, and the results could be dangerous if not? After my folks had gone home, I found myself taking more care with the order of things when I made soap, slowing down, respecting my own process more. Trying different things became easier because I had a system: think, plan, do, evaluate. Write it down.

People are a great source of inspiration, and not always in obvious ways. But right now, our

conversations are different; we are seeing less of each other and less of the world and unless it's online or on tv, we’re seeing the same people and the same things day after day. I certainly feel that I must work hard to be inspired, to keep my interactions interesting and upbeat, and to feel motivated to make plans and to move forward with my business. So I’m trying to think, plan, do, evaluate; because it’s important to get it right, and I’ve not done it before. I’m writing it down, making it a goal to broaden my lockdown horizons, to curate my own galleries, to be surprised by things new and unknown, to be inspired.

Part of my early morning fitness sessions involves visualising success in meeting the goals set at the beginning of the year. I really struggle with this – that question “how will it look?” is hard to answer. So I took the advice to create a visualisation board, but having only two magazines in the whole house, one of them a Farmer’s Weekly, made this a trickier task than I had first expected. So back to the internet. As a start, I looked for images that represented my goals for 2021. Then I sat down and looked through all the posts and pictures I’d saved and thought about how they related to my goals now, and some of them inspired me all over again, and some were part of previous projects and could be looked at fondly and deleted. I’ve printed some out to put up and build on over the next couple of months, and created a digital version which is now my wallpaper. Letting go felt good, like

cleaning house, and seeing the remaining images all together had an electricity to it. It was so good to be reminded that there is a big, wonderful, weird, world out there and even better to think that it will still be there when we can go back into it. And THAT is the most inspiring thing!

How are you staying inspired and motivated this January?

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