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How to make an inspiration board

In my office, I have pictures of my kids tacked to a small corkboard. I change the photos on a somewhat regular basis – as the kids get older, we go places, and so on. In a small corner of the cork board are two quotes that I have had up since 1998, through interstate moves and several jobs. One is from Elizabeth Barrett Browning (“Earth’s crammed with heaven.”) and the other is from Alfred North Whitehead, the English philosopher (“Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.”). These quotes have long given me inspiration and/or centering moments.

Woman Making Inspiration Board

They aren’t the only things that give me inspiration, of course. I tend to keep a file folder full of things I’ve ripped out of magazines or slivers of fabric from who knows where and all sorts of other bits. I go through this folder on a somewhat regular basis, adding and editing as time marches on and my point-of-view evolves. When a friend told me that she had recently spent an evening making inspiration boards with her girlfriend, I wondered why I keep all this stuff hidden. It should be out and visible – and hopefully inspiring me on a daily basis.

It’s time to get it all on an inspiration board.

Start collecting

Inspiration can come from about anywhere. It can be an offbeat photo of a family member or your environment, a quote from a magazine, the leaves from that one tree, a paint chip, or just a single word. It can be a postcard from a friend’s travels, a note from your sweetie, the wrapper of a favorite chocolate bar. It can be a swatch of fabric that reminds you of your grandmother. It can be anything, truly. Just start gathering.

Once gathered, or if you already have a collection of stuff, sit down with the collection and see if it needs editing. Make sure every bit of your collection gives you something, whether a smile, a happy memory, or a push toward the future.

Put it all together

The only rule for putting your bits of inspiration together is that there are no rules.

Get yourself an inexpensive cork board from the office supply store and a box of tacks. Make yourself a cup of tea or pour a glass of wine and start putting your pieces of inspiration on the board. In any order or arrangement that you choose. You can overlap and layer pieces, create areas within your board… or not. It’s up to you. You don’t have to be constrained by the size of the board, even.

Make it visible

Now that you have done this fabulous work, don’t hide it. Put it up somewhere where you will see it daily. While it might seem the perfect place for such a board would be near a desk, maybe it’s seen more often in the pantry or laundry room. Or bathroom, even. The point is that you see it often. Your inspiration board can’t give you inspiration unless you let it, and the first step to that is taking it in visually, as often as possible.

Keep it fluid

Inspiration changes over time. Don’t be afraid to add or subtract bits as the spirit moves you.

Not just for artsy types

Inspiration boards are not just for artists or designers or writers. They are for everyone from every walk of life — kids, moms, dads, accountants, athletes, teachers, and everyone in between. After you get your own inspiration board up, why not help your kids create one, too. You might learn something new about them.

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