Conspiracy Theories!

Hello! I can not believe that summer is already over. Nevertheless, before we all know it, the year will whiz past us, and we will be taking the finals in spring and it’ll be summer all over again.

This semester I have taken an Honors seminar that I think is pretty cool. It is called “Conspiracies in a Global Context.” Professor Koerber teaches the class. I have only joined the class recently, and attended only one session, and I am already in love with it! We amassed a list of enigmatic conspiracies of all time and tried to categorize them. It was so fascinating. As a result, I have prepared for you a very brief list of some of the world’s most sought after conspiracies of all times. Now, keep in mind, I am not saying these are necessarily true; this is just for pure entertainment. ¬†Feel free to comment on any other ones you know below. Enjoy ūüėÄ !

    1. Codex Alimentarius

The Codex Alimentarius is a guidebook developed by the World Health Organization that delineates rules and regulations concerning food labeling safety. ¬†The conspiracy goes that this codex might just end humankind. Apparently, there are peculiar titles in their agenda, which is available to the public through a simple Google search. ¬†Some of these titles include “Population Control Under the Guise of Consumer Protection”, and “An Introduction to Soft Kill Eugenics.”

2.  Project Blue Beam

This is apparently a conspiracy involving NASA. It goes that NASA is trying to enforce New Age religion. This religion is centered around the belief of spirituality with great emphasis on individualism. It is also heavily influenced by Eastern cultures. In addition, the conspiracy theory states that NASA is working with the AntiChrist, an opponent of Jesus Christ who is supposedly to appear when it is the end of the world, to gain control of and run the world.

3. Aurora Aircraft

Aurora was said to be a reconnaissance aircraft. Reconnaissance aircraft is designed for various intelligence purposes including spying and intercepting communication via signal intelligence. However, the US government insists that Aurora was never built or flown.

4.  Project MKULTRA

This was allegedly a secret CIA project researching the role of drugs such as LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), barbiturates, and psilocybin (mushrooms) on mind control, interrogation methods, and psychological torture. The project went on from 1953 to about 1973. Also, a man named Frank Olson, who used to work for the CIA at the time of the project, died mysteriously. His death was believed to be staged by the CIA to look like a suicide when , in fact, the CIA might have assassinated him.

5.  ACORN


ACORN stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. This organization aimed to tackle issues such as voter registration, affordable housing, and other economic and social issues that the poor might be facing in neighborhoods. The conspiracy theory associated with this organization goes that Obama was working with this organization and it helped Obama win the election in 2008. The conspiracy theory also states that ACORN was hiding the fact that Obama was actually born in Kenya.

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Anyone can Draw

One of my biggest goals this summer is to improve my drawing skills. Personally, drawing is something that calms me and makes me happy, even though I am not a very good artist. But I watched a bunch of videos recently of artists and their drawing progress over a period of time, and I realized that anyone can become a great artist if they are dedicated. Here are some of the tips that I am following to improve:

1. Watch YouTube Tutorials

Today, you can learn to do virtually anything just by watching a YouTube video. I have watched many YouTube videos over the past few weeks that have taught me how to shade more effectively, how to work with guidelines, and how to use colored pencils to create depth in a picture. I also watched videos to learn how to draw eyes and lips realistically. YouTube has proven to be a very important resource to me as I was able to learn so much from it and create drawings that I didn’t know were possible for me!

2. Use a Book

I went to the bookstore around two weeks ago and looked at what they had available for drawing. I flipped through many books, and I found one that I thought might be able to help me learn some of the basic techniques better. The book that I am currently using every day is called¬†You Can Draw in 30 Days by Mark Kistler. The book has so many different examples of people who used these methods to improve their art, which I find to be very inspiring. The book is split up into lessons, so it is easy to just do a lesson a day. It doesn’t take up much time, but I can already see a change in my skills when I flip through my sketchbook. If you are a person who wants to learn more about drawing techniques, but are too busy or find it hard to commit to learning for a big chunk of time each day, I think it is worthwhile to check out this book and see if it may help you.

3. Watch other people draw their drawings

I guess this could be under the YouTube category, but since I talked more about tutorials in that one, I will consider this a separate category. I like to watch pictures of other people’s artwork to get inspiration to keep drawing. I also like to see what other people do and gather ideas for my own work. Another thing that I think is helpful is watching speed drawings and seeing the process that artists use when they draw. When you look at the steps that other people take to get to their end product, you may want to try something new!

You could follow all of these steps but the most important step to becoming a better artist is…DRAW! Sometimes I fall into the trap of just sitting and watching video after video, but not actually trying anything that I have learned. The only way to improve is to take action. So pick up your pencil and sketchbook and just doodle away!

A Summer-Suspense-Must-Read!

Hi there everyone! Summer has officially (I mean the actual season) kick-started. For some of us that means days of contemplating  what to do, while for others it means research, volunteering, internships, etc. Either way, I think it is very important to consecrate a little bit of your time each day for reading. Therefore, I thought I would encourage you to read this really awesome book I have read this past month!

The book is titled Memory Man and is written by David Baldacci. If you are a sleuth and love unraveling mysteries, then this is definitely a book for you. The story is about an extraordinary man named Amos Decker who, after a gruesome concussion on the football field, suffers from a peculiar brain condition called hyperthemia and synesthesia. Hyperthemia is the ability to never, and this is no exaggeration, forget a single thing that has happened to the person. Synesthesia is the ability to use one sense of the body with another seemingly unconnected sense. For example, Amos is able to see everything in colors and numbers.

The story commences with Amos walking right into the murder of his entire family one night. Horrified and absolutely devestated, he doesn’t know what to do. The grisly murder scene leaves him abashed and grieving. He thinks about killing himself, but the police come just in time and talk him out of shooting himself. He later vows to find the killers and avenge his family and himself. Amos’ journey is one filled with countless shocks and surprises that will leave you ardent to find out what happens on the next page.

Amos, a retired detective, definitely has the brains to solve this case, and this is evident in every step of the story. With a little more help from a former partner named Lancaster, a journalist named Jamison, and an FBI agent named Bogart, Amos sets out to catch the merciless killer. To everyone’s, but Amos of course, surprise, the killer is no less intelligent than Amos himself.

A huge twist in the story comes when a shooting at Mansfield High School leaves few students and adults dead. At first, you may think that this may be an entire new mystery in itself, however, it turns out that the shooter was no other than the one who had shot Amos’ wife, strangled his daughter, and slit the throat of Amos’ brother-in-law. ¬†These two interconnected cases elucidate that the killer has no boundaries. Why? Why is the killer is doing all of this? What did the shooting have to do with Amos and his family?

You will discover that each clue that Amos uncovers is carefully crafted to fit into the final puzzle. In the beginning, it may seem that the pieces are all random, but believe me, you will be awestruck as to how the entire mystery unfolds itself at the end.

I really hope you all take time this summer to definitely give this book a go. I promise you that it will not be a disappointment at all. Baldacci is an impeccable author who is meticulous in his vivid imagery; don’t be surprised if you get so engulfed in the words that you soon find yourself alongside Amos, deciphering the murder’s clever clues.

Being a Peer Mentor for the Honors Program

JUST DO IT.

This year was my first time as a Peer Mentor, through SASHP, for a first-year student, who I was paired up with based on similar academic studies and interests. We first met each other at the Peer Mentor/Mentee Summer Kick-Off event last June, which was really just the very beginning of our adventure together. As a Peer Mentor, I received the opportunity to guide my mentee through her first year here at Rutgers, helping her adjust to the transition from high school to a large university and to the many changes. We met at least once a month, and soon enough, we were friends! Here are my top three moments with my mentee, who we’ll call Melodia for this post:

3. The Awkward First Meeting

It’s always super awkward when you meet someone for the first time, isn’t it? Same case for when I had my first, official meeting of the year with Melodia! We met at Busch Campus Center, and even our initial greeting was awkward:

“Hiii!”

“Hiii!”

We walked to some couches in silence and then marched towards Moe’s to get Melodia some food. After we overcame the initial awkwardness, we proceeded to Phase 2: More Awkwardness. Most of this phase consisted of silence…awkward silence, during which we smiled at each other while carefully chewing on food. Phase 3: Some Conversation, began when we both realized that “people usually talk”; therefore, we…TALKED. We conversed about the first week of classes, our already busy schedules, the different classes we were registered for, and how we were liking them and our professors. It was clear that Melodia was sharp, excellent at time management, and adjusting well to the Rutgers environment. Our meeting ended with, “See you soon!” Overall, it wasn’t as terrible as I thought it would be–not too much blood, sweat, or tears at all! Folks, here’s a lesson I learned from this first meeting: AWKWARD is NORMAL.

2. Session of Connection

For probably our second or third meeting, we decided to talk with each other at the new Starbucks at the Yard across from Scott Hall. This, my friends, was when we truly CONNECTED. By this time, the awkwardness had vanished, and we were already talking to each other with ease. That day, we were discussing how Melodia’s classes were coming along and any challenges she was facing. Somehow, we switched to the wonderful world of art and passionately lectured each other on literature, films, and creativity. Interesting lectures from both sides, I must say. Melodia exclaimed, “We have so much in common!” To that, I responded, “Can you believe that a whole hour has passed by?!” After some more chatting, I finished sipping my cappuccino (with three sugars) and we said, “See you soon!” I made my way to the train station, thinking to myself how awesome the day turned out to be.¬†

1. Never Say Goodbye

All stories come to an end. All things have an end. But still, “Never Say Goodbye,” as a Hayley Westenra (one of my most favorite singers in this world) song title indicates. Although that song describes a romantic relationship, I can say that it applies to friendships as well. Just last week, I had my last, official meeting with Melodia, this time in three places–we were moving around a lot–including the Livingston Student Center, the Livingston Starbucks, and Sixteen Handles. I congratulated her on finishing an entire year at Rutgers. Freshman year: done. In this meeting, we talked about how Melodia had grown and changed for the better. I told her how I was proud of her for beginning to overcome her fear of sharing her work with others, specifically in a Creative Writing class workshop, during which she bravely listened to her classmates’ critiques and constructive feedback. I also congratulated her on something else…

SHE GOT ACCEPTED TO BE A PEER MENTOR FOR THE HONORS PROGRAM FOR NEXT YEAR!

I was thrilled and so very proud that she chose to apply. It warmed my heart when she said she gave it a shot because I was an inspiration for her, and that she also wanted to help an incoming first-year just as I had helped her. After about an hour, before I hurried off to Tillett to tutor and Melodia crossed the street to the Plaza bus stop, we, of course, agreed to definitely meet up throughout next year, because the end of my official role as a mentor for Melodia didn’t mean the end of my friendship with her. We told each other, “See you soon!”

So folks, if you’re looking for a rewarding experience, choosing to be an Honors Peer Mentor is absolutely the way to go!

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–The Doctor

 

What if I can’t get an internship?

Hi there! Spring semester is swooshing by, and before we know it, summer will be here! Many of you, including me, probably are looking for an internship. Many of the internships are very competitive. What happens when one doesn’t get an internship? Does that mean they have their whole summer free? Does it mean boredom will be their only company for four whole months? Fear not. Here are a few other things to keep you busy and your summer productive.

  1. Study Abroad

This is a great opportunity to travel and learn while earning college credit at the same time! Rutgers has amazing study abroad options that you can explore! From studying art history in Rome to wildlife ecology in Kenya, there is something for everyone! Granted, these trips can be quite expensive, but there are various National Study Abroad Scholarships students can apply to! For funding information or more financial aid options, the Office of Financial Aid is always happy to help. Now go out there and explore! Do be aware that the deadlines for most summer study abroad options are around March 3rd.

Here is the website with all the study abroad information:

http://globaleducation.rutgers.edu/index.cfm?FuseAction=Abroad.ViewLink&Parent_ID=0&Link_ID=D35DF441-5056-9B67-E4B89064D3BDB3A4&pID=1&lID=1

2. Undergraduate Research

Instead of applying for a formal summer research internship, maybe it will be more fun and unique if you went out and looked for research that fits just what your interests are. For example, if you are someone who has always wondered about how stem cells play a role in spinal cord injuries, then you can find a couple of professors who are conducting research in that very field. Rutgers is an excellent research hub. I am sure you will find exactly what you want! A good way to look for professors who are doing research in the area of your choosing is to go to the specific department (i.e. Life Sciences) and examine the tab they have just for research. Find a few professors whose work interests you, and then write thoughtful emails to them showing your genuine interests. It really helps if you read their research and mention points from it that really stood out and intrigued you. Be sure to ask them if they are available to meet with you to further discuss their research. Good Luck!

3. Learn New Skills

There are a plethora of useful skills that one can master over the summer! From learning how to code to learning how to sew, there are many life skills that everyone can try to learn. Here is a list of few skills that you can get started on if you’d like:

  • Writing a book
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Cooking
  • Keeping a Daily Journal
  • Fixing a Leaky Faucet
  • Inventing an app
  • Reading a Map
  • Fixing a Flat Tire
  • Performing CPR and Heimlich Maneuver

Learning new skills exercises the brain. Plus, it is so much fun! What will you learn this summer?

Well, I hope these give you few ideas on how to be busy this summer. Make this summer memorable and fun! Four months is a lot of time! Have fun!

Symbology

Hey there everyone! I hope the exams aren’t hitting you too hard! This month I thought I would write about something I have always been fascinated by throughout my life: Symbols. Sometimes, we may easily overlook symbols that are prevalent in our daily lives. Some of the symbols we use in professional settings today are derived from the ancient eras. ¬†I have gathered a few symbols which I thought are rather interesting. I hope you learn something new, and the next time you see any of these symbols, you’ll know ¬†what they mean and where they came from! Enjoy ūüôā

  1. Caduceus

You may have seen this many times in a medical context. However, its origin is actually a symbol of the Greek god Hermes who possesses this staff with two coiled snakes. Hermes is the Greek god of merchants and tradesmen, and the messenger between the gods and the humans. To Greeks, it represents commerce, eloquence, and negotiation.  Another interesting thing is that this symbol was originally used by the US Army Medical Corps, and since then it has been used as a motif in medical settings today.

2. All Seeing Eye

This symbol has been misconstrued to mean control and surveillance by the upper class. However, this symbol actually represents spiritual insight and occult knowledge. This symbols appears on the Great Seal of the United States! Look out for it!

3. Peace Sign

This symbol has been used in countless instances and has many meanings. Did you know that the peace sign was actually created by a man named Gerald Holtom to encourage British nuclear disarmament? It is actually supposed to represent a man outstretched in despair. Do you see it?

4. Swastika

This is actually another misrepresented symbol. In Sanskrit, this symbol means good fortune and well being. However, as many of you may know, Adolf Hitler misused this symbol by making it represent hatred, which is quite the antithesis of its original meaning.

5. Yin Yang

This is a Chinese symbol which represents the balance between the dark and the light forces. In Taoism, it is commonly used to depict how two halves complete to make a whole. Everything in the universe has a complementary force to it.

6. Pentagram

This is an ancient symbol of Witchcraft. It is made of five points, and the topmost point represents the spirit of Gaia, or Mother Earth, amidst the four other points which represent fire, earth, water, and air. This symbol actually has a positive connotation: it is deemed to protect you against the evil.

7. Fleur de Lis

This is known as the Lily of France. This symbol is a modified version of the Gaulish Lily which represents the Roman Virgin Goddess  Juno. This has come to represent perfection, light, and life.

8. Trinity Knots

This is known as the Celtic Trinity Knot (or “triquetra”). It showcases faith, devotion, and the belief in God. The symbol comprises of three segments representing the Holy Trinity. Today, the Celtics use this at weddings and engagement rings. They look at it as symbolizing a lifetime of devotion for God.

I hope you enjoyed this! Good luck on your exams!

Words You Must Know!

Hey there fellow students! If you are a logophile (lover of words), then here are some words you ought to know. Feel free to comment your favorite word below.

I love learning new words. In fact, it’s an important skill to have a rich vocabulary. You could enhance your vocabulary many ways. Download the Dictionary.com app on your phone. I have it on mine. It sends me a “word of the day” every day. That’s 30 words you will learn a month and 365 words in a year! Another great way to learn new words is to read. Read. Read. Read some more. Whenever you get a chance, try to read at least a page or even a paragraph of a book, news article, or literature every day. When you come across words you don’t know, write them down. Try keeping a word journal of all the words you learn! It is quite fun.

Anyways, here are a list of words that are absolutely stunning, fun, and just beautiful. I challenge you all to use at least three words from this list today! Have fun.

  • Ailurophile (n): a cat lover. ¬†Which cat is your favorite?

  • Bucolic (adj): in a lovely rural setting. What is your favorite place?

  • Conflate (v): to blend together
  • Cynosure (n): a focal point of admiration
  • Dalliance (n): a brief love affair (like the many dalliances of Barney from How I Met Your Mother?)

  • Desmesne (n): dominon, territory
  • Demure (adj): shy and reserved
  • Denouement (n): the resolution of a mystery (I wonder when ¬†the directors of Pretty Little Liars will reveal¬†the show’s denouement?)

  • Desuetude (n): disuse
  • Desultory (adj): slow, sluggish (I sure feel desultory on Sunday mornings!)
  • Diaphanous (adj): light, delicate, sheer (oh those diaphanous lace prom dresses are to die for!)
  • Dulcet (adj) sweet, sugary (the dulcet fall desserts? yum, yum, and yum!)

  • Ebullience (n): bubbling enthusiasm (do you have a friend who exudes ebullience?)
  • Efflorescence (n): flowering, blooming (spring is the season for¬†efflorescence, right?)
  • Elision (n): dropping a sound or a syllable in a word (“I’m going to sleep” as an elision when saying “I’m.”)
  • Embrocation (n): a liquid used to rub on the body, such as a lotion (Oh, the many embrocations of Bath & Body lotions!)

  • Emollient (adj): ¬†moisturizing, soothing
  • Erstwhile (adv): formerly
  • Evanescent (adj): short lasting, transient
  • Evocative (adj): suggestive
  • Felicity (adj): pleasantness
  • Fugacious (adj): fleeting
  • Halcyon (adj); happy, care-free
  • Imbrication (n): overlapping and forming a regular pattern
  • Imbue (v): to infuse, instill
  • Imbroglio (n): an altercation or complicated situation
  • Inglenook (n): a cozy nook by the hearth (a perfect inglenook for reading on a cold, autumn afternoon?)

  • Inure (adj): to become jaded
  • Lilt (v): to move musically or lively
  • Lissome (adj): slender and graceful (ballet dancers are very lissome)
  • Mellifluous (adj): sweet sounding
  • Moiety (n): one of two equal parts
  • Pastiche (n): an artistic work in a style that imitates that of another work, artist, or period

  • Propinquity (n): an inclination (Do you have a propinquity to procrastinate?)
  • Pyrrhic (adj): successful with heavy losses
  • Riparian (adj): by the bank of a stream
  • Scintilla (n): a spark or very small thing
  • Susurrous (adj): full of whispering sounds
  • Wafture (adj): wave-like
  • Chatoyant (adj): (of a gem) like a cat’s eye

I hope you learned some new words today! Try to spice up your everyday texts or in-person conversations by adding these words. Have a great day! Happy Fall! Good luck on exams!

Writing Workout

My father says that my creative genius comes from him. Not everybody can be a creative genius, though, which is why there are 227 results if you search “creative writing exercises” on Google. One of the first results is Write to Done’s “10 Best Creative Writing Exercises,” a compilation of ten¬†truly engaging ways to kickstart the writing process. I knew¬†that because I’m a creative genius, I wouldn’t be a good judge of how inspiring these exercises are, so I enlisted the help of my sisters, Cassandra (who hates reading and writing), and Hannah (who loves reading and writing), to try some of them out.

creative-writing-exercises-19

I’m pretty sure they spelled¬†exercises correctly everywhere else on the page besides this picture.

Find the 7th book from your bookshelf. Open it up to page 7. Look at the 7th sentence on the page. Begin a poem that begins with that sentence and limit the length to 7 lines.

I decided to include the rule that you had to have read the book to ensure that we would each emotionally connect to the material.

Alex:¬†Margaret Atwood’s¬†The Handmaid’s Tale

1

Cassandra: American Girl Mini Mysteries

2

Hannah:¬†Tony DiTerlizzi’s¬†The Field Guide (The Spiderwick Chronicles)

olay

This prompt only works¬†under very specific circumstances. There are certain sentences that just don’t make good opening lines for poems, like really long sentences or dialogue. In fact, having¬†a complete sentence as an opening line for a poem doesn’t seem like a good starting point at all. You’re automatically stuck with a complete unalterable thought. I guess the point of this prompt is skip the process of starting, but it might work better for prose than poetry. I actually ended up with a great opening line, though. Margaret Atwood, I sincerely apologize for not using it seriously.

Open the dictionary to a random page. Find a word that you do not know how to define. Write an imaginary definition for it. Repeat.

After several minutes of searching, I concluded that there probably isn’t a dictionary in our house anymore or, if there is, it’s scared of being thrown away and doesn’t want to be found. Instead, I found a website that promised to reveal¬†15 Extremely Interesting Words You Probably Don’t Know; it wasn’t a guarantee, but I figured I’d give it a shot. I’m glad I did, though, because I was rewarded with “diamonds.”

diamonds in the sea

Jealous?

Alex: JejunatorScreen Shot 2016-03-13 at 10.51.03 PM.pngCassandra: Duende
Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 10.52.00 PM.pngHannah: Skulduggery

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 10.55.05 PM.png

We had a bit of a hard time getting into this one. I think there are ways this could be an interesting exercise, but for the typical writer, I’m not exactly sure what would be inspiring about it. If you’re interested in working with sound, though, it might be useful to work with words individually and focus on how they feel rather than what they mean. If you’re trying to start a story or a poem, this probably isn’t¬†for you.

Describe a first. Your first kiss, your first kitten, your first day of school‚ÄĒall will make excellent stories.

I know you’re interested in the nitty-gritty details of our lives.

Alex

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.00.32 PM.png

Cassandra

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.01.14 PM

Hannah

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.01.51 PM.png

This isn’t really a¬†bad prompt, but it isn’t very interesting. It basically says write a story about something that actually happened in your life. If you don’t want to write about something that actually happened, then don’t. I guess that advice applies to all of these.

Cut out interesting words, phrases, and images from a magazine. Place them in a bowl, close your eyes and pull out two of these magazine snippets. Write a mini-story of not more than 250 words.

The closest “magazine” while we were working on this was a circular for some St. Patrick’s Day sale. I did my best.

Alex: St. Patrick’s Day & SCAN to Shop Our Website

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.07.24 PM.png

Cassandra: Silicone Oven Mitt & You are in a hurry

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.11.01 PM.png

Hannah: Assembly Required & Men’s Adolfo and Adolfo Red, Regular or Slim Fit

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 11.11.51 PM.png

I feel like we’re not being trusted to be inspired by what we’re inspired by at first glance. Instead of having us¬†look at a magazine and thinking of something, the prompts ask the writer to cut it out, swirl it around, and let luck decide if you’re¬†really interested in it. Luckily for my sisters, I’m a creative genius so I was able to quickly identify the phrases that would¬†lead to the greatest results. I’m not exactly sure why the writer is limited to 250 words, but we weren’t that committed to plot or character development anyway, so it worked out.

Write an advert selling a boa constrictor as a family pet.

Seriously.

Alex: Buy it or I’ll let the boa constrictor loose on your children.

Cassandra: It will go down in hissssstory.

Hannah: The snake is very magical and fun to watch. I have one so I know.

We don’t get it, like, at all.

 

Honestly, though, there’s nothing wrong with wanting a little help. Not only is not everybody a creative genius, but nobody is a creative genius all the time. I think what these prompts get wrong, though, is that they aren’t targeting the right problem. All of them want you to skip the process of thinking of what to write about or the beginning of the story by telling you what to write, but the result isn’t something creative as much as something that just exists. If you just want to have something written, then these prompts are great for having words on a page.

If your problem is creativity, though, then you need to get out of your head, not more in it. By writing to these prompts, you’re limiting what you can do. What works best for me is free writing with total understanding that anything I write isn’t anywhere close to done and doesn’t ever have to be shown to anyone. I also find it helps to have some sort of background noise, whether that be from listening to music or sitting in a public place. The idea is that you minimize your control over what you write¬†so that¬†the weird or emotional or incomprehensible parts don’t get filtered out. Hopefully somewhere in that free write, there’s a little glimmer of creative genius, even if just in one phrase, that excites and inspires you. There’s nothing wrong with finding outside inspiration,¬†but it’s important to remember that you can be inspired¬†by yourself.