Sometimes, you simply have to return to the songs of an older season. Sometimes, you just need to remember that one night drenched stretch of highway, the stillness in the air, the notes and lyrics spilling out of speakers and merging with conversation, that cabin in the mountains, that feeling of fear and need rooted in your chest, the soundtrack that seasoned that one adventure.

A decade or so stronger, I look back now with sharper eyes. I see the pieces of that older chapter, the one right before the darkness came, the darkness that almost destroyed. I can now pick out the beautiful, the grace-filled, the hopeful, the relentless shards that dug in deep and sustained me. The bedroom windows open wide at night with the sound of rushing water drifting inside to calm, the wine and countless cups of tea, the music, the fires, the words bled out onto pages and pages, the hike in the rain, the picnic by the lake, the cigars on the porch at midnight wrapped in quilts to keep the cold at bay, the conversation, the friendship.

Those pieces, All my pieces in fact, have made me stronger, deeper, more… the good and the bad. They have sustained me and shaped me and become my most cherished scars. I am grateful for them all.

But today, I am grateful that my shuffling iTunes landed on this song. And for the corresponding flood of memories from that one adventure. It was the calm before the storm. It was necessary to this story. It was a gift.

I am alive today to remember.

That song, those memories are a reminder,  that nothing stays the same. That change is important. It is necessary for a lived life. And I needed that reminder today.




It’s a funny thing, inspiration. 

Sometimes it creeps up on us slowly; a gradual revelation. Other times, it blind sides us; a marvelous shock to the system. And other, darker times, it’s elusive, distant, taunting; leaving us grasping. 

Last weekend I got the opportunity to wander through the Dallas Museum of Art with one of my best friends and I was reminded of how important inspiration is. My visit was a much needed adventure for this creative soul. I didn’t realize how desperately I needed a shock to my system. I didn’t realize how much I needed to be blind-sided by some art. 


One painting in particular, hit me like a Mac truck. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. No photograph does it justice. But something about the movement and the color and the texture…it haunts me.

Have you ever had those moments? When something or someone comes along and so captures your heart or imagination, you just know you won’t be able to forget? You don’t want to forget…

I’m not sure precisely what it was about this piece that grabbed hold of me so tightly. What about it struck so aggressively at such a tender nerve inside me.  Maybe the scale of it, the photograph above doesn’t come close to showing its size. Perhaps it was the movement of the paint and how it seemed to be both moving and still on the canvas. Maybe it was the violent color or the texture leaking out and the fact that I literally ached to reach out and touch it. I don’t know. But it took hold of my imagination in an instant and has been in a wrestling match with it ever since. A thousand thoughts and stories have been clawing their way to the surface. All because of one stunning painting. I wonder if the artist ever fathomed what his art could inspire in another soul. 

Isn’t that what we are all searching for in some way? What we desire, even if we don’t recognize it all the time? Those things, moments, people, that light a fire within us and inspire us to dream something outside ourselves? Something bigger than we thought ourselves capable of? Those things, moments or people that ask us questions without words, that challenge our emotions without agenda, that make us believe in impossible ideas? Don’t we all want just a taste of some sort of inspiration, even if it looks different for each one of us? 


Some people may think spending most of a day wandering around an art museum is a waste of time. I know some of the people who asked what I did on my mini vacation thought so. But it wasn’t a waste of time for me. It was a much needed revelation. Art, just like music or words, is fuel. It’s a sort of magic, unique and purposeful.  In my opinion, we don’t take enough time to appreciate these things. 


Daily life is hard. It often weighs us down and can destroy us if we let it. If we let it. We need to be reminded that we have a choice. We always have a choice. To see the world differently. To see its beauty and the beauty we are capable of creating, rather than always seeing the hate and uncertainty and ugly (which are often easier to see).  We need to be reminded that we are incredible, complex, emotive, magnificent creatures, echoes of our own Creator. 


We need to be reminded that we are not alone and art, music, writing…they connect us. 


We all need to be inspired. And in turn, maybe we will inspire someone else along the way.


I am grateful Kazuo Shiraga thought the painting above was important enough to create. I am grateful it’s left its mark on my soul, along with many others I saw last weekend. And I am grateful there are those in the world who think art and music and writing are necessary, life-giving, and important. 

If, for no other reason, than I need it.


 What’s inspired you lately?



Rainy Day Mix


It’s 48 degrees outside and gloriously gray and rainy this morning. I’m sipping scrumptious hot chocolate (after my obligatory several cups of coffee of course). And it’s Friday. All of these facts make for quite a delicious morning. So, in honor of such deliciousness, I broke out my wonderfully moody Rainy Day Playlist(see below) that I save just for such an occasion.

It’s going to be a superb day.


rainy day mix

Saturday Scribbles (Mid-Week Edition)


**(Doing something a little different today because I didn’t want to wait until Saturday, so I’m throwing a little mid-week scribble out there….)


So many of my scribbles come to me in the middle of a song. As I’ve posted before, music is my fuel and one of the mediums that inspires me the most. The scribble below came today while scanning some documents at work ( a mindless task perfect for getting lost in a song or daydream). While  listening to the playlist we built for the book, my thoughts drifted to our main character and some of the hard choices she will have to make throughout the course of the book. A song by A Silent Film called Harbour Lights came on and BAM…. my pen hit a nearby post-it note pad with a new scribble about Charley.

We all have choices we have to make in the relationships in our lives. Many of them difficult.  Different people play different roles…. Some good…. Some painful.  The relationships in my own life look more like a kaleidoscope, than any recognizable pattern. A wide array of  lovely and broken and beautiful characters color my own story.  It is the differences in these people that have made me who I am. And even the ones who have broken my heart along the way are vital. I wouldn’t trade any of them for another story. How can we regret love, in any form, if it makes us stronger, braver, wiser…. more?

I like my choices. Even the painful ones.

This scribble emerged from that idea (with a little jumpstart from an amazing song)….



One was my anchor;

The other my wings.

How could I survive without either?


One had captured my heart;

The other knew the language of my soul.

How could I ask only one to let me go?


I will forever be torn.


Chelsey Whitlow







Brain Food



As I mentioned in a previous post, music is fuel for me. I can’t go long without it. I love discovering what music people are listening to and what songs inspire them. Sharing music is one of my favorite things to do with the people in my life. It makes me happy and it is always a joy and honor when others choose to share the music that inspires them with me. Whenever I’m in need of new tunes I search out my trusted music-loving friends and family for suggestions. And when I find those song-jewels that seem to grab hold of my very soul and ignite my imagination…..well… those get downloaded, slapped into a playlist, and texted or shared with my people immediately. It simply can’t be helped. Those kinds of treasures should not be buried.

So… I decided to share another one of my playlists on the blog for anyone who cares to listen to my current list of treasured song-jewels. A few of these songs even came from suggestions some of my favorite authors recently shared on their social media (They’re my favorite authors not just for their ability to enthrall me with a good tale). I’ve titled this playlist Brain Food because these songs have been really feeding my imagination lately in a productive way and driving my editing of the book heavily.

So…without further ado… here is Brain Food.


And if you, dear reader, feel like sharing some of your current favorite tunes…. leave me a comment. I’m always in the market for something new and inspiring.