Kelly Nealon, photo by Kelly Davidson

(This is one of a series of posts we’re running on what inspires us as facilitators and designers here at Collective Next.) 

I read recently that we spend our lives trying to recreate the places where we were happiest growing up. If my house were evidence, then that statement is true. I grew up on Cape Cod back when few lived there year-round. The winters were tough – most places were closed in the off-season – but for those of us who soldiered through the bleak winters, the carefree summers became our annual gift.

I live an hour and a half away from the Cape now but the nooks and crannies of my house are filled with the little treasures I have collected from all the seaside locations I have visited. Shells, driftwood, sea glass, and a special collection of heart shaped rocks are scattered throughout each room, reminding me daily of the ocean and where I came from. I am always drawn to the water on my vacations, especially simple beach towns.

My favorite place in the whole world is Truro, Massachusetts, and the National Seashore. It reminds me of how simple things were when I was growing up, among the quiet and natural beauty of the Cape. It seems as if Truro has been caught in a time warp, escaping the commercialization and building surge the rest of the Cape has experienced. The same iconic beach houses stand between you and the water as you drive down roads covered in sand from the dunes that blow from the warm breezes. There are no chain restaurants, kids and dogs are running about playing, and it’s the Sun that tells the time.

I believe there is a place in all of us that longs for a simpler time and place in this world that spins faster than we can keep up with. Your mind isn’t going to stop thinking unless you let it. Being in a peaceful, quiet place where I feel most at home gives me the permission I need to move from overdrive to mindfulness.

When I am by the sea, touching the sand with my toes, and smelling the salt air, I find my mind slowing down, pushing away all of the noise and activity until I am left with the quiet of my mind. This is when I feel most inspired.

This is when new ideas get generated. This is when I find it easy to imagine different solutions to the same old problems, whether in work or other parts of life. This is when my creativity has time to flourish, without having to compete with the multitude of other things that crowd my brain every day. Give yourself time to find your creative nook and cranny, a place where you give yourself permission to slow down your thoughts and give the newly inspired ideas in your brain time to step forward.

(Photo: Kelly Davidson)