Read in ELLE recently that most of the “confirmed-bachelor mega-designers” have their very own fashion muse. Karl Lagerfeld: Lady Amanda Harlech. Alexander McQueen: Isabella Blow. Tom Ford: Carine Roitfeld. Yves Saint Laurent: Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise. Marc Jacobs: Camille Miceli.

Ah well. The job description: Be fabulous. Put clothes together well. Give input on the collections. Be an asset at any dinner table. Inspire creativity and joie de vivre.

Except for the collection input, I’d say I might fit the bill on the rest. Maybe. And so it set me thinking about the concept of a muse, who should have one, who should most definitely NOT have one, and how one goes about figuring out her muse in the first place.

For the longest time, my muse was my perceived angst, all the worry, wear and tear that goes with a plum suburban life. Imagined angst, you might say. And when I pulled out into the clear, my muse became whatever or whoever I loved at the moment – or whomever I had loved in the past.

I cannot count how many poetic essays I’ve penned about John – whom I only recently realized was as much a figment of my imagination as he was my college boyfriend. This past weekend, I spent two wonderful days with my brother, his wife, their children and my daughter. Talk about muses…

My brother has been married for six years, though they met in high school. Theirs is the type of relationship I’ve never had – quiet and love-filled, respectful and endearing, loving-to-be-together. Their secret, I’ve always thought, has been that they are both strong, independent, content individuals – not an ounce of needy between them.

I believe angst runs big in muse circles. We spoke about a common friend whose long-time relationship banter borders on the psychotic. That is love? Or maybe it’s a replica of something long forgotten.

I’ve written for most of my life and I don’t think I’ve had an identifiable muse. But I’ve succeeded in chasing the angst out the door into the nature preserve behind my house. It is happy there, among the gnarled vines and broken branches and the critter communities that keep each other company in the long winter.

Times are tough but life is good – I don’t need much to attain true happiness.

This afternoon, Asher, Eliana and I watched the Rubberbandance Group at the Power Center in Ann Arbor. A mix of hip hop, ballet, martial arts and yoga on stage. “What are they doing, Mommy?” Asher whispered in the dark. He tilted the program toward the stage in hopes of finding the title – an answer! – of a particular dance segment.

After a while, Eliana nestled into my lap, he gave up asking what the dance meant and settled in to watch.

“Look at how strong they are,” I said. “Wow – what is the story behind this one?”

Freed to imagine, their breathing eased into rhythms.

I am only constricted when I have to drive long distances again and again. Free to sit with my soft, sweet children and absorb music, movement, breath – I am inspired. My muse, perhaps?

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