Inspiration is a perplexing concept. We draw inspiration from others and the world around us but ultimately inspiration is a highly personal experience. You can read the same book or watch the same film as your friend, lover, or mother and draw totally different inspiration from the same source. Some people are extremely difficult to inspire and others are inspired by minute daily beauty. As a writer, inspiration is something that is not only necessary but is truly like kryptonite. When I feel the words forming in my head, I can see the sentences budding like flowers in the springtime. When I feel the inspiration and the drive to condense my vast imagination into compartmentalized fuel…I must fulfill that need. Often I am inspired by other writers, reading their books and getting so lost in their created world I just can’t wait to create a world of my own. Often I am inspired by writers’ quotes or interviews about writing. I feed off their immense satisfaction with written words and begin to muse over what I can construct myself. As an educator, I am writing SOMETHING every single day. I have recently started a gratitude journal and it is remarkable way to write at least one (usually about 7 or 8) bullet points of little things I am grateful for that particular day. Here is a quick recap of what I have been extremely grateful for in the past few weeks.
- My health– Celebrating my 24th birthday on June 2nd was a wonderful reminder of how lucky I am to continue to grow older. Not to mention my IMMENSE infatuation with birthdays. I love making people feel special and birthdays are a great excuse to celebrate something (YOU). Seems like a common Gemini trait!;) I also have made a commitment to myself to put my physical health- exercise and diet back at the top of my priority list. Endorphins are my drug of choice and they have been neglected a bit in my adjustment to my new world/ traveling the world. Sixty days of Insanity began this week and I am excited to challenge myself physically and mentally! I’m even dragging Jackie & Maggie along with me! 😉
- My students- These little loves challenge me every single day and especially test my patience. But they are incredibly thoughtful, creative and kind. I got not one or two but FIVE birthday cakes on my birthday and countless presents. I was treated like a queen and it was totally unexpected but greatly appreciated. Once again Thailand surprised me with its ability to make me feel right at home on special days, holidays and random ordinary days.
- Good food– You may laugh at this one. BUT IT’S TRUE! After a weekend in Bangkok with incredible western food including brunch at Roast BKK(Thonglor district, GO if you are visiting Bangkok), juicy burgers, gourmet salads, sushi, daily fresh pineapple sold on the street outside my apartment, you name it, I have been eating like a queen and nothing feeds my foodie soul quite like a GREAT meal with GREAT friends! J
- Good shows– Current Obsessions: Games of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Modern Family. Laughing, drinking wine, and covering my eyes & gasping (A LOT) with my gal pals is a favorite past time lately.
- My innumerable “lollipop moments” (I’ll explain later) and all of the incredible people who are attached to them. I am definitely what you call a “people person” Besides food; people are probably my favorite thing about life. I try to be as proactive as possible as I can about thanking those people who have helped me throughout my life. I try to do this as often as possible. I can’t leave my thanks unspoken. Currently I am thinking of wonderful teachers who have helped me along my journey; my parents, Chapman, Mr. & Mrs. P, Barrett, Kiesha Kiebler, Stephanie Lorenze, John Stallings and many teachers I never formerly had in a classroom, my big brothers, Lisa & Dave Craig, Punkie& Dickie Lighton, Krista & Zach Mendelson and many more whose influence cannot be forgotten. My friends, the very old and new; you are my shining stars. I can’t think you enough for your love, laughter, guidance, empathy and companionship. Thanks for your lollipop moments; you have touched my heart and life in ways that will never be forgotten.
My active process of being grateful reminds me that there is always joy present in life. There are always people who can and will bring a smile to your face. There are always ways to help yourself and better yourself. Usually, it starts with one small seed of inspiration that flourishes, however slowly it may happen. It always starts with three key ingredient…hope, love, and gratitude.
This week I chose to show my students a Ted Talk video that I was shown by one of my professor’s at WVU. The video is called “Everyday Leadership” by Drew Dudley, http://www.ted.com/talks/drew_dudley_everyday_leadership, make sure to check it out if you haven’t seen it before!
He shares a powerful anecdote about a surprising occurrence that happened right before he graduated from college. A girl, who to him was a stranger, came up to him and thanked him for changing her college experience. She proceeded to tell a funny story about her first day at the university and how she was convinced that she was not going to stay and go through with the big step. She cried to her parents the night before about not wanting to stay. That day, Drew was handing out lollipops for a charity he worked with, and he handed a lollipop to a random guy on campus, he told him to give it to the beautiful girl next to him. That girl took the lollipop, and Drew shouted to her parents “SEE THAT, FIRST DAY AWAY FROM HOME SHE IS ALREADY TAKING CANDY FROM STRANGERS!” The anxious freshman laughed (along with the dozens of students in earshot). That day she decided she would stay and give the university a try. Not only did she finish all four years there but Drew was also invited to their wedding a year later, the lollipop giver and receiver. He proceeded to urge the audience to think of all the people and the moments that have significantly impacted you. How many of you can think of your own “lollipop moments”? Seemingly insignificant or undoubtedly momentous moments in your life that someone inspired you, sparked a fire, lead you down the right path or simply quietly nudged you in the right direction. He asked how many people in the audience have told those people about the difference they made?
I ask anyone reading this: How many of you have expressed to the people who have made a difference and inspired you in some way that they have helped you in your journey through life? If anyone has ever told you that you have inspired him or her, you should be proud. If they haven’t, you are just one of the ones who hasn’t been told yet. We all touch people daily, whether we are aware of it or not. Why do we hold these things in? Humans thrive off of the assistance and inspiration of other human beings. When we celebrate each other and are grateful for those who change our lives, we encourage others to do the same. It is wonderful to do this on special days of recognition such as Valentines Day, Mothers or Fathers day or one of the many “National______________(fill in profession) Week”. But sometimes it is much more meaningful and authentic if you reach out naturally and because you are reflecting on those you love and how you got to where you are today. It doesn’t matter how you arrive at the inspiration to give thanks and be an actively grateful human being, it just matters that you take the time to do it! That is part of the reason that I love teaching so much, every single day it is my JOB to inspire others. Some days that feels like a daunting task (ok MANY days) but it ALWAYS feels like an honor. I want to inspire my students, my coworkers, friends, family and acquaintances to feel inspired, vocalize their inspirations and celebrate the grand and the small things we should be grateful for each and every day.
In honor of the late but great Maya Angelou, a huge inspiration for me; I will leave you with some of her words that speak to me:
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
“ We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”
“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I hope this entry makes you feel grateful. I am so grateful for YOU. Thanks for being a “lollipop moment” for me, now go out and spread the love & gratitude to your own lollipops. Cheers!xoxo