You know, it never ceases to amaze me at the folks who constantly inspire people. Many of them get paid to do it but there are other folks who volunteer at various organizations who are the true inspirations. I admire those with disabilities. They inspire me to stretch my limits. When I see young kids who struggle with their self confidence go after their dreams, to me that is inspiration. Those who have lost so much and yet still give back to others are inspiring. The human heart can be one of the most inspirational tools we have. There’s a lot to be said for reaching for the things that we thought were beyond our scope. Sometimes I think we need to take lessons from those still innocent in order to regain some of our own inspiration.
The human touch is powerful. When we treat people with kindness, love and affection, we not only gain their trust and appreciation but there’s a connection that can be inspirational. I read a story not too long ago about neighbors who were very different in age. Yet, that didn’t stop them from having a friendship that transcended a romantic love. No. There was a young man in his thirties who had a neighbor that was elderly. They started conversing and over time, were frequent guests in each other’s home. It eventually came to be that the elderly woman had no one to care for her and she wasn’t going to be able to live alone. The young man couldn’t bear the thought of her going to a nursing facility to be alone and miserable so he took her in. He cared for her until her death but they shared many meals and conversation about life and so many things that they both treasured the impact they had on one another. The relationship had a few challenges along the way but they were so inspirational that it made me stop and think about my own future. I have no kids. I don’t want to end up dying alone but the beauty of our lives is that we have the power to control what direction our lives will take us. If we maintain a positive belief, and a formidable attitude, there is nothing we can’t do. I’m a firm believer in faith. I’m also a believer that God gives us the tools to make the necessary changes in our lives. It’s up to us to make those changes and make this world a better place.
There’s a coffee shop in the area I live that has people with special needs working in it. This coffee shop gives hope to many who would not be able to get a job most other places. The light that ruminates out of the eyes of the employees is difficult to describe much less capture. There’s a twinkle in their faces that is not only of pride and joy but of the miracle of chances and opportunities. You can’t help but to have a better day after grabbing a special treat from them. The aroma of the store is filled with freshness, uniqueness and love. It’s the kind of love and uniqueness that can’t be bottled or measured. What it can do is create a passionate place of enjoying a fresh smoothie or cup of coffee and knowing that you are helping to support an incredible cause. Places like this give inspiration that no matter what obstacles life may hurl at you, you can make anything you want happen.
Then there are the men and women who started businesses from nothing and have now become a powerful force in the corporate world. They are inspiring too. Some of them give the inspiration of what not to be while others use their power to make positive changes in the world. I’ve encountered both types. There’s been CEO’s and President’s of corporations that wanted to make themselves look good even when they were polishing their invisible knives to throw in the backs of everyone under them. I’ve also seen CEO’s and President’s of corporations who were not afraid to get their hands dirty by working alongside their employees. True inspiration is what’s important to you. If making money and obtaining tons of power is the only thing important to you, ask yourself what you plan on doing with it once you acquire it. We can’t take those things with us when we die. What we can leave behind is the impression of how change can and should be implemented. If we are willing to reach beyond our comfort zone into areas that we don’t normally go, then we are more inclined to make changes that affect many.
Maya Angelou inspired me in many ways. I loved her poetry. She was powerfully direct. Her words inspired a nation to rethink the way they approached various issues. She stood strong in her beliefs and people still speak of her to this day. When I was a kid, people like Mary Lou Retton inspired me. Why? Because she was short like me and she had a spunk that radiated joy when she performed her routines. You rarely saw her cringe. She was on a mission and she set all kinds of records in gymnastics. You don’t have to like the same kinds of things and people that I do to be able to identify that there are people in every single one of our lives that we enjoyed watching and learning from. People inspire people every day and it’s that inspiration that leads to new works of art, music and self expression that can last for generations.
I was blessed to be able to visit the Prado Museum in Spain. The art that is shown there struck a cord with me for many reasons. Each of those artists made an imprint on the world. Every artist in this world dreams of being able to present their showings in a museum at some point in their lives or at least have their art live on even after we aren’t able to. El Greco, Raphael and Titian are among some of the well known artists that have their works on display there. Keep in mind, I can barely draw a stick figure but just having the opportunity to open my eyes to some of the most talented artists in Spain, made me take a step back in time. The colors were vibrant and alive, the moods, dark and foreboding. The stories were of a wide variety and the attention to detail was incredible. There was a somberness in many of the oil paintings that speak only of pain and depression. Depression has been around for centuries. As a society, that mask of it is not anything new. In fact, we all have had to deal with battles with various types of depression in our lives. We aren’t alone. Many famous and non famous people before all our time dealt with it. They didn’t have the same resources we do today in order to combat it. That’s why muses and other inspirational things were and are so imperative to so many creative people. You don’t have to be creative in the arts to be creative. I would venture to guess that we all have that ability. You do have to listen to your heart and your gut in order to show what others may not see.
You might be inspired by nature. I know I am. I love sitting on the front porch, having a cat right beside me on the swing while I listen to the frogs and crickets at night. I love the sounds of the cicadas having a conversation as the night is still. There’s a slight breeze that will often whisk by me as I am pondering how I’m going to make the rest of my week go. In fact, it’s really kind of nice to be able to get my thoughts in check. I’m grateful for nature because watching birds outside can often be extremely therapeutic. There’s so many things that help us to become inspired. A pond or lake can have a feeling of calmness and serenity that allow us to regroup. Sometimes recharging our own batteries can help us with being able to be there for others. It’s difficult to inspire others if we are drained. Truthfully, it’s better to start things with a new set of eyes in order to fully appreciate what’s right in front of you. That’s why it’s imperative that we do things to help all of us stay fresh and focused as much as possible. You might be a coach to a team or a teacher, you may be a nurse that helps folks get better or a doctor, you could be an attorney or a student. The point is that every single one of you has the potential to influence others. That influence can be inspirational. It can also be detrimental.
When we lift one another up, we soar. When the inspiration hits all of us at different times and levels, we all gain confidence in ourselves and in each other. We know what needs to be done. When we are shown compassion and unconditional love, we often thrive. The reason? Because someone took the time to give us attention and they show us that they believe in us. We have to begin to believe in ourselves if we want to show others that loving oneself is a stepping stone to inspiring and loving others. Never forget the inspiration that you’ve been shown by people you care about. It’s through their actions that we all learn and grow how to incite the changes towards a more inspirational and accepting world. I’ve watched people in my life who were abusive and they inspired me to not follow in their footsteps. I’ve also watched people in this world who would help anyone no matter the costs. It’s okay to inspire and excite people into positive change. Just make sure that you are inspiring them to reach for a positive future and not tear them down. It’s easy for people to tear down others but it’s more difficult for those people who have been torn down to rise up. Lend the hand when it’s needed. Listen to those around you. Be a friend. If nothing else, let others see your example as one to be emulated. Be the inspiration to those around you. You might be surprised at the effect you have on others.