Inspiration, according to dictionary.com, is "The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative."  I can honestly say that I often feel inspired, if I'm just considering the mental stimulation to FEEL something.  I am inspired by photos, by webpages, by people's stories, by TV shows, by movies, by books, by articles.  I am constantly feeling things and they are often strong feelings.  I am often mentally stimulated.  Sometimes I even go so far as to make plans and sometimes I follow through - e.g., I have been cooking from Pinterest INSPIRED recipes lately.  But, often, I lose the momentum and my inspiration becomes more feel than do.

So, although a prompt I'm working from asked me to make an inspiration list, I prefer to make a MOTIVATION list.  Things that motivate me to actually DO something.  And although the list may seem a bit strange, perhaps you can relate to it and perhaps through making the list, I will be able to discover a bit more about how I can go about DOing more about the feelings I get.  This is in no particular order:

1.  My daughter.  Well, actually this is in a particular order.  She is my number one motivator.  I want her to see me being creative, doing fun things and being a well-rounded person.  She is only four, but I already see so much how she models my behavior, appreciates my attention and DOing things WITH her, and it makes me want to DO more.  She is both a great inspiration and great motivation!

2.  A timer.  I know - weird.  But, I have this system that I work on where I set a timer for 10 minutes and force myself to DO something.  I have a list of different things I cycle through - cleaning the house, grading assignments, going through my email, reading blogs, etc.  I will often end up spending more than the 10 minutes on that thing, but sometimes I can cycle through the list over and over again, never tiring of any one thing and feeling productive during the process.  This is often how I get cooking and then I end up staying there to see it through to the end.  I am using a timer to write this blog post.  If I didn't have the list and the timer going, I may put things off and put them off until they end up being left undone.  So, it is both an inspiration and a motivation.  I guess it is more the combination of the list and the timer...

3.  Pinterest.  I am not a terribly visual person (note the lack of pictures on this blog so far), but I do get inspired by certain visual qualities.  Sometimes it is a picture, sometimes simply a color or an object.  But, Pinterest will often inpsire me, sometimes motivate me.  I noticed how often I pin things (inspiration) versus DO things (motivation) on my boards, so I put Pinterest in my list (that I use with the timer). And now, at least once a day and sometimes more often, I am actually taking action on a pin!  

4.  Other's stories.  I am lucky in that I have joined a group of women who are working together to build, share and rejoice in their stories.  Hannah Marcotti is our benevolent leader and this blog is a result of that group and my own exploration of my story.  Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in feeling like the "only one".  I suffer from a weakness of not being totally willing to admit weakness.  I have been trained from a young age to hide problems and cover up weaknesses.  I am slowly breaking out of that historical training, but it is not easy.  But, it is much easier to face up to and admit to those weaknesses and problems when you are in a community of people willing to do the same and be there to support you.  So, this group has been inspiring and motivational to me.  

5.  Quotations.  I am strangely attracted to quotations.  I collect them like jewelry.  I display them on my Facebook status or in an email here and there or on my Twitter feed.  They cause me to think and feel and they are often the driving force behind my action.  Words are special to me.  They are lasting and meaningful and do not discriminate between people - every reader gets the same words.  What they do with them is up to them.  This is one reason why speaking is so important to me.  Because words matter.  And people who know how to use them garner power and respect.  Using words with the good of humanity in mind and the willingness to speak while being mindful is so important to me.  

6.  Public advocacy.  Connected to the quotations is the idea of individuals willing to get out and use their voices for good.  Public advocacy is incredibly inspirational and motivational to me.  In this era of cynicism about and sometimes disinterest in the public good, the voices for good are so important.  I don't necessarily agree with everything that goes out there publicly, but I always respect those who are willing to put themselves into the public space and speak their truth.  Some do it through speaking, some through song and still others with their art or poetry.  But it is all public advocacy and I feel a little more committed to doing the same myself when I see/hear others doing it and doing it well.

7.  My students.  As a college instructor, it is easy to get discouraged and disillusioned about the youth of today.  As in any "public service," I work with a wide variety of individuals.  But, there are some shining stars in there that really make me WANT to do my job better - to give them the best skills possible, the most opportunities possible, the space to do the amazing things they are capable of doing.  It has been a tough four years for me at my job.  I have found it really difficult to devote myself to my job in the same way as before with a chronically ill child at home (and now chronically ill, aging parents as well).  But, every semester there is at least one student (if not more) who really make me glad to have the job I do and make me want to be the best possible instructor and coach.  As I get to know my new self (post-child, post-child's lifelong illness diagnosis, post-realization that my parents will not be with us much longer), I realize how happy I am to be doing what I'm doing.  How much I feel like I am in a place where I can change people - and they can change me - for the better.  Sometimes it is hard, but it always gratifying.

I'm sure there are many other things that motivate me and there are a TON of things that inspire me.  But, these are the core.  There are connections between some (4 and 6 for example), but they are all a bit independent of each other as well.  I am an eclectic person who has problems defining myself, which can be good, but can also be a bit distracting.  But, I can define HOW I am encouraged, inspired and motivated and I can seek out/be sure to include those things in my life.  I have not thought a lot about this particular issue lately, so this was a nice "inspiration" to get me to really consider what "floats my boat" so-to-speak.  
 


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    I am a 40 something mother of one beautiful four year old daughter who has another's heart beating inside of her, a second-time wife, and in my second or third career.  I am a late-comer in all aspects of life and still finding my way.  I teach Speech Communication and I love to help others find their voice and use it for things that matter. 

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