Friday, June 13, 2008

Making a Literary Life: Who Inspires You?

This week, a couple of us at the Writers' Group shared how musicians inspire us. In their talent, drive and heart, they show us how they followed their dream. This week, we want to share how others - non-writers - inspire us. Tell us who inspires you.

Lisa Marnell
For me, it has to be athletes, and it barely matters what sport it is. In the last winter Olympics, there was a Russian skater whose story brought me to tears. And what about Justine Henning, the champion tennis player from Belgium who recently retired. When she was fourteen she went to a tennis match with her mom and promised her mom that she would play at that level some day. Her mom never lived to see Justine win a Grand Slam.

Amy MacKinnon
John Walsh inspires me. When his son Adam was abducted and later found ed, Mr. Walsh didn't crumble they way most of us would. Instead, he gathered whatever reserves he had and devoted his life to helping abused children by co-founding the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and producing and hosting America's Most Wanted. One man, one man shouldering the most excruciating burden, and he has helped change the world for thousands of people.

Hannah Roveto
I am most inspired by regular people who rise above whatever is going on in their lives with integrity, dignity and compassion. Friends, neighbors, relatives. Randy Pausch, the professor who has become famous for his Last Lecture is inspirational, and not for the reasons you might think at first. He was a regular guy handling everyday adversity with strength and humor at inspirational levels, only few people knew that. His diagnosis put him in the spotlight; certainly, he continues to deal with the most difficult hand that can be dealt with grace. However, it's his successes along the way, showing how a can-do approach and sense of humor deliver real rewards, that is his most inspirational -- and generous -- message to other everyday people. He shows us how to take what we get and get what we need: joy.

Lynne Griffin
I was surprised when this topic left me bewildered. It wasn't easy to come up with a person or group of people who inspire me. Certainly there's the parent I've been working with, who has two children with special needs; I admire her patience and fortitude. There's the gifted teacher I met fifteen years ago and will never forget; she knows just how to motivate each and every student who walks into her classroom. I thought about my own parents, grandparents, & friends. But I just couldn't come up with one person. It seems I draw my inspiration from ordinary people doing extraordinary things. The people who live the paradoxical commandments. People who, in the face of insurmountable challenges, persevere anyway.

7 comments:

five said...

Dick Hoyt and his son Rick, competing in the Boston Marathon...brings me to tears every time.

zakstar said...

In a celebrity obsessed world- it's great to see inspirations that have actually done something to earn the praise!

It brings to mind youaremyinspiration.org

The site is an interactive gift house that allows women to honor their everyday female inspirations. The site host a number of brief anecdotes.

100% of funds raised are put towards Step Up Women's Network's underserved teen girl programming.

Joanne said...

I'm inspired by a place. It's a little beach on Long Island Sound, in the crook of a bend on the coast. The sea air lingers heavier here, embraced by the stone jetty and pine forest. Point O' Woods beach informs all my writing with its purity and peace. It finds a way into much of my work. Take a look, and have a nice weekend!
http://powbeach.net/

Lisa said...

I think the real life people who've inspired me most are the ones I always seem to find out about accidentally. It's the co-worker who cares for a parent with Alzheimer's or the acquaintance who has a child with severe developmental disabilities, or a woman I know who volunteers to make sure colonies of feral cats have food and someplace to seek shelter all year round, but especially in the sub-zero Colorado winters. I'm inspired most by selfless people who aren't famous and who do things that most people wouldn't, without recognition and most of the time, without thanks.

Lisa said...

Oooh. I had to come back and tell you about an ongoing inspiration. Scott inspires me with his generosity to other painters. He has been fortunate in that unlike the vast majority of painters, he has had enough success with his art to make a living painting. He delights me with his willingness to invite other painters here to show them how to do something they've had trouble with or to give them advice when they ask. He's often gotten other painters into galleries and he's helped his painter friends out financially lots of times, always without being asked, always with no strings attached and often anonymously. It's just something that he does. I am a big believer in karma and I'm sure that his generosity is tied to his own personal success. He inspires me.

Tara said...

I'm inspired by our local chocolate shop owner. She has this fantastic accent that no one could ever try to copy and she is so serious about chocolate that she swears all the time. When I was pregnant with my first I used to go into the shop to work on my novel and she'd fix me up this amazing decaf coffee that was better than any regular I could get elsewhere in town. She hates it if I sit at any table that isn't the one I always sit at, and she always asks me, how's the book? I love to listen to her talk to all of her customers as if they were her next door neighbors (and then gossip about the conversation minutes later with her husband). This week when I passed by I noticed there was a sign in the window asking people not to wear perfume in the shop because chocolate picks up scents. Mmm...just the word chocolate is inspiring.

The Writers' Group said...

Mo, isn't that a life lesson? Their love is spiritual.

Thanks for letting us know, Zakstar.

Joanne, it's gorgeous. And how creative the way you took this outside of the box. Nice.

Lisa, completely agree. The nurses and attendants I've met on the Alzheimers ward are beautiful people. And how touching that your husband inspires you. What a gift.

Tara, I love that story! And all week I've been looking for a sign to point me in the rightdirection -- you gave it to me. Thanks for the inspiration!