Unexpected Inspiration

People inspire me. ALL THE TIME.

Humans are remarkable. And I’m lucky to know a few who really teach the rest of us how it’s done.

By sheer chance, I connected with these inspiring people throughout the course of regular life. We have remained connected on social media, overcoming mileage and distance to gain the benefit of relationships I’d otherwise miss without knowing it.

These people, my friends and allies, are the ones who have made me better simply by living their lives. I’m humbled and often dumbstruck at how easy they make it look. The ease comes from a life of integrity, of course. They share the tough parts of their journeys as well as the highlights. And I’m better for it.

I’m not trying to create a silly list of ranking the “most inspirational” or anything as trite as that. I’ve just thought about ways to really put into words a few of the many people who I look to for inspiration, encouragement and reality checks. These few represent many other people who force me to evaluate my own circumstances and ask why not? Why not me? Why not today? Why not?

In no particular order, and undoubtedly leaving out other heroes, I offer a quick review of some standouts who helped me through life when they most likely were unaware they were doing so.

Allan Schoenberg — By offering glimpses into his own journey of becoming more mindful, he’s asking us humbly to consider doing the same. His book recommendations, insights shared and photos captured on runs in the woods quickly become highlights in the social feed for me. I’m becoming more aware of my own mindfulness, and ways to get there, thanks to Allan.

Justin Levy — Reading daily updates on Justin’s approach to life and health is inspiring in its own right. Understanding the incredibly challenging health crisis he has faced (and faced down) brings our own daily challenges into sharp perspective. I experienced dark days after my family’s car accident in August of 2014, and Justin’s honest and unstoppable sharing helped me see the light at the end of a long tunnel some days. Watching him now and cheering him on for each milestone feels like the world is working the way it always should. And the good guys will win.

Ovetta Sampson — Another true warrior, she has transformed herself before our eyes. She is a remarkable and dedicated triathlete, and one who came a long, long way. She uses phrases like “There was an athlete inside me” that resonate with me in a big way. It’s exciting to watch her prepare for her next challenge, be it a race or a milestone. It’s thrilling to see her finish whatever she sets out to do. I’ll be cheering.

Pat Arnold — I’m always turning to Pat to see how she will phrase the thoughts in my head. Pat is not afraid to fight fear with love and fact. She never loses her grace, even when battling the supreme ignorance in the world. Her perspective starts always with offering peace and yet Pat isn’t afraid of confronting what isn’t right or true. She has a way with words that gives me solace on those days when it feels like the whole world is violent and unforgiving. Pat asks us to think differently, and I often do because of her.

Aaron Strout — Aaron inspires me by just behaving in ways that are kind and ethical and funny. He loves his wife and family and shares his experiences of taking a big bold move and moving them to California. We’ve only been in the same room a handful of times, but each time he has shown me warmth and hasn’t changed one iota as his professional star continues to rise. I smile when I see his posts, just like if I see him in person.

My kids — yes, I know, every parent says this. I’m no different. My boys offer me inspiration when they ask for solutions to the world’s problems. What can we do, they ask, about kids who don’t have parents? Watching my 11 year old ask for gift cards for the children’s home instead of birthday gifts makes me realize we can all do a little more.

We can all do just a little more, can’t we? The few people I’ve mentioned here are not super heroes, they are doing their best and sharing what works and what doesn’t. It’s powerful. And I’m lucky to be along for the ride.

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