The Roots of Inspiration

Random Writers: Write about how/where you find your inspiration.

Music.

Sunshine.

Birds.

Church.

The smile on my children’s faces.

I think the easier question is, “Where do you NOT find inspiration?”

It’s pretty amazing how thoughts are triggered. Be it positive or negative, the tiniest little moment, event, visual, or even perception can fire off a synapse that snowballs into an avalanche of wonderment, questioning, and amazement. It is …. well …. inspiring.

Perhaps it’s just me and my over-active imagination. All those hours spent in front of the TV on Saturday mornings watching Spider Man cartoons. Perhaps it was all the comic books I read as a child. Perhaps it’s that crazy, semi-psychotic voice in my head that makes my wife sometimes look at me like I’m crazy.

Or perhaps I’m not alone.

Perhaps everyone else has uniquely random ways in which inspiration finds its way into their hearts and minds.

Color.

Texture.

A scent that triggers a memory that, in turn, triggers an emotion.

The more I think about it, the more I wonder what exactly inspiration is.  Is it a fuel we consume when we allow our creativity to flourish? Is it the natural progression of one experience to the next; a sequential hop from point A to point B to point C? Is it the gravity of emotion pulling us in a direction we’d never before considered? Is it God’s hand guiding us down the path He’s chosen for us?

Is it all of the above?

Whatever the source or whatever the reason, the question is not how or from where? The true question is, “What do you do once you’re inspired?” The cause in not important. The effect, by contrast, most definitely is.

Some people take to painting. Others take to writing. Some use inspiration to change a bad habit. Others use inspiration to change the world.

Whatever your muse may be, I hope the inspiration you experience is coupled with the perspiration of your ensuing efforts. Big or small, private or public, local or global; use that inspiration to drive you to action.

After all, there are few things more discouraging than the notion of inspiration ignored.

041/365 My Inspiration

I normally wait until the end of the day to post my daily photoblog. After all, it’s supposed to serve as a pseudo-diary for what I did today. Today, however, I need to make an exception because I don’t think anything else that happens later will be more awesome than this.

As you may know, Lee and I, along with our dear friend Lindsey, have an ongoing writing project called Random Writers. The genesis of the project was something we could do to write with greater frequency and to use our words and ideas to positively impact the world. Keep in mind, Lee has only been writing/blogging since January 2011, and she was terrified at first of the idea of keeping a blog.

I told her that if her words, stories, and voice could positively impact just one person then it would all be worth it. Well, here is a comment she received this morning on her most recent blog post.

“Thanks for inspiring me to be a better version of myself by lighting the path ahead of me.”

I am continued to be blown away by how revealingly honest and pure my wife’s voice is when she writes. She will tell you I am the writer in the family. I will tell you she is the difference maker, both in my life and the lives of others.

It’s great to wake up every morning next to my muse.

#blessings!

Evolving Perspective

So it feels like months have passed since I last blogged from my hotel room in Kingston, New York. It’s been a whirlwind three weeks since I came back from work stoppage duty in upstate New York, and I honestly don’t even know where to begin.

I surprised my daughter by picking her up at school (I had not told her I was coming back), then Lee and I took the next day off work and spent some serious time catching up (yes, that IS what the kids are calling it these days), and then it was back to the ‘real world’ and easing back into my daily work routine.

There’s been soccer practices and helping the kids with their homework. There’s been catching up on all work projects that were on hold because of the work stoppage. There have been get-togethers at our friends’ house for football, BBQ, and beer. Football season is once again upon us, and it feels so good to have that diversion back in my life every weekend.

It’s all starting to feel normal again.

But this past weekend has challenged my perception and understanding of what normal is. This past weekend reminded me of the burning ideas and passions inside of me, and that greatness is oftentimes not found in normalcy.

I had the extraordinary privilege of taking part in a three day brainstorming session for Epic Change. It was an experience that left me inspired to say the least, and got the creative juices flowing in terms of what we can do to affect positive change in the world. Yes, the world. Not just my neighborhood, not just my city, not just my state; but rather this nice little place we call planet Earth.

Although both big ideas and even bigger challenges came out of our summit meeting, so did the reminder that through love just about anything is possible. That got me thinking of what it is that truly geeks me out (or more eloquently stated, gets me off). The reality is the answer to that question is not found in the 8 – 5 mundane world of my current professional career. So much so that I had a conversation with my boss today about how I don’t see myself in my current role long term. As much as I would like to stay with my current employer, for both financial and logistical reasons, I can hear the grumblings inside my head telling me it’s time for a change.

Of course, these grumblings don’t pay the rent, don’t provide the health insurance, and don’t grant me the flexibility to work from home. Making a change, as enticing an idea as that is right now, can also be overwhelming given the state of our current economy, not to mention my current debt to income situation.

So I am resolved to make the best of the situation and try to change the world – or at the least play my small part in doing so – one action at a time. Through service to others, through the donation of my writing talents, through the giving of my time and resources; it all begins with love and the burning desire to make better that which is in front of us.

Over the course of the next several months, you may see a varying array of blog posts from me on this site. It’s all part of a journey I have decided to take with my friends as we set out to generate love and make a difference in the lives of others. I invite you to come along for the ride. Be careful, however. It’s my understanding inspiration can be quite contagious.

Giving In

It’s a daily struggle for me to get into gear. The blessing that is working from home has a flip side, a side that is weighted down by sluggishness and complacency. I thoroughly enjoy not having to commute into work, but I also have to fight myself to ‘get going’ in the mornings and get the ball rolling. Sometimes inspiration – not to mention the crack of the boss’ whip – comes soon after 8:00 AM. Other times I feel like I don’t get out of second gear until well past 10:00.

Still, there is no rhyme or reason as to why or when the moment of energetic infusion hits. It could be a pressing deliverable for work, it could be a crisis situation (which in my work world usually means systems outage), or it could be the right song playing on the radio at the just right time.

Sometimes it’s a tweet from a friend. Sometimes it’s a blog post that I take a moment to read because, after all, I don’t feel like doing much of anything else. Sometimes something as simple as someone’s Facebook status can change my perspective and outlook for the day.

Inspiration is funny like that. She’s a clever little devil.

I’ve had this voice in my head for the past month now. It was a little, nagging whisper I’ve been ignoring for some time, and it finally go to me today.

“You need to write more!”

For weeks and weeks, it was there like that faint buzz you sometimes hear when an electronic device is turned on. I’d simply cast it aside like an annoying pet begging for food next to the dinner table.

“Go away. I’m ‘busy’.”

“No you’re not. You’ve been staring at ESPN.com for thirty five minutes.”

So as I gave into my lack of motivation this morning, I was bombarded online by message after message after message. It’s as if this little voice took over the Internet and deliberately directed content my way.

There was a tweet about how Rome wasn’t built in a day, but at some point the project DID start. My friend wrote a blog the mentions how Stephen Kings writes every day. Another friend’s blog got me thinking about what my calling is, and whether or not that voice in my head has something to do with it. This all came to a head when I received notification that someone I admire and is an inspiration to me is following me on twitter (yeah, I don’t get it either).

So here I am … BAM … shaking off the morning molasses and feeding the voice in my head. Call her my muse, call her a bitch; either way, both are probably correct.

Lazy is tempting seductress, one that fills you with emptiness and the regrets of missed opportunities. I know her well. Still, you never know when inspiration is going swoop in to help save you from lazy’s quicksand grip. Once she does, however, don’t let yourself hide behind excuses. I know I have.

The reward of the accomplishment is in looking back at all that was overcome to reach that point.

It’s Not At All Random

I don’t believe in random. I mean I do, but I don’t.

Lotto balls are random. The way a snowflake falls from the sky is random. The things that come out of my nine year-old’s mouth are random. But life and our interactions with others are never random. That being said, I met Cate Colgan through the most random of circumstances.

At the time, I had no idea what a Tweetup was. Nevertheless, Lee and I trekked down to the Performing Arts Center in downtown Tampa for a Tampa Bloggers Tweetup. I blogged and I lived in Tampa, but I hardly considered myself a ‘Tampa Blogger’. Lee and I were both still relative novices in the whole arena of social media, but it was something to do so off we went.

Near the end of the event, we met Cate. We chatted with her a bit and exchanged information. I didn’t think much of it at the time. It was just another business card to add to the pile I had collected that evening. We had met a good amount of people at the event and I spent the better part of the drive home trying to mentally sort all the names and faces to which we’d been introduced.

Some time passed and Lee forwarded me information about a Social Media class. Again, given we were both eager to learn more, we registered for the class. It turned out Cate Calgon was part of the group that put together and organized the class. In fact, Lee came across the information for the class as a result of following Cate on Twitter and keeping tabs on her information.

This second meeting with Cate led to her inviting Lee, and by extension me, to join the Epic Thanks Tampa Bay planning organization. I was at first reluctant to commit to the planning and execution of such an event, but I am really glad I got involved, and it turned out to be quite a successful project. In addition to the networking opportunities that were created as a result of being a part of that organization, Epic Thanks also introduced me to a world of new people that are still a part of my daily life. I’ve made new and dear friends, and I would not have met all these people if not for Cate.

Cate has also been a role model for me in that she leads through example, is incredibly giving and selfless, and carries no ego with her. Given all she’s done and all she’s donated, both in time and money, Cate makes it all seem like it’s no big deal. She doesn’t walk around with a sense of superiority. Quite the contrary. Cate is always looking to deflect attention away from her and provide praise and cheer to someone else.

No, there was nothing random about what brought Cate Calgon into my life. I truly believe God allowed our paths to cross so I could:

  • Be an active part of a wonderful, non-profit organization and event
  • Be introduced to breathtakingly inspiring people who make giving of themselves their life’s work
  • Expand my knowledge, understanding and skill sets regarding social media, event planning, and event marketing
  • Create new opportunities, both personally and professionally, through the many people with whom Cate has connected me

I could easily add twenty more bullet points, but I am sure you get the idea.

To say Cate Calgon has made an impact on my life is an understatement. I’ve written before how thankful I am to her and for having her come into my life the way she did. I will say it again, however, because there are not enough words for me to properly describe how much of a ray of sunshine Cate has been.

Thanks again, Cate, for turning on the ‘giving’ switch inside of me, and for showing me how rewarding life can be when you make it about others.