Inspirational People and how they Effect your Life

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FINAL-Regaae Night 002

American Express publishes an online newsletter. The last issue was titled “Strategies of Highly Inspirational People.” As an artist and writer that grabbed my attention. Creative’s are always looking for inspiration.

The article made me think of all the people in my past who inspired not only my artistic endeavors, but made me want to become a better person. My sister Jean was one of those people.

She struggled with multiple sclerosis (M.S.) for over 30 years, yet she remained positive, bubbly and happy. Even when she could no longer speak or move without help, her bright eyes spoke for her. She chose how she would face her adversity. Every new day, she donned her internal attitude like a cloak that was visible to all who knew her.

When Jean finally passed away, she defied age. Her pristine complexion glowed. There were no wrinkles or frown lines to mar her beauty. Her hair was still thick and glossy. There were no telltale signs of gray.

Some people thought her appearance came from the cortisone shots she received throughout her ordeal. I believe her lifelong loveliness came from within. Her internal compass was focused on eternal things; an inner strength, which gave her an aura of joy and peace. Even before she contracted M.S., Jean’s outgoing personality attracted many friends. She built a successful business. She won golf trophies and art awards. She participated in life fully.

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Here is the American Express list of the 10 “Strategies of Highly Inspirational People.” Note how many of these traits the people you admire share.

Inspirational people:

  1. Make permanent connections “I care and thought about you today.”
  2. Bring people together – introduces to others
  3. Believe people are good
  4. Welcome people who disagree – authentic, comfortable in their beliefs
  5. Act fearlessly, even when afraid
  6. Give back to the community
  7. Show gratitude
  8. Tell a good story and share personal ones that turn into motivational experiences
  9. Are responsive and dependable

People who make you feel good about yourself are the ones you’ll remember. Like skipping stones on water, they cast a ripple effect on others that extends outward. Their influence continues long after their gone.

My grandfather Allen had that kind of impact on my life. He was loving, but firm. His granddaughters, me included, wanted to please him and make him proud of us. He taught us how to dance. He put books on our heads and showed us how to walk straight with our heads held high.

He encouraged us to be unafraid. As a biologist and science teacher, he explained how things worked in nature and demonstrated there was no need to fear. He allowed a green garden snake to wind up his arm and a huge garden spider to creep softly over his skin. He kept a pet tarantula that seemed like a fuzzy friend after he handled it so adroitly.

Because of him, my love for nature grew. I gained respect for conservation and preservation of all living things, including human life. How can you reverence life and at the same time destroy it?

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(Great Grand Baby) Dexter learning how to feed himself.

We are the caretakers of the earth; the stewards, if you will. The balance of nature must be respected and ensured if we are to be healthy and happy. What my grandpa taught me changed my life forever and formed my interests and personality.

Every life we touch has an influence on us either for good or evil. Cherish the people and friends who make lasting imprints on your deepest self and those who positively change the course of your life’s direction.

A Toss of Fate or a Game of Choice?

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“A Joyful Heart” 11 x 14 pastel on Bristol; Matted and ready to frame.

I bragged the other day to a friend “I haven’t had a cold in years.” Then out of the blue, I got that scratchy throat that turned into a cough that turned into full-blown flu. And I had a flu shot!

In addition to tempting fate, I seem to be famous for making statements of denial that turn into fact. “I’ll never marry a German.” An opinion voiced after living next door to a German neighbor who was not only in-your-face opinionated, but overpowering. Then out of my best judgement, I ended up marrying one. What on earth was God or reason trying to tell me?

After that marriage, I became acquainted with a florist who was Norwegian. His lack of customer relation skills and his know-it-all attitude made me comment to a friend “I’ll never marry a Norwegian.” But guess what? I did. And this marriage has been great!

I think the lessons amount to this. Ethnicity doesn’t have as much to do with relationships as a person’s attitude, personality, and upbringing. An honest person with a sense of humor can overcome almost anything.

Reggae Night

“Reggae Night” mixed media on canvas

Forgiveness, give and take, and patience can do a lot more to smooth a marriage’s rough patches than the place of our parent’s birth or culture. Outside influences are far less important than internal ones. The basic principles that make up who we are cast a longer shadow of importance than where we come from.

Of course, I’m looking back with wisdom from hindsight. In the middle of my forest of choices, I couldn’t see the obvious right in front of my nose. I missed the red flags waving in the wind and had to learn from my own mistakes.

When I was interviewing for a job, I always told the interviewer I was a “quick study.” I learned quickly on the job and was never afraid to tackle tough stuff. Would that I could say the same thing about life.

Most of us learn from our mistakes. We can’t see the future and we can’t read the tea leaves that later become clear. We plod along and do the best we can. If we’re lucky, we have a good friend or a mentor we admire. Some of us have our faith in God to guide us in our walk of darkness where we “see through a glass darkly.”

I think back to the sage advice I received from my parents but rebelled against in my youth. Had I hearkened to some of it, I could have saved myself a “X?/X!! load” of grief.  But here’s the rub. If you don’t learn from your mistakes, you’ll keep repeating them over and over again.

When you reach the end of your life, do you want to leave with a list of regrets? Knowing that you did the best you could will provide a peaceful exit. And let’s face it. You were born with a time-dated stamp that eventually expires. Join the club!

Belly Dancer

“Belly Dancer” 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas