I have been having a FABULOUS February! Running a Facebook group to help people feel better throughout a dismal month, using some positive reinforcement and sharing positive stuff. It has been a lovely experience with great interaction and lots of smiles.
One of the things I have been sharing as part of the process is a Fabulous Alphabet. Every day I have chosen a positive word and shared the definition and some thoughts about it.
On Friday we reached the letter “I”. And I chose the word Inspiration.
I found myself pondering who and what inspires me, and I had a bit of an insight.
The social media generation will grow up with the word “inspiration” engraved on their minds. They will choose various “role models”, good or bad, and it will be natural for them to do so. But when I think back to my teens and 20’s I don’t remember thinking about being inspired. I had teachers who encouraged and excited me, I met people I admired. But I have no memory of looking for inspiration. That word didn’t really exist in my day-to-day vocabulary.
To be honest I didn’t really have aspiration either. I did not have much self-esteem, never really believed I could achieve anything notable. When good things came my way, I was faintly surprised and always felt un-deserving. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop
Then I remembered the first time that I really felt inspired.
In April 2008 I was 49 years old with a 13-year-old daughter, in a very stressful job but about to get married for the second time. There was a lot of good stuff going on. And then I joined a direct selling business called Pampered Chef, which required me to go out and about doing cooking demonstrations. I went to my first PC conference in July of that year and found myself totally out of my comfort zone! Around 600 women, full of enthusiasm, passion and so excited about everything. It terrified me. And then on the second day a lady called Sahar Hashemi took the stage, and my life changed.
She and her brother had started a business called Coffee Republic, back in the days before Costa and Starbucks. She told her story and I wept. She was so inspiring and everything she said resonated with me. I don’t remember her words, but I do remember the feeling they created inside me. She made me believe I could.
Over my 8 years with Pampered Chef I heard and met many inspirational people. I went on to build a team, attend many conferences and discovered a world of self-development. I read books, watched You Tube clips and dared to dream. I started wanting more. Although I have worked with several other direct marketing companies since Pampered Chef I have never felt quite the same sense of belonging and passion. But I continued with my self-improvement journey.
My bookshelves are filled with auto-biographies and other inspirational tomes, exhorting me to believe in myself, get the most out of life, be successful and so on and so forth. Revving me up and requiring me to be the best, to excel, to succeed whatever the cost. But you know what. It was exhausting. I knew that these people were successful. They had found what worked for them. I admired that. But in a perverse way it de-motivated me. It just felt like too much effort. And I am not lazy. But I have had way too much stress in my life. And whatever else I felt, I knew that I needed to reduce my stress levels if I wanted to live a happy life.
And then just under 2 years ago I discovered Syd Banks and the Three Principles. I found a quiet mind. And everything changed. I still want to be successful and earn money. I still want to be someone who inspires other people. But I realise that there is no self to improve. Its just my ego. Everything I need is already inside me. My inner diamond is sparking. I just need to give it a bit of a polish to let its light shine out.
Since then I have met many other people who inspire me. But it is different. The inspiration comes from recognising something inside people. An inner calm. The people who inspire me are not all famous or well known. They are often people I bump into on a dog walk or run across at an event. Sure, there are better known people too, who are much better at putting this into words than I am. But the books I read now are gentler. Pointing inwards to our own truth. Our own innate sense of wellbeing. Of calmness.
Every now and then I forget. I jump back on that self-development fast track. But at moments like this I remember. My inspiration is found looking at a beautiful view up here where I live, in spending time with my family, in walking my very smart peace-loving Labradors. In gentle conversation. Simple stuff.
I encourage you to look there too. Its what life is all about. And it’s pretty FABULOUS!