Let’s face it, sometimes we’re inspired and other times…not so much.  Right now, as I sit in my cozy dining room listening to the howling wind and thawing out from the amazing hour of snow shoveling I’ve just completed (freezing and sweating at the same time just shouldn’t be possible) I am feeling good with a hint of virtuousness.  I’ve eaten carefully today, and I’ve gotten a lot of exercise.  Ah, life is good, I’m good, and all’s right with the world.

But earlier in the week, I was really struggling with a bad attitude.  I felt like all I was doing was calculating calories — eaten and expended. I told people that getting up to exercise reminded me of the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercial guy who starts out jumping from bed exclaiming “Its time to make the donuts!” but after several mornings barely drags himself out of bed grumbling, “its time to make the donuts.” As those who know me are aware, I can crab and crank in a unending stream of verbal vitriol when I am feeling negative.  The energy can be so dark I have (I am ashamed to say) actually frightened people. 

And that’s where I was emotionally a couple of days ago when I heard a speaker talking about Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy.  She said, “Look at the extraordinary things that have been accomplished in this world because of one ordinary Irish woman.”  I love being reminded that being part of a Mercy institution gives me the opportunity to be a small link in that world-wide chain of the extraordinary.  That thought inspires me, makes me want to be more than I am. More active, more caring, more merciful. I want to be a shiny link, not a dark one.

Inspiration doesn’t just come from admired heroes I’ll never meet or know.  I have been inspired by people I see every day to stay on track with this journey.  By a friend celebrating his birthday by challenging others to spend a morning doing flood recovery work. By my parents whose example has taught me that we can change the world by changing our community. By a faculty member who invariably makes you feel like the most important person in her world. By the many friends and family who speak encouragement when I’m low or celebrate when I succeed.  And tonight, by the neighbor whose name I don’t know who helped me finish shoveling my endless driveway!

Every day, I am inspired by the example of others to strive to be a better person.  As I once heard and now often repeat, inspiration means, literally, “the breath of God”.  Inspiration is a both a humbling force and great motivator.  So tomorrow morning, and the next, I plan to get out of bed cheerfully telling myself, “Its time to make the donuts.” 

(The post above was written on ‘Thursday, December 9)

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