In Answer to Your Questions about Inspiration

So, it’s been a while since I posted. I’d make excuses, but I don’t have any. This morning, I read an email from a high school student working on a project about inspiration and asking if I would be willing to answer some questions to help them out. I asked my artist friends on Facebook to offer a comment about the one thing they would want someone to know about inspiration, went to work, and mulled over my answers most of the day. I think I might have this all wrong, but the answers seemed worth sharing, and it had been, you know, a really long time since I posted anything over here. So double thank you to the high school student–once for making think this through and then again for giving me a blog post. Here goes:

What is inspiration to you? And where does your inspiration come from?


Inspiration is not a thing. It is a moment. I can’t predict what is going to inspire me, but I leave myself open to it at all times. Sometimes, it’s a particular shade of a particular color in a sunrise or sunset or a woman’s dress or a man’s eyes. Sometimes, it is deep internal reflection about something. Sometimes, it’s a chord in a song or a series of words in something I’m reading or a poignant news story or the tears of a friend. Sometimes it comes from my students: their stories, their triumphs, their epiphanies, their relationships with one another and with me. Often, it is loss. That can be a personal loss–a loved one, a change in major plans, a rejection of some kind–or something I perceive as a societal loss–the failure of a bill that would help people in poverty or people with disabilities, for example, two subjects that I care about deeply. For me, the only way to combat grief and loss is to make it worth something, to bring something out of it that is worth sharing.

Continue reading

Just Doing My Job, Ma’am

Yesterday I watched an early episode of ‘Lie to Me’ where a couple has a missing child and Cal asks them, “Did you kill your daughter?” This is one of those things that parents who have lost a child at home don’t talk about. The feeling of knowing that this is what the police are asking, no matter how subtly they do it, is difficult to describe. For me, it went something like this:

We had been home from the hospital long enough to tell our three other children that their younger brother was gone. I was on the telephone with my sister when someone knocked at the door. I was numb. It was as though I’d fallen from a great height and couldn’t get air back into my lungs.

Continue reading

I Know I’m Selfish, But It Is What It Isn’t

My last post seems to have ruffled a few feathers. That’s fair. It’s also fair that I temper my hurt feelings from the actions of some with an honest assessment of myself these last eleven months. I am well aware of my shortcomings, of which there are many.

I have been selfish. I have forgotten birthdays. I didn’t send Christmas cards this year. I have canceled lunch dates. I promised a friend a letter that I never sent. I owe another friend money and I can’t remember how much. I have cut my volunteer hours by almost 90%, declined to help with things I would have jumped at a year ago, and taken weeks or months to answer email with anything more than “I’m very busy right now.”

Continue reading