Inspire: to produce or arouse (a feeling, thought, etc.)

Many thanks to all of you for your inspiration, suggestions, and honest feedback. I received so many different topics from elevator etiquette, to teachable moments in the classroom, to coaching sports, to, “Oh, inspire me!” The blogosphere is still somewhat a mystery to me, but I will do my best to accommodate and write about your suggestions.

My older daughter and I went to Macy’s the other day so she could buy a Bare Minerals starter kit. She knows how much I hate the mall and how much I hate the depressing fact that I can’t buy everything I see, but she also knows that I would do anything just to spend some time with her, and to be fair, she likes to hang with me — that’s why she asks me to tag along.

We only make one stop and that’s at the Cosmetics Counter. We’re greeted by a lovely salesperson, Claire. Claire spent quite some time with us and after about an hour, my daughter was set with her starter kit — perfectly matched shading and all. Claire said something that made me think about my blogging (paraphrasing Muhammad Ali), “If you have the skill, but not the will, you won’t amount to anything” (“Float like a butterfly; Sting like a bee!”). I was impressed she even knew who Muhammad Ali was, let alone putting out there some prolific quotation for MY inspiration. So, how does one inspire another? There are so many things one can do to inspire another, and most of the time, it comes naturally, without effort, and with sincerity. How, then, can I be an inspiration? When I put effort and thought into something, I want it to inspire others. It’s similar to the discussion I had with my mom (now there’s an inspiration!) about how really difficult it is to be a comedian. When I’m not trying to be funny, I am; when I’m trying to be funny, I’m not. At least that’s how I experience it. I know that most of the time when I am funny, people are laughing AT me, but nonetheless, they’re laughing and I made them laugh. There’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that I made someone smile and laugh. Ask my friend, Gina Manning; She’s experienced it up on the stage and knows how rewarding it can be. You really should catch one of her shows.

One of the best pieces of advice I can give anyone about inspiring another is to laugh at yourself. If you can laugh at yourself, you allow for inspiration to naturally shine through. I know, I know — “But you said inspire ANOTHER, not yourself.”

You are an inspiration to others just by being you, by being the best you, by leading the laughter (albeit with minor self-deprecation), and by putting on your best face for others to see. When I’m up in front of 40 to 50 high schoolers in one class, sometimes I look into their eyes and see the, “entertain me,” look, or the “teach me something,” look, or the, “who the hell are you?” look. Most of the time, though, I see pure honesty and young adults looking for inspiration and yearning for knowledge. THEY are MY inspiration…and they’re looking to me? I wonder if I’ve inspired any of them to do the right thing, to study harder, to read more, to analyze everything, to ask questions, to be leaders, to be happy, to be all they can be and more. Have I? I have to believe that I’ve inspired them, because I always remain myself with them: honest (sometimes brutally honest); real; outspoken; caring; and yes, sometimes frustrated with them, myself, the system…but still, I am always myself. I can’t be anyone, but myself in the classroom. I can’t be fake — those teens see right through fake. So, what do they think of me? What have I inspired in them? What have I inspired in you, my reader? Can I inspire you to be yourself… be your true self… and not allow anyone to falsify who you are, or mold you into anything you don’t want to be? Laugh. Laugh a lot (“a lot is TWO WORDS!”). When you’re smilin’, keep on smilin’/The whole world smiles with you/And when you’re laughin’, oh when you’re laughin’/The sun comes shinin’ through (Joe Goodwin, Larry Shay, Mark Fisher). You are the inspiration that this world needs. You are the inspiration that this world craves. You are the inspiration that this world loves. You are the inspiration with whom the world laughs. You, and only you.

Dedicated to Claire at the Del Amo Macy’s Cosmetics Counter. Thank you for your inspiration.