What Inspires You?

This blog is about inspiration. We all have our go-to activities or places when we need to be inspired or uplifted. For me, usually a hike or a trip to a new (or old) place or spending time with family (even if just memories of family) will rid me of the blues. If I am strapped for time or cash, music is my alternative. Singing badly and loudly somehow makes me feel better, even if it annoys those around me. In some ways, that is the cherry on top.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalidae family) on leafless birch tree on a sunny spring day.

Lately, I will admit to a significant struggle over inspiration. Sometimes the tank is plain empty. Whether it’s stress or routine or watching too much news, I can admit to feeling uninspired and flat-out dull. I know many people go to transcendental sources like the bible or meditation or church. And others go to nature – a walk on the beach, a drive in the mountains, or listening to birds on the porch.

But what happens when even those things don’t work?

Elizabeth Gilbert says that the muse shows up when your butt is in the seat (or something to that effect). And so, I put my butt in the seat (or on the train) where I am in front of my computer—at least 2 hours a day of writing time. I’m fairly dedicated. But even that hasn’t cut it over the past several months. At a recent writer’s conference, a speaker addressed the fear of the blank page. It’s real and significant and jarring when it happens—and it happens to all writers at some point. What if we have nothing left to write about? What if my craft atrophies as I sit in front of a blank screen?

I don’t often admit defeat since perseverance is apparently stamped into my DNA, right next to curiosity and my favorite question “why?” But all of it has disappeared lately (and possessing the vulnerability to admit such a circumstance is definitely not in my DNA.) But, since I’m not a “fake-it-till-you-make-it” kind of person, I’ve been waiting patiently for the birds of inspiration to flutter back onto my desktop.

I had a routine physical this week and somehow this topic came up. My doctor told me she fills her tank with a few extra shifts at the emergency room. Wow. Not the answer I was expecting but it spoke volumes about her dedication to others and to her profession. She likes to see how calm she can remain amidst the chaos. “It’s reassuring to know that I’ve still got it,” she explained.

I’m reading a newly released book—“Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life” by Dascher Keltner. His premise is that awe is a uniquely human trait and is the key to sustained happiness. He defines awe as the “emotion we experience when we encounter vast mysteries that we don’t understand.” I like this idea and hope I finish this book soon with a renewed sense of awe.

In the meantime, I turn to you. What inspires you? What fills your heart with contentment or curiosity or awe? Someone I know is inspired by dolphins in the water. Someone else I know is inspired by dolphins in a football game. Someone else is inspired by the spring flowers lining the sidewalk on a walk in the city and someone else by the cooing of a newly born baby.

What inspires you? I need to know.

And to those of you who are mothers—Happy Mother’s Day!


  1. Well it’s about time you posted again!!! I have missed these Sunday fun readings 😍. I hope you get past your blank page problem 😵‍💫. Mickey used to tell the youth when they were in a slump to do something for someone else… a mission project! Maybe another trip to Africa is in your future 🤪

  2. Hi Denise! When I need inspiration, I read your blog 💕. I was so happy to see your post this morning. I’m also in awe of the sound of water in all forms – running streams, ocean waves, hot tubs . . . I love them all.

  3. When looking for inspiration, come to Kosovo! :p Perhaps your visit here in a couple weeks will reignite your writing! I echo what the other readers above said- I missed reading your posts. For me I find inspiration in reading other people’s stories. I love to go on wikipedia and search people whether present or past- and read of their beginnings, where they grew up, what kind of environment they lived in, etc and read of the different opportunities that came their way which led them to where they are today. I also find inspiration in traveling- seeing a whole new culture and learning of their history, their traditions and music and food, and the natural beauty that surrounds them whether mountain, beach, or even just the personalities and vibrancy of the people themselves. And I find inspiration in music because I feel it can articulate things that we can’t easily express ourselves- even if the music doesn’t have lyrics. There’s something magical about it!

    1. I’ll be there soon! And I too am inspired by other people’s stories. I am always on Wikipedia looking up people and learning their story. We all have one! And I love what you say about the influences in our lives, music, food, nature beauty. So true.

  4. I, too, have missed your Sunday posts. I could be that person inspired by the dolphins in the water. I feel such contentment and peace when I am walking by the shore, watching the pelicans dive for fish, and just being in the moment. When I see that fin break the water, my heart beats a little faster and I want to shout out to everyone on the beach-dolphins! Kind of the same feeling I get reading your posts-I want to shout out to everyone, “hey, Denise just wrote another great story”.

  5. Awww…finally she writes, to me! I have needed you (your Sunday inspirational writing). You are an inspiration to me. I get my energy from other people, like you…meditation is not my thing but prayer is! Nature gives me contentment, like Spring! But I enjoy it when walking or driving with someone. 😘

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