“What inspires you?” A friend recently asked me this question about my work as a speech-language pathologist, and I found myself pondering the idea longer than I expected. As a busy mom and full-time school-based SLP, I admit that it is often easy to get lost in the routines, the necessities and basics of everyday life–with more on my daily to-do list than often seems feasible. I prefer to check items off as they are completed; nice, neat little boxes with the checks in order and the plans made in advance. I feel great when I can look back and see the plans, the check marks and the accomplishments. However, as many busy SLPs and moms in this crazy world know….life is not about the to-do lists or the check marks. It’s not about whether you accomplish everything on your agenda for the day, or whether your plans are even realistic. As I acknowledged these thoughts and continued to ponder the question of what inspires me (and all the daily challenges that often preclude any degree of inspiration) a memory suddenly emerged in my mind. A simple recollection of a moment during a speech therapy session, when the small boy I was instructing stopped and smiled at me. It wasn’t a huge grin or an animated expression. Rather, it was a brief flash of a smile that spoke to me in a subtle tone, “I get it now.” That sweet glimpse of a smile that suddenly appeared in my mind triggered dozens of examples that all whispered, “inspiration.” I finally nodded to my friend as I matter-of-factly answered her question, “I am inspired by opportunities to connect with other people.”
If you have connected with someone in a meaningful way, you may know the feeling of what I consider to be truly inspiring. Inspiration seems to often occur in those incidental encounters that can’t be planned carefully or placed on an industrious to-do list. For me, inspiration occurs at that moment when I realize that perhaps my best-laid plans need to be moved aside to make room for the unexpected. It’s in the look on a child’s face when they are captivated, or even confused. It’s in that chance to really connect with someone else and add something to their life–in whatever small ways possible. At the risk of sounding too cliché or pretentiously altruistic, I believe my inspiration often comes from the chance to make a difference in the lives of those in need — to help them live, speak, love.
Not surprisingly, what inspires me as a speech-language pathologist is what also inspires me as a mom–and as a person. I find personal satisfaction and enjoyment in searching for new ways to connect with my kids, run my household or teach the students on my caseload. I get excited about creating opportunities for building connections through new ideas or tools to use– perhaps a clever theme-based lesson plan, a fascinating use of technology, or a simple-but-brilliant idea for using something old in a completely new way. I admit to scouring the internet in the wee hours of the night for the next bright idea, and every now and then I come up with a good idea all on my own! Yes, it is true that ideas sometimes need to be set aside to make room for spontaneous connections in life, but it is also true that creative ideas tend to spark ways of embellishing everyday moments. For me, it’s those everyday moments that make all the difference.
And so begins my season of blogging…my newest plan for how I can connect with others in a meaningful way. I hope to share what inspires me, so that others may also be inspired. We all know that life is full of unexpected challenges, worries and setbacks. To-do lists and check marks really do not tell the whole story of who we are or what we find important in life. Despite all our planning and preparation, busy days run into the next until we discover a chance to stop and ask (or be asked) the question, “what inspires you?” I hope you find some answers in this blog, and some ideas to inspire or connect with someone else.
P.S. Please be patient as I develop my blog; I have a lot on my to-do list.