What do they have in common? Pure inspiration.
During the last week of 2014 I was utterly inspired by two very different people. One I’ve never met and sadly never will. The other I had the pleasure of spending 2 days with recently.
Olga Kotelko took up competitive track and field at age 77 after a life void of athletics. By the time she reached 95 years of age she had amassed over 30 gold medals in the masters track world in 11 events. Thanks to the thoughtfulness of my good friend Molly, I have been soaking up every word about her in Bruce Grierson’s book, What Makes Olga Run? Olga was an enigma. No one had ever done what she did at her age. Doctors, scientists, and psychologists of every walk of life wanted to meet her and find out what her ‘secret’ was for longevity, her unbreakable spirit, desire, motivation, endurance and a life free of pain and degradation in the sense that we typically expect of an octo- or nonagenarian.
Every bit of Olga’s life is inspiration. It is NEVER, never too late to start something new. Greatness is NEVER to be rushed. To find out more about her ‘secrets’, I highly recommend her book.
Pavel Cenkl is a 43-year-old professor of environmental humanities at Sterling College in VT. He is also the husband of my dear friend and rock climbing partner. Pavel and Jen are the consummate outdoor adventure couple.
Have you ever met someone with tree trunk thighs? Pavel has worked long and hard to build his overall fitness. Not as a means to an end, but as a way of life. Now he is taking this way of life and amping it up to the nth degree. In June, Pavel will travel to Iceland with his 10-year-old son (and wife to join him later) to run 170 miles from the south of the country to the north. Solo. In one stretch. No stopping. Really.
His motivation? To raise awareness among outdoor enthusiasts and athletes about climate change and how the places in which we love to pursue our passions are palpably changing. Second motivation? Raise enough money to create a scholarship for a Sterling College student to study in Iceland and an Icelandic student to study at Sterling.
Every bit of Pavel’s life is inspiration. There is no limit to what we can accomplish.
If you’d like to find out more about Pavel, and support him in his endeavor please visit him at Climate Run.
So how many of you are reading about Olga and Pavel and muttering things like, More power to them. Better them than me. You’ll never get me out there doing that. Are they crazy?
See, that’s the kind of thinking that cuts us off from possibility. Remember when you were a kid and you thought you were invincible? You didn’t see any reason at all why you couldn’t BE Spiderman or a princess, eat 3 double scoop ice cream cones in a row, build a ramp off your roof and ride your bike up it, or sled down a hill at mach 6 speed.
And then you became an adult and those kinds of thoughts became crazy.
Why? What switched in us? Why did we suddenly wake up one day and think those things were impossible and dangerous and just plain old ridiculous? Was it fear? Fear of getting harmed? Fear of being judged? Fear of not being taken seriously by friends, family and colleagues? Fear of failing?
This, dear friends, is why I teach. It is why I am a mom. It is why I write stories for children. Children have it right, and we must never lose sight of how we viewed the world as a child. Surrounding myself with children keeps that reminder fresh in my mind every day. They hold the magic and we should make it our life’s work to hold it, too. In all that we do and in all that we are.
As a children’s book writer I want nothing more than for children to be inspired by the story they fall into. I want them to know, to remember, and to always and forever hold onto the belief that the world is good, people are good, and their lives are full of nothing but possibilities. If they can imagine it, they can be it or do it.
There are many classic books that are monuments to this idea that if you believe, anything is possible. The first that comes to mind is The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards. Then there is Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, Press Here by Herve Tullet, Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett, and so many more.
What books would you add to this list?
There is inspiration all around us. I believe it can touch us deeply if we are open to it. We write the book of our own life. And if you are also a writer for others, hopefully you write from your heart so that their lives may be enriched.
Lesson #16: Live openly. Be inspired by others. Let their inspiration change your life. Don’t wait. 2015 is your year.
Happy New Year! Write the book that YOU want to write. Go get it!
Here are two contemporary books that remind us to keep the magic and possibilities alive and well in us…
Click on images to visit the authors’ pages