Lately, I have been inspired by amazing women.
Take my 18 year old niece who is currently in Uganda for three weeks. She is with a team of older people ie none of her close friends for support, on top of culture shock and the ramifications of being in a third world country. Or my nephew’s girlfriend, who, at the age of 18 spent a month in Africa helping in a team where she knew no-one. And then there is our friend who, at 17 went on a schoolies trip to Thailand, similar to the one Chalky and I are about to embark on in just over a week. And, of course, there is Chalky herself – 15 years old and already wanting to make a difference in the lives of others; whose main concern in life isn’t boys or hair styles or shopping but a focus on world issues and giving back.
And then there are the women who just inspire me daily with their courage in their circumstances. Women who refuse to allow their situations to get the better of them and just keep on picking themselves up and dusting themselves off. And it’s not always the big things. Quite often, it’s the small things that provide me with the greatest sense of wonderment. Like not just ‘putting up’ with their husband’s faults but really loving them through it. It’s women who, day in, day out, make sacrifices for their children that no-one even notices. It’s women doing the best they can with what they have. It’s being brave enough to cry, strong enough to scream and tenacious enough to simply keep putting one foot in front of the other.
It’s the women who come to me to talk and ‘download’ and yet I am the one who is encouraged and uplifted by them at the end of our time together. Their spark and doggedness ignites something within me, and I am better for it.
Some years ago, talking to, or hearing about, these women would have intimidated me, made me feel small and ‘less than’. Rather than being inspired by them, I would have felt guilt that I wasn’t doing something the same, or that I was less patient with my circumstances that, by comparison, were not that difficult.
Now, I don’t feel those things. I simply feel inspired and motivated by the strength and determination of those around me. By sharing their lives, their struggles, with me, my friends help me see what grit and determination can achieve, and what it can do to our circumstances.
And that all of us can do it. When I start feeling apprehensive about our upcoming trip, I just think about those teenagers I know who have done similar trips, and that gives me courage and a sense of calm.
You don’t have to look too far, or too hard, to find inspiration. Amazing people are all around us. You just have to start to see it.