I just have to start out this post by sharing this is THE first time I’ve been asked by one of my followers to blog about a specific topic.  And no, no money exchanged hands before, during or after, ha ha ha.  Fivenineteen here, serving up responses to your requests hot and fresh!  So if any of the other three of you who tune in here have something you’d like me to ramble about, I’d love to hear from you.  I actually have the comments now enabled (baby steps, baby steps) or you can email me through my profile/contact info.

“…would you consider writing about having support and inspiration to be the best in your workplace (and in your life). Where do you find inspiration?”

Where do I find inspiration?  It starts even further upstream than that as I think through this. I think to be inspired you first have to have an open mind.  And that’s something I’m committed to having throughout my life no matter how long I live.  People always have told me oh, just wait, when you get older you’ll get more set in your ways.  I like to think – hope – that that won’t ever happen to me.  I shudder at the thought of becoming a close-minded old crank someday – horrors!  But then again there are a lot of things in my life that have gradually gelled and crystalized – style, opinions – in very broad brush strokes.  Yet I am always curious about what’s out there, what’s new and up and coming and how others view things. And I think through that curiosity is where I glean inspiration.

Inspiration is multi-pronged in my world.  I get inspired on what to strive for as well as what NOT to do. 

Back when I was around 23 or 24 I worked for a freight forwarding and international logistics company not far from the major airport here.  We were essentially travel agents for cargo – air freight, ocean freight, you name it.  This was early on in my career and I was still very green in oh so many things, and it was only my second “real” full-time job after finishing college.  Admittedly I was still in that “hey, I have a college degree and why am I having to do this menial, clerical bullshit paper-pushing work.”  Now I know –  it’s called Paying Your Dues. 

And then there was my boss.

Talk about stereotypical red-faced, sweaty, obese, explosively hot-tempered – the list goes on.  I’m surprised the guy didn’t pop a jugular or ever have a heart attack right there in the office.  He was a tricky one alright, for while he was VERY knowledgeable and experienced in the industry – truly someone I could learn a lot from – his delivery was all kinds of Asshole.  But I will never forget him for sure.  I learned SO much from that blowhard – I learned a lot about the shipping industry AND I also learned how NOT to treat people.  And I silently made a vow to myself that if I was ever privileged someday to have a staff of my own that I would NEVER treat them the way he treated me and the rest of our team.  Oy. 

And sometimes inspiration sits right beside you in the cubicle farm instead of hotly breathing down your neck at random times a la that Manager.  Case in point – my co-worker, J.  How she put up with my early 20-something brattiness I don’t know but now looking back on it now she really took me under her wing.  J was about 10 years older than I and – what a small world – had been a student of my grandmother’s when my grandmother taught Home Economics for many years at one of the high schools here in the area.  When we made that connection she even gasped, “I can see the resemblance!”  Wow.

When it comes to keeping an open mind and being curious about the world, my grandparents (Dad’s side) take the prize.  Even into his 90s, my grandfather always kept up on current events and would ask us questions.  “So, fivenineteen, how does the war in Iraq affect your job industry?”  Ummm…let me think about that – I’m not exactly sure!  They always started out each morning doing a couple of crossword puzzles together – likely that’s good ‘mental’ exercising as I’ve heard.  They traveled constantly, fully enjoying their retirement, until perhaps the bodies slowed down and it became too difficult.  And, counter to most all other residents in their retirement home, they took computer classes and learned how to surf the internet and do email.  At age 75 or so!  How many of you out there can say you get email from your 94 year old grandmother?  Yes, my friends, I do. In very, very large font, of course, as the eyes aren’t what they used to be.  My grandfather passed away a few years ago but I am blessed – and yes, truly inspired – by the love, strength and tenacity of my grandparents.  And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if grandma ends up on Facebook some day!

I can only hope to have a small slice of that kind of open-mindedness as my decades roll by.  Who knows what is next around the corner in the world of technology, blogging, social networking, for example?  Will all of this current “stuff” be laughingly passee in 20-30 years?  Probably.

My Mom has taught me about the committment to volunteerism and service above all else.  I could go on and on about the multitude of things she has inspired in me but this is what first comes to mind.  Mom stayed at home raising my brothers and me while my Dad worked – your typical suburban family arrangement back in those days, as it wasn’t very common in my circle of friends to have two working parents.

But I remember very vividly how busy my Mom was, in addition to taking care of kids and the house.  The phone.  The phone was ALWAYS ringing and ladies were coming and going in and out of the house constantly for what I didn’t know.  More than likely it was a fund raising meeting of some sort; I just didn’t understand as a young girl why everyone was gathered in the living room talking about things so passionately!  I can remember being barely tall enough to see over the kitchen countertop while Mom was sitting on a barstool on the phone with the calendar out and her scribbling stuff all over it.  Busy, busy busy!  So I’ve never understood the whole stereotypical eating bon-bons and watching soap opera lifestyle of a stay at home Mom.  Because my Mom sure didn’t believe in that one iota.  Give your time!  Serve others!  Stay busy!

Dad is my career cheerleader.  As I’ve shared before, right or wrong my job satisfaction is a big cornerstone in my overall happiness and self-esteem.  So as a lot of you know, being out of work the past 12 months save for a couple took an ENORMOUS toll on me.  And yet, even in that darkness there was a twinkle of inspiration, for I truly think that had I not had all that time on my hands in addition to the job search I would not have been inspired to start up this blog.  And I guess it was meant to be, for I still make sure to carve out time to write in here even now that I’m – so gratefully – back at work!

But Dad has always been there to listen and give advice on how to navigate through challenging situations.  I got SO wrapped around the axle with people’s drama and shizz when I first became a supervisor.  I felt very overwhelmed and burdened and Dad was always there to listen as I unloaded.  I didn’t always agree at the time with what he had to say but more often than not he was spot-on every time.  And I still consider him one of the smartest people I know.

I think to more recent changes I’ve made in my life, like taking up hockey and training to run 5Ks…I can thank my friends P and D for that.  Sadly, D and I don’t really stay in contact any longer, but I hope she knows how profound her influence was on me to give hockey a try.  Who knew a random question of “hey, do you want to try this beginner clinic with me” would turn into 7 years of skating?  And P’s marathon training along with starting up a running club in her town too?  “Try the Couch to 5K program – it’s great for beginner runners.”  And as of a couple weeks ago I now have 3 5Ks under my belt and another one coming up here later this month.  These two things feed right into my desire to always be open minded to trying new things.  Who cares if I never did team sports as a kid, save for some track and field in junior high?  It’s never too late to shake up a routine and try something new.

I learned about teamwork and self-discipline from not one but two of the choir directors I was blessed to have during high school and college.  Singing and ensemble performing was huge for me those years, along with competitions and lots of touring.  That was the kind of education you simply can’t get by sticking your nose in a book and I am very grateful to have had the support to pursue this.  My directors were very different personality-wise but at the core they had the leadership and tough love a choir needs to continue to push to be their absolute best.  Can you perform at a top level after a long bus ride and you’re feeling a little tired or dehydrated?  Can you drown out the noise around you on a stage or in a church while on tour as you’re warming up before a big performance?  Can you rapidly adapt and adjust to funky room acoustics?  How about listening close for the pitch pipe to get started off in a complex chord pattern?  These are the things that carry over for me into my career today, even though singing now is mostly kept for the shower or the radio.  Focus, balance, teamwork.  Showing up on time with your A game ready to rock no matter how tired, distracted or shitty you might be feeling.  Those are the things that singing, touring and performing taught me.

I saw a therapist for awhile about 10 years ago when I was dealing with some depression and loneliness – kind of feeling lost in the sauce of the world and unsure about my life direction and purpose.  In that timeframe I took a 10-day cruise to the Caribbean with a good friend of mine and it was exactly what I needed to get a shot in the arm.  Sunshine, meeting wonderful people, exploring fascinating places in the world I’d never seen before…more food for my soul.

And as I recapped the trip to my therapist I remember asking her, “Where did all these feelings come from? Where can I find them again? I hadn’t felt so relaxed and refreshed in years!”

I’ll never forget her answer: 

“You don’t have to search anywhere to find those feelings. They’re already right there inside you.”