I just returned from a wonderful week-long visit with my parents and youngest brother in Asheville, NC. Part of my intention was to help in whatever way I could. In doing so, I discovered that by helping them, I helped myself even more. I left Thursday feeling well-rested, hopeful, and inspired. Inspiration is everywhere when you look for it.

The north end of beautiful Beaver Lake in North Asheville, a place I visited three times during my visit to walk and bird.
The north end of beautiful Beaver Lake in North Asheville, a place I visited three times during my visit to walk and bird.

We get in such deep ruts in our lives, chasing deadlines and digging out from mountains of to-do’s, that sometimes it takes a complete change of surroundings to see things differently. I came away with a deep appreciation for the tiny, everyday things that supply inspiration.

By the time my brother arrived Sunday afternoon, I felt rested and ready to begin a few house projects my parents had ready for us. Their tidy house and manicured lawn stayed that way the whole visit, inspiring me to tackle my own home this year.

Even raking leaves in February, browsing at local shops, or spending time watching pups frolic at a dog park can provide ample sources of inspiration. The magnets on the left were from Diamond Brand Outdoors in downtown Asheville close to a restaurant called The Blackbird Restaurant where 107 blackbirds grace one long wall and a mural of blackbirds covers another.

Worth a few chuckles and shares on my blog.
Worth a few chuckles and shares on my blog.
A wonderful reminder to myself of my 2024 intention to shift my mindset.
A wonderful reminder to myself of my 2024 intention to shift my mindset.

At every turn, this trip reminded me of several guideposts for an enjoyable life:

  • Try something new every day. My father has a “penny jar” where he puts in a penny every time he tries something new, proving you’re never too old to explore, learn, or grow
  • Seek wonder around you through all five senses. Grace Coddington got it partially right with, “Always keep your eyes open. Keep watching. Because whatever you see can inspire you.” I’d use “Sense” instead of see. Birdsong, pungent flowers or savory food smells, soft fur or wet grass underfoot, and delicious foods can also create inspiration.
  • Be amazed by the simple things. If you’re acting in Zombie mode, simply going through life by rote, perhaps it’s time to make some shifts so you can better appreciate the life you’re living.
Homecooked brunch of leftovers. I'll take this over restaurant food any day of the week.
Homecooked brunch of leftovers. I’ll take this over restaurant food any day of the week.
  • Pay attention to what makes you smile. Funny magnets. Hearing a wild turkey gobbling at dawn — after trying to find one three mornings in a row. Creating a smiley face in a flatbed of birdseed. Trying to figure out how to open the door to a Tesla vehicle. Finding “You are enough” and “You matter” cards on my morning puzzle or near my water bottle.

Three musical moments stood out that I might not have paid attention to if not for reflecting on inspiration.

My mother invited me to attend a low-enrollment, in-person Zumba class on Tuesday. This would be a great opportunity for me to point out anything I saw that might help her get more from the class. I found myself participating fully in the back of the room, smiling through most of it simply because… I loved the music. It had been over a decade since I’d attended organized fitness classes. I was surprised to find out how much I miss it.

My parents inspire me. Nearly 60 years together and while they both do things that irritate each other - such is life - their bond is stronger than ever. Dinner at Zen Sushi, a new-to-us-all dine-in experience.
My parents inspire me. Nearly 60 years together and while they both do things that irritate each other – such is life – their bond is stronger than ever. Dinner at Zen Sushi, a new-to-us-all dine-in experience.

Another unexpected source of inspiration was watching the jukebox musical romcom movie, Mamma Mia, with my parents. This is rare as my father tires more easily these days and likes to retire early. But he stayed up well past his bedtime so we could watch as a family. For days after, we would break into songs or try to remember what scene went with which music. My favorites? The Winner Takes it All, Mamma Mia, and the opening musical score. Can you say chair dance?

Finally, I delighted in grabbing several moments to play piano on the instrument I grew up with. My mother had it tuned before this visit, and while it felt different from mine, it still felt great to play. The takeaway is continuing to enjoy music daily, such as playing piano and flute duets with my daughter.

I returned home late Thursday evening. Friday morning, I found another source of inspiration. A client I’ve been working with for a year arrived for his weekly personal training workout with me.

Inspiration is Everywhere When You Look For It

This amazing gentleman kicked off his day at 7:45 with an hour of balance, strength, mobility, and flexibility training with me. He then rattled off that he was to have an hour of bodywork, some singles tennis, and an afternoon of cross-country skiing.

You’d never, ever guess that he’s 94. May we all be as resilient, capable, and fortunate as he is. He’s one of my real-life heroes.

Two additional sources of inspiration come from the local community.

My Monday Morning critique group consists of six women who might someday dub themselves the “Dig Deeper Dames.” We have been writing together for over ten years. Since January 2014 we have shared our lives, fears, and struggles. Each person brings decades of experience and a unique perspective to share with each other. Those ladies inspire me every week.

A rock garden on one of my walks at Beaver Lake provided a source of inspiration: a heart rock for my mother's collection and a Beaver Lake memento as a reminder of my birding outings.
A rock garden on one of my walks at Beaver Lake provided a source of inspiration: a heart rock for my mother’s collection and a Beaver Lake memento as a reminder of my birding outings.

I also gain inspiration from clients who trust me with their daily battles and setbacks. It takes real courage to open up and share fears, failures, setbacks, and worries. When clients do so, they help make me a better person, a more competent coach, and a light or beacon of hope to everyone I come in contact with.

If you've never experienced a Tesla, do so. It's worth trying at least once. My brother is very courageous!
If you’ve never experienced a Tesla, do so. It’s worth trying at least once. My brother is very courageous!

Inspiration is everywhere if we open our hearts, minds, and senses to discovering it. Where do you find inspiration? What helps you to grow and transform? Please share your experiences of finding inspiration in unexpected places or within your community so we can all be inspired.

Published by Courtenay Schurman

Co-author of The Outdoor Athlete (2009) and Train to Climb Mt. Rainier or Any High Peak DVD (2002), author of Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills/conditioning chapter 4 (3 editions), and Peak Performance column for the Mountaineers Mag (2014-present). Member of PNWA, SCBWI, EPIC. Served on the steering committee for WOTS (2019-present). Completed UW Certificate program for Children's Literature and Memoir. Co-owner of Body Results, Inc. in Seattle. Climb leader with Seattle Mountaineers for over 15 years. Volunteer at Woodland Park Zoo since 2014.

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. π™Άπš›πšŽπšŠπš πš‹πš•πš˜πš. π™ΏπšŠπš’πš’πš—πš πšŠπšπšπšŽπš—πšπš’πš˜πš— = π™Ώπš˜πš πšŽπš›. 𝚈𝚎𝚜, πš’πš πš’πšœ πšŽπšŸπšŽπš›πš’πš πš‘πšŽπš›πšŽ & πšŠπš—πš’πš πš‘πšŽπš›πšŽ.
    𝚈𝚘𝚞 πšŒπš•πš’πšŽπš—πš πš•πš˜πš˜πš”πšœ πšŠπš–πšŠπš£πš’πš—πš & πšœπšπšžπš—πš—πš’πš—πš & πšœπšπš’πš•πš• πšŒπš›πš˜πšœπšœ πšŒπš˜πšžπš—πšπš›πš’ πšœπš”πš’πš’πš—πš. πš†π™Ύπš†!!! 𝚈𝚎𝚜 𝚊 πš›πšŽπšŠπš• πš’πš—πšœπš™πš’πš›πšŠπšπš’πš˜πš—. 𝙸 πšŠπš– πšπšžπšŽπšœπšœπš’πš—πš… π™·πšŽ πš—πšŽπšŸπšŽπš› πšœπšπš˜πš™πšœ πš–πš˜πšŸπš’πš—πš & πšŽπšŠπšπš’πš—πš πš πšŽπš•πš•.

    1. Hi Silvie Marie, good to hear from you! A lifetime of finding opportunities to move and enjoy it, for sure. May we all be as much of a source of inspiration to others as he is. Keep hiking! It keeps us young!

  2. First off – I love your 94-year-old client! He is definitely an inspiration.

    Then, for my inspiration, I work a lot with debut authors. They inspire me every single day. It’s scary to write a book, search for an agent (or self-pub) then go on the dizzying, often painful search for a publisher, then reviews, and “selling” yourself as a writer. To see authors who have spent years working on their craft, then learning the business side, finally holding their books in their hands truly warms my heart. This industry takes tenacity and a certain kind of fearlessness, and a willingness to put oneself out there in a public and often challenging way. I find this inspiring.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Elena! I’ll pass on the word that he’s inspiring my blog readers and my family. Love your share, particularly your words “Tenacity” and “fearlessness” or courage. Anytime I see someone persevering until they succeed, I get inspired. Write on!