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Inspiration

Look for the Heroes 361 640 Thayer Fox

Look for the Heroes

Last week on Lexington Avenue I witnessed a new breed of hero.  I was walking with my ten-year-old daughter when we heard yelling behind us. We turned around to see a man in a suit cursing at three construction workers. He continued to yell profanities as he walked down the block towards us. One of the workmen, sick of his bravado, called his bluff. “Let’s go” he yelled, and the two men walked towards each other, fists up.

The workman grabbed the man by his suit collar and threw a punch. The man in the suit fell to the side, his ego hurt more than his jaw. He recovered quickly, ready for round two. One of the other workmen stepped in and shoved him hard down to the ground. People started gathering at the edges of the brawl, including a few strong-looking men, but no one intervened. I took my phone out, planning to film the fight if it escalated. My daughter’s safety was my priority so that was all I could think to do.

Then, bursting through the crowd of gawkers leaped a petite, twenty-something woman screaming “Cut it out!” She fearlessly placed herself between the three male bodies pumping with adrenaline. The man in the suit tried to dart around her and resume the fight. She shifted her stance to block him.  “Stop” she screamed again. It was awesome to behold. No one in the crowd moved to back her, but it didn’t matter, she had it under control.

I started crying as we walked away, the emotion catching me by surprise. “What are you crying about?” My daughter asked annoyed. I told her that I was crying with joy. In just a few moments, that feminine powerhouse gave me immense hope for the future.

We all love heroes. They inspire us to step up in our own lives. They make us feel the world is good and that we are safe. So why do we spend so much time focusing on the villains when what we focus on becomes our reality? When I look for the heroes, I expand into something mightier than the collection of opinions that form my identity. How much time do you spend looking for heroes?

The word hero traces back to Ancient Greece. Heroes in Greek mythology often had divine ancestry and were men and women of special strength, courage or ability. Many of the greatest Greek heroes were also deeply flawed. If your definition of a hero doesn’t allow for anything less than perfection, it’s no wonder everyone resembles a villain.

Most of us look up to the well-known biography worthy heroes. We forgive their flaws because they are dead.  My top two are Mother Teresa and Gandhi because they devoted their lives to causes greater than themselves. I once placed them on pedestals and stood paralyzed nearby in awe. Their contributions were too sizable to replicate in my mundane life as a mother. I believed that if I couldn’t move to Calcutta, my impact would always fall short of substantial. Once I awakened to the fact that we all share energy, all the time, I realized that anyone who strives to serve others with kindness and compassion is a hero, including me.

In New York City, I live near a small fire station. I pass by it on purpose when my schedule allows. Pausing across the street, I have watched the firemen work together to complete simple tasks like hoisting the flag or painting the façade. I have also seen them rushing to a fire, becoming one organism as they grab equipment and ready the truck. It’s bold and beautiful and easy to miss amidst the cacophonic New York City landscape. On the days I unhook from the endless stream of Thayer radio and get present to the lives of the men who are willing to rush into a burning building, something transformative happens. The awe-inspiring nature of their commitment shifts my thinking and my day.

So many of us are already heroes or heroes just waiting for an opportunity to rise. You can catch glimpses of heroes in small gestures. The kindness of a tattooed skateboarder who offered me his subway seat after I tripped in high heels, cracked my heart wide open the other day. And once you start to look for the heroes instead of the villains, you will realize that you are surrounded. It’s a beautiful feeling.

 

How to Become the Source of Your Own Inspiration 640 426 Thayer Fox

How to Become the Source of Your Own Inspiration

What are you doing in your life that inspires you? Are you hesitating at that question because it feels arrogant to claim yourself as a source of inspiration? Do you use some version of the I am not good enough tape as an excuse? That thinking paralyzed me for a long time.

It’s easier than ever to stay plugged into inspiration, thanks to the surplus of podcasts, books and social media accounts offering it at low or no cost. With such easy access, we no longer need to trek into the jungle and hunt ourselves. Why get dirty and risk a snake bite if you can hang out on a boulder and receive an airdrop? It’s all harmless until ten years roll by and we are still discussing the latest Tim Ferriss podcast over a green juice after hot yoga. Consistently absorbing meaningful material can create a false sense that we are leading inspiring lives as we shop for face cream. Information only becomes useful when it moves us into action.

In 2013, after a year of drastic growth from my participation in  The Evolutionary Collective, Landmark and working with Jeff Carreira, I felt alive in a way that I had never experienced. I loved feeling inspired. Experiencing ah-ha moments flooded me with energy and sharing these moments with others lit me up. Craving more, I spoke to a friend I had made in the EC about other workshops that I could enroll in.

On my weekly call with Jeff, I ran through some ideas for my next step. Jeff listened patiently as I rambled on about finding more inspiration. When I was done, he said, “What if you became the source of your own inspiration?” I didn’t know how to respond to this, it was a radical concept. Jeff continued, “Breakthroughs only last when you create new habits to support the possibility that becomes available at that moment. You must step through the doorway that temporarily opens and take massive action.”

That hit me hard. I loved talking about the internal work I was doing, but nothing in my daily life reflected my growth. There were no measurable results and more importantly, what good was all this growth if I didn’t use it in the world?

Jeff continued, “Maybe it’s time to integrate the work you have been doing before signing up for more. Let’s create something together in your life that will excite you regularly.” Out of this conversation, Change Your Story, Create Your Life was born.

CYSas we referred to it, began as an idea on a phone call at 9:30pm. The morning after, I approached Sheltering Arms, a charity that I had been volunteering at, and asked if they had a mentorship program. They did not but mentioned the juvenile justice homes they ran in the Bronx. A week later after a lunch meeting, they agreed that I could visit one of their female, teenage homes with a few friends. Over the moon, I emailed a hundred women, and ten came for coffee in my living room. Out of that ten, four wanted to throw the event at the Bronx home with me.

The first visit changed our lives. After an hour of art projects and snacks, we were in love with the bright, bold young women who lived there. We promised to come back as they hugged us tightly.

The Sheltering Arms administration didn’t anticipate our ongoing interest, but after a firm annual commitment, training and fingerprinting we were approved for regular visits. We quickly realized that art projects and snacks were fun, but wouldn’t make a long-term difference in the girl’s lives. Shaping a simple program based on concepts that I learned in my workshops, we arrived every Tuesday night excited to share the best part of ourselves. Something more powerful than my personality flowed through me when I delivered the weekly lesson to the girls. The next morning, I couldn’t imagine being the woman the night before- she became my inspiration.

CYS ended after two years because three of my friends relocated and the leadership of the home changed. Other volunteers could have been found and trained, but I was clear that the magic was due to the organic energy of our group. I am still in touch with many of the girls we worked with, and they vividly recall our visits as a highlight in their lives; I know it will always be one in mine.

CYS was the first time I acknowledged myself as being a source of inspiration. After that time, I have never blamed my surroundings again for lacking stimulation. I also began noticing other areas of my life where I was already shining my light- my family and AA service work.

You are probably doing something inspiring already, and don’t even realize it. Rarely do we give ourselves proper credit. We are all masterpieces, and it’s a tragedy not to share what life has been preparing us to do since the day we were born. Getting started requires accepting that we will never feel ready.

What are you doing today to be the source of your inspiration?