Inspiring people are everywhere in my life
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
I was raised with the mindset that I could be anything I wanted to be, as long as I put my mind to it.
Luckily for my parents, I found Mary Tyler Moore more inspiring than, say, that Debbie character in the movie about Dallas.
My Aunt Patty started me off in the right literary direction, teaching me to memorize James Whitcomb Riley’s poem, “Little Oprhant Annie,” (you know, ” … The Gobble-uns ‘at gits you Ef you Don’t Watch Out!”) by the age of 4. I was also dedicated to coloring inside the lines with soft, even crayon strokes to win every coloring contest known to man.
Winning isn’t everything.
Except if you’re 5 years old and jonesing to see the Ice Capades live at Market Square Arena.
My mom has always been first in line to provide the motivation for me to be all that I can be. Whether it was my tennis game or essay writing, she’s always been my biggest fan. Thank goodness she left the criticizing to the teachers, coaches and editors. That’s why I actually enjoy going home for the holidays, unlike those who would rather stick sharpened pencils in their eyes than spend Christmas with their mothers.
Motherhood is pretty much the most important job in the world.
So much influence, so little time.
My family members inspire me in other ways, too. Even when they don’t even mean it. My dad loves to tease and is always cracking jokes. That’s why we also get along so great. For example, he recently added a centipede to his creepy collection of spiders, devising a joke during the holidays that had me shaking my head every time he told it.
“Hey, have you seen my new centipede yet,” he’d ask people.
Dave is all about the shock value.
“No, and why in the world would you want a centipede as a pet anyway?” they would respond.
“They’re neat,” he’d simply say. “I was going to buy him a new pair of shoes for Christmas, but I’d have to buy 50 pair.”
My brother, who, like me, hasn’t caught that arachnids-as-pets bug, is an artistic and musical inspiration who can play a song when he hears it and draw on command. He was also quite creative at teasing me when we were kids, once hanging headless Barbies by fishing wire in my bedroom to instigate instant nightmares.
Boys will be boys. And big brothers will always know how to terrorize their little sisters.
One of my proudest moments was on my birthday when my brother spoke to one of my art classes at Purdue about the sign/graphics business he started when he was about 19 or 20.
Ironically enough, he also knows a thing or two about being raised to believe he could be anything he wanted to be.
My girlfriends keep me inspired, too, and have helped mold and shape me through the years. My college roommate Lynne was (and still is) one of the smartest women I know. Environmental science was her calling, while journalism was mine. We sure had a lot of fun at Purdue, but we also made sure to graduate in four years and move into careers that would make a difference.
She definitely did.
Today she’s a stay-at-home mom who has taken on the most important job, raising her two boys to know they can be anything they want to be. Lately she’s developing her photography skills and hopes to make a career of it as her boys grow older.
Lead by example, Lynne.
And there’s my girl Megan, who returned to school after receiving an elementary education degree and working in the insurance business. With a husband, two boys, a job, clinicals and all of life’s other little surprises, she’s embraced her inner nurse and is only a few months away from her degree.
Someday Megan may need to change my bed pan.
Like my dad’s centipede joke, she doesn’t think that’s very funny.
Misty, my best friend since we were 9, works for the U.S. State Department and adopted a little girl from China last year, aptly naming her Grace. I tell everyone how little she is ” probably about 5-foot-2 and petite as a Little Debbie snack cake. And with government clearance and the whole shebang, she’s more powerful than most men I know.
Plus, now she’s a mom. She could pretty much rule the world.
In Colorado, I have mountains of inspiration from friends and colleagues. My girlfriends here are the most creative people I know, second to my brother.
Photographers, writers, artists, an interior designer and a potter. All have minds and hands constantly creating, capturing life’s beauty and sharing it with the world.
One such friend moved to Thailand last year to inspire and be inspired. Whenever life gets a little tough, I think of Susan and imagine her in a different continent, not knowing the language or the people, picking up the pace of a second-world country and embracing the culture like a child learns to recite a poem or color in the lines.
I wonder if they have Ice Capades in Thailand.
Something tells me my friends had parents who believed in them like mine. Parents who raised them with the mindset that they could be anything they wanted to be, as long as they put their minds to it.
That is the most important job in the world.
April E. Clark wishes her dad and her friends Megan and Susan happy birthdays this month and can’t wait for them to inspire he even more. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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