We often look far afield to find people of inspiration for our own aspirations.
We look to the world shakers and moneymakers - the ones with the headlines and book deals and tag lines and followings.
And sometimes in doing so, we miss what sits in our own backyard.
And so I began to reflect on the generation that came before.
I reflected upon my parents and my husband's parents and how they have lived and continue to live their lives.
My Mother is a woman who has the heart of a scholar and comedic storyteller. She is like a mime that cannot resist the use words when regaling us with her tales of misadventure.
As I child, I recall seeing my Mother perched in bed with a huge Art History book in her lap.
She was determined to complete a University degree one class at a time -
in between work
raising her children
living her life.
I also recall the day she auditioned for the town musical.
Unbeknownst to her, she was required to prepare a song for audition.
She was not prepared.
In a fit of desperation, she requested the accompanist play "O sole Mio," despite her lack of fluency in the Italian language.
and then she began to laugh...
including the piano player,
began to laugh as well.
Suffice to say, my Mom was not offended when they asked if she could sew the costumes for the musical.
Today she fills her curious and adventurous mind with books and travels and laughter. This year alone she studied guitar, watercolors and German!!!
And...not deterred by her earlier experience, she committed to sing a song in German with four of her classmates during a holiday event.
My father has the heart of an artist and poet! During his professional career, he was a professor and Vice-Counsel for Italy in the city that we lived.
He created a club to study great literature and invited renowned scholars and authors to give talks and readings.
While he lives a quieter life now, it is no less busy as fills his time with his true loves: writing and publishing poetry, giving talks, traveling and painting.
My mother-in-law was a nurse by profession and most definitely has
the heart of a healer and giver; forever helping those in need.
Years ago, in her spare time, she helped women who were victims of domestic violence.
I recall helping her once as she moved an abused woman into a new apartment. This was the first time I had been exposed to such circumstances and it was eye opening.
She later used her skills in Hospice - helping those at the end of their lives. She learned Reiki and Therapeutic touch when such things were not household names and became a beacon of comfort for those in their last days.
Today she is a member of a grandmother's group that raises money for children in need. She reads at a local school and supports, with time and money, the local Girls and Boys club.
And then there is my father-in-law; a man who shuns attention, but who does everything in his power to create community for others.
He has the heart of a connector and humanitarian.
Throughout his life, he has quietly and steadily done and created for others. Whether it is buying sports jerseys for his children's sports teams and their competitors or establishing scholarships, sponsoring a child in Guatemala or organizing a fair.
Within his own condo building, he has set up toy drives and movie nights, game nights and a full-blown library that is the envy of all the other condos in the city.
He is the man who is behind the camera quietly capturing the moments of life for others to enjoy. He is the man whose waters run deep. He is the man with a heart of gold, although he would never say as much.
I look at their lives and how they have lived them and see that while they may at times have felt
it has not stopped them from being who they are...
in their heart.
The scholar...the poet...the healer...and the connector.