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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Lee’s List of People Who Inspire

posted by Lee McKenzie

We all have people in our lives who inspire us. Some are famous individuals whose names and achievements are well known to everyone. Others may never have achieved fame, but still live their lives as outstanding role models. So who are these people? And what draws us to them?

Here’s my (partaial) list of inspirational people.

Albert Einstein—The iconic Nobel Prize-winning scientist and philosopher whose name has become with genius. People like to talk about six degrees of separation. In my case, it’s two. My first-year chemistry professor had the honor of meeting Einstein in the early ‘50s.

Charles Darwin—Another iconic figure and (dare I say it?) science geek. I have a fondness for them! In spite of a constant struggle with sea sickness, Darwin traveled around the world, making observations about biological and geological phenomena. Much of what we know today about the natural world is rooted in Darwin’s work.

Leonardo da Vinci—Okay, this is the last scientist. I promise! He makes my list because he was also a writer, an artist, an inventor. When I started graduate school, one of my professors stressed the importance of being aware that I was among a privileged group of people who were being given the luxury of being able to explore new ideas. I’ve never forgotten that. For me, da Vinci is the embodiment of a true explorer.

The people who built this. Nuff said.

Lucy Maude Montgomery—Author of the Anne of Green Gables series and numerous other works. It seems every generation or so, we discover an author whose voice has a connection that is universal and timeless. Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908—one hundred years ago! I’m just one of thousands who have read and reread these stories.

Nellie Furtado—I’ve never been one of the star-struck masses, and I’ve never met this young woman, but she is another example of two degrees of separation. When my son was in grade eight, he attended the same junior high as Nellie Furtado, who was a year or two ahead of him. He was shy, awkward and an easy mark for schoolyard bullies. She was confident, outgoing and not afraid to do the right thing. My son attended a welcome dance for grade eight students that year and when I asked him later if he danced with anyone, he told me that “one of the older girls” had asked him to dance. That “older girl” was Nellie Furtado. My son, who is now a talented musician in his own right, still jokingly refers to it as a pity dance. I still see this young woman as someone who’s able to look beyond herself and think of others—not because it’s good for her career, but simply because it’s good.

Hilda Ilvonen Barrie—My grandmother, and my life-long inspiration. A couple of years ago I wrote a Superheroine article about her for the Wet Noodle Posse ezine. You’ll find the article here.

Your list of inspirational people will be different from mine, but all these people—famous and not-so-famous—have one thing in common. They are thinkers, doers and achievers. They lead by example, not by instruction, and when the going gets tough, as it invariably does from time to time, we can look to them for the inspiration we need to keep going.

Until next time,
Lee's Website
The Writer Side of Life

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At 11:08 AM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

Great list, Lee! Boy, I'm trying to think of who I'd put on mine, and so many names come to mind. Jane Goodall. Bill Gates. Oh, so many.

At 11:25 AM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

Awesome post, Lee! I love your scientist list. Mine would be similar, as I really admire those who started out "different" and instead of growing bitter about it, embraced their differences and went on to do things that help the world.

I really admire the disabled kids I work with. They know how to find joy in everyday occurrences. And the teachers who work with them all day long, those ladies have unlimited patience.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

I agree with Esri and Gillian, your list of inspiring people is fabulous. A few artists who inspire me--Renoir, Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Renoir's art appealed to me even as a kid. I loved the soft light and colors and the subjects. I remember asking my mom the first time I went to the National Gallery if I could get prints of The Little Girl with the Hoop and The Little Girl with the Watering Can. Rembrandt's use of light, the richness of fabrics he painted, how the people looked so real, and how huge some of the painting were impressed me, too. Van Gogh's paintings in Amsterdam were fabulous as well, such small brush strokes that seem like a hodge podge close up and become a magnificent vision when you stand back.

At 12:51 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Lee, I love your stories! Especially the one about your grandmother and the one about Nellie Furtado. The lives of those who live heroically but anonymously are the most inspirational to me. We can all do great things, but sometimes greatness needs to be defined in a particular way. To make a difference in just one person's life, to make life for them better in some way is all it takes in my book!

At 3:48 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Great post, Lee. Your words gave me goose bumps... I do like all of those scientists...amazing men.

I would have to put more thought to it, but I would also add Mother Theresa and Ghandi to my list. I really enjoy listening to inspirational people like Oprah and Eckhart Tolle. They inspire me to be the best I can be!

And yes, Gillian...I agree...all the great teachers deserve to be on the list.

Thanks, Lee!

At 9:27 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

Gillian is one of the people who inspires me. She is one of those eternally patient teachers who deals with children with special needs on a daily basis. She is an every day hero.

Another hero of mine is our buddy, Erin, who deals with Type I Diabetes with humor and grace. She belongs to and sometimes runs every charitable operation in the town where she lives. She takes care of her surgeon hubby and after all that still manages to write great historical romance and help the rest of us with our writing as well.

And then there is Terry Jo. She is a stay at home Mom, a western historical romance writer and is the person every member of her extended family goes to when something needs to be done. I don't know how she does it and still stays reasonably sane!

And last, but not least by any measure, the Divine One - Diane Gaston - who has made an enormous difference in my life from the minute she critiqued my Golden Heart finalist manuscript. Her encouragement, hand-holding, and inspiration have made a huge difference in my life!

At 7:41 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Gee...(Diane blushes) Thank you, Louisa-O-Doggie-One.


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