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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Wells of inspiration

I'll probably jinx myself by saying this, but I've never experienced writer's block. I guess I'm a firm believer that you can find sources of inspiration all around—in a child's smile, in a glorious golden sunrise, in a wink from across the room, in the sounds of beautiful music. It's a matter of opening your heart to the possibility.

Having an open heart is not always an easy state to maintain, but it's where I've found a well of inspiration. And, difficult as it may seem at times, I'd like to keep tapping into that well.

But there are other sources of inspiration deep within that are best seen when reflected by others. I have a good friend, Lisa Best, whom I've only known for a couple of years, but who already feels like such a terrific pal. We share many things in common including—three boys, husbands named Dan, a low maintenance outlook and an adventurous spirit. Lisa and her family moved to New Jersey last summer and it was hard not seeing and talking to her daily. But she remained close and always called or stopped by when she was in town.

She and her husband made the decision to move back to Bay Village this spring. It's hopefully the last of their moves for a while (they've moved five times in eight years). Dan is leaving a great job in New York City, but they decided it was more important to raise their kids in the place that felt most like home.

They were in town over the weekend for the Cleveland Marathon. Lisa had been training for the past nine months for this event. She had trained for the Columbus Marathon, but was unable to run because of an injury. She really wanted to do this. And so we kept her boys on Saturday while Dan drove her downtown. She was so nervous she was trembling. I gave her a big hug and wished her well.

I thought about her a lot on Sunday, hoping her jitters had subsided. It rained in the morning and I know she said she preferred that to the blazing sun. Finally, at 6 Sunday night she called me from her dying cell phone to say, "I made it!" She sounded incredible...inspiring. She ran that marathon in four hours and 31 minutes. "I felt stronger the last three miles than I did the first three. We passed all these guys who were bent over puking," she said, laughing. I couldn't have been happier for her. She set this goal for herself and she did it. Her friends and family were right with her. Her brother and sister ran portions with her. Another good friend ran from mile 15 to mile 21 with her. And she said she saw Dan and the boys along the way, most critically at mile 25 and then again at the finish.

On Saturday Lisa met my new neighbor, Patty, who is also becoming a fast friend. The three of us clicked instantly as we talked about our (collectively) nine boys, three Dans (Patty's husband is also named Dan) and our love of running (though I've never trained for a marathon). Lisa has a knack for making everyone feel so welcome and so important to her. And so she's inspiring in that way, too. She inspired me to write this morning.

I think we tend to surround ourselves with people who bring out the best in us. As an adult, it's so much harder to develop close friendships. They're harder to maintain because of all the distractions of family, work and home. But they are SO worth the effort in the end. And I find that I draw gallons of inspiration from those friendships. They bring out the best in me, even though I do have a friend who says those qualities I attribute to my friends were present in me, all along. "They merely hold up a mirror to let you see who you are, and you've enjoyed the reflection." Maybe so. That just makes the effort all the more worthwhile.

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