Finding Inspiration: How To

My fiftieth birthday is fast approaching.  That means I've now spent more than half my life in the legal system.  No, not the penal system, although at times I do feel as though I'm a lifer, with no parole date on the horizon.

Those of you familiar with my blog know that I'm a court reporter, a keeper of the record.  As a court reporter, I spend my days around attorneys and litigants who are at odds with each other.  And it can wear you down.  Boy, can it wear you down.  In my case, it has worn me down.  Until now, not only did I feel like a lifer, but I had, I thought, lost my inspiration.  In fact, I recently informed my editor, Jimmy G, that I thought I was done, that I thought I had nothing left to say about court reporting and/or the "system."  I had nothing left to say.  Until tonight.

Tonight, two serendipitous events collided.  I love the word serendipity, don't you?  It's fun to say and its meaning is equally entertaining.  Serendipity means a fortunate accident.  It's the act of finding something good or useful while not searching for it, according to Wikipedia.  What, you ask, was my serendipitous collision of the day?  Well, an esteemed colleague of mine, a court reporting instructor, Peg, came down with laryngitis.  Not such a fortunate accident for her, to be sure.  But fortunate for me in that she asked me to substitute teach for her tonight, to work with a class of high-speed reporting students in the last leg of their journey to their state and national licensing exams later this fall.

The second fortunate accident was a Blogapalooz-Hour challenge by ChicagoNow.  The challenge?  In one hour, write a blog that gives advice to a person, place or thing.  Before I made the one-block trek in Chicago's loop to MacCormac College to sub for the voice-less Peg, I read my editor's challenge and said to myself, "I got nothin'.  Squat.  Diddly.  Nada."  Because, as my Grandmother always said, "If you don't have anything nice to say, zip it."  (Okay, she never uttered the phrase "zip it," but she was pretty much that cool.  Since she's longer here, I've taken the liberty of paraphrasing for her.)  Well, I have something GREAT to say!

After three hours with the most delightful, information-hungry, dedicated students I have encountered pretty much EVER, I found myself inspired.  Re-inspired.  Fired up.  Excited.  Yes, even giddy!

When one spends more than half a lifetime in a career, one can become jaded, complacent, tired, disillusioned, disheartened, and, well, a little snarky.   All that can be erased by simply entering a room of goal-oriented, focused, driven court reporting hopefuls.  And that's EXACTLY what happened to me tonight.

If you, too, have become complacent in your endeavors, I'm here to tell you that your inspiration, like mine, might be steps from your own front door, that is...if you are brave enough to walk through a set of magical revolving doors with a willingness to be transformed.

For what you have after 30 years in your field is knowledge, knowledge to share, knowledge that just might inspire a future professional hoping to enter your line of work.  And that, my friend, is serendipity.  The fortunate accident of taking your gift and using it to inspire others.

Tonight, I found something good and useful that I didn't even know I was searching for.  I found it in the faces, hearts and attitudes of four aspiring court reporting students--Katie, Brad, Rachel and Anna--who inadvertently reignited my passion for what I do.

My evening started with an offer, an offer I didn't think I could accept, to walk four high-speed court reporting students to the finish line and cheer them on as they take (AND PASS) their state and national licensing exams later this fall.  At the end of class, I left the decision to the students, because I needed them to have as much faith in me as I already had in them.

So Katie, Brad, Rachel and Anna, it's official:  I accept the challenge.

What about you?  Can you think of a challenge you could accept to find inspiration while inspiring others?

(How's that, Jimmy G?  The 23-minute blog.  Did I meet the challenge?)

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