Find Inspiration in this Award-Winning Story by Ann J. Bennett
Updated: Jun 16
As you read Ann J. Bennett's story, think about her message:
Move forward with something bigger than self in mind.
That 'something bigger' evokes gratitude, creativity and joy!
Inspiration for an Ordinary Life
Ann J. Bennett
Cupcakes with Special Meaning
I carefully pack the six beautifully frosted cupcakes I’ve made, and they fit
perfectly in the holder I purchased so that they would travel well. There are three
chocolate ones, and three yellow cake ones.
The first chocolate cupcake boasts a glacé cherry nestled in a mound of creamy swirls. A second has caramel frosting and chocolate sprinkles. The last little chocolate cake is adorned with layers of orange and lemon frosting.
One yellow cupcake has pink frosting. A second has blue frosting. Both are dusted with multi-colored sprinkles. The third has sweet little pink rosebuds on top of the pistachio frosting, They look delicious!
Is Your Mouth Watering?
My granddaughter was the inspiration for this latest rendering of felt food
creations. That’s right—“felt.” I know she’ll be delighted when she unwraps the package next week at her birthday party!
These six cupcake beauties follow a long line of other felt foods—tomato, cucumber, kiwi, banana, and watermelon slices, along with fried eggs and pizza, chicken drumsticks, hamburger fixings, orange and apple wedges, and juicy-looking strawberries – all crafted from felt with love by a grandma who is so inspired to make realistic play food for not only this little person, but her brother and other grandkids as well.
I forget where the original inspiration came from some years ago, but the
popularity of these cute play food items has led to ongoing requests and new
inspiration to produce yet one more set of fruits or vegetables or desserts. Yes, I have considered setting up an online shop where I could market and sell felt food.
But I’m content with the rich reward of gratitude and joy from my grandkids, and from the simple pleasure of stitching felt to make fun play food.
Inspiration Leads to Action...
If inspiration fuels action, this small “play food” endeavor fits the bill for me.
But what about the other inspirations in my life? Am I led to do something, go
somewhere, change my path in some way?
Some inspiration is overwhelming – my emotions quicken as I am struck by the sheer enormity of the courageous leadership of an ardent, determined man in an olive green t-shirt rallying the battle for freedom in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. I am deeply moved but somehow falter and fail to follow through to respond in a meaningful way. I am inspired, but to what end?
Inspiration that Provokes Thought
Just recently, I experienced inspiration of the more thought-provoking kind. It came from a couple who video-documented their experience of immersion in nature in the wilds of the Arctic. They started young, and over a period of 26 years, carved out a homestead that became a space of solitude and retreat. For the most part, they were dependent on what their surroundings provided to sustain life.
The stamina and resolution of that woman hauling logs through the undergrowth to build a shelter was awe-inspiring. She cooked and baked everything over a fire. She fished, shot rabbits and moose to supplement the vegetables she grew in her small, wilderness garden; and what’s more, she was, most recently, doing these things at a grand-motherly age!
In contrast, the most exercise I get is an early morning walk around my neighborhood while I listen to an audio book, with no aspirations whatsoever to shoot a rabbit for supper.
This woman, a wilderness warrior, is closely connected to the earth. She feels a huge responsibility to be a steward of the small piece of Alaskan wilderness that she and her husband have claimed. She also speaks about gratitude, compassion, and humility.
A Bit of that Inspiration in My Own Life
While I can say with certainty that I will never build a home from logs I have felled and stripped on a piece of land that runs parallel to a fast-flowing river, I am encouraged to continue to live gratefully and with compassion. My small garden provides the opportunity to be a good steward as I weed and trim and grow vegetables along with pretty pink, white, and red roses. The garden and gardening inspires me to have positive attitudes and actions.
Perhaps the most abiding inspirations for me have come from those I’ve lived amongst in other countries.
For example, in India I found people with the willingness to try without complaining, with the joyfulness of sharing, and with the readiness to embrace hard work. These attributes inspire me to be flexible, generous, and diligent.
And South Africa...
South Africans have to work things out in a complex society with a dark history of racial injustice, heightened fears and ongoing prejudice in a post-apartheid world. All this is still steeped in crime and violence. People manage life in homes surrounded by barbed wire fences, burglar bars on every window and dogs that are trained to attack intruders. In that society, there exists a blend of old prejudices and begrudging acceptance of the new order, alongside a growing appreciation of and cooperation with a culture once looked down upon.
But in days gone by, as now, South Africans are strong. They have a saying “’n boer maak ‘n plan!” which idiomatically translates to “a person makes a plan!” Whenever I’m stumped or disheartened, I think about my dear friend and fellow South African who says; “Give yourself ten minutes to half a day to wallow in self-pity or sadness, and then make a plan and move on!” She inspires me!
...And Other Countries
I have lived amongst those who personify fair play and politeness, and those who honor women, embrace family, and offer generous hospitality. Some cultures I have experienced value the aged, and patiently and lovingly look after those in their midst who are mentally or physically challenged.
These reminders of what I consider positive and helpful approaches to life inspire me to draw such practices into my own life rather than accept the more independent and tough love stance of the culture in which I currently reside.
Inspiration from My Children
My children, who are raising their families with so much more wisdom and grace than I raised them, inspire me to be an incredible grandma!
The Bigness of Inspiration
Isn’t the word ‘inspiration’ a BIG word? Yes, it has four syllables, but it is more than that. It moves many to achieve great things—to reach for the stars, to ascend mountains or to jump out of an airplane or over a cliff. It urges people to sacrifice themselves to win wars, or dedicate themselves to the battle against poverty, abuse or hunger.
Inspiration is Everywhere
My own life is a more muted response to the many inspirations I have felt in the past. As recently as last Sunday, I felt inspiration when I drove through a national park boasting magnificent Giant Sequoias and Buckeye trees emblazoned with fireworks-like blossoms!
While I was not inspired to a specific action, I was able to capture a sense of awe and gratitude for such beauty–-that was enough for the day.
Huge and Spectacular...
...like nature in a national park,
...or Small and Simple
like the inspiration to make my granddaughter half a dozen felt cupcakes, life’s inspirational nudges invite me to consider something more stretching than I would normally choose. They are reminders that there is courage and beauty out there and that I can move forward through my everyday life, one day to the next, with something bigger than myself in mind. That something bigger evokes gratitude, creativity, and joy!
I hope you'll consider my message:
Move forward with something bigger than self in mind.
That 'something bigger' evokes gratitude, creativity and joy! ~Ann J. Bennett
About Ann Bennett
My husband Stephen and I share our Central California home with Stephen’s 94-year-old mom, Leah. I am grateful for a rich life, filled with ongoing work-related responsibilities, time spent with our adult children, precious grandchildren and close friends. I enjoy our pleasant garden, camping adventures with our beloved Teardrop trailer, and a handful of crafty hobbies that keep my fingers busy, calm my mind and heart, and bring me joy.
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