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It is to impel. It is to motivate. It implies the exertion of an animating force, and it enlivens. It can even mean to draw breath.
 
As overused as it is, I still love the essence of this word:
 
Inspire.
 
The momentum to write is not of my own making. I draw shamelessly from the sweat of the ones who write with more tenacity than I can imagine. I have tapped them all: storytellers, poets, journalists, bloggers, and those alchemists who can wed lyric to song. I thank my lucky stars for folks before and alongside me who have had the grit to get something down on paper and send it off into the world. Their efforts lift me up out of myself and sometimes plunge me deeper in, but no matter which way they tip me, they get me up off my tuchus. They move me. They are inspiration.
 
I was a reader first, voracious and obsessive. Since those first years dog-paddling around storybooks, I have loved soaking in letters. Stories and their characters were always my buddies, and I felt right at home dipping my toes into their adventures. When I finally came around to writing, it was as if I was finally diving into the deep end where the real party was happening. Every time I return to the page (which I must do for the first time every time), I am re-joining a splash and chatter that has not paused in my absence. It is so easy to stand at the edge of things, hesitating, doubting, wondering if I can find a way in. If it were up to my courage alone, I would still be peering from my safe remove in the shallows. Always, every time, it is another writer who tosses me a line and pulls me in.
 
Where would I be if the universe of writers did not keep guiding me back? What a thing it is, to learn that a reader finds some source of inspiration in my words! I am delighted to discover that my own writing, on occasion, has a similarly animating effect on folks who stumble across it. Patti Clark at A Woman’s Guide has generously nominated SmirkPretty for the “Inspired Blogger Award.”
 

 
These awards are chain letters for bloggers, giving us a chance to pay forward our appreciation for the stories that impel us to swim out a little further. This is my first such nomination. It is a lovely reminder that we are all here to help each other keep our hands moving and our heads above the surface to draw breath, no matter how strong the undertow.
 
Thank you, Patti, for your inspired writing and for the generous gift of reading SmirkPretty. This is a great nudge to keep swimming. Check out Patti here: http://patticlark.wordpress.com
 
The Inspired Blogger award’s requirements look like this:
 
1. Display the award logo somewhere on the blog.
2. Link back to the blog of the person who nominated you.
3. State seven things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and provide links to their blogs.
5. Notify those bloggers that they have been nominated and of the award’s requirements.
 
That’s a whole lot of lists for this little blog, but we can make room.
 
 
Seven things about me
 
1. Every night we are together, my son and I read either one chapter of a big-kid book (Harry Potter, or maybe The Secret Garden) or three children’s books. Then we sing three songs. We have been doing this since the day he was born. His favorite song right now is “The Cat Came Back.” The whole human race gets annihilated by an atom bomb in the end, but it gives us something to talk about during our morning commute.
 
2. I dance 2-3 times a week, walk every day on my lunch break, bike to and from the metro, and give the dog a 1.5 mile walk before bed. I know they say action is the antidote to despair, but exercise is the nurse administering the shot.
 
3. Someday, my ex husband and I are going to be close friends.
 
4. Whenever I smell honeysuckle, I stop and allow my tongue one tiny sugardrop before moving on.
 
5. About 13 years ago, I slammed out the words,
 

I believe in reincarnation
but in this lifetime, and not with Jesus.
I want to be born again, a hybrid kid
somewhere between grass and air and human.
I want to crystallize,
go chrysalis,
break out butterfly
all new.

I still believe. It is happening right now.
 
6. I allow myself 10 minutes of self pity per day. Sometimes I go over quota.
 
7. In my grandmother’s last few years, I visited every time I could (which was nowhere near enough, I realized too late). She had terrible arthritis. “Oh, sugar, could you please rub my hands?” I would sit on the floor by her powder blue recliner and rub the flesh between her brittle bones. Her skin was a treasure map, blue lines bleeding into ancient silk. Her feet, her fingers, I pressed mine between. She would moan and sigh and thank me quietly, over and over. When I imagine talking to my son about death and about what happens to people after they die, this is what I hold: the sensation of my grandmother’s tissue-thin skin on my fingertips, so fleeting, so completely forever.
 
 
Fifteen Inspiring Blogs. Read ’em. They’re good.
 
Agenthood and Submissionville: http://jackiebuxton.blogspot.com/
 
A Mama’s Peakshttp://amamaspeaks.blogspot.com/
 
Conversations with Curtishttp://conversationswithcurtis.blogspot.com
 
Failed at Fortyhttp://failedatforty.com/
 
Life Reconnected:  http://lifereconnected.wordpress.com/
 
Mama C and the Boys:  http://mamacandtheboys.com/
 
MamaTrue: Parenting as Practicehttp://mamatrue.com/
 
My Morning is Your Eveninghttp://10hours10years.blogspot.com/
 
Our Story Beginshttp://our-story-begins.com/
 
S.L. Writes: http://blog.slwrites.com/
 
Suzi’s Boob Juicehttp://www.suzisboobjuice.blogspot.com/
 
This Man’s Journey:  http://thismansjourney.net/
 
Two Sharp Pencils and a Broken Crayon:  http://juliewolk.wordpress.com/
 
Unsettling http://endlessstream.wordpress.com/
 
Virginia Trail Guidehttp://virginiatrailguide.com/