Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.
—Vincent Van Gogh

There are a variety of ‘models’ you could become a slave to: your parents, teachers, classmates, star athletes or influencers in your field, the general cultural norm, limiting beliefs, stories of the past. There’s nothing to say you can’t be inspired by any of these people, but it is important to differentiate between being inspired by them versus trying to be just like them.

You have within you a treasure trove of gifts and talents. The combination and balance of these gifts is unique to you; no other individual has exactly the same blend as you. Go ahead and be inspired by others, as long as you don’t lose your own self in the process.

There are a variety of talent shows on television. A frequent comment from the panel of judges includes something similar to “make it your own.” Make yourself stand out from the crowd. Avoid getting lost in the commonality of the expected norm and shine your light as only you can. Be willing to take a risk. Be inspired to step out of your own comfort zone to see what else you are capable of doing.

It’s easy to find inspiration in the story of others, but when was the last time you allowed yourself to be inspired by your own story? What challenges did you face to get where you are right now? Nobody makes it through life without struggles and challenges that inform and inspire who they are today. Nobody. Your story may not necessarily feel or sound impressive to you…until you share it with someone else. Hearing yourself tell your story has a different impact than simply thinking of it as ‘how I grew up.’ Sharing your story out loud shifts your perspective; a light shines on the strong characteristics that got you through each tough moment to be here now.

You’re never too old to be inspired by your imagination, either. Dream big and dream often. Feed your imagination by opening to new possibilities and doing things you have never done before or in ways that are new or less familiar to you. Open to the idea of being your own best inspiration.

When I first got more serious about piano playing and was introduced to classical music, I didn’t make much, if any, effort to listen to recordings of the pieces I was playing. There were a number of factors involved, but a big piece was the fear of never measuring up to the tempo, accuracy, flair, musicality or anything else of the recording. The fear of not being good enough had a firm grip on not wanting to listen to recordings. Years later, I still prefer not to listen but for a different reason—I want to make the piece my own, with my own interpretation and what feels aligned within me. I am more open now, especially with the vast online resources available at my fingertips, to listen when I first start a piece to get an overall sense of it, but that’s about it. I prefer to build a relationship with the piece that connects on as many levels as possible.

Whether you realize it or not, you put your own personal stamp on all that you do each day. You leave your mark on all parts of your day. When was the last time you allowed yourself to be inspired by what you do on your average, run of the mill kind of day? When did you last shift the lens on your perspective to see more of who you really are? The imagination you bring to life each day? The inspiration you may instill in others?

Color out of the lines and break the mold. Be inspired by who you are in this moment and let your imagination run free. Listen within to discover what else inspires you. Be free to create the person that inspires you from the nuggets already within you.

Who or what do you consider to be your model; the person or thing you attempt to shape your life after?

What trait or quality about that person or thing do you admire?

Which, if any, of those traits do you already possess?

How can you use those traits to become your own source of inspiration?

Walking together in light, love, peace...and inspiration.

Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model. _ Vincent Van Gogh

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