Last night I spoke at a meeting of the Altus Sunset Rotary Club. Sometimes meetings like this are a snooze-fest, but with these folks, it was more of a party. There was great food and wine and loud laughter. A crew of all different ages and backgrounds, they don’t just do good in the world, they ARE the good. It oozes from them. I think I was hugged five times before I ever made it to my seat.

In this friendly environment, I felt safe even though I was nervous. I told them how weird public speaking is for me since I have a split personality. On tests like the Meyers-Briggs I am always the anomaly, the one stuck in the dead center between introvert and extrovert, melancholy and sanguine. The difficulty is I’m never exactly sure which version is going to show up.

Some scenarios are predictable. When I’m in front of the classroom, for instance, the extrovert usually takes over. I become passionate about my subject and feel in command of my voice and love to engage my students. Oftentimes that takes so much out of me, however, that when class is over all I want to do is scurry back to my office and hide to write or read or eat almond M&Ms.

The Rotary Club didn’t ask me to speak about Shakespeare. They wanted to hear about my books and the writing craft, which was so nice of them. But it’s also the hardest stuff to discuss, because writer me is the introvert me.

The Rotarians were so kind and endured my speech gracefully. Then one guy asked me a question that really made me think. I’m still thinking about it this morning. He asked, “What inspires you?”

There are so many cookie cutter answers to this question. So many rainbows and unicorns. So many legitimately inspirational people and verses and books that come to mind. But what I told him truly is the essence of why I write, why I’m here this morning in front of the computer, typing this love letter to the world and hoping it connects with someone. Life inspires me when I let it, when I invite it. When I’m still enough to be present in my own life, paying attention to its beauty and imperfection. The funny things my kids say. A raindrop on a leaf. My dad’s texts. Stretch marks. My students. Fog over the river. My nieces skipping down the path. Writing forces me to be still and let Life inspire me.

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