Stepping StonesIt doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always – Oprah Winfrey.

 The people that we admire and who inspire us will create the most influence and give us our most important life lessons.

We all want to achieve greatness in our lives and we may look to many people to inspire us.  We can be inspired by great leaders, athletes, writers, celebrities, etc.  Sometimes the people that inspire us are not typically the people whose stories make it to the press or social media.

I was a fussy eater growing up and I would consistently be listening to my parents telling me how lucky I was and that there were children in the world who were poor and couldn’t afford food.  They would also speak to me about their own childhood and about their own poverty and misgivings.  I was constantly reminded of how lucky I was to be blessed with the quantities and quality of the food that was available to me.  I would often roll my eyes and wonder when they would stop telling me about their sufferings and lack of opportunities.

My father worked many jobs to support us; sometimes a few at a time, while my mother looked after us kids while also maintaining a job to support us.  She would manage being a wife, mother and more often a daughter in law that was on hand to help with whatever my grandparents needed.  It was a tough job for my mum.

While growing up she would often share her childhood stories of living with her parents and 6 other siblings and describe how tough life was.  She moved to Australia when she was 18 and while dealing with a new country, new language, new beginnings she also had to find work for her new life.  She met my father in her early 20’s.  They got married and she became a mother at 23.

I began to be inspired by my mother when I was 23, after I had my first child.  As with most new parents, this is when we really appreciate our own parents and understand what it takes to be responsible for another human being. However, as I matured I realised that there was more to my mother than I had noticed before.

Over the last decade I have closely watched and admired how this woman turned her whole world around.  She decided to take up opportunities regardless of her limitations with language and pursue a journey of learning and growth.  She decided in her late 60’s to go back to school and improve her English.  She attended a computer course and learnt how to surf the net better than most adults I know.  She then set up a study with a desk and a computer and began to embrace new technology.

I love listening to all the countries she has travelled to and intends to travel to.  I admire that she is open to new experiences.  Both my parents have travelled to many parts of the world; countries that I would not have expected.  Her love of culture and adventure is something she has passed on to me.

I applaud her for getting out her shopping jeep as she heads down to the local market on foot and does her shopping.  She is a great walker and has a great pace, even in her 70’s.  I marvel at her good health and the lessons she has taught me in looking after myself in health and well-being.

I was overjoyed when I was away overseas for my last birthday and my mother sent me a Facebook message and uploaded a photo of me as well.  I proudly showed the people around me how talented my mother is.  At 74 she has a mobile, can send text messages, is on Face book and can work a computer better than most.

When I was a child I was inspired by rock stars, movie stars and people in magazines.

As an adult I am inspired by the closest woman in my life.  Someone I can actually talk to, touch, hug and kiss.  A real inspirational woman who has come from an under-privileged childhood with limited opportunities.  She is now a woman who is determined to grow and develop and to soak up whatever new learnings she can get.  If there is something to learn, she always says yes.  I love that.

She inspires me to love learning.  To say yes to learning and growing.  To be open to new experiences and adventures.  I went back to school in my late 40’s and she was the first to cheer for me.  We look for mentors and role models in the big world.  I have the best mentor and role model right here with me.  She has inspired me to consider that no matter what has happened in my life, I can always learn, grow and seek new opportunities.  The past doesn’t define who we are or who we are meant to be.  The only limitations we have are the ones that we put on ourselves.  We have the choice to be who we want to be and live the life we want.

Take the time to notice the people around you.  Take note of the people who love you, motivate you, encourage you and ultimately inspire you.  Everyone has a gift to share and some will provide you with the inspirational stepping stones to create and build a life that you love.