• Stephanie Hammond

7 Inspirational Thoughts That Change My Life

I think all of us have a secret longing, a longing to live our lives more fully, with purpose, with love. Looking back over my 70 years, I see defining moments where courage and strength have come to give me direction to live my life with joy and meaning. These moments always arrive, unbidden, unscripted. I don’t think they could come by design and force, yet it seems that they’ve come when I’ve needed them, when I haven’t been able to find that spark within myself. Someone is sent to shed the light for me, either in the form of a physical person, or a book, or a song, or in later years, in an email.

I’d like to share some of these powerful defining moments with you.

1. I must have been 17 when I read this first one. I somehow visited a woman in a rest home, a grumpy old woman who seemed to enjoy my company. It bothered me that she was so miserable and I was scared that that was my future. Then I read this, and now I don’t remember where, or who wrote it.

If you want to be known as a sweet old lady, start now.

It’s been a motivation ever since. And now I’m middle aged, I think I finally have the potential to develop into that sweet old lady.

2. The second was told me by a night school tutor. During class, he invited questions and when we were all too shy to ask anything, he said:

It’s better to look a fool for asking a question than remaining one for not.

That’s been an inspiration for me, and brought me not only knowledge as I’ve asked questions, but kudos from those around me at the time who admitted to being too afraid to ask the same question. Am I a fool? Probably I am still on many topics, but definitely not because I don’t ask questions.

3. My oldest daughter was turning 10. I also had other children, a 7 year-old, a 3 year-old, an 18 month-old and a 6 month-old. I wanted to prepare for the birthday party and also attend to the needs of my littlies and clean the house. I was feeling overwhelmed when a knock at the door heralded the arrival of an angel in the form of a woman from church called Leslie. As I opened the door she said:

This morning I asked God “who needs my help today?” and He told me you did! What can I do to help?

She cleaned the house for me, chatting as she did so, dropping pearls of wisdom. She left me feeling energised and happy and often over the years I think of her and the legacy she gave me. I know that I can be a gift to someone else, regardless of how busy I am. A smile, from the eyes as well as the lips, is my favourite gift as I know how powerful it is for me when I’m down and someone shares their soul with me in this way.

4. I’ve long been enthralled by the life of Helen Keller, born blind and deaf. In times of great fear and reticence, her words:

Life is a daring adventure or nothing!

have strengthened and encouraged me. They motivated me to take the plunge and apply for US residency and move from New Zealand to live in the States for three years, driving from the west coast to the east coast on my own, exploring places and people I’d only dreamed of.

Over the years, I spent 6 weeks in Greece, joined a group of strangers on a trip to India, joined another to visit Tibet. And much earlier, still afraid and not wanting to go, yielded to pressure to uproot our family of five children and take them on the adventure of a lifetime travelling around Australia in a caravan. Afraid, yes – at so many stages of the journeying, and still – but Helen Keller’s words ofgten ring in my ears. My life certainly is a daring adventure – and long may I live it!

5. I went to University as a mature student. My life to that point was peppered with losses. Deep down I had a sadness that I couldn’t shake. During a particularly difficult period, one of my young friends put her arm around my shoulder and whispered:

This too shall pass.

It felt like a promise, a blessing, a contract. And I began to see the light, albeit a pinprick, at the end of the very long tunnel. A pinprick of hope entered my heart and grew and blossomed. Sure, sadness still comes into my life, but now with it comes the certainty that joy will follow.

6. My life was peppered with relationships that never lasted. I concluded that there was no real soulmate out there for me. And I began to grow happy in the sure knowledge that I would live my life without a significant companion. And I was happy. Until I read Nicholas Spark’s book The Notebook. I cried a jumbo box of tissues and wailed: I want a love like this! Hope and belief began to grow and I began to see what I had to offer and what I needed in a mate. And not many years later I met the man who gives me, and accepts from me, a love like Nicholas Spark describes in The Notebook.

7. When I meet you, I will want to know WHO you are, not WHAT you do. I love to get to know the heart, what makes you tick. This quote from Oriah Mountain Dreamer in her poem The Invitation, says what I feel but never found the words until I read her powerful words:

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

I’m not alone in finding the next steps in my life’s journey through other’s words, I know. I hope you’ve enjoyed these thoughts that have inspired me and, if you’d like to share your own in the comments below, please do. I’d love to know what lights you up, encourages you to keep going, no matter what.

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