Inspirational Gems

Any colour you like.... by Rushing Mania, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  Photo by  Rushing Mania 

Goal 5 for the 30 Goals Challenge is to share sources of inspiration, those artifacts that keep us uplifted and motivated as educators. There is an amazing wealth of inspiration online and I find it challenging to organize it all. I use folders and favourites, bookmarks and Google Docs, journal entries and Post-Its, Evernote and Instapaper, Delicious and Dropbox. I guess one way of looking at is I can stumble upon my growing treasure of inspirational gems anywhere and any time!

Do one thing, the thing that is in your heart. ~Eric Jolly

My heart in your hands by aussiegall, on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License  Photo by aussiegall 

Going back to school for my Master’s degree had been on my mind with varying intensity ever since I received my BEd but the longer I thought about it the scarier the notion became and the longer I had to convince myself I couldn’t do it. But it kept bubbling to the surface because I felt in my heart and in my gut that I wanted to do it. The problem was in my head, it was working against me which is all too often my greatest obstacle. Finally after becoming so fed up with myself and the sorry list of reasons not to do it, I pushed myself off the cliff of fear and applied for a Professional leave and to the University of Saskatchewan. During the same week (oddly enough exactly one year ago) that I received my acceptance for both applications, Seth Godin posted this quote on his blog. It captures so perfectly how we are able to tackle a goal even when it terrifies us.

Make big plans…that’s the best way to make big things happen. Write down your plans. Share them with trusted colleagues. Seek out team members and accomplices. Shun the non-believers. They won’t be easily convinced, but they can be ignored. Is there any doubt that making big plans increases the chances that something great will happen? Is there any doubt that we need your ideas and your contribution? Why then, are you hesitating to make big plans? ~Seth Godin

Seth will probably never know this but he has a long history of creating blog posts that seem to speak directly to my current state of being, inspiring me when I need it most. Spooky but lovely all at the same time. This serendipity has shown me time and again that I am not alone in my thoughts and fears. Knowing that others face similar challenges reassures me and encourages me to look the worries of my mind in the eye, embrace the passions of my heart, garner the wealth of support that surrounds me, and take that leap.

Colours by Camdiluv ♥, on FlickrCreative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  Photo by  Camdiluv

For many years now I have kept a copy of the poem Desiderata close at hand for inspiration. The same dog-eared, yellowed copy has hung by my side in various classrooms and offices. What I love about this poem is how different sections rise to the surface at different times and in these moments I comprehend the words in a new light. Today, in this moment, I feel connected to the following section:

Whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

My well loved and well worn copy of Desiderata

As I looked through my favourite quotes today I realized many of them fall into one of four categories. These are themes that are obviously close to my heart as they are resonating with me over and over.

Change Making: I am committed to change because I am deeply committed to education. I believe it is my responsibility as an educator to advocate for progress in teaching and learning on behalf of my students. As I pull together the pieces of my Master’s project, which centres on many forms of change making, I am able to see the positive outcomes of pushing for change. However, I am also all too familiar with the rough edges of change making, the many times when you want to crack and say, “Why am I even bothering?” Sometimes the obstacles feel overwhelming and the barricades insurmountable. I always need inspiration to stay committed to change making and it comes in many amazing forms, through words and visuals but also through people. Thankfully there are many change makers who openly share their journeys  in blog posts, tweets, presentations and more. There is most definitely strength in numbers.

If you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold. ~Howard Schultz

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. ~Andy Warhol

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. It’s the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead

Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is. ~H. Jackson Browne

Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve. ~J.K. Rowling

Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience. ~Hyman Rickover

In fact, you can make a difference…Passionate people on a mission can make change happen. You better be prepared to stick it out, to exert yourself, to last longer than you ever expected and to care so much it hurts. ~Seth Godin

Overcoming Challenges: Hand in hand with change making is the need to remain inspired when the chips are down.

Trying times are not the times to stop trying. ~Ray Owen

The brick walls aren’t there to keep us out, the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. ~R. Pausch

Plan on being misunderstood. Repeat yourself. When in doubt repeat yourself. ~Seth Godin

Once you understand that there are problems just waiting to be solved, once you realize that you have all the tools and all the permission you need, then opportunities to contribute abound. No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself. ~Seth Godin

156.365 strange, by ashley rose,, on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  Photo by  ashley rose, 

Relationships and Connections: Forming and nurturing relationships is a priority in my life, professionally and personally. These quotes remind me about the true power of being connected with others.

Tell everyone what you want to do and someone will want to help you do it. ~W. Clement Stone

Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success. ~Henry Ford

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. ~Helen Keller

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. ~Lao Tzu

Attitude and Outlook: One of my previous teaching partners loved to say, “Attitude is the one thing you get to choose every single day.” When teaching a class of soon-to-be teenagers who often felt they were short on choices in the world this phrase was inspirational not only for them but for us as well!

Everyone is given an acre of attitudes at birth. It’s yours to tend and garden and weed and live with. You can plant bitterness or good humor. Feel free to fertilize and tend the feelings and approaches that you want to spend time with. Unless you hurt someone, this acre is all yours.

Probably worth putting up a decent fence, so that only the attitudes that you choose will have a chance to put down seeds, but it’s certainly a bad idea to put up a wall, because a walled garden is no good to anyone passing by. You get to decide what comes through your fence gate, right?

Watching out for invasive species—spending sufficient time on weeding and pruning and staking seem to be incredibly powerful tools for accomplishing the life you want. I refuse to accept that an attitude is an accident of birth or an unchangeable constant. That would be truly horrible to contemplate. -Seth Godin

TED recently launched TED Quotes, “a new initiative that collects memorable quotes from TEDTalks, groups them by category, and makes them easy to share.” I am excited about this new resource for finding inspiration as not only does it isolate key quotes into themes but it also provides the option to watch the affiliated TED Talks. I have been spending time exploring Quotes about Changing the World and it has been a wonderful way to feed my inspiration.

All the artifacts I have shared in this post are extremely instrumental in fuelling my inspiration and keeping my passion afloat, but I would be remiss if I did not mention a very special class of 8 year olds who every day provide me with not only inspiration but sheer joy and hope. Their “official” title is The Global Grade 3s (but they also answer to “bloggers”) and they are a force of change to be reckoned with! I have much to say about the journey we are on together and the library they are building in Q’enqo, Peru but for now I will point you to our classroom blog and let their beautiful voices speak to you.

I wonder: Where do you find your inspiration? How do you organize all the gems?


7 thoughts on “Inspirational Gems

  1. I loved reading your selected quotes – many I had heard before, but forgotten, and some were delightfully new to me. All of them were so accurate, so uplifting, so comforting, and so motivating. Thank you for putting them together in such a thoughtful post. All of us need a reminder of the important things. I’ll come back to your post to get a boost of inspiration every time I need it!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Sarah! I am always amazed how a few well selected and well placed words can together capture a feeling or situation so well. I think I come by the love of quotes from that great Dad of ours!

  2. Your post was deeply thoughtful and reflective. Many of the thoughts you posted are ones I share as well. My inspiration comes from my Grandma, my past work journey, books I read, movies I watch, tweets I see, people I meet, things in nature and my faith. I too organize them on my blog but also in Evernote which I Iove. I also love that you shared the Ted Quotes! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and passion with all of us on The 30 Goals Journey. 🙂

    • Lisa, thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I love your list of the many sources of inspiration in your life. It’s true that when you stop to look around, inspiration is everywhere. And I agree a blog is a fabulous way to organize them and make sense of them all. Thanks again! 🙂

  3. Tannis,
    What a beautiful and thorough post about what inspires you and how you organize all your gems. I must say, mine are not nearly as organized. I am planning to re-read your post and visit some of the links that you mention in order to help me in my own curation of the wealth of inspiration out there.

    I, too, am involved in the 30 Goals Challenge, and I enjoy getting to know new teachers and seeing what makes them tick. After reading this post, I can see you are a new inspiration for me. I can tell you really do work at cultivating a positive attitude. You are one of the people I want to pay attention to. Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. My Goal #5 post is here

  4. Hallo,
    Mir gefällt das abgebildete Desiderata sehr gut. Können Sie mir sagen, welche Schriftart das ist?
    Freundliche Grüße Heike Ziegert

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