cat on vintage suitcase

What Inspires You?

We get so caught up in this adult thing, and we get pretty good at it over the years. We condition ourselves to answer almost any question…questions we thought we could never answer.

I was a very anxious child, hell-bent on perfection and pleasing others. So when the time came for me to learn how to order something on my own without the help of my parents, the cash was a sweaty wad by the time I made it to the cash register.

I rehearsed my answer until I was practically insane to make sure I didn’t embarrass myself in front of the cashier at the pizza joint. You see, I had it in my mind that adults never screwed up—that they had their shit together.

Funny as hell to think about that now.

As you get older you learn to think on your feet, so you can act like you have your shit together even when you don’t. As adults, we have to make choices and answer questions constantly. Whether it’s a purchase we decide to make or an interview question we babble through, we start to think we can handle just about anything that comes our way.

But sometimes you get asked a question that stumps you. One you continue to think about long after it was spoken.

At a restaurant the other night Mr. H asked me, out of nowhere across the dimly lit air we shared, posed above the salt and pepper: What inspires you?

patio chill

I blinked a couple of times. I’m pretty sure I grunted, unattractively attempting to form an answer, until finally I busied my lips with my pint glass. I folded.

What a question. It was just SO real.

I can handle all of these other crazy questions on a daily basis, but this one was really tough.

I suppose it’s because we don’t ask real questions very often. We don’t want to pry, we don’t want to go there—or we’re afraid to ask it because we don’t know the answer ourselves. Too many questions and answers are automatic in the modern world.

How are you?

I’m fine. And you?

Fine.

Imagine how different conversations would be if we asked meaningful questions. And sometimes a very simple question can have lots of meaning. I love to ask people what their favorite color is. I often use it as a conversation starter if I’m ever in an awkward group situation.

It’s a question that never fails to amuse and loosen up adults, because they probably haven’t answered it since they were a child—back when that innocent dialogue was commonplace. The answers are so fascinating, because the colors we are drawn to really say a lot about us.

Okay, so back to the inspiring question. After a few minutes I bumblef*cked my way through a couple of answers that kind of made sense. Something about living life fully and inspiring and helping others whenever possible.

It wasn’t a terrible answer. I mean, the delivery was terrible but it wasn’t what I really wanted to say.

Then, I landed on it.

What inspires me is reality…people being real and showing their vulnerability. I love to see grownups playing with their pets, exuding affection and acting like complete idiots. I love to see a husband look at his wife from across the room, entranced by her after so many years as if he was seeing her for the first time.

That kind of stuff. Real shit.

Anyway, it’s good to be asked a question like that from time to time. It makes us slow down this merry-go-round we ride on, so we can seek an answer.

So, I’ll ask you now. What inspires you? And for grins…what’s your favorite color?

56 thoughts on “What Inspires You?

  1. eden baylee says:

    What inspires me? Unselfish and spontaneous acts of kindness, a great sweaty yoga class, fabulous blogs like this 🙂
    Fave colour? A tie – red and black.

    xo
    eden

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      You made me realize I didn’t mention Yoga! Oh well…there are too many inspirations to count, which is a good thing. 🙂

      I can TOTALLY see you as a red and black girl, you sexy thang!

  2. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    thank you, Britt, for always taking us back on the right track.

    what inspires me? You, every time I read you, and it’s not just to please you, it’s real. The kids around me. My husband, his tenacity, his generosity, his unselfishness, his smile. Travels. The gut-wrenching feeling I have that tells me I should pack up my bag and go again.

    my favorite color? blue as the sky here in Provence or the sea. or red, for love and strength and craziness.

    Thanks for asking. Have a lovely inspirational day!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      That is such a sweet thing to say, love! YOU too inspire me. Beyond your beautiful photos that help me travel the world from Portland, you have influenced me to be less wasteful as well. (Speaking of…just shared this documentary on social and you would love it. http://www.foodwastemovie.com/ )

      Blue is all over my wardrobe, so it’s always a favorite for me. xo

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      That is a gorgeous piece of art, the kind you look at for a long time and never get bored. Thanks for sharing it, Gallivanta! Our furry friends are always an inspiration. They teach us to appreciate life, don’t they?

  3. joey says:

    Other people, and especially their artistic expressions, inspire me. That one’s easy for me. I’m troubled more by practical questions and small talk.
    My favorite color is yellow. I say this with some hesitation, because I seldom wear yellow and there’s little yellow in my home, but yellow is my favorite color all the same. White and blue are what I wear and choose to surround myself with, but I promise, yellow is my favorite.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Small talk can be pretty awful. I believe we chatted about this on your blog before!

      I love yellow too. I bought some yellow pumps last month, because I can’t pull off the color usually…but my feet can! Yellow is such a happy color.

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    Wonderful post. I like the idea of asking something other than “How are you?” Could spark some interesting conversations. Then again, as an introvert, it might head us too far into TMI land. 😉 But as a conversation starter where talking is the only option, such as at a social event, it’s a wonderful idea and could actually help an introvert break ground.

    What inspires me? Hmm, my husband, for his even-keel temperament and patience. My oldest for his philosophical wisdom and to be able to use it at the age of 19. My youngest for his dedication to perfect his craft of card magic. I guess I keep some of my inspirations close to home. 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I swear I’m an introvert incognito. It wasn’t until I had a commissioned sales job for five years that I came out of my shell.

      I totally feel awkward around groups. It’s pretty typical for marketing people to have to network, but I was very honest at my current job. I said: Please don’t make me network in person. I’ll build relationships all day long from my computer and the occasional phone call. 😉 So yeah, an icebreaker question is one of the tricks I use often!

      Love that you keep your inspirations close to home, doll. And thank you so much for your compliment. You guys always inspire me and keep me going.

  5. danniehill says:

    Wonderful post, Britt. I’m inspired less and less these days and it’s all in my head. But the people, like you, that I meet through the cyber world inspire me to think and smile and just plain feel good. These days my main personal inspiration comes from my beliefs and the sea. I’m hoping to return to Thailand to refill my tank of inspiration and to look for my long lost muse. I need my ears tickled by her wings

  6. Adam Ickes says:

    What inspires me? Everything. Little things. Big things. Good things. Bad things. A bug climbing up a brick wall. A kid graduating. A child laughing. A brick thrown through a window. Inspiration is everywhere, constantly seeping in from all sides. A single word. A phrase overheard at dinner. The drum beat of a song. Sometimes it leads to happy places, sometimes to dark, disturbing places, but it’s everywhere when I take the time to look.

    Favorite color? Dark blue, light gray, and orange take turns alternating at the top of the list.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Awesome descriptions, Adam. I wanted to go on and on with my answer, because like you, everything truly inspires me!

      Love the colors! They would look great as a home decor color combo.

  7. Ally Bean says:

    Great post. In answer to your question, gardens inspire me. I like seeing the changes, gradual + dramatic. I like the colors and scents and textures of flowers and trees. I feel the most relaxed, yet alert, when I’m in or near one, leading to inspiration.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I’m with you, Ally…love gardens! I work smack in the middle of the city, but recently I discovered a nursery a block away from the office we just moved into. They’re very cool about people coming there to chill on their lunch breaks. There are chairs and tables set up in every nook and cranny of the nursery to invite people to relax and enjoy. Love it!

  8. Audrey Kalman says:

    Inspiration can be so hard to come by. Recently, for me, it’s people who are able to get outside themselves, inspiring me to turn my focus outward, too. Fave color? Hmmm. I mostly wear gray and black, but not sure if those count 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      That’s a good one, Audrey! Sometimes we need to focus outward when we’ve been focusing inward too much. Been there, my friend. 😉

      I love grey too. Blues and greys are kind of the unspoken Northwest uniform though.

  9. Casey Sheridan says:

    Great post!

    That’s not always the easiest question to answer, especially when you’re put on the spot, so I understand your brain screeching to halt when Mr. H asked you out of the blue.

    I think one of things that inspires me is the simplicity of things around me that seem to fade or get lost in this complex, high tech world. Things like watching the cats play, or the birds fly, hearing laughter, etc. Stuff like that.
    And other’s creative/artistic abilities.

    My fav colors are red, purple, and pink.

    🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yeah, it’s rare when I can’t speak fluidly with Mr. H. So it stunned me a bit. But it’s good to be put on the spot by someone you’re close to, and when I turned the tables on him, we worked through his answer together. Good stuff!

      Cheers to that! It’s so important to pay attention the real world.

      I can absolutely see those being your colors! Feminine and powerful. xo

  10. Letizia says:

    What a lovely post. You always have us thinking. Creativity inspires me: watching people be creative in whatever form that takes inspires me to do the same. Because being creative requires the acceptance of failures, compassion for oneself, determination, laughter, and so much more. My favorite colour is grey, I find it very soothing. What’s yours?

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Blame Mr. H for this one! I’m glad though, because I’ve been struggling to find time to write. This was a quick post, since it was based off a recent experience, and it got the wheels turning.

      Lovely explanation of what it takes to be creative. Love grey too! Yellow has really been creeping into my favorite category…hence the yellow pumps I bought last month. It’s a great accent color to all of the blues and greys I wear!

  11. Liz says:

    This post and the responses from our fellow bloggers are inspiring! I love being part of the blogging world, with access to such a wide variety of stimulation and excellence. And it’s purple for me – all the way 😀💜

  12. Roy McCarthy says:

    Moi? Physical bravery that is beyond my understanding. E.g. RAF bomber squadrons during WW2 who knew the odds of them surviving a tour of duty were 1 in 5 at best. Violette Szabo of the Special Operations Executive, captured, interrogated, tortured and finally shot by the Nazis. Those that give their lives in saving others.

    Colour? Green for Ireland, Blue for Birmingham City FC.

  13. Jilanne Hoffmann says:

    You inspire me. 😀 Seriously, I can find inspiration everywhere. I think my problem is too much inspiration, not enough perspiration in the day to follow through with everything. My favorite color? Well, jewel tones. Amethyst. Emerald. Ruby. Sapphire. 😀

  14. diannegray says:

    I’m not sure what inspires me, Britt. I think reading beautiful literature is something that inspires me to write; my children inspire me to be a better person; my dogs inspire me to exercise; and you inspire me to blog 😀

  15. lillianccc says:

    What a timely coincidence… I was on the train home today and was just thinking about the people in my life and how my friends were really an inspiring bunch of people that I continually learn from. So to answer your question, I would say “people” but specifically, the people in my life who are unabashedly themselves and comfortable in their own skin. It’s pretty close to your answer of reality and I’d just add that basically, anyone who is genuine and sincere is inspiring to me. Favorite color? Green. Not sure when I figured it out but at some point, I noticed I started gravitating towards green things and have been for the last 10 years or so. 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Love that, hon! Genuine people are the best. The others out there, well…there are all kinds, aren’t there? I’ll leave it at that. 😉

      Green has always been up there for me. That’s why I love living in the Northwest…it’s everywhere, so I don’t have to wear it as much.

  16. Andrea Stephenson says:

    I love your answer Britt, it is a shame that in daily life we tend not to talk about these ‘real’ questions – whereas in blog land, I do come across them a lot in something someone’s written. What inspires me? Great stories and great writing, nature, weather and the sea and definitely magic. My favourite colour is turquoise – interestingly it was always purple, but that changed a few years ago….

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Real questions tend to be swept under the rug, don’t they? So many of our conversations are based around small talk. And unfortunately, that can happen with people that are close to us as well.

      Turquoise is a fantastic color…love it!

  17. Kate Johnston says:

    I’ll answer the easiest question first … I’m inspired by my children! (bet you didn’t think that was the easier question of the two!) 😉

    My favorite color … yikes, that’s tough. I believe that every color has a time and a place, so I really love them all. It depends on how I’m using a particular color. I love pastels and bright, sunny colors for throw pillows and accessories. I love dark colors to go out on the town. I wear mainly blues and greens and purples for everyday. And I love earth tones as a base color for my house. Ta-da!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I love all colors too, hon! It can be so tough to choose and it definitely changes for me, depending on my mood. Think you nailed it with saying “every color has a time and a place.”

      Since moving to the Northwest, I have completely gone away from red, orange, and pink…which were never my best colors anyway. I kept trying to wear them though, because my personality at the time was more about those wild bright colors. More into blue, grey, green, and the occasional yellow now. White is another fave of mine, because it makes me feel good!

  18. heylookawriterfellow says:

    What? A fizzy pint doesn’t inspire you? I’m disappointed, Britt.

    A nice hard cider might not inspire me, but I am more than willing to keep drinking it in the hope that it will someday. I am a very patient fellow.

    I am inspired by the nuttiness of kids. They can come up with the weirdest stuff that can often lead my mind toward a good idea. Also, blog writing contests push my mind in different directions.

    And my favorite color is orange.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I think it’s a given that beer inspires me, Mike. ; )

      The stories you share about your family are inspiring to many of us. Love the way you keep it real, while showing what a softy you are. Orange is a good one.

  19. roughwighting says:

    I’m inspired that I’m still lnspired! In fact, even though I’m pushing the other side of ‘middle-aged,’ I laugh more, create more, even love more, than I did 30 years ago. Why? Because love inspires me, for one. My guy still looks at me across the room with joy, after 32 years of living together. Whoa. My kids, who turned out so totally different than I expected when they were 3, and 9, and even 18; it’s so inspiring to see them turn into themselves (and still work on it as they begin to parent). My young grandkids are beyond inspirational, because I get to look at life through their eyes, and they are bedazzled.
    Writing, yoga, walking, reading blogs like yours – great inspirations. Thank you.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Beautifully said! Love is a big one for me too. Feel like that is something we can always fall back on when life sweeps us into its mad arms. Kids are good teachers, and they tell it like it is.

      Thank you for the sweet blog compliment. Right back at ya, babe! 🙂

  20. Minuscule Moments says:

    Oh Britt I so enjoyed this post. There is nothing better than seeing someone grabbing a moment and goofing off! When I witness life’s little treasures where people are keeping it real it gives me faith in man kind. Kids get it right because they don’t think first they just do! My favourite colour is magenta the brighter the better. We use to do this odd thing where my hubby would stop the car and hug a tree if it was an awesome tree. The kids have probably forgotten about it now they are teens, maybe its time we spun them out a bit more.

  21. Juni Desireé says:

    Love it. I’d love to be asked those kind of deep questions all the time – hehe.
    Stories and art inspires me. Books, movies, songs, art, people, life – all full of stories and art.
    So pretty much everything inspires me. Sport, definitely inspires me. Teaches me so much about life.

Hey, be a doll and chime in...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s