Exhale

photo by Christine Farha

photo by Christine Farha

By: Kendi Wolever

Writing about someone who inspires me should be easy, right? I have been diligently exploring my head and my heart, allowing several names and faces to flow through my mind in attempt to choose just one of them to write about.

As I was thinking about all of the people in my life who I surely can say inspire me, I started thinking about what it actually means to be inspired. I looked up the definition, and it was basically what I already knew - something along the lines of, “to fill someone with an urge to do something creative,” or “to create a feeling in a person.” But there was a definition way at the bottom of the dictionary that really stood out to me: breathe in (air); inhale. The simplicity of that particular definition was so beautiful to me. To inhale. So it got me thinking - if to be inspired is to inhale, then you must have to exhale in response. I thought about the people who cause me to “inhale,” but it was more difficult to think about the people who cause me to both inhale and exhale.

Who is it that inspires me to actually DO something with the inspiration?

Who is it that causes me to exhale?

There is a woman I thought of whose face I do not even know. I had to look up her story to even remember her name. Her name is Bethany Van Delft and she was featured on an episode of one of my favorite podcasts called The Moth.

Although she was in her forties, she was in the midst of a seemingly perfect pregnancy. Despite the doctors anticipating a perfect birth, her daughter was unexpectedly born with Down syndrome. During the podcast, she spoke of all the difficulties she experienced as she was learning to accept and love her child. She had to realize that life would look a lot different than what she had originally planned for her family, and in the beginning, it was difficult to call this child her own. She spoke vulnerably and deeply about her journey towards loving and leading her daughter, and how eventually, she did.

I have never met this woman, but her story has played over and over in my head since I first heard it. Not because of the specific content necessarily, but because of the honesty and rawness with which she told it. Her story was one that, for me, was very difficult to hear, but was simultaneously impactful because of the way she exposed her heart in telling it.

There are a lot of people in my life who I respect. There are many people who have moved me and changed my life by their influence. I think it is instinctual to  gravitate towards and become close to people we are inspired by, but there is something unique about hearing a complete strangerʼs raw perspective .

I chose to not only inhale what Bethany said, but to exhale it, too.

How many times have we felt inspired by someone or something only to do nothing about it? How many times have we been filled with breath only to never fully let it out? What would our lives and relationships look like if we spoke raw and vulnerable truth like Bethany did?

Bethany inspires me to exhale honesty, no matter how hard it might be to say or for others to hear. Who inspires you to exhale?

Lark ReelyComment