Do you know how inspirational you are?” This question came from a woman in one of the circles I offer.

My work is to motivate others to be fully who they are. Even the documentary I’m producing with director Keith Kelly is called “Showing Up: Daring to Live from Your Heart.” Our sole and soul purpose is to entice viewers to risk being who they truly are.

It seems obvious that is what I am up to.

And yet, I feel an uneasiness settle in after her question. I both love positive feedback and find it difficult to fully embrace. Isn’t that true for many of us? We wish to be seen for who we are and to have our gifts acknowledged. At the same time, we squirm a bit when it happens.

Her question challenges me to fully acknowledge how my life touches others. To say out loud with gusto, “Yes, I am an inspirational woman!

I can name many women and men who inspire me. I could fill this page with names of friends, relatives, famous people and people I’ve met only once. Even characters in books, or lives I’ve heard about move me. I even put together a whole Pinterest page named “Women Who Inspire.” 

And still the question lingers: Can we fully let ourselves feel how our life touches others?

Each of us can be a cause of inspiration for others. We may not even realize our impact. It may be a child or grandchild, niece or nephew, the girl down the block or childhood girlfriend. Something we said or the way we live can encourage others. We may be an inspiration to someone we have never met.

That’s who Mabel Dodge Luhan is for me. She was born sixty-three years before me and died in 1962 the year I graduated High School. We never met. Still her tenacious persistence to make the world a better place, her reliance on inner-guidance, and determination to be exactly who she was inspires me. Each time I am in the house she created or sleep in her room I feel her strong energy. Soon I will be there again as I give another retreat in Taos, N.M..

Mabel created her adobe house with determination and an eye for design. Her home was an incubator of new thought, exploration and pushing boundaries. As a patron of the arts Mabel brought many to Taos. Here’s the short list; D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe, Ansel Adams, Willa Cather, Martha Graham, and Carl Jung. Their visits produced life-altering experiences and awakenings for them.

I could say so much about her. She is the subject of several books. Serious about speaking up, she saw that legislation was passed to protect the land of the nearby Pueblo. Look at her in this photo.  She is on the far left, with the wife of D.H. Lawrence to her left. Mabel was a force to reckon with. I think she must have also been a lot of fun.

It might be just one thing we did or said that is treasured by another. When I was ten, my Aunt Helen said, “Bullshit!” as my father and uncle were touting an idea that she didn’t believe. Such a clear female voice asserted its presence that the moment lives within me some sixty-five years later. I wish I’d told her what that one word meant to me. Thanks Aunt Helen!

Live knowing your life is a source of inspiration. You might inspire someone you’ve never meet. Mabel does this for me. Wouldn’t it be a worthwhile exercise to name people you inspire? Do we dare? Start with three and keep going if  you think of more. It’s a challenge. I am going to do it. Possibly it will help me take it in a little deeper the next time someone says,

“Do you know what an inspiration you are?”