Friday, June 26, 2009

Who influences and inspires you?

The recent news of the passing of several notable people this week has sparked conversations throughout the world about the way individuals are influenced by others. Media interviews in the past day are consistently quoting people talking about how icons such as Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Ed McMahon have been a part of their lives and have influenced them in some way. People remember listening to (and in many cases dancing to) Michael Jackson's music and/or watching Farrah Fawcett on television and associate these memories with some part of their lives. I had one such conversation last night with a friend who called asking if the stories about Michael Jackson were indeed true and then proceeded to tell me about listening to his music and how he had been a part of her memories since she was a child.

You may be asking why am I writing about this topic here on a blog discussing a story quilt on President Obama. The answer is quite a simple one. This quilt shows the many people and places who have provided influence and inspiration to President Obama. Who we are and who we become is not based solely on the actions of the individual, but also on the people around us and those who have come before. J2WH has images of people who have influenced President Obama through their actions and their thoughts. Although the President may not have met all of the people featured on the quilt, they influenced him and who he has become. The quilt serves as recognition of those people as well as President Obama and as a way to show how their influence is at work through someone else.

J2WH has also served as a source of inspiration for people to draw from. That was never more evident than during the quilting sessions where people were inspired and influenced by the events taking place and wanting to do something, to be a part of something. They in turn came out in large numbers to view J2WH and to take their inspiration and add their own message to the quilt to help inspire others. This blog and the book that accompanies J2WH also take part in helping to share influence and inspiration. The comments, stories, and quotes shared by people throughout the world in these two places speak to the power of this quilt. To inspire people to share their personal thoughts and ideas and serve to influence others to do the same is amazing.

In the current status of the world, it is more important than ever to come together and consider the question "Who influences and inspires you?" How have those influences made you the person you are today? How have they shaped the way you think and act? How has your world view and outlook on life been affected by these people? And most importantly, how have you/are you/can you pay tribute to those people?

J2WH is both a tribute to influences as well as a source of influence. When paired with the Obama mural, one can see how many people are beginning to look to sources of influence and pay tribute. Consider how you can do the same. Write a letter, create an art work, compose a song, spend time with those who influence you, have a conversation. Let the people who influence you know how they have touched your life and use the inspiration you receive from them to become an inspiration and positive influence for someone else.

To end this blog posting I want to thank Dr. Gaither for all of the amazing work she has done on J2WH and all of her other work including being the idea source (both literally and figuratively) for this blog posting. It has been amazing and inspiring to work with such an extraordinary person. I hope that through this blog I am able to help share a part of that inspiration with those who read it and share the positive influence I have been so fortunate to receive.

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