Sometimes when I am presenting at different events there is time for a question and answer session  People ask me how I got started writing about true crime or ghosts or how I got started offering the tours or how I got started researching for dead guys.  Those questions are easy to answer.  But the other day when I was talking to a group of retirees, a woman asked me a question that took me by surprise.

What inspires you?

It is always harder for me to answer personal questions.  But I was intrigued by the question and so I answered her but the question lingered and I thought about it quite a bit over the past few days.

I work at the Rockford Public Library as my primary career.  I have been there 18 years this month.  I am inspired every day by my co-workers but the one thing that makes me love my job is the children we serve.  I love the “Rock Star” feeling I get when I make a true connection with a child (or anyone!) over a book.

Plus, sharing my passion of history with people through stories, tours, or presentation makes me love my other jobs.

But though my life is full of amazing people and things I love to do- sometimes I feel the need to run away from it all and re-charge my batteries.

So my true inspiration comes from visiting places that give me a sense of awe.  I am very fortunate to have a wonderful partner who loves traveling as much as I do.  I always captured by the natural beauty that I have seen.  But some days when my time restraints or budget does not allow for a trip to the Grand Canyon, I just have to go find a forest preserve or park to walk or climb around in. This is where I find my peace.

I was surprised to find that there have been actual scientific studies on the benefits of natural beauty to your health.  There was a whole section of the paper recently that was titled: Awe: Feeling Awe may be the Secret to Health and Happiness.  It was written by Paula Spencer Scott.

A couple of the key points really captured my attention.  It mentioned that feeling true awe is not a feeling of excitement but that it causes you to pause and reflect.  It also helps one to focus and notice details.

It also helps lower blood pressure, boosts our immune systems, and life outlook. ( I know…chocolate does that, too but you don’t have to feel guilty about it later!)

So after perusing through several more articles on the benefits of spending time outside I put together a list of where to look for AWE in your everyday life.

  1. Drop the devices and gaze at the clouds or stars.  Looking at the way the light plays on the leaves or water can create awe.
  2. Visit a local, state or national park.
  3. Take an Awe Walk in your neighborhood, noticing things as if for the first time.
  4. Describe to a friend or write about a time you once felt awe.
  5. Visit a museum or a planetarium.
  6. Get up early to watch the sun rise.
  7. Play amazing music.

Sometimes in my busy life I need a reminder that I need to be still and breathe.  Since at home there is always something calling for my attention (I need to wash my sheets. I have to write that article today, the lawn needs mowed..the list is never ending!) I need to escape to a place where all I have to do is sit, look and listen.

So- I am heading out to find my joy, my peace, and my inspiration just like the doctor ordered!

Happy Trails!