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Reverse Inspiration

It is very humbling when someone tells you that you inspire them. Through my public speaking engagements I’m often told how I inspire others to live a better,fuller, and more inspired life. That makes me feel empowered to continue my efforts to share my story with others. What they don’t know is that I am also inspired by them. That reverse inspiration was never more evident than last Friday.My latest speaking engagement brought me to a company called RCS Empowers in Sheboygan. One of the necessities in public speaking is knowing your audience.  Unfortunately, I didn’t know my audience until I walked in the gymnasium and saw my audience about a half hour before I hit the stage. I suddenly became very nervous. I wrote a blog awhile back where I talked about Difference Makers. I soon realized this company and the people that work there epitomize this attribute. This is a place where adults with special needs come every day for many different reasons. Some come for training to help transition into the outside work force. Many work there in the warehouse packaging various items for Menards, Kohler, and other companies earning a paycheck. Many just come for various art classes and sensory interactions. The people have a wide degree of cognitive abilities. I finally asked the director what she wanted me to talk about and to what level. She wanted me to share my story and how I live my life. My head was filled with uncertainty. Would they understand what ALS is? Could they relate to my story and to what level?

I started my story and I soon realized interaction would not be an issue. When I mentioned I was 50 and had 4 kids I got a loud applause with cheering. My normal 15 minute speech soon became 40 minutes. My normal Q&A of 10 minutes lasted a half hour. Whether you are a musician, comedian, or stage artist often your energy is extracted from your audience. This was the best example of this I had ever felt. I was there to inspire them but I soon realized they inspired me. Many shared very personal stories about their life and how they live. Many told me how much they loved me and would pray for me and my family. Some simply wanted to know if I was mad the Packers had lost.  I had never been surrounded by so many people with special needs and I learned so much from them. The biggest is just how genuine, sincere, and full of love they are. There was no BS. They were such happy people that it was intoxicating. They had challenges but wanted no pity. To the outside it might seem like a tough life but what I saw was the opposite. With the help of some remarkable people at this company they were living a very fulfilling life. This is a very similar existence to me. Despite my physical challenges, with the right people by my side and technology advances I can and will continue to lead a very fulfilling life.

So my eyes were opened even wider that day and they inspired me to lead a better life. I made some new friends and I think Natalie from ALS chapter may have even gotten a marriage proposal. Her and I will be headed back in April as we were invited to their stage production of Willy Wonka. Then I can sit in the audience with no pressure and be inspired once again by a group of remarkable individuals.
Jim's blog

4 responses to “Reverse Inspiration

  1. Alice Wolfe ⋅

    So how cool is that! What an awesome story about people we often look away from and fail to make eye contact with because we are unsure what to say or do. Jim as always you’ve hit the nail smack dab on the head! As I frequently hear moms say to their children “Good Job!” … And I truly mean it! Inspiration comes in many different ways.

  2. Carole Ann Coombes ⋅

    As always, Jim–yes–you do inspire me–. Thank you and God’s Blessings

    Carole Coombes

  3. christy ⋅

    Jim, you are an inspiration to so many. I only wish your blog entries were daily! My husband was diagnosed 2 years ago and so far doing really well. His arms, hands and speech are all that is effected as of now. We try to enjoy everyday and focus on what he can still do instead of what he cant. Thank you for sharing with all of us. It helps others more than you know. Christy from Illinois

    • Jim ⋅

      Thank you for those kind words and I’m glad that this blog is helping you and your journey through dealing with ALS. If I could do it daily blog I would but frankly I’m not sure I have enough to say every day but thanks once again and God bless

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