I was recently (ok, not-so-recently) honored by Expatially Mexico for the Inspirational Blog Award.  Thank you so much!  I apologize for the lateness in turning this around.  If you haven’t seen Kristin’s blog, you should check it out for a fascinating (and very funny) German expat’s perspective on everyday adventures living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

As with these types of awards, you are asked to share a bit about yourself. In this case, I’d like to share what’s been an inspiration to me.

I’ve looked up the requirements of this award, and I *think* they are as follows:

A)   Thank the person who nominated you (Thank you, Kristin!)

B)   Describe 7 things about yourself that your readers wouldn’t otherwise know about you

C)   Nominate 7 other blogs that inspire you

Incidentally, I’ve just seen that the New York Times Magazine has named its latest issue “The Inspiration Issue” and is definitely worth a look.  The best line from the introductory article is that creative inspiration often is the result of a lot of hard work: “(… Step 1: Work. Step 2: Be frustrated. Step 3: Repeat.)”

B) A few things about me, and about what inspires me (in no particular order):

1) Well-crafted humor and comedy inspires me.  It’s really hard to execute, but when it works, it’s magic.  I look forward to reading that one line in the book, article, or blog that makes me crack up out loud.  It’s inspiring because as the reader, I can easily identify with (emotionally, at least) the author during the funny but awkward moments being described or shown.

On that note: a few of my favorite memoirs that capture a type of genre-busting, self-deprecating comedy include: Out of Sheer Rage (Geoff Dyer), Essays in Love (Alain DeBotton), Travelling Mercies (Anne LaMott), and Nora Ephron’s articles.  Here are “The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut,” “My Life as an Heiress,” and “The Six Stages of Email” that you can read for free.

2) Movies inspire me.  Continuing w/the humor theme, many of my favorite movies growing up also capture this type of comedic element best.  A short-list of some of my favorite “old school” comedies includes: The Princess Bride (directed by Rob Reiner), Best in Show (directed by Christopher Guest), and Manhattan Murder Mystery (directed by Woody Allen).

3) Sports.  I know I’ve posted before on the Olympics this past summer, but some of my favorite, more conventional sports to watch and play include tennis, football (American), and basketball.  In the world of sports, many of the movements and plays—especially in team sports—are a symphony of pure aesthetic.  It’s beautiful to watch.  But probably the most significant aspect to sports is the fact that sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, and the unexpected can happen.  The underdog can actually win despite long odds, and the motto of “never give up” is viscerally displayed.

Sports doesn’t just teach you about winning and losing.  It can often be used as a metaphor for life and how to live life, particularly in how to get back up after a crushing defeat or loss.  Sport clichés don’t seem as cliché when you are witnessing an amazing individual or team feat performed in front of your very eyes.  We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to circumstances beyond our control, and that’s something playing and watching sports has taught me.

If you haven’t already, check out Hoosiers, Field of Dreams, or Chariots of Fire, some of my all-time favorite sports movies.  I almost always get teary-eyed when I see the slow motion shots of the ball going into the hoop at the last second, or the photo finish line crossing because I’m inspired by the main character’s triumph.  The main character’s victory (or defeat) can always illustrate something that is applicable in my own life.  (Oh, and did I mention that I’m completely addicted to Friday Night Lights?  I’m on Season 2 so far…)

4) Down-to-earth, authentic people who have a sense of integrity, never take things for granted, stay true to themselves, work hard, and who never ever give up.  And by doing so, are able to follow and eventually achieve their dreams without constantly being completely self-absorbed.

5) Family.  My parents inspire me.  My dad came on his own to the US as a 22-year-old graduate student with 2 suitcases and $50.  He spent over a month at sea in steerage of a steamer ship (literally, fresh-off-the-boat) and landed Los Angeles right in the middle of the Watts riots in 1965.  After working as a busboy in San Francisco and going to community college there, he was accepted into a PhD program in Statistics at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  My mom joined him in Madison, leaving all her friends and family in Taiwan to move to a new country, learn a new language, and forge a new life.  They did a pretty good job of it, and I’m thankful for everything they’ve taught me.  Love you guys!

6) Honesty and vulnerability.  I’m inspired when I read about or see/meet people who don’t profess to know it all, but who are trying to live truthful and honest lives and who are willing to share their own stories of failure with me.  I’m especially inspired when they share with me what they learned from their mistakes.

7) Nature in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.  Living in Seattle has its perks, like the gorgeous sunny fall day today.  We are surrounded by majestic beautiful mountain ranges and water and the scenery changes with the seasons.  I literally gasp when I catch sight of Mount Rainier on a clear day.  Too often, I often forget how lucky and blessed I am to live in such a beautiful place.  If you don’t believe me, come and see for yourself!

C) Here are my nominations for inspiring blogs.  Thank you all for inspiring me with your writing, your humor, and your honesty!  Keep up the good work!

1)   The Dancing Professor.  A professor (Classics, I believe) who loves to dance.  Intellectual but also very approachable.  What more could you ask for?  I always feel like I learn so much after reading her posts.

2)   The Time is Write.  Alena is one of the most hilarious writers around!  Her latest post “The Naked Truth” will have you in stitches by the end.

3)   Analyfe.  The Subjective Perspective of an Analytical Optimist.  Love her posts and sharp observations about balancing post-graduate life in the real world and hopes and dreams.

4)   The Renaissance Mind.  Beautiful blog on philosophy, ethics, beauty and human happiness.

5)   Amuzings.  Check out Jeffery Todd’s posts for a good laugh.  My favorite post is his recent one entitled “In Praise of Farts.”

6)   Unlost in Translation.  Citizen of the world/American B-School student in France who writes about life, love, philosophy and France.

7)   Jibuyabu.  Aussie in Sydney who writes about food and life.  Her food pictures make me hungry!