Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

by Stacey Ebert /
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Feb 05, 2024 / 0 comments

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

A shooting star, the first snowflake, a rainbow after a storm, a child’s laughter, an act of kindness, the innocent check-in of a furry red muppet—inspiration is everywhere if only we pause a moment to look. 

It’s in that awe when we witness a magical moment, the wonder experienced through curious questioning, the joy of a quokka’s quizzical smile, and so much more. When we open our eyes, it’s everywhere…can you see it? 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

For years, I drew a palm tree and beach scene on my desk calendar to trigger warm and inspiring sentiments, especially in the winter months. For decades, I’ve found inspiration through travel adventures, conversations with strangers, and new experiences that blast the boundaries of a comfort zone. Today, I still draw those scenes and get excited by travel, conversations, and experiences, yet realize the everyday moments produce that inspiration equally as strong. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

While many vision boards hold big picture manifestations along with those timely and attainable goals, perhaps it’s less those mega-reaches, but in the seemingly inconsequential tiny moments where the magic ensues. 

Can you see it?

At this time of year, our northern hemisphere friends are in the midst of winter’s grip and our southern hemisphere mates are at the height of summer’s heat. Schools are restarting or getting back into the swing of things, and many are dreaming about the start of baseball season, spring break, or the emergence of another calendar milestone. The new year sentiments have petered out a bit, and no matter where one resides, we’re feeling the effects of climate change. 

Can we channel the sun and begin to let more moments of light into our days and our lives? 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

Can we remind ourselves, each other, and our next generation that while resilience, grit, and pushing forward is vital, inspiration often hits when we stop, slow down, connect, feel, and witness life as it unfolds around us? 

Educational constructs are ever-changing. While the constants of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic remain, there are (thankfully) some new additions floating around. Some have added capstone projects, intentional well-being, and adulting finance-focused courses. Yet, outside of the free-flowing joy of creating your own snowperson or crafting your rainbow drawings in elementary art classes, how can we infuse a spike in wonder or inspiration? 

While Montessori, forest-centered, and Finnish-minded schools harness the aspects of child-focused interests and cultivate and support the ideas and talents of the individual, there’s still much of these positive psychology traits to filter into the mainstream educational world. 

Today, there’s a podcast for everything. What once meant scanning a dial through AM radio now allows for laser-focus on any and all topics—and like many things, there’s literally something for everyone. The wonder, awe, and inspiration discussions often fall more in the categories of social-emotional well-being, personal growth, and living your best life, yet experts argue it’s a vital component to a full, meaningful life. 

Whether we’re taking insight from Finland’s school system, quoting Martin Seligman’s positive psychology PERMA model, or focusing more on the meaning amidst the community aspect of longevity research of centenarians in Dan Buettner’s described Blue Zones, the benefits of feeling inspired by life are evident. 

How do we bring that into our curriculum? How do we capitalize on the wonder and awe often found in the discovery of kindergarten classrooms. and weave notions of that throughout the rest of the educational journey?  

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

Seligman’s PERMA model teaches that positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning, and accomplishments are key aspects for a flourishing well-being. 

Buettner and his study of the world’s Blue Zones holding the longest living individuals tells us that not only does where you live play a part in your general well-being, but the social interactions that inspire meaningful connections are crucial in living life to the fullest. 

And, while it may be blanketed by darkness in these winter months, Finland not only regularly attracts travelers seeking the brilliant lights of the Aurora Borealis, but the tiny country close to the Arctic Circle often graces that top spot of happiest places in the world—and it begins with their view of schooling. 

Finland’s approach to education as a right for all students reminds us that "education promotes happiness…Students’ well-being is considered vital in Finnish education. There are many ways Finns try to strengthen that: stress-free approach, student welfare services and welfare professionals at schools, frequent recesses outside, free school lunches, moderate amount of homework, short school days, use of positive pedagogy, activating and engaging teaching methods, etc. It is safe to say that if children are experiencing well-being at school, it enhances their overall happiness and health."

The winter season is a time of hibernation. Some of the world is quite literally coated in darkness, while those experiencing the season might take time to plant, sow, and develop a plan for the time when light reappears. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

During that period, we must find and be our own light. 

Whether you’re using a light box to stimulate the goodness of the sun’s rays or searching deep in your soul to illuminate that light within, it’s up to each one of us. It’s that light, that inner awe we need to energize. Later in life, we yearn to reignite that inner light. 

What if we shifted the educational constructs to ensure our students knew how to reach it so it was harder to dim, or at least have the tools to reawaken it? How can we elevate our educational approach to incorporate the idea of inspiration to our daily lessons? 

It’s up to us to infuse inspiration throughout our life’s journey. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

Until such time that well-being (mental and physical), positive psychology, meaning, happiness, and awe become part of the structured framework of education, we must work those muscles, find it or ask for guidance, share it, and expose the next generation to the benefits. The experts already know its significance, now it’s our turn to act. 

Are you ready? 

“It is never too late to be who you might have been” - George Elliott

3 Tips for Upleveling that Inspiration Muscle

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

Exercise your inspiration muscle

“Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere” - Albert Einstein

Everywhere we look there’s another workout trend to try: Crossfit WODS, Barre routines, or hitting the gym with a personal trainer. Each one offers inspiration to reach the goals of greater strength. Yet, no matter which you try, you have to do the work. 

Inspiration is the same. There are countless methods, but putting in the work is the only part that truly matters. It can be daunting, tedious, and difficult, yet a mindset reframe would tell you it’s also satisfying, courageous, and positively life-altering. 

So, will you do the work?

Teachers can assign homework, but students have to do it. Free resources are available, but we have to search, act, and put in the time. Coaches are accessible to encourage along the way, but the effort is ours to pursue. 

So, how do we exercise that inspiration muscle? 

Tap into your inner knowing. What excites and delights? It could be a walk outside and the magic of Mother Nature. It could be a song, a piece of artwork, the inner strength of a superhero or ordinary citizen. Maybe it’s in volunteer work, service, or the image of a weed blooming in unimaginably, shocking terrain. Perhaps it’s burgeoning ideas and finally acting on a dream. No matter what it is for you, consistency, determination, and showing up are the game changers of this inspiring story. Give yourself the sticker, the pat on the back, the high five, and the congratulations.

It may not always be pretty, but it’s 100% worth it.

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

Dim the background noise

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” - Nelson Mandela

Can you imagine how many people loudly proclaimed that trying to build a computer in a garage was, well, crazy? If the internet had existed and Edison had posted about his 1,000 attempts to invent a successful lightbulb, can you imagine the trolls he would have encountered? 

There’s a reason those trying to level up their lives go quiet for a while and reappear as their best selves. The naysayers are loud, yet it’s their own fears, doubts, and insecurities they’re blasting. Just ask Niecy Nash, who with her recent Emmy win and speech, inspirationally thanked herself for continuing to believe it was all possible. 

Your story is yours to live—and often, while you continue to seek inspiration along the journey, you inspire others with your every step. 

Young kids take moments of reflection without even knowing. They draw, build, cook, create, dream, and do without that loud inner critic that somehow shows up later in life. They look at pillows and see a fort, view puddles as a world of delight and a cardboard box as an endless possibility

They’re inspired by life, see possibility everywhere, and wonder in the tiniest butterfly and the brightest star. Their world is in color, yet later in life, shadows of gray arise. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. 

Step away from the noise of social media and leap back into life. Sure, we can’t all travel by bubble or wave a wand to take away the world’s troubles, but the magic and inspiration is there…even for all of us who live outside of Oz and have yet to receive our letters to Hogwarts. Test the theory: look for the sparkle and believe you’re truly a part of it. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

Create the habit

“Knowing what you need to do to improve your life takes wisdom. Pushing yourself to do it takes courage” - Mel Robbins

The distance between being in your head and being in your heart often seems a lot wider than it actually is. We spend a lot of time thinking, ruminating, and reframing…and a whole lot less in action. 

Perhaps we’re seeking motivation, partnership, or someone to quite literally tell us what to do. In the end, it’s us! We need to do the thing. Take the steps, leap, move toward action even amidst the doubt. 

We must channel our inner strength like Viola Davis’s depiction of Aibileen Clark (The Help) and whisper to ourselves “you is smart, you is kind, you is important,” and then get to work. 

As with waking up with your alarm clock, setting time to work out, or making sure to incorporate taking your lunch time for actual lunch, cultivating inspiration is the same. To reinvigorate it, we must create the habit with all the habit building techniques we know. 

This takes time; there will be cha-cha steps along the way, we might not feel successful all the time, we’ll falter, and we might be met with outside onlookers who think, well, whatever they may think. 

It’s our steps that matter, our challenge to ourselves to strengthen through inspiration, awe, and wonder. In each step, we reignite that inner child who sees the world through possibilities, is willing to spend the time, galvanizes a team of inspirational warriors, and reaps the joy along the journey. 

Through the Eyes of an Educator: Inspiration is Everywhere

It’s time. We’re worth it, and so is our next generation. Share your story with us; it’s sure to be inspiring. 



Please click the photo below for a collection of my Through the Eyes of an Educator columns:

Through the Eyes of an Educator: A Compendium


Stacey Ebert, our Educational Travels Editor, is a traveler at heart who met her Australian-born husband while on a trip in New Zealand. Stacey was an extracurricular advisor and taught history in a Long Island public high school for over fifteen years, enjoying both the formal and informal educational practices. After a one year 'round the world honeymoon, travel and its many gifts changed her perspective. She has since left the educational world to focus on writing and travel. She is energetic and enthusiastic about long term travel, finding what makes you happy and making the leap. In her spare time she is an event planner, yogi, dark chocolate lover, and spends as much time as possible with her toes in the sand.

Check out her website at for more of her travel musings.