Every so often you discover something that really knocks your socks off. Recently the Mountain Farmgirl got inspired by a movie she watched, and it made her wonder: what inspires you? What sends shivers down your spine and makes you want to tell the world? Come and share your sources of inspiration in … Inspired!
Inspiration. A little bit goes a long way. I think it was Thomas Edison who said that ‘genius’ was ‘99% perspiration and 1% inspiration’.   But Watch Out! …that 1% can move mountains!
Many things in life speak to my soul: a special poem; a sunrise or a flower, a beautiful painting or a moving piece of music. But it’s ‘people’ that most often inspire me. People with gumption. I guess that’s why I’ve always loved to read biographies. Especially the ones about folks who have had obstacles to overcome (who hasn’t?!) … but who have made it – and often made it big -- despite the hardships and setbacks. I’m inspired by people who don’t accept excuses; who won’t take “no” for an answer. In fact, the more these people are told that they can’t do something, the more determined they become, and often the bigger their success.
We’ve all got problems; some are bigger than others. A friend of mine calls it ‘earth school’ … and the daily ‘curriculum’ is whatever we get handed, whatever comes at us in this life. It’s interesting to realize that it’s not problems that generally get us down; it’s how we choose to respond to them. My friend, Susan from Weaving a Life, looks at life – all of it, the good and the bad-- with the attitude of, “Thank you! Now I wonder what can I do with this?” Then she gets to work.  What a great way to look at the world. All of it is a gift in her eyes, and she will learn from and be transformed by all of it.        
Now if you think you may be having a really bad day, just think of Helen Keller, for example, who went through life blind and deaf, but who despite her disabilities became an author, lecturer, college graduate, and among other things, wrote an essay called “Optimism”! Can you imagine anyone with less of a reason to be optimistic? And yet she sincerely embraced life with a super-charged positivity that changed other people’s lives as well as her own. That’s inspirational.
After reading a biography way back in high school, another of my heroes has always been George Washington Carver. Talk about obstacles!! Born into slavery, kidnapped at a week old, separated from his mother from that day on, and persecuted mercilessly for the color of his skin, Carver witnessed horrors in his life that would make your blood run cold. Yet he pursued his dream of getting an education, supported himself by taking in laundry until at times his fingers were raw, and became a famous scientist, botanist, educator and inventor. And he was kind and generous; a real gentleman. When I get to heaven someday, he’s one of MANY such people I want to personally meet!
When you think about it, our country was founded by people like these. Sure there were scoundrels … and there always will be. But there were also people like Abraham Lincoln … dirt poor and not formally educated, he became one of the greatest heroes of all time and saved a struggling nation. Edison, home schooled by his mother because he was ridiculed for his ‘lack of intelligence’, partially deaf from an abusive employer who boxed his ears while he worked on a train as a child to raise money for books and science experiments… Edison ended up bringing light to the world both figuratively and literally. These are the sorts of people I respect and admire. I’m inspired by them, I try to emulate their fortitude, their character and their values; I’m blessed by their faith and hard work, and their ability to keep focused on their dreams. 
These days I think it’s all the more critical to read and immerse ourselves in examples of such inspirational people, mainly because their numbers are dwindling rapidly. There are whole generations of people who are unaware of the people and events that made our country great, and also the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ behind what made it so. There are millions of young people who don’t have role models or the tools to understand how you overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. They look to others to take care of them and accept handouts rather than coming up with creative, out of the box, no-excuse solutions to their problems. How sad. Inspirational people were once almost everywhere; now they are an endangered species. 
Fortunately, remarkable people still do live and breathe in our midst; we don’t have to seek them out only in our history books (at least yet). Some have become famous; some are unsung, everyday heroes of the garden variety, who are every bit as inspirational, just unknown by most. I recently became aware of one who was the inspiration for this article; a man who ‘knocked my socks off’, as I mentioned above. Here’s how I became aware of him:
A recent membership to Netflix had me browsing one evening for an inspirational film. Up came a list of suggestions it thought I’d like based on my ratings of a few previous films I’d watched. And boy, did it have my number!! It had me pegged after less than a week!  I don’t know if I should be flattered for the fine films it suggested, or insulted for being so transparent! Anyway, one such interesting movie pick was called ‘Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story ‘. I’m sad to say that he was an unknown to me before that night, but two things about the film summary caught my eye: 1) He is the head pediatric surgeon at Johns Hopkins, where my son Noah is going to school; and 2) He is the top neurosurgeon in the world, a field my daughter-in-law is pursuing in her upcoming doctoral program. Naturally, this movie seemed like it would be a good fit for me to check out. Little did I know what an inspiration this man would be to me, and that the respect and admiration I felt for him and for what he has given to the world so far would literally have me weeping at the end.
In case you don’t know, Ben Carson was the first doctor in the world to successfully separate conjoined twins without losing either of them; and the original pair is still alive 25 years later. He is world renowned, a brilliant teacher, prolific author and a motivational speaker. You might think that someone so successful might have had a privileged life to get him where he is today, and if so, you’d be very, very wrong! Ben is a black man about my age, who grew up amidst a world of racial prejudice in a single parent household. Divorce may be common place today but it was quite a stigma back in the 1960’s. His mother was one of 24 children. She married at the age of 13, had 2 little boys, but little did she know that her husband was already married to another woman and had a previous family of his own! When she found out, she ‘divorced’ him and raised the boys on her own, working 3 jobs as a housekeeper to support them. Having seen too many people in her young life on welfare, she knew that once you started receiving it, you seldom – if ever- got off it. Fiercely independent, proud and frugal, she not only earned money for food and clothing for her family, but saved enough money to buy out her ‘husband’s’ share of the house they owned. No small feat for a house maid. Oh … and did I tell you she didn’t know how to read until she was an adult? She never let on to her boys … she always made excuses about needing glasses, but she recognized the value of education and wanted her boys to learn as much as they could. If you ask me, the real hero and inspiration of this story is Mrs.Carson. She is one remarkable lady with a true grit, Farmgirl spirit!
Like Edison, Einstein and countless others before him, Ben Carson was considered stupid in school, and ridiculed mercilessly. He got straight F’s in all his courses, until someone noticed that he needed glasses … and that’s when his world literally came into focus. Ben was smart! Once he could see, his grades started improving and he went to the head of his class. But he was far from living happily ever after. There were to be many obstacles in his path to overcome. I don’t want to give the whole story away, as the film, in which Carson is brilliantly portrayed by Cuba Gooding, is so worth watching! It is a beautiful, inspirational story, and all the better because it is true.
After watching this film twice in two consecutive nights (I just had to share it with my husband and son Joshua), I wanted more! Noah told me that he was the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast and had given a rousingly inspirational speech. You can watch it here:

I am not a hero-worshipper, but my personal list of people I admire, respect and who inspire me is a LONG one. I think that one of the most important things we can do is to share stories of people, places and events that mirror a greatness of spirit and character; in short, stories of lives that inspire. This might be the janitor who lives next door, or an unknown retired man who directed traffic at a very busy school drop off point where my nephew went to school in the state of Florida. He was the most sincerely pleasant, lovely man I have ever met.  I only met him once or twice, but having met him, I know that he lifted everyone’s spirits with whom he came in contact. It was quite a while ago, and I have no way of knowing what his name was or if he is even alive, but I have thought of him and his kindness many times since. To me he was a real everyday hero and a very inspirational person. He left his calling card on my heart.
Which leads me to my big Farmgirl Question of the Day: Who or what inspires YOU … and why? Find an inspiration … better yet, BE an inspiration, and when you find it, be sure to pass it on! Please start here by leaving a comment and sharing with us in the comments below. We live in a wonderful world, and despite its problems, there are amazing people we can look up to and learn from. Who are they for YOU?

Until next time.
Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from
Cathi, The Mountain Farmgirl


By: Becky
On: 03/18/2013 17:37:03
I too was extremely amazed and inspired by this movie. He is an incredible example of a person who went up against a multitude of odds, and definitely beat them all to pieces! There is another person whose movie about her life really inspired me as well. That is Temple Grandin. The movie bears her name, and is the story of this incredible woman who, despite her autism, changed animal husbandry, and the way cattle are slaughtered forever. She brought more humane treatment and an uncanny understanding to the field. ... and for that matter, another favorite of mine is "A Beautiful Mind". It is the true story of the brilliant mathematician, John Nash, who changed economic theory forever. Diagnosed as having Multiple Personality Disorder, he again beat all odds and made great changes to benefit mankind.
There are many more people who have inspired me, such as my grandmother, who certainly had a lasting effect on my life and was a wonderful example to follow. The world is made a better place by those who are willing to give all to realize their goals, lofty as they may be. Another thing that amazes me is with what we now know about Manic Depressive Disorder, or its more common name, Bipolar Disorder, is the number of geniuses in history who are thought to have been affected. There are many of those in many different fields who have made great differences for the betterment of humanity, such as Emily Dickenson, Ernest Hemingway, Handel, Tchaikovshy, van Gogh, and O'keefe.
By: bonnie elllis
On: 03/18/2013 19:18:27
Cathi:I am 70 and have been inspired by many amazing people. First of all my grandma Emma and all the women who have raised children, cooked, cleaned, farmed, sewed, quilted, knitted and passed on what they knew and how to do it to us all. Mary Jane is younger than I but she is a fantastic inspiration to everyone. She took the valuable things in life such as morals, values, helping people, hard work and fun and is inspiring us to be the best we can be at all times. Today I would like to give her the thanks she deserves. You go girl!
By: Katie Pence
On: 03/19/2013 09:52:35
When I was nineteen I met a Tibetan lama, he pointed to something so profound in me that I've spent the last thirty three years trying to learn about it. It points to working within Time, Space and Knowlege in a very mindful way, allowing opportunities to present themselves and responding to them. The human potential is so much greater than we typically think. Showing these documentaries, meeting these exceptional examples, sets a standard that we can try to aim for. It's like the minute mile, once the time was broken it was possible ! Man on the moon, etc. I think in our media oriented world, too many poor examples exist, not great examples to stretch our human potential. Inspiration and opportunities is what we all need to focus on.
Thank you for your thoughtful well written blog posts, I always enjoy them.
By: Tina Hart
On: 03/19/2013 12:29:16
I am inspired by the book Eat Pray Love. Her story gave me the strength to change my life and take control of it; instead of living in an endless cycle of bad childhood memories and always trying to please someone else. It almost destroyed my marriage and me. I am still growing and healing every day. Crafting and cooking is my joy and my love. I find myself mostly in moments of quiet. When things are crazy- I still loose myself at those times. Women tend to get caught in a cycle of pleasing everyone else and neglecting themselves. I am one of them, but strive to be no more a part of that club
By: Shery
On: 03/20/2013 18:05:29
Dr. Ben is a true hero in so many ways. He's a savvy and outspoken Conservative too - a real inspiration and the kind of human being this world needs a lot more of.
By: Brenda Nuland
On: 04/01/2013 15:02:35
I first heard about Dr. Ben about ten years ago (more or less a year) and he has been one of the most inspirational people in my life.

I was shocked after he made the speech in Washington that more people didn't know who he was. Perhaps it was because I was homeschooling my younger child at the time that he was on my radar.

My most inspirational person, through her books, was Edith Schaeffer. She passed away on Saturday and I felt like a member of my family died (she was almost a hundred years old and in ill health so her "home going" was a blessing, I'm sure).

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir