Meacham and family
Listen to this article


To be honest, that’s often how I feel.

I stay at home with my three boys every day, and most of them are not extraordinary in the sense that they’re typically very routine. I try to plan our weeks out in advance, but the majority of the space is taken up by necessary and normal things.

I am not brimming over with new ideas for crafts, playdates or field trips. I’m usually not super excited to come up with new ways to teach my sons lessons on numbers, letters or basic learning skills. I don’t get geeked up about cleaning my house, and I frequently turn to my trusted and easy-to-cook dinners from week to week — the same ones.

When I sit down to write, I often stare at a blank cursor for several minutes before forcing my fingers to hit the keys. Even after that, I often don’t feel compelled to write what I begin writing.

The reality of my ordinary life is that inspiration does indeed strike, but just not all that often.

And for someone like me, when I’m not feeling it, it’s really hard to get myself to do it. Whatever it may be: writing, teaching, cleaning, cooking or creating.

I have found that life often consists of doing the inspired thing when we don’t feel inspired at all. In fact, often when we feel exactly uninspired.

For that reason, I fully appreciate the late British writer W. Somerset Maugham’s words: “I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”

Sometimes we need to just schedule our own inspiration and stick with it, regardless of how we feel.

For someone whose feelings fluctuate as much as mine, choosing to act in an inspired way even when I don’t feel inspired has been freeing. It has told me in a grown-up way what I say to my children almost daily: You don’t have to feel like it to do it.

I want to give them the gift of a head start on an idea I am still learning. That we don’t always — even often — feel like doing the right thing.

We often don’t feel inspired to eat well or move our bodies. We often don’t feel inspired to work on the projects that deserve our attention. We don’t always feel inspired to put a little extra effort into attending to our kids or even to our spouse.

The right choice is often the uninspired one.

And thankfully, we don’t have to be slaves to what we’re feeling. We don’t move only when the wind blows us, because we can pick up our feet and still go when it doesn’t.

I’m learning that a lot of life isn’t about conjuring up excitement, inspiration and generally good feelings to do the things we should. It’s about doing the things we should even when we have none of those.

Then, in those moments when inspiration does strike? Take it and run. Just don’t count on it to carry you through the long haul.

Too often, we confuse inspiring acts

with inspired feelings. People who live the most moving lives are often those who learned how to do the right thing when the right thing didn’t feel right.

Let’s not fear life’s lackluster days. Instead, let’s learn how to choose well in the midst of them. Well-chosen ordinary days make for extraordinary lives.

That’s something worth aspiring to.

Theresa Meacham’s column appears Wednesday in The News-Gazette. She can be reached at

Trending Videos