What inspires you?

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As an aspiring writer who also works full time, it's not always easy for me to find inspiration in a mundane weekday routine. More often that not, I find myself on the couch in front of the television, with my dog cuddled up on my side and a laptop perched on a little coffee table. I often have something playing in the background- I work best with background noise helping to occupy the part of my mind that strays. But the weekends are what I live for, and not because I'm tired of my job! It's because I have more freedom on my days off to roam and find inspiration where it strikes me.

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That's not to say that I don't follow a certain routine on the weekends, either. I like to start each day off with a quick visit to the gym- no more than an hour, if that. I head to Tous les Jours, a Parisian-Korean bakery that recently opened in my neighborhood. Customers typically go in and out of this store with bags full of pastries in hand, but there is a small seating area that's perfect for decompressing. I'll usually order a drink and sip on it while ruminating over my ideas in paper and pen. The music is enchanting and soft, the lighting is just right, and it's never too crowded or busy before noon. With the aroma of freshly baked breads in the air, and all the different kinds of people in my neighborhood who walk in and out of the niche bakery, my imagination is sparked. I love just sitting at a table and watching the street outside, occasionally jotting down notes about a characteristic or behavior that I find oddly intriguing. Like the girl who is wearing an enormous backpack and her knees are visibly leaning forward as she walks to accommodate the strain on her back, yet her face is stoic and doesn't show any discomfort. Or the elderly Chinese woman, with lines etched into her face, who reaches into a garbage can without any hesitation in search of plastic treasure. These are the pictures of my city, and they inspire me.

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There's a park about ten minutes away that, when I was younger, called "Cropsey Park," for the avenue it was on. I only recently found out that it's actually named "Bensonhurst Park," after the entire neighborhood. After I've finished my drink at Tous les Jours, I go home and I walk my dog, who's been patiently waiting for this all day. She knows weekends are for outings, even though I'm pretty sure that dogs can't tell time. We round the park once, twice, maybe three times. By then, she's usually exhausted from 1) pulling on her leash because she's a horrible walker and excitable dog 2) lack of food because she refuses to eat unless I eat with her, and I'd been out all morning already. We'll find an unoccupied bench in the sunlight and I'll give her a few treats I had the foresight to tuck into my pocket. Mornings at the park are always interesting, and not only because we get to meet other dogs in the neighborhood. I observe the way the large oak and gingko trees that shade the park are shedding their leaves, carefully noting how a gingko leaf near me spirals chaotically downwards. A child furiously pedaling a tricycle speeds down a hill and his mother rushes worriedly after him, even though he's pealing with laughter. An elderly couple with silvery hair power walk around the park, their New Balance sneakers hitting the ground at a synchronized pace. They don't speak or look at each other, but they move in partnership. I'll snap a few photos of the scenery, perhaps, or take a leaf home with me- if I can stop my dog from eating it out of my hands. Just being fully immersed in my surroundings is enough to invigorate me. I've always been told, "Write what you know." My community and the energy and spirit it possesses, is what I know.

Does your community inspire you? Tell me more in the comments below!