What inspires you to be who you are? Some of our earliest inspirations that determine everything from our careers to parenting and our hobbies come from childhood inspirations. Many of the celebrities we interview in our Celeb Spot cite their parents are their primary inspiration. Think of your own children and their dreams and aspirations. No matter how big or how small, we should nurture their talents and passions in whatever way we can.

Summer is the perfect time to take a moment to indulge a child's dreams: from specialized summer camps to a weekly activity centered around their interest. We talked to some of our closest friends (who inspire us daily) about how their parents helped them live out their childhood dreams.

The Chef
Cameron knew he wanted to be a chef since he was 10. "I watched and learned from the Food Network like some kids learn from Sesame Street," he tells us. "Neither one of my parents were cooks of any kind, but they were really good at ordering take out." After a particularly typical morning of "nagging mom out of boredom," Cameron's mom took him to the local pizza place and bought two pizza doughs and then they drove to the supermarket to pick out ingredients. "My mom let me get anything I wanted to put on the pizza," says Cameron. "Some of the stuff was risky (like Tabasco sauce and eggs)" but it was my choice." Through trial and error on those pizza doughs, Cameron learned everything from how thin to cut eggplant, so it will cook thoroughly, to … "'Smore's pizza! It's AMAZING!"

Cameron is now a baker at a top restaurant in New York City. His breads have been cited in nearly every review the restaurant has received. "It's awesome to get to do what I love," says Cameron. "But in my spare time, I still love to concoct new pizzas."

The Chef: Photo is a picture of Cameron’s awesome bread.

The Oceanographer
Tom always loved the ocean. "When I was really little, I thought I would be a competitive swimmer, since I was always in the water practicing my strokes. I was a fish; every summer, you'd have to drag me out of a pool, ocean or lake kicking and screaming," he admits. "But as I got older, I began to wonder how the ocean floor has all of these different depths and organisms growing at different levels. I became a bit obsessed with the idea." Lucky for Tom, he lived near one of the top earth research observatories in the United States. "My dad took me to their yearly summer open house and I was completely hooked. I got to meet the scientists and research teams and they gave you an overview of their studies. I still look back on those yearly visits as my first real exposure to my chosen career."

Tom was able to spend his last year of high school and most of his college summers interning at the local observatory. After college, he began his study of geological oceanography and has spent part of his career helping to map the ocean floor.

"I happened to live near the top observatory in the country, which was helpful, but not essential. There are observatories all over the world. And, if there isn't one near you, there is likely an aquarium or even a computer close enough to you that you can spend some time with your child Googling all about marine life," he tells us. "Your mind is your only limit."

The Oceanographer: Photo of Tom at the Arctic Circle.

The Actress
Emily's love of acting started very young. "I was seven years old and my mom took my sisters and I to se a local theater production of Annie and I was immediately hooked. I wanted to BE Annie." We were living in Oklahoma at the time, which has some great community theaters, but children's acting workshops were hard to come by," she says. "Luckily my mom and dad were behind me and spent some time calling around to see if there were any acting classes for children. They found one and enrolled me for a summer camp/acting program. The camp was an hour away, so my parents really were troopers! My mom loaded my sisters and I in the car every morning for the trip before she went off to work. I still don't know how she did it with three girls under the age of ten, but she did!"

After acting camp, Emily went on to act in her middle and high school plays and community theater productions. When it came time for college, however, there was a caveat. "I got into an AMAZING theater program, but my dad made me promise I would double-major before he and my mom would agree to pay for college. I had a rough schedule between all of my acting/singing/dancing classes and my other major in education, but it paid off." Emily works in a private school in New York City as the school's assistant theatrical director and spends her days auditioning. "I'm so glad my parents were just as passionate as I was about pursuing my career, but I'm also glad they had the foresight to encourage me to have a back-up plan," she admits. "The life of an actor isn't easy, there's a lot of rejection, but there are moments of fun. I recently booked a movie and spent a few days working in a scene with Meryl Streep! Of course, now I have some serious credibility with my students (and my parents!)." The Actress: Photo of Meryl Streep is from Emily's scene in the movie.
 

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UP (Rated PG)

From Disney/Pixar comes "Up," a comedy adventure about 78-year-old balloon salesman, Carl Fredricksen, who finally fulfills his lifelong dream of...

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