A field guide to living an intentional, creative and fun life — with children.

Tag Archives: following dreams

“Living involves tearing up one rough draft after another.” Unknown

As I’ve sifted through the journals of the last several years of my life — both the years I fought infertility and the years since I became a mother of twin girls — I’ve learned some startling things about myself. I’ve had to throw out a few rough drafts of who I thought I was at the time. They were good. I liked them. They worked at the time. Some may even work again some day. Who knows?

But, they no longer work. Projects I thought were great then are no longer.

I’ve known for a while that I have seasons of creativity — seasons when I produce more, seasons when I produce less, seasons when I dream more, seasons when I dream less. All of these seasons, no matter the outcome, led me to the same themes, themes I have often ignored.

I have always put practical before the dreams, which is why so many drafts have been tossed out. They never felt right. They never felt authentic. They never ignited a true spark that I could stick with and sustain.

I struggle very much with sustainability. I get fired up about an idea and then, later, it fizzles or I fizzle or we all fizzle and then I’m left wondering how I got into this mess and, more importantly, how the hell can I get out now that I have no fire burning inside of me for it.

But going through these journals has elevated the fact that I am on the right path, finally. The same amazing themes have popped up over and over and over in my writings.

I’m OK now that I’ve had a few — OK, several — rough drafts of myself over the years. In fact, there has been too many to count. It will be easy for me to lead my daughters down a path of authenticity — to live a life that they measure for themselves — knowing that we never know what we’re going to be in life. Enjoy the ride. Go with the flow. Let your passions lead you, let your heart lead you and then let your brain bring you back, reel you back in and help you find that balance of what is right, what works, what doesn’t and where you should go next.

The doors open all the time. Some of us know how to notice that, others do not. Not every door is the right door but they all certainly lead us on the right journey — our journey.

I’d like to think that now, just a couple years shy of turning 40, now as an experienced mother, now as a true creative soul who has embraced Living as Art that I may not need to throw out any more drafts. I’d like to keep this draft. I may tweak it a bit. I may change a few things around. I may even toss out a few big paragraphs that I thought were really good. But I like myself more now than ever.

For the first time, I respect myself and who I’ve become. It’s pretty radical, really, to be here in this place of such self-love.

And, I’m OK with throwing it all out to the wind if I must. I”ll just be really surprised because I’m awesomely awake now and I just get myself. I hold no more apologies of who I am. I not only know my values but I trust them as my guiding force.

The draft was always mine to keep and tweak. The story was always mine to plot.

The ending is mine as well.


 “Imagination is the divine body in every being.” William Blake

The following are some of the questions I’ve asked myself over the past few years. For some, there are answers. For others, I’m still seeking. Seeking and seeking.

What scares you?

How can you outsmart your fears?

What makes me different?

How do you wish to bloom?

What turns you off?

What turns you on?

What energizes you?

What inspires you?

What makes you smile?

Who do you admire?

Who in your life is living their dreams?

What is begging to take action.

What would you do right this minute if you knew you couldn’t fail?

What is a village to you?

How can I change this situation?

How can I accept this situation?

How can I Own my creative soul?

What is my purpose?

What am I good at?

What do I love to do?

How am I beautiful?

What do I have to say in this world?

These questions have helped me understand my true self, my authentic self. I have written pages and pages — hundreds, really — of pages trying to understand myself, to tap into that nagging presence inside me.

In a startling inspiring moment, I started sifting through all of those pages. I’ve kept them all. I’m in the process of unearthing them and putting them into one spiral bound binder — the start of something Big. Perhaps it will become my business plan. Perhaps it will become a Source for writing. Perhaps it will unveil something I do not yet know could even imagine right now, at this very moment in time.

The end result, though a mystery, is already proving a good exercise in authenticity. I see common threads of things written five, four, three, two years ago. It’s all been there, all in my mind. It’s my job to wake to what has been calling my Name — my real name — and let it be so.

 What questions help you dig deep and uncover your truest self? What are you asking yourself over and over to unearth the goodness inside of your soul?


Courtesy of The Magazine of Yoga

Not only do I have a ton of ideas — I care too much. I attach too much. I obsess too much. In this respect, I am always awesomely awake, aware, in tune with the  big wide world (just not so much with myself and my world.)

I remember sitting in high school literature class, supposed to write an essay, and all I cared about was ending world hunger.

Naturally, when I became a journalist, I cared about poverty and every other issue that popped up day after day. I loved and cherished and wanted to solve all of them. I wrote about them and shed light on them, giving voice to the voiceless. But, at night, I obsessed about solving the problems of others.

I have always been a big thinker and problem solver. I am an idea machine — often for the problems in my own community and the rest of the country. When I can, I share them — and that happens often in the job I have.

But mostly I just obsess over them, mull over them, let them churn in my mind while doing everyday chores and routines.

As I wrote before, I just wish that I could stop generating ideas long enough to actually send one of my big ideas into the world.  Instead, I keep getting caught up in new issues, staying attached only long enough to do little good.

Probably the most life-changing book for me has been “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach. Nearly every chapter — organized by months — leaves me feeling at peace, with a newfound hope and a love for what is next to come in my life and for what already is in my life.

This past weekend, while reading October entries, I read her take on burnout.

She writes, “Often we think that burnout is something that just happens to other women — to workaholics and perfectionists. But careaholics are also at risk — women who care deeply about their children, work, relationships, parents, siblings, friends, communities, issues.”

A-ha!

Wow. A careaholic. Someone who cares too much for, among many things –community and issues.

I’d never heard of the term before but the second I read it, it resonated with me wholeheartedly. That’s me! That defines everything about me.

Of course, I’d already recognized this about myself. I knew it and had already started taking charge of that part of my brain that gets too absorbed — too attached — to issues plaguing our country and world.

There is good and bad with anything, but particularly about caring too deeply for many, many issues that are important to us. The good is that we’re dreamers, that we have creative ideas and we’re willing to step up and speak up.

The bad is that we get so wrapped up in the details, in the dramas of it, that we don’t do too much to help. We spin the problem a million ways but we don’t ever get around to actually solving the problem.

So how does a careaholic stop being a non-productive concerned citizen? That’s the million dollar question that I’ve been trying to answer lately. It’s not enough to just stop caring. That wouldn’t help the world at all. And, we careaholics want nothing more than to help the world! Oh yes it’s true!

Here’s what I’m DOING ABOUT IT:

Meditation. It helps not only to detach but also to see the bigger picture and what matters seems to always fall to the forefront. Done often enough, what’s most important just becomes what we need to focus on for the day or the hour.

Essays. It occured to me recently that if I am so passionate about these issues, I must write about them. Writing helps me process and it’s the one gift that I have to offer, to keep giving a voice to the voiceless.

Pick just one a year. I’m choosing one topic to tackle for 2012 and stay awake to it. I will have my word of the year, my theme of the year and my pet project of the year.  All year that is my one issue and while I may long to get my arms wrapped around another pet project, I will not. I. will. not!

Short term goals. This one kind of goes with the previous in that I plan to focus on achievable goals rather than bigger ones. In other words, I will donate my time at a food kitchenfor a day  rather trying to create a non-profit that will end hunger once and for all. : )

Morning pages: As always, morning pages provide me with the mind dump that is necessary in order to move on and do good things in life. If something is bothering me — an issue or problem — I write it all out and then just forget it (unless it’s important). I often solve many problems in those morning pages. Oh, and I just love 750words.

How about you? Are you a careaholic? If so, what do you care about and how do you plan to put your deep concerns into action in 2012?


Store Window Reflection by Joseph Szymanski

I used to think happiness was doing the One Single Thing in this world that we’re called to do. I used to think that if that wasn’t possible, then happiness would just remain elusive.

This or that. Black or White. Either, Or.

Then, after I became a mother, I started to question and wonder about all of my dreams and callings. Suddenly, paralyzed with what I no longer had time for in life such as writing, my dreams got bigger and bigger. I soon realized that life isn’t about just one dream, or one calling. There’s enough space in life for all of it, including our swollen dreams.

I truly appreciate Daniel’s post about What Makes You Come Alive over at Metta Drum on this topic because I’ve been preaching that to my writing students for a while now. We can be writers AND something else entirely. In fact, as someone who’s been a writer to earn money and someone who’s just been a writer, I feel confident in saying that the latter is actually better for the love of the craft unless earning money is no issue for you. It’s OK to be more than one thing in life.

For me, it’s about Balance.

There’s no greater way to stop being a creative writer than writing to earn a living. Deadlines loom. We get tired of staring at the computer screen all day. We grow tired of thinking of the right words to use all day. So, at night, we resort to anything, everything that isn’t writing. Pretty sad way of life if all you ever wanted to be was a writer, as I have.

And yet, the funny thing is that as writers or creative types, we often need to interact with the outside world to refresh our ideas or to gather up new ideas. For some of us, the outside world is our muse.

I’m tired of falling prey to the evil This or That Syndrome. I’m tired of feeling like I have to be a mother all day and not a woman with dreams. I’m tired of being a fulltime worker all day and having to put away my mother hat even though my kids consume my every thought. I’m tired of having to choose one or the other, this or that.

I’m a working Mama by day and a writer the rest of the time. That’s who I am. All of it.

For the longest time, I tried to separate my many selves because of this societal pressure to be only one thing.

Through lots of reading and practice, I’m learning that the best place, the happiest place, is when all of our many selves collide into the one Authentic person we truly are in life. It’s a little bit of that humanist, freethinker, writer, mother and thought leader in me that led to this blog. I’m a writer but I”m so much more than that as well. I have dreams and ideas. I’m a mother but I”m much more than that, too.

So if you find yourself compartmentalizing your many, many selves take comfort: Open yourself up and find a way for them to all burst onto the scene. Be One with them All. That’s the only way to reach your authentic voice.

With proper balance and centering, we can wake up and find space for all of our dreams. At least, that is, if we want to be Real.


Years ago, when I was newly engaged and a different person than I am now, during a spiritual workshop, students were asked to give one word to describe ourselves. I always sweat under those circumstances. The pressure reduces me to a pile of blubbering mess because, as a writer, I feel I must present just The Perfect Word. While I sweated, the others eloquently mouthed lovely words after lovely words.

I don’t even remember what my chosen word was that evening. But I remember a lovely lady across the room with a couple decades on me.

“Awake. I want to stay awake,” she said.

{Me, too, I thought.}

***

Two or three years later, I was a new mother of twins. A brand new mother — of twins. I was overwhelmed, over-tired, scared out of my mind. I remember spending most of the first four months in my bedroom with the babies, crying. Not because I was sad but because I was totally lonely and exhausted.

One day, my husband — an editor — brought home a book that someone told him to give to me. I hardly remember the circumstances. I only remember the book was given to me and to this day it was the best gift of my life, at least as a mother.

The book, “Momma Zen,” by Karen Maezen Miller changed my perspective 100 percent. Her book didn’t make my days easier. I was still tired, overwhelmed and very lonely but it did change how I viewed that situation. I was alone but that didn’t mean I had feel alone.

{Serendipity.}

***

Now. Yeah, now. Everything’s easier and yet nothing’s easier. I still strive to stay awake. I still strive to keep my thoughts under control. I still strive to walk the middle path of balance between motherhood, womanhood and working motherhood. I meditate. I read. I chant on occassion. I walk the path of peace — except when I don’t.

{I am awake. Or, at least trying to be.}

***

This blog, this site is a reflection of all of these people I’ve been and all that I want to be: Peaceful. Balanced. Loving. Generous. And full of grace.

{Thank you for reading.}



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