Realize your Dreams

I recently watched a Simpsons episode where Lisa Simpson found some high school photos and yearbooks of Marge (her mom)  and became embarrassed of what her mother had become, how far she had strayed from her dreams.  Lisa then thought she should forget her hobbies, her strengths to work hard and NOT end up like Marge.

While I realize it is our jobs as parents to be an embarrassment to our pre-teen and teenage children,   I have been thinking lately about when we are supposed to give up on our dreams, the ones we had in college-after college-developed as young adults.  Do some morph into other hopes, others remain latent, under the surface?

We all have dreams–to develop some special gift, to improve the world larger than our home, to work harder-faster-stronger, to travel someplace exotic or unknown, to learn a language, to get on stage, to teach someone to read, to graduate college.  Community colleges are full of credit and non-credit classes to broaden our worlds, if we have the time, the drive, the money.

As adults we work hard in our jobs, organize our families, help our children define their hopes and learn to succeed in the world, volunteer at the church-the shelter-the food pantry-wherever, help our aging parents, help our friends’ whose families are ill and parents are also aging, deal with our own health issues, fluctuating job security.

Yes, our dreams might get pushed aside as we navigate through the everyday of life, but we should remember  our most important ones, or realize new goals as we grown into ourselves.  We must carve time for even our small dreams to succeed, or we will run through life without focus, trying to simply get through the day.

I am envious of my friend Brenda, who took her long time writing talents and pain within to write a soon-to-be published book.  I barely make time for this blog, though the writing frees my spirit when a post is done.  Can I do more?  Can I write a book someday? Do I even want to?

Can I expand my long-loved photography hobby into more of a business?  I see multitudes with their DSLR’s with long lenses, and then realize that the expensive camera does NOT automatically translate into a decent picture.  Not by a longshot.

For many years I was the “green girl”, but I have not expanded my efforts outside my household in some time, other than offering donations to organizations.  Is it too late to work with others, to help them become more green in our extremely wasteful world?

What about you?  Can you learn to paint?  find somewhere to work with children? fix your car engine? teach beyond coaching your child?  play the guitar? learn yoga? run a marathon? do a mission trip?

How long will we wait to explore our inner desires?  Until our children are grown? until we retire?  What does that teach our families?  Only that we are unimportant, martyrs, and we become smaller, our world shrinking, less interesting to those outside of our tiny circles. We must move beyond the fear of failure to try to succeed in something new.  Comfort begets complacency.

Maybe it should be my early resolution, to kindle the fire of one dream and fan its flames.  What will you do?  and what are your dreams?  Let me know! C

The Comfort Zone

The reality shows we watch or scan at home often have to do with people trying to be at the top of their game: Project Runway, Top Chef, America’s Next top Model (is there any pre-teen who does not watch that today?), Biggest Loser. And there are others we do not watch–American Idol, Shear Genius, Dancing with the Stars, and a whole list of those I cannot recall.

They laugh, they fight, they cry–some a lot, they dream, they win, they tantrum, they inspire, they bore, they strive for the center of the screen.  And I often watch them, thinking–if I could focus on one thing, what would it be?  and what a dream for a multi-tasking, business owning mama–to have a single goal, one thought, one project.  I cannot even imagine. How far could I push to success?  how to fare against the competition?  The dreamer in me wonders.  Am I too old to go against what I already do daily? to step outside my comfort zone? to fight the current? to start again?

Would I ever be given the chance?  To learn, to think, to wonder, to win? C

Julie & Julia & Friends & Dreams

Short notice, but five neighborhood friends went to see Julie & Julia this week. I loved the way the story was told, with two tales simultaneously developing, intertwined and funny and downtrodden and quirky.  We sputtered and laughed and hoped for success for both protagonists, as they followed their food-filled (and too meat-filled for me, sorry Patty who sat next to me) dreams.  The costumes and sets were perfection, and the film made me want to return to Paris NOW.

Meryl Streep was, as always, incredible with the lilting accents and mannerisms and movements that I remember from when my mother used to watch Julia Child on TV, when I was a child.  Debonaire Stanley Tucci was her husband, so in love and involved as she wrote and cooked and wrote and cooked and…  Amy Smart was funny and neurotic, a bit over the top at time, but sweet.

As much as I loved watching the story develop,  it made me sad.  The dreams  I once had, fading as life  moves forward and I am caught in the wave of time and children and mortgages and jobs and mopping the floors and and volunteer work and keeping on top of  the family schedule with military-like precision, until rain changes three practices, and aging families and friends in need.

How many people are staring at their screens after watching that film, trying to write their first blog searching for quick fame, with blank thoughts, no stories to tell?  And don’t realize how challenging it can be to write day after day?   How many other brilliant writers are out there penning away, unnoticed?  What makes a blog catch fire?  Sometimes it’s the real, sometimes it’s the fraud–like the woman who claimed to be pregnant, got all kinds of sponsors and uh-oh she wasn’t pregnant.  What? someone lied on the internet?

We would all love to come home to 65 phone messages like Julie, with offers and names and deals and opportunities to do work we dream about.  A smidgeon of extremely lucky people do what they love each day, not the masses.  We might live through them, while following our own paths.  Even as we grasp at our dream remnants we can only hope for the support system of spouse and friends from the film, cheering each zig-zag step forward.

In my mind, a successful film is one that makes me forget I am sitting in the dark–transporting me to become an invisible participant–gives me reason to feel true emotion while watching, to talk about it afterwards, and to make me think about the major and/or minor issues in it long after the screen is dark.  In all of these goals, Julie & Julia succeeded.   C

Galloping Towards Your Dreams

I recently finished two very different books about setting goals and searching for your dreams.  The first was The Alchemist by Brazillian author Paulo Coelho, which has sold over 20 million copies.  This book is a fable about searching for your Personal Legend (always capitalized), and how we can get lost and then found along the way. And when we think we’re lost, it may simply be part of the journey.

I appreciated the simple writing style to tell this tale of Santiago, a shepherd who meets a king, a witch, a shop owner, an Englishman, and the alchemist on his expedition to discover his Personal Legend (PL) and love.  I agreed with some tenets of the book including:

  • Encouraging our children to follow their dreams
  • As adults, can we rediscover our passions? (more on this another day)
  • We should trust the “omens”–and our instincts, they are interrelated, in front of us 
  • The risks we take while searching for our PL will help us to grow
  • There are reasons why some people purposely choose NOT to follow their true dreams

One clear mesage in the book is that “There is a language in the world that everyone understood…It was the language of enthusiasm, of things accomplished with love and purpose, and as part of a search for something believed in and desired.”

While I agree with his message we should try to  search out our dreams and passions, I found this book very preachy and repetitive.  There are nuggets of wisdom sprinkled in the book, but there is no subtlety about the importance of searching for the PL; it’s very much in-your-face, the words Personal Legend repeated throughout the story.  Yes, I know that the story is about this search, but don’t take the reader for someone who can’t remember it without writing out Personal Legend, Personal Legend, Personal Legend again and again.

I then read Shy Boy by Monty Roberts, who is a true horse whisperer, horse gentler, and now inspirational speaker .  At over 60 years old, Roberts man wants to follow his dream of catching on film how he “joins up” (his word) or gently breaks a wild mustang.  For centruries, horses have been cruelly broken, and he wants to demonstrate that this inhumanity isn’t needed, in his life goal to “leave the world a better place, for horses and people.”

The story is fascinating, as he talks about the joining up of Shy Boy in conjunction with other horses he has gentled and people who have inspired him, as he impacted thier lives during his speaking engagements and reading his autobiography, The Man Who Listens to Horses.

As he sets out to meet up with Shy Boy, he says “Still,  I felt relaxed and as ready as I would ever be.  If I failed to accomplish my dream, I thought to myself, it would not be because I hadn’t a chance at it.” Very similar message to The Alchemist.

The two books have many similarities–a hero  who has overcome a hard childhood, both are in continual search of their dreams, horses play a big part in their journeys, and they absorb all the beauty–and cruelty–that surrounds them. But I found Shy Boy more inspirational, perhaps because it  was true, I  enjoyed the wirting style more, and I didn’t feel the message was rammed down my throat.

And the photography that chronicles the story is amazing.  The photos are a similar style to what I like to shoot, and they are brilliant.  The photographer Christopher Dydyk only had one chance to capture the moments, and he did it throughout the book. Some of his work, including pictures of Shy Boy, can be found on his website.

It was fascinating to happen to read two books about following dreams back-to-back.  While written very differently, there were definitely similar themes throughout the books.  Perhaps reading these two books were “omens” that I should get on the path to search out my true Personal Legend.  Maybe this blog is the start of it. Only time will tell. C