Never-Ending Wonder

There is something about endless skies and rolling fields that bring out the dreamer in me.

Perhaps it is the seeming unlimited nature of the view, the what-is-just-beyond wonder that this vista presents. It is vast, yet it is contained in our world, it is out of reach yet somehow attainable. It is our dreams spilling out before us.

Dreams for ourselves, our children, our country, our world. The belief more is possible.

Dreams are salvation for some, drive and determination for others. Dreams grab us and hold tight, tell us what we ought to do.

Never-ending wonder, unlimited possibility.


Photo Credit: © Andrushko Galyna — Bigstockphoto.com

 

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Mission Accomplished (so stop trying to get it done)

I have a recurring dream…one I hear many people share with me.

Or some variation of it. It’s the “education” dream, the one in which it’s finals weeks and you haven’t been to class all semester. (I think my first time through college, I may have actually lived that dream during my final term.)

Nervous Pop Art Young Woman Biting her Nails. Vector illustrationMy dream is a little different. In it, I have once again returned to college. I’m working toward a second bachelor’s degree (although in what is never clear). Yet try as I might, I continually fail most, if not all, of my classes. I cannot grasp the subject matter, cannot conquer the topic. Sometimes, I wait too long to drop the classes, and I know I’m going to get failing grades.

There is a sense of repeated defeat, a feeling I should just give in to the fact I’m not meant to have a college degree.

Except…I have one, a bachelor’s in journalism. At some point in my dream, I stop worrying about my current failures. I’ve already succeeded. Why am I even putting myself through this mayhem?

I’ve never bothered to determine what is going on in my life that triggers this dream, although the message is pretty clear. Don’t be afraid of the future. You’ve already proven yourself in the past, and you have the tools to do it again.

I like that I resolve this issue so easily while I’m sleeping. I think it’s experience talking.

I was talking to my cousin today. He’s more than 20 years younger than I am, which puts him in his mid-30s, old enough to have gained some perspective on life’s trials and tribulations himself.

He recently removed himself from a situation that was leading to trouble, and I’m proud of him. He has not only lived through some challenging times, he’s put those difficulties to good use in his life. He doesn’t want to relive what is best left in the past.

I’m sure when I was his age, I’d learned a few lessons myself, but when I look back on that era of my life, I typically see repeated failures. How will I view what I’m living through now in the years to come?

Fotolia_120458963_XSHardly the question to fret over, I know. What I should be asking myself is, what are you learning from the past, and how are you applying it to your life today?

There are lessons I should be learning, steps I should be taking to conquer my demons. It’s not always easy to break convenient habits.

But I’m not going to repeat another class if I don’t have to do so. There are better ways I can improve my life.

Onward…


Image Credits: © ivector — Fotolia

Tales of Wolves

About this time six years ago, I had a peculiar, eerie dream that shook me to the core. There was no clear message, no strange story to recount, but the imagery was so strong I looked it up in a book on the meaning of dreams.

mask-1674106_1920There were four elements to the dream, and I’m not clear on all of them anymore, but they included a wolf wearing a mask, dancing in darkness on the edge of a road that disappeared in the distance. Dancing isn’t quite the right word. Cavorting better describes what was going on, and it felt evil.

On the side of the road were some tiny white flowers, nearly glowing in the darkness.

I was frightened.

Wolves themselves don’t frighten me; while I may not wish to walk up to one and scratch him behind the ears (I have respect for their wild nature), I think they are beautiful, almost romantic creatures. My admiration of wolves began when I was very young, and my parents received an album they really didn’t want from the Columbia Record of the Month club . That club sent you a notice of the record of the month, and would send that album to you if you didn’t return the card saying you didn’t want it. We ended up with a few odd choices in the family record collection that way.

91bve0avh1l-_sx522_You could return the unwanted selection, but that was a hassle, especially when both parents work and the kids are always underfoot. This particular month’s record was “The Language and Music of the Wolves,” narrated by Robert Redford. It was 1967, and he was just hitting it big, but I’d never heard of him. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t get someone famous to narrate the tale of the wolves.

For us kids, the chief value of that album was the B side, which had recordings of the wolves howling. It was great for Halloween. It wasn’t until years, decades, really, later, that I realized that album had done its work. I appreciated wolves.

I say that to help make it clear in part why an evil wolf would be so disturbing to me. Aside from Little Red Riding Hood, that wasn’t part of how I pictured them. This masked invader into my subconscious seemed to be bringing me a message, something I don’t typically find in my dreams, but I couldn’t shake it.

According to the dream interpretation book, the meaning was clear. All four elements, each in its own way, pointed to the same thing. Someone I trusted was going to betray me.

I was shaken, but didn’t believe it. I talked to my co-workers about it, people I absolutely did trust and knew would not turn against me. (They didn’t.) We mulled over the possibilities of what my dream might specifically mean, and eventually, I laughed if off.

Two months later I wasn’t laughing.

A man who I not only believed in, but supported against the beliefs and words of others because he had always treated me properly, turned on me and accused me doing something I simply didn’t do. The proof of my innocence was strong, concrete, even, but in the end, it didn’t matter.

No, that isn’t completely true. It mattered to those who mattered to me, who knew me best, who believed in me regardless of what was said and where it was said. The police believed me and didn’t trust the information they were given by that man in the beginning; they recognized the inconsistencies in both his statements and my behavior.

But I paid a price. A very high price.

Spring Background. Spring Blooming Apple Tree With Rain Drops.There’s one part of the dream that didn’t mean betrayal, but rather, hope. The white flowers. I clung to that imagery in my darkest moments and never lost hope and faith in the future.

The future is continuing to roll out, and the hope and faith are finding their fulfillment.

The next wolf I see in my dreams is going to be beautiful.

Photo Credits: (Mask in Tree)and (flowers, header image) courtesy Pixabay; (Flowers) © Bigstock

Vivid

On the Balance, Fear is an Equal Weight

In July 1999, while in New York for my brother’s wedding, my aunt & I stopped to shop in the World Trade Center. She pushed for the $20 elevator ride to the top, but I balked.

“I’m scared of heights,” I admitted. “I mean, it’s not like I think I’m going to fall off the building if we go up there, but I’d be too terrified to enjoy it.”

“Once you’ve had brain surgery,” she replied, referring to a tumor she’d had removed a few years earlier, “nothing scares you.”

As I stared at the Twin Towers, I hoped she’d never endure nothing more frightening than that growth in her brain. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, as her health problems dwindled in comparison to events the following May. Her son, my cousin, went missing, and has never been found. He is presumed to have been murdered.

And of course, just two years later, those buildings we shopped under and gazed upon collapsed under the force and heat of two jet airplanes that had deliberately been flown at horrific speed straight into them.

I don’t live in fear of events like those on a daily basis, although clearly they can and do happen, but living without the awareness and respect for what life can bring you on any scale seems foolhardy.

Is fear holding you back is a legitimate question, but one that should be coupled with, is that fear a safety measure or a roadblock? If you aren’t pursuing your dreams because the risk greatly outweighs the reward, then consider the fear a gift. Not all dreams are golden opportunities waiting for you to have the courage to make them come true. Some are escapist fantasies with little basis in reality.

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Now what?

At different points in our life, when our responsibilities shift and change, we have a greater or lesser tolerance for risk. Some of us, quite frankly, aren’t good at “jumping off cliffs.” There needs to be some stability in our decisions or we fall apart before the outcome of our decision is determined.

Others thrive on risk, the fear is a motivator, a fuel that sends them from one adventure to another.

We all land somewhere on a tolerance spectrum of risk vs. reward, and as appealing as the phrase “let go of your fears” may be, not all of us should do just that. Our fears can be our friend, not because they rule us, but because they guide us.

Respect yourself, respect your fears, but respect the proper opportunities before they go by, as well. Life is a balancing act.


Photos courtesy Pixabay

The Perfect Time, the Perfect Space

In my last apartment, I longed for a second bedroom, an office and sewing room, with some space set aside for storage. Now I have just that, and I’m hardly using it.

My living room has the perfect corner for one of my desks, so my laptop sits here most of the time. Downstairs (my new townhome is built on the side of a hill, so you enter on the second floor) are both the bedrooms. One, of course, is where I sleep, and the other is on its way to becoming the office/sewing room I imagined. On its very long way to that goal. Right now it’s a percolating mess.

living-room
The corner with the desk, not the percolating mess

How is it that the reality never meets the expectations of the dreams? This room is a wisp of a problem, barely worth mentioning, but larger things loom. The new job, the new home, the new spouse, all bring with them (whether they intend to or not) a belief that now things will be better, now my idle thoughts will become golden reality.

Sometimes, the failure of the new to bring fantasy to life dims any good it may bring into our lives. Over time we realize the limitations of others and other things, and hopefully come to appreciate and value the times when good outweighs bad.

Life is never perfect, and many of us are wary in those fleeting moments when it seems it could be so. It’s not a matter of being cynical or negative, of seeing the glass half-empty or any such thing. Rather, it’s an awareness of the reality of this world, and a sense of gratitude for what good we’ve been given and the grace to manage to bad.

As I write this, I feel a bit foolish for seeing any bad in my life, given the horrors so many are experiencing. I’m grateful for a comfortable home, friends I can trust, food on my table. I feel no fear when I leave my front door that danger is imminent.

I pray that certainty doesn’t leave my life.

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My sweet babies think the outside world holds wonder for them…but really, it’s just cold, wet and devoid of easy living.

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Now Let Us All Limbo!

AdobeStock_111646585 [Converted]You  have your goals, you have your dreams, you are even taking steps to achieve them. Yet due to circumstances beyond your control, whatever they may be, you are currently in limbo. Someone or something else has power in your life right now, and you cannot move forward in the way you wish because of it.

What do you do when your dreams have to wait?

  • Keep the dreams alive in a concrete way. Maybe you save all your pennies, literally, toward a class you can take someday. (I get it, that’s all you can afford, and even that’s stretching it. I mean, you need new underwear, and you’re saving for a dream? Yes.)
  • Read a book, take an online class or webinar (there is so much out there!), find a website that specializes in what you’re seeking and keep up on the latest. A lot of what’s free has a bias or may be trying to sell you something, so keep your wits about you. But build your expertise by keeping up-to-date on the world you dream of, maintaining and growing skills, and learning about related subjects.
  • Find those who support your dreams and keep in regular touch with them. Whether it’s a college friend, a clergyman, or your grocery store clerk, maintain contact. That doesn’t mean you gripe about your present circumstances with them, rather, you dare to voice the dream is alive while you’re waiting for circumstances to change.
  • AdobeStock_110260540 [Converted]Look for other fulfilling options. Unless your dream is incredibly specific, there may be multiple ways to make it come true. If you have a particular talent, look at all the ways you could use it. You don’t have to seriously consider all opportunities, but don’t cut yourself short due to a limited focus.
  • Consider what your dream really is. I want to write, but what do I want to write? Not poetry, I determined that a long time ago. Probably not the Great American Novel. Do I want to use this skill to further a message? If so, what’s the message?
  • Build supplemental skills. Any person who wants to live on his or her creative talent had better have a bit of business sense, or be closely related to someone else who does. Generally creative people need someone more pragmatic by their side, but learn enough to know who can fill that role adequately.
  • Cry a little. Some days, it’s okay to wallow. Just set the timer.

If you’re in limbo, rest easy. I trust it will end someday in my life, and yours as well. In the meantime, one step forward is better than standing still.

 

Image Credits: © geosap — Fotolia

High Hopes and Hard Work

“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

— Babe Ruth

AdobeStock_100995809 [Converted] c geosapIt isn’t always easy to keep going in the face of adversity, and there are times when you do need to acknowledge failure. Not that doing so means you give up, mind you. Sometimes all that’s required is a fresh view or approach, or a more detailed understanding of what’s required for success.

I recently met a man, an artist, who makes a living selling his paintings. Since I know a lot of people with talent who would like to do something like that, but have no idea how, I told him I respect those who can make a living with their art. He laughed and gave credit to a team of people supporting him, such as his marketing person and probably a lot of individuals who work hard and stay silently behind the scenes.

Now he’s talented, no doubt about it, his work merits success. Still, without knowing scoot about him, I imagine along the way he had to figure out a few things. Maybe someone gave him a copy of “Dummies Guide to Success as a Painter.” Maybe he had all the right people every step of the way guiding him to success. It’s more likely he had to sort through a lot of well-intended advice and suffer a few failures.

I have my dreams, but they’re vague and poorly defined right now. I believe there is a way for me to successfully use my talents, one I’d find rewarding, and I’m seeking that way. There are barriers for me, and I’m not certain how they’ll factor in.

If you believe in the value of your dreams, it is worth the fight to pursue them. Some of my fellow bloggers show great talent in various areas and I know are seeking a way to bring that talent in the broadest way possible to the rest of the world. I hope they do, and I can brag I “knew them when.”

Success as a practical goal requires knowing what you want and knowing what it takes to make it yours. There’s plenty of advice out there for many endeavors, but some leave out basic information.

AdobeStock_109760634 [Converted]For example, if you want success as a writer, you need to be a good writer. That includes having a grasp on basic grammar and punctuation, something I am forever learning and re-learning. I’ve read a multitude of articles about writing, and surprisingly, none address that simple fact. Yet editors everywhere will tell you their job is to catch mistakes (the assumption being you do know the correct way to do it) and polish writing. Not overhaul it.

The practical skills, the step-by-step actions required, the commitment to keep going when giving up seems the better option. Perseverance is hard, and dreams can be challenging.

“Never, never, never quit.”

— Winston Churchill

Churchill was a man who faced unending obstacles, yet he did remarkable things. I do think upbringing and family values play into our success; I don’t feel well-versed enough on that subject to elaborate here, but advantages help breed success. Still, those with less have a lot if they seek it, and in today’s world, there are resources for most.

I fully recognize the challenges some of you are facing today, and I don’t want to minimize the pain and frustration you’re facing. I have been in situations when all hope seemed lost, yet little by little I was able to rebuild my life. It has taken me some time to get back to a point where pursuing dreams was a possibility. Survival was the issue for so long.

How you define success will shape what you achieve as well. If you believe you must win the Nobel prize for literature to be considered a successful author, you will almost certainly fail. Not that I would discourage anyone from striving to make their writing fit a standard that would make it acceptable to the jury for that prize. That is a more reasonable goal, although even it is a challenging one for most writers.

AdobeStock_98361776 [Converted]If your goal is to make a living from your craft, look at the multiple ways that can be achieved. Some of those ways will not be an option for you, but you may find a door opens you didn’t expect.

If you find yourself discouraged, frustrated or overwhelmed by your dreams, take a deep breath and look for a simple next step. Or re-visit old steps. Give yourself a break when you need to,  but never quit. Never.

 

 

Image Credits © geosap — Fotolia