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

 

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.

cat-320536_640-pixabay
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.

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

Interior

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

That First Magic Step

I could use a little disruption in my life to change my focus, if only for a moment. Enough of a spark to take my mind off of that which usually occupies my thinking.

It might open me up to a refreshing change in my life.

It’s scary, and exciting, to think we could work to make our dreams come true. Scary, because we might fail. Exciting, because we might succeed. I know by now it takes more than a simple wish on a shooting star or a genie’s lamp.  It takes action. I want to turn things around for myself, but first, I think, I have to change my thinking. If I don’t I’ll end up in the same situation I’m in now. The details may be different, but the resulting satisfaction, or lack thereof, will be the same.

The question, of course, is what part of my thinking needs to change? There is a large part of me that has grown in a positive way in recent years, yet I’m stuck in a place, physically and mentally, I don’t want to be.

There is a seed of thought of exactly where I do want to be, and I have to be willing to dream it’s possible. Then, I have to take the steps to make it happen. One at a time. If I think too far ahead, I’ll freeze up and it will never happen.

I’ll worry about roadblocks and setbacks, heartbreak and disappointment. Already I can hear this little voice in my head saying, “you’ve done this before, where did it get you?”

I think even the middle ground could be a pretty fantastic place to land.

It got me pretty far, actually. Just sometimes I fail to remember what I now take for granted.

If life has taught me anything, it’s that reality is usually a middle ground, not as terrible as we fear or as incredible as we hope, but in this case I think even the middle ground for me could be a pretty fantastic place to land.

As I write this my body is aching, I’m worried how I’m going to pay my bills this month and I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in more than a week. Reality can sap the joy out of dreams if you let it, but today I’m not going to let it.

I’m going to wish on a shooting star, then take the first step to make my dreams come true.


Image Credit: (Magic Lamp) © Flynt – Bigstock

Writing, No, Dreaming Without Limits

I love to write, or I wouldn’t be blogging.

In fact, that’s part of why I started blogging, this incessant need to write. I had a journal, but that wasn’t enough. It wasn’t doing quite what I needed it to do. I wrote on my computer about various and sundry things, but those stories would sit on my hard drive and languish there.

Until this blog came along.

I always knew I loved to write, from the time I was six years old. For years my mom had a very simple story I wrote in the first grade that had impressed my teacher, who wrote, “Good Writing!” across the top in big, bold letters. I’m sure that story was on the refrigerator for a long time.

All through grade school, even into college, it felt like cheating if an exam was written. It was almost a certain “A” for me, if I could write on the subject.

I was a journalism major and started out as a reporter. I did well those first couple of years, but decided to pursue public relations and communications instead. The problem with that line of work is, you don’t do as much writing. There’s a whole lot of other stuff thrown in the mix.

Of course there’s plenty of other stuff to love in life besides writing.

But among other things, writing is how I dream. So I can never give it up.

Things happen and we don’t always get to do what we want to do, be who we want to be. We get sidetracked from our dreams for a time. That doesn’t mean we stop dreaming. I’ve had some setbacks in recent years, and I thought I was doomed, quite frankly, to a minimized life.

I no longer believe that. Yes, reality limits us. But dreams can come true, and life can be good again. You never know what day will bring the magic.


Learning Style


Image Credit (background) © GraphicStock; (fairy) courtesy of Pixabay

if I trust you…

 

I have friends, true friends, who have stood by me when I fully believed they would walk away, and frankly, they had every right to, given the perceived circumstances. But I was more important than my presumed actions, and they stood by who I’d proved to be, not who others claimed I was.

You find out who your friends are when you have nothing left to hold ocat with mausen to but the people in your life.

It isn’t as though there weren’t clues beforehand about the coming betrayal, but sometimes we’re blind to them for one reason or the other, and other times we’re naïve in our beliefs. I always trusted authority, and now I shake my head at that foolish blind faith. I haven’t completely lost my trust of those in charge, but I’m much more cautious, far less willing to believe they’re always worth my confidence.

Shortly before the man I believed was my friend turned on me, I had a vivid dream of a wolf wearing a mask, dancing on a dark road. There were other elements, dark, foreboding images I’ve since forgotten. Far, far down that road were some white flowers.

While I didn’t, and for the most part still don’t, believe in dream interpretation, this one was so vivid I decided to look up the imagery. It was clear: someone close to me was going to betray me. But the white flowers meant there was hope further along the way.

snowflake-275367_1920-croppedI haven’t lost my confidence in everyone. In fact, in some ways I’m still the same person, inclined to believe in and trust others. But I’m wary, and yes, a little angry.

I’m clinging to that hope. Things are better, but they are not what they should be, and the future frightens me. This is where my faith kicks in. I’ve had faith most of my life, but I’ve never had to draw on it like I do now, to say: I trust in God, a God who provides for me, a God who conquers with faith, hope and love. And I trust in those friends who’ve stood by me when I needed them most.


Image Credit (cat and mouse) © wegener07 – Fotolia; (flowers) courtesy of Pixabay

just a phone call away

One day, I woke up to the phone ringing. It was a woman I barely knew, but had talked to not long before about needing a new home.

The place I lived in was no longer adequate. In fact, it never had been adequate, but after my latest fearful call to the police, they’d strongly suggested I move out. Soon.

home sweet home smI think I may have found the perfect place for you,” she said. After a brief description, I knew she was absolutely right. It was perfect. I’d love it. My cats would love it. It was within easy walking or driving distance of…well, everything. Best of all, it had character.

One thing, though. Certainly it would be too expensive. There was no way a place this ideal could fit my teeny-tiny budget. I mentally held my breath and asked, “how much is it?”

She told me the price. Only slightly more than I was paying now. The utilities would definitely be higher, but I’d figure out a way. Not a half hour later, that way came to me via another call.

“I’ve got a job and you were the first person I though of,” my friend Wanda told me. “It’s only part-time, but it could grow to something full-time within a year. It’s yours if you want it.”

I already had a part-time job, and the hours for this one were exceptionally flexible, which I absolutely needed.

I lay there in bed, thinking, I must be dreaming.

I felt some soft paws tapping my forehead. Time to get up, the kitties were saying. The alarm went off. Time to get up, it was telling me. I opened my eyes. My phone was nowhere in sight. I had been dreaming. Damn.

But it could happen, right?


Daily Prompt: Grand Slam

Image credit: © Ekaterina Garyuk – DollarPhotoClub.com