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

 

The Winding Path That Has No End

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
― Ernest Hemingway

Seeking your goal has a predictable life cycle. You may or may not encounter all the stages described below, and you may face some more than once. It’s all a journey.

A stone walkway winding through a tranquil garden.You start out and the path looks kind of like the start of the Yellow Brick Road. So pretty, so tranquil. It’s exciting, you have butterflies, and yet you’re strangely relaxed. A little relieved. You anticipate success.

For awhile you experience some. Things are leveling off a little, though. It’s maybe not quite as thrilling as it was at first, but you’re still happy and determined to pursue your dream, because you believe it will open doors for you that are otherwise closed tightly shut.

Then, perhaps, you get discouraged. It’s not what you expected, your skills and talents aren’t as great as you thought or had been led to believe. You’re a diamond in the rough, not as polished as you need to be.

So you take stock, add a few intermediary goals, and move forward.

Young girl on the winding mountain trekking path at Pico do AreeBut what happens when it looks overwhelming? For years I literally had nightmares about a mountain path such as this one. Narrow, with a plummeting drop to the side. In this case, heavens, on either side. You pray, you cry, you say no way. Then you find a way to make it safe, and you walk the path.

In my nightmares, I’d wake up, afraid to go back to sleep. Instead I’d lie awake and imagine a grassy field extending to the side of that precarious path, a safe place to land. You may need to find that metaphorical field in your own pursuit. Don’t let your dreams become nightmares.

Sometimes there’s a divide in the path, with no clear indication which way will keep you on track to achieving your goal. Decisions are difficult. Get a good night’s sleep. Take the counsel of others.

crossroadsIt is good to set goals, but it is also necessary to re-evaluate those goals from time to time.

If you expect to write six novels in six years, with each one becoming a best seller and at least one winning the Pulitzer Prize, ask yourself what you’re doing to achieve that goal. Are you getting your master’s in fine arts/writing? That kind of high-level writing takes particular skill, and it helps considerably to have direction in refining it.

But if your hope is simply to finish your current novel and get it published, that is more reasonable for most people. From there you research what it takes to get it done, evaluate your own skill, the market for the genre you’ve chosen, if an agent is a good idea, that sort of thing.

And if you find you’re not getting it done, take some time out to figure out why. I believe in having short-term and long-term goals, plans you can easily see achieving and dreams that can only come true with faith and a miracle. Give yourself a break if you keep failing in reaching your goals, and perhaps change them. There may be a legitimate reason you’re not able to do what you set out to do, something you can’t see but is real all the same.

Path through a mysterious dark old forest in fogThe path is foggy sometimes. One step at time. The fog will clear.

Of course many goals require persistence. If you want it badly enough, it may be worth the falls and bruises, the perpetual failure until you break through to success. Many writers face that experience. Look for the wisdom of others, stepping outside the familiar circle of family and friends if necessary to find someone who can objectively look at what you want to achieve, advise you on its possibilities and what it takes to make it.

Dawn on the road in the forestFiguring out how to get it done, taking the path to get there, may be more valuable than reaching your goal. The lessons learned along the way will serve you in other areas of your life, in ways you can’t imagine because you don’t know what lies before you.

Life is a journey, a series of paths that lead to a destination that’s likely very different than what you anticipated when you started. Enjoy it, and share it with others.


Photo Credits: (garden path) © onepony — Bigstock; (mountain path) © rechitansoren — Bigstock; (divided path) © rasica — Fotolia; (foggy path) © denbelitsky — Bigstock; (sunrise path) © Givaga — Fotolia

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