The Back Drop – Intro to A Leap of Faith, Part 1

I’ve heard that the process being born is the first traumatic but necessary event we experience in life.  It’s easy for me to believe that it’s a distressing experience to be pushed from comfort of familiar surroundings through a space that feels too small and into a world filled with unknowns. We are thrust out of the dark and into the light.  We welcome the world with a powerful first breath and we are free, we are unaltered, we are unafraid, and we are perfect.

Many believe that the first three years of life contain the most dramatic and rapid growth and development of any stage of life.  In the first three years of life children learn to crawl, walk, and run.  They become aware of themselves as individuals, imaginations bloom, and curiosity overflows. Every day is full of surprises and everything is new and the most ordinary activities become extraordinary adventures.  Love is given and received unconditionally and there is no such thing as impossible.  The foundation for life has been laid.

I have no doubt that this is the case but I also believe that some people, and I count myself among them, experience the first three years of life twice.

Sometimes without even realizing it we lose sight of who we are and what we were meant to be.  And we wonder why we feel lost and uncertain, unfulfilled and afraid.  We begin to search for happiness in all the wrong places. Some people throw themselves into their career, others into their children, and many find ways to retreat from the world and hide behind vices and false bravado.

Some of us are afraid for the world to see us as we really are and we pretend really hard to be what we think others want us to be. We shut out our family and friends in an attempt to convince ourselves that everything is all right and we pay far too much attention to the voices that say you can’t, you shouldn’t, your ideas are crazy, and your dream isn’t practical or possible.  I think we confuse the definition of success with the size of a dream.

We’re not all meant to be astronauts or actresses and we don’t have to achieve fame in order to live a fulfilling life and to make a difference.  We don’t have to be wealthy to be happy.  Our books and poems don’t have to be published best sellers to inspire, but they do need to be written and they should be shared.  I believe that the dream should be to express ourselves in whatever form that might take. What greater dream can there be that to live life to its fullest potential as defined by who we are and not who we think others think we should be.

Note that I didn’t say who others think we should be, I said who we think others think we should be.  This is an important distinction.  And one of the things that I’ve learned in the second first three years of my life is that if we don’t speak with conviction about who we are we give others no choice but to derive their own perceptions based on how we behave.

The voices that drown out the dreams can be so loud that we forgot we ever had them and we mistake our society’s definition of success to be the measuring stick in determining whether or not a ‘dream’ is worth pursuing.  We may believe that not only dreams but our very essence is lost because of the circumstances we find ourselves in and we lose sight of the fact that the voice of the loudest naysayer in the room is our own.

to be continued…

If You Build it They will Come

What do Mahatma Gandhi and Ray Kinsella, the character played by Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, have in common?  One man is real, of great historical significance, and influenced people around the world. The other is a fictional character who hears “a voice,” builds a baseball field in the middle of his farm in a film which is described as fantasy-drama.

When my landlord and friend gave me the book Walking in This World, The Practical art of Creativity (Julia Cameron) for my fiftieth birthday I was thrilled and I couldn’t wait to begin it so I could learn more about how to be a better writer.  I had no idea who Julia Cameron was or what to expect but I knew Jeanne-Marie viewed me as an artist and gave me the book to help me pursue my dream.

Before the end of the first page, I knew I had to write about my experience with the book and share what I learned and its powerful impact on my life.  I originally intended to write one essay after each week and one final essay to summarize what I learned and how I felt about each chapter. I naively thought that my final essay would be the conclusion of the journey, and that I would be able to cleverly communicate the recurring ideas and my interpretations of them in 1200 words or so.

I boiled it down to a list of five themes and read through my journals and the book to capture the concepts.

•    Savor life – live with humor, joy, and passion.  Use feelings as fuel for creativity and creation.
•    Make something of yourself – do something, be something, make something.  Be who you are and continue to strive to become who you were meant to be.  Don’t be afraid to try, don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t be afraid to succeed.
•    Accept yourself – be yourself, trust yourself, be childlike, own and understand your relationships, be aware and follow your instincts, be accountable, and last but not least, be kind to yourself.
•    Have faith – ask for and accept help, be teachable, life is spiritual, art is spiritual and it is healing. Follow your dreams and treat them as real.
•    We commune through art – when we create from the heart and not from the ego we experience a clarity of purpose and feelings of joy.

Three weeks and fifty pages of notes and thoughts later I realized that I am far from done writing about this experience and it will continue to be a part of my life for the rest of my life.  I think that’s something that would make Julia smile.

Although I don’t recall her using the word conviction specifically, the author communicated the importance of treating your dreams as real and that when you do so they will come true.  Gandhi stood firm in his conviction that the British would leave India, Ray Kinsella followed his instincts and did something that seemed crazy.  We all know people who have achieved great things that have nothing to do with being famous or wealthy.

From everyday heroes to world leaders the thing they have in common is that they were not only brave enough to have a dream, they believed in it, they followed it, they inspired people, and they made it happen. I’m sure that even Gandhi had a restless night or two and felt doubt creep in between his head and the pillow but when morning arrived he was true to his beliefs and didn’t waiver in his pursuits.

When I started Walking in This World, I had a dream and my dream was to write.  What I didn’t realize is while I had defined it and I had tentatively said it out loud, I was missing conviction and purpose, the most important ingredients to making it a reality.

I concluded that the most fitting way for me to summarize my experience with Walking in This World would be to take a deep breath, share, and continue to write.

In its unedited and original form:

I have a dream, and my dream is to become a published author with books in multiple genres.  I have three books in mind right now, the first and most important one to me is entitled A Leap of Faith, an Artist’s Journey into the Light. It is a story of discovery, it is my story of self-discovery and coming into my own.  It will be inspiring to people who think it is too late for them and for people who have similar feelings about themselves as I do, but don’t have the words with which to express their thoughts. I am driven to write because I want to be of service to others, I want to help young people make good choices and I want to help people at any stage of life realize that they can change, they can recover and soar.  I particularly want to help women understand that they can be care-givers without giving up their identity, the importance of being in positive relationships, and we are all stronger than we know. I want to teach and inspire, I want to help, I want to change the world and make it a better place. My dream is to do so through my writing, I will make people laugh, make them cry, help them feel, and make them think. I have experienced and survived things that should be shared in a way that will be helpful to others. I have the talent, I have the drive, and I now have the conviction to pursue my dreams and write my first book and many more.