The Back Drop – Intro to A Leap of Faith, Part 2

The backdrop continued…

This is my story and it’s one of self-discovery and of the second first three years of my life. It’s the story of my dream.

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.

The seed was planted in a small cafe in Dorset, Minnesota and it lay dormant for years but it didn’t die. It followed me from vacation at Big Sand Lake back to real life in Nebraska, through a new job and a move to Pennsylvania, a divorce, a near foreclosure, and the fight for my life against both my real and imaginary demons, to where and who I am today. I’ve taken a leap of faith and I’m no longer hiding and pretending to be someone else, I’m “Beth, just being me.”

A Leap of Faith was inspired by the novel Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. I received the book as a gift for my fiftieth birthday from my beautiful landlord and friend Jeanne Marie. From the moment I started reading I knew I had to share the experience through writing. What I thought was going to be a book that would make me a better writer I believe was a catalyst that helped me discover myself and become a better person. It may not be correct to say I became a better person, but more accurately that I learned that all I really need to be is to be me. And in being myself I am the best person I can be.

It started out as a separate journal and quickly turned into a weekly post on my blog It’s a Whole New World. Writing the essays not only helped me process what I was feeling it was a way for me to share the experience through my writing.

I thought about submitting them to be published in contests and magazines but I thought of them almost like my children and I couldn’t imagine them being separated. I submitted the first four pieces to Flash Fiction Chronicles along with the idea to publish all twelve plus a summary as a series. I did a happy dance when I got the acceptance email from Gay Degani, editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles (among many other credentials) and I still smile every time I think about it.

I originally thought I’d narrate the epiphanies that occurred during the 4 months that it took me to complete the readings, tasks, and weekly commitments. However I came to realize that, while the book was an important catalyst, it isn’t the whole truth. The book remains true to my original vision in that it contains essays and excerpts from my journal. But instead of telling you about an experience, I’ll be sharing my story. My journey from a time and place of hiding from the world to being the woman I was meant to be, fully engaged and playing the game of life with both feet firmly on the court.

I’m often mistaken for being extroverted and an open book, because I can and do easily strike up conversations with total strangers nearly everywhere I go. I’m known for being the life of the party and can always be counted on to tell a funny story, usually one on myself. The reality is that in my past, I chose to tell funny stories about myself to ensure that people thought they knew who I was and to make it easier to keep people from finding out what was really going on inside me. I thought if they knew me they might not like me. I was sure that there could be nothing worse than letting someone find out that I’m anything less than perfect.

Throughout A Leap of Faith, I will share my experiences and myself, but it’s important for me to articulate what my focus is and what it is not. It is not about how I survived a divorce, a near foreclosure, and made the decision to resign from my position in Corporate America within a five month time frame. Or about how I spent many years hiding from life inside a bottle and behind a curtain of false pretenses. It’s not a book about survival or a story of catastrophe or financial devastation. It’s not about weight issues or alcohol abuse. And it’s certainly not about the challenges of being a single mom.

The reason I am sharing my story isn’t to demonstrate how I came through tough times and survived. I’m compelled to share how I came alive. The reasons that I felt lost and alone are interesting, but irrelevant. I believe that many people feel trapped by circumstances, are controlled by daily drama, and have given up on their dreams. I also believe that within each and every one of us lies the power and the courage to “be” the person they were meant to be.

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…