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Posts Tagged ‘dreams’

This image is currently on my desktop and that little kid puts a smile on my face and makes me think.

When I look at her, I see she is doing exactly what she – a mountain goat kid – is supposed to be doing and what comes naturally. Leaping. She’s not thinking about it or getting all nervous about it or wondering will she twist her ankle if she leaps really high. She just leaps.

Were it that easy for us humans. Okay, I’ll speak for myself. Over the course of my life I have taken numerous leaps of faith, and often without any tangible safety net. Each time, I truly amazed myself because clearly, I didn’t think I had it in me.

I was musing earlier about the time when I got on a plane to Portugal at 21 years old to visit my cousin who lived in a tiny fishing village in the farthest point north of the country. I’d only been on a plane once, and never abroad. What was funny in retrospect is that I was too young and naive to even know what a leap of faith I was actually taking. My flight was delayed at JFK by 6 hours and was going to get me into Lisbon far later than my cousin and I had planned and I had critical train connections to make. There were no cell phones, no means of communication like that and I was alone. In my utter panic, because of course I had not thought to learn any Portuguese other than “Bom Dia”, I began asking about for help using my high school French and entreated a bi-lingual Portuguese gentleman to help me. He wrote notes for each of the two train masters and one for, hopefully, a cab at the other end. I arrived after midnight in the pitch black of the countryside, but got delivered safe and sound to my cousin’s house. How did I do it?

Over 10 years ago, I took a very conscious leap of faith to leave a secure job and go freelance so I could pursue my dream of writing and illustrating children’s books. My income was not even covered, but I believed that somehow, despite my many apprehensions, I would be okay. I’d be lying if I said that the time in between hasn’t had its stress, crises and challenges, yet I made it. Except for one thing. I haven’t made nearly the progress I had hoped towards my dream. The next leap is before me.

And that’s where that little mountain goat comes in. Sometimes we can feel like we are suspended in mid-air. We know we jumped; in fact it may have been necessary to jump, or we sorely need to, but how we land depends on us. I want with every fiber of my being to be as sure-footed as that little kid, who knows in her heart of hearts, in the deepest recesses of her mountain goat soul, that she will land safely and securely, most likely on all fours.

Søren Kierkegaard once said, “To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”

I stand at the edge, breathe in my inner mountain goat, and leap.

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Doors-ClositerArches2The beginning of each New Year spreads out in front of us – a year of promise, of dreams, of hopes and plans. I leave resolutions for those who are so inclined, and prefer to believe that I will take those steps in exactly the right time.

Ahead are the doors opening to what we dare to dream – what we’d most like to do, our heart’s desire, and how we can get there. Ahead are the doors to our imagination – to what we can create if just given the chance … to those we’ll know, who will inspire us, and whom we can inspire. The doors that take us out and through can take us in as well.

To all who stop by, I wish you the year of your dreams and the open doors to find them.

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We can easily be unaware or forget how strong kids have to be sometimes, or to remember how strong even we needed to be at certain points growing up. I don’t know anyone who had a totally blissful childhood, and even those who claim to have had one? It becomes apparent in further conversations or getting to know someone better that that’s the way they prefer to see it or maybe need to see it. We all have had our share of problems and pain growing up – some more, some less.

AlmostHome-JBauer2But if we were lucky, we had something or someone to hold onto – a best friend, a pet, a trusted teacher or adult, or a passion that saved us. And that was the saving grace of Sugar Mae Cole.

Reading Almost Home by Joan Bauer, reminded me of how some kids need to be the strong ones, maybe even the parents, when really all they want and need is their parents to take care of them. In this middle grade novel, Sugar and her mother Reba found themselves evicted and homeless. Sugar’s father, who she refers to as Mr. Leeland, failed repeatedly to be responsible to his family, gambling all their money away instead. Sugar, 12 years old, got it. Her mother, in her delusion, still believed he was their knight in shining armor who was always going to come through, but never did.

The story at first reminded me of Jeannette Wall’s The Glass Castle, her autobiography, in which her mother always believed that everything was going to turn out just fine.  She chose to see and never failed to point out the bright side in everything to her children even though they were suffering horribly. In either case, being the adult is a lot to ask of a kid when one or both parents aren’t grounded in reality.

Almost Home was a great story that drew me in the more I read. Sugar accepted a puppy name Shush from another little girl who foisted him upon her because her father was abusing him. Shush became an important constant in Sugar’s life, as pets often do for a child. The unconditional love offered by an animal is a phenomenally powerful form of healing. Sugar had something else – she wrote. She wrote poetry about what was happening in her life, and she wrote thank you letters to people frequently. She believed in the sweetness in life, though she found herself often struggling to find it during this time. She also had a teacher who believed in her and kept in touch even though Sugar and Reba had moved away.

What made this story such a winner is that I could easily relate to Sugar. I’m sure her reading audience does as well. One doesn’t have to be homeless to understand conflict and loss. Holding on to your dreams and hope in the midst of it all is the challenge, and getting to know this young heroine who wasn’t about to give up is what made this read so worthwhile.

 

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We all have them, right? And then something occurs in our lives and we can watch them go up in smoke. Or at least for a while.

But what I’ve found is that the phoenix can rise again from the ashes, except this time, the dreams and plans have changed, perhaps evolved. Or maybe are new altogether. In any event, they have been colored by that event and now they look quite different. Can you relate?

RaritanRiver2

I was often told as a child that I daydreamed too much. It was made out to be a bad thing. But how do you proceed in life without dreams … something to hitch our stars to? It seems to me that when we lose our dreams or when they get mired in the muck is when we get in trouble. I never minded being called a dreamer. I still am, and it’s just fine with me. When I have no dreams, I’ve lost my moorings.

Recent events caused my dream of being published in children’s books to be pushed into the background, to be, at least for a period of time, not that important in the grander scheme of things. That happens. But early, early this morning – certainly before I wished to be awake – the dream was stirring again, and as I thought about it, a next step came into view … a plan. As I lay there, a number of things fell into place, and I knew what I would soon do. A dream with a plan … that felt good!

Sometimes we just make plans that arise out of an event, in my case related to my health. OK – that happened, what will I do now? Up until this morning, I didn’t really know. Not exactly, anyway. However, it seems my unconscious has been quite busy when I wasn’t looking. A number of recent events – a conversation with someone I’d never really had a  chance to talk to, a book that crossed my path, a wanting to know what I should do – click, click, click – it all fell into place, and suddenly I had a plan. Ideas that had been more on the line of `maybe someday’ or `that seems impossible,’ suddenly seemed real and do-able.

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It’s amazing when we have a plan, how much lighter we feel. It’s as if a fog that has been swirling about us has burned off and we are standing in radiant sunshine, arms lifted in joy and anticipation. A plan, enlightened by a dream, is a wonderful thing. The path may have pebbles or rocks along the way, but it glows nonetheless.

That old Irish blessing comes to mind, and I wish a beautifully lit path of dreams and plans for you, too …

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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Candle2We all have dreams.

And whether your dream is for yourself, a loved one, a stranger in need or for the world, it is yours.

The marking of the New Year is nothing more than a division of time, but it’s as good a time as any to give life to that dream.

Breathe life into your dream and help it grow. Be the light you are.

Why not now?

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DucksOnLake2

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours…. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

~Henry David Thoreau

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Coming around to myself, that is. I almost remember me!

As I’m sure any of you reading this can avow, there are periods in our lives which are especially challenging, (and that is a euphemism for what I’d really like to say, but we’ll leave it at that.) These periods may be short and intense, blowing in and shaking us hard like a sudden squall and just as soon blowing out, leaving us crumpled in their wake. They may be prolonged periods of seemingly endless things to cope with, large and small, which pick at us until we seem a mass of tiny scabs.

This is life. We accept it in all its glory and beauty and also in its times of travail. And when we are in the latter, there inevitably comes a day, only a moment perhaps, when something feels a little different, as if there’s been a barely noticeable turn in the universe somewhere and we know we have paralleled it and turned some corner ourselves. It may be ever so tiny; it may not grow overnight; but it happened.

The weather is now getting cooler, the days getting shorter, and the warming sun flows inside earlier and earlier. I have worked all day, and that western sun was drawing me, drawing me, to it and I succumbed. I brought my just-delivered copy of the SCBWI Bulletin, enamored of the cover illustration by Eliza Wheeler, to the back porch. I sat in a chair, my feet up on another, and indulged myself in some reading with the sun full on my face. The cats next door came to be petted and then sprawled on the porch, taking advantage of both the sun and the company. I read till my cheeks burned hot, loving every second of it.

There are times when we put everyone and everything else ahead of ourselves. Sometimes by necessity, sometimes by natural inclination. And there are times that we are called to come around to ourselves. It may be but a whisper, but listening is always exactly what we need.

 

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If you are pursuing a dream of any kind, then this post is for you. As mentioned in a previous post regarding the NJ SCBWI June Conference, it can be daunting for those of us who have full time work and/or family commitments to hang tight to the magic that occurs at events such as this or at any other inspiring event. I’m thinking of spiritual retreats, internships, especially away from home, intense volunteering experiences, educational conferences, etc. Want to keep your dream going? Here are some things that I put in motion so my dream is always an important part of my life:

* Upon return, review all notes, literature, etc to refresh your memory.

* Make lists – I’m big on lists – of what you will want to do. Make a list of things that need to be done now or in the next day or so, and one of what will need to be done in the near future and going forward.

* Make a plan for the second list – how will you accomplish it, what’s your time frame for completing what you want to do?

* Decide on how much time you can spend every day pursuing your dream. Then decide when you will do that. Early, before you need to tackle your daily work and obligations? Or late, when you can put all that aside? Decide and try to stick to it. In her talk with SCBWI Conference attendees, Kate DiCamillo said she writes 2 pages, single-spaced, every single day first thing in the morning. She does this before her critic gets up which is some time later in the morning when she attends to editing, a very different task.

* Give yourself a constant visual reminder of your goal – not an accusation, just a reminder. Mine is on my Mac where I work.

* Limit unnecessary time in e-mail and on the web, social media, etc. The web can be a huge drain on your time; do your best to do what’s important and then get off, even if it means shutting down those programs or your computer.

* Keep what you’re working on in plain sight, rather than neatly tucking it away. If you have animals or children with access to these places, figure something out. It’s important that you be able to “jump right back in” when you’re able rather than slow yourself down in set-up.

* Keep in touch with fellow travelers on your path and find time to connect with those who share and support your dream.

* Keep up with what’s going on in your “field of dreams” without spending unnecessary time on it. (‘Unnecessary’ always a key word here!) Be inspired – go to art galleries, read books, take yoga, a gardening class – whatever it is that will feed you.

* Journal daily. I have found this especially useful, and it’s recommended by Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, and many others as a way of freeing up your energy. First thing in the morning is best.

* Find some time to daydream, to envision your future as having already achieved the goals you set out to accomplish. Be there.

* Be kind to yourself. Keep track of procrastination and try to chuck that, but don’t be overly hard on yourself, either.

Hopefully, these will help you in pursuing your dream and not seem too obvious. When I stick with them, they all work for me.

If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”   – Henry David Thoreau

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I know I am not alone in having dreams and goals. And just like you, I experience periods of seemingly endless challenges and/or loss in which those dreams are so far on the back burner, the stove isn’t even in the room.

There are numerous ways to find our way back, and one of them that I resurrected this morning is the book The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Greater Creativity by Julia Cameron. I read the book awhile ago and did a number of the exercises, but I think, right now, checking in with artist/writer/teacher Julia will help me get back on the path to my dream. While I have never stopped being creative, I’ve not had the energy, focus or desire to pursue what I most want to do with it. I’m seeing a spark again, and I want to grow that glimmer.

Feeling stuck artistically? I recommend The Artist’s Way for any creative person who is struggling with getting their show on the road.

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Morning by Maxfield Parrish

“Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.”

– James Allen from “Visions and Ideals,” As A Man Thinketh

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It’s hard to believe that just one week ago today life as we knew it had totally changed for a period of 48 magical hours. Stressful – but magical hours. Friday, June 4th and Saturday, June 5th was the NJ SCBWI Annual Conference, held this year at the Princeton Regency Hyatt.

The Hyatt atrium, empty above, was abuzz with NJ SCBWI Conference participants – editors, agents, speakers, attendees, organizers, volunteers and a very helpful Hyatt staff. That area with tables of four at the forefront was our registration area with an endless stream of people coming in to be greeted and given their materials. The fairy-lighted area to the rear left and below was our open buffet dinner area Friday night, and the step-up areas with small tables at rear right were filled with agents and editors giving critiques. On the lower level, workshops, first page sessions and intensives were going on, all opening to a wide center aisle where illustrators had displayed their work in a juried art show. Upstairs, outside of the dining areas, a portfolio display, book signing and auction took turns  over the two days.

It was a jam-packed, enlightening two days, preceded by days and weeks of stressful preparations and anticipation. NJ SCBWI‘s first year in the Hyatt was a great success, thanks to RA, Kathy Temean and Assistant RA, Laurie Wallmark, bolstered by volunteers at every turn.

So how come it’s taken one full week to blog about this inspiring event? Initially, exhaustion. I know I’m not the only one who simply crashed on Sunday. I barely had the energy, though I did it anyway, to start preparation of an MS with a couple illustrations to send to the agent who critiqued me. Tired as I was on Sunday, I elected to wait until Monday with some more rest behind me to make sure I sounded literate. And sent that off. Then starting the work of revising another MS which was critiqued by that agent and also the editors in a First Page Session for a submission.

What made it more difficult for me … and I suspect for others in my shoes … is that Monday morning I have to fold up my dream and tuck it away neatly while I go back to work. Problem was that this time, that dream was not about to stay folded away neatly, nor was it going to wait ’til the end of the day when I could give it some attention. Nope. It kept teasing and wheedling and enticing and trying its best to make me stop working and pay it some serious attention. “Look at me!” said my dream. “You know you want to!”

I was still tired for a good part of the week, but worse off, I was frozen in space.

Both needing and wanting to work, I was feeling a pull stronger than ever to turn around and work on my manuscript and a new very rough dummy.  (I do love my work, but as I’m self-employed, if I don’t do it, no one else does and I don’t make any money!) Half the time I felt like the rope in a tug of war. Of course, I ultimately and ever-so-responsibly settled down and attended to my graphics work, and came up with some pretty cool stuff, and started my children’s book work after dinner.

However, I notice that dream has developed quite a mouth on it.

Okay, it’s Friday. You talkin’ to me? Let’s do it!

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Dreams are very important. Not only do they assist and protect our physical and mental health, but they tell us things. Things we need to know.

Last night I slept an uninterrupted 8 hours for the first time I can remember in a very long time, and had a dream. It is a dream that comes to me at certain points in time, and always has something to tell me. The overall setting of the dream is more or less the same, but the elements and how they relate to my life situation at the given moment are different. I woke up this morning knowing what the dream had to say, and it was all good.

For many months I have been in strictly survival mode, dealing with one ailment after another, none life-threatening, but continually draining me. All my creativity was funneled into my design business and my web business, both at their peak of activity at Christmas, (what there was of it.) At the end of the day, I just faded. My dream of writing and illustrating children’s books was gathering dust in the corner.

And then came the bright spot, helping me pick the dream up, dust it off, and sit it right here next to me, it’s little face beaming with hope again. That bright spot was a meeting with my fellow facilitators of my local writing and illustrating group, HCCWIG. Although it was not my turn to be critiqued, the company of these creative, funny, warm and intelligent women infused my dream with life again, and I believe, helped me to also have that wonderful dream.

So today, I raise my (coffee) cup in a toast of cheer to (in alphabetical order — drum roll please) …. Cathy, Felicia, Laurie, Leeza and Sheri (and yes, even Little O) … for being the inspiring group they are. My dream is wriggling with excitement for when we can next sit down together and create something magical in children’s books. Thanks, guys!

The moral of the story: If you are a writer (or illustrator) feeling the need for support in your craft, be sure to seek out and find a local writers’ group — many are often listed on the SCBWI site. So check out and join SCBWI, too!  Reach out and find fellow creatives that share your dream, and who will be happy to hold its hand through the tough times and celebrate in the good.

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