In today’s world, there’s so much pressure to be someone you’re not. If you don’t follow the crowd, you’re branded weird, different, or strange. And as we’re documenting almost every moment of our lives on social media, judgment is sometimes swift and acerbic. That makes it tempting to be like everyone else. My golden rule is this: just be you. [Read more…] about Just Be You!
don't give up
I wish you could have been there with me. But if you’re like most ‘normal’ people, you were probably still sleeping.
It was Saturday, 28 June 2019, and at 5:30 am I left my condo for my morning run. When I hit the Martin Goodman Trail, and even though the sun was on the rise, I could only see a couple of hundred yards ahead due to the thick fog. Running away from the downtown core towards the Humber Bay Arch Bridge, the view was spectacular. The fog blanketing the city rendered the CN Tower — all the buildings, actually — invisible. I usually run without stopping, but this time I planned to stop and capture the view. [Read more…] about After the Fall…
Writing is hard work. So is being a painter, a sculptor, a dancer. We show up every day to do the work, to share our vision of the world in the only way we know how. When the time is right, we release it into the public domain and wait. Wait for third-party validation. Wait to be told it’s good enough, or that it sucks. And as we wait, we’re already back in the studio, at the piano, or in front of the laptop creating again. We’re living our dream. We don’t give up.
No matter how great we think our art is — a novel, a series of paintings, a dance choreography — not everyone will like it. Don’t believe me? Check out my book, The Flowers Need Watering, to see the ratings that range from 1 to 5 stars, and some of the cutthroat reviews. But you roll with the punches because art is subjective, and what we create won’t appeal to everyone. And my goal isn’t to create for the masses. It’s to focus on a small group of people for whom I can, through my writing, be of service. That’s what drives me. Not the 4 or 5-star reviews or glowing praise, but that I’ve been of service.
Do the Work
Whatever your dream, embrace it and don’t give up. Don’t run away at the first (or forty-ninth) failure. Don’t think it’s impossible because it’s taking longer than you expected to get where you want to go. Show up daily and do the work.
My first novel, Freestyle Love, debuted and flopped in 2011. I’d been so emotionally invested it (it was my first book and I expected everyone to love it) that I couldn’t see that it really sucked. Big time. Going through the process of self-publishing for my second book — and working with an editor — allowed me to see all the mistakes I’d made with Freestyle Love. And it did something else, too. It gave me the courage to try again. So, I rewrote Freestyle Love because I still believed in it and, with more experience behind me, I knew I could make it better. I refused to give up.
A few years ago, talking about the writing process with a friend, she asked me this: What are some things that you’ve learned along the way that would help other authors who are trying to publish their first book? While I geared my answer to writers, it applies to anyone pursuing a dream. This is what I said:
- Art is subjective, so don’t take rejection personally. Be satisfied that what you put out for public consumption is your best work and let it shine.
- Be persistent. Keep writing. Keep practicing. Show up daily to do the work. ‘Do the work’ is the important part because when you show up daily, you create a routine. And the more you write or dance or paint, the better you become.
- Believe in yourself and in the work, and do it all for the love of it. It’s a challenge in today’s world, but try not to focus on your blog stats, Facebook likes, number of retweets, etc. While they are supposedly indicators of our success, they can drive you crazy if you feel like you’re not engaging enough or that no one is listening. Just be who you are, let your voice shine through and be of service. Focus on doing the work.
Bring the Magic
I know this much is true. The magic happens when you show up daily and do the work — not for fame, wealth, or recognition, but because it is the one thing you cannot not do. It is your purpose, your calling. That is the moment when the stars align, when your light shines.
What drives you to do what you do? What one thing could you do today that would move your dream forward? Click Reply or leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.
Back in 2015, I did something kind of crazy. I declared it my Year of Selfishness. It was going to be ALL about me.
And it was … sort of.
How it all Began
I don’t remember exactly what I was looking for, but scanning the Google search results my eyes landed on “Three Simple Rules for Life”:
- If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
- If you do not ask, the answer will always be no.
- If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.
Whoa! There it was, in terms so clear, the motive behind my ‘selfishness.’ I wasn’t looking to subscribe to the traditional definition of the root word, selfish: “(Of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for other people; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure,” as defined by the Oxford Dictionary. The selfishness I embraced was about acknowledging what I wanted to achieve and having the courage to go after it. And since 2015, this concept of selfishness has been my modus operandi.
Put First Things First
It’s easy to let our creative goals get pushed aside for the wrong reasons. We’re afraid of what people will think if we tell them our dream is to be a writer or dancer. We’re afraid of failing the first time we try, and that can stop us from trying again. Or we feel guilty about taking time to do something that’s burning inside of us when surrounded by familial, work and other responsibilities or pressures.
So, sometimes being selfish is imperative to achieving our dreams, and that means putting yourself first. That can be difficult, and at times, uncomfortable. You don’t want to let down my spouse/partner, friends or family. You don’t want them to feel like you’ve abandoned them. But when you’re not being true to who you are — or if you’re not feeling like you’re moving confidently in the direction of your dreams — how can you be there for anyone else when you haven’t been there for yourself? You’re the one who you’ve abandoned.
Caught up in the hustle and bustle of life, we end up on autopilot and don’t follow through on our heart’s desire. Now it’s time to put first things first. So, maybe that means getting up early (I wake up around 4:00 am to write) or staying up late to have time to focus on your project. Take a vacation day (and don’t tell anyone) to finish the sound editing for your short film. Find a quiet place during your lunch hour (alone) and write the first sentence of the book that’s always been inside of you. And magical things happen when we put first things first.
It Kind of is Now or Never
And for too long, I worried about what others would think if I told them I wanted to be a writer. That was why, in my twenties, I ‘wasted’ a lot of time after graduating from university trying to fit into the nine-to-five world. When I turned thirty, it felt like time suddenly sped up … like I blinked and my thirties were over. In my early forties, it was all I could do just to keep up. But I found the courage to do the things in life that mattered most.
Now, in my mid-forties, some dreams have become reality and I’m living my best years ever. But there’s a lingering sense of urgency, knowing my time on this planet is limited, to rush to get everything else done. And as that temptation to rush intensifies, I teeter on the verge of craziness as other goals and dreams stall. What must I do to get them moving again? And is there enough time in the day to do it all?
So, whatever you dream of doing, do it now. Don’t wait. Don’t put it off any longer. It’s no secret. The longer you wait to begin, the longer it’ll take to get to where you want to go.
Hold Fast, Hold Strong
The age-old adage to take life ‘one day at a time’ is sometimes a hard pill to swallow, but it’s easier to stay grounded when we’re focused on the day at hand instead of running off to some unforeseeable future. Each step we take, no matter how small, moves us forward. Don’t chastise yourself for things not done. Instead, celebrate writing the first sentence of your book, buying the paint supplies for the new series, or staying up late to start your dream.
Holdfast, hold strong, and don’t ever lose faith. Don’t ever stop believing that you can achieve your passion.
Now is the time to begin, or begin again, no matter where you are.
Are you holding fast to your dreams? Can you be ‘selfish’ enough to make your dreams a priority? Click Reply or leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.
In her book, The Wisdom of Sundays, Oprah Winfrey writes: “The number one principle that rules my life is intention. Thought by thought, choice by choice, we are cocreating our lives based on the energy of our intention.”1 Or simply put: heed the call.
Whatever we want to do in this life, we must act with intention. If you want to be a writer, you write. If you want to be run for government office, at whatever level, you get out and engage with the community. Want to be a painter? Then paint.
It’s not always easy. What we want to do and what we think we should do are often in conflict with each other. There may be forces pulling you in a different direction, almost tempting you away from your heart’s true desire. Don’t give those forces the power to convince you that your goal or dream is too hard, silly, or completely impossible.
Don’t Be Discouraged
In your daily life, focus on the actions you can take to keep moving forward in the direction of your dreams. When your inner critic comes out to play, silence him. Think, too, about the company you keep. I’ve often found that people who ridicule your dreams are often the ones who gave up on their own. Stand strong. Be brave and bold. Because deep down in your gut, you know this is your calling.
Heed the call!
Do you feel you have a calling? And have you heeded the call? Click Reply or leave a comment in the section below. I’d love to hear from you.