How I managed to hammer out this blog entry this morning is beyond me my brain is so full of mush, but for some reason the muses tapped me on the shoulder and off to the keyboard I went...this is what was on my mind this morning as soon as I got out of bed.
I have followed many dreams, and experienced a wide array of successes with them. A quick rundown of some of my biggest ventures on the scale of failure vs. success:
#1 huge success
#2: fabulous beginning, then drowned in quicksand
#3: a fun idea hatched among three friends that fell apart once the real work needed to be done
#4: steady, focused beginning, landed a huge license deal, brought in a business partner who then moved and took another job. End result: license deal lost, a year of work down the drain.
#5: moderate success, but overall very positive in that it led to…
#6: so far, so good
All of these ventures have been creatively and artistically focused and each of them has given me their own unique gifts in terms of experiences, lessons, wisdom and just plain fun. While their details and stories are all different, there are a few common threads that connect them all, and these threads have become a fact sheet of truths that have accompanied any dream I’ve pursued.
There are countless stories in the world that sum up following a dream like this:
“I decided to pursue my dream and suddenly life became beautiful and grand and magical. Success came easily, money flowed, and I now start each morning with a cup of peppermint tea, an hour of creative meditation and bluebirds whispering songs into my ear throughout the day.”
The world needs these picture perfect versions of following a dream – we need to believe our own dreams can take us to such blissful places so we have the motivation to take the leap and make them real. I love these stories, they are beautiful in their simplicity; I have my own version of my perfect artist life that is filled with messy hours in my light filled studio and moments of creative inspiration that are spiritual in their purity and power. This is all true. This is all real.
And it is only part of the story.
I have followed many dreams and learned many lessons and feel compelled to share more truths of all of these journeys. These are not complaints or gripes; they are simply facts. They are experiences I’ve had over and over again and I have come to appreciate them as part of the entire dream-making process. They all teach me, they have all helped me grow.
> Following a dream and making it real involves one thing above all else: hard work.
> It involves something else: a willingness to not just step but leap wildly far beyond your comfort zone. If you don’t like cold weather, get a great big parka and a wool hat with earflaps, because you’re headed into the Alaskan tundra. Guess what? It’s not nearly as daunting, scary, difficult or overwhelming as you think it is going to be. You’re going to find sources of strength and creativity you never knew you had out there.
> However you map out the journey of your dream, do it in pencil, because as you move forward that path is going to change. You’re going to be wrong about a lot of things, but that doesn’t matter. Go on this journey with as few attachments, expectations and pre-conceived notions as possible. Let your dream guide you – it will show you where it wants to go. Trust your dream.
> There will be people you think you will be able to count on to support you in your dream who are going to let you down. Some of these people will be totally indifferent to your pursuits, some will turn their backs on you and some might even go so far as to sabotage your dream. You will be surprised at who these people are. Do not live in fear of this and do not try to figure out ahead of time who they might be. This goes with the territory. Not everyone is comfortable enough in their own skin or happy enough in their own life to sincerely support and celebrate your creative leaps. This is no reflection on you and you do not need to take it personally, because here’s another truth:
> There will be a hell of a lot more people who are going to step forward wanting to do whatever they can to support you and cheer you on. You are going to inspire people. You are going to become a beacon, and people will be drawn to that; they will want to help you shine brighter. Surround yourself with these people and don’t be afraid to tell them what you need. And when they show up for you, do this: acknowledge them, thank them, make sure they know how important it is to you that they are behind you.
> It is easy to succeed. Did you read that right? Yes, you did: it is easy to succeed. Look around you - notice how often you see careful attention paid to detail in any area of life. Most people are not willing to do the work that needs to be done to make a dream real; most people don’t want to be bothered with all the tiny details – and there are oodles of them – that accompany following a dream. Artists do not become successful because they sit around and wait for inspiration; they do not rise to the top because they refuse to focus on things like marketing, organization and bookkeeping. Successful people succeed because they are willing to wear many different hats and do the work they need to do whether or not they are in the mood. See the first item on this list for a simpler explanation of this truth.
> The world is going to be a better place when you take a bold leap for your own dreams. You are going to glow in an entirely new way, and those around you are going to see that light. They are going to want that light to shine in their own lives and they will be inspired to take their own bold leaps. This will inspire their circle, and outward it will spread. This joy cannot be contained and your journey will be a testament to that. The world needs this light, is desperate for it. Who are you to keep your unique beauty from the world?
> The most profound joy and beauty in following a dream does not exist in those big, grand moments – the book deal landed, the cover of Artist’s magazine. The real gifts await you in all the tiny details. The day you receive your first order (I still have my very first wholesale order for Swirly cards from 1996), those brief – for they are brief – instances where you see with absolute clarity that you are exactly, precisely where you are supposed to be, the first day you get to spend the day working in your pajamas.
Do you know what one of the sweetest moments of my journey with Ordinary Sparkling Moments has been so far? The sound of the rain the night of my book launch in a cozy cabin next to Squam Lake. I thought I might get weepy reading certain passages or seeing certain friends in the audience, but it was the sound of the rain that almost got the tears flowing. I just couldn’t believe the beauty of that moment; it was almost more than I could handle.
I am sure I will think of more things as the next few days pass, but this morning these were the things that were on my mind. I have been riding a giant wave of glitter for months and I am beginning to quiet down. There are still sparkles everywhere and I know this stillness is temporary, but for now it is nice to reflect more deeply on what this journey of dreams is all about, what it really looks like and what I’ve learned after trekking through so many different forests.
Now go…go shine your own light. There are people in the world who don’t know who you are yet but are, without realizing it, waiting to be shown the way to their own dreams by your unique light. You will follow your dream and you will inspire others. One is not possible without the other.