Thursday, June 27, 2013

When All Else Has Been Stripped Away, One Shining Dream Remains (Finally...Part Two)

I show up every morning, ready to write.

I show up in the same manner that I show up for my other job - ready.  For that other job, as soon as I put my uniform on at home, I'm mentally, emotionally, and physically prepared to do that job.  As soon as I arrive at that job, I dive into the work.

During that time, I am unavailable for anything or anyone else, other than what pertains to that job.  I don't take personal phone calls, or do anything outside that job, unless it's an emergency.  Everyone I know respects that, and understands - I'm at work.

Setting a time and space to write, however, is not quite viewed the same way.  It's not seen, nor understood as being "at work."   I do understand the challenge.  If I were actually published, and making some money off this work, then it would probably be easier for folks to understand.  "Oh, she's writing.  She's working."  Because what it actually looks like from the outside while I'm writing, (working), is that I'm just sitting around, doing nothing. 

After I wake up, I slowly turn my attention toward, and tune in to the Muse.  I listen to what bubbles up from within me.  I mentally sort through what I "hear," or "see," which requires no outside distractions.  If I have to hole up in my room for the space to do that, I'll do it.  If I do not have a room to hole up in, I'll be outside...sitting and listening.  I will not take personal calls while "doing" that.  In fact, most of the time my phone isn't even near me.  I don't know where it is.  I don't care.  I'm at work.

After I'm done mentally sorting through what I hear, and I've finally focused on what I'll be writing, I put it into action in that very moment.  I get up, go to the computer, or grab my notebook, and I write.  Now it's more of a transcribing of what I "hear," and you would think the transcription would come easily, but in actuality, it doesn't at first.  There is, for me anyway, a kind of atmospheric layer of "debris" to fire through before reaching "The Zone," which is the place of flow.  It is where self is completely moved out of the way, and any and all resistance is dealt with and gone - when hands and paper, or keyboard, and page become one. In that Zone, the outside world disappears completely.  I don't hear it.  I don't see it.  I'm in the Zone.

If you knew the level of commitment, dedication, and discipline it has required for me to show up every morning to write, (just like my day job), you would probably be astounded by my absolute resolve in doing this line of work.  I ain't messin' around.  I don't treat it, or even see it as anything "fluffy," or as "just a hobby."  It is a form of expression I have decided on, and whether I "make it" or not remains to be seen.

Yet to make it happen requires doing it - showing up and working it, going through the steps, no matter how achingly small they are.  There is no dream, no goal, no vision, that manifests over night.  Of course, there are some rare exceptions, but the majority of folks start at the bottom. We don't build a house without first building a strong foundation, then build it up brick by brick.  It isn't easy, building a dream, a vision from nothing to something.  I don't believe anyone ever said it would be.  And most likely, with all the rough terrain we must walk through, whether it's on the inside - plaguing doubts, etc. - or coming from the outside - no one taking you, or what you are doing seriously, etc. - it will either make or break you, depending on your level of commitment.

The majority of people who really know me are acutely aware of the sometimes annoying characteristic  that I have called Persistence.  It's only annoying to them when it is going against what they want, or think I should be doing instead.  I've had some people become outright enraged, or believe I am betraying them and their dream, over what I am doing - which, remember, is simply sitting quietly writing - and  I've been called lazy, worthless, a piece of shit, and a no-good fucking bitch, (and the horrible and horrifying list of those labels goes long).  I've been asked who it is I think I am for even remotely considering I might have anything of value to share - all of this because I have persisted in my personal dedication and commitment to my dream, and won't budge from showing up every morning to work toward manifesting it.  I've even been thrown out on my ass from places I dwelled because of this block of time and space I have for my "work."

Yet still, I persist.

Because when you have a dream, that's what it requires.  If I could do it all day long I would, but I recognize there are other folks to deal with, another job to go to, and other things that need my attention.  The mornings and my days off are the only time I have to give to my dream, my work.  I've tried writing at night, but by the end of the day I'm too exhausted to even think, much less write. 

As I mentioned, I began committing myself to this venture a few years ago.  I realized then that if I don't actually schedule it into my day, make time for it, and do it, then it will be constantly put on the back burner for "some other time."  The time is now, and if "Writer" is my dream, then "writing" is what I need to be physically-sitting-my-butt-down doing. one else will take it seriously until I do.

Yet, I think some of the problem is no one else can really see what I am building.  Not yet anyway. Other than right here on this blog. (*Waves*...Hello!). While they believe I'm in my cave doing nothing, I'm actually doing a rough draft first...if you could call it that.  I'm not sure it is even formed enough to be called a "draft" when it first comes out.  Then the piecing together, and fine tuning that rough piece of work comes later, which also takes work, and attention to detail, and a focus on cutting, or keeping, or re-wording.  It's work, and there are times I've felt I've wanted to tear my hair out, or throw my monitor across the room.  I've actually done that with notebooks, then glare at it, splayed across the floor...then I feel bad, and I'll go pick it up gently, take a deep breath, and try again, with a little more patience.

This dream has not been easy for me to begin, or to set a foundation of habitually showing up for it so it can be manifested, while at the same time walking through poverty, having to move a gazillion times, and struggling to care for and support myself in all ways that matter.  Not only have I gone through major changes and challenges, and trying like hell to adjust to them, but I'm also making major adjustments as I go, and adapting the best of my ability.  And, frankly, with age, (because I ain't no spring chicken anymore!), and with my other job, and the daily stresses of life and living - I'm feeling all of it is exacting a price.  I don't like admitting that, even to myself, but it's kind of difficult to ignore a fatigued body in pain.

I recently told a friend of mine that I'm literally having to drive myself beyond what my body is screaming it's capable of doing. I also feel driven to manifest this dream of writing, and I'm willing to pay the price it is asking of me. 

I get up.  I show up.  I'm working it, and the going is slow.  There is rarely a day off from it, but it helps that I also love it.  And I think that is why most folks view it as "play."  They feel and sense that I am enjoying this "work."  I know my energy changes.  I'm lighter, happier.  Not doing it...I get itchy, and cranky - like my roommate told me she feels when she goes too long without riding her horse.

In the past, I've given %100 of myself to supporting other people's dreams, leaving mine on the back burner.  A long time ago, I was once married to a man who loved rocks, and mining for rocks.  His family and friends treated it like play, and thought he should get a "real job," or focus on a "real career." I knew that would have killed his free spirit.  I mention him because he is the very first person I encountered in my life who demonstrated a passion and love for the career of his choice.  I remember watching him, and wanted what he had, but at the time it was a mysterious quality to me.  My dream was still in hiding, veiled beneath a thousand messages of "shoulds."  He had many of those same voices coming from the outside of himself, but he did what he wanted to anyway.  He showed up for his work everyday.  Little by little, step by step, he was building something, a business, a practice, making the daily effort it required.  It slowly paid off.  He now runs a multi-million dollar business.  His family and friends ate their earlier words.

Watching and helping him in his early years inspired me to begin questioning those "shoulds" I had come to obey, and it was only a matter of time that I finally discovered my own passion, my dream, and the voice of my heart.

In every possible way I am leaning my entire being toward the realization of this dream.  There is no one who can take what I am doing personally.  It's not about anyone but myself.  In fact, it took near Herculean effort, and a social worker getting in my face, to turn the tide within myself, and to place value and importance on my own dream.  To wake me up to the fact that I needed to actually practice what I've preached to so many others.  To walk my talk. 

Now it's my turn.  I'm standing up, showing up, and working it.  That's all I can do.  The rest is up to the mysterious workings of the Fates.  But after all is said and done, I'll know I gave it all I had.  And that.. I can live and die with. 


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

When All Else Has Been Stripped Away, One Shining Dream Remains (Part One...And A Half)

 "Where there is no vision, the people perish." ~ Proverbs 29:18
A couple of years ago I wrote this blog post, The Strange, Strange World of Writers, a humorous, (and tiny bit exaggerated), glimpse into the mind of writers.  The point of the post was to give non-writers, or non-creatives, some understanding into the weird ways and habits of their loved ones, who might happen to be writers, published or not.  One of my favorite quotes is by Rudyard Kipling, and states, "Gardens are not made by singing 'Oh, how beautiful' and sitting in the shade."  In other words, for me personally, as a writer, I must sit my ass down and actually do the dream I desire to manifest.  That takes time and dedication and work.

Two and half years has gone by since I fully committed myself to this act of writing publicly.  It was the very act of creating this blog site that anchored that decision to the ground. We must act to anchor a decision, and get the ball rolling toward its outcome.  A decision made without action following to fulfill it will eventually die a painful death.  For me, thus far, it's been a long hard road, but not because of the practice of writing itself.  Frankly, if not for this practice of writing, and the striving toward a vision, I'd probably be a basket case by now. 

This morning, I read this blog, How Hard Is It To Turn Pro?, by Steven Pressfield.  I can't even express how much I needed to read these words.  Because it isn't just about the act of writing, but about making any real personal change, and the sheer mountain of resistance a person can sometimes face when enacting that change, from both the inside and outside of oneself.  If I was merely dealing with my own resistance, I'd be alright.  But what I didn't anticipate was also having to deal with, simultaneously, the resistance I've faced from the outside.  Frankly, I've been in a sort of shock over the reactions from this decision I made several years ago.  Because in the end, it's about me, and a vision I have, and the road to its completion.  It's that simple.  How folks can manage to squirrel it around inside their mind to make what I am doing over here about themselves, taking it personal in any way, and believing it is hurting them in some mysterious form, is beyond me.  The only thing I can manage to understand about it all is that they grew accustomed to my being a certain way, and when I began making what I felt to be necessary changes to my own life, it somehow threatened their own view of me. 

I haven't changed.  I've changed my ways

I had part two of this little series already written before I posted part one, yet I've hesitated over publishing it, (obviously), because it felt a bit raw, displaying a vulnerability I wasn't sure I wanted to share.  You might read it and wonder what the big deal is, but for me, it's a big deal.  It goes right to the heart of what the past several years have been like for me on this road to writing publicly.  And I'm not alone.  I fully recognize I do not own the only corner to this kind of experience, nor that it has only to do with writing.  There are, by far, way too many I have witnessed struggling with this same kind of weird phenomenon.  I understand it might be difficult to believe, because I'm aware there are folks who have the luxury of time and space, money and support, to do exactly the same thing I'm doing.  Frankly, I'm still trying to come to grips with it myself.  I don't understand.  I don't understand the flack, and the complete lack of support for a dream.  Those of you who have it, seriously, thank your lucky stars.  I've always been a supporter of dreams and vision.  The only thing I see differently now, as opposed to what I was doing in the past, is that now it's my dream, my vision, which for so long was left on the back burner, that I am now supporting in full. 

There are some who consider that I am in the financial state I've been in because of this decision to write. What they fail to grasp is it is precisely because of being in, and experiencing this state of impoverished affairs that led me to this decision.  Particularly after standing in a line, with other financially impoverished souls to obtain free groceries so my family and I would have something to eat.  Standing in that line for hours, watching all those poor people, brought the quote I shared at the beginning of this blog post to mind, and it became for me not just a nice little saying, but something very, very real.  Because the only difference I saw between me and the majority of those other folks standing in line with me was a lack of vision.  I've been attuned to people's dreams they hold secretly within themselves for a long time, and I could see no vision in most of the folks standing with me.  None.  Zero.  And that concerned me, and broke my heart, because I knew that somewhere down the line in their individual lives, they'd given up on a vision, or had it beaten out of them.  A vision, a dream that once lived and breathed inside them. And I also knew I was this close to doing the same thing.  I felt I had nothing left to me except for this vision, this dream.  So instead of letting it die, I took a step toward it.  Then another step...and another.

Perhaps, when all is said and done, it will end up being a good thing, all this flack.  Because what all of this has evoked in me is that famous stubborn streak inherited from my family line, with me doing a very good impression of making like a tree and taking root.  It's driven me underground.  And as Steven Pressfield pointed out in his recent post I linked above, "You turn pro in secret. Not even the NSA knows you did it."  This approach might come back to bite me on the ass later, but now I'm in the mindset that I don't really care how long it takes me, or if I die trying, and it might be messy, and appear abstract, but come hell or high water, I'm doing it. 

Why am I sharing this personal journey here?  Because I'm not alone in it.  And it's truthful people like Steven Pressfield who help me know that somewhere, out there, are more people who struggle to change their lives for the better.  Who struggle with bringing a dream or vision to manifestation.  Who, for some ungodly reason, are bumping up against a non-supportive culture, whether it's within their own family, or in society at large, who are in many ways anti-visionaries, and desire everyone to stay within the status quo.  For people who might be comparing themselves to those who only give you the "up" side, or the nice, shiny version of bringing a dream to life, or who might be trying to sell you an "easy-how-to-guide" for manifesting them.  It's for those people who might be comparing themselves to others who make it appear, or who like to say it's easy.  But IF it was easy, everyone would be doing it. 

I know those precious, beautiful dreams tucked inside of those I've met along the way, and those who gave them up, or let them die, and while some dreams must go as we narrow our field of vision along the way, there is one shining dream that does in fact remain, and that our souls have been silently leading us toward.  And it wasn't until I began to commit fully to the one tucked inside my own heart that my eyes and ears were opened to just what so many people were talking about when they said it wasn't that easy, and why they felt such a huge temptation to let their dreams die.  We don't often hear about the shadow side that the majority of us deal with to even begin to enact these necessary changes.  And that is why Steven Pressfield can truthfully say, "I know how hard it was. I know the price you paid. I know the guts it took. I know how scared you are, and I know how weird and alone it feels.  I salute you. You are one in ten thousand. You have done what many, many talk about, but damn few actually do."  

I'm sharing this journey with you in hopes that it will give you the Umph you need to be "the one in ten thousand."  A dream...a simple sometimes all we've got to pull ourselves up out of the mud, when we've got nothing left to us, and it gives us the will to live, a reason to get up in the morning.  That's why it doesn't matter if I "make" it or not, because it is the thing I'm living for, the very fuel that keeps me going.  It's the magic spark within that says yes! to life, and living, and it is the true gold worth going after.  If you don't have the support coming from the outside, do it for yourself.  Support your own dream. 

Part two of this little series will be posted tomorrow. 

Stay tuned...


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

When All Else Has Been Stripped Away, One Shining Dream Remains (Part One)

I'm glad and thankful to be right here, at this time and place.

To witness a dream not only being born, but to also have the knowledge of just how long (years) that dream has been tucked inside my friend and roommate, and to witness its unfolding into manifestation is nothing short of inspiring.  For I know just how hard and long she, my friend, has worked for everything she has and for this dream of hers to finally manifest, and how doggedly determined she has been, how tenaciously she has held onto that vision inside herself, despite the resistance and naysayers, and come hell or high water... it would BE.  She truly inspires me...and gives me hope for my own dream still tucked inside, yet one in which I am steadily working.

I didn't realize just how much I needed to see and be a witness to a dream, and its long years of labor, finally coming into the world to be seen.  And to also witness unseen forces come into play, opportunities open from unforeseen, and seemingly tragic events, to support and help that dream manifest into her life and world, has been astounding.

At a time when my heart and soul were at their most weary, when I found myself literally on the floor, hitting bottom, hanging on by a thread in mind, body and soul, questioning whether any of what I've been trying to achieve is worth it, thinking maybe the Powers That Be aren't with me... I'm brought here, to witness the fruit of my friend's long years of labor.

I don't know if she remembers the times when she'd call me over the years, (and I hope she doesn't mind my sharing it, but it's such a perfect example of the places we find ourselves during the process, when doubts plague us in the middle of the night, when we wonder if our dream will ever be realized, because in that moment they appear so very far away), sobbing with the intensity of the ache in her heart, afraid that what she hoped and believed and listened to, the vision within herself that she held onto for dear life, was just a stupid pipe dream.  That all her efforts would be made in vain, and in the end, it is she who would be the fool.

I listened to that dream, saw it shining brightly inside her, witnessed each achingly tiny step she made toward it, and her refusal to have her arrow aiming at any other target.  I watched her cut a path to it.  I know and remember what she said, the words of her dream, and I'm seeing it unfold now into manifestation.  Oh, not in precisely the way she originally envisioned it, but in much the same way as what unfolded in the story, (and was made into a wonderful movie), "Under the Tuscan Sun," by Frances Mayes, one of my all time favorites.  In the story, she wasn't quite aware either, how a friend of hers, listening to her tearful words one morning, when she felt so lost and overwhelmed, and everything she was doing came into question, until once day he pointed out to her, reminding her of her words long ago, how all that she said that morning was now manifested around her.

My friend and I are alike in many ways.  Oh, the expression and form of our individual dreams may not be similar, (at all), but being born under the same astrological sign, we share similar needs, (like the absolute need for space, or "alone time"), and we both have a tendency to embody the arrow, aiming with determination and conviction, and a profound precision in our focus toward that thing inside us that is the force and source behind its flight.  But not only that, she also came to a place where all was seemingly stripped away, and the only thing left to her was that dream she carried within her. 

This... this first post of two is dedicated to my friend, for I don't know if she is aware just how much she is an inspiration to me, nor how much the witnessing of her dream literally unfolding around her into manifestation, would one day, this day, encourage me to remain open, and keep going with my own.  I cannot thank you enough, my friend. 

And for your pleasure, below is a beautiful little compilation of a few uplifting scenes from the movie, Under The Tuscan Sun."  (via YunaMonos)