Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Follow Your Dreams...

It’s not often a blog idea wakes me up at three in the morning and my mind tells me what to write. Today, I woke up ironically to the idea of following your dreams, which ended any dreams I was having in the middle of the night! A young business woman, Michelle Ann Wiley, once answered a question I asked her about what my daughter should do in looking for a job and to be successful. She told me that she should find what she is passionate about and pursue that, without any thought to the salary. She said if she loved what she was doing then the future would take care of itself. It seems like a simple concept and yet I think our society is all about making money, not following dreams. When you pursue your dreams and the things you are passionate about, it really does make you happy and feel energetic. It creates excitement and enthusiasm. It can be revitalizing. And who among us can’t benefit from those things?

I am going to give you some examples from the every day lives of people I know. Some people are more inclined than others to pursue their passions and you can tell the difference between those that do and those who don’t. I know a pair of cousins, single, in their late 30’s who have different interests. One is a poet, we’ll call her Elizabeth, and has been writing and reading her poetry for years. She loves it. She expresses everything she is and feels in her poetry and she does it most times for no compensation. She has another job, a regular job, to pay the bills. Her cousin, Camille, has always had a variety of many interests including languages, philosophy, traveling, history, art, religion, education and on and on. Elizabeth pursued her poetry and in recent years has been asked to do readings at various colleges across the country, she even opened for Maya Angelou one time and went to Paris, France to read. She does bi-weekly poetry slams where other poets get together and also read. Suffice to say she followed her dream and passion and her journey has been very fulfilling. Her teenage daughter has developed the same passion for poetry, which now mother and daughter share. Months ago Elizabeth met a successful, professional man and they fell in love. Recently she announced she is pregnant. Having a baby is another desire she has had for a very long time. Elizabeth is very happy. So Michelle’s advice seems to have paid off for Elizabeth. Now Camille never really cared for poetry, she didn’t like to write it and even less to read her intimate thoughts to a crowd. She is more private, but she gave it a try for Elizabeth, and it never really happened. Camille’s passion was the pursuit of foreign languages and she had planned to get her Master’s one day and pursue teaching at the college level. However, Camille never did follow through with continuing her education. Instead Camille hitched her wagon to her cousin’s and spent time with poets instead of following her own dreams. She attends poetry readings with Elizabeth and collects the cover charge at the bi-weekly poetry meetings. She listens to the poets read. And I can’t help but think she might have been much more fulfilled sitting in a French or philosophy class on those evenings. You can’t follow someone else’s dreams and find your own happiness. 

Now I have other friends who are pursuing their dreams too. One of them, Kalinda, lives in constant pain, has a chaotic life at times, but she is an author. She loves to write. She had put aside her writing to raise her two young boys. Last year the younger one started school. She took out her first novel and let me read it. It was a psychological thriller and I couldn’t put it down till I finished it. She had the desire to write again and one night, in a dream, an outline for a novel came to her with characters and all. She wrote down all she could remember and then started her novel. I have no doubt she will be published one day. She has a wealth of imagination that I find remarkable. Her writing may well change her whole life one day, but for now it excites and energizes her; it takes her mind off her pain and life’s problems; it makes her a better mother to her boys; it gives her hope and something to look forward to. I wish her much success and I can’t wait to read her book when she is done.

I have another friend, Leslie, who has two children, one a special needs child. It can be exhausting to be a full time caregiver. Then one day she was determined to pursue a healthier life style. It wasn’t easy for her to find the time, but she found a website and followed their rigorous workout regimen and diet. She stuck with it and eventually became a coach to others. She has her own page online. I could see how this helped her both physically, mentally and emotionally. Then, she went out and applied for a job in retail. She really wanted it and she was hired. I knew she would move up the ladder in no time, and in a few months she already has gotten a promotion. When you want something and make up your mind your are going to do it, you make things happen.

Another friend, Cynthia, I have known for many years is amazing in that she instinctively pursues the things she loves. It’s second nature to her somehow. When we met she was a hairstylist and had just gotten her license for a massage therapist. Two separate careers that she enjoyed and did both very successfully…for other people. She looks a decade younger than she is, at least, and she has a very outgoing, friendly personality which is perfectly suited for businesses like this. She would have repeat clients coming back all the time. One day I told her she should have her own business, but I think the timing wasn’t right. Soon after getting her license, she met the man of her dreams. He is very loving, kind and supportive. Then she became a five year cancer survivor, another major hurdle accomplished. And last year she actually opened up her own salon, for hair and massages, which I am sure will be very successful. On top of that, she loves riding her bike for miles and miles, whenever the weather permits. She takes trips with her husband and spends time with her children and grandchildren. I think she knows the secret to a happy life…do the things you love!

Now I have many other friends who love to write and are very good at it too. Virginia, for instance, told me she wanted to start a blog combining two of her passions, food and music, but so far I haven’t seen any sign that she has started it. Maybe she will recognize herself in this blog and go for it? I know it will enrich her life to have this little hobby.  I have another friend, Julie, who loves archaeology, but she isn’t going on a dig any time soon. However, Julie could audit a class at a local college maybe. What I would like to see her do is write her memoirs and family history and dig up information that her grandchildren will appreciate some time in the future, when they have children of their own. Another of my friends, Amy, lost all her family pictures in a fire. Amy was a stay-at-home mom who wanted to be there for all her children’s milestones, and she was. The images and memories are now stored in her mind. I have tried to encourage her to write down all her memories to preserve them while they are still pristine and not faded with time. I imagine it’s been too painful for her, she tells me she wouldn’t know where to start. Last night it came to me, she should start with her wedding and work up to the present; then go back in time to her childhood and fill that in. If Julie and Amy wrote just one page a day, they would have 365 pages by the end of this year. It would be priceless. 

There is yet another friend, Stella, she loves animals and lives on her own ranch, with horses, dogs and cats. What began as a 4H project for her granddaughter, turned into a little profitable business. Stella got her granddaughter a goat one day, after doing a lot of research. That little project earned her a blue ribbon and things escalated from there. They bought more goats to raise an breed and every Christmas season there is another group of babies born. Stella never has a minute to herself, but she always sounds happy to me because she has surrounded herself with the things she loves most, her grandchildren and animals.

I think I could go on and on because when I wake up at 3:00 AM and my mind is working overtime, it just dictates the blog for me. I guess I made my point though. Don’t waste another minute putting off the things you love to do because you are too “busy” with things you “have” to do. If you want to make 2013 really count, turn over a new leaf today. Figure out what makes you happy and make sure you work it into your life, even if you have to neglect other things to do it. See if you are happier at the end of 2013 than you were in the beginning and let me know.

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