Category: Reading Nook

Dreaming Impossible Dreams

Me, sitting in a lovely bistro in Avignon, France – a dream come true.

Recently I realized that I had stopped dreaming impossible dreams.

I’ve been wearing my practical pants and sensible shoes. I’ve been working with what’s working and getting into a habit of maintaining – all of which is good. But without impossible dreams, I’ve found myself a little bit empty, a little dull around the edges. Without impossible dreams to draw me out into the adventure of the great beyond, I find my borders getting a little smaller and my spirit getting a little sleepier.

Why do we avoid impossible dreams?

Because sometimes they hurt. Deeply.

You look at that brochure for art school, you peruse your friend’s travel-filled Instagram feed, you see that creative blogger joyfully leap from their full-time job to online entrepreneurship and you cry or growl or simply turn it off. You turn off not only the stimulus but your feeling about it.

A mix of desire and deprivation is just too much for the heart to bear.

But that desire is your true north and when you turn it off, you lose a part of who you are.

Whatever you are in your heart, be that an artist, a world-traveller, a chef, a dancer, an author, whatever, you must find a way to express that part of your soul. An impossible dream can serve as a focal point, a light to guide the way.

An impossible dream can be the brilliant sun on the horizon line calling you to move and to become.

As you journey to what you believe to be an unreachable destination many things can happen.  Yes, you can get discouraged. Yes, you can get lost and you can get hurt. But you can also get stronger and grow your courage and I can guarantee you that you will have experiences that you never would have had otherwise. Sure, you might not become a full-time artist but you will create art. You will study and hone your skills. You will build a body of work and an artistic voice.  On the road to that dream, you may build a C.V. and enter exhibits. You may have one, two, three solo shows. Your friends and family will come to know you as “the artist” and you will have spent hours, in fact, days, months, years of your life doing something that your soul loves to do.

Imagine that.

Isn’t that better than turning off that desire? Isn’t that better than deciding not to dream?

I’ve decided that it is.

And so, I have invited some old and familiar dreams into my heart again, dreams I had stopped thinking about, dreams I had relegated to the world of “impossible”. Now, when this dream comes up, I no longer respond with a dull ache and deep sadness. Instead, there is a fresh and mischievous twinkle in my eye as I begin again to wonder, “What if?”

We are not defined by achieving our dreams but through having the dream in the first place and the journey we take on the road our heart dreams of will take us places that enrich our lives and awaken our souls.


Who Do I Have to Be for You to Believe Me?

Who do I have to be for you to believe me when I say that you are creative?

Would you believe me if I was a world-renowned painter? A grammy-award-winning pop star? A New York Times best-selling author? Would you believe me if I had 10,000 social media followers? 20,000? 100,000? What about if I was a researcher, an academic, a scientist? Would you believe me if I pulled out extensive studies into the nature of human beings and creativity and showed you where you are on the spectrum? For you to believe me, would I have to be beautiful, with long flowing hair, a boho outfit and tribal tattoos? Would you need me to be a dream, a rival, a star?

Who would I have to be for you to believe me when I say that you have everything you need inside of you to be an artist?

What if I was a person, just like you, who had to find her way, who was sometimes scared and sometimes confident, who sometimes grabbed the brass ring and sometimes cried in bed, who sometimes got chosen but often didn’t, who did the smart thing and studied English at school, who worked a regular job – until she didn’t – who first and foremost loved the arts but was daunted and discouraged much of the time but also sometimes brave, a person who refused to choose just one art and forsake all others, a person who isn’t a rock star or a top Etsy seller or a blog sensation but who lived every day, to the best of her ability, a true, committed, creative life, one she could feel proud of and at peace with.

Would you hear me then?

Or maybe it doesn’t matter who I am at all, it matters what I stir in you. Maybe it’s when something I say brings tears or goosebumps, evokes hope or sorrow, makes you uncomfortable or wildly alive.

Maybe it’s simply when the truth in me connects to the truth in you that suddenly you know who you are and what you are here to do.

Despite what the marketers say, I don’t want to prove myself to you. I don’t want to serve up a daily buffet of the credentials of my creative coolness. I don’t want to trot out proof that I am worthy. And I don’t want you to have to either.

Let’s get out of the proving and into the arts.

Let’s start with knowing that we are all worthy and from there let’s dive into the work. Let’s be in the discussion together. Let’s wrestle with the challenges and share the learning. Let’s be brave and scared and messy. Let’s take small steps alongside big and bold ones. Let’s be reflective and solitary and brilliant. Let’s be connected and expressive and fun. Let’s open our hearts and stretch our minds, reveling in harmony and rising to challenges. Let’s make it easier for one another, not harder. Let’s try new things and hone our skills and experience life to the fullest. Let’s shine our light and wear what we want and let’s, above all, be artists.

Let’s tell our stories and create our work. Let’s paint and draw and sing. Let’s dance and act and write poetry. Let’s be keen observers of life and ourselves. Let’s be endlessly curious and wildly generous with our gifts. Let’s immerse ourselves in our subject matter. Let’s create from the truth that’s within us and present to the world that’s around us.

Let’s do it without the need to prove. Let’s do it without the demand for reward. Let’s do it because it is who we are, without guilt or apology, for all of our days.

Let’s start here. Let’s start now

A Neglected Garden Still Blooms

I love my garden but with all the rain and all the busy, I haven’t had a chance to get out there much this spring. The other day, I joined the kittens looking out the back window and these amazing pink blooms called to me.

I grabbed my camera and braved the overgrown grass and the dandelions, noticing how much was in need of pruning and of weeding, and came to stand in front of these magnificent beauties.

Yes, I felt badly for not having tended the garden.

Yes, I didn’t want to look and see the mess. It’s easier to hide my neglect when I simply stay inside.

Oh… but what I would have missed.

This works the same way with our creative hearts. We may have been too busy. Times may have been too hard. It may have been weeks, months or years since we have tended to our artistic soul. Maybe we never have.

But we needn’t worry. Our creativity is firmly planted within, ready to bloom. You just have to find the courage to look.

JRS Tree Peony

Practice What Is Right

Tanya's Altar
“Wisdom is not gained by knowing what is right. Wisdom is gained by practicing what is right.” Barbara Brown Taylor.

One sunny day this week, I walked over to my dear friend Tanya Geisler’s for a morning of co-working. We do this regularly, sitting at opposite sides of her dining room table, encouraging one another as we take on the work of our dreams.

We prefaced our work, as we often do, with coffee, connection and conversation, filling each other in on our lives and our work, what we’re celebrating and what we’re wrestling with. This week, I shared with Tanya a shocking dream I’d had about being fired and deserving it. I knew this dream was about me not living up to some of my commitments to myself. There were things I knew I should* be doing and, for a long time, I’d been making other choices. The dream was my subconscious (and/or the powers that be) telling me that it was well past time to make a change. As an example, I told Tanya that one of the things that I knew I was meant to be doing was meditating. I just knew it in my bones.

Tanya said, “Then there is nothing for you to do but to meditate. You can go use my altar right now.”

Right now?

I squirmed.

I said thank you.

I deflected.

As our conversation moved on, I felt myself coming around. Somewhere inside me I found a willingness to say yes: yes to Tanya’s graciousness, yes to the call to meditate, yes to the better part of myself.

Here’s what happened when I said yes.

Tanya walked me up to her beautiful altar, an altar sparkling in gemstones and blessed by statues of Buddha, Ganesh, Lakshmi and Saraswati, an altar infused with love and devotion. She offered up her sacred space to me, giving me extra candles, tarot cards to pull from, a cushion to sit on and then she let me be.

I took my seat.

I immediately felt this sense of rightness with myself. I lit a candle and started my practice.

Within moments the majestic Matteo entered the room, the most elusive of Tanya’s three cats. He brushed himself up against my forearm. He rubbed against my lower back, his luscious tail passing along my skin where it was exposed between my sweater and my pants. He purred.

I reached out and pet him, giving thanks for his presence and this beautiful sign from the Universe that yes, this sitting is right.

After a brief moment, I was called back to the practice, as though someone had dropped this lesson in my heart:

“Enjoy the blessings of the practice but don’t let them draw you away from the practice. Come back.”

As I brought my attention back to my breath, another of Tanya’s cats entered the room, the blue-eyed beauty Ramona, talkative as ever. It was as though the Universe was saying, “Did you hear that lesson? What will you do?”

And so I basked in the energy of “cat” and I stayed with my practice. With downcast eyes, I paid attention to my breath and as I did I could see a glistening thread of gold between my heart and the candle. Perhaps it was the interplay of light and my allergies but even if that is so, as I watched the golden energy move between my heart and the candle’s flame, I knew it was another sign that I was in the right place, doing the right thing and that in that moment, all was well.

Note: A New Wisdom Core conversation exclusively for students of The Academy is coming soon. Tanya and I will talk about the challenges and rewards of stepping into your starring role.

* Should isn’t always a dirty word.

Honour the Work

As a teenager, I studied dance with a teacher who became one of the most important mentors I have had in my creative life, Marjorie Keith. One of the powerful lessons that she taught me was that no matter where we were, no matter what we were doing, it was important to honour the work. We honoured the work when we gave her our full attention. We honoured the work when we gave the choreography our all. We honoured the work when we sewed the costumes with care, sold the tickets with diligence and taught the little ones with love.

Honouring the work is not about discipline. It’s about magic. It’s about letting the muses know that you are here and you are ready.  It’s about receiving them in a way that makes them want to come back. It’s about creating the conditions for inspiration and creativity to thrive.

Honouring the work is about creating a gateway for the magic of art to come into this world and light the way – for ourselves and for one another.

This sounds rather woo, doesn’t it? It’s all true – and it’s practical too.

When we honour the work, we get more done. When we honour the work, we progress in our skills. When we honour the work, others take us more seriously. When we honour the work, we take ourselves more seriously too.

What are some of the ways that we can honour the work?

Give the work your full attention. Be present.

Give the work the time it needs. Be patient.

Hone your craft. Be persistent.

Give your best effort. Be wholehearted.

Defend and champion the work. Be a hero.

Honouring the work is a part of the culture of the studio.

It lays and then strengthens the foundations on which our mighty creative energy can be unleashed into the world. The stronger this foundation, the more powerful the creative energy that can be channeled through us, the greater the light we’ll shine.

This week, in your efforts, great and small, lay the foundations for magic. Honour the work.

Inspiration Practice

Right now, behind the scenes, I am working on bringing you the new spring/summer season as well as beta-testing a printed “studio diary” to bring to you for the new year. One of the aspects of the diary is to notice and gather inspiration every day, a powerful practice for a creative life.

What has inspired you today?

Can you answer that question quickly and easily? As I have worked with my alpha and beta teams on this project, this has turned out to be a challenge area. What does it mean to be inspired? In our regular workaday life, where do we look for inspiration? And when we find it, what do we do with it?

Let’s start with developing an inspiration practice.

Remember when the concept of a gratitude practice was new? With the introduction of a simple practice of jotting down 5 things a day we are grateful for, our awareness expands and our energy shifts. We discover that a day lived in gratitude is a richer day.

What if we took that approach to inspiration, simply making note each day of what inspired us? Would our creative awareness expand? Would we broaden our horizons? Discover more? Create more? Would our days be different? Would we be? How would our creative lives be enriched?

Let’s find out.

Every day this week, keep a note of what inspires you.

What sparked an idea?

What caught your attention?

What stirred your emotions?

What made you think?

What got you into action?

What awakened your creative fire?

As you do, notice the impact of this practice on you and your creative life.

Breaking Ground

Tulip Filled with Snow

I’ve been very excited about the return of spring, especially getting back into the garden. I was thrilled to see signs of green as the week began and then shocked to see snow by Friday! I hope all of those tender shoots find their strength against the cold.

It’s a great illustration of the seasonal development from the Full Worm Moon in March to the Full Pink Moon in April.

Now is the time of transition from underground stirrings to breaking ground and braving the elements.

Our creative dreams go through this as well.

Our ideas start deep within, growing in strength until they manage to push through into the tangible world. When they do, sometimes they are met with nourishing sun and rain and sometimes with ice and snow. Our dreams and our creations must find and build their strength, bolstering themselves with love and belief when it is available so they may face rejection and judgement when necessary.

The plants and our creative ventures are leading by example: grow your strength as you brave unfurling.

We, too, go through this process as we dare to express more of our true self in the world. As we embrace our becoming, there comes a time when we must bare our vulnerable heart to the elements, whatever they may be.

Sometimes we stay underground for a very long time, sometimes hiding, sometimes readying. The unfortunate truth is that we can never be fully ready for what is to come.

We must simply be brave and break ground.

Below ground we gathered the nourishment for the first stage of our journey. We drew our power from the soil, from the damp, from the dark. But there comes a time when we must take our place in the garden, when the strength we need to grow into our beauty can only be found by reaching towards the sky. It is then that the sun can find us.

Is it time for you and your tender creative dreams to brave the elements and break ground?

I believe in you.