The Creative Life: Following your Bliss vs. Taking the Sensible Path

This weekend I heard a middle school choral director speak about supporting kids’ creative passions.    

He said, kids often don’t continue with music (or art, photography, writing, etc) because somewhere along the way they are told it’s not sensible, that it’s not a “clear and trusted” practical career path.   

But, he asked, what if a career in the arts is your bliss?

Photo credit: Mallari Sizemore 

 

Dreams are important. When I was a teenager, I concocted big ideas for my future. One involved me owning horses, a show barn, and 537 acres of land, not because I loved horses, but because apparently riding horses with “your hair whipping away from your face” primes the creative pump. Either way, you get the gist, writing was pretty important to me.

 

 My diary dreams.

But, now that I’m a parent of kids sitting (precariously) close to the edge of our family nest, I admit the dreamy thing makes me cringe a bit. There’s an element of fear.  

Fear is the thing that can derail a dream.  

And fear can send a parent into the You Need to be Practical speech (you want your kids to be happy, but you also don’t necessarily want them living in your basement at thirty.)  

Except I also know that it’s not my job to define their happy. So, so hard to remember after years of telling them when to sleep, eat, and blow their noses.  

This whole following your bliss thing can be complicated.  Do you take the risk, or stick to the more sensible pursuit?   There’s a character in my YA contemporary, Come Back to Me, named Evan Foster, and Evan believes without question that you should go “balls to the wall” when it comes to your dreams. Now, balls to the wall is an old aviation term that refers to pushing the ball-shaped grip on the throttle all the way forward, i.e. full speed.  

Full speed, like with your hair whipping in the wind and all that.

 

 I don’t think there’s one answer, or one way to follow your bliss. Sometimes you are not exactly sure of your dream, sometimes all you have is a wispy idea.  

Write those wispy ideas down.  Listen to your heart.   Talk to people who do what you want to do. Take classes. Keep learning.  Continue moving forward.  

If it’s your passion, find a way to keep creating.  

Me? I got a degree in criminal justice, worked in a library (and a whole slew of other odd jobs, like delivering phone books), got married, became a mom (best job ever), worked some more odd jobs (selling makeup, crafts, and gutters—but not all at the same time), and now I’m writing again.  

No, it wasn’t a straight path, and nothing about it felt particularly “clear and trusted.” But still I’m where I wanted to be.  

And I’m picking up some momentum . . . I think there may even be a little hair whipping happening.

 

What do you think about following your bliss? Do you think you can balance the sensible and your dream? What’s the oddest job you’ve ever had?

 

Happy Monday!

Oh and I hope you stop by on Valentine’s day–I will be participating in the Indie-Kissing Blog Fest hosted by the INDELIBLES. 🙂
 

Moderation Gone Wild: Boys, Exclamation Points & Pie

PIE Y0GI BERRA_opt

Moderation.

Not exactly the merriest of words during the month of December.  Especially not if your brain –and Pinterest boards–are crowded with cookie exchange party ideas, holiday menus and pie.

I like pie.

Thanks to Barbara over at Just a Smidgen for planting the idea of pumpkin and meringue in my head.  Yum.  It haunted me excessively.

Some days I think I have moderation under control.  Some.  It’s a work in progress.

Take my very first diary.  I’ve mentioned it a few times here.  I keep this diary in a place of honor in my office because it has oh so many emotions packed into its tiny gold edged pages.  Some of those words–many of which were written with a perfume pen (not kidding)–have the ability to make me laugh and cringe at the same time.

Boys are mentioned excessively.

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Rob Lowe’s crush dedication page.  There are many, many others.

Crush moderation wasn’t something I considered.  Although on one page of my diary I wrote, “I’m tired of bellyaching about it.”

But then I went back to I heart boys.

 

 

Apparently this is also true for exclamation points.  Admittedly, I still have a problem overusing them, but once upon a time, my indication of intense emotion had no boundaries.

Excessive punctuation.

In case you can’t read my handwriting, that diary page says, “Nothing spectacular happened!”

Of course, you know and I know, that exclamation points can be used in better ways . . .

Meringue topped pumpkin pie!

Cookie exchanges!

Holidays!

Love!

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What do you think about moderation and the holidays? If you could pick one thing that deserves an exclamation point this holiday season, what would that be?

Have a fantastic day! (FYI that punctuation is from the heart.)

Leaps of Imagination and Olympic-sized Dreams

The Olympics–they bring to mind big dreams, athletes making history and well, spa treatments and fancy chocolates.

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At least it did this weekend.  My husband and I stayed at a hotel that offered that pretty chocolate platter and resort credit every time the U.S. won gold.  I was already having fun watching gymnastics, swimming and track and field, but eight gold medals during our stay equaled not only patriotic excitement but free stuff, like a spa pedicure:

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Thanks also to Missy Franklin and Katie Ladecky!

 

Spa services aside, I’ve always found the Olympics exciting, inspiring and highly motivating.  When I was a teenager, I wrote in my diary that I was going to find a way to participate in the 24th Olympiad after watching the Los Angeles games.

Synchronized swimming was going to be my sport.

Now I got an A in swimming during my freshman year of high school, but I’d never, ever tried synchronized swimming, let alone played any sport in tandem (except maybe some Marco Polo bobbing).  And while I loved gymnastics (and could rock the elementary round off dismount off the balance beam), I was not even remotely equipped for what was essentially a gymnastics floor program underwater.

I guess watching those Olympics, I found myself connected to that determination I saw in the athletes and I became motivated to do something.  I wanted to experience that sense of accomplishment too.

But instead of funneling that motivation into one of my own dreams (I was very specific about my writing dreams according to my diary), I picked something random to shoot for.

It was a misguided attempt.  One I’m not entirely sure about.  I don’t think it was due to fear (that would come later).  It was probably more about not knowing what to do about them (other than send out poetry to Seventeen magazine).   Or maybe my dreams were so embedded, so much a part of me, that I almost forgot about them as a goal to practice and plan for.

 

I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.

~ Mitch Hedberg

 

So my writing dreams mostly faded into the background of high school and college–and if you believe my diary, BOYS.

Although it’s interesting to note now that I continued to fill journals and write stories (filing them away in a big Rubbermaid container).  I worked at libraries and I took writing classes in college, grad school and at night when my kids were younger.

Writing stayed close whether or not I acknowledged it.

Synchronized swimming on the other hand, became just an odd and out-of-place wish sitting in one of my diaries.

I did however win a gold (ish) medal in 2007.  Not exactly the Olympics–for these purposes, let’s call it the Royal Caribbean games.

I placed first in a ship wide dart competition.

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No cool team uniforms.  I think it was against international maritime law or something.

For whatever reason, dreams fade or get pushed aside for other things.  Sometimes we pick something else because it’s expected, or it’s easier or maybe more acceptable.

But it’s important to remember that life happens whether or not you plan.

Planning helps, because motivation can fade.

 

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
~Zig Ziglar

 

I love hearing stories about people realizing their dreams–or accomplishing another step toward them.  It’s exciting and inspiring, and everywhere, not only at the Olympics.  I’ve seen that excitement in my kids’ faces and heard it in my sister’s voice each time she moves closer to her nursing degree.  Finding inspiration, whatever gets you fired up, is a significant part of going for your own dreams.

It’s a reminder that if you put in A LOT of hard work toward a goal, accomplishment is not only possible, but EXHILARATING.

Of course, baby steps are fine.  Just be sure to name your goal and put on your work clothes.

“Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.”

~Benjamin Franklin

Then go after the dreams in your mind and your heart (fancy chocolates optional).

 

I’m going out there to try to accomplish the things that I have in my mind and in my heart.
~Michael Phelps

 

Do you have Olympic-sized dreams in your heart?  What training are you doing to get closer to them?

Let me know in the comments, I love it when you share!

 

Have a great week. 🙂

 

 

 

On Luck and My Dorky Teenage Optimism

 

According to my first diary, this Saturday is Rob Lowe’s birthday.

Apparently on March 17, 1984, I had a lunch of lamb stew and then spent an afternoon flying a kite and swapping scratch and sniff stickers with my sister.  Then later I got together with Rob.

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Um, via collage.

When it came to crushes and boys I put a lot of emphasis on luck and wishing and okay occasionally praying to certain patron saints in the name of love.  I probably would’ve spent my entire St. Patrick’s Day in a clover patch waiting for the Great Four Leaf Clover to arrive if I thought it would help my case.

Yes, St. Patrick’s Day was extra special and extra lucky.  It was the one day a year that I owned my freckles and my complete inability to tan.  But when I was a young teenager it offered me something even more powerful.

Optimism.

Okay so maybe my diary entries portray me as kind of clueless (and dork-tastic, check out this post if you’re not quite sure), but there’s something to be said for a little positive thinking.

Because gluing your picture alongside your crush (or combing a clover patch) leaves you open for opportunity.

 

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

 

Like on March 17, 1990.

Preparation:  I curled my hair and put on something green.

Opportunity:  A frat house St. Patrick’s Day party.

The luck:  I met my husband.

 Better Together couple

No glue or scissors needed

 

 

 

Wishing you a rainbow

For sunlight after showers

 Miles and miles of Irish smiles

 For golden happy hours

Shamrocks at your doorway

For luck and laughter too,

And a host of friends that never ends

Each day your whole life through

 

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 Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

What are your thoughts on luck?

 

 

The Young Know Everything

 

“The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything.”

~ Oscar Wilde

 

When I was your age . . .

Almost makes you want to roll your eyes, right?

Well my son turns sixteen this week and I’m nostalgic thinking about how far he’s come . . .

Happy birthday G!!

 

. . . and where he might be going.

It got me thinking about what life was like for me when I was on the verge of sixteen and what advice I could offer my son.

Other than “Cool is overrated” (a motto I’d like you to keep in mind for the rest of this post).

Because looking back at my diary, I can sum up the bulk of my teenage musings with one word:

Cheesetastic.

Seriously.  And if you don’t believe me here’s something I wrote when I was a sophomore in high school–it’s a list I started compiling to predict what I thought college would be like:

 

College life will be fun:  

dorm parties

picnics

dancing in the rain

jamming to the hits of the week

wearing baggy sweat shirts

going with the styles

 

Obviously I thought college was going to be a movie montage featuring the cast of The Breakfast Club (and maybe even Gene Kelly & Debbie Reynolds via Singing in the Rain).

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 Forget SAT scores, I was ready for college–I had a sweatshirt!

 

But wait there’s more!  On the next page of my diary, I detail my future house and backyard.  A yard that is “537 acres” complete with a “show barn and stables.”  Which is hysterical considering I couldn’t even get on a horse without cringing in terror, but yet I wrote:

 

Imagine riding at free will towards the flowing grass swaying in the wind.  Your hair whipping away from your face.

 

Ah yes, dream big–I had that down pat.

So what would I tell my sixteen year old self now?

Forget about trying to please other people.

Because you know what I wrote as my future career back then?  A Young Adult novelist (well, that and a big time screenwriter–how else could I afford 537 acres?), but some time after turning sixteen I stopped considering any of it as a possibility, I let it slip away into that flowing grass and whipping wind.

Apparently I was going with the styles.

I cared too much about what other people thought, and about fitting in.

 

“We all want to be extraordinary

and we all just want to fit in.

Unfortunately, extraordinary people rarely fit in.”

― Sebastyne Young

 

So I say dream big and be extraordinary.

 

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

― Dr. Seuss

 

 

What would you tell your younger self?