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. 🙂
 

Prediction: You Can Invent Your Future

alan kay quote invent life

 

Meet Phyllis.

Phyllis, the star of Susanna Leonard Hill‘s books PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS & APRIL FOOL, PHYLLIS.

Phyllis is a groundhog and a prognosticator, which sounds a lot like procrastinating. Especially when you factor in those Groundhog days in which she sees her shadow.  Then everything gets pushed off for another six weeks.

Can’t say I haven’t been there.

Anyway, you see those teenagers shuffling around in the background? They finished exams last week at the high school where I eavesdrop help out, and were kind of like groundhogs popping out of their burrows, looking for some sort of relief from the tortures of school winter. Phyllis could totally relate.

They even seemed to be engaging in ancient customs of weather lore. I think.

These shoes say early spring, right?

I think my backyard is ready for spring. 

I am happy to report that Phyllis did not see her shadow here in Virginia. In fact she had a ball.

And of course, Phyllis predicted the  Ravens would win.

And she also accurately guessed which snacks would be eaten first at my house this weekend.

As well as the Monopoly token Hasbro will eliminate from the boardwalk this week.

But I can’t tell you which token will be replaced.

Or else I will go directly to jail.

 

And as for today’s forecast?  Here’s to creating some possibilities.

A big thank you to Punxsutawney Phyllis. Check out Susanna’s website (link above) for more Phyllis adventures.

Are you forecasting BIG things for your future? What spring things are you looking forward to?  

What is your favorite Monopoly token?

Have a happy week! 🙂

There is No One Right Answer, but Decision Determines Everything

 

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.
― Elbert Hubbard

decision boggle _opt

It’s called BOGGLE for a reason.

 

Have you ever played the game WOULD YOU RATHER?

Would you rather drive a moped across a tight rope OR go over Niagara Falls in a barrel?

Would you rather drink black coffee OR eat dry cereal?

It’s almost always funny or absurd scenarios, for which there is no right answer.

Because it’s just a game.  Real life however, requires decisions all the time. Some of course, require little effort.

Paper or plastic?  Do you want butter on your popcorn? Would you like to try the smoothie of the week?

But some decisions feel HUGE and require research and thought.

 brochures mail college decisions_opt

Some of the mail my kids have been getting from colleges. 

 

It’s easy to feel buried under the brochures of possibilities and decisions.  I feel like that when it comes to my writing–the decisions that need to be made in editing and publishing.

Or what about the tricky decisions that impact family or friends?  Or decisions about health?

Recently I’ve been grappling with the issue of a new medication.  Do I want to deal with the crappy side effects or the crappy symptoms for which I’m on it in the first place?

It feels like someone is asking me if I want to eat squid or  snails.

Honestly, I don’t want to eat either.

 

 Decisions, decisions. 

When it comes to decision-making, we hear go with your gut, but then are advised to be careful of emotion.  Some say take your time and others say make the leap.  We need to check our history, but stay in the present and oh wait, don’t forget the future!

What do you do?

 

I guess it’s a little of everything–our gut, our emotion, revisiting the past, thinking it through (a pros and cons list can help here) and even taking the leap, because eventually we have to decide.

 

It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.

~Jim Rohn

Progress is good  (even baby steps).  

But, okay, not ALL decision-making turns out stellar.  Like the time my husband decided, yes, he DID want to try the smoothie of the week.  The flavor?  Peanut butter and jelly.

My hubby now has strong opinions about PB & J belonging between two slices of bread.

Progress, right?

bad decisions funny story

How do you make decisions?  Playing the game–if you had to choose, would you rather be PARANOID for the rest of your life or NAIVE?

I love it when you comment!

Have a GREAT week.

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Waiting for the Answers

 

Last week I ran into the grocery store to pick up a few things.

Diced tomatoes.  Check.

Cereal.  Check.

Bread.  Check

BIZ.  Huh?

It was a mystery.  One I’d written down myself only twenty minutes earlier, and still I stood there in aisle nine staring helplessly at the baking powder and flours, as if they might offer me up some sort of clue as to what BIZ was supposed to be.

But I got nothing.  A brain fog—or my “duh cloud” as I’ve recently started calling it—had rolled in, only this time I found myself wondering:  What is wrong with me?  Am I just tired, or is this one more symptom to add to the list?

Because BIZ hasn’t been the only thing I’ve been wondering about.  For the last eighteen months I’ve been dealing with some weird health issues—going several rounds in a game I call Stump the Doctor.

The bonus of the game is learning other random things I didn’t know about myself, like that I was deficient in vitamin D, and that even though I think pizza is the perfect food–my body rejects its gluten and dairy essence.  Oh and that I am claustrophobic.

Well, I had my suspicions about that last one, but the two mri’s confirmed it.

Along with something odd showing up in my gray matter.

brain mri WALDO _opt

 There’s Waldo, off on a new adventure

So my doctor isn’t sure what Waldo (and his friends) are doing there in my otherwise healthy brain.  Or whether or not Waldo’s presence is actually the one causing my limbs to tingle like Bella on the day she met her sparkly Edward or for my right side to occasionally go numb in a way that makes me think I might do well cast as an extra on The Walking Dead.

Or the BIZ brain fog.  Surely there’s a chance that my blonde hair is weighing me down, but more likely I am letting the stress of waiting for answers muck up my short-term memory.

That’s kind of what unanswered questions do—they can make you a little crazy sometimes.

Will that boy ever love me?

Am I going to get into the college of my dreams?

What will agent 99 say about my novel? (And will I get the call on my shoe phone?)

And the big one:  Am I going to get an answer that I want to hear?

Waiting for those answers is kind of like trying to find Waldo.  Sometimes it’s quick and other times we get stuck staring at that page filled with a million characters in varying shades of red and white wondering when we’re going to see him.

coleen finds waldo _opt

If you can’t beat ’em join ’em?

 

Except turning the page is an option.  Waiting doesn’t always have to feel like sitting in Limbo’s plastic chair reading a People magazine from 1999 while time resumes its frenetic pace around us.

 

Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.

~Bradley Whitford

 

In the meantime, I’m gonna keep on keeping on.

First stop is the aisle where they sell the um, B 12.

Because apparently that’s the BIZ.

 

What do you do when you get stuck waiting on the unanswered questions?