Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dreams Come True

A month ago this past weekend, I gathered with thirty-six other women at a retreat center near Charlotte for a weekend centered around the idea of REST. The weekend included Holy Yoga, personal reflection, Bible study, friendship and fellowship. It was a lovely gathering and time of soul-nourishment. And this weekend happened because I had a dream.

I don't say that to toot my own horn. But it is true. I had a dream and I took steps to begin to make my dream a reality. I found a place, I asked people to come, I made an agenda, and I collected supplies--ranging from glue sticks to chocolate--to help ensure the fulfillment of the dream.

And as I sat looking around the room at our rented conference center, I saw an amazing bunch of women, who came with stories to tell and wisdom to offer, with tears to cry and burdens to shed. I heard laughter and smelled coffee and felt the warmth of wrap-around hugs and I knew...my dream had come true.

My dream was to create space where women gather, outside of the context of their typical lives, to engage in this thing that is greater than any one individual. The dream was to pursue our intimate identities from God and to celebrate who we've been made to be. The dream was to practice the disciplines of meditation, silence, scripture study, and yoga and enjoy the company of our fellow travelers along this sacred journey of life.

I had this dream because I know that something very special happens when people step out of their typical routines and social circles and place themselves in a new context. There's often a clarity that comes that allows people to experience their essential selves and to gain perspectives that are so difficult to find in the midst of the everyday.

One month ago, one of my dreams was experienced as a reality. What a privilege.

It started me thinking about a few friends who are teaching me about the pursuit of dreams. Pursuing dreams is risky and dreams can fail. I think that's why we so often hold back. But sometimes what we dream about is something we have to offer that is exactly what the world around us needs.

For example, my friend Kim is a social worker who loves kids more than anyone I know. She's fascinated by the idea of children's play as their work and is intrigued by how children actually go about the business of learning. She has studied and observed how so much of young children's play now is not conducive to their learning. And she had a dream to do something about that.

She started Natural Wonders Play Studio. In Natural Wonders, children are presented with a variety of mostly organic, natural sensory materials like beans, grains, or salt dough and additional tools such as spoons, scoops, and buckets, and a minimal amount of props, such as realistic looking toy animals. In the background, children hear calming instrumental music.

In these classes, there is minimal instruction from Kim. Yet this hardly means she is not involved. As children develop their creations, Kim is readily available to expand their play by asking questions and offering constructive suggestions. The kids are eager to talk with her about their work projects and receive her amazing, approving smiles with joy.

At Natural Wonders, you see things you do not typically see in most gatherings of three- to eight- year-olds. You see concentration and cooperation, even between siblings. You see kids having dedicated attention to a project. You see creativity and imagination and self-regulated behavior. And when I step back in a Natural Wonders class, I look and see that Kim's dreams are also coming true.

And then there is my friend Marie. She's a writer with a love of philosophy and fashion. She goes about life asking great questions and looking fabulous as she does so. She had a dream to fuze her to passions and Glamour Owl was born.

You might wonder why the world needs another line of t-shirts.  It does because this line isn't just about you looking good in your cute shirt, which you will, but it is about asking you to lead a more examined life, as Marie puts it. It's about feeling good about who you are and what your purpose is, knowing the essential truth about yourself, and living from that space.

So Marie took a risk and put her dream out there. And now her dream is moving around the country, on various bodies, helping people look and think differently. And bringing them joy. Who can't help but smile at her owl mascot, Fred?

 My blog is about the idea that we can tell good stories with our lives. Kim and Marie are telling great stories with their choices and their passions. They are taking risks and succeeding, despite the inner nay-saying voices.

What about you?  What's your dream? The thing you've always wanted to do or wondered about or thought the world could really use? What's stopping you? Take a moment today to allow yourself to listen to your dreams and ask what are some steps you could take to make that dream come true. If you like, share them here with me. I love to hear a good "dream come true" story.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Do It Scared

I've written about my amazing writing teacher before, the lovely and talented Maureen Ryan Griffin.  She is teaching me to write, yes. But she is also teaching me about living. Maureen's classes are less about craft and technique than they are about finding your own voice. I thank God often that He had a divine appointment for me with Maureen.

A couple weeks ago she offered a free webinar on banishing writer's block. Her thoughts were well-organized and inspiring and I truly enjoyed the seminar. But there's this one thing she talked about that keeps coming back to me.  She talked about this idea that sometimes what stops us from writing is that we are scared. Scared that people won't like our writing or won't like what we have to say. Scared that we are no good. Scared that we are good. There are a lot of ways to be scared when it comes to writing.

Maureen's advice was this: Do it scared.

Do it scared. Write anyway. Push past your fears and get on with it. Do it scared.

This isn't just sage advice for writing. It's also wisdom for the pursuit of most any other dream or goal. But this isn't easy for me. I'm a person who is easily paralyzed by fear. I'm not exactly what you'd call a risk-taker. I like things stable and secure. But I know that's not how I'm meant to live. It isn't God's design for me. It's why I return, time and again, to 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I can't say that I live out of this truth all the time, but it is my heart's desire. That's probably why Maureen's advice resonated so much within me. 

And so...after my last writing class, I wrote a poem. I'm pretty comfortable putting my essays up here. My poems, not so much. I have a lot of fear about exposing my poems to the light of day. But then I heard Maureen's voice telling me to Do It Scared. 

And so, here goes. I'm doing it scared. But I'm doing it, and that's what matters.

September and Everything After

with thanks to Adam Duritz

blue sky
crisp breeze

golden stars fall
from mother maples
and butterflies

looking for any
last blooms

The rays from
Autumn's sun
are sharp
and serious--


like the memory
of love

like the butterfly--


but gone