Then a question popped into my head, “What do you want?”
Where did this question come from? Do I really have the right to ask for and have what I want?
I remember reaching my 25th birthday and thinking that the time to party and have fun was passing me by as oftentimes I focused on my career too much.
There are days when I want to step back in time and say to that young woman, "You're only afraid because you have no idea how much fun is ahead. You'll leave behind a concept of what you're supposed to do in life. You'll break every rule everyone has set for you, and there will come a time when you'll break up with age."
It's strange how much numbers can affect us. Whether it's a digital read out on a scale at the doctor's office, the number on our license, or the amount in our bank account, numbers are everywhere deciding our success or failure.
Clocks tick down all the time as we race to make that meeting, get frustrated while we sit in traffic (I personally turn into a Gremlin who's eaten after midnight), or the calendar when we ask, where has the time gone?
But what if we stopped basing our lives on these numbers? The other day I tried to remember a friend's age stating that she was too young for a health condition she was facing. Was I stating that the health condition would be okay if she were a year older, a decade older? Why would I say it, if I don't actually believe it?
When we ask about age or the numbers in our lives what are we really asking? Is it a judgement on where our lives 'should' be. Is it a status symbol that maybe we are ahead of the game if we've reached a certain number up or down depending on if it's age, bank account, or weight?
We have relegated playing to the early years before we are teens; rebellion in the teen years or striving for that next step of adulthood; early twenty's are for having fun and making mistakes; thirties for giving to families and spouses; forties to having a mid-life crisis; fifties, well isn't that when we start trying to hide our age and we begin to be unimportant to society.
To me it all seems odd and strange, and frankly a little dumb.
If you haven't accomplished a huge dream of being a musician, olympian, artist, by early twenties it's time to hang it up because you have to become serious. But who decided all these ideas? What makes them so embedded in our culture?
Dreams are there for life. The love of laughter, playing, working hard towards your dreams pursuing your passion, all these things should never have to end because of a concept of time. If we were left alone, with good nutrition, no one around us, would we age in the same way, or would we find our own pace for life and our dreams?
These are the questions I have no answers for, but I leave them here to just to make you wonder.
Leave a comment and tell me your relationship with age and how it would be different if you broke up with it.
When I ask people about their dreams many times they've been caught up their daily lives and haven't found the time to think about anything more than getting through the day. Many have hidden passions stuffed behind to-do lists and tasks for others. But what is life without dreams or inspiration?The amazing author Roberta Gately shares today where and how she found inspiration in what many would regard as the last place on earth to find beauty or dreams.
Read her post about finding inspiration and then realize that you have the chance to begin writing your story with Roberta at our Dreams Tasting Event January 30, 2015 in Cambridge MA sponsored space by NGIN workspace. Come learn from this amazing woman and begin writing your own inspirational story. Click Attend Meetups on our home page to learn more. Buy Tickets
Inspiration – that elusive gem, that idea that transforms our thoughts and our maybes into the essential themes of our stories. But, from what magical place does that indefinable pearl emerge? For me, as a nurse and humanitarian aid worker, I find inspiration everywhere. I stand in line at the bank and watch as a woman peers into a glass shelf, and seeing her own reflection, preens with undisguised admiration. I write furiously. I want to capture the set of her eyes, the slight grin as she realizes how much she likes her own image. Everywhere I look there is inspiration and, eager to record it all, I am never without a pen and paper.
When I first went to Afghanistan, I knew at once that everything there was inspirational, not just the people, but the rugged landscape, the steaming green tea, all of it sustenance for this writer’s soul. Afghanistan is a place bursting with inspiring people and inspiring stories at every turn, and my first novel, Lipstick in Afghanistan, was written not just to share my images of that land, but to help dispel the ceaseless illusion that the people of Afghanistan are either terrorists or wild eyed peasants. While Afghanistan’s ethnic and border wars have long shaped its violent and stubborn history, it has unfairly colored the world’s view of its citizens as well. But the reality is that the Afghans I know are at once both resilient and graceful, and it was those diverse, dissimilar and ultimately inspiring qualities I hoped to bring to my story.
Until 9/11, Afghanistan was essentially off the world’s radar screen. People knew little and cared less about a land that seemed so alien and so far away. All of that changed of course after 9/11, and as the world’s attention finally focused on that destitute and long neglected corner of the world, the devastating truth of the Taliban rule began to emerge; torture, murder and unspeakable crimes against these people. It was worse than any of us who knew the country well had imagined.
In the spring of 2002, I volunteered with a French aid group and was posted to a remote region of Afghanistan, and I was struck, not for the first time, by the wretched reality of daily life for Afghan women. While they have quite literally woven and then held together the fabric and traditions of their families and country, they have often been invisible – the last ones fed, the last ones heard, the last ones to really matter. They suffered at every level, and under the Taliban, access to healthcare for women had been severely restricted. As a result, Afghanistan had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. UNICEF recently reported that an Afghan woman dies of complications related to childbirth or pregnancy-related complications every twenty minutes, a fact that still my makes my heart ache.
And yet, despite it all, these are women who inspire with every breath they take, for instead of living with bubbling hostility, the women of Afghanistan choose to live with a quiet grace and a hardiness of spirit that takes my own breath away. And even with their countless recent miseries, the women of Afghanistan are nothing if not resilient, and that is especially evident in the long-standing myth of the lady rebel. The lady rebel is revered - a warrior for goodness, they say, and her exploits are legendary, her reputation for courage boundless. To hear the stories of this remarkable warrior is to believe. Even now, I can almost see her as she flies on horseback across the top of a distant mountain range, her plaited hair flying out behind her, a bandolier strung across her chest, a gleam of determination in her eyes as she saves her countrymen from one calamity or another.
That intriguing legend was the seed, the beginning of my idea for Lipstick in Afghanistan, but the lady rebel was only one of many inspirational characters I encountered there. I often spied a tiny young girl as she trudged along the village pathways and fields. This young girl, who was destined to live a life of drudgery, of endless chores and arranged marriage, never missed an opportunity to pummel whatever local boy crossed her path. For a female who was surely destined for a life of never-ending work, it seemed to me that she was releasing a lifetime of power in the short time she had to be free, really free. She had a mischievous, engaging spirit that gave me hope for Afghanistan’s future, and gave me yet another seed for my novel.
But there is inspiration here as well. I find it in my patients struggling to get well, or the fretful refugees I know. I find it too in rush hour traffic and lines at the bank. The world is filled with miracles, and I hope that everyone, especially writers, finds their own and shares them with the rest of us.
Author of Lipstick in Afghanistan and The Bracelet (Simon & Schuster/gallery)
A little over six years ago I began a journey of checking off items on a long list of dreams. The list was made in a time when I was lost and trying to find solid ground. I didn't know where I was going to live, I was alone, my career was up in the air, I was tired, and I didn't feel like things could get any worse. I looked at that huge list of 101 Dreams and thought, "Yeah right. Who am I to want this much? Who am I to think I can do this?" Five years later I'd accomplished 91 Dreams and found a life I couldn't have imagined - one filled with friends, a beautiful home, two new careers, travel, dancing, and parties,and most of all, a new confidence in who I was and what I could accomplish.
It was a crazy path to get there and it wasn't always rosy. At times it was downright terrifying with lots of bumps. I learned to trust in a higher power, to speak from the heart without fear of what people would think of me, and to not settle for anything less than magnificence.
In June of 2013, with THE LAKE HOUSE published and being chosen as the best summer read in major cities, a new book concept coming to fruition, and a very comfortable life with my bridal business going well, I felt that I had arrived where I wanted to be.
But life doesn't sit still.
At book clubs, women talked about my list of dreams. I began to hear conversations about how it was better to be the giver than the receiver in life and many couldn't imagine doing what I'd done. I started to see how women put their dreams last to care for everyone else first. I recognized who I'd been before pursuing my list in so many of these women, and I have to say I was tired of the conversation. So I thought I'd change it.
I put together a contest to bribe women to achieve their dreams. I got answers that they wanted to lose weight, get a six-pack, and many couldn't name their dreams. If they could they found they couldn't find space to pursue them.
The conversations bothered me. Meanwhile, my agent was stating that the book I was thinking about wasn't fully formed and I didn't know where to take it. Along with that my bridal business began to have trouble. Though life was still good, it seemed that no matter how hard I worked, I was spinning my wheels.
Then I had this idea.
What if I could create the space for people to pursue their dreams? A day long event where attendees could try out different items on their list and then go online and connect with the women they met at the event. We could start to change the conversation.
I knew it wouldn't be easy, but as I opened doors and looked into doing these events I knew I needed help. I found what was to be a great business partner, but in order to make it all happen I had to sell the security of my home for the seed money and move back to my hometown of Boston. As soon as I'd done this, and right before my move, I had to fire that partner. But I found new partners and put together a team only to land in Boston and have many of them not return my phone calls. The new web designer I hired was destroying my website and I had to fire him because I was doing all the work. This dream to help others was looking more and more like a nightmare.
I found myself without a home and my stuff in storage waking up every day trying to make this business happen and falling asleep with it still on my brain. I had a new book proposal due and a bridal business to relight. There weren't enough hours in the day.
I write this on the day we launch the site, not for pity's sake, but to show you the truth of pursuing a dream.
I realized this morning, that I stand in almost the same place I stood six years ago when I made the list: No solid home, uncertainty of the huge scale of what I'm going after and if I can do it, fear very much present, and though I have incredible family and friends cheering me on and two young women who work hard to see this dream come to life, I feel alone. Further, it now costs me money to work instead of bringing in income.
So why keep going?
Because I believe this conversation that women and men have about their dreams needs to change. I know after six years of pursuing my dreams that our dreams are the roadmap to life we're meant to live. I have no idea how this will turn out, but I've opened doors and met incredible people along my way, and I'll always be grateful for what this journey has taught me. I now believe I've earned a MBA with the hands on experience I've had.
Dreams aren't about fluffy clouds and magic wands. They are about finding the torch to light when you feel like the light has gone out.
What's your dream? How have you or why haven't you pursued it? Leave a comment and let's start this conversation.
I each person reached for the quality of their dreams - the long term path of their lives, well I believe it brings more joy to the world.What's the quality of your dream?
I thought it would be fun to put up a challenge this Thanksgiving. Everyone knows the holidays can be filled with many emotions: gratitude for the good; tension and happiness shared with family; new love; sadness over losses; stress about overpacked schedules - oh yes, it's a wonderful and difficult time all at once. What if this year you did something that made you feel really great? You took the time to ask your closest friends and family not just what they're most grateful for, but what dreams are knocking around in the back of their heads that they'd love to do.
Now you may find some resistance. I know I do. I mention dreams and I hear all the reasons why people can't do what they'd love to do someday. But what if you told them that you were going to do something you've always wanted to do this year and you wanted them to kick you in the butt every once in awhile to keep you focused and that you'd be willing to do the same for them.
Then make a pact that this year you'll help each other. Now I'm not saying go to Uncle Sal, who spends most of his days complaining about the weather and the damn news. Find two to four people in your life that matter to you. Tell them that you want to see them make their dreams come true and you need a little help with your own. Talk about why you want the dream and why you're a little scared to go after it.
This is not a competition. No one's dream is harder or better. This is about caring about one another's lives in a deep way.
I know it's scary. I know you might not even know what to go after. But this Thanksgiving ask the question - If you could have anything this year, what would you want?
Terrie Kerth wouldn't let anything get in the way of her dreams of becoming an adult Senior Level Ice Skater in Moves In The Field, not age, not an arsonist, nor what anyone said was impossible.
I've heard many women say that it's simply too hard when you have a family to make your dreams a priority. There's barely any time in the day as it is how are they going to pursue their dreams? These are things I can't speak on so I've turned to an expert on the subject Lara Krupicka, who has three children and a bucket-list of dreams she's pursuing. I thought I'd have her share her insights on today's blog.
I'm a Mom. And I Have a List.
by Lara Krupicka
I’m a mom. I have a husband, three daughters, a dog… and a bucket list.
Because bucket lists are for moms. And dads. They’re for gradeschoolers, tweens, and teens. Really, a bucket list works for anyone who is living, right?
A bucket list about what you want to do before you die. But it’s more than that. It’s about making the most of what time you have. It is about giving your best and becoming your best for the world around you.
Yes, life as a mom can be pretty demanding. And it doesn’t leave a lot of room for mom-centered activities or adventures. But if something is worth putting on a list to do in your lifetime, it is worth being creative about fulfilling. It’s worth being patient for.
Admittedly, bucket list living looks a lot different for me than it does for others. I came home from my first spa day to greet my children as they arrived in the door from school. And then I started preparing dinner. And finished folding the laundry. Thank goodness for no-chip manicures!
But I also took my first ride on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty with three young ladies crowded around me. I had the double joy of observing the Statue up close for myself, and seeing it reflected through the eyes of the next generation. I experienced the perplexity that is tweens and teens in the city – the waffling between “grown-up” non-chalance and wide-eyed wonder. New York City with them became new all over again.
You see, having children does not subtract from my bucket list experiences. Instead it adds to them in ways I could never have imagined.
So let me ask you this: if you’re a mom (or one day plan to become a mom), where better to nurture your love for adventure than alongside your kids?
Which means it has to start with you. And so I often ask moms, ‘do you have a bucket list? What have you always wanted to try or see or learn?’
Too often I hear the answer, ‘I don’t know.’
And that’s okay.
But I think the real answer is, ‘I forgot.’ Because every mom I know was a little girl once. A little girl with dreams. A little girl with hopes for the future. A little girl who maybe longed to one day become a mommy… and so much more.
Because bucket lists are for everyone, even moms.
Click Here For Lara's Website and More About How She Balances The Bucket-List Family Life along with her job as a speaker and author.
101 Dreams Come True Contest - find out how you can win luxury prizes and dream vacations by pursuing your dreams. Learn why author Marci Nault of The Lake House (Gallery/ Simon & Schuster) has chosen to create this contest and how you can be part of this monumental movement.
For five and a half years I've been pursuing my list of dreams. It started with a question, "What If I wasn't afraid and didn't play by the rules?" By asking that one question my life drastically changed. I'm humbled by all that I've gotten to experience and the people I've met who've become friends. I've seen the world, become a published author, spoken in front of crowds, learned new skills, and I've flown literally and metaphorically. But now it's come to a point where my journey needs to become about others. I guess it's true, when you're selfish and fulfill your needs you have more to give back to the world. I've gained so much that now it's time to share. I felt so alone when I made my list, but as I embark on this part of the journey I'm no longer walking alone. I have a vision of a community of dreamers. People coming together to name their dreams and to pursue them together.
I want this to be a movement of people who don't settle in life but reach for magnificence, because only in dreaming can we see the life we're meant to live. I believe a world filled with people who achieve their dreams will be a world that's safer, kinder, more giving, and loving because we all know that we need a little good news these days!
To be honest I have no idea how I'm going to do this, but I'm just walking this path and figuring it out as I go.
Last Sunday I had the honor of speaking to The Red Hat Society leaders from all over the country and even Canada about going after their dreams. What an incredible group of women that touched my heart, taught me about the power of aging not only with grace but with zest and passion, and above all how to embrace all that's incredible about being a woman.
I told the women at the conference that I felt they were the most powerful group of women in history. This society of red hat and purple clothing wearers celebrate being women and are 70,000 worldwide strong. If each one of them, through example, showed women that going after their dreams is not only a right, but also important, we'd create a movement of women believing in their own worth instead of the media's example.
In another week or two I'm going to begin a movement of getting women to go after their dreams, so I thought it was a good time to revisit my thoughts on the feminist movement.
I was born a feminist. By the age of five, I'd decided I'd never take a man's name. I didn't understand why I wasn't allowed to become a priest or even an altar girl. I wanted to know why professional sports were all about men. I was angry whenever I was told that I was a pretty girl and should marry rich. Even the women in my life, who always told me I could do anything, still instilled the idea that I needed to know how to cook and clean to be a proper wife someday. I was taught through example that my worth was based on how much I took care of others.
There's a power in being a woman. It has nothing to do with hair color, breast size, weight, or age. It comes from the softness of being feminine, and within that softness is a power equal to, if not stronger than, the warrior spirit of a man. A man becomes speechless at the sight of a confident woman, who knows who she is. When that same woman looks at a man with love and the need to be loved, his heart belongs to her. Since the beginning of time men's Achilles heels have been women and the fear of women's power caused femininity to be suppressed.
Somehow in our need to find equality, women haven't turned to this power, instead they've tried to become more like warrior men. I think this has left many men wondering who they are supposed to be in relationships, in the work place, and in life. They've been asked to be softer, more emotional, and many are unsure if they are supposed to open a door for a lady and pay for dinner or if they're insulting the woman when they do so. It has created a generation of lost gender identities and many men have become what my friend calls, 'flow boys', I'll go with whatever you want me to be. A therapist once told me, "We are trying so hard to build our girls that we are burying our men." This leads to women being frustrated, men being lost, and no one being able to be who they really are. In our search for equality as women, we've somehow decided that men need to be less or different. How is this any better?
Why can't we have equality in the workplace while still being feminine? Why do we have to demand that men help out in the household when both partners go to work? Shouldn't this be common sense? Do we have to give up being female and the softness we need in order to have this equality? There has to be a better way that allows us to be ourselves while still leading.
I was speaking to my friend Jane from Midlifeblogger, and she said, "The definition of feminism, is that women should be able to be whatever they need to be without judgment while being treated equal to their male counters. If a woman wants to stay home and raise her babies she can still be a feminist." Then she added, "You my dear, are the face of the new feminism. You can be independent, travel the world, like who you are, speak your mind, and still allow yourself to be a feminine, soft spirit."
The more I go after my dreams and seek a life where I believe I can have it all, the more comfortable I become with who I am. I've come to realize that I love being a woman and as I embrace my femininity, my softer side, I feel more power in who I am.
For many years, men have dominated. There are women who believe that it is our time to be on top and that men should be lessened in order to achieve balance. In truth, women aren't conquerors and to become like men would only create more masculine imbalance. In our softness we need to see, that it is in accepting one another for the true spirits we are that we can find balance, equality, and happiness.
Here's the truth - there's never going to be perfect timing. You're never going to have all the knowledge you need to go after what you want.
Two weeks ago I made my 91st dream come true - I landed my first double jump in figure skating. Landing a double or an axel in figure skating as an adult is incredibly difficult. In order to make it happen you have to fall over and over and over again. And even though I wear pads on my knees and hips I worry about my hands, my elbows, and getting injured. This fear locks me in, causes me to wimp out and I get stuck doing the same dang mistakes repetitively. So what happened once I landed it? I jumped around, I sent a text to my coach, and then proceeded to lose it. I haven't landed it since. Today, my coach and I went back to the drawing board going through each and every position my body needs to hold in order to create the rotation in the air. Sometimes I think of the money I've spent just to learn these jumps. I wonder if it's worth it, but then I realize, where do I go from here if I don't go for it? I can remain doing the things I do well and be content. Or I can work hard, become frustrated, get bruised, hit exhaustion all with the chance I'll never feel it again. But to feel that rotation, the freedom, the knowledge that I overcame my fear - yep it's worth every penny and bruise.
When I think about 91 of my biggest dreams completed, it doesn't seem real. I have to look at it, to revel in it, to realize all the magical moments from the last five years that have taken place. And then I have to wonder where I go from here?
My priest told me a story one day about a man who was an alcoholic. The man didn't feel that he deserved God's love and Father Anthony said, "For one month I want you to go out each day and sit in the sunlight. You don't have to be anything to receive the warmth of the sun. This is like God's love." The man went out everyday and for the first month he didn't even feel worthy of sunlight. The next thirty days he began to heal and to feel worthy of love. And on the 90th day of receiving he realized he was casting a shadow and needed to turn and share this love with others.
I have ten more items on my list, but at this point I feel the need to turn around. I've been writing about my journey for three years; sharing all that's happened with the hope to inspire. Now I no longer want to hope, but to create a movement. It's time for people to step up, take hold of their dreams, and make them come true. For those who go and sit in the sunlight and soak up its worth have more to give to others in the end. It starts with a simple question. If you could have anything, go anywhere, or do something in the next year what would it be?
If you've ever seen the movie The Scent of a Woman then you know why I wanted to learn to tango. Tango is sensual, passionate, and fiery. And when I began taking lessons, the dance was harder than I would've imagined.
Salsa was easy for me to learn. I picked it up almost instantaneously in the clubs -twirling and dipping with ease. But Tango is an art form that must be trained. Every student begins by learning to walk. In tango you slide your foot forward and lean your body over the weight of the front foot. Sounds easy, but not when your balance feels shaky and you might just teeter over. Backwards walking is even harder and there's nothing natural about the positioning.
And then there's the closeness. Argentine tango is not for the shy. It's done in close embrace and you lean your chests into one another for balance. You must rely completely on your partner because it's almost like those exercises in group training programs where you push against one another's hands at an angle and keep each other up. If one person pushes to hard the other will topple over. If one person gives in and lets go the other will fall on their face. This is tango - a partnership of balance that must be kept while moving around.
But when done properly, when all the parts flow together and you lean gently into one another, feel the beat of the music and flow to its passionate rhythm you feel like you float on sensuality and grace.
I was lucky enough to go to a Milonga in Buenos Aires. Here a live band played incredible tango music. Master dancers moved together across the floor effortlessly in a swirl of heat. And it was here on this dance floor that I fell in love - no not with a man - but with the dance.
I will spend the rest of my life learning this dance. I'm not certain I will ever master its beauty for it takes so much time and practice. But forever I will be enchanted by its music and movement.
And maybe some day soon, I will find that perfect tango partner. The one that knows just the right lean and we will dance together forever.
I love this story your about to read. It's about an amazing woman, Kirsty Spraggon who gave up her very successful career and flew half way around the world to pursue her dream of becoming a talk show host. She didn't have a job with any of the networks, or a high paying salary to fall back on. But she had the gumption to follow what many would say was an impossible dream. I'll let her tell you the rest in her own words, but realize she's living proof that dreams come true when you take the leap. At the end of her story follow the links to watch her doing what she does best - bringing great stories to the world.
Sometimes I reflect on where I’m at in my life and I find myself shaking my head and quietly laughing. What in the world am I doing?! I ask myself and in the next moment, I know; I’m listening to my soul and making a way to realize what my core is telling me. I’m one of those “crazy” people who has an outrageous dream. Mine is to become a talk show host. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but that’s the main idea. For real insight into my dream, think–an Australian Oprah. Did your eyes widen at the audacity of my goal?
The great thing about being a dreamer who shoots for the stars, is that I know I’m not alone! Most of us will admit that we have a dream. Somewhere along the line, I grew to feel that “boldness” is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s key to getting what you want. It’s part of the recipe that gives me fuel to drive forward. It’s 1/3 of my mantra: a pinch of delusion, a dash of audacity and a shot of courage. I believe those three ingredients are what it takes to commit to your dream and be effective. I’ve even engraved it on a bracelet I wear as a reminder to take a dose when my faith is running low. I’m sharing it with you now because it’s working for me.
It’s been a year since I sold everything I owned, at the height of my career in Australia and moved across the planet with 2 suitcases to Los Angeles, or “Lala Land” as some like to call it. Deciding to change my life didn’t happen in the most dramatic leap, there were two parts. The first change came when I was at the top of my game in sales, ranked in the 1 per cent of RE/MAX’s global network of 121,000 sales agents. Something was nagging at me though; I wanted something more and new I wasn’t living my purpose. I wanted to become a speaker & to help others to find success. So, I went to every speaker seminar I could find and got to it I called it my year of speaker university. The best lessons I learned during my time as a speaker, were the power of words and connecting with people. I watch the best speakers make individuals feel like they were the only person in the room of thousands. And eventually, I learned how to connect with people too. It was exhilarating and mutually fulfilling. Something magical happens when people share thier stories and truly connect. I wanted to hone in on that part! That feeling lead to part two of my decision to take the biggest leap of faith in myself, of my life.
The self help guide, ‘So You Want To Be a Talk Show Host,’ was a life saver. Kidding! I don’t even know if there is such a book out there. And my inbox wasn’t full of invitations to host a show, so I did what I always do when I want something badly enough. I do it. I wish that sentence was longer, more profound and not as easy for people to throw away because that cliche is gold! Please keep in mind that I am not super human and building a show without any experience as a host, or interviewer and no camera training whatsoever, has left me paralyzed with fear at times. If I were to sum up my toughest times, I would say that Sir Edmund Hillary said it best, “It’s not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves.” It really has been about conquering myself emotionally and mentally.
What keeps me going at even the most challenging of times is a ‘knowing’ that this is what I am supposed to do, an inner guidance that keeps pushing me forwards.
Here we are today and Kirsty TV is a real online show with incredible guests, amazing stories and a real audience. I’ve received videos and messages from people across the world telling me that what I’m doing is important and that they are watching. I am connecting with people indirectly and directly! I can’t put into words what it’s like to sit with someone as they share their story and let you into their vulnerability. I’m truly honored to be an outlet for these people to share their message with the world.
So what do I know for sure a year into the journey? I know that I could have lived with loosing it all and having to go home and live with my parents but I could never have lived with the not knowing or the not giving it a go.
This journey has been my biggest learning. I have grown, stretched and become someone I wasn’t 12 months ago. The lessons you get when you put yourself into such an uncomfortable situation are profound, they make or break you.
So there it is. Whatever your dream may be, make your way to it. See yourself as what you will become, especially when everyone else may think you are delusional. Be bold, be persistent, make it happen and ask for what you want. In the beginning, you may be perceived as a ‘nobody’, but you must have the audacity of a ‘somebody’. Audacity gives you the ability to fake it till you make it. Above all, you need courage, as without this I don’t know how you would survive the dream crushers and naysayers. You need the courage of a lion to stand strong in the most uncomfortable of situations, to keep moving forward, to keep getting back up when you fall, pushing onwards and upwards.
I hope you find your own recipe for success but in the meantime feel free to borrow mine, all you need is ‘a pinch of delusion, a dash of audacity and a shot of courage’.
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I met today's guest at Chick Lit Central. (I love the woman over at Chick Lit Central's website and Facebook Page who tirelessly champion for women writers and fabulous books so please check them out!) On the day of my guest blog they asked their readers to post their biggest dreams in the comments. I loved reading the comments and seeing so many women doing fabulous things in their lives. When I came across Meg's dream I had to contact her. Meg Munson wrote that her dream was to become a stay-at-home mom and she did it. What was once considered normal and expected of women, today is a very tough dream to realize. Most households need the double income to survive, but Meg had a dream and she found a way to do it.
Sometimes I believe there's a battle woman have whether they're stay-at-homers or working-moms that causes them to feel the pressure to stand-up for their choice. I think every woman should be supported in whatever choice she makes and I love that Meg fully embraces her dream.
Before I give you Meg in her own words, as many woman feel, Meg didn't want to self-promote so I'm going to do a little raving for her. You have to check out her website and all her talents and the amazing things she does. www.megmunson.com.
Photo by Stacey Colton Photography
My name is Meg Munson and I am honored to be your guest blogger. I am a mom to two beautiful girls ages 9 and 7 and I also have a very athletic stepson age 13. I have been married to my husband for 10 years and I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mom. When my husband and I got married and decided to start a family, it was my dream to stay at home with our daughters. I did not want someone else to raise them. My days are now filled with delight in watching each new accomplishment my daughters make. I can't imagine missing their first smile, first step, first word or first day of school every year. Being a mom has brought me so much joy and I am extremely grateful for finding a company that has allowed me to be at home with my family everyday.
After my first daughter was born, I started researching home-based businesses. While on one of my favorite mom sites I came across a great article written by another stay at home mom. It was all about these great gourmet candles and amazing all natural products. I did a lot of research on the company and loved what I found. The best part about this company is they offered more than one way to make money. They offered retail, wholesale, and fundraising opportunities as well as building my own team. There were no monthly quotas or commitments to join. I figured if this other mom could do it, than I could give it a try too. I love our products and they practically sell themselves. (I mean who hasn’t burned a candle before? LOL) I have helped many other women and men start their own home business. I have been with my company for almost nine years and have met the most amazing people and have found lots of joy in helping others achieve their dreams.
Don’t get me wrong there have been some bad days and struggles along the way, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. We have had to keep a tight budget and not go on as many vacations as other families, but we make it work. My days don’t always go as planned, but that is the great thing about working at home. I can make my own schedule and work around my kid’s activities. (Boy do they have a lot and my first job is really a chauffeur!) I know many women out there don’t think they can work at home with small children, but it can be done. Knowing what your schedule is like daily and writing it all down helps you plan out when you have free time. Believe it or not there is free time! I use this time to blog, make connections with new people, call leads or update my website. I may only have an hour of free time during the day, but I am a night person and accomplish most of my work after the girls go to bed. It is all a balancing act and knowing what is right for you. If being a stay at home mom is one of your dreams, I am here to tell you it can be a reality. The smiles I see on my girls’ faces are my reward and I can’t imagine anything better!!!
I’m a collector of perfect moments. Those times where you wouldn’t change a thing and though you know that in a flash it will pass, for that brief whisper life is miraculously beautiful. The collection sits within my mind and heart and during rough patches I can revisit knowing that the pain will slip away just as the perfection has.
Sometimes I journey back to a hillside in Futaleufu, Chile on a starry night where I sat in a field with five other people some I’d just met a few hours before. A young man’s fingers plucked guitar strings sending a melody into the soft, quiet breeze as blazes of color streaked across the sky in a meteor shower. From within the pocket of my sweatshirt I pulled out a chocolate bar from Bariloche, Argentina a hot commodity in this tiny town that has groceries delivered once per week. I broke pieces and handed them to my new friends. As the candy melted in my mouth I lay back and detailed the moment in my mind.
Then there’s the bank of the Charles River on the Fourth of July with the water lapping against the grassy shore as the first fireworks exploded into the dark sky, timed to the music of the Pops.
And of course Florence, Italy in Piazza Signora. Alone, I curled into the stonewalls of the ancient buildings reading a decadent book as I sipped wine and listened to flute music fill the square. An artist sat across the street, looking up at times and I realized he was drawing me. Immediately shy, I tried to hide under my hair. He crossed the street, lifted my chin, nodded and began to draw again.
And last Friday, I sat in Cafe Vittoria in Boston's North End writing my second novel. I listened to the cappuccino maker steaming, the crowds of children lined up for gelato, the tourists making dinner plans, and the locals speaking in Italian. I drank my latte while I tried to find the perfect words for the opening of my story. Joined by a very good looking man, I put my writing aside and for a couple of hours had one of the easiest conversations of my life. Though I was hopped up on caffeine, exhausted from lack of sleep, and feeling a little overcooked from the day's heat, as I watched him smile and laughed with him, yeah, it was another perfect moment.
When you ask people about their life stories, many will tell you the hardships, the pain, the worry they’ve encountered. As a writer, I collect these stories as well, trying to reach the depth of emotion so that someday I can create the hearts and souls of my characters.
But for me, the moments of bliss, the fragments of life that seem touched by the grace of God when I’m so amazed by this incredible world, these are what I try to imprint on my soul. They’re the moments that make me realize why I’m alive – to touch, taste, love, and be embraced by the majesty of life.
I sat on the swing my grandfather built when I was a little girl wondering how ten of us ever fit on this small slider. The stars shone through the lush trees and a soft wind rustled the leaves. Fireflies burst little bits of light all over the yard and the frogs croaked in the woods. I could hear my mother washing dishes in the house that my grandfather had built when she was a child. It was a scene straight from my novel, The Lake House, and for the first time in months I took a deep breath.
My lungs almost didn't know what to do with the air. I'd been running at a the pace of a jack rabbit, breathing shallow while living on adrenaline. The wild ride of the last few months with my book coming to publication and my 90th dream coming true hadn't allowed me much time to think or process all that had happened. Somewhere in the mix was my birthday and people trying to celebrate. My broken toe had healed, my book had been chosen as an Amazon Premier Featured Summer Read. Book signings and book clubs, offers to speak at different events - all of it was exciting while I pushed for more.
But with all the excitement there have been questions. What's next? When you finish your list what will you do? What's the next book? Will there be a sequel? Will sales be big enough to make it to the Lists?
In this moment of silence on my grandfather's swing, I realized that I needed more deep breaths. The future is going to happen, well in the future, and all the questions about what will transpire have no answers at this point. All I can do is this moment and if I allow the summer to slip by, if work is everything and I forget to live, to breathe, to enjoy the moment, I'm going to miss this incredible present.
So today I breathe, even if the air is a bit humid. I hike in the lush forests of New England. I go to the beach and I play with my niece on skating rinks. I do the work that's before me and then I play. For no one ever looked back at life and said, "I wish I hadn't taken that moment to really appreciate life."
I think more than anything this summer, you should put downtime on your bucket-list. For the lazy days of summer past are the perfect time to move a little slower, sit with a glass of lemonade under a tree and read a book or laugh with friends. It's the time to be a child again wondering at the world and playing in a sprinkler. Happy Fourth everyone!
And doesn't my book look awesome in this Thunderbird. I tried to convince the owner to drive me around in it for a book tour across the nation, and he almost agreed. LOL
I can't quite remember when Leslie and I became friends. Our friendship was so quick, open, and supportive that I felt she'd been in my life for more than just a few months. Every picture I saw of her was stunning and I kept thinking how I'd love to have her style. Then I found out that Leslie was somehow doing everything she was accomplishing, and the list is long, while battling cancer.
I've come to know Leslie as having incredible courage, strength and the biggest heart. She's fighting breast cancer with such style and grace and the stories she's shared through her fight have come straight from the deepest part of her relationships and being. I know her story will make you think deeper about life, dreams, and living to the maximum. I encourage you to buy her novel, What a Mother Knows, and get swept up in the beautiful talent that this woman holds. Now, I give you Leslie Lehr in her own words.
You know how people’s lives flash before their eyes when they are dying? At the moment I realized I could die, it wasn’t my life that flashed, but my dreams.
I greeted my cancer diagnosis in August with a great deal of denial. I was a healthy, active woman when the lump was detected by a mammogram. What A Mother Knows, the novel I’d been working on for years, had just sold. I had editing to do, classes to teach, and a family to manage. There was no time to be sick.
Besides, I knew I would be fine. My world-renowned surgeon said so. After two successful surgeries, I was excited to go to my final post-op appointment. My book release was confirmed for May and I wanted to share the news. But when my doctor came into the examination room with my pathology results, he had other news. The good news was that there’s a 90% cure for my kind of cancer; the bad news was that it involved chemo.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
“You’re going to lose your beautiful hair.”
That’s when it hit me. I wasn’t fine. It was only hair, after all, but it was my hair. Before, the C word felt random. Now, it felt personal. I began to cry.
My doctor held me while I sobbed, leaking mascara on his clean collar. Then he pulled his cellphone from his pocket, dialed an oncologist, and handed me his phone to make an appointment.
That’s when my life flashed before me. Not the struggles, but the good parts. I’d married Mr. Right, I lived near the beach, my daughters knew that I loved them, and I had a voice in the world through writing. My sixth book would be out in the spring. Then I wondered: What if it was my last?
I’d begun What A Mother Knows years earlier during a difficult divorce. I put it aside when inspired to write Wife Goes On, then wrote the TV movie to match. But I dreamed of seeing What A Mother Knows in print - I had to make it work. Everything I believed important was in this love story between mothers and daughters, wrapped up with mystery and music and magical places. And I believed that ‘a goal is a dream with deadlines.’ So, I rewrote it until I knew it was my best work. But would it be enough to account for my life? Would I be proud to have the title on my tombstone?
The answer was yes. I stopped crying.
Other survivors said cancer would be a wake up call, that I’d appreciate each moment more. But I already sighed at the sight of a blue sky and stopped to smell every rose. I already appreciated my life – and I wanted to keep going. So, during those hellish months of chemo and radiation when the fog lifted for even an hour, I squinted through the chemo tears and let my numb fingers bleed on the keyboard as I put the final touches on my novel. What A Mother Knows was the dream that kept me going in the dark of night.
Treatment is ongoing, but so is life. And the day I pulled on a wig and posed with my book in front of my picture in the bookstore window, my dream came true.
I could die happy now, but I won’t. I’ll just be happy.
Leslie Lehr is the prizewinning author of the novels, What A Mother Knows, 66 Laps and Wife Goes On, plus three nonfiction books, including Welcome to Club Mom. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Huffington Post and anthologies such as Mommy Wars, The Honeymoon's Over, and On Becoming Fearless. She was the screenwriter of the romantic thriller, "Heartless" and wrote "Club Divorce" for Lifetime. Leslie has a BA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, an MFA from Antioch, and teaches in the world renowned Writers Program.
How far will a mother go to protect her child?
An unsettling, emotional and suspenseful novel of the unshakable bonds of motherhood, in which Michelle Mason not only loses her memory after a deadly car crash, but can't find her 16-year-old daughter, the one person who may know what happened that day. But the deeper Michelle digs, the more she questions the innocence of everyone, even herself. A dramatic portrayal of the fragile skin of memory, What a Mother Knows is about finding the truth that can set love free.
The first time I met Caroline Leavitt was by reading her New York Times Bestselling Novel Pictures of You. Her beautiful book has been kept in a special place - in the short stack of novels that inspire me to be a better writer. Since publishing The Lake House, I've gotten the chance to meet Caroline through an online writer's group. She's a warm, caring, and humble person who comes straight from the heart. I'm so honored that she's taken the time to write about what it took for her to pursue the dream everyone said was impossible.
I hope her words help you to find the inspiration to continue to pursue your dreams no matter how many times you're told "no." We all hear about instant success when we see someone accomplished, but so often there's a long struggle behind it. I give you the amazing Caroline Leavitt.
The first word I heard, about my writing, was “no.” I was a little girl, eight-years-old and sickly with asthma, and I spent most of my time writing stories in the library while my friends were outside in the damp or the rain or the humid heat playing. While they romped around, I imagined I was a ballerina in Spain or a doctor in Africa, or sometimes, an asthmatic little girl who was a famous writer. But when I told my mother that what I was going to be when I grew up was a writer, she shook her head. “Be a teacher,” she advised. “Or how about a nurse? You can help people that way. Stories are just a waste of time.”
Being stubborn, I didn’t listen. All though school, if I could write a story, I would. I never wrote a real book report, but instead, made up the books and then wrote reports on them, and I wasn’t discovered until my senior year of high school, when the teacher went to find the book and discovered it didn’t exist. When I had to go see my guidance counselor about college, I told her I was going to be a writer. She blinked at me. “Pardon me,” she said. “But I see no evidence that you could ever be a writer.”
I was seventeen when I began sending out my stories, packing them in those big brown self addressed stamped envelopes and sending them off to magazines. They always came back with form letters. “You’re wasting postage,” my father said, but I kept sending them out, anyway.
In college, I got into a creative writing class, one of 15 terrified kids under the scrutiny of a then famous writer. The first time he talked about my story, he held it up at the edges. “Let’s be frank,” he said. “This is totally crap.” I felt the tears streak my cheeks as he talked about how my lack of characterization, my lame plot, the deadening affect of my prose, but I didn’t leave. The next day, when I came back, he raised one brow at me. “Back again for more punishment?” he said.
“I’m here to learn.”
And learn I did. Every night, when the other kids were at parties or in the city, I was in my tiny dorm room, scratching out stories, working to make them right, sending them off, and always, always, getting those big brown envelopes back again.
When I graduated college, I had to have a job, but to my parents’ shock, instead of going for teaching jobs or nursing, I took low level terrible jobs so I could write. “Where’s your future?” my parents cried. I was fired from my job at an answering service, when I kept giving the emergency messages to Dr. Foot the obstetrician to Dr. Foot the podiatrist. I was fired from a job at a puzzle factory when I was too frightened of the glue press. And I was fired from my job typing because this was before computers and spell check , and I just made too many mistakes. I came home, discouraged, and when I did, there, in the mail, was a big brown self addressed stamped envelope. Disheartened, I ripped it up, scattering the pieces on the porch. I was about to walk inside when I happened to look down and then I saw it. One word.
Swooping down, I frantically put all the pieces together. I had won the Redbook Young Writers Contest. Seven thousand dollars and publication. An agent. A book deal.
“I’m finally a writer!” I told my friends. But really, when you think about it, wasn’t I always a writer? If you put your whole heart and soul into something each and every day, if you are on the journey, isn’t that as important as the destination? I was a writer--my dream--the first time I picked up a number 2 pencil and wrote, “once upon a time” when I was eight. And the dream’s never over. Every day now, I sit at my computer and there isn’t a moment I don’t feel lucky and blessed. Not a moment I don’t also think that the best way to make dreams come true is to never stop dreaming.
Caroline Leavitt is the New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You, which was one of the Best Books of 2011 from the San Francisco Chronicle, The Providence Journal, Bookmarks Magazine and Kirkus Reviews. Her new novel, Is This Tomorrow, is a May Indie Pick, and a San Francisco Chronicle Editors Choice. Visit her at www.carolineleavitt.com