To Live The Impossible Dream

Ahhh, to dream the impossible dream.  If it is impossible then wouldn’t it be a fantasy? Are dreams and goals the same thing? How are successes measured? I know a lot of this is just splitting hairs but something to consider.

I recently watched “Percy Jackson, The Lightning Thief”.  When Percy and his companions ventured into the Underworld, Hades told them it was the land of lost hopes and dreams that never come true. Dante could have made that a level of Hell.  To live an entire life without attaining your hopes and dreams would be a form of Hell.  I know all dreams are not achieved but I do feel we all have to believe we can live them.  Otherwise, wouldn’t they be fantasies?

I have the dream thing down pat.  just ask snt of my previous teachers. I was the kid staring out the window with a glazed over expression. My mind clearly somewhere else. I am also decent at setting goals even though I tend to set them too high or too many at one time.  The one that I always struggled with was the word success.  It was always such a bad word because I could never get a handle on its definition.

Success is defined on google as, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”.  It is also defined as, “the attainment on popularity or profit”.  I had a distorted view of the word success.  When I left home to attend college I was going to make something of myself.  I had escaped.  I was going to get that degree and didn’t need anyone or anything.  It was my ticket to a big pay check, a classy job and proof of my success. As I blogged about in “I Believe In Me”.  I worked hard to make others proud so when I did graduate it was actually a little of a let down.  No big fanfare, no one was bowing and no job offers.  I went to a few interviews with no luck.  I was forced to take a minimum wage job working night shift in a convenience store.  It was difficult.  I barely made rent and had no money left over.  My bedroom consisted of a 4″ foam mattress, a lamp and a cardboard nightstand. This was not my idea of success.  I couldn’t tell my family that I was barely eating.  I was embarrassed that I had left home to make something of myself and here I was with my big degree making less money than everyone else.  Things continued to get worse.  I wrecked my car and lost my apartment.  I became even more stubborn, refusing to go home as, what I saw, a failure.  Next, I moved into a relatives house and worked as a waitress at a pizza place.  Most of my belongings packed in boxes in my car.  Another month went by and I had given up on a career.  I was done.

The phone call I dreaded.  I called my Dad.  “Can I come home?”  I was tired, lonely and defeated.  He was surprised that I even asked and quickly answered, “yes, of course you can.”  I tell you this whole story to illustrate this point.  All my mental suffering was at my own hands.  Not because I fought for months to keep my independence.  It was not because of my failure to begin my career.  It was not because anyone else was disappointed in me.  It was all because of my distorted view of success.  I thought it was a big pay check.  I thought it was a flashy job.  I thought it was a powerful position.  Turns out success is none of these.  Success is found in your character, in your work ethic, in your legacy.  It all cannot be summed up in a career.  It is what you are defined by as a person.

Matthew 16:26,  “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

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I Believe In Me

Before clicking on the link below I do feel I need to warn you that it is a little “risque”.

One day last week I stumbled upon the “Pretty Woman” movie on TV.  It had been a long time since I had last seen it so I watched while doing a few things around the house.  When the scene above came on it really grabbed my attention.  At first it was the fact they were in bed and it just caught me off guard but it was the dialogue that made me continue to watch.  Two lines stood out in particular.  “People put you down enough you start to believe it” and the line “The bad stuff is easier to believe”.  It stung me.  I literally said out loud, “oh, wow”.

Reflecting back to my childhood I struggle to remember the compliments.  They were there but I really have to think hard to pull them out of my mind.  The negatives, however, stand out clearly.  I was encouraged to go to college but I sometimes got the feeling that it was for bragging rights to friends not because of my merits.  My art work gained me an occasional “that’s nice” but nothing more.  One time I mentioned entering the school’s beauty pageant (I know you just giggled) but my mom told me I didn’t have a chance with “the way I walked”.  I do want to preface this with the fact that my parents were much older when they had me and had already raised two children before I was a teen.  Their life was much harder.  Discipline meant love and bragging only made a child spoiled and soft.    They never stood in the way of my dreams and when I asked if I could spend a month in London during my Freshman year, after a lot of discussion, they borrowed the money and sent me over the ocean.  I understand were they were coming from now but as a teenage girl it was hard to grasp.  Self-motivation was, however, hard to hold on to so I grabbed the one trait I had I knew I could count on then: stubbornness.

I remember a certain elementary teacher telling me I would never amount to anything; in front of the whole class.  She continued to say how I needed to grow up and some day act like a girl.  I was so embarrassed.  I refused to do math homework from then on even though she would pull me in front of the class and paddle me for not having it (I am so old we still did that).  I was laughed at by another school official when I told him of my plans to attend college after high school.  Sure, I didn’t always apply myself but I always believed I could.

The day came when I graduated high school with a wonderful class rank of 29 out of 99 and my SAT scores were barely average.  No scholarship offers there but I was accepted and attended college anyway.  Time to move away from home.  The year was harsh.  The professors heard my mountain accent and saw my horrible writing and I was again labeled. I can recall my art critiques and the papers I wrote.  I was so far behind on the very first day.   I didn’t know what the others in my class already knew.  The professors would openly call my artwork “crap” and my English professor said he could tell where I was from by my poor writing.  I would get people to proof read for me and sometimes they would just tell me “it might be easier to start over”.  Every now and then I would believe them.  When I got tired of feeling so dumb I would stubborn up and dig in again.  It was a cycle.  One that followed me into my career later as a teacher.

It was much later in life that I finally broke the cycle of stupid.  The first thing was I fell in love and married a man that has never put me down or made me feel less than an intelligent and completely capable woman.  The second thing was when I really and completely got what Christ says about me.  It ended those cycles.  “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”- Psalm 139:14  I don’t think we think about ourselves as part of His works.  “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”- Ephesians 1:7,8 Lavish means to bestow in generous and extravagant quantities.

So I say stubborn up and believe in you.  Christ does.  He died on a cross believing in you.

You Make Me Brave

I saw a post on Facebook one day that posed this question, “if you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?”  I thought I was really clever when I typed the word “nothing.”  Thinking, why would it be worth doing if there was not the threat of failure looming over you.  It stuck with me for days; the more I thought about it, the more I felt maybe the opposite was true.

I really don’t consider failure when I attempt a project like I am working on now.  Sometimes, maybe I should since I do tend to get over my head but I guess that is a blog for another day. I am a big believer that you can accomplish anything, within reason, and the right amount of effort. Consider this, if you focus on the failure then doesn’t that become what you are trying to accomplish? Let’s say you are carving a sculpture and all you can think about is how just one little slip and off goes an important part. Guess what? You will probably slip. Or you are dieting and all you think about is a yummy chocolate donut. Or if you approach Christianity by focusing on sin instead of love or grace. I think you get what I mean.

I grew up, for a time, expecting the worst. My philosophy then was based on the thought that I could never be disappointed with failure. Instead I would be surprised by success.  How crazy is that?  Why look at life that way?  It’s all because of one simple and very powerful word, FEAR.

It has taken a lot of years and a complete restructuring of my thought processes but I have conquered most of my fears.  I realized that with Christ in me how can I have fear?  What kind of craziness is that?  So the rest of them have to go.

With this I will Face Fears at Fifty in 2015.  It is with this attitude I have started working toward being an independent, professional artist. But there is one other fear in particular that still smothers me at times. The Mack Daddy of all my fears. It is time to get rid of my big fear of the water.  How?  Swimming lessons!  Paid for and set to begin next month so I can’t get cold feet and back out.  I can only go into it focusing on the success and not the failure.  I will be a swimmer in a month!

Enjoy this song.  Oddly it has water in the lyrics.