Coming Home To Our Childhood Dreams

“Your heart is my home until our days on earth shall end, and we meet again…”

I couldn’t stop weeping. My friends Lynne and Jesse, two dynamic visual artists who had met a decade before in a fireworks explosion of love, were getting married, and Lynne had talked about how they had come together across thousands of lifetimes to meet in this moment, and how he was her “one love.”

It was a love that transcended space and time, an extraordinary, magical love, and it showed. This was no ordinary wedding.

All us guests had been asked on the invite, entitled “A Curious Love,” to dress in costume. It was an Alice in Wonderland-themed wedding!

All Hail the Queen
I decided that it would be the easy and obvious thing for me to be the Red Queen, which I adapted to be the Queen of Hearts. For my birthday last April, my best friend threw me the world’s most spectacular surprise birthday party, in which she made me dress up as a queen.

We’d gone out to dinner at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant, My Linh, and when we got there they took us to a private room where my friends were waiting to shout, “Surprise!” Steph had brought a floor-length red-gown encrusted with fake jewels, a birthday tiara, elbow-length white gloves, and tons of fake jewels for me to wear.

The long dining table was covered with fake rose petals and fake red jewels.

Too over-the-top? Not for me, apparently. I reveled in it, hammed it up and posted my album on Facebook as “The Queen of the World.”

Time to Re-Visit the Royalty!
So when my friends announced their costume-themed wedding, it was easy for me to pull together a queenie outfit.

I went to the wedding with my friend Steve, who assembled what was possibly the world’s most random and ridiculous outfit, consisting of an orange T-shirt featuring the sports team the Beavers; giant green sunglasses twice the size of his head; a fake black moustache; a brown smooshy hat embroidered with butterflies; a giant blue bowtie with white polka dots; and a squishy stuffed yellow and orange duck.

There were butterflies at the wedding, superheroes, Venus, Marie Antoinette. There was Alice of course, and the Mad Hatter, who just happened to be the groom. There were people dressed as flower children, and two children (baby twin boys) dressed entirely in flowers.

It was simply magical.

Lynne and Jesse, by creating this vision and inviting us all into it, had allowed us all to experience a fantasy in real time, to live a bit of Heaven on earth, and to let go of any conceptions about what “real life” should look like.

Returning Home…
I was so struck by Lynne’s beautiful hand-written vows that announced that she and Jesse had been searching for each other across lifetimes. This love for them was returning home.

I find for me in my own life my greatest loves and greatest dreams have had that sense of inevitability about them. Something just feels right. Everything just clicks into place.

When I was 20 years old, my life mission as I saw it at the time was very simple. This is what I wanted for my life: making books, making children, making love.

When I graduated from Princeton with my degree in English and Creative Writing, I wanted nothing more than just to be a successful writer, and yet I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to “make it” financially.

So I did what lots of English majors do, and ventured into PR and marketing. It paid reasonably well, and I was good at it, although it didn’t stir my soul.

I thought this is what life required of us — to be practical. To do what we think we “should” do in order to “make it,” be financially successful, tow the line, be “good citizens.”

The urge to write more creative pieces never left me, so I did freelance journalism on the side sometimes, and dreamed of writing books in the future.

Until One Colossal Failure Almost Derailed Me…
After a few years in the “real world,” and working at “real jobs” 9 to 5-plus, I decided that I wanted to take a crack at the writing life again. I took a few more fiction writing workshops, and looked into Master in Fine Arts programs in writing.

I finally settled on five schools to apply to, took my GREs, worked on my writing samples, and threw my hat in the ring.

I waited, and waited to get the envelopes back in the mail telling me I’d gotten in. One came back — rejection. Another. Then another. Then another.

Then number five. No, no, no, no, no.

I was absolutely, utterly crushed. I told no one except my parents and then boyfriend, who would later become my husband (and who still later became my ex-husband).

I was not used to academic or career “failure.” I had always gotten in everywhere I applied, and had always created what I wanted in my school and career endeavors.

Not getting in — to five schools! — seemed impossible to me.

I think the biggest mistake I made may have been requesting a reference from a famous writer I barely knew. She apparently wrote a scathing letter.

I found this ethically a bit questionable, since she could have simply said, “No, I will not write you a recommendation, since I don’t feel I can in good conscience write you a good one,” if she really hated my writing that much.

Life moves on, however. Ego bruised, I stopped writing, and instead became a swing dance instructor with my ex-husband. My creativity found another outlet.

Coming Home to Writing
Finally committing to writing my first book all these years later was like a homecoming. It was also incredibly scary.

Now I would have to really show the world, and more importantly myself, that I could do this. It wasn’t just a “pipedream” anymore.

It was becoming reality.

This weekend, I will meet with my writing coach for the sixth and final session of my “Memoir in a Year” class. My complete manuscript is due to my coach on October 10th (10/10/10).

I am finishing up the final chapters in my book and then will focus exclusively on editing. I can’t believe it’s almost “done.”

Of course this is still draft one, so there’s a lot more work to come, yet I’m so far beyond where I really thought I’d be by now…. I’m really making it happen.

A Homecoming of the Heart
Walking the spiritual path has been like this for me as well ~ I feel a deep sense of “homecoming” with all the peace and joy in my heart. I believe we are all essentially enlightened beings who have simply forgotten all the wisdom in our hearts from multiple lifetimes temporarily, while distracted by these very busy, chaotic lives.

I believe peace, joy and love are our original, natural states — observe the great joy in simply living that radiates from any baby or small child — and that the spiritual path is often a matter of “unlearning” all the fear we’ve learned to wear as our masks in society, and to let go of everything until we drop back into pure essence.

AS Dogen has said, “When we discover that the truth is already in us, we are all at once our original selves.”

I feel so happy to be getting back to my “original self,” to the little girl who dreamed of being a famous author, to the 20-year-old who thought, someday I want to write books, have babies and adore my handsome husband, and for me that’ll be enough.

What are the dreams that feel like “coming home” to you? What does your heart still yearn for? Can you create the space to cultivate that in your life today?

Lisa

Lisa of 8 Women DreamLisa is a freelance writer and consultant who has published articles, essays and poems in journals and newspapers across the United States. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton University, and earned her MPA at Harvard in 2005. Lisa launched her dream to write her first book by signing up for Ellen Sussman’s “Memoir-in-a-Year” class, speaking her story out loud at a Take Back the Night rally, and committing to a regular writing schedule. She recently achieved another milestone — 250 pages written in her manuscript! Lisa is currently bi-coastal with her home in historic Troy, New York and her heart in San Francisco. Lisa is also a lindy hopper, blues dancer and belly dancer. She has traveled extensively on four continents. Lisa’s post day is Tuesday.

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Lisa is a freelance writer, consultant and life coach. She has her BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton and her MPA from Harvard. Lisa recently finished the first draft of her book manuscript, Burning Down the House. Her dream is to publish this first book and teach the world how to discover their hidden joy. Her post day is Tuesday.
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  • Great story. The editing part of the book is the hardest part of writing a book. You haven’t been editing chapter by chapter as you go? If not, I’d find an editor and begin parsing the book out chapter by chapter. Editing an entire book at once usually makes most authors give up because the task becomes too much all at once. There are lots of websites where you can place an ad for an editor. Some will charge you fees; some won’t. You can try getafreelancer.com, guru.com, bookmarket.com/newnovels.htm or elance.com. You should be a part of a writers group, so ask the group who they recommend. You may also want to check out pred-ed.com/pubagent.htm and accrispin.blogspot.com. When you get a literary agent (should you feel you need one) sometimes they will further edit your book. When you think about your title, don’t get too attached to it because if you go with mainstream publishing, your publisher will maintain the rights to change it and probably will. You have to be open to feedback and let go of control at some point. Having someone else edit you is a good way to get use to the process. Best of luck to you.

  • Julie

    10/10/10 Due Date, I love it!!!!

    Congratulations Lisa on a job well done, so proud of you!

    you asked, “What does your heart still yearn for?”

    My heart yearns for something to yearn for, not sure if that makes sense. as I get older less and less things get me excieted. but going for a 2 hours back ride this weekend got me excited and feeling like a kid again. I am hoping to get in a great physical shape this year, will try to do more hiking and more skiing, spend as much time as I can outdoors.

    I guess you could say that I am yearning to have more energy!!!

    • Julie

      bike ride not BACK ride, see how tired I get working those 12 hours shifts, haha

  • pranavi

    I feel so happy to be getting back to my “original self,” to the little girl who dreamed of being a famous author, to the 20-year-old who thought, someday I want to write books, have babies and adore my handsome husband, and for me that’ll be enough…..

    these lines are soooo touching Lisa… much love and luck to you….

  • p.s. just to clarify about my “making books, making children, making love” vision, I mean “making love” in a broader sense of the world than just the most, fun obvious way ;) although I mean that as well! :-)

  • @Cath, I love, love, love this: “Life is so preciously short, keeping what we love , the true essence of who we are, keeps us young in spirit and reaching for more.”

    AMEN girlfriend.. honored to be playing in this game of life with you – someone who keeps us ALL reaching for more… You’re such a superstar! Love you tons! <3

    @Remy I know me too <3 I was there with my parents today… it's actually not even the house I grew up in (that one was sold :( and yet the feeling is there of coming "home" and being loved unconditionally, no matter what.. My parents really really rock. :) xoxo

  • Remy G

    Every time I visit my childhood home, even if its just for 24 hours, I get renewed – there is just something about being around love and support and “no matter what” that keeps me going. Great questions! xox Rem

  • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

    When I first started blogging it was like coming home. Raising Brian (my son) was like coming home. Dancing NIA with Laurie was like coming home. When I started working with tech guys it was like coming home.

    Each time it happens I wonder what took me so long to return to those things I loved in childhood. Raising kids can put you in touch with it too – I can’t tell you how much I loved Brian’s coloring book years – sitting with him coloring for hours and remembering how much I loved it when I was a child.

    Life is so preciously short, keeping what we love , the true essence of who we are, keeps us young in spirit and reaching for more.

    Cath