To Live Your Dreams Spring Into Action

The following two tabs change content below.
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.
If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

Latest posts by Lisa Powell (see all)

To Live Your Dreams Spring Into Action - NY in Spring

I want to do with you what spring does to the cherry trees….

You wouldn’t know, from the gray skies, and the rain and snow yesterday, that it is the official second full day of spring today here in Troy, New York.

Spring sprung at 7:21 p.m. on Sunday evening, after Saturday night’s “Supermoon.” I spent Sunday, the Vernal Equinox, at a tea party with a group of girlfriends who had invited me to join their secret artists’ society.

We wore fabulous hats, sipped black tea from china cups, nibbled on muffins and scones, and downed a curried pumpkin bisque. I skipped the baked goods because I am on a “raw vegan” diet for Lent, but decided to indulge in one cup of savory soup which was, by the way, totally worth the diet “cheat.”

My artist friends and I updated each other on where we are with our artistic goals and creative projects, and set new targets and goals for the group.

It is going to be a creative spring!

Time to Bloom

To Live Your Dreams Spring Into Action - Cherry Blossoms
Photo Credit: Valerie Ucumari via Compfight

I want to do with you what spring does to the cherry trees…
Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.
You are like nobody since I love you.

~ Pablo Neruda

You are like nobody since I love you… Nothing welcomes spring quite like reading Pablo Neruda, one of my favorite poets of all time, and the one who wrote the famous line about the cherry trees.

I want to burst into blossom like the cherry trees. I want to write lines as beautiful as these.

Hopefully I will manage both of these while accomplishing the big goal I shared with my artist friends at the Spring Equinox tea, which is also one of my big dreams for the year that I’ve shared here at 8womendream.

I have a book to edit, one that tells the story of my own blossoming over several years, of how I left behind my own “barren winter” after a period of suicidal depression years ago, and planted and cultivated the seeds to live a life I love.

Setting seasonal metaphors aside for the moment, I now have a big, fat, 459-page book manuscript to edit.

Pruning the Garden

Editing a book is something like pruning a garden: plucking the weeds by cutting scenes that don’t “belong” in the book, making sure that the whole thing has a pleasing shape. As I trim the manuscript, it will leave space for more scenes to sprout up that tell the story of my “path to peace,” as someone who used to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression.

Last week, I finally curled up again with my 459-page book manuscript, the first draft of Burning Down the House. I had taken time off from the book while living some of my other dreams, including traveling to Hawaii for the first time over Christmas and spending the month of January traveling through India.

I recently recommitted to re-reading the whole manuscript by March 15, and clarifying my vision for the final manuscript. I did it . . .

What’s The State of It Now?

. . . And discovered that the book still needs a lot of work and trimming. I didn’t expect that it was yet in “gripping best-seller” shape, and yet it was still challenging for me to read through the parts that are still “rough.”

This is part of the artistic process, of course. Writing a polished final manuscript requires writing a first, and then second, and often third, and sometimes fourth, and then however-many-it-takes drafts.
Spring Into Action
I am reminding myself as I dive back into editing the book that, just as is the case with the flowers and the seasons, that sometimes it takes some time after you plant the seeds for an artistic idea to fully bloom.

I have had at least one reader already tell me that it is a “page-turner” and that the story is absolutely compelling, and that it’s compulsively readable.

This is something you want to hear from a reader!

Yet I have a vision for what the book will someday be, and can see that to get there from here that I still have a LOT of work to do!

Accepting All the Seasons of Our Lives

In order to move forward, I have to retain my faith in the vision of what I am creating, and also be able to accept the book at the point it is at now. I have to recognize how much I have already accomplished — recording a story that was at times very painful to tell, and writing 459 pages!

That is no small feat!

To live our dreams, I think it’s important to recognize where we are starting from, acknowledge how far we have come already, and then venture forward from a place of congratulating ourselves for all we’ve done to make it this far, as well.

If you are anything like me, you may still see the gap sometimes between “what you wish to become” and “who you are today.”

Yet it’s also important to ask yourself: what seeds have you planted for your dreams?

I am learning to think of this “gap” as seasons in my artistic works as well. There is a time to plant the seeds, and then we have to water and nurture them before they burst into blossom.

Honoring Our Own Seasons of Growth

I have to remind myself sometimes to honor these kind of seasonal rhythms in myself. I need to remember to forgive myself in those moments when I am not opening like a flower, full of color, beauty, glory.

Sometimes the days are gray. Sometimes my dreams are still germinating.

Sometimes, day to day, I feel frustrated with where I am right now, and then I remind myself that I always have the choice to either love and accept this moment as it is, or change it.

Anaïs Nin has a wonderful quote: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Sometimes we realize that whatever it takes to live our dreams, it is much more painful to abandon them.

Sometimes we simply cannot stop ourselves from growing into something beautiful. It is time.

Winter, Winter, Go Away…

This spring season, emerging from a bitter winter, full of ice and snow here in New York, and a period of more rest than usual for me (I tend to hibernate in frozen winter) I am ready to do whatever it takes to realize my dreams. Staying tight in a bud is more painful than taking action.

It seems to me that this season of renewal and rebirth is the perfect time to bloom where we are planted, and to make the most of our lives and our dreams, right now, starting from wherever we are.

Living our dreams, of course, requires taking action, so for me that means adhering to a schedule again of deadlines that I set for myself to complete editing the book manuscript and reach out to agents, as well as a target date for publication. At this point, the goal is to complete a polished draft by fall 2011, send a proposal off to agents before the holiday season hits, and then publish in 2012.

Wish me luck!

Flowering From Within

To manifest our dreams also requires believing we can do it.  Poet Galway Kinnell has some beautiful lines about this:

Spring Flowers Dream ActionThe bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self blessing ~

Everything flowers from within, of self blessing.

To me this means that every seed of a dream starts within a heart that is open to dreaming, within someone who loves herself enough to give herself permission to dream big dreams.

To dream big, and achieve those dreams, you have to on some level believe, deep inside, that you can achieve them.

What can you do this spring to nurture your blossoming self, and to cultivate the seeds already planted?

And what action can you take to bloom where you are planted now?

Spring into action on your dreams!


  • katie james

    I recently came across your blog and have been absolutely captivated by the writing. I thought I would leave my first comment here. I don’t know what to say, except to say that I have really enjoyed reading this post.

  • Katie

    Your posts are the sunshine in my week :)

    Hurray for spring and your book!

  • Wow – blooming where I am planted now? I feel like I’m still hibernating under a few inches of soil. Can’t wait for the consistent sun :)

    – Heather

  • Lisa

    @Ken GREAT quote… And so true. I am very selective about what I read due to that “editor in my head.” Grateful for it of course because it makes me a better writer… and yet it can be painful to read early drafts of my own work afterwards, as was the case here.

    Slogging through it :) and knowing that later drafts will be far more polished… Good enough to please that editor in my head. :)

  • Lisa

    @Cath so true, right? I was ecstatic when I finished the first draft of the manuscript… An important step… and yet still so far to go on this journey! It’s good. I like challenging myself :)

    Just imagine how good it will feel when it is: edited; when I find an agent; when it is published… on the book tour… Can I get a WOOHOO! ;)

    Step by step we live our dreams, right ~ isn’t that how it goes?

    Lotsa love,

  • Lisa

    @Julita can’t wait to finish the book and get you your signed copy ;) and am wishing you lots of love and happiness in 2011 (and always…). It’s really wonderful, isn’t it, to NOT feel the need to impress others anymore? I think it is one of the great benefits of “getting older” ~ I still FEEL very young but care a lot less about what others think… I just want to do my best, be me, live a happy life, be good to others. :)

    Lots of love! <3

    • julie

      Lisa, it helps that you not only feel young but you also look like a 20 year old! can’t wait to read your book, :)

  • julie

    am I really the first one to post? I am looking forward to 2012 so that I may read your book, :)

    I am thinking of setting small goals for myself and I mean really small, like getting enough sleep, getting my house clean and organized and spending time with people who matter to me…I have no need to impress anyone. I hope to make a good salary doing what I love, simple things like that.

    good luck with your book!!!

  • Great post. Editing is so over-rated ;-).

    I was talking with Remy about how dreams are complex, requiring us to grow as we move into them. Editing, publishing and marketing your book are still ahead for you — a website and possible book tour too. Sometimes we don’t realize how big are dreams become until we are knee-deep in them.

    It’s like working with someone who runs their Internet marketing at a level that transcends millions of companies on the Internet. It made me realize there is a level to this that I hadn’t considered — even with all that I already know. It’s now much bigger than I thought and needs even more work.

    Bring it on ;-)


  • ken

    I’m thinking of the quote by Colleen McCullough….”I have an editor in my head, that’s why I can’t read Harry Potter, because Rowling is such a lousy writer.” I wonder who gets treated better at the bank?