This week, I’ve been thinking about the times when staying true to your dream feels like you are rowing against rapids in the middle of a vast, swiftly moving river that isn’t moving in the right direction.
I don’t care how many perfectly wonderful dream-come-true stories you lay at my feet, I know that dreaming tests the limits of your capacity to stay with it to the end.
It’s because life can be unpredictable, sometimes messy, and filled with stretches of challenging situations that test your resolve and your capacity to handle everything thrown your way.
The easy part of dreaming is giving up. It’s the staying with your dream through all the ups and downs to create the future you want that is challenging.
This has been a difficult year for me preceded by a stretch of time marked by both wonderful moments and stressful heartache. I am stuck in this pattern of taking four steps forward and five steps back.
Just recently, I came down with bronchitis as my workout regimen was beginning to reshape my health. I was ill for a month, unable to attend my classes and watched the decline of the gains I had been making.
This week, I began slowly making my way back to my old workout schedule, only to spend Saturday sleeping the entire day away in order to recover. Being sick for such a long period of time was frustrating to deal with as it made me feel more stuck, which seems to be some grand overall lesson I am being challenged to accept.
It’s enough to make me shake my fists and swear at the night’s sky.
Everywhere I turn I’ve encountered brick walls and delays that are matched only equally by personal challenges and family heartaches. All of it has forced me to pause and question my personal dream.
“Shouldn’t this all be easier?” I find myself asking the sky, as if expecting the sky will answer back at me.
My thoughts dwell on how much more I will be given to handle until I find myself fighting back the tears that want to show the world that I am cracking inside. I’ll breathe deeply and turn my attention to the present moment, bringing focus to my breath as I remind myself of what is wonderful and working in my life.
Sometimes I succeed at stopping the tears, other times I fail miserably.
It’s a process.
The reason I am sharing where I’ve been emotionally is not to depress you, but to let you know that life will still happen to you while you are living your dream journey. Sometimes family obligations, illness and personal tragedy will slap you and your dream to the curb, but you must not give up.
Honestly, I cannot imagine my life without the feelings of hope and accomplishment that working on a dream brings to your life. Dreaming makes life interesting and exciting and it certainly softens the blows that life will swing at you out of nowhere.
It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be sad, or angry, or frustrated.
These are normal, powerful feelings that are meant to be explored and not shoved aside to the far corners of your mind because you think that you must always live in the flow of positive thoughts and emotions.
Feelings, even sad or negative ones, are meant to be felt and dealt with in the moments they arise so they won’t keep nagging you. If you stuff them down and try to ignore them you run the risk of using them as a mantra for creating and living an unhappy life.
Being stuck can be frustrating, I KNOW.
But as my mom always said, “Catherine, nothing lasts forever.” And I know in my heart and soul that this is true and eventually this situation that is beating me blue will pass and life will take on a new trajectory.
In the meantime, the only way I know for dealing with feelings of anger, despair, sadness, frustration and other negative emotions while staying true to your dream is do do something creative–no matter how small of a creative exercise it might be.
Creativity is the antidote to negativity.
Creating something new funnels your raw emotions into projects that shift your focus away from what you don’t want, or don’t like, towards new possibilities and hope. Time will stand still as you take a timeout from your life to create. You don’t have to work on a major creative project to feel the benefits that taking a creative break can bring.
Here are 20 Simple Creative Ways to Help you Stay True to Your Dreams:
1. Read a good book, even if it is just one chapter.
2. Add images to your vision board, even if it is only one.
3. Go for a walk in nature.
4. Play with children.
5. Dance around your kitchen to your favorite music.
6. Dig in your garden. Pull weeds.
7. Plant something in your garden.
8. Paint something.
9. Write. Anything.
10. Create a 150 lifetime goals.
11. Fix a meal for your neighbor.
13. Dye your hair.
14. Rearrange your furniture.
15. Sew something.
16. Visit a lake, the ocean, a stream, a waterfall, or a fountain. Make a wish.
17. Draw your dream in the sand at the beach.
18. Skip stones. Make another wish.
19. Buy chalk and write yourself positive chalk messages leading up to your front door.
20. Leave positive Post It Note sayings wherever you go to inspire others.
In order to survive setbacks and difficult circumstances that seem beyond your control is to do something with their emotional residue. Creativity frees the mind from emotional chains and allows you to be in the moment–far from pain and regret–to the place where your dreams live.
I am not perfect. I am human.
I wish I could promise you that painful experiences won’t happen to you when you dare to dream big, but I would be lying to you.
What I can tell you, is if you stay with your dream the painful experiences will become part of your dream story. The stories people find the most inspirational are the ones where the hero overcomes adversity and incredible pain to triumph and thrive.
It’s the thing that movies are made of.
Your difficulties can inspire others to stay with their own dream journeys. You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to remember that you are human and that “this too shall pass.”
Just don’t give up.
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