Do Something!

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Day 111

Some days are harder than others. You can feel a bit deflated. You tell yourself “What’s the use? It’s all so exhausting.” These are the days that you need to remind yourself of the good, the joy, the bliss. These are the days that you need to follow your heart. You know what you are capable of. It’s the story of your daydreams. You take yourself there in your head at the end of the day, on your way home on the train. Your dreams are full of “what if’s?” when you  fall into bed and bury your head in your pillows. In the corner of every hour, every minute, every second your desires call to you, wondering why you have abandoned them. You know in your gut, that you need to go. You know you need to say “yes”. You know that nothing is exhausting and everything has meaning when you are on the path that calls to you.

So choose. Today. Choose to walk another step towards your dream. Choose to answer your own calling.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” 
― May Sarton

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Just Dance!

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DAY 103

My dance teacher sat behind the desk and looked up from the print out of my yearly results. I had asked him if I could dance. I had meant did I have the results that would allow me to take dance as a major. I was holding on tightly to the wooden chair I sat on. My fingers were crossed. My legs were crossed as well. I’m fairly sure that I held my breath as I waited for his answer.

Until I had enrolled in the college I hadn’t had much formal dance training. My sisters were ballet dancers and I had taken the odd jazz class here and there. But I loved dancing. It was the thing I was most passionate about. I had picked up a dance minor as part of my teaching degree, and had worked hard to ‘catch’ up. I was fascinated by contemporary dance history and spent hours in the campus library immersing myself in the lives of inspirational dancers like Martha Graham, the mother of contemporary dance.

I spent weekends studying dance theory and every chance I could I stole time in the studios practicing my technique and rehearsing for practicals. If I would have slept in the dance wing of the college if they had let me.

But in spite of my passion and desire to be a dancer, here I was sitting across from one of the heads of the dance school waiting for him to decide my fate.

I was waiting for this man to give me permission to dance. I was waiting for him to give me permission to follow my dream.

Sometimes the person we lie to the most is ourselves.

We become very clever at blaming the world and those around us for whatever has stopped us from chasing our own dreams. The world and the ‘others’ are the architects of our own failings. If only someone had believed in me. If only someone had believed in me enough.

Somehow we convince ourselves that we have no responsibility for our lives and ourselves. It’s easier to live with ourselves if we have no control over what happens to us. We abdicate responsibility and wait for someone, anyone, to take control and give us the green light.

Perhaps you are telling yourself that you can’t achieve your dream because the world is against you and you never seem to get a break. You always seem surrounded by drama. Your family is a daytime soap opera. Your friends are always having a hard time. The dog needs an operation…and you are tired. Way to tired to follow your own heart.

We talk of ‘someday’, of ‘tomorrow’. We think of our dreams being reliant on something unattainable. If I just had more money or if I just had a better job with a better salary, if I went to a better school, or if I was with someone else.  If I just won the lottery then I could follow my dream.

So the truth is that if you are waiting for ‘someday’ then it will never happen. If you are waiting for someone else to give you the resources , or hoping to win the lottery to make your dream a reality, then you roughly have a 2,521,090 to one chance in Australia. I’m guessing that it’s higher in Western countries with much larger populations.

If you are waiting for something grand to arrive on your doorstep tomorrow, then don’t hold your breath.

Because it’s already arrived.

You arrived a while a go.

You are in essence the ‘lottery’.

You have within you all of the resources to create an extraordinary life. Within you is the ability and the strength to make your dream a reality.

You are all you need at first. And further down the track, as your life unfolds, you are still the essential ingredient to your story.

Who you are, what you believe about yourself and the world, and how you choose to be every day is critical.

You don’t need someone else to give you permission to follow your dream or to make your dream a reality, because you already have permission.

That day my dance teacher looked up at me when I asked him if I could dance. He smiled slightly as if he was confused.

“Do you want to dance?”

I nodded.

“Then you don’t need my permission to dance.”

No I didn’t. I don’t need someone else’s permission to be who I want to be in this world. Neither do you. Stop waiting for the package to arrive. The one that you think will make everything you have been waiting for magically appear.

Open the one that you already have.

Start changing your world.

DANCE!

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” 
― George Bernard Shaw

The definition of insanity

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DAY 53

22nd February, 2014

I had to wonder why I was here.

Here, at the table, having the same conversation, with the same friend about the same thing. The same conversation that we have been having for nearly four years.

Yep – you have that right. Four years!

Insane right? Well maybe.

What do they say the definition of insanity is? Doing exactly the same thing over and over, expecting a different outcome? Well here I was, asking my friend to see what I see every day. She is an extremely talented artist. Her work is quirky, dark and seriously awesome. So many people love her work. But she doesn’t see it. And here I was telling her the same thing…doing the same thing, and expecting a different outcome.

I had to wonder why she was in my life. I believe that people can come into your life, not only because they need you, but because you need them. You each have lessons to learn from each other. Ever had that weird scenario where it seems everyone you come across has the same stuff going on? Often it’s because you are the one who needs to change. Not them. The lesson isn’t about them, it’s about you. Surrounded by emotional vampires? Then perhaps the lesson is about you valuing yourself and your time and learning to say no.

So perhaps this situation wasn’t about what my friend wasn’t seeing. Maybe this was about what I wasn’t seeing?

Whenever I need to clear my head and think I either go for a walk to the beach, or I put on some loud music and dance. In this instance I headed down to the beach. There is a little old park bench I like to sit on, that has a great view of the city across Port Phillip Bay. Sitting there in the sun, listening to the waves lap up against the moored yachts, I pondered the facts.

My friend is a talented visual artist who is afraid of following her dreams. So she clings to the devil she knows. It’s something I totally understand, having been a single mother for a while an needed to pay the bills and feed my children. But denying her passion visibly eats away at her and almost every week she looks ragged or falls sick. Incredibly sick. It’s as if you can see her soul crying out to be released. The pain of her choice is etched into her skin, the fear of taking a risk on her ability as an artist, sits like a dark phantom behind her eyes. Whenever she has some time off, or a weekend where she has spent the time drawing and painting, it’s as if she transforms; her smile dazzles, her energy lifts and you literally see her breathe again.

As her friend, I don’t know what to do. I no longer know what to say to her and I am at a loss as to how to help her.

So what am I missing here?

Sitting on that bench, it didn’t take long to realise that I am a reflection of my friend. Perhaps not in all ways, but in some.

The very things that I have been trying to tell her, are perhaps the very things that I needed to hear myself.

It is no coincidence that I am surrounded by artists, film makers, writers, dancers and actors. Over the years I have left behind many of my artistic passions and pursuits for a steady income, and a professional career. Have I died a little? Maybe. Have I been afraid to follow my artistic dreams. Of course. And it has made me sick at times; cemented the fear and the pain in my heart. It’s not that I don’t love my day job. I do. But I have forgotten what it is like to create another world with words and to take people on a journey across my universe.

Until I started the DBM project, I hadn’t written a story or a poem for over 25 years. That’s a very long time for a writer to stay silent. It’s a lot of stories to keep buried beneath my skin. It is, quite simply, the very definition of insanity.

That day sitting on the park bench looking at the view of the city and the bay feeding into the sea beyond, I made a promise to myself. That I would listen to my gut and be the writer I have always been.

That was Christmas Eve 2013. A week later, on New Years Eve I started to write again. The Dead Before Midnight Project was born.

I’m still not sure how to help my friend, but I think I am a much better friend to her as the writer I always meant to be.

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”
― Vincent van Gogh

Achieving ‘once in a life time experiences’ with every day goals

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YAY! It’s time to talk about goals! I know that it probably sounds like hard work but I promise that by the time we’ve finished you will be writing up goals for everything! Every day goals!

Firstly, lets be up front and say that there are many ways of achieving your dreams.

Some of us are just so determined and focused that once we have decided that ‘this’ is what we are going to do, we just do it. Most of us however need a bit of help. It’s not that we don’t want our dreams to be a reality, we just get distracted by jobs and family and the latest episode of Vampire Diaries. So we need a plan, a bit of support and some very clear goals.

Over the past few weeks we have worked through a few key steps leading up to this moment:

  • We took some time to day dream! We established what our dream is and we fully connected to the emotion and passion it brings us.
  • We minimised the panic and self sabotage – before we overwhelmed ourselves and put our dream in the “too hard” basket, we considered undertaking the challenge for 30 days. Just a little 30 day trial…
  • We pledged to be an eagle, and shed our chicken status! We also looked for the amazing and extraordinary eagles around us; the ones who both challenge and support us, and thought how we would support and challenge them back. They need us eagles too!!
  • We mapped out our perfect life! We got a bit brave and thought about some of the things that we really wanted to achieve and experience this year and we….wrote it down!! eeeek!!!

Now we are up to cementing the process with establishing some very clear goals.

There are a few ways to write up a goal. We are all quite different, so some will resonate with you while others wont. Test them out. Give them a bit of a trial or mix them up. If one way doesn’t work for you don’t give up! Check out Google! There are many ways to support your dream.

Today we will look at two goal setting models:

1. SMART Goals

This is how most workplaces and coaching programs will develop goals.

While SMART goals are probably the most formal model, I find that they give you a great base for thinking about goals and achieving them. So lets start here.

S.M.A.R.T stands for:

S – SPECIFIC  What exactly will you accomplish or achieve?

M – MEASURABLE   How will you (and others) know when you have reached your goal?

A – ATTAINABLE  Is attaining your goal realistic with effort and commitment? Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? If not, how will you get them?

R- RELEVANT   Why is this goal important to you. Be very clear about why achieving this goal matters.

T-TIME BOUND   Exactly when will you achieve this goal by?

So just say that one of your dreams is to visit a relative for a special occasion. Or this year you want to extend your business online. Perhaps you need a bit of help with making this happen. Here’s some examples of how you would write this up as some basic SMART Goals:

  • By 30th June, 2014, I will create a Facebook store to sell horse feed and products on line.  I will employ a contractor to develop the site and payment interface.
  • On November 7th 2014, I will travel to UK to visit my grandmother for her 80th birthday. I will do this by saving $100 every week from my salary.

LIVING Goals

The LIVING Goal model is a way of strengthening your basic SMART Goal and also connecting it to your emotional commitment. This is where goal setting becomes heaps of fun, because you are writing down your dreams and visions!

We write up this goal as if it has already happened, or happening right now! As if you have travelled forward in time. So while your goal still has all of the elements of a SMART goal, it also has all of the elements of your dream.

Close your eyes for a moment. Perhaps your goal is to lose 15 kilos. Close your eyes and think about that moment that you step onto the scales and you have achieved you goal. How does it make you feel? What are you saying to yourself? Who’s there with you celebrating with you? In your mind look at your reflection in the mirror. Are you wearing a special outfit? How will you celebrate? Are you losing the weight to feel healthier or for a special occasion? Perhaps you imagine walking into your Zumba class feeling great in your skin? Or perhaps its to attend a wedding or to be able t get back into those awesome pre-baby jeans! Whatever the vision, take a moment to imagine how it feels to have accomplished what you set out to do.

Now you are going to write down your goal in a way that connects with the emotion that your vision. This is also a great way to differentiate between what is really meaningful to you. So for example if you have written down a goal of saving up $5,000 with a clear purpose, such as travel or enrolling in a course, or purchasing a new bed, then you are emotionally invested, and will work hard to make it happen. However if you have set a goal to save $5,000…for the sake of saving $5,000, you may be finding it difficult to get excited here. Sure you may envision looking at your bank statement and seeing $5,000, but if it’s not attached to something that you are emotionally committed to, then you will find that this goal will start to drop down on your priorities list.

Once in a life time experiences have a funny way of turning into multiple life time experiences once you get the hang of this.

My husband, Cristian, had dreamt of traveling to Japan since he was a little boy watching anime on the families black and white television. He grew up on a housing commission estate and as you may imagine, money and resources for his family were hard to come by. While his parents did the very best they could to give their children a good life, this definitely didn’t include overseas holidays, or family holidays at all. By the time Cristian and I started going out, he had resolved in his head that he would never actually visit Japan, and would have to make do with the visions of Japan he saw in games and movies.

I’m sure you can imagine what happened next…

We wrote down his goal as a living goal. It read:

‘It is the 24th March,  2010 and I am about to board the plane to travel to Tokyo for a three week holiday. As I step onto the plane, I am feeling really excited and so proud of myself that I have accomplished this dream.’

(Then we put his goal up on our wardrobe door with a photo of Tokyo in Cherry Blossom season…but we will talk more about ‘actions’ next time!)

We did indeed travel to Tokyo on 24th March, 2010, for three weeks in Cherry Blossom season, and travelled around Japan. As we left Australia to fly out to Tokyo Japan on the 24th March 2010, we took a fantastic photo of Cristian about to board the Jetstar flight from the Gold Coast. His massive smile says it all! This was exactly what he had imagined doing eight months prior when he wrote down his LIVING goal. Since then, we have travelled to Japan three more times, and that initial trip has forever changed the direction of our lives!

So this is it! Your our homework, or ‘dreamwork’ as I like to call it, is to choose one achievement or experience from your Perfect Life map, that you want more than anything to happen this year. Write it up as a  LIVING GOAL. If you feel a bit inspired, write up at least one LIVING GOAL from each area of you Perfect Life map.

Remember to give yourself some space to focus on yourself. Make yourself a cup of tea, put on your favourite CD, light a candle, sit in your favourite char in your house, or go for a walk to the park or your favourite cafe. Make sure you create the space in your life to think.

Most of all have some fun, and don’t be afraid to dream lovelies!