Dreams shouldn’t have ceilings. Lucky for me, my parents never imposed them.
This Sunday marks my 34th birthday—birthmas, as I like to call it. Each year for as long as I can remember, I’ve asked myself whether I’ve earned the numerical upgrade. If I’ve prodded further toward my dreams, the answer is yes, this year being no exception. With the release of my first novel underway, I’m feeling exceptionally grateful, particularly since a few months ago, publishing seemed far off.
When I was deciding whether to go the indie-with-an-agent publishing route, my dear friend Bill posted a blog comment that struck me straight in the heart:
|Remember the big benefit concert you and your band mate put on, oh, 16 years ago, with a bunch of different local bands? I remember it because that was the first time, out of very many, that I was like, “holy ****, this person is my age, and she decides she wants to do things and just goes out and…like…DOES them!” So, yeah. I don’t know whether I could ever have the willpower or drive to do everything a self-publisher needs to do, and I know for a fact that most people don’t, but I’m pretty sure you’ll rock it in your usual way.|
While I was already leaning heavily toward self-publishing, Bill reminded me of a vow I made at the ripe young age of 15. My mother was enduring a brutal battle with depression related to horrific abuse she experienced as a child. A friend in my church’s youth group had been kicked down the stairs by her abusive mother. And my best friend, Kellie, and I had recently learned to play guitar.
These events collided when Kellie and I took a dream I’d had about a song called Matarrah Taray as a sign. The otherwise nonexistent phrase quickly became a real song, the names of our beater guitars (mine Matarrah, hers Taray) and the title of a regional benefit concert to spread awareness regarding child abuse.
Many people deemed our mission sweet, but unrealistic. Fueled up with others’ skepticism and passion for the cause, we worked harder, producing press kits, a pasta charity dinner and local coffee house gigs featuring none-other-than us, while talking non-stop about all of it. Gradually, people started paying attention, and no longer in “That’s so cute!” type ways. We were featured in the morning news, a PBS documentary and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and sang the national anthem at a Minnesota Twins game dedicated to non-violence. Matarrah Taray became a two-year anti-child abuse campaign, culminating in a 16-band concert. In 1996, Kellie and I were awarded the Minnesota Peace Prize for our efforts.
You know what strikes me the most about the experience to this day? The vast number of people who described our “youthful” enthusiasm and belief that anything’s possible, notions they seemed to believe that everyone inevitably outgrows. At one point, I borderline scolded a reporter for referencing our “childlike fervor.” We’ll NEVER stop believing, I told her. Ever. Growing up doesn’t necessitate settling for non-starry skies. I still believe that.
While the accolades were lovely and we raised valuable funds and awareness for a worthy cause, Kellie and I benefitted most. Of the lessons I learned, my favorites still apply today:
- Genuine goals and dreams are never foolish.
- Goals and dreams are only meaningless if we withhold them.
- People will listen (and stuff happens) if we speak up loudly and long enough.
- Passion trumps know-how, though both are important.
- Support and skepticism can function as high-grade fuel.
- Music and words can change the world, if not the whole world, someone’s.
- There’s no point in stopping dreaming and endless promise in keeping on.
Creating fiction, poetry, music, performance or visual art when our hearts say DO is among the most admirable and important work anyone can accomplish. Publishing our work traditionally or independently when our hearts say DO can turn “childlike” dreams into reality. Dreams are only meaningless when we withhold them.
My birthmas wish is that all of you reading this will take a step toward your wildest dreams. Step into your authentic self and do something awesome. (If you report back later, I’ll bake you a healthy cake.)
I’d also like to extend special thanks to my friends, family, mentors and readers for helping my most recent dream come true. My first novel hit the e-shelves this week! Talk about surreal…
If you’d like to purchase or otherwise support In Her Shadow by sharing links or “liking,” visit:
Thanks in advance for any support. ♥ If I can cheer you and your ventures on, please let me know.
***My official release, including the paperback, will take place in January. We’re going to party hardy!***
I’d LOVE to hear from you. What dream are you striving for? If you have trouble conjuring an answer, complete one of the following sentences: If I weren’t afraid (or alternate negative adjective), I would ______________________. If I could take a magic wand to my life, I would _______________________. What extra dream-seeking step are you willing to take? If still nothing pops to mind, I hope you’ll stay open to the possibilities.