In defense of a dream
I feel sorry for people who don’t have a dream. And worse… those who put down others for following theirs.
I grew up in a home where it was not uncommon for us all to be home on a random Thursday afternoon. This was not because we were a lazy family, this is because all 7 of us were diligently following our dreams. Ironically, none of them included 9-5 jobs. I guess I could say that my dad’s job was 9-5 but him being an entrepreneur, he owned his own company so he could still be around when necessary.
My parents were at almost all of my sports games, band concerts, and also there to have breakfast with, because of their career choices. There were many times as I grew older that I would come in after a night out with friends and my mother would be there playing her little handheld yahtzee game waiting up for me. She was ready and eager to talk, see how I was and hear all about my life, this was the norm in my home.
Even as adults… we’ve got a mechanic, audio/visual company owner, nurses, students, entrepreneurs, and me the artist. Even further my dad still sings in a band, my parents met while both in separate bands. My brother is an excellent photographer, my sister a great drawer, my other sister and mom excellent at decorating, and my other brother a musician and artist. We were brought up to pursue our dreams, think for ourselves, think big. I remember being in high school and my dad handed me a set of 6 Anthony Robbins cassette tapes. I listened to those every night for years as I fell asleep. I could recite to you the amazing story of Colonel Sanders as he started up KFC, or how Walt Disney was inspired by an actual mouse. I couldn’t get enough and it forever changed the way I saw the world and how I’d later choose to live my life.
My family always supported my goal of being an artist. I was encouraged at every turn; I received supplies for gifts, classes when needed, and they paid for me to take extra art courses through the mail while going to high school during the day. It was no surprise when I decided to go to college for graphic design. I was fully encouraged. Through my 20’s I always pursued and kept my art going part time in between other jobs and raising my daughter. Later in my 30’s I met the love of my life who loved me for who I am. He really impressed me when on our second date he was at my house and he knew the names of almost every piece of my artwork and the stories behind them (the guy really did his homework!).
A few years later I after having another child, I decided that it was time for a career change and cI ut down my hours for my job to almost none. Now was the time for me to focus on my art exclusively. Well, as exclusively as can be done while also being home every day raising a baby. There are days that are tricky, I try to be in the moment with the kids and my husband and also take advantage of every spare minute in between to get work done. Most days feel disorganized and reactive, but I feel fulfilled to my core. My life feels so in balance, money is flowing, love is flowing and I feel like maybe a person really can have it all. Then I got confronted with whisperings of judgment I didn’t see coming.
I start hearing through the grapevine about a group of people (mostly one) in my life having all sorts of horrible, negative things to say about me. Such as comments about how I shouldn’t be staying home with my child and I should get a real job. I must be lazy. Why don’t I work? One person even using me as an example to their child in telling them not to turn out like me instead they should get a real job. Let me say at first I was super hurt, especially because all of these people have always been nothing but nice to me to my face. Secondly, I got angry.
Why did it bug me that they didn’t approve of our (my) life choices?
Who do they think they are to judge me? We are raising wonderful kids, our bills are paid, we are happy, fulfilled, and creatively I have never felt better, how could they possibly say those things? I will admit I had to sit on this thought for a bit, were they right? Could I possibly be choosing the easy way out? Then I got angry for a different reason, I wouldn’t change places in life with any of these people so why would I care what they thought? Why did it bother me that they didn’t approve of our (my) life choices? I’d never experience someone not supporting me in my dreams or the methods in which I raised my children.
Then I got angry that I even cared. I started realizing that people judge one other every day, I’m sure most of the time people are misinformed. Even coming from a place of trying to fit in with each other or just enjoying a little gossip time. They certainly never intend for it to get back to the person whose life they are verbally ripping apart. I guess I must believe that, how else would people who supposedly care about someone do anything but support them in their dreams. Especially when it isn’t hurting anyone, no one is being taken advantage of, and it makes our entire family flow better.
I’ve been seeing Olympics commercials on TV lately and it got me thinking. I wonder how much friction each of those athletes face while choosing to go after their dreams? With training every day I’m sure they don’t do the dishes as much as they should. It also probably costs a good chunk of money for training, gear, travel, etc. Are they selfish for choosing to pursue their dream or brilliant? Now I’m not comparing myself to an olympic athlete perse; other than we are both pursuing something that is in our blood. I wish I could go as boldly towards my dreams as they do. That’d really piss off the judgers… Funny how as a society we celebrate these athletes for their sacrifice, their greatness, and their dedication. But back home there is probably somebody talking shit about them how they didn’t contribute enough to the neighborhood potluck, how they never reciprocate babysitting, or not having given up on their dreams and just work a normal 9-5 job. And furthermore… how bad does it suck for the person who was next in line to make the Olympics. Was their time wasted, suddenly a dream was stupid instead of brilliant?
What about the actor? There are those that I’m sure try to make it but don’t want to be a burden to anyone around them so they don’t put their goal front and center. Are they a better or worse actor than the award-winning actors we hear about that get so into character that they talk in an accent for months, change their bodies, or move on location while filming? Do people in their lives just accept that this comes with the territory, do they get upset that this person is putting their goals as a priority? Do they write them off as crazy? Or is it just a matter of money? The more money the easier it is for everyone else to just go with the flow? Between those 2 actors, there may not be any difference in the quality of their acting but potentially only a difference in their confidence and lengths they will go to set boundaries for their goals.
I think these people are amazing!
Not just because they happen to be champions but because somewhere along the way they stopped listening to what the masses said they should be doing and started doing what their most authentic selves’ felt fulfilled by.
I know with all my heart that part of my soul’s mission includes creativity and these people inspire me to stay true to that. I don’t believe the art itself is the mission but instead the tool. My vision is to support and encourage people to live their most authentic, soulful selves through my art, stories, and community. Coincidently at the same time, I was having to defend my dreams I was also taking the most amazing business course for creatives that was helping me to define my goals, missions and mostly wonderfully find my tribe of like-minded women. Divine timing.
Happily, I can announce that I have in the years since this first happened turned my mindset from victim to advocate. It has challenged my thinking and made me more sure than ever that I am doing what is right for me and my family.
I didn’t realize how vulnerable I was before. Recently I heard a quote and it’s taken me a while to really be able to own what it says but at least 80% of the time now I feel I do. I don’t know who said it, “What other people say about you is NONE of your business”. I LOVE that, simple but so true. Going forward, I’m glad I heard what had, it’s been the greatest lesson for me. The stone in which I was able to sharpen my focus and dedication on. It’s allowed me to put a stake in the ground at that point, toughen up a bit, and find my voice that doesn’t require everyone agree with me.
“What other people say about you is NONE of your business”
I have been selling artwork for 25 years. I have devoted tens of thousands of hours to learning painting techniques, different artistic styles, landscapes, portraits, crafts, abstracts, watercolors, acrylics, painting on wood, painting murals, painting glassware, dozen of craft shows, hundreds of online listings and sales, thousands of items including products, glasses, artwork, prints, sketches, artwork hanging in office buildings, homes, and in my children’s rooms. Thousands of hours learning about marketing, tones, and values of colors, lines, shapes, how to price my work, how to choose a brush, how to build a website, how to run dozens of computer programs, how to digitally work with and create artwork, how to set up artwork for print. And it continued on. I love to learn, I hope to never stop.
I believe my dream of success as an artist is possible.
Add in countless other hours researching, taking photos to work from, taking photos of finished work, uploading, downloading, turning a portrait upside down, sideways, and back right-side up to make sure my eye isn’t simplifying what it wants to see and is seeing each eyelash, mole or laugh line as it actually is on the subject I’m working from. This is love, this is passion, this is a calling, this is a dream. I don’t stay up too late each night trying to fit in one more thing, add one more layer of paint or edit one more picture while the house sleeps for nothing. I do it so I can spend my days with my son, homeschooling him, special moments with my daughter, and I get to wake up next to the man I love. I do it because it feeds my soul. I do it because I believe my dream of success as an artist is possible. I also believe in the right to change that dream if I ever need to. Only though on my own terms, for my own knowing, for my own deeper growth.
I believe that when I get quiet enough and listen hard enough, I am in tune with God’s plan for my life. I see signs everywhere that I am on the right path. I don’t want to be a spectator in my own life, I don’t want to wake up someday and wish I would have gone for it. I don’t want to buy into doubt or fear. I want to show my son and daughter that dreams are important. I try to do good in the world, leave it better than how I found it and my family comes first.
Lastly, I sure don’t want to look back someday and know that I gave up on my dream because someone who knows nothing about me or my life thought I should do what he does and live smaller, go with the flow and quietly blend in with everyone else … just because.