Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Invest In Yourself

I realize that as busy adults, we often allow our dreams to take a backseat to our reality. Afterall, someone has to pay the bills. But for a short minute or two, I'd like to jog your memory.

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing it? If you've already achieved that dream, what is your next one? What are you doing right now to move into the who you want to be doing what you were made to do?

I reached that point a few years ago. I've wanted to be an author and speaker for most of my life. I knew this at 11 yrs. old. I didn't know how to get there. Through a series of circumstances, I thought I'd missed the boat. Somehow I'd signed up to live someone else's life. Do you ever feel like that?

If you do (or if you're wondering how that happened to you), here are a few options to consider. I'll share my examples and then you can see what these ideas spark in you. Then if you would, please comment and share.

Many of you are aware that I have 6 kids, in a blended family, all high school through college age. My identity for the last 23 years has been as a working mother. But that isn't who I am. It's simply what I do.

The "who" reared her little head around the time my oldest graduated high school. I cried often that summer. Then I wondered what I would do when they were all gone. Talk about a daunting mountain! I began writing again on a story that wouldn't be quiet. My character spun in my head like a cyclone. She wanted out onto the pages of a wonderful novel. Big problem...I didn't know how to write a novel.

Being the adventurous soul that I am, I bought a bunch of how-to books on writing. Then I found the Idaho Writer's League (and Sunni Jefferson who sat down with me for 3 1/2 hours just to encourage a simplistic newbie.) After that, I followed Sunni's advice and joined Romance Writers of America. This brought Faith, Hope, and Love into my life as well as several contests. I started in the contests and found the amazing online classes from those writer's loops. (They are incredibly affordable!)

From those opportunities, other authors introduced me to American Christian Fiction Writers. I devoured the archives. Then I found out about the conferences. I'd already attended 2 or 3 smaller functions with the Idaho Writer's League. This gave me the courage to strike out from events of 100-150 up to the nearly 2000 at RWA.

In the last 2 years, I've taken in 5 conferences, of varying size, complete with workshops and editor agent appointments. I've also taken around 20 online classes to learn my craft. I can't tell you (because I have no idea) how many books and magazines I've read. Because I want to be a speaker, I also joined Toastmasters. This year I'm the President of my club.

I tell you all this to share that I rediscovered who I am, who God meant me to be, and my purpose. I coudn't do this without the dreams and goals that He put deep inside of me when I was young. It's very important to realize that I had to percolate a while. I had to grow as a person and get to the point where I could hear the whisperings of my dream again.

Your dream is probably different, but no less significant. Have you found it? Are you taking steps to educate yourself in the proper use of your talents? Are you doing something every day to move closer to that goal? A little something every day is massive when you look back a year later! Just trust me on this one:-)

What's stopping you?

I didn't have the time. So I made it. I didn't rush it. I've spent the last year aligning my schedule to allow the avid pursuit of my writing/speaking career. I've spent the last 2 years adding crucial elements into my daily schedule (read: she uses a daytimer) for the success of my goal. The last year has been spent (and is on-going) pruning out unnecessary activity. I learned to say no in order to say yes to my calling.

What would it take for you to begin to invest in yourself? Would you need the 1-2 years it took me to adjust and realign? Would you need to overcome someone else's negative reaction?

I'm not asking for anything else except that you begin to percolate. Warm up a little to the idea of letting go of all those busy things someone else was called to do. Then when you have simmered long enough, lift the lid and release the pungent aroma of your dream. Call your soul to the supper table and feast on the delicacy of preparation and education. Then dive into the delectable dessert of living your life as who and doing what God created you to be.

Angie
PS My personal blog (link over on the right side bar) is all about boundaries. The kind of boundaries that define your needs and the same kind that get mangled becase we don't take a stand. We let other people define our opinions, goals, and rights. It might be a helpful supplement to this post. Please be sure to let me know:)

5 comments:

  1. Angie,
    I think you wrote this post for me!! I've been trimming in my head. Deciding what to do and what to say no to. I'm trying so hard to get into the speaking world...but my voice shakes, literally shakes, when I do speak.
    I probably need the time to align, realign and then maybe I'll be close.
    Thanks for the inspring post.

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  2. Lindi, leading your Bible study is a great start! You can do it.

    Angie, thanks for the thoughtful post. I remember one of my good friends, way back when we were about 30, saying she was afraid she'd get to be 40 and have nothing to show for her life. Eventually, she want back to school (before we were 40 [grin]). I've had those thoughts along the way as well. Obviously, her comment has stuck with me.

    But I've found that for me, the trick has been to try to be content in what I'm doing at the moment. And to trust God's timing. I'm such a planner, and a take-action type person, that I've had to work hard at being content while I waited to sell a book. I've had to try to stay movtivated through rejections and to not give up. And I'm thankful for all the small triumphs (like finaling in contests or a kind word from an agent or editor) along the way to keep me going.

    I love what you said about daring to step out and work toward our dreams, Angie. Thanks for that inspiration. And it's a reminder that we always need to keep dreaming, bigger and better things, because God wants so much for us!

    Missy

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  3. I love all of this. First of all Angie, you couldn't have written the same book ten or even five years ago. There's a lot to be said for life experience you know.

    Missy, I can so relate to your friend's comment. Must be kind of a midlife crisis thing.(cringe) I'm not sure when the legacy of my family quit being enough. I guess it's that whole fulfillment thing. That said, I know God has given me a passion for writing. So much so that satan will use it to his advantage.

    I'm doing a Bible study about hearing God speak. I've learned that often times I miss out on what He has to say because I'm so focused on my writing. I may think I'm writing for God's Glory, but if He's not in it with me, where's the glory?

    I need to step back. Worship Him. Allow Him to speak to me, and through me. What an awesome thought--that He can speak through lowly me :-D

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  4. Hey gals,
    I'm a liturgist and I give speeches. My kneecaps shake every time. And what's so funny? People always tell me how confident I appeared, lol. Just do it. Knees shake, voices crack, you'll forget...just do it anyway. You never know who will be blessed by it.
    Angie

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