Stephani E. D. McDow

Stephani E. D. McDow

Dust Off Those Deferred Dreams

Woman Around Town | October 28th, 2010 | Visit the original article online

Stephani solitaire

Dust Off Those Deferred Dreams Thursday, October 28th, 2010 by Stephani E. D. McDow on Living Around

I used to be a writer. No, seriously–a writer! My thoughts used to come to me only in prose or rhyme. I was such the writer that I didn’t know how to speak without my mental thesaurus well at work and colloquialisms lacing even the simplest of conversations. I would dream of poems and stories–and wake in the middle of the night, reaching for that past due bill on the floor beside my bed to jot down the words and their intricate placement that was just in my head . . . before I lost it and it might never return to me again. I loved my gift so that “it” became a tangible person to me. And then, a series of real-life happenstances stepped in.

The want-to’s were replaced by have-to’s. Sacrifices and compromises were made, but along the way those have-to’s birthed a go-getter intent on improving her circumstances because an artist (and a mother, no less) is never satisfied. So in my striving for that better have-to gig, seeking the next one that’s higher, that pays more, that makes for a better living for me and my son–somewhere along the way, I got lost. I began to believe that I was that worker or was the position that I held. I dealt with the stress and the long hours, always putting my best foot forward, becoming the worker they wanted or molded me into being. Sound familiar?

Before long, I noticed something– I was not writing. The only means of true communication that I had known for years was gone. How’d that happen??? Something so innate, so very integral to my being for as long as I could remember: Gone. Between the job, motherhood, life stresses, exhaustion, and that idiot box with its prime-time addiction that I’ve so claimed helps me to unwind after a horrid day (and that, I’ve finally brought myself to admitting has stolen thousands of my precious writing hours), I’ve let go of a fire that used to burn in me white hot and real. Without a conscious effort, I deferred my dream.

Though this is my personal story, I believe this holds true for many. Whereas for me, it was being a writer–for another, perhaps a singer, a dancer, a roller derby girl, an event planner, a stylist, a teacher. Many of us have had to put on multiple hats in our lives in order to live–it’s just that simple. However, in order to live (and do so happily and with some sense of fulfillment) we have to reclaim a want-to. We have to put our eyes back on our dreams. It may take some time and some work, but you’ll love yourself all the more for it. Thanks to society’s continuous transformation over the years, we have been made into a league of superwomen–working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, big business career women, single mothers, single-working mothers. We are phenomenal in all that we can do . . . most times for others. Now it’s time to take some baby-steps for you. In getting back to my dream deferred, here are some steps that I’ve decided to take. Try them and see how close you get to yours:

  • Make your internet surfing count toward your dream. OK, yes, I love to shop on the net, too. I love to get a good laugh or two off of YouTube and can spend a ridiculous amount of time reading email forwards of Walmartians and inspirational letters. However, the time you spend doing these things is time you could definitely devote to researching events, how-to’s, requirements, etc. toward your dream. Not only will this arm you with information to move forward, it also serves as quite the motivator. You’ll feel a flicker in that flame.

  • Put yourself in the presence of your dream. As often as possible and AT LEAST once per week, put yourself in the environment that breathes your dream. There’s something contagious about the energy of others who share the same interest as you. Make yourself available to feed off of that. If you want to be a dancer, attend a dance class at your community center or treat yourself to a performance.

  • Take time daily to devote to your dream. I know you’re busy. I am, too, but we know full well that we have at least an hour in our day that we could devote to something we truly want to do. So by any means necessary, make that happen. If you must, cut off the idiot box for an hour (DVR Grey’s Anatomy for another time, that’s what I do) and focus your mind and heart on your want-to. What you do in that hour is totally up to you. You could journal about your thoughts on your dream. You could write out a plan for attaining that dream. You could practice in dream. You want to be a chef–take an hour and experiment on dishes in your kitchen or write out recipes dancing in your head.

  • Take a chance on your dream. If you are anything like me, your confidence may have waned over this time period of your dream deferred. Don’t let that discourage you. Take a chance. Leap. Jump out there with it. You may be a little rusty at first or may need some polishing–but do it. No one can stop you, but you.

You’ll find in time, maybe with some bumps and bruises, that reaching for your dream is so worth it and enhances your quality of life. It makes doing those have-to’s feel a little less like a chore when you have something more to look forward to later. I used to be a writer . . . and I’m thrilled to have discovered that I still am!

At top: Portrait of Solitaire (Commissioned Piece) By Nicole Marrow Summers “I commissioned the artist – who’s known me for many years – to show me what her vision of me was. As it turns out, even if my vision of self as a writer was hazy, she saw so clearly. It’s only right that this piece accompany this article.” Stephani E.D. McDow