Wednesday, 18 January 2012

No More Excuses

No More Excuses

As I stand at the sink washing what seems like my millionth soiled glass . . .

I hear myself urging my daughter to follow her dreams and not to let anything or anyone tell her she can't, and it feels hollow somehow.

I fade into myself and all the dreams I have had in my life that were put on a shelf because I listened to someone's discouragements. I recall my dream of singing for a living and my need to express my deepest emotions through song. What stopped me?

The answer comes to me (as it did back then) as I recall the night I sat in my car in the parking lot, staring at the door to the studio I was to audition to sing lead for an established local band. Fear of failing, I started the ignition an drove slowly away. The knowledge that I would be standing naked, defenceless and raw before a band of strangers who could totally reject me was too much to bare.

At the time,

I felt that allowing myself to be that vulnerable was worse than living with the knowledge that I gave up before I began. I never fully returned to that dream. My heart just wasn't in it enough to do all the hard work it would take to get where I want.
My thoughts fast forward twelve years.

     My marriage is falling apart because I can't deal with the pain, loneliness, and unhealthiness of my environment. I see several advertisements for auditions for modelling and acting agencies.
The first cattle call is held at The Docks in Toronto and I quickly discover  that it is actually a feeder audition - a front - for pornographic film productions. The call me and ask if I would be interested in doing films which will make me $1500 a piece. I decline the offer, regardless of how lucrative and in-obtrusive they made it seem. It is just something I am not interested in doing so I cross that off the list.
The next was for a management agency for film and commercials. The agency was IN Group. They seem somewhat legit so I pay for head shots and  get the full make up and photo shoot experience. My heart wasn't really in this either so I didn't wow them. My gut kept telling me this was not all that it seemed. After the shoot was complete and I met with them to pick up my head shots, I learned that there were more fees and then they would take a commission on top. They were an agency who makes their real income from their clients who pay hundreds of dollars to have them represent them and not in the film or advertisements.
So I go home and cross another hopeful off the list.

The next was a modelling agency.

As I sit in the lobby reading their propaganda and listening to the other hopefuls speak with the "agents" (I use that term loosely), I quickly realize that this was just a fly-by-night scam agency.

They were just there to make money from the dreams of many.
They told a little girl (and her mother) that she had potential but needed modelling training which would cost thousands of dollars and a portfolio which would cost hundreds of dollars . . . and then there was the agency fees and on and on but always with the promise of stardom.

Reeling from the dollar signs, I left that place.

I later learned from someone in the film industry that the real agencies don't charge you to get involved but will take a commission (referral fee) when you work. They make their money keeping you busy.

I was informed of a local agency who just asked for a headshot, short bio including height, weight, hair color, eye color and birth date and an enclosed self-addressed stamped envelope for them to send your info back to you if will not represent you.

I sent in my info and received it back in a few weeks. I was impressed by their integrity and professionalism but not surprise in the least. I expected as much because modelling and acting were really not dreams of mine.

It was not the path for me.

I was still avoiding my real dream. . . the one I have had since I was young. . .

My thoughts drift to another dream . . .

. . . a more true to me kind of dream. The dream of being a published writer. I have been writing stories and poems from the time I learned the magical power of taking a writing implement and forming letters and words on a page.

Writing with a pen and paper is meta-cognitive. The words and story flow from my subconsciousness through my arm to my hand and onto the page in a mystical and almost spiritual way. Like my reader, I don't know the story until it takes shape on the page, much of the time.

In my youth, I called these sudden impulsive bursts that I have to write down - because they eat at me and take over all my thought processes until I do - brainwaves.

These brainwaves come to my attention as a phrase or even just an image accompanied by anxious energy. It is that sense of urgency that compels - no forces - me to write it down. I learned over the years, that if I fight the urge and do not put pen to paper while that feeling is strong, it will fade and eventually disappear along with the words. There is no writing that piece later. The thought is lost and so is the story.

     In my teen years and young adult life, I wrote prolifically. The brainwaves flow also during times of trouble. I even made a personal oath that when I began to write professionally I would use the first name my mother wanted for me as my pen name.
That's exactly what they were:  brainwaves. They still happen but for many years, I stopped putting a pen and pad by my bed and in easy reach . . .
I had stopped writing.
Much of the last thirteen years of my life have been filled with raising children, returning to school and struggling to make inroads into an incredibly stable career. A career that would, I thought, allow me the freedom to return to my writing.

At every decade year, my reflections remind me of this longing . . .

. . . longing to write something substantial and be able to say "I am a writer" when asked what I do and for it to be true and not just a hobby I do in my spare time.

Fast forward to the present.

I have been struggling to make it in the teaching profession

doing whatever I can to earn that coveted holy grail

called a permanent teaching position for four years now

and from what I know it could be five more years

before anything opens up.

In a deep funk and faced with disappointments, 

I began doing personal inventory . . . looking at my dreams and personal ambitions. 

I have done this so many times in my life but this time it was different. 

I was approaching it differently. 

I have cast this dream aside for too long. 

Every path I take in life brings me back to it . . . everything.

and my love of it. I decided to seriously pursuit writing and see where it will take me. 

Deciding that writing professionally was something I can do and will do turned on a switch 

inside me.  The ideas are flowing and I have set a goal to write at least one book and send it

 out to publishers by the years end. I have decided to stop doubting myself and follow my 

heart and trust that everything else will fall into place. 

Believing in my own success is hard for me.

Believing I deserve success and what that brings is even harder. 

I am my toughest critic and have expected so little of myself all my life. I realized that I have 

been punishing myself for never seeing anything through so heavily that it has prevented me 

from completing things and giving anything a real solid committed effort. It's that self-

fulfilling prophecy working against me instead of for me that I needed to change. 

I am making those mental changes and setting goals that are attainable but challenging 

enough to push me forward. 

I have the time to write and have nothing to lose.
I am at the lowest I want to be.

I am again feeling the desire to write and make it my life and career. . . 

 . . . only this time I have made the mental switch and changed this dream from a wish to a want . . .

I search the net for opportunities to give this writing professionally dream a fair and diligent 

shot. I know that the novel is at least a year away from completion. Hell! It hasn't even 

progressed beyond the research and incubation stage.

I have so many ideas.

Narrowing in and focusing on just one thing has never been a skill of mine.

I look at the life I have and what I am unable to provide for myself or my three children and know I have to make a change and fast.

I decide to work on my writing and see where it can take me.

I began blogging daily here in the Empower Network

(where I also am provided with a great venue to promote my own writing, learn about effective marketing, and earn 100% commission while I am at it . . . it's a Win Win)

and elsewhere because practice makes better.

I also created a website where I publish some of my writings and share in my journey to becoming a published writer.

I know that writing is what I need to do to feel complete and accomplished. Writing is what I was born to do. I love it and need to do it.

Writing is one dream that won't let me go.

It tugs at me and pulls me to opportunities that I have ignored so often. Well, not anymore.

I have nothing to lose because I am near bottom and refuse to go any lower. I have been at my bottom and will fight with everything in me to keep from going there again.

So now I have made the necessary mental shift: no more using my children, economic 
situation or pragmatism as excuses. I no longer fear failing because not doing is failure: 
failure to be true to myself; failure to show my children that they need to follow their dreams and stay true to themselves not matter what.

And so . . .

I begin my journey full of ideas and excitement. I can hardly wait to announce:

"I finished my writing first book."
Completing things has always been a challenge for me.

It took until my late 30s to finish my undergraduate degree and teaching certificate. The pride I felt when I received those pieces of paper telling me that I actually finished something I started was so exhilarating. I long to feel it again.

Stay tuned while I share my journey with you.

My children are my motivation and my inspiration. 

The deserve a better life and so do I. 

I want to teach them to never give up on their dreams. 

I had to learn it the hard way.


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