H – Heart

Do the things that interest you and do them with all your heart. Don’t be concerned about whether people are watching you or criticizing you. The chances are that they aren’t paying attention to you.
Eleanor Roosevelt

There’s so much I could say in respect to this quote, so many directions this quote could take us. Paring down all that could (and perhaps should) be said is no easy task, and most of it is simply restating what Eleanor Roosevelt already said.

From all that I’ve read and all of the people I’ve talked to, hesitation in embracing a creative practice of any kind comes down to fear. There’s fear of the unknown, fear of disappointing ourselves, and most common, fear of judgment . . . especially while we are still learning skills.

It’s such a shame. We don’t allow ourselves to (knowingly) make public mistakes any more. Thus, we don’t develop either the resilience or the freedom to learn the skills we desire, or even to live the life we wish in many cases.

Isn’t that how we become trapped in lives of respectability but no passion?

I have plenty of soap boxes tucked into my closet. This is just one, but a big one. I believe we have a birthright to pursue creativity and other interests that enrich us and bring us joy (as long as we aren’t hurting others, of course). We should all be given the freedom of personal creativity without criticism, including the time we spend developing the necessary skills. It should be inculcated from childhood, prevalent in our school systems, and part of human rights.

If I can convince anyone to follow their hearts and blind oneself to others’ opinions (until they are wanted), I feel I would have given back to the world. Same goes for convincing creative people to choose carefully who they share their work with, because no one needs someone else’s bitterness flavoring what we love. Pouring your heart into your interests is so personally rewarding, it’s worth giving up that fear.

Please pursue your creativity. Painting, dancing, acting, writing, or whatever you love, do it for yourself. Do it for joy. Don’t pay attention to what the rest of the world thinks.

As Eleanor said, they probably aren’t watching anyway.

Would anyone like to share my soap box? There’s plenty of room. 🙂

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F – Fantasy and Fiction

Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.
Lloyd Alexander

Stories are fantasy, but in this fantasy we are free to explore life, truths, and our own experiences. We can try on different roles, live vicariously in different eras, and struggle with different villains.

Stories are so important to us that we set them down in books, then in plays, movies, and television. From early childhood we were enraptured with them and made up our own in play.

I don’t know if it’s metaphor or vicariously living with the protagonist or the natural rise and fall in tension. I’m not sure if it’s anticipation, the wonder of “what’s next,” or the need to tell our own stories  until we’ve fully accepted them.

Stories teach, warn, comfort, thrill, amuse, and challenge. Fables, urban legends, adventure—stories both entertain us and resonate in us. I recognize it. I know it. I can’t say I understand it. From the first gathering of tribes, there have been stories. How many story lovers have written a thesis or dissertation on the humanity of stories?  Not enough, I think.

Stories communicate ideas, beliefs, the state of society in all its horror and splendor. I can’t imagine a life without stories, can you? We tell them at work, with friends, to ourselves.  We relate the events of our lives with a beginning, middle, and end.

To listen to and tell stories is to be human.

Why do you think humans developed stories? What is it about stories that binds us?

D – Dream

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.
Edgar Allan Poe

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.
Colin Powell

The act of dreaming or imagining is fruitful in itself. It opens possibilities and creates a yearning. What piques my curiosity, however, is this. Where is the dividing line between daring to dream and deciding to pursue a dream? At which point does a person go from peering into the “darkness” to getting out a flashlight and moving forward?

Why and how does this one remain a dreamer and that one become a doer? How is it that some people spend their lives wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming, and others turn it into reality?

There’s something to be said about the human spirit, to be sure. Circumstances and the size of the dream may play a part, yes? I’ve wondered how much it comes down to grit and how much it comes down to a sense of opportunity. People have pulled themselves out of poverty, put themselves through school, and developed brilliant careers. People with better circumstances have hidden in their own four walls and never ventured out.  Circumstances can’t be the only answer. Is it a question of need? Desire? Vision? Safety? Faith? Encouragement? Motivation? All of the above?

When does the dream become a goal? And why? And how?

Can we teach our students to dream big if we can’t teach them to cross that line? We can teach S.M.A.R.T. goals and steps to succeed, but that alone isn’t enough. What makes them take those steps?

It’s as much a question for myself as it is for how I help others find that moment of turning on the light, lacing up the work boots, and preparing to make a dream into reality. It’s a question for which I have no real answer, only a non-verbal sense of swelling up from the depths of a soul to permeate thinking. Perhaps it is a tipping point for some, or a feeling of destiny for others.

I have this sense of “un-tethering,” or perhaps “re-tethering” from the present life to the future. That single act can be so frightening. I imagine being suspended a thousand feet up and having to risk uncoupling a safety harness from one support in order to clip it to another. Just that act would leave me breathless. Even knowing I’ve done it in the past doesn’t make it any less a moment of profoundness. Sometimes going from dream to doing feels that way.

Others, though, are more like slipping from one state to the next, without conscious awareness that it’s happening. Like falling in love or falling asleep . . . a clear transition between states of being that is only recognized afterward, and often without a clear, delineating moment between “here” and “there.” How different from those who look at the facts and then consciously decide!

An a-ha moment, a slow dawning, a firm decision, a frightening ordeal . . . what have you experienced? How does it look when you look inward? What moves you from dream to goal?

B – Books

So many books, so little time.

Frank Zappa

I’ve spent the past twelve months buried in non-fiction . . . text books, books on drilled down topics, books that teach, share, question.  I miss the release and “escape” of fiction. The clock has become my enemy as it doesn’t allow for much personal reading.

I love non-fiction. I’m learning, stretching, and growing. But it’s a different growing and learning than what comes from fiction. If nothing else, I’ve discovered I need a balance between learning/research and losing myself in worlds between book covers.

I’m reaching a milestone birthday this year and Frank Zappa’s quote is really hitting home. There are so many books I have yet to read and the clock is less of a friend going forward.

April A to Z Introduction

Hello, Muses! I’ll be wrapping up my study course in July and might have two minutes to rub together afterward. Until then, Michelle and I are participating in the annual April A to Z Challenge. We don’t have a theme, really, other than thoughtfulness and contemplation . . . quotes that provoked us to think a little deeper. I hope you enjoy the series. We welcome your comments and what the quote brought up for you. This community rocks, and I admit I’m excited to see the comments and chat with y’all.