As a teacher starting back to school for the twentieth plus time, I should have been focused on the supplies that needed to be purchased and the newly adopted curriculum that was mine to learn. Instead, I was thinking about my dream, the fairly new adventure that I hated to push to the side. I had focused on my writing throughout the summer and feared that my ‘real’ life was going to get in the way.
The day before school started, all the teachers in The District congregated together for our annual back to school meeting. I saw this mandatory gathering as an annoyance and a distraction; wondering how much longer this would push back my already lengthy “to do” list. I turned and surveyed the large auditorium; I was sure that most of the occupants shared my thoughts.
This year we had a keynote speaker scheduled to excite us about the upcoming year. I didn’t need inspiration—I needed time. Real time to get real things done that would allow me to do my job. As I sat there mentally adding to my list, Paul Owen Lewis, a local author came out to tell his story…his dream.
Once he began to speak, all of my anxieties about time restrictions and responsibilities were released. I began to see this moment as a gift.
Mr. Lewis had been a teacher at one point. Making a difference and an impression on students was an obvious thrill for him. But, his need to tell stories had led him out of the classroom and into a position as a storyteller for many. I sat and listened and lost track of the hundreds of educators around me. I was inspired.
I wanted to be him. Not actually him…but I wanted to do what he had done.
I wanted to follow him.
I began my blog as a way to form connections. I wanted answers and support as I learned what it was like to be the parent of a child that for whatever reason, struggled in school and with friends. As these important relationships were formed, I received compliments about my writing and encouragement to continue, but I still didn’t say out loud that I wanted to be a writer. I kept that to myself because I had already chosen long ago what I was, I was a teacher, and it was too late now to change my mind.
It wasn’t practical to switch gears. I was past the age that people went on adventures. I did the expected.
Or so I thought.
One of the things that resonated with me was the fact that Mr. Lewis formed an important mentor relationship with a successful author. This person became a sounding-board and led Mr. Lewis to ask himself questions that would ultimately help him create books, many well-received books.
As I listened, I realized a key ingredient to his success.
When you are quiet about your dreams, they can’t go anywhere. Dreams need encouragement. They need late night discussions with bottles of wine and troubleshooting with people that you can trust. They need feedback and they need action. They need questions answered by outside experts, willing to remember what it was like to be at the starting point of a dream.
Once I shared my dream with those I loved most, a funny thing happened; I started taking steps to make my dream become a reality. I submitted pieces to other sites and publications. I continued asking questions of those mentors that I had built relationships with and that I trusted.
I think about the others that I know possess dreams. They are bright and capable, but their dreams remain stagnant. For some, there comes a point where their dreams fade completely out of existence. When I reflect about these dreamers, most have attempted to do it alone. It must be their belief that their action alone is required to transform their dream into a reality. When really, this prevents them from accepting the help that will draw possibilities toward them, rather than away.
I am very aware that I need others to help me become a writer. If I was on my own, dreaming in silence, nothing would happen. In the past, for every dreamt up possibility, I would give you 10 or more reasonable explanations for why it wouldn’t work, couldn’t work. I would let that opportunity float by and be grabbed up by another person—someone more available to receive that gift.
That was before.
Now, I dream. I believe. I act as though and I say out loud, “I am a writer.”