Recently when I was speaking about Gems of Delight, a person came up to me and said, “Lisa, I’d love to write!” And then lowering her head, she said, “but I don’t have that luxury.”
She went on to talk about her life and shared some of the things she has been through over the last five years. Big things. Life changing things. And she told me how she is so busy just getting through her day that she doesn’t have that luxury to write.
The word “luxury” really struck me. It was the second time someone that week used that word when referring to a dream they have but can’t follow it right now.
I shared with her my mom’s advice when it felt like my dreams were impossible. It’s advice that we know works because my mom lived it. You see, my parents went through a lot in their late teens and twenties. When my dad was 17, his youngest six year old brother was hit by a car and died in my dad’s arms. My mom was 22 when she found out her mom had cancer. With a toddler and then pregnant with me, my mom took care of her dying mother and lost her that same year. Two years later, her dad died. Then her beloved grandmother died. This is all while my parents were going through college and supporting a family. Then my mom, who would sing in order to express her grief and stay sane, contracted pneumonia and had to have a lung removed.
My mom’s dream to sing seemed impossible. Her dreams that are too personal to mention here seemed impossible.
But this is what my mom did: any dream she had, she began to embody it in THAT VERY MOMENT in THOSE VERY CIRCUMSTANCES.
She began to sing – not on stage, but in our home. She worked to strengthen her one lung. She would sing her grief, delight, and prayers as she changed diapers, folded laundry, tended to sick children, took us to school, made lunches, put braids in our hair, made Halloween costumes, and figured out what was for dinner with four hungry, cranky kiddos around her.
She realized her dream RIGHT IN THE MIDST of her everyday life. Singing wasn’t a luxury – it was a necessity. She studied singing on her own. She bought music and studied it. She sang at church. And as I and my siblings got older, she started taking voice lessons. She looked for opportunities to sing and share her love of singing – at senior centers, at funerals, at mass, and at our family gatherings.
While some day, she may be on stage singing, that would just be icing on the cake. Because really she already has her “cake” – she has embodied the essence of why she wanted to sing and how she was called to sing!
So when I came to my mom several years ago with a dream of mine that seemed impossible, she said, “Lisa, how can you embody it right now?”
How can you embody the ESSENCE of your dream in this very moment?
I wanted to – no – I knew in my SOUL that I needed to – publish a book. Even as a child, I felt a sacred call to be a compassionate leader and soulful writer. But with young children and both Brian and I working in social justice jobs, publishing a book seemed impossible.
Where would I find the time? How would we find the money to devote my time to writing, finding a publisher, getting writing advice, etc?
But I would hear my mom’s advice: How can you begin it right now? How can you embody the essence of being a leader and writing a book right now?
So I began to write in the early mornings and late evenings. I would carry a notebook with me to the doctor’s office, the playground, and soccer practice. I would share my poetry and writings on my blog. I would read my writings at Georgetown in the workshops I facilitated, to my sacred timeout yoga experience I facilitate, and to any group that invited me to speak.
I would share my poetry with my children. I would talk to my son about leadership and writing. I would write poetry and paint with my daughter. I would read my poetry and share my ideas with my husband.
I started to see that I could embody my writings. What kind of poem would I want to be today:
through my voice – as I talk to my children?
through my posture – as I stood at the kitchen sink washing the dishes?
through my eyes – as I looked at my husband?
through my presence – as I sat with clients in Compassion Coaching and Psychotherapy?
I began to see myself as a leader and embody the essence of the kind of leader I am called to be: compassionate, social justice oriented, mindful and community-oriented. In the way I led our family. In the way I led any workshop I facilitated. In the way I sat with clients.
I kept asking myself, “How can I embody my dream right now?”
And I stayed devoted to “just doing the next right thing” to embody my dream. Now.
Here’s the thing, we all have hardships. The bag of harships looks different for each of us. But we all know grief, sorrow, pain, and brokenness. It does nothing to compare your situation with the gal next to you in line at the grocery store – or even on the cover of the magazine you see as you stand there at the check out.
What matters is having your dream and being devoted to asking yourself, “How can I embody it right now?”
So when I stood there with the woman who was telling me that she wanted to write but couldn’t afford the luxury to spend time, energy, money and effort writing, I shared my mom’s advice.
And then what I wanted to add was this but I was afraid of coming across as too enthusiastic and sounding nuts. But I’ll share it now with you all:
You following the “call of your soul” is not a luxury – it’s a necessity.
It is your birthright to embody that sacred call. It’s not a luxury – for you or for our world. It’s a necessity for your soul’s evolution and sense of wholeness. It’s a necessity for when you are lying on your deathbed and, as the Sufi poet, Hafiz, says, you have no regret that you didn’t kiss this world enough.
AND – it’s a necessity for our world. Our world needs your voice. It needs what brings YOU ALIVE. This is how we heal our world. This is how we promote inclusion and love.
And let me tell you: no one fed me bonbons while writing Gems of Delight. There was no “writer’s retreat” in an exotic location. There was no publicist or publishing team feeding me ideas and directing me.
It was focus, dedication, and devotion to my Soul – to the God Within me.
It was early mornings and late nights. Up before the kiddos. Up after the kiddos were in bed.
It was working through my own self-doubt and demons.
It was prayer and remaining true to the call within me to write and share the soulful inspirations spoken within me.
It was asking others to be in community with me, show my vulnerability, ask for help, and ask others to be alongside me.
Dear Ones, if you have a dream, please, please take my mom’s advice. Ask yourself, “How can I embody my dream right now in my very life as it is?”
And as you devote your attention, time, energy, and yes, even money, to your soul’s dream, I will tell you that there will be many doubts. You’ll question whether it’s worth it, if YOU are worthy of it, and if it’s possible. You’ll think your ideas suck. People won’t “like” your work on social media enough for you to feel like a “success” in the world’s eyes. You’ll feel guilty for “giving yourself” so much time and effort when there are so many other people and projects that need your attention. You’ll think that you aren’t successful ENOUGH and that your life right now isn’t ENOUGH. You’ll feel vulnerable, stupid, silly, and disheartened. You’ll want to give up.
But you won’t. Because you can’t. Your soul won’t let you.
We live in a culture with a short attention span. We want instant results. And we want concrete, measurable results, too! We want it to come to us in a neat and tidy box with a linear path to success.
But that is NOT how our soul works!
The work of the soul is slow, muddy, and messy.
Take my mom’s advice. Ask yourself, “How can embody I embody my dream right now in everyday life?”
And you’ll see that over time, the “now” isn’t TAKING AWAY from your dream – every single thing in your life now is ENRICHING your dream.
How’s that for a paradox?!
Washing the dishes, getting up late at night with a kiddo who is throwing up, packing lunches, mowing the lawn, folding the laundry, barely riding on fumes to get to the gas station, kissing a skinned knee, picking up dog poop, cleaning up after a birthday party, tucking your child into bed…
It’s all ripe with possibility for you to embody your dream RIGHT HERE. Right now.
The “everyday” becomes your holy ground. The “mundane” becomes your “luxurious time” for embodying your dream.
This week, I held Gems of Delight in my own two hands. And I realized something: I already am the author that I wanted to be decades ago as a little third grade girl with a dream. I already am the leader I was called to be decades ago in elementary school. My book, Gems of Delight, is a manifestation of the essence I already am.
And so it is for you as well. Whatever you dream:
- ask yourself, “How can I embody it right now in my everyday life?”
- your “everyday” is holy ground.
- you already ARE and more deeply becoming what you dream.
Dear Ones, I am delighted to announce that I have self-published Gems of Delight through an Indie publisher and you can get signed (autographed) copies on my shop
Here’s what Carla Naumburg, author of Parenting in the Present Moment and Ready, Set, Breathe, had to say about Gems of Delight: