Keeping the Dream Alive

by : Thelma Mariano

Like the song by Linda Ronstadt, “a dream is a wish that your heart makes." To lose a dream is to die a little yourself. It means closing down the part of you that can soar above the reality of your current life to see new and exciting possibilities.

Whenever she walks down a street, a friend of mine notices details of architecture, shapes and colors. As a child she fantasized about being an interior designer, but her parents, Italian immigrants, discouraged her from pursuing what they felt was an insecure way to make a living. “I was crushed," she says, “and the dream just died."

Our dreams are fragile. It is important not to talk about them at an early stage to anyone whom we sense will not support them. Often others project their own fears and doubts onto us.

I have known since my teen years that I wanted to write fiction. No one in my family supported my dream, because anything in the arts was considered unreliable. Nevertheless for years I managed to write and sell short stories and work on novels while holding down a full-time job. As rejection slips started pouring in, it became more and more of a struggle to keep my dream alive.

By then I realized that I needed positive reinforcement from other writers and joined one writing group after another until I found the right team. Many experts in goal achievement stress the importance of getting support when pursuing a dream. “Isolation is a dream killer," states Barbara Sher, career counselor and author of five popular books including Wishcraft and It’s Only Too Late If You Don’t Start Now.

Valerie Young, founder of Changing Course (website and newsletter) points out that assistance can come from a number of sources including colleagues, mentors and role models. Although friends can make a difference, she says, “you soar when you tap into the larger constellation of help that is available."

Listed below are the steps I followed in keeping my dream alive. These can help you nurture your dream as well, especially when you are busy making a living and/or raising a family and do not have any resources set up to help you get started.

? Get support and encouragement

Find others in your field of interest. This could be through discussion groups on the Net, correspondence, or joining an organization. Workshops or seminars are also excellent ways to connect.

A wonderful thing happens once you connect with people doing what you love to do. You begin to see yourself as one of them.

? Find mentors

Speak to professionals who are already living your dream; see how they did it. I wrote to the best-selling novelist, Charlotte Vale Allen and received useful advice in revising my book as well as encouragement.

? Research

Read everything you can about your interest - and APPLY what you learn to your work-in-progress.

In my case I read many books and magazine articles on writing, covering topics from plotting and character development to marketing and used much of that information in my work.

? Fit a LITTLE into your life, as often as you can

Too many of us wait for the perfect time to do the things we are dreaming of. It is far better to feel the satisfaction of doing something now.

I went through a period where I was stretched between work demands (a reorganization at my company) and family needs. No longer able to find time to write fiction, I discovered tanka, a five-line lyric verse that conveys powerful emotion (example at the end of this column). This allowed me to fit creative writing into a very tight schedule.

? Use visual reminders

I pasted images in a scrapbook to remind me of my writing goals. I also gave myself a date when I would leave my office job to write full-time and put it on my fridge. Seeing these visual reminders on a daily basis motivated me to make things happen!

To develop a dream you also must make room in your life. This may require sacrifice – whether it’s a smaller income to buy time or fewer social engagements or outings with your family.

I believe that by paying attention to your longings, you are steered towards a more fulfilling life. Pursuing and achieving dreams is not for the select few. If you give your dreams the attention and support they need to flourish, you may be surprised at the results.

Copyright © 2003 by Thelma Mariano