Desire, ask, believe, receive.
Stella Tevill Mann
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Are you looking forward, anticipating the future, immersed in memories of a past you can’t forget, or stuck in the present moment, unable to figure out what you’d like to do next? Congratulations, you’re not alone. Have you made another set of New Year’s resolutions which will fall by the wayside, victims of unintentional, yet hopelessly ephemeral, good intentions? Join the club. I’m looking at several sheets of paper, each one containing material which profoundly affected my thinking when first encountered. I set them aside with the best of intentions. My dilemma: which ones do I use, and how? Should I hold on to what doesn’t make the cut? Long story short, where do I begin?
I can usually see what I’m going to write. Words and phrases float into my consciousness and what sticks sees the light of day. None of these items, which were once so very important, have emerged as frontrunners – I don’t have any attention-getting opening sentences or catchy titles. The substance of my predicament is perceived relevance. The messages conveyed in each article seemed ideal, timely, although none are new. These perspectives will continue to be expressed in a variety of milieus and formats for generations to come. Soooo, what’s my game plan? I have two options: trust the Universe to provide the inspiration needed to be creative, or, forget about using any of them – let my unarticulated idea go, shrug it off. Take it off my To Do List and persuade myself this effort wasn’t meant to be.
I’d rather draw on the vastness of the Universe in partnership with my imagination and let the positive energy flow. I prefer to serve as the vessel for what pours forth. Would you like to join me? I hope so. Here’s the deal:
[Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three]
Come with me and you’ll be
In a world of pure imagination
Take a look and you’ll see
Into your imagination
We’ll begin with a spin
Traveling in the world
Of my creation
What we’ll see
Will defy explanation
If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and [see] it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanna change the world?
There’s nothing to it
There is no life I know
To compare with
Living there, you’ll be free
If you truly wish to be
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Anna May and the Preacher: A Collection of Short Stories, 2nd Edition, my second literary offering, became available for purchase on Amazon in two formats: soft cover and kindle, January 3, 2015. Although the narratives comprising this book did not originate as a creative undertaking, the idea to publish eventually blossomed in my imagination. Over time the concept became a yearning.
I’ve already chronicled the tale of this book’s evolution. It was the realization of desire, asking, believing, and receiving. Together they led me to take action. The advent of a new year is often touted as a good time to (a) wipe the slate clean, (b) embrace a dream, (c), fulfill a goal, or (d) reevaluate an objective. I’ve seen many a new year come and go without any significant changes I could point to in my own life despite expressions to the contrary. Over the years I’ve made resolutions and forgotten about them as soon as they were formulated. I’ve lived through the frustration of attempting to keep them without understanding how attitude, expectations, and commitment impact outcomes.
There were events which resonated, becoming guiding principles I continue to subscribe to. Their influence became clearer once I began to acknowledge the desires of my heart. I am a writer and author today because I chose to own and accept a gift I didn’t ask for, and then consciously decided to use to the best of my ability. Creating content for the pleasure of others is deeply fulfilling. It is a joyous endeavor. And joy, wrote Martha C. Highsmith, Associate Vice President and Lecturer in Divinity at Yale University, “…finds expression in relationships, in serving others…”¹
I am a late bloomer. I graduated from college not knowing what I really wanted to do with my life. My goal was to obtain a degree, and once I reached this milestone, I was confronted with the quintessential question many others have faced: what next? I tried teaching and decided I wasn’t cut out for it.
One Sunday after church, a friend gave me a graduate school application for the University of Michigan and I applied. I had a job which paid well but I couldn’t see myself still employed with the same company for another year – forget about the next five or ten! The university sent me a lovely letter which stated, “Dear Theresa, Thanks but no thanks.” My ego was temporarily bruised before a light bulb came on. Why not try some other schools? This time, Theresa, be purposeful.
I knew I wanted to get into a helping profession, and I was clear about which ones had appeal and which ones did not. I received several acceptances and settled on the University of Washington, Seattle. I sallied forth, thrilled by the prospect of a new adventure. I reconnected with family, for I am a native Washingtonian, and experienced life on a whole new level: marriage, motherhood, and loss. I left Tacoma, where I resided, armed with a Master of Urban Planning degree and an infant daughter.
My journey back to California – because home is where you go when you don’t know what else to do – and a new life, began with the loving assistance of a wonderful friend. Carolyn Burns – her surname was Carmichael at the time – and her toddler daughter, Ebony, joined me and my daughter, Kamilah. Honestly, you should have seen us – we were two young sistahs, confident and brave because it didn’t occur to us NOT TO BE. My canary yellow, two-door Dodge Dart, with a manual transmission Carolyn learned to drive, was our vehicle. It was packed to the hilt. The back seat was occupied by two child safety seats. We put a brick on the floor behind the driver’s seat and covered it with a blanket, just in case, you understand. I got my first speeding ticket in Oregon and we stuck around so I could fight it. I lost. Who says getting the hell out of Dodge has to happen quick, fast, and in a hurry? We took our time, visiting family and friends along the way, sightseeing, and planning our futures. Carolyn was going through a divorce and I’d been widowed. The future, and our darling baby girls, was all we had, and we were open to possibilities.
I became an urban planner and began my career with San Bernardino County, CA Planning Department. My ability to write well was the key to the assignments I received. I can truthfully say I definitely wasn’t dialed in to the dynamic propelling me forward. My goal in life was to become a planning director and I clung to it, fiercely, for more than twenty years. It did not happen and I went through major changes when forced to accept the end of what I thought was my dream. My professional objective, which I was told I needed to develop, never had a chance of coming to pass. I made choices which were guaranteed to take me far afield from what I thought I wanted. I was busy living rather than charting the path to a desired outcome. My resume had gaps in it – the kind which defied the artful use of strategically placed key buzz words. I continued to make employment decisions which didn’t move me in the direction I thought I wanted to travel. Eventually my career path reached a dead end and I was inconsolable.
I fell into writing. Its gravitational pull resulted in soul searching, and an appreciation of the difference between happiness and joy. This embrace generated unanticipated possibilities which continue to stretch, enlighten, illuminate, uplift, inspire, and thrill me. I began teaching writing classes designed for both professional development and personal enrichment. This added exposure has helped me substantially hone my craft. I write across a spectrum of categories, and each time I engage in the creative process I grow, my joy deepens, and I appreciate the blessings and benefits of sharing with others.
Don’t wait for the advent of a new year to give heed to your heart’s yearnings. Acknowledge your desire, ask for what you want, believe in your ability, and be open to receive what the Universe offers. Don’t put off – for any reason – opportunities to become the person you dream of. These feelings aren’t about an undefined future; they’re aspects of self-love and respect. Have faith in yourself and confidence in what you’re about to undertake. Define your own parameters for success. Strive for excellence rather than perfection – you’ll sleep better and the journey will have more meaning. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – how you use what you learn is critical. Savor your achievements and accept the brevity of time. There’s always something else to be done to reach the next step. Trust the Universe to guide you. Don’t let negative energy deter you – not everyone you care about will understand, accept, or support what you’re doing. Bette Midler says it best: The worst part of success is to try finding someone who is happy for you. Realizing your heart’s desire is personal and the path you traverse is yours – alone.
Embrace your imagination – it’s one of the greatest gifts the Universe bestows. Respect, nurture, honor, and engage it. Live and love your ability to be visionary, innovative, creative, and expressive. Cherish the joy your gifts and talents bring; be grateful for the happiness they give. Remember “…Happiness and joy are not the same. Happiness floats on the surface of our lives and is easily disturbed by the storms of life, disrupted by external events. Happiness is situational. Joy…lies so deep within our souls that nothing can disturb it. True joy endures through disaster, disappointment, and loss. Happiness centers on self…[and]…is often achieved by addressing some perceived scarcity, but joy grows out of a celebration of abundance. Happiness can be fleeting; joy is eternal…”²
Composing this essay gave me an opportunity to resolve my dilemma. I’ve given expression to the thoughts I’ve been carrying around in my head and heart. In so doing I am, once again, relishing the joy of a gift I cherish. I’m grateful for the impact it will have although I may never be made aware of its extent. HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Have a great one and make it your best yet.