Dreamers, Dawdlers and
Dreamers get a bad rap these days. But, as long as I can recall, I have been a dreamer. When I was little and living in foster care for many years, I dreamt of finding a tribe I could belong to and moving to an island to eat coconut cream pies ala Gilligan. I dreamt of having ruby slippers and making good friends with a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Lion. And, I dreamt of creating a safe home where consistency, creativity, fun and peace prevailed.
Many people told me my dreams were too big, and that I had my head in the clouds. And in darker moments with wounded people, I was told that I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough, rich enough, educated enough, or experienced enough to achieve my dreams.
They were wrong.
On my own yellow brick road - far too long to explain here - there were and are epic highs and lows, flying monkeys, poppy fields, wicked witches, as well as helpers and signposts along the way. Yet, in spite of this (and because of this), I broke out of the haunted castle, and even moved to an island for a time (Maui), and yes, I munched on a coconut cream pie or three while there!
As my inner dreamer predicted I belong to a wonderful tribe of Scarecrows (my wise friends), Tin Men (my whole hearted friends), and Lions (my friends with courageous spirits). These friendships, some decades long, and some more recent, steadfastly reflect that I too have brains, heart and bravery woven into my being.
And, as a consummate shoe lover, I’ve had my fair share of ruby slippers, some that took me to safe places, and some that did not. I believe my inner faith is the finest jewel that has kept my path focused when I've gone off course. Times where I feel depleted or in despair, my higher power has supported my dreams and God has been an internal spring of hope.
: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
Yep, dreamers get a bad rap. But, I like being a dreamer. In the words of John Lennon, “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one...”. It was my dreams that I held fast to as a foster kid who ended up on her own at 16 years old. That young dreamer in me believed that I could create a better life that included an education, financial security, a healthy, fun, interesting (and yes sometimes quirky, and always imperfect) tribe of people, and a safe and happy home.
My yellow brick road has not been smoothly paved, that's for damn sure! Yet, I’ve been abundantly blessed by trusting that my dreamer was pointing me to toward what was already inside me all along.
Hello my name is Mari and I am a dawdler. OK, I said it. Now, for those of you who know me well, or even kinda’ well, you may be scratching your head at this one. But, I gotta’ own my inner dawdler. In fact, I am presently dawdling along with this newsletter. I started it a couple of weeks ago and keep adding to it, fiddling with it, forgetting about it, and picking it up again. Just kind of hanging out with it in general. It’s been fun. Really enjoyable actually.
Dawdler…what an interesting word. There are a couple of definitions for dawdling. One is, “To waste time by idling.” And the second less shaming definition, “To move in a lackadaisical fashion.” I like the second version better - I choose that one!
I’ve been known to dawdle on a hike, over a meal, through a book, at the beach, shoe shopping, at a farmers market, listening to music, in a bookstore, at a museum, and yes, over projects from time-to-time. Lord knows I can dawdle with the best of them over dishes and cleaning. Yet, I can also focus like no ones business and get a ton accomplished in one day when my do-er shows up on the scene!
That said, I spent so much time in my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s hell bent toward goals, that I simply forgot about the child in me. The inner dawdler who lazed around ankle deep in tide pools, who could spend hours sitting under the Chinese elm reading, and wile away time on my bike meandering around, or watching a triple feature, snuggling with my kitty, or just generally tooling around my little house or garden. I am happy to report that my most creative ideas have come in the down moments of just allowing myself to “be” rather than “do.” I now give myself permission to dawdle on a very regular basis.
If you have an inner dawdler that you've had a hard time connecting with, or one that has been shamed by external or internal messages that tell you that you are, “wasting time”, or you are a “lazy bones Jones”, or even worse, “you’ll never amount to anything”, or that you are “all talk and no action”, then see where dawdling can serve you.
Who comes to mind immediately when
think of a “do-er”? I think of Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg (not to mention all of the uber focused super achievers, and work-a-holics I know in my personal and professional life). I used to think a do-er was a person who had some kind of a super power for focus and execution, a time alchemist who could magically weave hours into finished projects, a self motivated go getter, an extroverted leader who inspires, a professional with lots of letters and degrees, an award winning whatever, a brainy sort who others' took notice of, a star who has it all together. A real winner.
Oh ho hum already.
What I now know is that anyone can be a do-er. In fact, most of us already are. Say what? Yep, MOST of us already are do-ers. Here’s why:
If you have ever gone through a traumatic experience, a divorce, a loss, a break up, a disappointment, if you have ever been turned down for a job, a date, a project, if you have ever lived through a humiliation, an illness or said good bye to a pet, a pregnancy or an addiction…let me tell you that is the very definition of a do-er. A do-er, simply put, is someone who can meet the challenges life brings (or is slapped upside the head by) with some amount of courage, humility and dignity. A ‘do-er” is a person who has faced impossible odds and has done so sometimes quaking in their boots, but “doing” it anyway…being fearless.
And on the topic of fearlessness, a good reminder:
Being fearless is not being with out fear. It is facing the fear and not feeling ashamed because of feeling afraid, or even immobilized. It is just fearing less
. The term do-er is not always a verb by the way. A do-er is not fearless or tearless. A do-er just takes a tiny shaky step forward. And then another one, and then another one.
Oh, and on the topic of who makes the best do-ers (not that it's a contest folks), let’s not forget about the importance of gratitude. That’s a biggie! Otherwise we are just automatons moving on the treadmill of life, arms pumping, jaws clenching, feet pounding toward goal after goal after...goal. I did that for a time. And it sucked. Pretty badly. We must jump out of the grind and into gratitude to really experience the joy of the now. Now.
Another point to consider: Sometimes do-ers get a bad rap for simply getting stuff done. Snide comments from the peanut gallery; push back from others who are stuck in envy; helpless energy vampires who drain us dry; self focused narcissists who attempt to shame us for our accomplishments. And, we do-ers may find ourselves trying to be everything for everyone. If this is you, then please take care of yourself first. Or if someone attempts to shame you for being focused and motivated, step to the side and usher that energy right out the door thank you very much. If you are a woman reading this and you've been called bossy or controlling (or if you are a man reading this who has called a woman bossy or controlling), please take a moment under the inspiration section to the left to read a great blog about that kind of soul shredding message.
If you are a do-er from way back, gentle reminder that doing is more than an action. It is a practice of integrating mind, body and spirit. Of embracing the dreamer and dawdler and accepting and celebrating these parts of self.
Moving along here, let’s see what happens when we embrace and combine these parts….The Dreamer, The Dawdler and the Do-er:
You: Writ Large, in 3D
When we can draw from our life experiences, good and bad, look toward God or our higher power, and pull from our internal resources…even when we feel like we have none to draw on, this creates a beautiful synergy of combining the dreamer, dawdler and do-er. The 3D. This is human alchemy at its best.
The most wounded people I know, myself included, are those who have overcome small and great odds and use those experiences to help and heal others. Even if your journey has been smooth so far, no one is exempt from challenges and pain in this lifetime. Wounded people kick ass and get stuff done at the end of the day. My therapy clients are living breathing examples of some of the most incredible, powerful and courageous human beings I have ever had the honor of knowing and supporting.
Still don’t believe that wounded people can realize their dreams? Are the hurtful words from your child hood keeping you bound up and immobile? Are you feeling stuck and shamed? Or are you feeling like you can only put your best foot forward (aka perfectionism)? Is it scary to get really truthful? If so, then time for some vulnerability to get the ball moving.
- I could not read until the age of 8. I was told I’d never be very good at writing. Yet, writing has been a large part of my professional and personal life. Oh, and I am a published author. Twice over. And writing my third book. It’s not that I am the best writer or the smartest person out there, it is because I dreamt that one day I could do this. So I did. What negative messages have you internalized that have kept you feeling immobile? Write your own message. Write your own future.
- I was told my whole childhood and adolescence that I was terrible at math. My adopted "father" was a math professor and let me know daily that I was a math dummy. Yet, I have had three very successful and profitable businesses. Businesses that I started, nurtured, managed and manage. I oversaw huge client accounts in Corporate American as well. While I am not a math genius by any means, I am financially savvy, and can stretch the hell out of a budget. And so can you.
- I was told that I would never master my deep shyness and social anxiety and be able to speak and teach in public or facilitate groups. Yet I am asked to speak and teach several times a year. I’ve been running successful clinical and professional groups for nearly a decade. And yes, I still get butterflies when speaking in public. Where do old messages need a good shake up for you?
- I was told that I would never have the opportunity for a higher education. Yet I hold a Master’s Degree. Thank you to my sister for supporting me though this. A sister who was single at the time, and a foster care kid too. Between the two of us we did not borrow one dime in student loans. Not that there is a single thing wrong with that, but we worked together, sacrificing, eating a lot of PB&Js to avoid this. If you have a dream of pursuing an education, I promise you it is never, ever too late. And I don’t make a lot of promises!
- I was told that as a foster kid the likely hood of owning my own home was zero to nil. I bought my first home at 29 years old. I still own it; it will be paid off in 6 years. I had $700 dollars in babysitting money and limited education when I left home at 16. I still draw on courage from that brave inner teen in me. Where have you over come impossible odds? Can you dig deep and draw on that earlier courageous part of yourself?
- I was called stupid, lazy, flaky, shy, dumb, ugly, skinny, fat, and other names. Yet, I also was called smart, focused, successful, kind, giving, out going, creative, athletic and pretty. I choose to believe the later. Thank you very much. Who wounded you with their words? Can you reach out for support in creating a new script?
I like the mermaid quote below:
Amen to this!
The Gift of Vulnerability
Sharing parts of ourselves is scary stuff! And it was vulnerable for me to share the above points as well. But it was worth it if my transparency and parts of my story have resonated with you, and better yet, inspired you in some small way. If you can see any part of your own journey in my own, then it is worth it!
Let’s all remember that human beings never, ever, ever connect through perfectionism or popularity. We connect through shared experience, through aha moments, through pain and sorrow, as well as joy and abundance. But never through only showing our shiny perfect outer shells, or competing with one another, criticizing each other, assuming the worst, or holding onto grudges.
As I wrap up this newsletter, what did I learn from my inner dreamer? To take time to truly and deeply embrace my God given gifts and talents. To stay away from the Fearful Fred’s, the Envious Irma’s and the Negative Nellie’s. And to thine own self be true. I am thankful for the dreamer in me that provided an inner sanctuary when the storms around me struck. And still strike. If you’ve been teased about being a dreamer, I encourage you to re-frame this for yourself. What are the gains of embracing your dreamer?
And, what did my inner dawdler teach me? My dawdler side gave me a chance to honor my own pace in the world. To stop and smell the roses, pet a kitty, look at God’s handiwork in nature (and, I do this nearly each day when I take my walk or hike). My dawdler has taught me to be brave. I recall starting my graduate program later in life. I was scared and unsure about leaving a successful design business and launching into a few years of classrooms and clinical hours. My friends and loved ones believed in me and were cheerleaders along the sidelines as I moved forward at my own pace. I wasn’t supposed to be a therapist before my 40’s; I had lessons to learn in my 20’s and 30’s that I needed to draw on. And…the lessons continue. Can you find value and connection with your inner dawdler? If so, what name do
choose to call your dawdler; can you begin to embrace this part of your being?
And, how about my do-er? My do-er has been that part of me that continues to friggin' ah-maze me. Just about the time when I think, “Oh, I’d never be able to do that”, my do-er steps up and says, “Oh yes you can Mari!” It is my do-er that gives wings to my dreams, and my dawdler a gentle nudge. And, before I know it my inner team is off and running in supporting my next project or aspiration. My do-er is less about winning the race that enjoying the journey these days. A notion I would have scoffed at a few years ago. Where has your do-er shown up for you?
When we connect to our inner dreamer, our secret dawdler, and embrace our confident do-er without “shoulding” all over our selves ("I should do this", "I should do that"), we have a dream team at our fingertips. Our own internal, unique, and fully capable dream team!
In closing, every single person has been gifted with their own exceptional gifts and talents, pace and voice in the world. If not for my creative dreamer and my gentle dawdler, my do-er would simply never have had a chance, and my hearts desires would still be hidden. I've provided some extra inspiration in the left column of the newsletter starting with Bono's quote at the top, and then some great supportive music, poems, and blogs from people who have inspired me. I invite you to take a few moments out of your busy life to put your phone down, put your feet up, and....enjoy.
Spring is here everyone! Awaken and embrace your 3D self and see where your yellow brick road leads you. I’d love to hear about your journey...