Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kick in the Pen

For the past two days, I have been in Connecticut immersed in a workshop about marketing. Expensive enough to make me seriously wonder how I can pay for it, the process challenges and inspires me to come home and earn my way to their next conference in September…in Miami.

Nearly thirty years ago, so young and overwhelmed by the family responsibilities for which I had naively volunteered, a famous weekend retreat asked me if I “got it,” but far from that, I came away troubled by the realization that my only problem might be thinking I actually had no problems. I spent the next twenty years trying to figure out what they might be and blaming lots of other things and people around me for the tensions I myself was allowing in my life.

In 2007, I was initiated as a New Warrior of the Mankind Project, a group of conscious men fiercely determined to look at their own “stuff” and hold each other accountable. In the following year, as a result of opening that doorway, I ended my second marriage and began to close down the construction business that had never served me well.

Largely we limp through life choosing what is right before us and coping with what else comes along, not often sitting squarely with hands firmly on the wheel, navigating with assurance and clear direction. A gathering like this offers a boost of adrenalin and insight that makes the trip home boil with a mixture of fear, determination, wonder and exhaustion.

As much about the heart of the entrepreneur as the mechanics of the business, the intensive lessons created moments of discovery and optimism like fireworks over the faces of the audience, illuminating and celebrating the spirit that dares to risk everything for a dream. Between the formal sessions, the mix and mingle of participants allowed strong bonds so bright in a few hours that could normally fade rapidly, but now might smolder longer with regular breaths through facebook and emails, encouraging and supporting.

The stimulation is invaluable, but the challenge this morning is to awaken in the same dusty bedroom of these past three years and make it a different day. Tomorrow and the next will be here shortly to grind this sharp edge ever duller if I am not able to find a way to keep these sparks lit from within.

This morning, the voices that were loud in affirmation yesterday are lost in the clamor of the rent payment due and kids in college needing help. Dependent on my own father to get me through this time of transition, it seems impossibly selfish to heed the call to follow my dreams and focus on what I love. All the promises of abundance sound like so many fateful sirens as I stand tied to the mast, working my hands loose, yearning, pulling and stretching.

Awakening though, to my yellow pad I run anyway. Before breakfast, shaving, or even a cup of old coffee reheated (just a taste before the fresh is brewed), my pen is drawn to scribble. A resupply of business cards is printed, a poster produced to send back to Connecticut to promote a show there in three weeks, thinking ahead with fingertips on the tiller, broken free of the mast for a moment.

Our dreams rouse us in the night and enliven conversations in the day. So often we sigh blissfully about how nice it could all be “if only...”. We talk about tomorrows but cope with todays, one after the other until suddenly none are left and all the tomorrows vanished with them.

I have to put food on the table and some dollars in my own children’s banks. That my father can still help me is an amazing gift. The workshop has taught me ways I can better market and package my writing and music to bring in a few more dollars to pay for the trip to Miami, if not the lessons of life, drops in the bucket one at a time, only possible if I write one word at a time.

The heart of this conference is that we each have our own gifts and it is our duty to share them as best we can. Shyness is not an option. Humility is appropriate and more attractive than ego. Authenticity and integrity are required. We are applauded and even celebrated for just showing up, but it is the daily implementation—not just today and tomorrow, but six months and six years from now—that really lands us on the beach we seek.

I can live with the dust in my room one more day. The words in my heart, the driving forces in my soul, must come out, let them settle where they may: we only have each other.

The love that cherishes and supports us must be proclaimed whenever and however possible. No matter how many times and ways it has been said, sung and danced before, by myself and so many others, I gratefully offer the words up again, one voice among many, welcoming another day and the chance to embrace life and each other once more.

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