If you want something, it’s up to you to figure out how to get it.
This idea sounds overly simple, and yet, it took a mini life crisis at thirty for me to consider it. Up to that point, I’d been waiting for two specific things to happen before I dared even think about my dream of authoring a book. Those two things? Permission and ideal timing.
Let’s back up a bit. I grew up in a home full of expectations. Some were exerted by my family, some I created on my own. Those expectations included such things as being a good daughter, a good student and a good employee. After I got married, the idea that certain expectations must be upheld pushed me into pouring all my energy into being a good mom, spouse, and housekeeper. None of these expectations were well defined. I had no way of knowing if I was doing it “good” enough. I exhausted myself with worry, thinking I’d never get it right.
A week before my thirtieth birthday I was struck with the significance of another decade of my life slipping by. My dream of becoming an author hadn’t amounted to anything. The reality I had created for myself as a parent didn’t include me in it anywhere. I had invented this expectation that motherhood was an endless cycle of caring for everyone else first and my dreams could wait until the timing was better, until my first baby slept through the night, until the next baby slept through the night, until they napped at the same time, until they started school, until, until, until.
I had enough of waiting. It was time to start making my own goals and letting those dreams into the sunshine. One baby step at a time, I started finding ways to fit writing back into my life.
Today, I’m giving you all the permission I wish I had given myself back when I was twenty to make your dreams a reality.
As of this moment, I give you permission to:
Change your mindset
Spending time on a personal pursuit is not negative or self-centered, so stop telling yourself it is! Your first task is to uncover all those dreams you’ve been tucking away. This takes bravery. After what could be years of putting your needs last, many will find that they can't pinpoint a single significant activity they want to spend their time on. They will answer, "Take a long shower" or "go to the bathroom undisturbed" or “sneak a piece of candy while hiding in a closet."
I can't tell you how sad this makes me.
Assignment – take a piece of paper and write the following, “I have always wanted to ___________.”
Now start writing. See if you can fill the paper. Challenge yourself to dream. Remember all the things you used to say when someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up. Let yourself dream again. Give yourself permission to discover what will bring you joy.
Talk to your family about your needs
This might sound crazy, but it’s a real thing. Do not try to pursue your dream secretly. You don’t have to tell the world, but you do have to share your dream with your significant other. Trying something new and constantly worrying about being caught is more exhausting than you’d expect. Get them on your side. In the best possible scenario, you’ll inspire them to pursue their dreams as well. If you have kids old enough to understand, talk to them. Not only is it healthy for them to see that a parent is working toward personal goals, it helps them be brave enough to pursue their own creative efforts. It’s far easier to ask them for time and help if they understand how important your dream is to you.
Making time for personal growth
This might be the hardest part of self-love. Making time takes effort, coordination, and organization. It’s even worse when the task is something new, because new is scary. Don’t let your own expectations keep you from trying. The first few times you intentionally make time for yourself might bring overwhelming feelings of guilt. Do it anyway and remind yourself that your needs are important.
Don’t feel selfish spending time doing something that brings you joy. A happier you will bring more energy and joy into a home.
It’s easy to use the blanket excuse that you don’t have time. Some people get so used to saying they are super busy and don’t have time out of habit. The more you say it, the more you will believe it and the more flustered you’ll be. Contrary to belief, there isn’t a perfect time to do anything. Your perfect time might be whenever you can find a few minutes at first. If you need longer undisturbed blocks of time, you’ll need to plan them into your day and fit your other responsibilities around them. Remember, while you have your family’s support, it’s still up to you to figure out how best to do it.
Invest in yourself
I’m not talking about going on a huge spending spree. All I’m asking is that you find one item that will help you in your creative process and make you smile. Start small. Buy a book on the subject. Get a lovely journal to start collecting all the tidbits of inspiration that come your way. I’m giving you permission to spend $5 towards your dream. There is a profound psychology that happens when you do this. Not only have you identified your dream, you’ve thought through it enough to be excited to make a small investment. It makes the dream real because you can hold a piece of it.
Find your tribe
While most creative endeavors occur alone, creative people do best when they can connect with other like-minded people. Not only do they make a great resource if you get stuck or have questions, but if they love the same hobby you do, chances are you will have a lot in common. Most of my friends are authors. We get each other. When you have successes, they are there cheering you on. When things go south, they will help cheer you up because they totally understand. With the powers of the internet, finding a group is a matter of searching for one.
Giving yourself permission to pursue your dreams is the best kind of self-love there is. You are honoring the parts of you that make you unique and wonderful. It won’t be easy. Nothing worth doing ever is. There will be tests and trials, failures and rejections. Each challenge makes you stronger. It took almost ten years for me to go from starting writing seriously to the publication of my first book. I don’t regret a single moment.
You got this.
"At the very adult age of 18, Katira has her life figured out. She knows her place, understands her path, and is destined to be the best healer in the northern Panthara mountains, just like her mother.
That all changes when monsters from legends step into her real life, throw her world into chaos, and threaten to destroy both her and her family. To survive, she must accept that her world is far different from what she ever imagined and she must fight to protect what she loves."
Read a sample for free on Amazon!
Growing up, Jodi L. Milner wanted to be a superhero and a doctor. When she discovered she couldn’t fly, she did what any reasonable introvert would do and escaped into the wonderful hero-filled world of fiction and the occasional medical journal. She’s lived there ever since.
These days, when she’s not folding the children or feeding the laundry, she creates her own noble heroes on the page. Her speculative short stories explore the fabric of dreams and have appeared in anthologies and magazines, while her novels weave magic into what it means to be human.
She still dreams of flying.
To read more from Jodi, visit http://jodilmilnerauthor.wordpress.com (signed copies available here)
You can also find Jodi on Facebook and Instagram.
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.