I woke up this morning and had one of those magical epiphanies that changes everything. I realized that I am one of the luckiest people on the face of the earth. If someone would have told me a year ago that I would be living my dreams right now, I would have thought they were on something, but here I am, married to my soulmate, writing novels, and teaching fitness-dance classes at a spiritual center.
It wasn't an easy road. I had been working at the same place for the last four years and had pretty much resigned myself to the fact I would probably be working there forever (or in a very similar situation). Not that there was anything wrong with my workplace. On the contrary, my boss was great and my coworkers were kind and supportive. But something was missing. I knew this wasn't the life the Universe wanted me to live. My cup was half-full and I was all miserable, even if I only admitted it to my husband and myself.
At the time, I was working on a novel but the writing was flat and uninspired as I slogged through chapter after chapter. The world I created seemed inauthentic and as one dimensional as the paper I wrote on. But I was determined to get through it, even if it meant endless edits. I was also working out, and had been attending aerobic style dance classes. It's funny, I thought, when I was younger I danced all the time, but for some reason I simply stopped. Why?The simple answer was that dancing (and writing) came after everything else: work, kids, husband, social obligations, house. I didn't have time to microwave a potpie let alone carve out any real time for myself.
Even though I was exhausted I decided to get a certification in dance fitness. It was intense but I completed it and my wonderful husband hung it on the wall. In my life, I've accomplished many things in my life, but that simple certification was one of my most significant.
Every day I practiced my routines (choreographing them myself). I did this before and after work, and on my lunch breaks and I'm sure my husband thought I had gone off the deep end a bit when he would come home and see me shaking around the living room coaching an invisible audience (although he swears it was also a turn on. Men!). One day, while having a drink with my husband at the bar, he looked into my eyes and asked me if I wanted to quit my day job.
"What will I do?" I asked.
"What you were meant to do," he said. "Teach dance and write books."
Whenever I am angry at my husband, I think back to those words. What he was offering me was the opportunity to be the Real Me, the kind I had only imagined. It was a huge sacrifice too. We would be giving up my income, insurance, and the 'prestige' of me having a real job to take a risk. He would have to take on all of the bills. I would have to stop buying 'extras'. There might even be endless nights of ramen noodle consumption. But I had to go for it. I realized that no amount of Starbuck's Latte's were worth giving up what my soul really longed for. To hell with new clothes. To hell with professional haircuts. I would shave my hair bald and wear my mother's velour sweatsuits if it meant following my dream.
Seven months later, here I am. Some days I write so much I feel like my fingers might become permanently crooked. And I'm teaching a group of ladies that often can't afford the cost of the class so I comp them. I haven't made a profit yet, but I will. The more I follow the path that was chosen for me long ago, the more I know I will be taken care of. I have faith.
Following your bliss is not easy. It's work! I don't sit around eating bon-bons watching Oprah (Oh, but on some days I'd really like to). I write, edit, critique, workout, choreograph, advertise, market, network, and smile. On top of that I still take care of the house (hey, it's only fair) I work harder at trying to create a new reality for myself than I have ever worked at any job. The work can be grueling, but the happiness that comes from following your dream is something you can't put a price tag on.
I'm certainly not saying everyone should vacate their cubicles and audition for American Idol. I never could have attempted this while raising my sons. And I'm lucky I have a husband who believes in me enough to shoulder the burden until my career matures. But if you have a dream, you should never stop working on it. There is another saying: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. In my opinion, truer words were never spoken. Prepare and wait. I feel lucky, but I understand that determination mattered much more than luck in the grand scheme of things. You can't just dream, you have to do.