There’s this white hot panic I have at my back sometimes when it comes to my dreams. If you don’t get it together now (or at least soon!) the moment will pass and you will have missed your chance. Hurry, hurry, it whispers. The clock is ticking.
Everyone responds to this pressure differently. Some of us get it together and ramp up. We cover our bases, we try harder. We make sure that whatever is in our power to do, gets finished–and fast. Others of us make our foot long to do lists and immediately sink into overwhelm, declaring ourselves not-like-the-others. We’re paralyzed with fear and indecision, and wonder what “the others” have that we’re missing.
And then there are those of us whose approach is a little bit of both. We try a little, freak a little more, somehow holding on to the hope that we’re not a lost cause. We do the best we can, but there’s still those white hot panic moments–those times we feel the pressure and pray we can rise to the occasion even while we are very worried that we can’t.
What I’m realizing in my own white panic moments is that whenever I get like this, it’s usually because I’m deep into the belief that I’m in it alone. That I can’t let up for one minute, because if I don’t keep moving, nothing is going to happen. That I can’t even let myself begin, because no one has my back. It’s this state of mind that takes a red marker and draws a bold line right through possibilities like:
hope, kindness, love
community and friendship
I think in the end, it all comes down to trust. Can I trust that there is anyone else on this planet who is invested in me doing well and would love to be in it with me? Can I trust that if I stop go, go, going for one day or one hour or one minute, a kind of universal goodness will catch me when I fall? Can I trust that there’s something mysterious out there that every once in a while shows up with the magic when I need to know I’m not alone?
Sometimes my yeses are slow to these questions. I have times when I’m not always sure, and that, my friends, is when it’s time for an old-fashioned experiment. Just like the laboratory scientist established the parameters of her investigation, I set up the test.
What happens when I slow down enough for a good night’s sleep?
What happens if I ask for help to get to the next step?
What happens if I take my eye off the calendar and do what’s right in front of me right now?
This summer we’re setting up a very specific test in the Dream Lab. We’re trying to find out what will happen if we set aside our Mondo Beyondo dreams for one whole summer and let ourselves sink into rest, play and kindness to ourselves and the people around us. And we’re not just saying that. We really want to know want to know. We’re craving the kind of joy and magic that shows up whenever you know–you really know–you’re not in it alone. We’re building our hypothesis on the expectation that all kinds of good things happen when you’re willing to loosen up and let go.
It’s truly hilarious when hard-working, perfection obsessed people like me or Andrea take things like this on. Because we can’t do it halfway, and before you know it, you find yourself in your driveway, asking your eight year old and his friends to spray you with silly string while you jump rope (yes, grownups, we can still play!) while your eleven year old conducts the photo shoot. (see ridiculous picture above)
Or you can’t stop trying to rip the Bubble Yum out of your kid’s hands just in case you can blow a bigger bubble.
Or you start fantasizing about where else you could leave hope notes that would really help you keep going.
Or you get really excited because the rest you need just might be found in a summer salad next door once a week with people who love you like parents. Or you start to realize that nothing bad will happen if you sit down and write yourself a letter in a tone very different from the one you take with yourself whenever you make a mistake. Or you discover that your dreams feel more possible after such a short time of taking exquisite care of your well-intentioned, rumpled, far less-than-perfect self.
If any of this resonates with you, if you’re the kind of girl who needs more space to play and rest and a certain kind of permission to be more gentle, with yourself and others, than I hope you’ll join me for Dream Lab this summer. Everything you need to know is right here and it’s not too late ever to discover that real dreams come true whenever we dare to bet on a little bit of joy and an unexpected dose of kindness and courage.
Come play with us!
What came to mind when I read this was a short section from the chapter “Trust” in “The Sound of Paper” by Julia Cameron.
… “Most of us live with a continual sense of emergency. We have a fear that we are too late and not enough to wrestle a happy destiny from the hands of the gods. What if there is no emergency? What if there is no need to wrestle? What if our only need is receptivity and a gentle openness to guidance? What if, like the Arabian horses grazing outside my window, we are simply able to trust.
“When we trust ourselves, we become both more humble and more daring. When we trust ourselves, we move surely. There is no unnecessary strain in our grasp as we reach out to meet life. There is no snatching at people and events, trying to force them to give us what we think we want. We become what we are meant to be. It is that simple. We become what we are, and we do it by being who we are, not who we strive to be.
“We are right-sized. We are who and what we are meant to be. All that we need, all that we require, is coming toward us. We need only meet life, not combat it. We need only encounter each day’s questions, not raise a fist at the heavens over the question of tomorrow.” … by Julia Cameron in “The Sound of Paper.”
This is wonderful, Jen. Thank you so much!
Jen ~ I love seeing you poping up all over the place. I have missed seeing your smile.
Play is really what life is all about. We all need more play in our lives. Dream Lab sounds incredible. I hope to be there this summer.
Anything that you and andrea create together is pure magic, just like the both of you. Loving you both. xoxo
Beautiful post, Jen. It’s so easy to focus on getting things done, on our goals and on the future that sometimes it’s difficult to remember to stay in the present!
Keep posting stuff like this i really like it
I wrote on the sidewalk yesterday with my 3 1/2 year old…taking your task of “play” and doing my homework like a good Dream Lab student. Thank you. I went and bought these skateboard things this morning for us this afternoon. Loving this.
Oh, thank you for your words! Bless you for your beautiful thoughts! You’ve been a bit of joy in my life for 5 years!
I’m loving DreamLab – you are a blessing !
Now where can I get hold of some of that Silly String ? Haven’t seen any since my 10th birthday party…
im in! xo
Thank you for this reflection. I want to join Dream Lab–What’s the latest date I can register and reasonably catch-up?
I am SO INTO this idea of taking the summer off to let go of all my trying. I’ll be doing it right along with you. As I contemplated this, I saw how inefficient I’ve been lately, and felt like I could foresee an increase in my own efficiency and accuracy come the fall. I’m SO looking forward to this summer!
thanks for sharing. we have so much in common. love what you are doing to inspire play. TRUST is one of my biggest mantra’s these days. great post!