As bored summer kids in Sterling, Ohio, my brother and I used set pennies on the railroad tracks. Passing trains would flatten them out and stretch them commensurate with the number of cars that ran over them. Grownups learned of our adventure and discouraged us because they claimed that anything on a track–even something as small as a penny–could potentially derail an entire train.
Whether that was actually true we couldn’t be sure. We didn’t want to press our luck or be responsible for such a disaster. It is true that it’s little things in our lives that threaten to derail us. Small details can cause us to lose sight of our destiny. It could be as blatant as outright discouragement and invalidation, or as subtle as doing a good thing, but not the best thing. When we’re young it’s not easy to see how tiny changes have such big implications. But during formative years, they can change our whole perspective.
Little changes can derail us.
My grandfather raised my dad and his during the Great Depression. Although dad was a fantastic artist, he was never encouraged in his work. A serious and necessary job is required to raise a family–especially at that time, and Grandfather did not consider art a serious job. Grandfather sold fishing equipment at Sears, Roebuck & Co., grew a modest Victory Garden and trapped small game to keep his family clothed and fed. Dad and his sister walked the railroad tracks picking up chunks of coal to heat their teeny basement home. As a young adult, dad joined the navy and became a photographer, then a civilian typesetter in a printing company.
Alternately, little positive changes can also redirect our lives. A verbal encouragement or affirming gestures of support can fuel dreams. My dad was a great encourager. As a young hopeful artist, my dad bought every kind of artistic and crafty thing for me which allowed many expressions of creativity while growing up. He gave his kids free rein in his wood shop (as long as we put everything back the way we found it). Because he wasn’t able to follow the dreams of his youth, he wanted his six kids to explore theirs.
As a closet writer, I had received little encouragement about my writing. However, because I keenly felt criticism from teachers and professors, no one could convince me of my gifting in that area–until I met a mentor who had no stake in my life. A strong woman of faith, she shared that a piece of my writing made her cry and strongly encouraged me to pursue my writing.
Her words stuck.
That small shift opened my eyes to opportunities that I had noticed before but which held more meaning. I began investing tiny amounts of money in classes and dedicated time to learning the craft. These became stepping-stones of discovery. Some of my essays were published. Some brought checks and awards. One mentor led to another. These helped advance my writing, saving me years of trial and error. They each taught me about the business of writing, helped me sharpen writing and editing skills, and helped me recognize the type of writing that most resonated with my temperament. Fifteen years ago, I was a disillusioned artist wondering why I wasn’t making a living in art. Today, I’m in a thrilling new career that regularly introduces me to fascinating people.
What does this mean for you?
It doesn’t matter what your goal is, there is a mentor out there for you. If you have a desire, a new career path, a new interest or a burning desire, someone is passionately willing to share their information and help you along your path. By investing money you’re showing the degree to which you believe in your dream.
I can’t help but wonder what the planet would look like if everyone plugged into their true passion to earn a living. What dream spark are you harboring? What little idea have you been saying, someday, when I retire, when the kids are grown, when some major future event passes? Stop waiting! Make a forward motion today and see what opens up before you.
Sometimes knowing the end result allows us to work backwards. My goal was to earn a living at writing. I looked at anything free or at cost that would help me reach that goal. I didn’t act on all of them, but I was being informed so as to make a better decision in the near future. I read reviews (negative reviews are equally informative!) and asked for references.
I took advantage of free programs offered at libraries, congregations, and meetup boards. I didn’t want to go into debt, so cost was a big factor and payments had to be manageable. It was important for me to recoup what I paid out before moving on with another paid mentorship. That helped me grow my business over time while implementing what I had learned.
What step can you take today, to green light your dreamer that you want to move forward? The idea to take classes at Long Ridge had been on my mind for some time before I fully investigated my options and cost. Enquiry is a forward motion. How can you start investigating your next move?
Have questions about how to start? Drop them in the comment box below.