Chasing Your Dreams
Over the weekend when I was at the conference, my ten-year-old had a gymnastics meet which I was bummed to miss, but Brian texted me her scores on each event, and he took video so I could see her performances. (I put one on YouTube.)
Now, if you watch my daughter doing gymnastics, you might not think it looks like anything special, particularly if the only gymnastics you’ve ever seen is in the Olympics. (Just like Little League baseball doesn’t look like much when you’re used to watching the Colorado Rockies.) She’s been quite successful competing and has won 1st place in several competitions, but there’s a good chance she’s average for her age and competition level. Nevertheless, she has Olympic dreams. She’s as passionate about gymnastics as I’ve ever been about anything in my life. She loves it and she’s driven and I’m not about to discourage her.
Part of me wishes I could give her some perspective, encourage her to dream more realistically. I don’t want her to base her whole life on a dream that has little chance of coming true. Yet… aren’t we supposed to dream big?
I would never say anything to make her think I don’t believe in her. If the Olympics aren’t in the cards, that’s for her to discover, not for me to predict. And if my daughter eventually has to deal with disappointment, then who am I to deprive her of that crucial and character-building process? Only she can figure out how to handle it. Only she can decide what new dream will replace the old one.
She works very hard, practices diligently and has excellent coaching. But there’s an element to gymastics that can’t be taught, some magical inborn talent that you either have, or you don’t. It’s the magic fairy dust factor. I’m not sure whether my daughter has it or not; I suspect she has at least a little, but I don’t know how far it will carry her. No matter how hard she works, to some extent her success is at least partially determined by what she was born with.
So that’s the way I see writing. Lots of people can do it; many are passionate and driven. Many have big dreams. Some may not work hard enough; some may not have the magic fairy dust to carry them as far as they’d like. But I don’t want to discourage people. I want to keep encouraging, keep cheering people on in their writing dreams.
Regardless of whether all your dreams will come true, this is your process. It’s your life. Whether it brings you joy or pain or the more likely combination of both, still, it’s yours. If you go through disappointment, I hope you will grow from it. If you experience heartbreak, I pray you’ll heal and be stronger. If you have triumphs and success, I hope it brings you the satisfaction you crave.
Whatever happens, however this journey goes for you, be assured you’re not on the wrong path if you are pursuing a passion and willing to work hard. Go for it. It’s all yours.
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>One thing I learned from raising four daughters is that they themselves will change their dreams as they grow. There turned out to be no need for me to try to change the dreams for them, or make them more realistic.
One wanted to be a writer but as she got a bit older she decided being a writer wasn't her dream after all. Now she is majoring in apparel design and is destined for Milan and New York.
I encouraged knowing she would eventually decide for herself. All I had to do was was to help her understand at each step what achieving the dream entailed.
The step in middle school wasn't to be a best selling author. It was to write an article for the school paper. The step in high school was to get on the staff of the school paper and to take AP English and Creative Writing.
Struggling with those steps allowed her to make her own decision about going farther.
She changed her dream and now I encourage her to find a way to get to Milan!
Thank you for giving of yourself to writers you don't know, wanting to see them suceed and bring into print the things that God has put into thier heart and soul.
It was a sacrifice for you, your daughter and your husband to allow you to be at the conference instead of the meet.
>This is a great post, and it touches on a subject that I struggle with, and I'm sure I'll struggle with it even more if/when I have children. On one hand, you want to encourage people to follow their passions. On the other hand, odds are usually stacked so high, and it can be such a painful process, that you almost want to tell them to just stop and save themselves the trouble – but that's not how people ultimately succeed.
Like you said, it's their process.
And hey, I could never perform the routine your daughter did in the video, even when I WAS in gymnastics. I learned early that it wasn't for me. 🙂
>The lesson of chasing one's dream is precisely why I started writing 5 years ago. While I may never reach the success of someone who started at a younger age, I am damn well giving it all I've got, if for no other reason than to teach my 12 and 14-year-olds that the ONLY way to achieve their dreams is by trying. "I can't" is a self-fulfilling prophecy… and not allowed in my house. We CAN… maybe not always at the level we hoped, but at least to a degree we feel some validation from. Brava for your daughter reaching for the brass ring!
>I normally lurk, but I had to jump on here and say that your daughter is fantastic! My babe is learning the same routine, but isn't nearly at your daughter's level. (In fact, my dd only knows the opening moves, but I've seen them 1000 times!)
Great post, and the paragraph is especially touching for me.
>You are a lovely mother.
>What a beautiful post, Rachelle! You have made my day a bit happier. Your daughter is so fortunate to have you for her mother. Having a dream is the first step towards achieving it and as I'm sure you already know, it's all about the journey, not the destination.
>"Regardless of whether all your dreams will come true, this is your process. It's your life. Whether it brings you joy or pain or the more likely combination of both, still, it's yours."
Wonderful and so well said.
>I'd be interested in hearing your daughter's reaction to this blog.
If your readers know you encourage writers whose talent you doubt, how can even the most talented trust words of praise?
Do you know a way to provide honest criticism while always being positive?
>"…however this journey goes for you, be assured you're not on the wrong path if you are pursuing a passion"
I agree with your parenting wisdom. There is a girl about your daughter’s age who will one day win an Olympic gold medal. Why not her? At least why not her, for now?
Living a dream keeps us moving forward, growing. Sometimes we realize it was just a dream, other times we find we’re living it.
We may not win the gold or make the best sellers list. We may quietly go through life without building a platform of thousands.
If we can say, though none go with me still I will follow, my dream, we will be fulfilled. If we live with a passion to hear the words at the end, “Well done My good and faithful servant,” we are a huge success. It looks like you're doing both.
>What a post! Encouraging. Inspiring. Real.
I've been speaking for 18 years, but only seriously considering writing for a little over a year. My first book is due out next year (a Bible study entitled, "Ecclesiastes: Understanding What Matters Most" and I'm more amazed than anyone that the Lord would place me on this new journey in the world of writing.
I'm not sure where it will lead or what He has in store for me down the road, I only know I want to fulfill His plan for my life. I want to dream big because He's a big God. As William Carey once said, I want to attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.
Thanks for using your post to encourage others.
>Thanks for this excellent post.
After years of rejections and many setbacks, doors began to open for us. Today we are living the dream.
The things both of us dreamed about growing up, the things we talked about and prayed about as we started our marriage — we are living these things as a daily reality.
We are literally living the dream.
We are not wealthy: That was never our dream. We do not need it.
We are not famous; except among our own nieces and nephews.
We are hard-working writers with ten published books, under contract for two more, able to live from what writing brings us.
Every day we are grateful.
>The thing about magic fairy dust is, sometimes it doesn't show up for a long time.
There's a certain kind of writer whose early work looks just as unpromising as that of more mediocre talents. But there's something there, even if it's impossible to see. Years later, after much hashing about with the written word, something original starts to sparkle through the muck; some time after that, everyone can see the magic.
>"If only I knew then what I know now."
I was a gymnastics coach for two years and, after watching your daughter, can say with a high degree of certainty that she is a talented gymnast.
I forsee her being offered a scholarship and competing at the college level.
>Thanks for sharing!
Your daughter is precious, and so lucky to have a mom like you. Regardless of whether she makes it to the Olympics or not, all she's learning about herself and the world in the process is *priceless*.
Watching the video, I saw a hard-working, talented, powerful, confident, brave, poised, happy girl. Qualities such as those can only enhance her life no matter what twists and turns the future holds; actually, those qualities alone deserve an Olympic gold medal in a world that can be so hard on its girls.
They also happen to be the same qualities we develop in ourselves whenever we follow our dreams, listen to our hearts, and work hard; in that way, no matter where the road takes us or how the journey ends, we're ALL winners.
Great post — both heartwarming and heartening. : )
>Thanks for this post! I totally agree with you: follow your dreams, your passions. Be willing to work hard for them, be read to fall from time to time, sometimes really hard, but get back up. If you truly believe in it, you'll make it. Your imagination's the limit!
PS: Good luck to your daughter!
>Wonderful post. I have no children, but…
When I get discouraged and want to give up, I go into the morning room in my house, in the small dark hours of a new day.
There are nine Pit Bulls sleeping there, snoring gently, all castoffs, all saved from euthanasia or worse. One or two will wake up and look at me, and a tail will quietly thump.
Their lives are in my hands. Bringing them safely through…that's my dream.
>good for you! what a good mom!
>Interesting how many people take this dose of "reality" as encouragement. I think Rachelle is very gently trying to tell us:
"Aim high, but don't get your hopes up." Perseverance is good but so is knowing when to alter your dreams to a more attainable goal.
>I love this: It's for her to discover, not for me to predict. I want to pass this attitude on to my sons. When they are ready for feedback and honest evaluation, I'll make sure it comes from someone who has the experience or the qualifications to give a score. Thanks for the post.
>Enjoyed watching your daughter do her floor performance. Isn't it like children to shoot for the stars? And you just never know when their wish may come true!
I encourage both of my daughters to pursue their dreams; but I always temper the encouragement with what is necessary to reach their goal: hard work, dedication, and passion.
I see the same requirements as a writer in taking the job and skill very seriously in order to succeed.
Thanks for sharing, Rachelle. Hope your daughter continues to do well. 🙂
>When you said, "If you go through disappointment, I hope you will grow from it" that is so true. I think God uses disappointment and/or hard times to mold us. Guide us to where He wants us to be.
This was a great post. Loved the comparison.
Thank you for sharing your analogy with us. Making our dreams come true does take hard work. I was told that I would never walk or have children. You can read that story on the post for Sept 8 at Passionate for the Glory of God.
I was also told that as a 35 year-old college freshman, I could never get a degree in electrical engineering.
My "fairy dust" was God's hand on my life and miracle after miracle from His hand. My favorite saying is that success takes "all of God and all of me." If I never become a published author, but I hear Him say, "Well done," then I am successful.
>What an amazing post. You've such a nurturing way about you…
I just completed my first novel. Throughout the process, my two young boys often asked why I decided to write. My response–to follow MY dream. Which is not something they'd seen me do before.
My boys watched me endure a highly stressful job, attend graduate school and help my husband launch our bakery. And while parts of each were rewarding, I really did those things for other people. The job–to provide financial security for my family, graduate school because that's what everyone expected of me, and the bakery—well, that was pretty cool, working with my husband, so no complaints there.
Now–now I am doing something I want to do and with the full support of my family. I'm am incredibly blessed to have this support. And I appreciate that I can teach my boys something about following one's dreams.
>…and win, lose or draw, at least you'll never have the woulda/shoulda/coulda regrets later on!
>Rachelle: Thank you for saying this, you wonderful person you!
Our son wanted to be an animator since he was nine. That is all he cared about. He has incredible talent, so we encouraged him to follow his dream and go for it, even though we were a wee bit nervous about the whole "show business" life.
He graduated with two degrees, one in animation, the other in English comp. After three years he's finally found his niche in a small studio. He's living his dream.
How many times did I question if we had done the right thing by encouragaing him in his art journey? How many false starts and broken dreams has he endured? Too many to count. I'm sure there will be more to come.
But I'm finally seeing that it was good for us to say, "Go for it." God put this talent and aspiration in his heart– who are we to stand in the way?
You are doing the God-honoring thing to believe in your daughter's dream. Whether she makes it to the Olympics or not, she'll thank you for being her best cheerleaders along the way.
>"It's the magic fairy dust factor."
Says it all.
>When my now-seventeen-year-old-daughter was 12, she was passionately certain she should be an actress. When she came to me one evening, with deadly sincerity, and told me we should sell everything, quit our jobs, and move to Hollywood so she could pursue her dream, it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.
In tears she told me I was "crushing all her hopes and dreams," which we now laugh about.
At the time though, facing reality for her was painful. Dreams are wonderful if they can become workable goals, but as Rachelle said, not everyone has the "magic fairy dust" to make that dream a reality. I guess agents are on the front lines of "dream-crushing" and from those crushed pieces come the ones who will eventually make it.
>My oldest daughter is completely obsessed with Irish dancing and plans to go to world champions some day. Success in Irish dance is different than in writing, at least I hope so. It takes money (same w/ gymnastics). We don't have it. We are raising 4 on a fireman's salary. Those who have money are able to afford multiple competitions a year and the $3000 dresses, which progresses them further to world champions. All the talent in the world isn't going to pay for those competitions. Fairy dust is great if it equates to cold, hard cash.
Actually, sometimes I do feel the same about writing. I would love to jet off to conferences and take yet more classes. Ultimately, it doesn't matter, though. I don't need those things to be successful. My daughter does have to jet off to competitions in order to advance as a dancer.
>Really good post. Thanks.
>You've reminded us of something important here — that sometimes, oftentimes, the journey is just as important as the reward. And that nothing is wasted on the road toward a dream. Thanks. 🙂
>Beautiful post. Best of luck to your daughter.
>Thank you for a very encouraging, inspiring post, Rachelle.
>"But there's an element to gymnastics that can't be taught, some magical inborn talent that you either have, or you don't."
I'm not sure I agree with this. I used to, and I quit an awful lot of things growing up because of it. I figured if I didn't have "it", what was the point in trying?
I grew up a lot once I realized I could do anything if I was willing to work hard at it.
>Cheers for a mom who allows her daughter to dream! After all who would have thought a dyslexic student who didn't learn to read until the fifth grade would become a best-selling author?
>"And when I (_____) I feel His pleasure."
In all of Creation, dreams are reserved for the Image Bearers (humanity). And to experience their voltage, conduited by family – wow! Your daughter may or may not be gifted. But she is definately blessed. As a volunteer coach, I have begged parents to engage. As a dad, I have shared the heartbeat until it became my own. Good Stuff.
>What vivid imagery you've used today to describe the agony and ecstasy which surely all artists endure.
>I was thinking about how sometimes when I reject someone's work or I give a seemingly harsh critique, that feels discouraging to a writer. But technically, I'm not trying to discourage, I'm just telling the truth as I see it because I've been asked.
It's the same in sports. My daughter doesn't like it when she gets a low score, and sometimes she's discouraged (or disappointed, angry, the whole range of emotions). But she uses it to learn where she needs to work harder. In any sport… when your team loses or when you perform poorly, you are getting feedback on your game. So it is with writing, only the feedback comes in the form of requests, rejections, critiques, evaluations, etc.
>Thanks so much for this post, Rachelle! It's such a great encouragement. We all need people like you in our lives, cheering us on with every manuscript.
Here's to that magic fairy dust factor! I'm praying that I have it, but I won't stop writing either way.
Have a great day!
>You're definitely on the right track, Rachelle, in supporting your daughter in her dreams and letting her adapt them as she goes. Way to go, Mom! (And a great application for our writing, too!)
>What a beautiful post. "This is your journey, so go for it." Definitely how I feel about my children, and it's lovely to hear it about my writing as well.
>This is just my humble opinion, but I don't think it's our responsibility to give people perspective on their dreams.
How would one give perspective to Michael Jordan the day he was cut from his 9th grade basketball team? Or to James Earl Jones when he experienced severe stuttering until age 8?
Most of the time I think our opinions are a reflection of our own experiences rather than a real assessment of another person's situation. We are all human after all.
Good luck to your daughter…tell her to NEVER stop dreaming.
>This reminded me of Debbie's keynote, Rachelle! Reach for the dream, and show our children that they have the right to reach for theirs! Such a powerful message, at least to me it is!
>I had that passion as a kid for horses and won lots of blue ribbons in horse shows. When I was up against Olympic riders as a teenager, I was a little shocked to find out I was second class. But I have great memories of my horsey years, so I think all in all it's good to have such a passion as a kid.
>Live BIG – Dream BIGGER 🙂
>That one hit a little too close to home today. I have nothing funny to say about dreams; they are the fuel of life and therefore demand respect.
>This post touched my heart on all kinds of levels. I love that you are so encouraging (with a nice dose of "let's get real").
Dreams DO come true. Writing about that right now.
And I want to encourage my daughters to dream big. To align their desires with God's and believe that what He has planned for them is so incredibly cool.
I'm having a very rough morning–thanks for your inspiring words.
>To my untrained eye, your daughter's routine looked fabulous. She's poised, confident and talented! (And adorable!)
You're so right, Rachelle. There's that certain something that causes one gymnast (or writer) to stand out from others. I believe it's a gift from God. We can study, work hard, learn the craft, but we'll only get as far as the gift inside us will allow.
The simple truth is, we can't all be in the Olympics. Nor can we all writer best-sellers. But we can each choose to do our best with our God-given gifts.
>I put down my pen and paper for about fifteen years after I was told that dreams are just that, dreams…to be dreamt at night, in your sleep. Not while you pay the bills and live your life. I wish my parents had been more encouraging of dreams, but children of depression era parents-they were grounded in the sense of reality.
The problem was that I had, still have, the talent and passion to have achieved a dream in writing. To my parents becoming an author was as easy as being the next famous actress. (Another one of my big dreams that fell to the wayside)
It almost brought tears to my eyes, seeing your post on encouragement..especially to your talented and hard-workign daughter. The one who deserves it the most. Thank you, and I know your daughter will thank you as well.
>I wish my mother had felt this way about my writing dreams. I alternated between the creative arts – singing, acting, writing. Writing was the only one that she didn't immediately squash. I hope I'm a little more…flexible with my own children!!
>I think we found the replacement for Paula's judging position on Idol. Rachelle is the one to always provide a word of encouragement!
>First, my 2-year-old just watched the video of your daughter while sitting on my lap, and said, "that girl's dancing!" and cheered "yay!" for all the big tricks. And now she wants to "see it again!" Very fine work, Lauren!
I think this is an excellent comparison. And I think it IS hard to balance encouragement with realism… which is why so many people tell writers "don't quit your day job!" They see the writers' enthusiasm and feel the need to temper it.
But you don't need fairy dust to be a success at something. There are midlist writers and college gymnasts as well as bestsellers and Olympians. And, there are also those of us who gain wonderful life lessons and experiences from our endeavors even if it never "pays off" on some national stage.
If it brings us joy, we'll keep doing it, and we'll find our own level.
I think the best thing one can do as a PARENT is what my mom did when I was a child actress — just keep making sure that the child is doing it because SHE loves it, not because she thinks it makes her family proud or happy, and not because she thinks it's all she can do.
>I watched your daughter's routine from the Twitter link the other day. Thanks for sharing!
This passion I have for writing has made my life so much richer. Regardless if I accomplish all I hope to, having this dream has humbled me and brought me closer to God. I think it's wonderful that your daughter dreams big. I hope my son will too someday!
Thanks for the encouragement!
Have you had to be like Simon Cowell and tell someone the magic fairy dust has skipped them completely? In a case when it is obviously NOT going to happen, do you do the person a favor by telling them so?
Isn't it true that passion doesn't necessarily equal gift? Have you identified any clear cut ways to see a writer doesn't stand a chance and spare a person years of disappointment and banging their head against a wall for no reason?
>You are the best! The best mom for sure and the best for encouraging all of us. I believe – if something really is of God – gymnastics or writing – He will open doors. It's easy and frustrating to become so focused on wanting an agent, a publisher or whoever to pick up a story but God has His plans for each one of us. Thanks Rachelle, thanks for being you, Sarah
>Lately I've been pondering creation and beauty. I have a theory that God richly blesses those who yearn–and the yearning itself lends beauty to the routine, dance, art, music, writing. If there were mistakes in your daughter's routine I didn't see them, Rachelle. But even if there had been, her heart for the routine shines through. If love covers a multitude of sins, then surely a heart for creation covers a multitude of imperfections.
I look for beauty that pulses with life, and I see it all around. Perhaps because I'm an elementary music teacher, I must settle for incomplete or imperfect beauty. Listen to a group of children sing and you will hear at least one or two "bullfrogs" (bless their hearts). But given the right song and circumstance, I hear an angel choir that touches hearts. Usually there's not a dry eye in the adult house when children sing.
That's why I can dream big, and the only reason why. There are better writers than me, more talented, more learned. But I yearn to write and hope that yearning will reveal beauty. If I've added even a moment's worth of beauty to the world–even in one sentence–I believe it's been worth all the angst and uncertainty.
God bless you and your sweet daughter today.
>According to what I've heard, gymnastics at a high level involves getting up at ungodly hours of the morning to train, watching everything one eats, and arranging your life so almost everything revolves around the athletics. I think your comparison with writing could easily extend that far, no?
Thanks for an engaging and thoughtful post (and blog).
>Wow, great analogy!
>Great post! It falls right in line with a recent post I made in my family blog. My family has a theme this year: "The Courage to Dream"
We are all going to take steps to pursue our dreams this year, no matter how out of reach they may seem right now.
>Great blog, Rachelle. And since I'm a mother of 4 daughters, I found this post a delight. All 4 finally found something, but by then, they were less interested in me taking videos. 🙂 Since there were 4, they also knew our time and attention, as parents, was limited. So they had to make a big effort!
This is also true with writers, and I think your posts help bring a personal touch to a business that has been steeped in mystery for too long. Not everyone with the ability to put words on a page is a writer, and few writers rise to the level of being publishable.
The key to remind writers is – books are for the readers – not a platform. Except writers need a platform! 🙂
Good work, Rachelle. I like your blog and you don't want to represent what I write, so there's no hidden agenda in that compliment. I follow the industry and like how a few good agents are "coming out of the closet" and telling writers this is a business, and when they are ready to be professional about their work…
It's time for writers to do their homework, and make the effort, so agents, editors and publishers are no longer as overwhelmed with all the stuff they don't want, and can't publish. Dreams are one thing, the word put into story is a while different level. But without agents like you, Kristen, Nathan, Jenny and many more, there is too much potential for good story getting lost in the volume of slush words but into digital pages – because – ou need time to savor your daughters gymnastics.
I sure wish your daughter well in her gymnastics. My neighbors daughter was super good in gymnastics. For about 5 years they traveled long distances for competitions against the best in different states, etc. The girl was recognized as a true Olympic potential. Suddenly, ONE DAY, she said, "I don't want to do it anymore." No one could change her mind.
I don't know if anyone could find any benifit from this… but I imagine some writers do the same thing as my neighbor girl. Maybe that girl and those writers needed more of the RIGHT kind of encouragement: and that's what I felt like you were giving writers today.
Thanks, Writer Jim