The main goal of this Verde & Valor journey is to be transparent with you all, because lets be real - who has it totally figured out 100 percent of the time? Certainly not I, and **major key** if there’s anyone in your circle who feels like they do, you may need to reevaluate your circle, because that person is not interested in learning, in developing, and probably not even in your perspective, for that matter. Not having it all together is a part of life - a lesson that I’m digesting daily. Being transparent about that process and sharing the knowledge gleaned with others, is like passing the baton of encouragement and hope. With that being said, I’m serving up some personal reflections today, deep dish style. Arms back. Palms up. The baton is coming…

In recent years, I starting doing some reflecting. You know the self temperature check, “Where am I at?”, “What am I doing?” to determine whether or not your life has measured up to the goals you set 5, 10 years prior. Am I a home owner? Have I traveled more? Married? A Parent? Working the dream job? The reality was, things looked quite differently than what I thought they would at this stage in life. One goal in particular out of focus, was my career. As I have shared with you all, I have yet to settle into a job that I would consider my passion. For quite a while, I felt extremely overwhelmed not readily knowing what I was passionate about. Did that even exist - to have a job that you LOVE going to? I mean, we all have to work right? Bills have to be paid. Food has to be bought. Life has to go on. You simply find something you're good at and you work hard doing it. The trouble with that was, historically “just going to work” for me wasn’t fulfilling. I wasn’t happy. I mean…At. All. I’d cry (literal tears ya’ll) heading to work. Some days I’d cry at work, and I couldn't leave fast enough when the day was through. I was stressing myself out as well as my loved ones around me. I could feel in the pit of my stomach that I had more to contribute, not only to the work field, but to my life story. 

I knew there had to be a connection between the moments I felt the happiest and what my passion could be. So, I started thinking back, waaaayyy back. One thing that was very apparent, was my love for the arts - music, dance, and especially visual art (drawing, sculpting, crafting, etc.). From grade school until 11th grade, I was consistently involved in some art form. I loved the calmness, focus, and freedom I felt while expressing myself. Along with that memory, I figured out exactly where I began to loose it. Not necessarily the love for it, but the drive to continue pursuing it professionally. 

There were two pivotal moments in my childhood, 

where someone imposed upon my dreams

…and I allowed it.

There were two pivotal moments in my childhood that have never left me, where someone imposed upon my dreams…and I allowed it. The first happened roughly around third grade. I decided I wanted to play the flute in the school band. In a one on one with the band director, I shared my aspirations of being a flutist. Without hesitation, he told me my lips weren’t made for the flute and assigned me to the clarinet. (For the record, I didn't even share that with my parents until I was in my 20s and they’re still ready to track the guy down…had I told them, I’d probably still be playing the flute). The second, transpired a grade or two later. I had a substitute teacher who must have made it his life’s mission to dismantle the dreams of small children, because he asked the class that day, what we wanted to be when we grew up. At my turn, I told him an artist. He readily replied, “Artist don't make any money. You should think of something else”. And so, I did. I thought about becoming a lawyer. Then, a doctor, or nurse. I thought of just about anything that would be considered monetarily “successful”. My love for art never went away, but I shelved it as a “hobby” or creative “outlet” rather than a sustainable career.

Suppressing your dreams

is shutting the door

on the very essence of who you are.

I didn't realize the magnitude of influence fear, and the opinions of others, would have on my decision making down the line. Chances are, the individuals quick to share their disapproval and negativity, weren’t happy with themselves and possibly their choices. Misery loves company. Suppressing your dreams is shutting the door on the very essence of who you are. You can deny yourself for only so long - it get olds eventually, let me tell you. It took a little while to come full circle but, I know that I am deserving of the desires of my heart. And through God’s help, I am capable of achieving them. Now, had I set sail with my plan years ago, I may be further along in my journey.  My timeline looks a little different and I have new obligations that perviously didn't exist - that’s my reality. However, that doesn't mean it’s the end of the line. We can always justify reasons why we “can't"  (too old, too much at risk, I’ve put too much effort into what I’m doing now, what will people think), but in the end we’re the obstacle keeping us from “can”. And with respects to me finding a fulfilling career - I am tuning back into my creative abilities and unearthing my dreams. The little me knew my heart would always reside with creative expression, and the older me is finally ready to listen. 

Your passion is, and always has been within you.

If you've found yourself feeling unfulfilled, know that it doesn't have to be a state of permanency. Finding a labor of love is not the proverbial mystical unicorn. Your passion is, and always has been within you. Look no further than the string of constants in your life. Reflect on those activities that bring you the greatest joy and find a way to do them indefinitely. Silencing our dreams is a bad habit that we've got to learn to break. We cannot continue to breathe life into your fears, or the disparaging remarks of onlookers. If you're waiting on someones approval - stop. You may never receive it. And thats ok. Knowing yourself intrinsically, and honoring those qualities is the recipe for success.