We have a rather special treat today. A few weeks ago I was featured as a “Dream Chaser” on the website of a woman by the name of Lysandra James. She is an amazingly talented writer, cook, fashion designer, converter of old purses into corsets, and mother of several boys. How she manages to do all that, I will never know, but she allows us a glimpse of her daily life in the post I’m featuring here today. When she gets published, watch out world. Her debut will be extra-ordinary. You can find her on her writing webpage here or her inspirational masterpiece, “Believe is a Verb,” here. If you prefer Facebook, this link is for you. Twitter peeps can tweet her here.
Anyway, without any further ado, here is Lysandra James!
My name is Lysandra James.
I’m a dream chasing, dragon slaying, sword carrying, butterfly-net waving warrior woman with a weakness for chocolate chip cookies and nerdy jokes.
I’m also a sucker for anything super soft. Like those blankets you pass in Walmart that you just can’t help but touch and when you do, you practically melt because it’s like touching a fluffy cloud. Oh, yeah…
When I start talking to people, they often wonder how in the world I juggle everything. I admit writing a novel, maintaining two weekly blogs as well as a blog for my writers group, attending my writers group twice a month, critiquing my friends’ writin, keeping my husband and kids on track and in line, volunteering time at my kid’s school and at my gym, going to Pilates twice a week, running errands, shuttling kids to activities, being an organist and choir accompanist for church, and still having time to make my own bread every week does tend to keep me busy.
No, I’m not some superhero mom with a steel bladder and boundless energy. Nor am I certifiably crazy. Most days.
I’m a normal, everyday kind of girl who simply figured out what works.
Do you want to know my secret?
I’m chasing my dreams.
Seriously. Don’t give me that look. It’s true.
As long as I’m chasing my dreams, I can handle whatever life throws at me with a smile on my face.
I haven’t always had the courage to chase dreams. It’s a scary thing to commit to something and make actual steps toward making it happen. Sometimes it’s completely terrifying, especially when nothing but an absolute leap of faith will get you from point A to point B.
When I was nineteen, I wrote a romance novel. It was awful, overly simple, and extremely cliché. But I wrote diligently every night, pounding away at the keyboard, until the happy day when I typed the two most glorious words in the English language – “The End.”
With delight and a bit of trepidation, I printed it off and handed my baby to someone with a voracious appetite for romance novels, knowingshe would love it. Or at least give me an honest review. It was going to be the beginning of something amazing. I would submit it, get published, and then write the half a dozen sequels I had planned. I couldn’t wait to get started!
I can still picture the day she returned my precious manuscript to me. The bookshelf filled with books and knickknacks on my right, a coat closet on my left. It must have been morning because the light was soft and filtered. It’s all burned into my memory as if it happened yesterday.
She approached me in the hallway, manuscript in hand. Tentatively, I asked how she liked it, both eager and anxious for her response. What was she going to say?
I should have known something was wrong when she didn’t meet my eyes. She shoved the papers into my hands and retreated without a word. I recall standing there, dumbfounded, for a very long time. Was it really so bad, it didn’t even deserve a response?
I didn’t write again for years.
Those were dark times for me. Without having a dream to chase, I drifted from one interest to another. Nothing could hold my attention. Scrapbooking took too long. Bead jewelry, while a fantastic outlet for my built-up creativity, just wasn’t enough. Teaching piano took too much time away from my family. I tried it all – every craft in the book and more. And subsequently gave it up once my attention waned.
I learned a lot and gained many valuable skills, but something was missing. Something deep and fundamental. As a result, I was miserable.
I needed a dream.
One day, I took an inventory of all my skills and interests. There were far too many to maintain – both financially and timewise – so I decided to narrow my focus and get rid myself of all the excess craft supplies and materials. Only a few hobbies made the cut, the lucky winners being piano, crochet, bead jewelry, sewing (mainly for mending purposes), and …… writing.
Up until this point, I hadn’t taken myself seriously as a writer. It was merely something to do to pass the time, to tell stories to myself. Nothing more. But something compelled me, drew me in.
No one knew I wrote. It was something I did in secret. The shame of that first rejection hung heavily around my neck. I didn’t dare reveal it to anyone for fear I would be ridiculed, mocked, or even worse – rejected once more.
However, something called to me. At first, it was a quiet, lulling sound almost lost in the background noise of life. But it grew.
The desire built inside me until it was a burning, raging storm demanding to be set free. I couldn’t hold it back any longer.
So I took that first step toward chasing my dream. I admitted to everyone I was a writer.
I was petrified to write those words and post them on Facebook for the world to see. Once I clicked “post”, I was glued to my computer. At one point, I almost deleted my confession. What would people think? I was a nobody who had done nothing worth remembering. Would they even care?
My heart skipped a beat when first “like” appeared, then another and another. Comments of encouragement and support filled my newsfeed. I may have cried. I don’t remember. But what I do remember is regaining a small amount of the courage I had lost all those years before.
That first step led to another and another – completing a children’s writing course, participating in and winning NaNoWriMo, attending my first writers conference and taking third place for adult speculative fiction in the First Chapter Contest, starting my first blog, attending my second writers conference and subsequently meeting the people who now form my writers group, starting a second blog…
Each step I took gave me more confidence, more self-assurance. I devoured everything I found relating to writing. I developed habits and routines to keep myself motivated and continually moving forward. I found like-minded people who understood me and pushed me to try harder.
And a miraculous thing happened. I realized I was happy.
Not the temporary, it’s-gonna-change-any-minute-now, bad-day-will-ruin-it happy. But truly, one-hundred-percent, permanently, ecstatically happy.
Recently, I had a test of the staying power of this felicity. After weeks of following what I considered a perfect routine, I came across “The Wednesday That Fought Back”. Blow after blow was dealt that day, at one point bringing me to my knees in tears. And that was all before8:00 am. How on earth would I survive until bedtime?
A prayer and a good, quick cry later, I dried my eyes and got back on my feet. There was a reason my blog’s tagline read “Chasing dreams and slaying dragons with a laugh and a laptop” and I was going to prove it, not just to myself, but to anyone who was willing to listen.
With a renewed spirit and a good dose of “get yourself together, girl”, I conquered Wednesday, despite its final attempt to thwart me in the form of a vomit-covered 4yo. And I continued to conquer. Thursday and Friday tried to bring me down, but I repelled their attacks, waving my sword and laughing maniacally. Every single thing I did, I did it to spite those malicious days.
I rocked out to my favorite tunes in the kitchen while making chocolate chip cookies, belting out those lyrics loud enough I’m sure my neighbors down the street heard me. I posted inspirational memes on Facebook and trash-talked the events that taunted my sanity. I wrote hundreds of words, stabbing the keys with purpose and determination. I celebrated every little victory over the days that were determined to earn the title “bad day”.
So, to the people who look at me in baffled awe, wondering how in the world I do what I do, this is what I have to say:
Follow your dreams. Chase those suckers down with the biggest butterfly net you can carry. Show them who’s boss. Don’t let those stupid doubts wiggle their way into your brain and keep you from becoming what you’ve always dreamed of being.
Slay your dragons with wild abandonment. Prove you’re not one to be defeated with ease. Make them quiver in fright at your mighty strength and determination.
Make it happen.
Be the dream-chasing dragon-slaying hero of your own life story.
I believe in you.