Much like Dancing with the Stars motivated a demographic of complacent people who had always dreamed of dancing to get off their rumps and salsa into dance studios across the country, the Julie/Julia project spurred countless people to follow their dreams.
Julie Powell blogged her way through 524 recipes and 365 days of cooking in her Julie/Julia Project, an admirable feat. Tired of what she perceived as a dead-end secretarial job, she started her year-long project longing for something different—something more. Using Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Julie wondered if anyone would find her trek interesting, if what she thought mattered.
Seems quite a few folks did…and still do…even if she does tend to have a potty mouth and doesn’t believe in God.
I’m not much of a cook myself; my mom had a hard time synchronizing courses, let alone mastering dishes that called for more than a trio of ingredients. It was years before I realized that vegetables are typically served with the main course and not 15 minutes before, that bread usually accompanies a meal, and that not all cheese comes in brick-shaped boxes stamped with USDA-AFDC.
Nonetheless, recipes (not the actual cooking) fascinate me. Like a mini-strategic plan for preparing produce and protein—such organization and precision—and when photographs are included—such beautiful promise. (For those of you who cook, does your end-result ever look like the picture?)
But the Julie/Julia Project wasn’t just about publishing pithy prose or creating culinary masterpieces. It was really all about carpe diem—seizing the moment. Going for it—doing it—embracing the chutzpah of your inner child.
In other words—experiencing the dreams of your heart.
My friend Randy Ingermanson writes the popular Advanced Fiction Writing Blog (yes, I plan to shamelessly drop names on my blog, especially when I can share some valuable resources with you) and on February 19 of this year he wrote about keeping a Hopes-and-Dreams File. (He actually keeps files—and not just for utility bills or invoices—a man after my own heart.)
I cut out the last line of his post and stuck it on my bulletin board—valuable real estate in my small-but-organized office. Whether or not you have any desire to write fiction, Randy’s sage advice will empower you.
Speaking of filing…
Recently, I organized a humongous collection of recipes I’d collected for years, going through stacks of pages torn from glossy magazines, ragged edge newspaper clips, and index cards with food-stained corners. Sorting everything into neat files labeled Main Course, Salads, Veggie Dishes, Desserts, Breads and Pastries, and the ubiquitous category of “Appetizers and Misc.”
That this project had gone unfinished for so long surprised me. My spices are alphabetized, as are the literally hundreds of books on my shelves. Clothing hangs in my closet according to type, and my shoes nest comfortably in clear plastic boxes, sorted by color.
Organization allows me to operate more effectively and efficiently, whether it’s locating a spice or a recipe, writing a book, or searching in my drawer for the perfect lipstick. The empirical benefits of organization seem logical to me. I totally get Temperance Brennan (aka Bones).
On the other hand, the logic of playing it safe has never appealed to me. I’m a staunch advocate of taking risks, dreaming big, and going after what you want. Not that this mindset has always served me well. Case in point being when I quit school at age 15 and ran away from home to marry a fellow whose abuse nearly killed me.
I wasn’t actually the kind of kid you’d want your kid to hang out with.
By Sweet Sixteen I was divorced, the mother of a newborn son, and studying for my GED while working at night. And the choices I would make over the next several decades not only changed the story of my life, but the life of my only child as well.
Looking back, even if I’d had my Garmin GPS to direct me toward the easy road, I’m not sure I would have taken it. How about you? Would you do things differently if you could?
The retrospective wisdom that so many of my fellow baby boomer brothers and sisters share is what makes our crazy lives so darn fascinating—frustrating—and fabulous.
I’m excited about the future while simultaneously treasuring the nostalgia of my past. That I can remember 8-track tapes, watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and crushing on Davy Jones and Illya Kuryakin, doesn’t age me as much as it gives me more toys in my attic with which to play.
But it’s no fun playing alone.
And that’s why I’m tossing my hat into the blogosphere.
I’ve had 25 books published over the past decade, the most recent released this past April from Harvest House Publishers. From God Allows U-Turns to Setting Boundaries, with a few novels in between, I’m blessed to say that I’ve seen a whole lot of my dreams come true.
But I’m not done dreaming—are you?
Dolly Parton says, “Figure out who you are, and then do it on purpose.”
I like that. Living intentionally—with purpose.
Who are we, what do we want to be when we grow up, and how can we make a difference? I’ll be 55 years old next month, and I’m still trying to figure out the answers to those questions.
I’m not sure about a lot of things. In fact, I’m in over my head a great deal of the time. But I’ll take swimming for my life any day, as opposed to sitting on the beach and watching it pass by.
It’s my belief that if we want to live intentionally—with purpose—we must first understand our unique position as children of God. After that, everything else is just icing on the cake. Making a difference in our corner of the world starts with knowing who we are—and whose we are.
“Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)
I truly believe the choices we make can change the story of our life.
I hope you’ll choose to stop by again.