The Women That Strength Built

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Dreams Are Not Just for Olympians February 17, 2010

“The dream was always running ahead of me. To catch up, to live for a moment in unison with it, that was the miracle.”

–       Anais Nin

 It’s the month of the 2010 Olympic Games, and most of us have tuned in to watch as world athletes pursue their dreams of gold.  Have you noticed it’s not the win, however, that engages us, but rather the stories behind the medals?  The sacrifice, the repeated attempts and failures, the time running out, the family members in whose honor the athletes compete – all of these reasons draw us in and make us root for particular individuals.

And yet, dreams are not relegated to just athletes.  All of us have had our dreams.  And many of us have failed at these dreams.  It is one reason the struggle of these athletes resonates with us.

When I was a very little girl, my mom took me to ice skating lessons.  As I twirled around the ice, I dreamt of growing up to be an ice skater like the Olympians on TV.  As I got older and took writing classes in school, I dreamt of being a world-class journalist or an award-winning novelist.  In college, I went to film school and dreamt of being the next Steven Spielberg.  Later, my dreams resided closer to home – finding a knight in shining armor and having a family of my own.  Unfortunately, none of my dreams came true.

If you fail at your dreams often enough, it’s very easy to give up trying and to feel your life has been a failure.  But dreams are made of hope.  And as President Obama pointed out, hope is an audacious thing.  It doesn’t let go easily.  So what can you do if it’s obvious you won’t fulfill the dreams you had earlier in your life?

You have two options.  You can incorporate elements of those dreams into your current life.  For example, did you want to be an actress?  Then perhaps you can act in local community plays or direct a children’s theater production.  Did you dream of being the next Annie Leibovitz?  Then turn your photos into art to hang on your walls and give as gifts.  Did you want a house full of children but have none?  Volunteering at a children’s hospital can surround you with the love and fulfillment you miss while helping others who desperately need it.  And bringing those dream elements back into your life can help you feel strong and confident again.  You may not be famous, but you’ll be doing something you’ve always loved.  And that’s a wonderful validation of yourself.

In the event that incorporating your dreams into your current life is just too overwhelming, or seems too much like a lost cause, then pick a new dream.  The tricky part with this solution is that you need a dream you can fulfill, or else you’ll be left feeling bereft again.  The solution is to break the dream down into achievable steps so you feel an accomplishment each step of the way. For example, you’ve always wanted to make documentaries.  Go get a digital recorder.  Buy the necessary software for your computer.  Write an outline.  Do some research.  Get going.  You may decide to take filmmaking or editing classes.  You may just post your results online.  But along the way, you may find the happiness you’re searching for.  And isn’t that why we have dreams in the first place?

So in this month when dreams will come true for so many others, isn’t it time you reinvested in your own dreams?  While you may not win a medal, you could find happiness shining softly in your life again.  Your soul could feel validated, and your spirit could be lifted. You could even find some small part of yourself you lost along the way.  Isn’t that almost as good as a medal?  If you think so too, then I’ll see you back on that road to where dreams reside.

– Kandice

 

A Trouble Shared is Easier February 7, 2010

“I am a woman above everything else.”

–       Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Long before books, it was the stories women shared that built community and offered support.  They helped us realize that we are more alike than we might guess and that we are not as alone as we think we are.  These stories gave us strength and support to be confident and powerful.  They were true stories and fiction.  They were about women who were already strong and confident.  Or they were stories about women who become that way while facing other challenges.  Stories can still help us today.

I like to read.  In fact, I’m a voracious reader.  I read just about every story genre out there.  However, you don’t have to read to benefit from other women’s stories.  There are audio books.  There are movies made from books.  There are storytellers who present their stories to us in a live forum.  There are women on radio.  And there are the stories our friends tell us when we’re together.  The important thing is that the story touches the core of who you are and that you walk away from the experience feeling stronger and more positive about being a woman than you did before.

There are all types of stories available.  In the area of non-fiction, there are memoirs, biographies, and autobiographies.  Many women found the life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis inspirational during her lifetime.  There is probably someone whose life you admire, and there’s likely a book about her.  Reading or hearing her life story might help you deal with struggles similar to hers

In addition, there’s every type of fiction story available.  For example, some stories of strong women include The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (series), Clan of the Cave Bear (series), Fried Green Tomatoes, and Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons.  There are equally excellent stories published for young women, including The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Little Women, and The Secret Life of Bees.

So if you’re feeling alone, or you don’t have much time to spend in community with other women, consider spending time with a story.  It may turn out to be just what you need to get through a difficult time.  And the next time a friend of yours needs some additional support, pass the story along to her and keep the storytelling tradition alive.  

(Note:  If you’re interested in an online book club that supports women, check out Goodreads.com and search for the book club “The Women That Strength Built.”  For additional information on this, see the “About” page.  If you would like to support the written community, then consider donating your time or money to your local library or to this month’s charities.  Links to these charities can be found on the blog roll at right.)

 -Kandice