What would you be doing right now if you were fearless?

Sipping wine with angels in this torch-lit tavern by the sea
What does it take for what’s locked up inside to be free?

~Bruce Cockburn

Sooner or later you realize that you can’t blame anyone for the fact that you aren’t living your dream. It’s easy to blame your parents for not paying for those (guitar) lessons that you really wanted to take. Or perhaps they did put you into lessons but you lamented, if only they’d pushed me harder I might have stuck with it! Maybe you blamed that teacher or some other adult figure you respected for crushing your dreams by telling you that you weren’t good enough. The truth is there was plenty of time and opportunity to pick up that dusty guitar, you just didn’t. Maybe you were afraid. Maybe you were unmotivated. In reality, you can pick up the guitar right now in the only moment you ever truly have—this one!

Express Yourself

Before having my daughter, I worked as an editor. I liked the idea of being an editor. In the world of writing, editors are respected. However, I’m not passionate about editing. I certainly have a natural inclination for it. Editing is like a puzzle to me. I like to find what’s “wrong” with a piece and lift it up to its full potential. I get excited by words and even punctuation. (Who gets excited by words and punctuation?! Well, editors do. We like how just the right word or emphasis on it can turn a dull sentence into something powerful.) In my heart though, I always wanted to write. I didn’t believe my writing was good enough however. I was comparing my work to writers I respected—intellectuals and spiritual guru types. How could I possibly compete? Why bother even trying? What I didn’t know and what I thankfully know now is that everyone has the right to write. We all have a unique way of expressing ourselves and you just never know whose heart you might touch by being fully yourself.

A friend loaned me a copy of Natalie Goldberg’s book Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life. This book spoke to me. Through various writing exercises, I stopped being the thinker (editor) and tried my hand at being the creator (writer). There’s been no turning back. Expressing myself in words is a total rush to me. When I write, pure emotion spills out on the page and I feel excited and joyful. In those moments, it doesn’t even matter to me if anyone else ever reads it. Although, I must admit that when people tell me they truly “get” what I’m trying to convey, I feel a mad rush of happiness too. Ultimately, a writer writes to have her/his words resonate and touch others’ lives. Writing is about harmony and connectedness. It reminds us that we are never alone and that there are countless others who feel the very same way that we do.

Don’t Let Fear Stand In Your Way

I still have dreams that lie dormant though. My first love was for singing. When I was a kid, I spent most of my free time listening to records and singing into a pretend microphone. Nothing made me happier. Because I was blessed with a natural and pretty singing voice, I often got the lead role in school musicals, and in vocal competitions I was frequently in the top two. All this competition and comparison, however, sucked all the joy out of music for me. A voice that was trained classically for many years can now hardly sing a note. I try, but when I take a breath and open my mouth nothing comes out. My throat tightens, I can’t breathe, and I certainly can’t sing. Why? It’s fear. Fear of failure maybe or fear of not measuring up. I’m not entirely certain. What I do believe is that I will not be truly free until I can sing once again for the pure joy of it.

Follow Your Heart

What’s preventing you from realizing your dreams? What would you be doing right now if you were fearless? Personal freedom means realizing what we are passionate about (what brings us joy), exploring why we aren’t following our hearts, and taking the steps necessary to actualize those dreams. Sometimes help comes with perfect timing, as it did for me in the form of a book that I desperately needed to read. You need to be open and willing to receive that extended hand though. You need to be willing to take a few steps, even if they are oh so tentative. It’s what your spirit demands. We will never be free until all of our self-imposed restrictions are removed. Whatever your dreams are, may you have the courage to step into the life that you are being called to live. A life filled with passion and beauty. A life that is joyful, purposeful, and gloriously free.

© Copyright 2010 Holly Wilson; Reproduced on Zen Moments with Kind Permission of the Author.

Holly Wilson is a freelance writer/editor and stay-at-home mom from Canada. You may read more of Holly’s writings on the blog Zen Garden.  Holly has also recently published two books on Feedbooks entitled Live Simply, Live Gently and Sarah Wondered. You may download these books for free by visiting GroovyGirl

Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life By Natalie Goldberg

Wild Mind: Living the Writer’s Life
By Natalie Goldberg

Natalie Goldberg, author of the best-selling Writing Down The Bones, teaches a method of writing that can take you beyond craft to the true source of creative power: The mind that is “raw, full of energy, alive and hungry.”

Here is compassionate, practical, and often humorous advice about how to find time to write, how to discover your personal style, how to make sentences come alive, and how to overcome procrastination and writer’s block — including more than thirty provocative “Try this” exercises to get your pen moving.

And here also is a larger vision of the writer’s task: balancing daily responsibilities with a commitment to writing; knowing when to take risks as a writer and a human being; coming to terms with success and failure and loss; and learning self-acceptance — both in life and art.

Wild Mind will change your way of writing. It may also change your life.

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