Holding Fire

When I was five, I loved to warm my hands by a fire.  Roast marshmallows.  Twirl sparklers.  As I got older, I looked to other people to tell me who I was and what I wanted.

As adults, moments of clarity come when we are forced to make a decision.  Motivated by the proverbial “fire under our tails.”

Shortly after I defended my dissertation, I received an envelope from the school district where I worked as an instructional coach.  It felt like fire in my hands.  I was intuitively aware of its contents.  The district was closing schools and downsizing.  My contract was not renewed.

My decision to pursue a doctoral degree was a leap of faith I hoped would launch me out of traditional classrooms and pastoral ministry positions into a career I loved.  I knew the envelope held the push I needed to pursue a new career path.  But I felt angry.  And resentful.  And lost.

I spent years creating materials and designing programs for those in higher positions who would take credit for my work.  I did it to ensure job security.  And I never had it.  I thought by giving myself away one piece at a time I might somehow some way find opportunities to do what I liked to do.  I worked so hard to please other people that I lost myself.

A friend asked, “What do you want to do?”  I didn’t know.  He asked, “What do you like to do?”  I had no idea.

I was only sure of one thing: I was standing on holy ground.

I retreated to a red chair in a corner of my home.  I churned out masterfully-crafted job applications, prepared for interviews, and scoured online listings for positions I did not want.  And I withdrew from the world.

One night, I dreamt about a tiger.

Holding FireThe next morning, I found a picture of a beautiful tiger leaping through the air.  In the kingdom of spirit animal guides, a tiger represents personal power and courage.  The paper tiger in my hand was formidable and strong.  It reminded me that there was a roar inside of me, too.  And I felt strong.

I found more pictures and meaningful quotations.  I purchased a foam poster board and attached my collection of pictures and words to its surface.  My paper tiger found a new home at the center of the white board.  It became my vision board.

I attended lectures by motivational experts and read their books about how to pursue and celebrate success.  Their books described how they found success, but didn’t explain what I needed to do to create new goals.

I couldn’t find the book I wanted, so I wrote it.

Dreams to Action Trailblazer’s Guide is a personal goal-setting book that empowers others with tools to transform a dream or goal into reality.  It was designed to be used by others who wanted to rediscover their own roar.

I developed a daily practice of writing all of my blessings in a gratitude journal. I volunteered to facilitate workshops at local colleges, urban high schools, and support groups that desperately wanted someone to remind them they still had dreams.  Youth groups and schools asked me to inspire their teens and motivate their adult leaders.

I slowly rediscovered what made my heart sing one step, one prayer, one goal, one habit, one picture, one word, one journal entry, one conversation, one article, one speech, one risk at a time.

Throughout the months that followed, my vision board evolved.  My dreams hadn’t gone anywhere.  Years ago, I was too frightened to nurture my own aspirations because I didn’t trust any of them could come true.  So, my dreams took a nap until I woke up.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate,” insists Marianne Williamson, author of A Return to Love.  “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

I tore out the page with her words and attached them to my vision board.  Next to the tiger.

Remember Your PassionThe process of rediscovering your passion can be excruciatingly difficult.  You must trust that intense brilliant voice within that knows – that’s always known – what you enjoy, where your talents lie, what you believe, and the work you know you are created to do.

Vocare, in Latin, means “to call.”  The root of the word, vocation.  When we find the courage and wisdom to respond to the Voice, we stand on holy ground.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French Jesuit priest and philosopher, said, “The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, gravitation, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

I put his words on my vision board.  Next to the tiger.

What would you do if you were courageous?>
Have you forgotten your what makes you happy?  Read How to Find Your Passion.

Chart your course towards success with these tips from How to Write SMART Personal Goals.

Enjoy a creative experience and Create An Awesome Vision Board.

You can transform your passion into job you love. Discover how to Transform Passion into a Career with these tips.

Start a conversation with a child or teen with tips from Why We Must Talk to Young People About Their Dreams.




6 Responses to Holding Fire
  1. Love this! As a lover of words, a reluctant vision board creator (only one so far but it was a doozy!), and one who has been through the fire of life transformation like you have, this was a delicious post. Thanks!

    • Thank you so much for your delightful response, Christy! I believe all of us are, as you said, “reluctant vision board creators.” Whether we construct it with paper and pictures or choices and attitude, we shape and transform our own reality. Your words touched my heart.

  2. Your words are so powerful, your inspiration so toxic. Thank you for sharing this, it is a wonderful story!!

  3. Great post! I might add that working through your book is a great place to start the process as well. But don’t worry if you set it aside for a bit to let things simmer. Thanks for sharing your personal struggle. Love this!

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