Thursday, April 11, 2013

Passion on the Prairie

                                                       Oklahoma Prairie

Passion on the sounds like a bad romance novel.

The passion to which I am referring is my own. This isn't a tawdry passion, but just a passion for life in general. The last few days I have been thinking about how different I seem to be from most people in these parts...the "prairie" of northwestern Oklahoma. In a "meat and potatoes, God-fearing" land, I seem to be, yet again, a misfit.

I'm not sure where this passion for life and all its delicious experiences came from. My father is definitely a meat and potatoes kind of man. He is perfectly content to sit at his dining room table, smoking his cigarettes, and watching The Weather Channel. He has people who stop by to "shoot the shit" as they say. They all seem to have a good time, laughing and drinking, telling stories. Although the stories told at that table are entertaining, they are told so many times that they are forever ingrained in my memory.  I think the only thing my dad is passionate about are his Clipper cigar/cigarettes that he smokes every moment he is awake.

My mother doesn't strike me as having a passion other than a recent passion for Christ. She enjoys many things, but I don't see her as a passionate person.

Then there is me. I find that I can be passionate about just about anything. Last night as I was leaving my dad's house, I walked outside and saw an inky sky littered with diamonds.  It took my breath away. I mentioned it to the people still inside and it did nothing for them. They had no desire to walk outside and experience the magnitude of beauty that the sky above held for me. When you see something that beautiful, you want to share it with someone. But there were no takers.

I can find passion in simple things. When the sun is setting, it bathes the landscape in a magnificent blanket of light. There is a perfection to the scene that you want to capture forever. A peacefulness that you want to remain with you always.

A perfect glass of wine can stir the passion in me. When you take that first sip, allowing it to glide over your tongue, giving it a moment to tantalize your taste is heaven. If you take the time to recognize all of the subtle flavors you will find in just one taste, you will find yourself delighted with the sensations you can experience. You can detect berries, pepper, smoke...just by taking the time to indulge in a moment of time to experience something amazing.

Knowledge is another passion of mine. I can't imagine a world in which I couldn't read, research, ask questions, and learn more. There is so much in this world that I want to know, to understand.  Cultures and rituals so very different from my own. Landscapes never imagined. It is all out there, waiting.

But so many people care so little about anything different from that which they know that they are missing out on the best part of living. They miss out on the connections made between themselves and new people who might think differently than they do. If it wasn't for open-minded people and forward thinking individuals, we wouldn't have the freedoms we do today. If it wasn't for people passionate about a new way of living, who knows where we would be right now.

I understand that some people really enjoy their comfort zones and have no desire and no intention of ever leaving. For me, it would be a prison sentence. There is so much to experience and enjoy in this world, so many senses to be delighted, why wouldn't someone want to embrace that fully? But some people simply don't. They refuse to try anything new. They won't entertain a new idea, or a different opinion. They mock people who try to expand their minds and thinking with books.

People may think I am weird for finding incredible joy in the simple things. They may laugh at me when I am brought to tears by the words in a book. All it does is sadden me that they aren't able to experience what I do. It breaks my heart that their human experience will be so limited when there is so much out there to be passionate about. The human experience is a fleeting one, not to be taken for granted. It is to be treasured and savored, and hopefully shared. That, to me, is the greatest passion...sharing something so beautiful or flavorful with someone else and seeing them experience the same joy as you.

Your time on this earth is limited...enjoy all the beauty in the world. Indulge your senses. They crave it. They want to be used to their full capacity so that you may fully experience this amazing world in which we live.

Slow down today and find something to savor. Find something to be passionate about. It's worth it...I promise.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Dream Big

This morning I watched "Super Soul Sunday" on Oprah Winfrey's network.  Pastor Joel Osteen was on discussing dreaming big and praying boldly.  It never ceases to amaze me how things come to you when you most need them.  This show was just what I needed to get over a lot of doubt and frustration I have been feeling lately.

Over the last ten years, I juggled so much that I found it hard to pursue my passions.  My stress level finally hit an all time high last fall.  I knew something had to change...drastically.  When I was offered a job teaching first grade in Vici, two hours away from my home in Edmond, I jumped at the chance.  It was terrifying leaving my comfort zone and my children.  But I saw it as a chance to live a simpler life with less stress, less noise, and less people.  The move would give me the time and energy to pursue my dreams of writing, art, and photography.

The transition to that simpler life wasn't exactly easy.  A broken pelvis one month after moving here, no home of my own, and trying to figure out how to teach first grade all led to a different kind of stress.  Three months later, my pelvis is healed, I have a home, and I feel comfortable teaching.  I am just now finding the time to work on my art.  But the last few times I have worked, I haven't felt the joy of creating because everything I have done has been, in my opinion, mediocre.  Plus, it seems as if nothing has been really taking off for me. People seem interested in my work but no one buys it.  It doesn't go further than that.

Enter doubt.  Enter negative thoughts.  Enter fear.

All of these can destroy a dream.  They can make you feel like giving up, as if there is no way you can ever achieve your dreams.  If you allow those toxins into your life, then you won't realize your dreams.  You won't know the joy of living your life fully with the gifts you have been given.

Pastor Olsteen said to "Dream big and pray boldly".  He also said that if you knew that it would take 32 closed doors to get to that open door, when you got to door number 8, you would just say to yourself, "Ok, there's one more out of the way".  I have to remember all of the amazing success stories that were paved with failures or rejection.  J.K. Rowling's first "Harry Potter" book was turned down 13 times before a publisher accepted it.  Stephen King has rejection letters pinned up above where he writes.

People lovingly make fun of me because I am a dreamer...a big dreamer.  I have been like this since I was a little girl.  My passions have remained true since then.  I always loved to draw, create, and take photographs.  Although I didn't write my stories down, I was always creating them in my head.  So now, at 46 years of age, I know that I was given these wishes and dreams for a reason.  I have the power to achieve them. I have to have the faith and conviction that I wouldn't have been given them without the power to make them come true.  

From this point on, I will no longer allow those toxic thoughts to enter my brain and take me off the path I know I was meant to follow.  Every day will be a step in the right direction.  Every action will bring me closer to the realization of my authentic self.  I will continue to dream big and pray boldly.  And I will have faith.  Lots and lots of faith.

Below is a link to the episode I watched.

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