Daring to Dream in 3 Steps

If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.
– St. Catherine of Sienna

What do dreams, Bradley Cooper, and my last blog post all have in common? No ladies, I did not marry Bradley…keep guessing. Maybe some of you frequently dream about Bradley Cooper, but how would I know? Go on back to my last post and see if you can connect the dots…

Still stumped? Okay, okay…It’s:


Have you seen the movie Joy yet? If not, put this post on hold, change whatever plans you have tonight, and fire up the popcorn. You have a date with Joy! (or Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper…you choose). It moved me in a way I think movies should move people. I mean, they do in fact share a root word. Perhaps it’d just been awhile since I watched a movie this intrinsically pure and beautiful. Or there’s the fact that I was on the flight home from my unforgettable two-week mission: destination wedding. There I was flying high, feeling all the feels, and watching this masterpiece on a glorified iPhone, while shaking and shedding tear after heavy tear, literally moved by such a story of perseverance and overcoming. [Read: I was a total basket case!] I think my new hubs may have been a teeny-tiny bit self-conscious with my hot mess of a situation. I didn’t care. Neither did Southwest, thankfully. It wrecked me in the best possible way.

If you aren’t able to watch Joy tonight, don’t worry, spoiler alert thwarted. When it happens, it will be perfect timing. I guess, in my experience, any time I have such a visceral response to art of any kind, I stop and notice what is coming up for me in that moment—and sometimes dare to ask why. Sure, Joy is a truly next level work of art with first class writing and a heavy hitting cast. You don’t get Robert De Niro, Jennifer Lawrence, and Bradley Cooper in the same room for nothing. Barking on the gritty heels of Silver Linings Playbook, they meant business. Still, there was something deeper…something…scary?

I was dumbfounded as I sat watching the credits roll and wondering what on earth just hit me in those friendly skies 36,000 feet somewhere over Little Rock. The reckoning rumbled:

Am I living a life fueled by fear or desire? 

How can I peel back the dusty layers of shame, need for certainty, and learned behavior in order to excavate the well-spring of dreams I once overflowed with? 

If numb with fear due to the jolting upper-cuts life has thrown, how do I recover the bold inner- tapestry of my six year old self? 

Oh she’s in there alright…otherwise, I wouldn’t be a blubbering mess right now!!! If I gave her a voice, what words of encouragement, or enlightenment would she give me? Well, here are the 3 messages I heard…

1. Wake up! 

In the movie Joy, several different subplots are brought to life through many of the characters. Perhaps the saddest and scariest of all for me is Joy’s mother. We come to know her as a vacant and numb aging woman who has taken permanent residence on the sidelines of life, glued to a television set and living vicariously through the melodrama of daytime soap stars. They are her point of reference for life; her Guiding Light if you will. I guarantee there is pain and sorrow in her story along the way, what with a broken marriage and forgotten dreams of her own. She shows us exactly how to fall asleep at the wheel and float into life’s proverbial purgatory while still in the land of the living. Our experience in life will never exclude hardship; however, we all have the same opportunity to reach out, as vulnerable and wobbly as it may feel, in order to graft into a stronger root system of support and connection. I don’t want to drift through life on autopilot only to wake up twenty years down the road, unrecognizable and corpselike. I also don’t want to dance with ghosts of old damage, holding onto unforgiveness and resentment. We must wake up to the glorious invitation to our own voice; our unique callings.

2. Silence the naysayers

Thankfully, after countless discouragements and disappointments, Joy did not follow in her mother’s footsteps. She woke up and heeded that curious little girl inside who loved to make things. Perhaps the most maddening subplot for me in the movie was that of her father and sister, the Naysayers. I don’t think I’ve ever hated Robert De Niro so much in my life! They nearly damned her to the same grey landscape as her mother with their slithering lies of “Who do you think you are?”, “You will never amount to anything”, and “I can’t believe we ever encouraged you to follow your dreams.” Who are the naysayers in your life? What lies have they spoken and do you believe them to be true? We must identify those people in our lives who hold us back with ill intent and toxic messages, spoken or implied. As we begin to align with the powerful truth of our dreams and identities, the naysayers must go, plain and simple.

3. Commit to the work

What I have learned as I observe those who courageously walk in the direction of their dreams and destiny is this: they inevitably fall down, over and over again. More importantly, they always get up, humbly mending those scrapes and bruises, and get back in the game. Just like Joy, many of you are these overcomers. I have had the overwhelming honor to witness your courage throughout the years as you share your journey, stare down the naysayers, and absolutely CRUSH it, despite giant obstacles all along the way. You don’t numb out or stuff the pain. You show up in splendid color to the wondrous and complex journey of your experience, day after grueling day. You teach me to wake up to the dreams of my youth, honor and cling to them for dear life, and commit to the work that will give them wings. I thank you for that.

joy in and of itself can be tricky. It’s not syrupy like happy, not that there is anything wrong with happy. We all want to be happy… let’s be honest! I like this definition of joy:

a : the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires delight.

The possession, or pursuit of a deep desire almost always involves a struggle, a resistance. Joy reminded me that it’s more than worth it. You are more than worth it. So, for this joy set before us, may we not back down.