Tag Archives: dreams

Boldness Has NO Expiration Date

Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens

Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

This quote, widely attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, an 18th & early 19th century German author, was attached to my first computer via sticky note, for many, many years. It compelled and inspired me to write, dream, and put myself through graduate school in New York City in my mid-twenties.

I thought about it today, as I was talking with a friend, when I said, ‘put it out there,’ in reference to her dreams. What I meant was, if you have a dream, a vision, a goal, put it out there to the Universe. Don’t poo-poo it. Don’t discard it. Don’t just think about it alone, or when you run or bike, but then tell no one. Instead, tell a trusted and supportive friend about your dream(s). Meditate on it. Ruminate on it. Visualize what it looks like. And just for fun, visualize that you already have it as you go to bed. What does it feel like? How would your day be structured?

Sounds crazy, but Why not?!

I stumbled upon an interesting tidbit about Goethe tonight, while looking up information about his life and this quote. I found that some translators of Faust, his famous play where the main character makes a deal with the devil, varied a bit. For instance, one person translated it as:

“Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting over lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

Another translation I found was:

“Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Only engage, and then the mind grows heated. Begin it, and the work will be completed.”

Why, you may ask, am I bringing all this up? I know what it’s like to lose a dream. I know what it’s like to push a dream aside in order to support someone else’s dreams, and then later to support children. I know how reality can settle in and dreams can be procrastinated or pushed aside. Single parents working long hours and taking care of children solo, especially, know how easy it is to push aside dreams. Disappointments, distractions, work—all can make long, lost dreams seem impractical or silly. And if you ever had a family member or unsupportive spouse or friend chastise you for having a particular dream, I don’t need to tell you about how those voices in your head can really do a number on you.

But here’s the thing. There’s nothing silly about dreams. There are the stuff life is made of. They are what we are here for. They are why our earliest childhood friends, who we might have laid underneath stars with, while drinking bad beer and talking, are so special. Remember that time in your life when you spoke of your dreams and talked about how each of you would achieve them? That time is so special because of the excitement and potential crackling in the air.

Sure, we may be weathered now. Wiser too. But many of us are also anchored down with a bit of cynicism and fear.

Maybe I’m immature at heart, but I don’t think boldness has an expiration date.

I wish I could remember the name of the head of the English department at NC State years ago. I remember him telling me about a book he started writing 20 some years earlier and how pain-stakeningly he visited every city and even oil drilling towns in order to create a believable novel. He didn’t finish it and lost many pages. When I told him to go back and start again, I’ll never forget his reply.

“It’s too late. The moment is lost. If I tried to resurrect it now, it wouldn’t have the same essence.”

I didn’t say anything to the wiser, older, professor and writer. Who was I, but a young, student getting a master’s degree? But deep inside, I didn’t believe him. Maybe it wouldn’t be the same novel, but he might discover another one. He might have a great time. He might create an even better one. Think about it.

According to some historians, Goethe wrote the first draft of his play Faust, known then as the Urfaust, between 1772 and 1775. Goethe finally finished writing Faust Part Two in 1831.

I know, not all of you are striving to be playwrights or novelists, but you get the idea.

Maybe you can’t achieve your dreams over night. But who’s to say you can’t take one step toward them each day? Maybe you need to start looking into schools or training courses? Maybe you need to just let go of some added-on responsibilities in order to carve out 30 minutes a day for some needed dream-time? Think about what you may need to do to inch towards a goal. I know there’s a lot I need to do in order to push aside procrastination or fear to move forward.

Boldness may take action—even the smallest amount—but luckily, there’s no time-limit on movement … except the one you place on yourself.

Spring Resolutions

Photo by Chaz James

Easter, like Spring in general, is a time I find myself reflecting on what’s important in my life. Christians obviously are celebrating Christ‘s rebirth; his sacrifice; his transformation; his rising. Clearly, being a Christian isn’t a prerequisite for contemplating your own potential for change and renewal. We really have these opportunities every day don’t we? But at this time of year, especially, I take stock. I find myself asking if I am living each day with the intentions and goals that I hold dear? Sure, I have big aspirations: such as growing this blog and working on another book. But I find the day-to-day goals to live in truth and kindness to be more important to those I love most. Do my boys feel loved unconditionally? Am I in balance as a single mom: juggling life, work, relationships, health, etc.?? Can I manage my three-year-old’s insane, daily temper tantrums with grace and a cool head? Is it possible to navigate divorce proceedings and negotiations with fairness and calm? And, more importantly, can I focus on love, gratitude and light—while letting go of my ego, bitterness and disappointments?

One the best ways to achieve these goals is to try to live in the moment and more consciously. Taking time to appreciate what is beautiful and inspirational is crucial—especially for sleep-deprived, struggling single parents. So, for you, (and for me) I am posting some recent photos that I took when on drives in Southern California. To get my little guy to nap, I still drive. I put on my favorite tunes, grab a mocha, and drive to somewhere with a vista. The views soothe my soul. I am energized when I go to these places and by the time I arrive, my baby has slept and can then get out and wander around a bit. Life is good again. Well, life is good in general, don’t you think? Happy Spring my friends. And I hope you enjoy my favorite vistas. L. x

Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens (All Rights Reserved). 

I took this picture when I was extremely sleep-deprived and a bit depressed last month. My youngest had not been sleeping well and had been fighting yet another chest infection and asthma. It had been raining with high winds for two days. We were cooped up all weekend. I put my three-year-old in his car seat and drove south to Palos Verdes. As I drove, the high winds started to calm a bit, the rain stopped, and the clouds lifted. Jamesy fell asleep and I pulled over to take this amazing picture looking north towards Santa Monica and Malibu. By the time I got back into the car, my spirits had lifted and I smiled looking at my angelic boy, who was still sleeping soundly.

Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens (All Rights Reserved.)

This is a picture I took after driving to Malibu one Sunday last month to get my youngest to nap. William and I chatted, sang songs and then decided to go to a different canyon in north Malibu than we normally do. After we arrived, Jamesy was refreshed from his nap and we had a fun hike in the bizarre heat. It had risen to 90 degrees, so we kept close to the trees for shade. I took several pictures of the boys, and then looked up and was fascinated by the simple beauty of the old trees. Their elegant, wise, arthritic branches seemed to say to me: “Keep reaching. Keep going. Keep striving to find the light.”

Photo by: Laura Roe Stevens (All Rights Reserved.)

Driving back from Santa Barbara last February, I felt compelled to pull to this exact spot on the side of the highway. With the boys still snapped in the car, I pulled to a safe spot on the side of the road and stepped out, taking a picture of this view. Once I got home and uploaded the picture, I noticed the cross on the hill overlooking the Pacific. It made me think that this was a very special location for some family who may have lost someone. Or perhaps someone wanted to be buried here or remembered here. We all find our own places of worship don’t we? There really are little slices of Heaven on Earth—if we open our eyes to them.