February 12th, 2018. It was a bitter cold day, and in more ways than one. I had just moved in to a small, one-bedroom apartment which took nearly every dime I had to get. I signed a one year lease with no idea how I was going to make it. I was past 50, alone, jobless, and I was broke. It was two days before Valentine’s Day, and my birthday was in four days. I didn’t celebrate either one.
I sank into a deep depression. Every dream I had been working on for the last few years lay in ashes at my feet. All I had left was my writing, and no one much cared about that. But I began writing anyway, only this time I wrote for myself. I wrote as if my life depended on it, because it did.
Since hitting the road 7 months ago, I’ve been described as fearless and bold. I’ll agree with the latter, but I’m not fearless. I experience fear frequently, it’s just that I’ve trained myself to move forward in spite of it. I don’t allow it to paralyze me. There have been several times when I had a big decision to make and fear knotted my insides, but I made the decision anyway. It’s easier for me now than it was in the past, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Writing brought me back from the brink. It pulled me out of the depths of despair and got me back on my feet. It took months, but I came out on the other side stronger than ever before. More than that, I was filled with new life and purpose. I was filled with a new dream. I don’t even like the word “dream” because it doesn’t come close to expressing what’s inside of me. It feels more like a calling, or a mission that has been designed and assigned to me. Whatever it is, and however it is defined, I have wholeheartedly accepted it. I spent 18 months preparing myself to begin, and on June 1st, 2019 I did just that.
I have never shared my vision openly with the world, at least not all of it. While I worked for a year and a half getting ready, I kept my head down and my dreams to myself. But now, I feel like it’s time to share more of it with the world. It’s risky I know, because when it comes to sharing your dreams with others, not everyone will support you. Some will even actively work to discourage you, but it’s okay. Sometimes people react out of their own pain and fear.
“Many will applaud a dream that’s well underway, but caution against its beginning.”
~K.E. Smith Notes to Self~
The Birth of a Vision
My vision came to life on the heels of a dark time in my life. I was alone, financially and emotionally devastated, and drifting without a clear purpose. I was a writer, so I began writing in earnest. At first, all I wrote was notes to myself. I poured out my heart into notes intended to inspire, encourage, uplift, and challenge me. Sometimes the notes were poems or prose. Everything that was inside of me and needed to come out. It’s as if I had nowhere to turn, no one to lean on, and those little notes were lanterns on the path that led me out of the darkness. Writing saved me, and becoming aware of that is what birthed a new dream, or vision, inside of me. My eyes were opened anew to the power of writing and how releasing my creativity brought me back to life.
I wanted that for others. I wanted the other dreamers out there to know that someone cared about them and what they were doing. I wanted to encourage the ones who didn’t think they were good enough or that their work was somehow inferior to others. I yearned to reignite the dreams of those who had let their flame die out. I wanted to be a light to others, a light that I had so desperately needed for myself. Someone who knew what it was like to have a dream burning within, but not sure how to let it out.
The vision is big. I’m probably the only one who sees it, the only one who is passionate about it. A quick glance at it and it seems improbable, if not impossible. It may even seem silly, pointless, or even stupid to others.
In the end, no one has to “get it” but me. I may be the only one who sees the vision for now, and that’s okay. That’s the way it is for everyone who has a dream anyway. If I keep going, and it begins to bloom, others will be drawn in, the vision will expand and take on a life of its own. Because it’s not about me and it’s bigger than me. It’s my duty to carry the dream forward, and keep carrying it until others join in.
One Vision, Multifaceted
The ways in which I will carry out my mission are many, though there are two primary umbrellas under which it will all operate.
The first is this site (Straight Up Living) and this blog. On this blog I will share my own experiences while I work to fulfill my mission, as well as the stories of those I meet or learn about along the way (If you saw my post about Valerie Doshier, that is one example of another person’s story that makes a significant impact.)
I started Straight Up Living ten years ago, and it’s purpose has remained the same. “Life is Now, Don’t Wait” is the tag line I’ve used for years, and it means not putting off living your life till “someday.” Be a bold dreamer who takes action on your dreams.
The second umbrella is the Writers Arise blog, also on this site. Here is where I will share the work and stories of other writers, as well as anything that will support and encourage them.
*Raise up an army of writers, to draw more people into writing (including songwriting.)
*To promote writing that helps, encourages, uplifts, provides solutions, and inspires peace and thought in all of mankind.
*To support writers through uplifting, encouraging content. Also to spotlight writers and their work.
*To offer or point the way to various resources that will support writers and their craft.
*To host workshops where all of the above can take place in a live setting (Possibly set it up so writers can sell their books at these workshops.)
So, Now What?
Now it’s all about implementing and learning as I go. Remember, just because you have a clear vision doesn’t mean you’ll know in advance every step you’ll need to take. You’ll know some, but the rest you’ll have to figure out as you go. That’s what I’m doing now. I have spent the last seven months taking steps, making mistakes, adjusting the plan, experiencing setbacks, and taking the next step. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been life-changing. If it all came crashing down tomorrow, I have zero regrets.
I saved up a certain amount of money before I left home, most of which I used to finish paying off my car (Yay!), as well as car insurance, gas, and food. Otherwise, I’ve kept myself going by through various contract writing jobs.
I want to transition to a motorcycle as soon as possible, and do some of my traveling on two wheels. I want to meet other dreamers face-to-face, and share their work and stories with the world. I envision myself traveling the PCH up the coast of California, into Oregon, Washington, Vancouver, and British Columbia. I want to continue traveling (nomad) for a season as I build avenues through which to support myself through writing. Hopefully speaking too at some point. I want to draw attention to writers and other creatives and their work. Interviews, blog posts, and hopefully even video. I believe writing/writers can change the world (other creatives too) and I want to create a movement.
Why is sharing the vision important? Because it’s not about me. It’s about others, so others need to know.
That’s it in a nutshell. Kinda bold huh? 😊
p.s. Scroll down for screenshots of the Writers Arise Manifesto!