Birthing Your Dreams

This article appeared in the April 2005 issue of Spirited Solutions’ E-Newsletter.

It’s my birthday today and I’m musing about what it was like for my mother to endure those eighteen long hours of labor before I appeared on the scene, eight pounds and two ounces of exuberant (and screaming) life! What was it like for my mother to arrive, finally, at that hour and minute, 7:17 am on April 11th, 1966, and to unleash/release me into the world? (For those of you calculating how old I am, give it a rest, okay???)

I love the word, “conceive.” It bears within it such a beautiful metaphor for the act of creation. First we conceive of an idea, then we carefully craft it into a vision and a plan, and finally we birth our “conception” into the world. Each stage of the process bears within it its own lessons, truths, and pains.

I think of my doctoral defense, April 10th, 1996, just hours before I turned thirty. It was a marker, ironically before my actual birthday, of a conception that occurred years earlier when I began studying literature in high school. I identified with the writers I read and it made me yearn to complete a doctorate and become the first female PhD in my family. I was hungry to learn and to distinguish myself as “Barnsley Brown, PhD.” (You do know that stands for “Piled higher and deeper,” right?)

Who are you hungry to become? What are you yearning to birth in your life? Do you need to abort something – a negative, self-defeating habit or pattern, for example, in order to claim your good? What kind of plan do you need to make to ensure that your dreams become reality? Who is on your success team to support you?

It’s pretty rare that folks give birth alone. Sure, we hear the isolated story of a 13-year-old who has her baby in a gas station restroom and dumps it in the trash. We recognize these stories as tragic not only for the abandoned baby but also for the mother who obviously didn’t have the support she needed.

Support is essential to our success! In fact, giving birth to our dreams is a communal event. It requires that we gather all the resources and people on our team to help us in the process. But where are we to find help?

Here’s my Top Ten Mental Midwifery List to help you round up all you need to birth your dream:

  1. Get a mentor or a coach NOW! It’s best to have a professional, not a family member, to guide, support, and hold you accountable! Sometimes our family members love us too much to be tough!
  2. Enlist your family to help keep you on track with the work you’re doing with your coach or mentor. Family can be immensely helpful in reminding us of our specific goals. (In some circles, this is known as nagging, but we’ll choose to call it “support.”)
  3. Join a support group, writing group, therapy group, coaching group, or some other group of like-minded folks who share a dream similar to yours. Where do you find these groups? Try your local newspaper, the internet, the Chamber of Commerce, your church, the local arts center, public library, YMCA, and so on.
  4. If an appropriate group doesn’t exist, start one! Put a free ad in the community section of your local newspaper or go on the local radio station to recruit members. Be proactive and create what you want!
  5. Stand on a busy corner near your local Wal-Mart with a big sign that says, “Dreamless and hungry. Desperate. Can you help?” (Note: Be sure to wear one of those reflective jackets so the odds of getting run over are significantly decreased.)
  6. Find a buddy, a friend who has common goals, and make a pact to talk at least once a week and report what you’ve been accomplishing. Also agree to help each other find resources.
  7. Explore websites, chat rooms, and blogs and take advantage of the on-line wisdom of others who have conceived similar dreams. To find suitable web resources, do a keyword search and narrow it as needed. Also use the links on sites you already know to find the ones they recommend.
  8. Sign up for ezines (email magazines or newsletters) and Listservs from those sites that provide inspiration, how-to tools, and other info you need. The ongoing influx of new ideas will keep your creativity fertilized.
  9. Check out internet barter boards to save money and take advantage of an array of resources. You can earn barter points that can be cashed in for just about anything you need to sustain your dream!
  10. Network like a pro! Ask the essential question, “Who do you know who…?” everywhere you go, and soon you’ll have more mental midwives than you can handle.

Don’t miscarry your dream! Bring it to term by galvanizing all your resources, undergoing the necessary labor, and then delivering it into the world with the encouragement of your success team!

Carl Sandburg wrote, “Nothing happens unless first a dream.”

What dreams do you have, kicking and screaming or perhaps just stirring inside you, aching to be set free?