Why I Do What I Do

I almost titled this post, “Thank you, Isabella!” but I thought that might be a bit weird. That said, it’s because of a girl named Isabella that I’m writing this.

Let me explain.

I have no idea who this Isabella is, all I know is that she follows my blog and she took the time to send me a message via Goodreads the other day. And, goodness me, what a beautiful message it was! It was the kind of message that made me stop and think, “That is why I do what I do—so I can be an inspiration to others.”

I love to write. You all know this by now. It’s something I’m passionate about. I don’t care if I’m typing a novel or penning a grocery list; there’s just something beautiful about expressing life through words.

But why do I love to write? Why does anyone love to write?

Some people think writers are in it for the money. Ever since the whole publishing deal came about for me, I’ve had a heap of people say things like, “Oh, look out, here comes the famous author! When you’re rich, don’t forget me!” And sure, I always laugh and dream with them, but I also know that fame and fortune absolutely do not go hand-in-hand with the writing gig. I know for a fact that some of Australia’s bestselling authors still have to keep day jobs in order to pay the bills. Unless you strike metaphorical gold in the literary world, the reality is that novelists generally won’t see much money for their effort (or so I hear). Of course, there are always exceptions, especially when movie deals and foreign rights come in to play. But as a general rule, when people ask me for loans (jokingly or not), I pretty much have to stop myself from laughing in their faces and saying, “What’s mine is yours. Here’s a dollar and twenty-five cents.”

So, no, I don’t write for the money.

I also don’t write for the fame. That’s counterproductive, if you think about it. I have no idea how celebrities have time to actually hone their craft when they’re stuck in media interviews and all the rest of that publicity stuff for so much of their time. As a writer, my time is best spent—you guessed it—writing. Fame of any kind, while great for book sales and thus finances (see above paragraph), would stop me from doing what I love.

Approval is something else I don’t write for. This world is so dominated by social media and how many ‘likes’ we can get on a Facebook post or Instagram image that we are naturally becoming self-conscious in the most twisted ways. “Only twenty-five people liked the selfie I posted today; that must mean I’m ugly.” No joke, people are thinking like this. But if I wrote to please people or to gain approval, then I would lose every iota of joy that I get out of writing, and it would be a miserable experience.

Okay, so I don’t write for money, fame, or approval… But what do I write for?

It’s simple:

I write for me. And I write for you.

I write for me because I have to write. I can’t not write. There are too many stories bursting to get out of me, too many characters demanding to make themselves known to the world. If I don’t get it all out, then I become a crazy person (and trust me, no one wants that!). It’s sometimes chaotic, but it’s a beautiful chaos. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

… Which is why, when I write for me, I’m also writing for you. I’m writing to inspire you, to encourage you, to motivate you. I want you to leave your reality; I want you to dream in fantasies, to experience impossibilities. I want a few well-chosen words to lift you out of your everyday life and into a realm of unimaginable adventures. I want you to discover your own passions and find the courage to hope for an incredible tomorrow.

If you’re a writer, I want you to realise that you can be a writer. If you’re a painter, a personal trainer, a chemistry teacher, a checkout operator, a candlestick maker… whatever you are, whatever you want to be, I want you to know that you’re only limited by your own imagination. If you want to walk on the moon, then become an astronaut. If you want to cure cancer, then study biochemistry. If you want to sail the world, then get a boat (and, you know, learn to swim). Don’t let the can’ts, won’ts, and shouldn’ts rule over the cans, wills, and shoulds.

Never say never.

Reach for your dreams.

And remember that every day that you wake up is another day bursting with opportunity.

… Okay, so this was one seriously weird post. In my defence, I’ve been editing insanely for, like, three days straight, so I’m a little out of it. But I still hope you get what I’m trying to say! Carpe diem, people!

The Rest Of Your Year Can Be The Best Of Your Year

There are exactly five weeks from today until Christmas (YAY!!), which means there are exactly six weeks left until the 1st of January, 2015. (And, since I’m sure you’re dying of curiosity, that also means there are exactly eleven weeks until my debut book launch—yippee!!).

Focusing on the six weeks remaining of 2014, I’ve been thinking lately about what I still want to accomplish before the year ends. About this time last year I heard someone say that, yes, there might only be a few weeks of the year left, but there’s no reason why those weeks can’t be amazing. His exact phrase was along the lines of, “The rest of your year can be the best of your year.” He then went on to encourage that, by the same principle, “The rest of your life can be the best of your life.” I thought those were extremely motivational words even if, at the time, I didn’t necessarily believe them. (I wasn’t in the best place emotionally back then, so while I hoped he was right, I still had my doubts). Ultimately, the remaining weeks of that year weren’t all that fabulous for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to have another shot this year! Because I’m confident that the rest of my year will be the best of my year.

So, in the next six weeks I want to do the following:

1. Finish writing another book. I’m currently about 20,000 words into a new YA thriller/dystopian/not-quite-sure-what-sub-genre novel and I’m loving where it’s going, even if I’m having a bit of trouble keeping my characters in line. Let’s just say they’re not behaving. For the first time ever, I’m considering scrapping everything I’ve written and starting again since I can’t get my hero to cooperate. He’s meant to be all dark and brooding, but he’s way too cheerful and he won’t stop flirting with my protagonist. That is not what I want. It’s extremely frustrating. But I’m looking forward to the challenge of sorting them both out!

2. Read Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. A friend, a work colleague, the bane of my existence, an okay person, an arrogant meanie, someone who gives awesome Christmas presents… A guy (*waves* Hi, Ben!) gave me a copy of this book for my birthday (or Christmas?) a few years ago and it’s been on my TBR pile for way too long. It’s almost like a running joke now because I devour books in a matter of hours and yet I haven’t read this one (oopsie). But I have to say, even though it’s not my normal genre, nor does it give any kind of vibe towards being even remotely Disney-like (cue: sigh), I’m still definitely intrigued. Because, really, The Cemetery of Forgotten Books? How awesome does that sound! I’m looking forward to—finally—carving out some time and getting stuck into this one.

3. Edit the second book in The Medoran Chronicles (again). This manuscript has already been sent off to my publishers for approval, but after some of the editing changes made in the first book, AKARNAE, I want to go through the second book again (before it goes off to my actual editor) to correct any new inconsistencies (like an aunt and uncle who are now parents, etc.). I seriously love this second book, so this will absolutely not be a hardship!

4. Be more social. It can be hard to balance a working/writing/socialising life when it’s easier to be a book hermit during down-time. But relationships of all kinds are important for mental and emotional wellbeing (not to mention, they’re just fun!), so this is also an important priority of mine for the rest of the year. I’ve missed out on seeing a lot of my friends over the last few months for a number of various reasons, so it’ll be awesome to reconnect with a heap of them again.

5 ….

Well, I think that’s enough to be getting along with for the moment. As it is, finishing a book in the next six weeks AND editing another entire manuscript might be pushing it, especially considering my desire to be more social as well… But I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. If push comes to shove, I’ll extend the timeframe on these goals to go through to the end of summer. *Nods* That works too. But my aim is to focus on the above for the rest of the year.

So, how about you? Any goals you want to meet by the end of 2014? How do you plan on making the rest of your year be the best of your year?

The Value Of Perspective

Have you ever had one of those days where things just aren’t going so great? You wake up with a headache, there’s no hot water for your shower, you’re out of milk, the car battery is dead, you miss an important phone call, you miss an even more important meeting, you get home to a messy house, your family is screaming for attention… and all you want to do is hide in a dark cupboard and hope for a better tomorrow? Well, we all have those days (though, hopefully not always with this particular sequence of events). It’s during times like this that I think the best thing we can do is find a little perspective; find some way to anchor ourselves in the knowledge that, yes, our day may have sucked… but we’re still breathing.

I was at work the other day and I wasn’t having the most perfect few hours. All I wanted to do was go home, bury myself under a blanket (with a block of chocolate), and only resurface again when I was feeling better. But then I heard something that shook me straight out of my funk.

One of my colleagues has a nineteen-year-old brother who I learned was involved in a car accident just over a week ago. He was riding a motorbike and was hit badly enough by the other vehicle that he broke every bone in his face except for his forehead. He also broke his collarbone, some ribs, bones in his arms and legs, and who knows what else. The doctors had to pull out what was left of his teeth and they also had to draw his eyes back into their sockets. Amazingly for all his injuries, he doesn’t have any brain, spinal or internal damage (that they know of). After eight hours of reconstructive surgery on his face alone, he’ll never look the same again, but thankfully he’s alive—and he should be able to walk out of the hospital in a few months on his own two feet. But at nineteen, there’s no ignoring the fact that this young man’s life is changed forever.

It’s stuff like this that makes you stop and think about what really matters in life. Even when things are at their worst, there’s always something we can be thankful for. We might be going through the roughest, toughest times in our lives, but the sun still rises each morning, it still sets each night, and we’re still here for all the moments in-between. Each day that we awaken with breath in our lungs is an opportunity for great things to happen. Sure, things could get worse—there’s no point in me sugar-coating the possibilities. We all know that life is unpredictable. We could be driving along and suddenly we wake up in a hospital with our faces smashed in and no teeth. That could happen. I may be an idealist who spends a great deal of time in happy-happy-la-la-land, but I’m not completely immune to the realities we sometimes have to face in this world. I’ve had to experience my own share of them, and I’m sure that I’ll have to do so again in the future. Because that’s just a part of life.

It’s beautiful—and it’s painful.

We live, we deal.

We survive.

And, hopefully, we learn how to thrive.

What I guess I’m trying to get across in this post is, perspective can be an incredibly valuable thing. It can pull us out of our situations, out of our circumstances, and it can open our eyes to what really matters. But it is challenging. Believe me, I know.

Publishing News!

Here’s some exciting news—I’ve been published! No, no, don’t get too excited. My novel isn’t released just yet. (Though, I’m hoping I’ll be able to give you an update on the release date soon! My publishers have a specific month in mind already, but I don’t want to say anything until they’ve heard confirmation from Simon and Schuster to make sure there are no other competing YA fantasy novels coming out in the same month. Still… potentially very exciting!)

So, no, my novel isn’t yet available—but I wasn’t lying about being published, since a magazine article I wrote has been printed and released nation-wide (and internationally, via online subscription).

I can understand if you’re confused. I’m not a journalist, nor am I scholarly writer. I dabble in the world of fiction and that’s where I’m happy to stay. But a few months ago I was approached by a friend of a friend who had been getting ready to launch her new magazine, Positioned 4 Purpose. She contacted me to ask if I’d be interested in writing a feature article for the first edition. (Yikes!) I was honoured by the offer, but also a little hesitant since it had been a looooong time since I’d written anything other than fiction.

Anyway, after some umm-ing and ahh-ing, I agreed to meet and interview the source for the article—Pat Langfield, an inspiring teenager born with cystic fibrosis who doctors claimed should have died years ago.

To be completely honest, I was blown away by this young man’s testimony. He’s only eighteen, yet the trials and challenges he’s faced over the course of his life are simply… Well, there are no words. I was amazed by his strength of character, his easy smiles, and his outrageous courage. In fact, I was actually terrified after meeting him, because I was certain that I couldn’t do his story justice. I had no idea how I would find the words to share his testimony—because surely someone so inspiring deserved to have their story penned by a writer much more gifted (not to mention, experienced) than myself.

But you know what? The moment I sat in front of my laptop, his story just began to write itself:

“From the outside, eighteen-year-old Pat Langfield seems just like any other teenager. He plays guitar, he is a devoted Paramore fan, and he can’t wait to clock up enough driving hours so he can get his licence. But what many people don’t know about Pat is that every moment of his life is a battle to survive. Every day, every hour, every minute presents a struggle—literally—for him to breathe…”

Sentence after sentence, the article took form until I had nearly two thousand words detailing this remarkable young man’s journey. I lost whole chunks of time in front of my laptop; an entire weekend passed by without me even realising it! I was simply lost in my writing bubble. (It happens quite often, come to think of it…)

In the end, they printed the whole article—which, with photos, took up eight pages of the magazine! Eeek! I only hope Pat and his family are happy with how it turned out. I gave it to a work colleague to read through before I sent it off for approval, and she came back to me straight afterwards with tears in her eyes. No joke! I was speechless, especially since she’s not the kind of person to show her feelings. It was, yet again, a reminder that words can be powerful, emotional, beautiful weapons.

I maintain that Pat’s story wrote itself—I was merely along for the ride—but nevertheless, it was still scary to send it off to the magazine editor. I wasn’t so much worried about what she’d think, but more about what Pat and his family would think. Like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to do his story justice. He deserved that—and much more.

Anyway, that’s my news. I’d love to share the article here because I think it’s impossible not to be inspired by Pat’s story, but I’m not going to do the magazine a disservice by posting it for free when I know the money they make is going to a good cause. So, if you’re interested in reading the full article—and the many other encouraging stories in the first edition of the magazine—head over to their website to find out more about the subscription process by clicking here.

(Ir)rational Fears

I was in a conversation with some people the other day and we were talking about strange phobias. There are some doozies out there, that’s for sure. I’m not one to judge, since I certainly have my own share of irrational fears, but it’s really interesting to learn some of the things people are afraid of. Things like having a fear of the colour yellow (xanthophobia), a fear of bellybuttons (omphalophobia), a fear of rain (ombrophobia), a fear of beards (pogonophobia), a fear of trees (hylophobia), a fear of having no mobile phone coverage (nomophobia), and even having a fear of the pope (papaphobia).

Most of us can accept that these are somewhat bizarre fears – and I’m sure those who suffer from them probably can acknowledge that fact as well. But fears are funny things, because irrational or not, they can be hard to shake. And they often begin early in life.

Think about some of your childhood fears. Some of mine were really wacky. I remember how when I was young and couldn’t get to sleep, my dad would tell me to stare at the ceiling to make sure it wouldn’t fall in on me. He had good intentions, thinking that if I remained relatively still, I would eventually slip off to slumber land, but his words had the opposite effect, causing me to go to bed every night and mentally chant, “Must. Not. Sleep.” Of course, in hindsight, it’s kinda funny. But at the time I was terrified of the roof caving in on me as I slept. Irrational, right?

Then there was the time that my step-grandfather played that game, “Got your nose!” with me, using his thumb and forefinger to mimic stealing my nose… I think I bawled for hours after that, thinking I would never, ever get my nose back.

Then there were the other irrational fears, like how sitting too close to the television screen would give me ‘square eyes’; how if I pulled funny faces and the wind changed, I would be stuck frozen with that face forever; how I was certain that there was a shark lurking in the deep end of the swimming pool; how bathing would cause me to melt (this was after watching The Wizard of Oz); and of course there was the obligatory bogey-man-hiding-under-the-bed-or-in-the-wardrobe fear. (Really, who doesn’t go through that faze?)

Childhood fears are a natural part of life, I guess. And most of us eventually get to the stage where we can recognise how irrational those fears are. But often by then our fears (while still irrational) are much more ‘mature’-minded. They’re financial fears. They’re relational fears. They’re health fears, political fears, cultural fears. They’re fears regarding our families, our friends, our careers, our religions, our economies, our governments… The list of potential fears is endless.

But you know what’s really interesting? Fear is something we teach ourselves.

Think about it.

We’re not born afraid. Babies don’t know fear. They eat, they sleep, they cry, and they poop – but they don’t have the cognizance required to understand fear. That’s something we learn. We learn it from our environment. We learn it from those around us. We learn it from what we see in the media. We are learning beings, and while that can often be beneficial (since it’s good to learn new things!) it can also be detrimental, especially when we learn negative behaviours – such as fear.

I may have studied counselling and psychology at university, but I’m no counsellor, nor am I a psychologist, so I’m not really going anywhere specifically with this post. But if nothing else, I just wanted to provide food for thought. What do you fear? And how much of what you fear can you learn to un-fear? (Yes, that’s another one of my made-up words… but you get the point!)

As for me, here’s a little insight into one of my irrational (or not!) fears. I live near a rainforest and whenever it rains I live in a perpetual state of heightened alertness, always on the lookout for one of these nasties. They’re called Huntsman Spiders, and they range in size from ‘huge’ to ‘giant’. As far as I know, they’re not actually poisonous, but really, who cares? If I see one of these, I can’t resist my natural reaction – which is to jump onto the nearest piece of furniture while screaming at the top of my lungs. And can you blame me? I had a mini panic attack just looking for a photo online and had to give up after a while before I started hyperventilating.

So, yeah, there’s some insight into one of my (in my opinion, completely justified) fears. Of course, I have plenty more. But now after searching for these (traumatising!) photos I need to go and watch a Disney movie or something to get the visual out of my head. Fortunately, it’s clear skies at my place tonight, so hopefully that means no six-legged creepy-crawlies to worry about.

… *shudder*…

Words Are Beautiful

Happy Good Friday, fellow bloggers! In the spirit of “peace and goodwill to all mankind” (and yes, I know that’s technically regarding Christmas, but we wouldn’t celebrate Christmas without the reason behind Easter!), for today’s post about things I would recommend, I’m going to wax poetic about… wait for it…

Words.

I love words. Words change lives. A single word of encouragement can brighten a person’s entire day, just as single word of criticism can, well, do the opposite. (How’s that for eloquent?)

I mean, think about it. How often do our thoughts remain unspoken? While this can often be a good thing (at least for the negative thoughts!), there are times when I think we should muster up the courage to say what we’re thinking – especially when those thoughts are complimentary. Because words are powerful… and they can be beautiful.

I have an old friend who I haven’t seen in something like ten years and she’s now a nationally recognised television sports presenter. She’s also one of those drop-dead-gorgeous women who, when she walks into a room, everyone nearby feels their self-esteem take an immediate hit because she’s just that attractive. But she’s also seriously, seriously nice (or, she was ten years ago), and you can’t help but enjoy being around her. That was the case for me when I was a young teenager, anyway. She’s a few years older than me and back before she was all journalist-extraordinaire, she was simply my horse riding instructor. That’s how we met. And over the process of about five years she became someone who I not only looked up to, but someone who inspired me to do greater things than I thought I’d ever be capable of accomplishing.

Where am I going with this, you ask? Well, the other day I flicked on the TV and found her hosting a big-deal-of-a-sports-show and I randomly decided to send her a message. All I really did was congratulate her on the super-awesome career opportunity (even I’ve heard of the show she was on, and that’s saying something) and I commented on how great she looked before ending my message with: I just wanted you to know that I was so stoked to be a part of your world back in the day and I’m super grateful for the influence you had on my life. Not just the horsey stuff, but life in general. I remember really looking up to you, and every teenage girl needs someone like you in their lives. So, thanks for being that to me!

I found it really fascinating when she replied, because along with her delusional comments claiming that she only looks presentable on TV because of the hair and makeup gurus (pfft, whatever!), she also said my message was the nicest she’d ever received. Whether that’s true or not, I’ll never know. But the point here is, if it is true, and if I’d never written the words, then they would have been left unsaid and unknown – and they wouldn’t have ever reached their potential to bring warm-and-fuzzies to another person.

And, hey, warm-and-fuzzies are so not overrated. They’re actually the reason behind this post, since I’d planned on writing about something else entirely. But that changed when my bestie, Jodie, sent me an email because she’s entered a pitch competition and one of the questions she was asked was: Who’s the first writer who truly inspired you to become a writer?

Her answer floored me, because, well… see for yourself:

The first books that I really fell in love with was the Harry Potter series. They’re still my favourite books in the whole wide world. But I don’t necessarily think that JK Rowling inspired me. I guess the person who really inspired me to commit to my dream to become a writer was my best friend, Lyn. She started querying and writing seriously way before I did and I was inspired by her success. I always thought publishing was an elusive dream that would never happen, but Lyn’s a reminder that good things can happen if you work hard and commit to your ambitions. 

My first thoughts after reading her answer?

***MUST NOT CRY***

Haha, it’s seriously true! Well, I’m not much of a crier, so not that part, but there were definitely the aforementioned warm-and-fuzzies. And that’s because of Jodie’s words. You read them – they’re beautiful!

So, I want to encourage you today – if you think something nice about someone, say it to them! Don’t keep it hidden, because beauty like that should be shared. Think of how much nicer this world would be if we all deliberately tried to speak life into each other on a daily basis. There would be no stopping what we could accomplish!

R-R-R-Rejected!

Rejection sucks. There’s no way to sugar-coat it. In any area of life, rejection – in one form or another – is crushing. It hurts. It chips away at our self-esteem, it kicks the metaphorical spleen of our pride, and it shreds the lingering vestiges of our hope. It’s just plain uncool.

But you know what?

Rejection is also one of the best things we can ever experience.

Without feeling the sting of rejection, we would never have the opportunity to become more than what we are. We’d never need to make the tough choices in life, the decisions addressing what matters most and what price we’re willing to pay to see our dreams come to pass. We would never get to ask ourselves, “What am I truly passionate about?”

We would also never have a reason to then ask, “Are my dreams worth my blood, sweat and tears?”

And if it turns out that our response is ‘no’, or if after a handful of rejections we’re ready to give up, then perhaps there’s a different kind of question we need to be asking ourselves. (But that’s a conversation for a different day; this post is about rejection, not identity crisis…).

The way I see it, we can look at rejection in two different ways: as a positive, or as a negative. (Brilliant, right? I’m a regular genius). My opinion is that it’s both positive and negative. The negative is obvious – you’ve been rejected. Ouch. That means no-go, full-stop, cease-fire, done-and-dusted… etc. The positive is that you now have more options. That sounds silly, right? Well, stick with me here. Because your rejection-related options consist of:

1. Ice-cream or M&Ms.

2. The Notebook or A Walk to Remember (or Bambi if you’re a real sucker for punishment).

3. Retail therapy or beach counselling.

4…

Okay, I’ll be serious now. Here are your real rejection-related decisions:

1. How much do I want this?

2. What else can I do to make this happen?

3. How willing am I to change and adapt? (This is an important one for writers! If you’re getting a stack of rejection letters, it might be time to re-evaluate your manuscript and see why agents/editors/publishers just aren’t grabbing your ‘vision’. Does your query letter suck? Are your sample pages boring? Is your protagonist annoying? Is it the synopsis or (gasp!) the concept itself? Be super-critical, and if you can’t do that, find someone who can – and be willing to accept their honest critique without throwing a brick at their head. (That is a bad idea. Acceptance = good. Brick throwing = prison.)

… And, finally, the big rejection-related question:

4. IS IT WORTH IT?

You’ll know if it’s worth it by how you react to it. If you’re one of those people who receives a rejection letter and then screams obscenities at the world for the next half hour (or longer), then kudos for your ‘unique’ kind of passion. But, heads-up, that’s not actually going to get you anywhere – unless you’re outside, then you might get arrested for disturbing the peace or indecent behaviour in public or whatever, in which case you’ll probably get some kind of unpleasant fine (at best) or a night in the local prison sharing a cell with Hillbilly-Joe who keeps asking you to “pull my finger!” while telling you over and over again that your eyes sparkle like rainbows and your hair looks like rays of sunshine…

…Erm, not that that’s ever happened to me… *awkward shuffle*…

(Mum, are you reading this? It’s me, your angelic daughter who has never spent the night in a prison cell. It’s also the one who has never shouted obscenities in public – or elsewhere. Even after stubbing my toe – and you know how much that hurts!).

What was I saying?

Oh, right. Rejection. Is it worth it? *shrugs* That’s something only you can answer.

The long and short of it is, we often see our work through rose-coloured glasses. Even if we can accept that our ‘finished’ product isn’t perfect, it’s still evidently good enough by our standards that we’ve chosen to send it off for submission. And that’s why we don’t like being rejected – because, especially in the literary world when we rarely get much more than a form response with absolutely no feedback – we simply don’t understand where we went wrong. But be encouraged, because if you do choose to stick with it, if you decide that it is, in fact, worth all the heartache and heartbreak, then one day all your efforts will hopefully pay off. That was indeed the case for many of our favourite best-selling authors, right?

Speaking of those authors… I stumbled across a fabulous website recently which lists a heap of best-selling writers and gives details of the rejections they had to overcome before they were signed on. I’ve copied a few of my favourites here, but if you want to see the full list, check out Literary Rejections.

Do you see where I’m getting at here? Take rejection as a compliment! It means you’re up there with the big-wigs of the best-selling world. Turn your ‘test’ into a ‘testimony’ and you’ll have your very own story to tell one day – one that’s not fiction, but fact.

Be encouraged, writers – all it takes is one acceptance and the rest of the rejections will cease to mean anything. And trust me – I’m speaking from experience! :-)

Dream Big. Dream Bright.

You might be a writer. You might be a dancer. You might be an artist, a chef, a teacher, a mother, a doctor, a carpenter, a student, a janitor, a musician, a preacher, a lawyer, a politician… You might be none of those at all. But it doesn’t matter, because I think we can all agree that inside the very depths of who we are, at heart, we are all dreamers. We all have hopes, we all have aspirations. Dreaming is as natural to us as breathing.

Sometimes our dreams can get clogged down by life and circumstances and all kinds of other things, but just because they’re buried, that doesn’t mean those dreams disappear. Admittedly, sometimes they can change. When I was a child, I dreamed of growing up and becoming a hairdresser. Now, not so much. As a teenager, I dreamed of being a veterinarian. Now, definitely not so much. I wanted to earn an ARIA award (despite the fact that I don’t like singing in front of people), I wanted to win an Academy Award (despite the fact that I can’t act – full stop), and I even wanted to receive an Olympic medal (despite the fact that, growing up, the only exercise I did involved running after the ice-cream truck). As an adult, my dreams are different now…

… but I still dream.

And you know what? Dreaming hurts. It hurts, because when our dreams don’t come true, or when they don’t turn out like we anticipated, the disappointment can be crushing. We can feel shame. We can feel anger. We can feel pain, longing, loneliness, even guilt. And, primarily, we can feel frustration. Because why, why, why didn’t our dreams come true?

But at the other end of the scale is the reason why we keep on dreaming, and that’s because dreams are beautiful. They show the best in us, our greatest potential, our most fervent desires. They give us hope for a better tomorrow, for a brighter future. Dreams can keep us going when we have nothing else left. They focus our minds, they guard our hearts, they shape our identities.

Someone once gave me this advice: “Dream bigger. Dream brighter.” At the time, I thought I already was dreaming pretty big and bright, but now that I look back, I can see that he was right. We can always dream bigger, we can always dream brighter. And that’s because our dreams are only ever limited by our own imaginations. Step outside the box of your mind, take a trip down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, and start dreaming of a greater future than you’ve ever before imagined possible.

What was it that Walt Disney said?…  *Google break* … Ahh, there it is: “If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember, this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” It doesn’t get much smaller than a mouse! But his dream was big, his dream was bright. And now look at how far that dream has come!

So, I want to encourage you: hold onto your dreams; reawaken those desires that you’ve lost or buried; and, importantly, always be ready and willing to dream new dreams. Because life is worth living, dreams are worth having, and the future is never, ever without hope.