Monday, January 11, 2016

How to Know What You Want Most.

You guys all know I read a lot, yes? Well I do. And a couple of years ago I read a gem of a book called Hothouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin. 

Sorry. Not my best shot there, but you get the idea. I also noticed they shortened the title of the book to just Hothouse Flower

So in this book, the main characters all live in a huge, dirty city. It is a struggle to find beauty there. But one of my favorite quotes ever is produced in this environment:

If you can hear the quiet while being woken up by the garbage trucks, you have power. If you can feel the stars when all you can see are the lights in the skyscrapers, that's power. If you can smell the forest in front of the dumpster, then you have power. Never let the events in front of you, or the people around you, tell you what to see, feel, taste, smell, or hear.

Now you gotta read the book if you want to know how this is relevant to the plot. But you only have to think about it for a minute, to figure out how it's relevant to your soul. So go ahead. Take a minute. read it again and think about it. I'll wait for you...

So what did you think? Do you have that kind of power to visualize a different reality? To see something or experience something radically different from what is right in front of you? Would you like to be able to?

That's kinda how I spent 2015.

I spent the year learning about what I want most. 

That's what it takes you know, to create a reality so vivid you can call it into existence anywhere. Under any circumstances. If you do what you want most, you are inhabiting your own life. You are being what you are most like. It makes you aware in ways that are not otherwise possible without great effort. And it's fun.

I stumbled on this quest for what I most wanted accidentally. I had been trying really hard in 2014 to be what everyone else needed me to be. Mom, wife, tutor, church member, chauffeur, accountant, cleaning lady, blogger, artist, interior decorator. You know the list. And I was miserable. I felt like I was putting all this effort in and I wasn't even allowed to put what I wanted to do in my own life. 

I knew I was deeply unhappy and that the way I was doing things had to change. So I started whining to my dad about it one day when he was visiting for Christmas. He and I have an almost identical world view, so I thought he would be the ideal person to ask. Well what he said certainly had an impact. 

After a lot of me giving the back story and him trying to tell me how to prioritize my life, he said, "If art was your dominant priority, you'd be doing it right now." 

I was furious! Didn't he understand that I was sacrificing for my family? That I had prayed about my choices? That I was the woman and so certain things just fell on me and I had no choice? That the only thing the Universe seemed to support creatively right now was projects on my house? I must be talking to a man. AHHHHHH!

Cue the tears and HUGE meltdown. 

The thing is (which I realized a day or two later) is, that with my personality type, my dad was right. I ALWAYS do what I want most. And what I'd been doing was working on the house, not making art. And then blaming the Universe for not helping me. I had made the mistake that most of us make so often. I was wrong about what I wanted.

It's crazy easy to be wrong about what you most want. We live in a world full of "should"s and advertising and things to compare ourselves to and a billion opinions about everything. I spent the entire year being completely stunned how wrong I usually was about what I most wanted. Some days, I just really wanted to get the bills paid or the dishes done because they were In.The.Way. Somedays I wanted to wander around outside with my dog. Some days I wanted to upholster a chair, or build a bench. But even though I was often wrong in guessing what I thought I would most want, if figured out a method to tell what I really most wanted. 

When I really want something the most, a stillness and peace comes into my mind as I imagine doing that thing. My nature is turbulence and energy, so stillness is a novelty for me. It has become a marker for me. I don't know if that will be your marker, but you will have one. Maybe if you are a quiet person by nature, what you want will give you energy? All I know is it comes with a sense of peace and rightness. 

But you have to pay attention. Listen to your mind as you go through options. Think, before you commit all your time for that day. Wait until you feel the peace. it will come. Say a little prayer for God to help you, if that helps. He will.

And you can't judge your desires. Sometimes what you want to do can seem really stupid and unimportant. One year I really wanted to make a book of hand turkeys (you know, like in elementary school where you trace your hand and then make it into a turkey) during the Thanksgiving break. Stupid, right? But it was so INSANELY fulfilling! When you feel that peace, go with it. Just say "yes."

So now you know what you want. That's Awesome! But you have this giant life you are trying to cram this Want into. How do you make it fit?

You figure out what it takes to make it happen in general. Then figure out how to fit your life around making it happenHave you always wanted to go to the Hershey Spa and have a massage and chocolate bath? Find out how much it costs, how far away it is, and when it has openings. Figure out when you could save that much money and figure out if you want to go alone or with friends. How will you all get there? When will you go? Is there a time of year that is less crowded or expensive? Figure out the logistics of the thing. Then follow all the steps you've planned until it goes from dream to reality.

When I turned 38, I was two years out from having my youngest and tired all the time. I started watching a show called Shimmy on FitTV (wishful exercise watching) and decided I wanted to learn how to belly dance. 

So I went down the list. I had to find a reputable place that taught belly dancing classes in my area. I had to take these classes on Saturdays, as DK was at work too late on weeknights. I had to figure out how to cover the tuition fees. I had to find a place in my house to practice. I had to find mirrors and the right clothing and music.

And I did it! I found a great studio about 30 min from my house. It was a bit of a drive, but I loved the alone time it gave me just to think about whatever. I found the money for the classes by eating out one less time a week. I used my entryway with $5 full length mirrors from Target leaned up against my front door to practice because it's the only room that has both hardwood and enough space to dance. And DK brought me back some belly dancing music when he went on a business trip to Dubai. So I was set. I bought a hip scarf from the studio and made another one because, they were from Egypt and really nice, but expensive. I took lessons for 3 years and practiced 4-5 days a week in my entry. It was amazing! I felt more alive than I had since high school. I felt like my life belonged to me again. 

Then I had to stop. I had taken so many classes, that only the advanced ones offered on weeknights were left. The kids had gotten into junior high and our nights were packed. And our budget shrank. No matter what I tried, I couldn't make it fit. So I cried a bit and quit.

I am so grateful I put in the effort and made the sacrifice of time and money and practice that required. It was one of my favorite things I have ever done with myself. Just thinking about finally mastering my shimmy or learning how to circle my hips and walk with my arms waving simultaneously makes me smile all the way to my liver. Even though I can't replicate the experience at the moment. And that my friend, is power. 

And I just started a new dream...

and yes, there is some belly dancing. But that's another story for another day.

Go! Find your dream. Listen to the whisperings of what you want most. Put your life back into your life, even if it seems stupid or strange or impossible. The Universe will help you. You will start to feel like you are home in your own life. I know you can do it. 

You guys have any dreams you are working towards or wishes of things you want to do? how is it going? What is your plan? Tell me all about it.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw


  1. 26.2 is my dream this year. I love running and want that magnet on the back of my car for some crazy reason. But it just. feels. right. Thanks for putting it in perspective for me! <3

    1. I totally get the magnet thing. I really want an OBX one for some reason. that would of course require that we go to the Outer Banks...

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  2. You are THE BEST and I love you to pieces. Thank you for writing and sharing this, especially the rightness part inside. And the quote from the book. And the belly dancing. For what it's worth, after six years, I finally subbed my query on my novel the other day. That felt still and right, too, and then I danced :). Obviously I'll let you know what happens. XOXOXO

    1. You are amazing! And 6 years is a long time to wait for a dream. Please keep me posted, dear girl.

    2. You are amazing! And 6 years is a long time to wait for a dream. Please keep me posted, dear girl.

  3. How did I miss this post.

    I love it.


    And it's EXACTLY what I needed to hear today.

    Thank you my friend!

    1. So glad to be a boost for you my friend. And thanks for reading!

    2. So glad to be a boost for you my friend. And thanks for reading!