Will it all be worth it?

lighthouse_marthas_vineyardTen years ago, if you had a window into my life, you would have seen me in a cubicle for 8 hours a day doing graphic design work, doing freelance graphic design projects some evenings for extra money, while also painting pet portraits most evenings for even more extra money. In between all of those things, I researched and studied the children’s book publishing industry. I began writing down ideas for my books.  All this while taking care of two young children. I slept little. Oh yeah, I was also in the middle of a nasty divorce. Good times.

I lived life at a constant speed of 100mph to fit it all in, get it all done. It was a life filled with pure adrenaline and desperation not just to pay bills, but to get to the life I wanted to be living – to authentically be ME. I had no time to think. I trusted in my vision and did everything in my power to move towards it – I never doubted what it was I wanted. I didn’t have the time to doubt.

Right now, as I type this, I’m sitting on my back deck, drinking coffee and thinking. Trying to organize all the thoughts in my head, figuring out what to do next, what to create next. Thinking and taking the time to process my thoughts is part of my job and I have the time to do it now. Let me say that again, I have time to think now. Wow.

There are moments I feel guilt that I’m not having to go a million miles per hour anymore. Sometimes I feel like I’m cheating when I can sleep, think, take time to enjoy and play in my life. But then I realize it’s because the hard work has paid off. The years of paying my dues, doing the things I didn’t want to, but had to, in order to pay my bills while still pursuing my dreams? THEY WORKED. 
My book sales now pay my bills, will send my oldest child college next month. They paid for me to go to a writer’s retreats last week to learn more about my craft. Most importantly, those sales allow me to help others – often. They allow me to volunteer to do projects for free because they touch my heart. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not swimming in money, but with saving and budgeting, and continually working and creating, I have an income that I created that I can count on. And on top of all that? There is more. Amazingly, there is MORE. Almost daily, I get emails, texts and messages telling me how something I created has helped them, even changed them or their children for the better. Stories that were born in years of desperation and a fair share of tears, have touched other people’s hearts. And that? Overwhelms me with such gratitude I can hardly contain it all.

I wish I could go back ten years and talk to my 31 year old self – the 31 year old who hardly slept, who often wondered if it would ever be her turn, wondered if she would ever be able to take a moment and breathe without wondering if that moment of doing nothing would mean she couldn’t pay the electric bill later…I wish I could whisper to her, “Don’t stop. The life you’re picturing, the exact one you want, is waiting there for you. It’s even better than you are imagining. Every sleepless night, every tear, every job, project and painting is so very worth it, it is making you who you are, who you will become. Keep going.” If you have a dream? Don’t stop, keeping going. Be willing to do whatever it takes. It will be WORTH IT. I promise.

The photo above was taken one morning at about 6:30am on Martha’s Vineyard where I was attending a writer’s retreat for the week. As I took that photo, all the thoughts in this post were swirling in my mind. I just kept saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” out loud. It was a moment I will carry with me forever.

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