Last Wednesday night I manifested a dream. For years, ever since I became a writing workshop leader, I have felt called to offer a class for stepmoms that would teach them what I have learned through experience: that keeping a journal is an invaluable tool for weathering the often stormy seas of stepmothering.
In the service of this dream I became a certified Journal to the Self® facilitator and took various classes through the Therapeutic Writing Institute. I took a curriculum development class from journal pioneer Kathleen Adams, and created the curriculum for “By Our Own Stars: Navigating the Stepmother’s Journey.” I attended journal conferences and networked with my peers, all of whom were excited about my plans. I began to outline a book (several, actually).
After I developed the curriculum in January/February 2016, I tried twice to offer the class through the Loudoun County Public Schools’ adult education department. Both times, not enough people enrolled to meet the county’s requirements and the class was cancelled. Disappointed, I stepped back and reassessed. Then I tried again, this time through my church, Unity of Fairfax in Oakton.
The minister and several other church leaders were excited about the class and encouraging about its value. The church created a listing for it on Eventbrite, placed ads, sent out press releases, and announced it on Sunday mornings during Community News. I took fliers that the church created to Starbucks and libraries and grocery stores. I sent out my own announcements. Since it was a pilot class, I offered it on a donation basis to reduce the barrier to entry. Then I eagerly awaited the results, hoping for 6-10 people to register. I got three.
I’ll admit I had a moment (or five) when I thought, “Is there just no market for this?” or “Am I doing something wrong?” But I quickly returned to what I know: that stepmoms need support, they need tools, and they need community, and this class will provide all three. I turned to Kathleen Adams and to my peer group of Journal to the Self® teachers, asking their perspective on leading a group this small. They all said they had taught small classes of two or three people at various points, and had found them to be intimate and rewarding. They urged me to go for it, and to not worry about the numbers.
And so I did. Last week only two of the three women came, and it was fine. Great, in fact. Conversation flowed easily, the value of the curriculum quickly became clear, and I felt a deep peace settling into my bones. It was the peace of a mission fulfilled. Though I am just beginning to walk this path, I know with certainty that it is right for me, and that new ideas and opportunities will flow from taking these first steps.
At this point I feel the need to reassure my other workshop participants that I will continue to offer Amherst Writers & Artists workshops and retreats, as well as Journal to the Self® classes. I have loved leading these, and I still do. But now there is a new class taking form to live alongside them. It is a great joy to me, and I am deeply grateful.
What is Your Dream?
I invite you to take a moment right now to stop what you’re doing. Sit back in your chair, close your eyes, take a deep breath and exhale. Allow your chair to support you. Take another deep breath and let your body relax. Let all of the thoughts ping-ponging around your brain float away with your next exhalation. Be here. Be present.
From this place of quiet mind, ask yourself this most essential of questions: What is my heart’s desire? What is that thing that has called to you in your undefended moments, between sleeping and waking, or while you were daydreaming? Is there a new career or creative endeavor? A book you’ve been longing to write? Someplace you feel called to travel? A new place to live? What is the desire that has followed you, for perhaps years, demanding to be acknowledged?
When it has made itself known to you, try entering into a dialogue with it in your journal. Begin by saying hello. Then see what it says back to you and write that down. Ask it what it wants from you, what steps you need to take, what it wants to become. Go wherever the dialogue leads. When you have finished, say thank you. Gratitude is a powerful force. As the mystic Meister Eckhart said, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
Now go and take the first step toward your dream.