Melinda Armstrong

Posts Tagged ‘purpose’

Thinking Out Loud…

In belly dance, career, exercise, fitness, transition, women on October 15, 2010 at 4:17 pm

This is true.  Each and every day, we have countless thoughts that go unspoken. Dozens, maybe hundreds.  I guess it depends on how much time we spend alone each day.  Some of those thoughts are around things we habitually do, say, think, etc.  And some are about things we don’t dare let ourselves speak out loud.  What if something bad happened in our thoughts?  I mean, have you ever just allowed your mind to go someplace you wouldn’t want it to go in real life?  Yes, and then you quickly say, “Erase, erase!!! I don’t mean that!”

What about those other fanciful ideas?  The ones that touch shadows of your wildest dreams.  What about those thoughts?  I have those thoughts.  Probably for as many years as I can imagine I’ve had certain private ideas about the life I wish I had.  In this secret world I danced.  I can remember being a teenager and rocking out in the privacy of my bedroom.  I moved like I was in Flashdance in my imaginary world.  Music has always had a way of transporting me to a place that just feels good.  You too?  At various times in my life I have envied everyone from Debbie Allen to the gym aerobics instructor just because they make moving look like so much fun.  What a life!  These were my secret thoughts.

Then I discovered belly dance at a little dance studio not too far from my house.  Oh YES!  I am a dancer.  Every woman who steps foot into Lotus Dance Studio has an opportunity to feel this calling.  We are dancers, indeed.  I love Lotus.  And my teacher there has been my mentor when it comes to belly dancing.  I adore her.  But, can I tell you, dancing is hard work!  Yes, it is fun.  But there’s a hell of a lot more to it than just moving to the beat.  Today, I have more respect than ever for the discipline of dancing.  Being in that space where I am free to move has allowed me to feel even more free to let my thoughts wander to lovely places.  And that’s when I finally voiced one of my biggest secrets out loud; one that was actually a very real possibility if I let myself go there.

I asked this question first in my mind.  I did.  I googled it, I toyed with it.  And I let it go.  “Naaahhhh, I’m too old for that…I don’t have time for that!”

Then one day my belly dance instructor out of the blue said to me, “Have you ever thought about teaching fitness classes?”

That was weird.  Not weird that she asked, but weird that I had.  It was one of those secret longings that seemed like a distant dream.  To make a sort of short story shorter, I decided to finally listen to that little voice.  My teacher’s and my own inner voice that had been saying, “You know you want to.”

I did want to.  And so here I am, re-inventing my life at 45.  Go figure.  Many people and circumstances have found their way into my world to help facilitate this new life.  It’s the most fun I’ve ever had, and possibly the most work.  But I love it.  And all it took was for me to finally listen to my own secret thoughts, say them out loud and say, “YES!”

~Melinda Armstrong

Voices With Purpose: Meet my new friend and fellow dream diva, Joan Cartwright

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2010 at 6:49 pm

“All the Joy that you can find is waiting in the magic of a dream…..”

~Joan Cartwright, DREAMIN’

This is the line I heard as I sat down to scribble this blog entry.

“Make sure everything you do means peace and joy for you…”

And she sings…

“Don’t stop hoping that happiness will find you….”

And in that moment, I knew…

God, I was meant to meet this woman.  If for no other reason than this moment when her CD (which she kindly gifted to me today when I purchased her beautiful book about her life’s journey) was playing in the background of my taps on the computer keyboard.

I am happy to say that my attitude when I attend networking events is that each person I encounter has a gift for me.  I know that I must study their faces and look into their eyes for the gift.  It might not present itself in the moment when I am with them.  The gift might surface hours (or days or weeks) after the first meeting.  Joan was different.  I knew the moment she stood to talk that there was something magical about her.

This woman has presence.  Not unusual for a Diva Songstress, I know.  However, I believe that if you put her on stage with 100 other Diva Songstresses, she would still stand out.  She is a woman who was placed here to be heard via spoken word, written word, and music.

And she speaks.  She said to me rather matter-of-factly while we chatted in the parking lot after the networking event, “You have nice hair, why don’t you take it out from under all that?” referring to my curly hair weave that saves me from the daily chore of curling my hair after the gym each morning.  “Just cut it off!” she told me – ME, a virtual stranger!  I had to respect her voice.  She is one of those women who will be heard, even if not obeyed.  I confess I contemplated her suggestion for a moment.  I’m not there and I felt sort of bad that I couldn’t just embrace that idea!  Damn, why don’t I just wear a flipping afro?  Black IS beautiful baby, right?  I’m not there.  She punctuated her recommendation by confidently stating that I, too, would be 60 years old some day.  This I took to mean that she believes I will eventually acquiesce and go weaveless and natural and short.  We’ll see.

Joan and I squeezed in a lot of sharing in the few moments we chatted in the parking lot.  We talked about being a musician, about how we treat (or mistreat) our bodies, and the collective mission of all women: mutual empowerment.  It was a rich conversation; one that I pray I have the opportunity to continue.

We all need women like Diva JC in our lives.  Her voice makes our voices stronger.  Everyone has a vision, yes?  Joan reminded me of my dream: to use my voice.  It must be her dream too.  And she lives it.  Standing up and anointing the group with the call to support and encourage other women, especially those who do not have husbands at home to support and encourage them, Joan let her truth out.  Joan dreams out loud.  She does the thing I believe we must all do.  We must take our dreams out of hiding, even if it means stepping gently on our friends’ toes.  But she steps on them with love.  Joan is the perfect kind of bold.  You listen because she is confident in her dream to use her voice.  She has something to say and to sing.  And she sings the reminder to us all…

“Keep on dreamin, cuz only they come true…”

I am Joan! I am!

Peace & Blessings,

Mimi

Joan Cartwright is a woman with a purpose.

She is the Founder and Executive Director of

WOMEN IN JAZZ SOUTH FLORIDA, Inc.

http://www.wijsf.org

Listen to her on Blog Talk Radio at

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/musicwoman

Whose Dream is This Anyway?

In Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Lately, the subject of dreaming has come up quite a lot.  Not nighttime dreaming but daytime dreaming; the kind where you actually stare off into the space around you as if you’re looking into the infinite sky.  I’ve come across a couple of nice blogs about this.  And, low and behold, the book we are currently studying at church for the Sunday sermons is entitled, “The Dream Giver.”

How perfect.  Perfect because all of 2010 my dream has been buzzing loudly on the inside.  Yours too, I bet.  I’ve come to some realizations about this type of dreaming that might serve me well, if I remember them, as I choose (or not) to realize my dreams.

It’s interesting to note that if you press people about the things they dream about, you will stumble upon their fears masked as excuses.  Close your eyes and become 7 again.  Or 10 or 16 or whatever age you were when you still allowed yourself to dream.  Open your eyes again and what you might see is the pile of “lacks” stacked up over a lifetime reminding you why you felt you couldn’t be a dreamer.  Look a tiny bit closer and you will discover that it essentially boils down to fear outweighing courage.  We can convince ourselves that all our excuses are valid.  But the truth is, we are afraid.  This is what paralyzes us before we even begin moving towards our dream.  It is what halts us in our tracks.  We are afraid.

Being a mom, a wife, a sister, a worker, a friend, and all the other labels we wrap our personalities in become convenient excuses when we are asked why we do not pursue our dreams.  Hold on a minute, you might be saying.  “I’m too busy buying groceries and answering emails to indulge in dream finding.”  I know, I know.  You are legitimately busy.  Your kids, your spouse, your job and your email have sucked all available life out of you – so much so that you barely have the energy to brush your teeth before passing out across a pile of unfolded laundry at night.  I get that.  Ok, now be 7 again.  Dream again.  Remember that dream?  Good.

Now imagine if every day, amidst the clutter of the rest of life, we chose to pursue our dreams anyway.  Right, kids, hubby, blah, blah, blah….I get that.  Just keep going back to being 7 and reliving the joy of dreaming.  Do this over and over again until you are so compelled to live some part of your dream, you will steal time away from some other energy drain in your life in order to pursue it again.

Are you creative?  An artist?  Me too.  I write.  And I’ve done a piss poor job of it lately.  Why?  Because I don’t have time.  At least that was my excuse.  Now, I have started looking at dreams in a different way.  In my past, I felt that my life was too busy and too filled with more important, urgent matters – like laundry.  And Facebook.  Yes.  Now I’m considering this idea that my dream does not actually belong to me.  When we say that WE have an idea or WE have a dream, what we’re doing is acting as if our ideas are spontaneous firings from within the closed system of our being.  This cannot be true.  If it were true, then we would have every right to take our dreams so personally.  “This is MY dream and I alone must nurture it.”  What egos we have, yes?  I think that you and I should start considering a slightly bigger picture when it comes to pursuing our dreams.

Not to get all spiritual here, but who do you think planted this seed of a dream in you?  Seriously.  Maybe the same “One” that decided you would have brown eyes instead of blue ones and that you would have a size 7 foot instead of a 10.  Before you decide that you don’t have the time or energy to follow your dreams, maybe you should consider why you’re the one with an eye for color, or a voice for singing, or a flare with words.  Remember, you’re 7 and you haven’t talked yourself out of your dream yet.  You’re not 40 and “too old” or “too busy” or “too stuck.”  Try that.  Try letting yourself just fall up into your dream for a moment.  How does that feel?

So, this is what I’m doing.  I’m telling my ego to sit down and shut-up.  I’m reminding myself that my level of self-importance has stopped me from nurturing the dream seed.  I did not give this seed to myself.  It was given to me.  It is the gift.  And, if I am to enjoy it and bring it forth for others to enjoy, then I must nurture it.  Daily.  I must nurture it daily, not for my own self-serving reasons – although it will serve me.  I must nurture it for what it will add to the world.  Whose voices will fill the radios and bookstores?  Whose, if not those that have the dream seed of a voice that inspires others?  Whose minds will create worlds for our kids to learn in if not the ones who have the dream seed of teaching?  Whose hands will build art that makes love to our eyes if not the ones who have the dream seed of an artist?  No, your dream is not at all about you.  YOU are the conduit.  YOU are the one chosen to nurture it to life.  It is not a romantic indulgence.  It is your responsibility to nurture this dream and bring it to life.

Now, I say these things not to put any pressure on you, but to take the pressure off of you. Your dream is not about you.  And, truth be told, you cannot possibly believe that you alone, in a vacuum will be able to bring this dream to fruition.  It will indeed take an army of beings to bring this dream to life.  And they will.

So, now that you’ve indulged me in going back to remember your dreams, how about we take the next step?  Note that I am not telling you to work out all the details of how the dream will manifest.  No, I’m only asking you to do one thing that NURTURES your dream.  It doesn’t have to be ready for it’s public debut.  It needs to roll around inside you a bit longer.  You have to get to know it a little more before it’s ready to be seen by others.  One day, maybe it will catch you off-guard, you will know that it is time.  One day, you will write your blog, or create your business plan, or stand-up and speak.  One day, your dream WILL make its debut.  And on that day you will be nervous.  You will ask yourself what the hell you were thinking.  You will.  On the day your dreams start insisting they be shown in public, you will attempt to bargain with them.  You will.  You will promise them that when the time is right, you will show them off to the rest of the world.  When this happens, remind yourself that it’s only your fears trying to stop you from hurting yourself.  Tell them it’s ok.

You might even have times when you will talk your dreams right back into their seeds.  But they will never fit again.  Once they know what’s possible, your dreams will never let you rest.  They will not sit down and be quiet.  And this is ok.  Dreams must compel us, yes?  They must keep clawing at us from the inside in order for us to get out of their way.  And we will.  So, since we WILL get out of their way eventually, why not do it right now?  This is not easy.  But in order to let our dreams flourish as they want to do, we must first surrender to them.

This should make us feel better.  It makes me feel better.  I know that little old me is smaller than the dream seed that is in me.  I know, now, that that dream seed has within it the power to light me up and help me fulfill my purpose.  And it will if I surrender to it.  Oh, how I love and hate that word: surrender.  Let’s talk about that tomorrow.  For now, I will simply commit to nurturing the dream seed in me.  I think I was 16 when my dream seed first spoke to me.  That was nearly 30 years ago.  What have I been afraid of?  Maybe it is enough for me just to admit that I have been afraid; that I have sabotaged my own dream because my ego got in the way.  “What will they think of me?” is the thing we’ve all wondered when faced with the act of bringing our dreams to fruition.  Now, I actually do not care so much since I know that there will be those who think I’m not very good at what I do at all.  But, I also know that my dream came to me with the possibility of linking up with other people – people who will indeed get it and get me.  I’ve already over-thought my dream when all it wants me to do is surrender to it.  Ok.

I’m 16.  You?

There is a dream seed in you.  Your fear is not bigger than your dream.  The world is waiting on you to nurture this dream, not just for your benefit and pleasure, but for the rest of us.  Try it.  You’ll see.  And report back tomorrow.

Peace & Blessings,

Mimi