a photo of a canvas painted in shades of purple that states "unfolding dreams" in the center; around the canvas are rocks that state "balance" and "dream," a fountain pen, a stone box and a peach color roseI haven’t written much this year.  My last blog post was February 26, 2016.  I’ve thought about writing, but haven’t put the thoughts into writing.  It’s time.

It’s been a unique year.  One of the hardest I’ve experienced since my divorce, 5+ years ago, which had previously set the standard for “hard.”  My year kicked off with the biggest issue I’ve had in my 20 years of being in business.  It rattled my cage and challenged my convictions and forced me to make sure I was clear on what I stand for and why.   A lot of soul searching was involved.  It was painful. I did not enjoy it, and yet it was a necessary piece of my personal evolution.

While I wanted to run away, find the easy life, have someone give me the answers, I knew that I had to do the work and couldn’t hide.  So I went back to the basics and re-visited what I had done to create my inspired life after I went through the last “hardest” challenge I’d experienced.  As I contemplated my journey and how to re-create my inspired life, I decided to share what I learned and package it to help others who are seeking and want to design their inspired life.

My journey led me down many paths.  I took courses and read books to figure out how to create the best version of my course. I purchased a new web-based program and then had to learn how to design and develop it to deliver my program.  I had to actually create the program and decided to deliver it as a 21 day program. I created the content for each of the 21 days and then poured over my art images and photographs to create a highly visual representation of my content concepts. I stepped so far out of my comfort zone with every aspect of the project and spent months in discomfort and transformation.  I had days when I just wanted to quit, yet I knew it was not an option.

a canvas in sage and rust color and in the center, it states "never, every quit"

So I created and launched my 21 Day Program to Create Your Inspired LifeThen, I took on all the advice and recommendations I was providing in the program.  It was clear I had to dare greater if I wanted to honor the stirrings of my soul. My heart wanted to follow its art, which led me to finding a space near my home that I could convert into an art studio and have a place to create community, which I was craving, and art.

a collage canvas in sage, turquoise and rust color and in the center it states" Dare Greater"As I was maneuvering my personal growth and continuing to deal with my personal challenges, I didn’t allow myself to lose focus on what really mattered. While my mind wanted to wallow on my life disguised as a gauntlet of challenges, my teachings directed me to focus on the juicy possibilities that lie on the other side of the hardships. Most days were a battle to maintain the positive focus and I was exhausted by the wars raging in my mind. And yet I knew I could not give in.

I converted my art studio from a motor bike storage unit that looked like this:

A photo of my studio before I remodelled it

And after months of work, to this:

a photo of my studio afer it was remodeled And this:

a picture of my studio showing my prodution table that I have painted the statement "Dream Unfolding Zone"

And this:

a picture of my studio wall with the words "Its really Happening" on the wallAnd through it, I continued to struggle. None of these efforts came easy.  I kept expecting ease around the next corner, but challenges were always waiting.  I couldn’t wrap my head around why I continued to experience life as “hard,” and I knew I couldn’t give in to the falsity of the feeling.  Oh, but I wanted to.

As I created art, I decided to take yet another brave new step – I applied to my first juried art event:  Open Studios Napa Valley.  For the last 5 years, I marked my calendar each September so I could attend Open Studios, which is a self guided tour of artist’s studios where I can meet the artist in person, talk to them about their work and see it up close and personal.  If I wanted to be one of the Open Studios artists, I had to submit 3 pieces of my art which would be judged by 3 professional artists to determine if my work met professional standards that would unlock the door to allow me to be included in Open Studios.

I was incredibly nervous and filled with self-doubt about my talent, or lack thereof.  I felt inadequate as a “real” artist – who was I to think I could be a “real” artist? I’ve taken a handful of classes and am considered a “self-taught” artist – I learn what I want to create because I want to create it.  As I worked my way through my erroneous ways of comparing myself to others, I finally snapped out of it and centered myself into putting my best work out there and trusting it would lead down the perfect path. The universe agreed and I was juried into Open Studios.  A dream come true. And it’s right around the corner.

an Open Studios signSo where am I going with this story? Here’s my point: you can never give up on your dreams. If you are not following them, life may clobber you to force you in a direction that you would not follow on your own.  It probably will not be comfortable; learning new things rarely is.  You will be tempted to give up and quit. To play small. To compare yourself to others. To forget what you know to be true and temporarily lose yourself. To not do the things you know you need to do. But you must do them. You must breath life into your dreams and create your inspired life. You cannot sit on the sidelines and let life pass you by. You must take action every day in the direction of your dreams. You were not born to play it safe. You were born to boldly put yourself out there, pour your life into your passion and share your authentic gifts and talents with the world – THAT is why you are here.  Remember that on the days you want to give up. Then, dream bigger.

a painted canvas with the words "Dream Bigger" in the center

Joan Jakel

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