I moved about the house anxiously looking for a chore that would keep my mind off worry and doubt as Ruby looked in at me from the outside. I washed a couple of dishes and then moved on to the living room picking up stray items left behind and organizing them on the stairs by the room they belonged. I sat at my laptop and opened my Medillia’s Lament folder hoping to get lost in a sea of edits but my heart beat quick and loud. Some would say that the hardest part was over, and normally I would have agreed, but the anxious feeling that had occupied my chest since the night before was saying something different. My mind began spinning, creating images and replaying old tracks that I had thought had been erased. I had made the decision to leave my full time job and instead waitress and focus on making writing my profession. It wasn’t the financial piece that tugged at my resolute, it was the idea that I wouldn’t be able to reach my goal and instead of supporting myself and family with writing I would have to fall back on what I started out doing to put myself through college.
My mind danced around the vision of having multiple books published through SeaStar Farm Books, helping other authors self publish, and creating writing circles that were held on the farm to inspire and guide others through the process. I imagined our three story barn being renovated and turned into a publishing barn like once dreamed with a friend. There is an incredible view from the second floor that looks out onto our smaller pasture. I pictured myself sitting at an old wooden farm table looking out onto the pasture writing and managing a small publishing barn while I typed new manuscripts and answered correspondences on my laptop. The space would be a creative haven for music and art. Kyle’s guitars would be arranged in the corner on stands and smaller tables would be set up for drawing and painting. The wind would blow in from the pastures, through the space, and ground me in my own dream having come true. This is the dream I have been dreaming and wondering, stressing, how I can possibly make it all come true.
I know that the first step in making any dream come true is to begin to say it out loud. Once you’ve become used to hearing yourself speak it, then you need to begin to share it. Speak softly at first, while your dream is still a dream and no actions have been taken. Then as your whispers turn to wondering out loud, begin to make plans, share ideas of how it will take shape, and start to ask questions of your closest friends and family. This is how I’ve always made things happen in my life. I’m not sure if it works for others or not but what could be the harm to start whispering about your dream? After intimate moments of wondering, “what if”, with your people it’s time to decide if you are going to move forward to making your dream your reality or if you are going to let it float away and become a distant memory.
Something about sharing my dream out loud this time feels different, like I somehow have more to lose if I don’t chase after it and make it happen. Somehow it feels bigger and grander than most that I’ve gone after even though compared to other businesses I’ve created, it is incredibly simple in its daily operations and functions. It’s a streamlined aspiration with a calmer and more fulfilling life as its reward. Maybe that’s why I’m so nervous this time, I’m going after something I already treasure instead of taking something that just happened, like creating a hat for my baby and seeing how far I can take it. As I continued to ponder and putter around the house I noticed that it was almost 10:30. I quickly finished up the dishes and removed the rest of the clutter from the living room. Ruby followed me around, pacing as I had, as if she was reeling from my mixed up emotions. She turned for the kitchen and began barking at the door. Sandy had arrived for our meeting. It was my first official meeting scheduled to take the next step towards making SeaStar Farm Books a viable entity and a new way of life that I had longed to live for so many years.
I held Ruby back as Sandy made her way out of her vehicle. She had her camera in hand and I smiled. Cameras have always made me wriggle, knowing they might capture a side of me I didn’t like how it looked. Her face was bright and lit by an incredible smile that seemed to stretch from ear to ear. She remarked about the farm being beautiful and that she was happy to finally get together. I nodded my head. I was happy too. It was like two old friends sitting down with a cup of tea, reminiscing and catching up on all that life had brought them, except that we had only met once before in Anne’s office. I shared that I had been anxious about starting my new business, wondering how it was all going to come together, and worrying that it might not. I even shared my doubts about being considered a “true” writer, whatever that meant. She responded, “you are a writer,” I’ve read your posts. Sandy opened up and walked me through her journey of becoming an artist, a merchandiser, a photographer,and a designer. She told me how she had once had to take a deep breath and know that she could and would do it even though it was a path that few if any had traveled before and her way going about it was unconventional at best.
I connected with her in that moment. My entire career, life had always been considered unconventional at best, even eccentric at times, but through it all I have always written something and found myself connecting with people in deep, intimate ways regardless of what my title had been. I shared with her that my gift had always been getting the word out in a big way. I’ve been able to take small hometown stories, or new product releases and give them national attention in ways that may have seemed less than traditional or the way things have always been expected to be done. And then I told her that early on in life I discovered that if you simply say something out loud with conviction it has a magical way of becoming true. I cited some of my favorite examples from The Little Hat Company and one from college about being quoted in The Wall Street Journal. Sandy listened thoughtfully and when I paused she smiled and nodded. I almost had forgotten why we had decided to meet. She looked up and said, “I wonder if what you are saying out loud this time is just too broad of a statement.” I hesitated. I had always asked for very specific things to come to light when I had been starting or growing other businesses. I remember saying once to someone on the team, “you know we just need to have a story done on us in Yankee Magazine.” It was only a week or two later that we got the call that our children’s hats had been picked as a must have summer product and asked to come do a photo shoot.
Sandy was right. In my new anxious state of worry and doubt I had forgotten to do what I have always done best. Dream big, but start at the beginning and make baby steps each and every day until your vision begins to take the shape you want it to. I had jumped into the final vision and lived in it for so long that I had forgotten the power of the journey and what it takes to make it all happen. Sandy and I took turns sharing our young experiences and the similar places we had been. It felt more like a friendship unfolding then a business meeting developing. Sandy had been recommended to me by Anne Donnell. She has been helping Blue Tree Reiki with social marketing and brand positioning. The pictures she has captured of Anne are honest and communicate the true essence of who she is as a person, psychic, and healer. Anne had reached out to me a few weeks with an excited energy. She had read one of my recent blog posts and and couldn’t wait to tell me that the quality of my pictures weren’t representing my writing and I needed to meet with Sandy. My gut agreed and I reached out to Sandy not sure how our business relationship would take shape or the direction it would lead us but my intuition said it needed to happen.
Sandy suggested we go outside and explore the farm. She picked up her camera and said let’s just walk and talk and see what we come up with. I had thrown on some shorts and a running shirt and my hair was tied in a knot at the base of my neck. I made sure that we weren’t taking any shots of me, just exploring so we could plan our next steps. Our farm is filled with character and charm and as we stepped outside she immediately raised her lens to her eye and started capturing our home from her perspective. We continued talking about baby steps in helping the business take shape and as I lead her to the barn, I started sharing my plans of turning the top two floors into the office and creative space. She fell in love with a nook by the sun room. It was framed by our brick patio and a hanging plant overflowing with yellows and purples. The black hickory hung over the space creating an evergreen canopy.
photograph by Sandy Pampel Hamel
When we finally reached the second story of the barn, I said, “this is it.” This is where I want my business to be. Sandy circled around and agreed that it was perfect. The trap door down to the goat’s stall was opened and as she bent over to take their picture, I cautioned her to be careful and not to fall through. She whispered, “baby steps.” Maybe she did or maybe she didn’t, but since the moment she reminded me of the importance of taking them, I couldn’t leave the thought alone. How could I have been so foolish to have forgotten everything that had always worked for me in the past in making the magic of dreams come true. I whispered to myself, “baby steps.” I opened the large barn doors to show Sandy my favorite view on the farm. She asked if I could stand there just for a minute. My body froze, the idea that she was taking my picture made my skin craw, but that’s for another post. We walked back to the house and said our goodbyes and decided that we are going to get together soon for the official photo shoot. I got home from work late last night and there was a message from Sandy. There were three photos that she took, she asked for my email so that she could send me some more. As I made the images larger, I took a breath in and realized that I’m closer than I ever thought.