I'd been fixated on being a Famous Broadway Actress for years. In spite of a continuous barrage of “No's!” and “You're too tall for the part,” I doggedly held on to my dream of being tapped to star in the the next Broadway hit. I held on so hard to this dream– even after it stopped being the right dream for me– that it just about killed me.
It wasn't until I started to pay greater attention to what I call my Inner Wisdom System– the trusty, inner guidance that points me to what is deeply, truly right for me– that I began to move away towards what wasn't working and moving towards what was. And that meant literally moving from New York City to Los Angeles, and toward expressing the original music that was bubbling up inside of me.
From the new perspective of my apartment in the center of Hollywood, I began to noodle around on the trusty old guitar I'd barely played since high school. Song after song poured out of me. I reached out and captured them, on scraps of paper, kitchen towels, cassette tape. I was suddenly on a mission to express thoughts, feelings, opinions and needs I had kept buried for years. I had something to say? Who knew?
That's when it hit me: Making way for my music, for the songs that were pouring out of me, meant I had to let go of something that had been driving me for years: my dream of being a Famous Broadway Actress. If I wanted to honor the song in me– literally– I had to be willing to let go of a dusty old dream that wasn't working for me anymore, so I could embrace a new– and potentially more fulfilling– dream.
And letting go is hard. Really hard. We have a hard time letting go of anything, big or little:– shoes we haven't worn for years; letters from old lovers; the idea that we should get a Master's Degree even though we're secrely not willing to put in the time and effort; the oil paints we will probably never use.
How many times have
you come home from shopping, for example, with your arms loaded with bags of stuff and come face to face with a closed door? And how many times have you resisted putting the stuff in your arms down so you could free up a hand to open that door and step through? You know the thinking: “It was a lot of work getting all these packages perfectly balanced in my arms, and I'll be damned if I'm going to put them down! How about if I just try opening the door with my butt….?”
Sometimes we hold on so hard to how things used to be, or how we think things should be, that we don't allow ourselves to see, accept, and take advantage of the magnificent opportunity that is right in front of us. We hold on hard to anger, resentment, guilt, or old ways of doing things. And we stay stuck, stalled and weighted down with our own baggage in front of door after door of missed opportunity.
Speaking for myself, when I was finally willing to let go of a dream that was no longer relevant for me, it opened me up to a very successful career as a touring and recording singer and songwriter. Which ultimately led me to Michigan, to my husband Jim, and to the my extremely fufilling work as a presence and presentation coach and trainer. I frankly couldn't be happier.
What about you? What are you holding on to that isn't working for you anymore?
This week, pinpoint a dream, beliefs or attitudes that is keeping you trapped in the past or stuck in limbo.
Are you willing to let go of it? What might you stand to gain if you let it go?
Write it out on a piece of paper. Then, with reverence and gratitude– and in a safe manner– burn the piece of paper (in a fireplace, in a candle flame).. As the paper turns to ashes, and the smoke rises into the atmoshere, release what you no longer need. And open yourself up to the new opportunities and new dreams that are unfolding for your greater good in this very moment..