Monday, October 21, 2013

Living the Dream - Part One of Two

My friend Allison Vesterfelt wrote a book that was recently published. Titled Packing Light - thoughts on living life with less baggage, the book tells Ally's story of quitting her job, selling everything she owned, and going on a fifty state road trip with a friend because she wanted to learn to live life with less baggage.

Ally is a great writer.  I knew the story would be entertaining and of course I wanted to read it cause HELLO!  My friend wrote a book.  How often can you say that?  I would proudly endorse it even it was terrible because I'm biased.  However...

Ally's book was the kind you can't put down.  I was pulled into her story from the first page and felt like I traveled with her across the country AND on her life journey that was unfolding simultaneously.  This book is legit.  You're missing out by not reading it.

What I didn't expect from Packing Light was to be digging out a highlighter and marking pages with quotes from the book that lingered in my mind long after I turned the last page.

Before she sold everything she owned to travel Ally taught English to middle and high school students.  But her dream was to be a writer.  As Ally's road trip was wrapping up, her friend Becks asked two poignant questions.  "What do you tell people when they ask you what you do?"  Ally didn't have an answer so Becks followed up with an even bigger question. "What do you WANT to do?"

Ally's response was one I related to.  Honest and straight forward, she verbalized how I have so often felt.  "I want to be a writer, but that doesn't mean I am one.  You don't get to just decide what you're going to be - do you?"

Becks dared Ally to tell the next person who inquired about her profession that she was a writer.  To say it out loud.  No caveats or cutting herself down.  Straight up, out loud.  "I am a writer.  I write for a living."  

The first time Ally had the courage to say "I am a writer" out loud it resulted in a job interview for a writing position.  Just like that, Ally was writing for a living.  I know this story because I read it in the book that Ally wrote.  Her dream became a reality.

I have loved photos, stories, writing, and beauty as long as I can remember.  As a kid I spent hours hiking with my family and playing outside, reading books, and pouring over family photo albums.  I  was THAT kid in high school who was always taking pictures and spending money to develop roll after roll of film.  Collages of friends, adventures, and sports covered my bedroom walls.

Not much has changed in twenty years.  I still love being outside, soaking in the beauty of God's creation.  The Pacific Northwest is a playground for nature lovers and I lug my camera with me on almost every outdoor adventure.

I photograph my kids.

The city that I live in and love.

I spent years scrapbooking and now my kids repeatedly page through the albums I created, oohing and aahing and reading the stories I'm so glad I took the time to journal about.

Before I read Ally's book I had been praying about getting a part-time job.  We just bought Curt a car and it would give me great joy to be the one who buys it for him.  Unfortunately my kids don't pay me a salary.  If I want to buy Curt's car, I have to look outside my home for work.

I read, and re-read the passage in Ally's book.  Each time Becks' question and challenge, "What do you WANT to do?" jumped off the page, followed immediately by my insecurity.  "Do I get to pick what I want to do?"

I knew what I wanted to be when I grow up.  Did I dare dream that it could be a reality?  A little spark of hope began to grow.  The more I mulled it over and prayed about it, the bigger and clearer the dream became. Finally I said it out loud.  I told my husband, "I want to be a photographer."

(to be continued tomorrow...)

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