“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” –Thomas Edison
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” –Confucius
“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” –Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
A year ago today, I heard a small voice tell me to begin Sage Woman Chronicles. After a year, I’m even more committed to continuing these weekly posts than I was a year ago. I’ve learned so much about myself. Isn’t that what a grand adventure is supposed to do? Some would say that sitting at home writing a blog, and a novel, as in my case, isn’t a grand adventure. But, in the novel, The Alchemist, which I just finished reading, the Shepherd learns to listen to his heart, and look for omens that send him off to the next step in his journey. For some people that looks really big. For others, like me it’s smaller. The point is that each of us has a purpose, and if we don’t fulfill that purpose, a piece of the big cosmic puzzle is missing.
I don’t mean to discourage any of you, but it took me about thirty years to hear my heart, and allow myself to become who I was meant to be. I’m a late bloomer. Now that I’ve overcome the inner critic, the fear of stepping into the unknown, and started my writing career, I’m so much happier. I feel free.
It hasn’t been easy. I had to do a lot of self-examination, and healing. Finally, I was ready to embrace the real me. And miraculously, one day I saw two roads stretched out in front of me, calling to me to make a decision. For years I’d buried my desire to be a writer. When I looked down the writer road, I was filled with elation. The other road made me feel like I had a stone in my belly.
I often wonder if other people get feelings in the pit of their stomach when they make big decisions. Are we so desensitized that we’re out of touch with our own feelings. I can understand if that’s how things are for you. It takes courage to face up to our emotions, the good and the bad. So many tragedies have happened over the last decades that most of us are shell shocked. But, here’s the thing, stuffing your feelings, and pretending they won’t resurface is a fallacy. The only way to move forward, and be happy is to face what happened good and bad. As my sister says, “You’ve got to throw out your trash”. I can speak from experience. If you throw out your trash, you’ll feel much lighter, life will become more joyous, and you’ll find the courage to follow your dreams.
Last week, I completed the second round of revisions on my novel. It’s about a woman named Jenna, who’s life crashes, causing her to face herself, and build a new life. She gets lots of help along the way. I’m including a scene in today’s post, which happens near the end of the book. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it in the manuscript. However, it sums up part of what happens because Jenna chooses to follow the omens that lead to the fulfillment of her dreams.
Jenna was glad that she had an entourage of spirit help the first time she came face to face with Fletcher and Mr. Drayton in court. Anger and hatred emanated in huge waves of black swirls toward her as she took the stand to testify. At first she was terrified. Never had she felt so much animosity from anyone. But, as she was being sworn in, she was encircled in a protective dome of light. Each time the black swirls shot out from the two men, they dissipated when they touched her protective dome. For months, and years, she’d felt slimy, and defiled after each encounter with these men. Now she knew why.
At one point during her testimony, she was asked to look over at the men to identify them. When she did so, she saw that they were surrounded by spirits trying to get through their barrier of hatred, to no avail. All of a sudden the dread of seeing them in person again faded, and the dream she’d had of them being sucked into the darkness, returned as vivid as it’d been that night all those months ago. She’d lived in their shut-off world before Black Friday. Thank heavens she’d found Morgan’s journals that had guided her toward the light. All she felt for Fletcher and Mr. Drayton was sorrow. How sad that they didn’t know all the love that awaited them.
When she’d given her testimony, she went back to her seat next to Jack. The trial was nearly over. From what she’d heard, the outcome was pretty clear. They’d know very soon now, as the closing arguments were set for the next day.
That night, at Ben and Joan’s apartment, Jenna told the others about her experience, and about her dream.
“Man, you have the most interesting experiences. My life seems so boring by comparison,” said Joan.
“Well, I wouldn’t recommend having your life crash down around you as a personal growth tool,” said Jenna. “But, I guess it all depends on how stubborn you are. I was pretty stubborn.”
“Fletcher and Drayton are even more stubborn than you were Sweetie,” said Jack. “It was nasty just being in the same room with them. I pity the jury. They must be getting an extra dose of hatred sent their way.”
“Maybe I don’t want to go tomorrow after all,” said Joan. “But, I told Mr. Winston, I wanted to be there to hear the verdict. He agreed.”
“I’ll be glad to have you there,” Jenna said.
“I wish I could go, but I’ve got a big meeting with a client,” said Ben. “I want to hear all the details.”
The next day the courtroom was packed. Jenna, Jack, and Joan got there early to be sure to get seats. The back of the room was full of reporters from all over the country. This was big news.
The prosecutors final remarks were short, and to the point. However, the defense attorney’s remarks dragged on. He tried to refute all the evidence that had been presented. According to The Oregonian articles Jenna had read about the trial, his efforts were futile. Finally, the jury was given their charge by the Judge, and court was adjourned while they deliberated. Joan took Jack and Jenna to a new coffee shop near the courthouse. Half an hour later, they were called back. The jury was ready to pronounce their verdict.
“I think that’s one of the shortest deliberations I’ve ever seen,” said Jack. “And I’ve testified in some open, and shut cases. This wasn’t an easy, or a short trial. They must have made up their minds at some point during the testimony.”
The three friends slipped into their seats just as the Judge was entering the courtroom. He banged his gavel for silence. The jury filed in.
“Mr. Foreman, have you reached a verdict?” asked the Judge.
“We have your Honor.” The Foreman handed a slip of paper to the Bailiff, who took it to the Judge. The Judge read it, then handed it back to the Bailiff, who took it back to the Foreman.
“Will the defendants please rise,” said the Judge.
The Draytons stood with impassive faces.
“Please read the verdict, Mr. Foreman.”
“We the jury find the defendants guilty on all counts,” said the Foreman.
The courtroom erupted into cheers, and chatter. Photographers took photos of the shocked faces of the two men. Jenna noticed that the the black swirls, which had emanated from them toward the jury, were quickly sucked in close to their bodies.
The Judge banged his gavel. “Silence.” When everyone was again seated, and quiet the Judge said, “Thank you jury for your verdict. I set the date for sentencing for a week from today. Court is dismissed.”
Jenna was surprised to find herself surrounded by photographers as she, Joan, and Jack left the courtroom.
“Oh oh,” said Joan. “I didn’t see this coming. I’ll run, and get the car so we can make a quick get away.” She pushed her way through the crowd, and disappeared.
Reporters were pointing microphones in Jenna’s face. The barrage of questions was so intense that she couldn’t make coherent sense out of anything anyone was saying. Jack with his arm around her, was shielding her as they made slow progress out of the courtroom, down the corridor, and down the courthouse steps. As they descended, they veered to the left to avoid the podium set up at the bottom with the Prosecutor standing in front of it about to hold a press conference. He whispered to one of his colleagues, who rushed over toward them.
“Mr. Ross would like you to be a part of the press conference. He says it was your testimony that brought such a quick verdict.”
“Tell him thank you, but no. I’m glad it’s over. He can take all the credit.”
“Okay, but he’ll be disappointed.”
As the young man ran back to the podium, Jack said, “Let’s get out of here quick, before he comes back.” He steered Jenna toward the corner closest to the parking garage exit. In a matter of moments, Joan was heading up the ramp. Jack opened the back door. Jenna, and he jumped in. Joan turned right into traffic.
“Wow, thanks for your quick thinking,” said Jenna. “I had no idea we’d be mobbed.”
“Me either,” said Jack. “Though I should have. Without you, the Draytons might never have been caught.”
“Where do you want to go?” asked Joan.
“Home to Roseburg.” said Jenna
Like Jenna, I hope you find the courage to follow your dreams. The world needs what you have to offer.