This is a part of The Cultivate Project. A once a month project where I explore mindsets and practices we can cultivate and nurture to bring more care to ourselves and others.
For a short time the Daydream Collection is available as an art print or notebooks or sketchbooks. But they are only available until February 15, 2022. After that I’ll move on to the next month’s cultivation project.
And this month is all about daydreaming, something I’m excited to talk about because it is one of my favorite things to do. I never come out of a daydream in a bad mood, with anxiety or feeling sunk. I always come out inspired, active, and excited.
Click the link in the show notes to see the collection and keep listening to hear my ideas on daydreaming.
What was I doing before I started walking down this path of becoming a working artist? Good question – I could say I was wandering around but it’s not that simple because I think my teaching career meant something, I think working for my husband meant something and I think any path we take we can pull from to inform our futures. But there was a time I felt like I was wandering around.
Several summers ago my family and I went to the beach for an extended vacation. I was enjoying every minute of it. And as the vacation came to it’s last few days, my dad and I were sitting on the porch overlooking the beach one morning as we always did and he made the comment that he had enjoyed the stay but he was ready to get back home and back to work. He was inspired and had many things he wanted to get started on or back to.
I sat there for a moment, knowing what he was talking about but in this moment I had a sharp opposite feeling. So it came out of my mouth. I don’t want to go back. He asked me why and I tried to verbalize what it was and it came out something like I had nothing to go back to. His response was one of understanding “Ah, you’re in the wilderness, I’ve been there.” And he proceeded to tell me his experiences with the wilderness. Then he explained I needed to trust God in this time and search him out.
You see, at this time, I felt like I had no purpose – literally. My life was wasting away with daily doldrums and there was no action being made to better anything. But it was deeper than that. I felt like every time I tried to take steps towards an action that I felt gave me a purpose, it got thrown out the window. Or if I made plans to create and grow an idea, those plans fell through. Life kept happening and my plans weren’t a part of that life.
I felt like God had nothing special for me and because my plans kept falling through, it just wasn’t meant to be. Sometimes life getting in the way meant big things for me like cancer, but then it also meant smaller things like after school activities and homework and cleaning the house. You know about all the things you can add up when you have kids. If not, just pretend to imagine your life obstacles and multiply times the number of kids.
So I was stuck in this hamster wheel of everyday life which included nothing that inspired me. Nothing that got me jumping out of bed or excited to start a new day – it was just the same new day. It may sound like I was depressed but I don’t think I was – instead it was just a day after day business and only when I was taken out of it while on vacation did I realize I was stuck.
Oh, my friend, have you ever felt this way? Stuck on a hamster wheel, watching life go by wondering when you’ll be able to make your plans happen?
If you think you might be there I see you. I know where you are. And I want you to know this is ok – recognizing it is even better. But there’s a little work to do.
Today I’ve learned through experience in this wilderness time that number one, my plans do matter and it’s up to me and only me to make them matter. And number two I had to start daydreaming. Dreaming about the life I wanted, what I wanted, who I wanted to be, where I wanted to be, what I wanted to do. Once I started daydreaming, I realized a lot of those plans I had made, I actually didn’t want. Some of them I did – and that’s important. But I let go of the ones that didn’t matter. Daydreaming allowed me to get to know myself better. Paying attention to those daydreams gives you insight into who you are and who you want to be.
Once I figured out through my daydreams who I wanted to be, I started trying things out and noticing what gave me energy, what inspired me, what did I want to keep doing. Using these things as sign posts, I started making plans. But more importantly I am making those plans and making them matter all because I was inspired. And your inspiration, vision, and plans are more important than all the things on the hamster wheel. (I’ll talk later on prioritizing). However, plan on daydreaming first. That’s right, work it into your schedule and make it a priority.
How to daydream
When I wrote that subtitle I giggled. Because really? Is there a right or wrong way or a how to? I really don’t think so. But I of course have suggestions.
First, Let go of any thoughts that keep popping up or getting in the way by doing a brain dump or free writing. Then Allow your mind to wander when asking what you would love to be doing right now. Allow yourself to ask what things you love, think to your past to moments you loved. What were you doing where were you who were you with and importantly why did you love it. Then begin to play what if for your future.
We all know sitting and allowing thinking is an important part of the creative process but what if you don’t consider yourself a creative. I want to argue that you are. We are all creative, but in different ways. We all have to come up with solutions to problems, even if it’s seemingly mundane like how to get your child to start speaking more quietly (a constant problem in my house). Even the mundane solutions can feel like a big win, and I’d like to argue, we never know how far our solutions reach. I heard James Victore say “We are all born wildly creative, some of us just forgot.” This has been said before but I love the interjection of the word wildly – it adds emphasis to the fact.
So, back to daydreaming – it is a super important part of the creative process especially when it comes to building your life. You create your life and tuning in to the creative side of you, to listen and create in your imagination what you might want is where visions are formed, where new businesses, ideas, innovations are formed. You can’t get these things if you aren’t daydreaming. You can’t get these things if you aren’t allowing yourself to flow with your own thoughts. If you are afraid to sit in your own thoughts, consider why and release what is holding you back.
Daydreaming is a part of releasing your imagination. Your imagination is where you create. Daydreaming is where vision is formed. Go back and listen to the importance of vision if you haven’t already. Vision is formed from your imagination. I love what Michael Todd says in his book Crazy Faith – “Don’t belittle your imagination! It’s God given. It’s divine.” Imagination is that important! And you can’t access it without daydreaming. Let it go, let it run. And the more you practice it, the more fun it can be. A lot of it may be nonsense or crazy but some of it may be the beginnings of a path for you to take.
The thing is, you can’t disregard your daydreams. Write them down, let them sit and stew for a bit if you need. Those that you find compelling whether they seem too small or maybe a little too big but exciting, start looking into them. I’ve had some fantastic daydreams that are huge and overwhelming and maybe a bit impossible and I’m slowly working towards a few of those but the smaller daydreams are so much easier to act on and to become curious about. So no matter what it is get curious about it.
For me right now I’ve had the daydream that started me down a path of what if I start creating original works of art instead of sticking only with surface design. I had this thought of what if and it’s been stewing, so this past fall I started doing small things to explore it and discover if it’s for me. And the more I explore, the more I love it. It was a seemingly small thing but the actions to start traveling that path were small and easy to digest. In contrast there are larger visions I have that I’m still grappling with and the actions I should take to start on those paths. This is where planning can really help. What actions can you take to get you started on that path?
Liz Forkin Bohannon has a whole chapter devoted to daydreaming in her book, Beginner’s Pluck. She calls it WOW TIME. And she says “if you want to build a life of purpose and passion, wow comes before how. Every.Single.Time.” She also says “A spirit of WOW requires just as much commitment and dedication as the HOW will take to implement.” And I have to agree because if daydreaming is the catalyst to a life you want to build, how else can you fuel yourself up except by constantly returning to the pump that gave you the catalyst to begin with? Going back to daydreaming to either remind yourself of the vision or dream or to dream more will only help fuel your desire to take action. The point of a daydream is to have a thought for your life that would be great, and maybe a wow moment for you that spurs you into action, gets you started on that path. Your daydream in other words will inspire you.
Daydreaming allowed me to get out of feeling stuck, and moving towards a life I want. Twyla Tharp explains in the beginning of her book Keep It Moving that this is throwing the status quo out the window. She’s talking about people who are well into their elderly years but still working and successfully that often they are asked how they do it. She boils it down. “Instead of stubbornly staying on known paths, afraid to stray, they look at what comes next with curiosity, expanding into whatever it may be.”
So if you haven’t done it in a little while, take a moment, get comfy, you’ll feel weird but have a good drink with you, close your eyes and start exploring.
Resources Mentioned Above
Daydream is the fourth collection in the Cultivate Project Series. I am offering an art print, calendar and notebooks.
The release of this collection will only be for a 2 week window starting this Friday February 4th, 2022 and ending Tuesday February 15, 2022, and I don’t want you to miss it.