Live the life you dream of now
By Sherry Richert Belul
I was taking a walk with my good friend, Tricia about six months ago and we were talking about our dreams. (Not nighttime dreams, but the “this-is-what-I-would-love-my- life-to-look-like dreams.)
At one point in the conversation, we realized that whenever we talked about our dreams, they were always “over there” or “far away.” They were places in our lives we hadn’t gotten to yet. They were accomplishments or goals we hadn’t yet reached.
Our dreams were outside of our lives.
I remember us literally stopping, looking at one another, and saying, “This is not right. What if right now, right here, we began to look at everything about who we are and what we are doing as part of our dream lives?”
What if we are living the dream now, but perhaps it is the tiniest seed of the dream? Still, it is the dream and we can recognize it as such. Like if we were growing lettuce and we just planted a small lettuce pod. It wouldn’t look like lettuce and we couldn’t yet eat it for dinner, but we’d know for certain it was lettuce.
We would love our little lettuce pod by tending to it. We’d learn about the best ways to nurture it— how much sunshine, nutrients, and water it needs— and then we’d do whatever it takes to help our lettuce thrive. We wouldn’t whine or cry about not having lettuce for dinner. We’d know that it’s growing in our own backyard. Right here. Right now. Our dreams are just like that.
That one conversation changed my life.
Practice who you want to be daily
Living my dream life is a practice, not a goal
When I got home that day, I started a practice I call, “Livin’ the Dream,” which is an intentional daily practice of noticing and noting the myriad ways in which everything I want in my life already exists.
Here’s an example: My work in the world is about helping people celebrate themselves and the people they love. I created something called a Love List, which is a no-cost, all-love gift that someone can give which details all the reasons they love and appreciate someone.
Before I die, I want 1,000,000 people to give Love Lists as gifts because of my writings/teachings. Every day that someone writes to tell me that created a Love List for someone, I take a screen shot of that letter and I pin it on a secret Pinterest board called “Livin’ the Dream.” I write a little note about how happy I am that one more person created a Love List and one more person received a gift of love they will certainly cherish forever.
That one Love List does not make me someone who has yet inspired 1,000,000 lists. But it is a part of that larger goal, isn’t it? And we’re on the way.
I also pin things that underscore my good health, happy relationships, and creativity because each of these things plays a role in having exactly the kind of life I’d always imagined.
We live in a culture that is focused on what’s wrong and what’s missing. Advertising and news encourages us to look for the negative. What if, instead we took charge of our own happiness and started scanning all the time for what is right, what is working, how love is showing up in our lives, and the ways we are living exactly the life we’d always dreamed about?
Sherry Richert Belul says write love lists and shows you how
Don’t tether your happiness to something outside yourself
Right now I’ve got myself on an “advanced course” of learning for the Livin’ the Dream practice. I’m awaiting news on something that is deeply important to me. I spent about six months last year focused on writing a book proposal to submit to a contest for Hay House, a publishing company that I absolutely love.
This is a BIG dream of mine to be an author for Hay House. I truly did my best on the book proposal and spent a lot of time imagining myself as one of their authors. Even as I write this, I feel the adrenaline pulsing through my body. I want it so bad! But what if I don’t get it? I want it. But what if…?
As you can imagine, my monkey mind wants to have a field day with this. It wants me to believe that winning the book publishing contract IS the dream. And if I get it, I’m living the dream. And if I don’t, I’ve lost the dream.
My practice is this: I am livin’ the dream, no matter what.
I refuse to let my happiness be tethered to something I have absolutely no control over.
Here’s what I do instead: I am spending every moment of every waking hour living as if I am already a Hay House author. What would a Hay House author wear to lunch with a girlfriend? What would a Hay House author write in her newsletter? What would a Hay House author have for lunch?
Create a custom celebration book for someone you cherish
Do you see?
I get to have the experience of being a Hay House author by inviting in all of the feelings and experiences NOW. Because it’s not about achieving “the thing.” It’s about having the feeling of getting the thing. And not just for one moment, but sustained, over moments, hours, days that then turn into a lifetime.
Truth be told, why is it a dream to be a Hay House author? Because I want to have a wider reach. I want to be more engaged. I want to have an audience of people who respond to my work. I want to have a community of writers with whom I share ideas and support.
When I keep the “why” in mind, it allows me the room to step into that vision right now. I simply ask, “How can I have a wider reach today? How can I touch more people?” And I listen to the response that life gives. Then I go do what it says. Voila!
Suddenly I am engaged and participating in exactly the way I dreamed. But it isn’t outside of myself. It isn’t over there. It isn’t “I’ll do that when…” It doesn’t rely on someone outside of myself to choose me.
I choose to live my dream now.
Take one small intentional step today
The author, Wallace Wattles, writes about this in his book, “How to Get What You Want.”
He tells the story of a man who wants to own a department store, but right now all he has is a newsstand.
Wallace says, “Do not get the idea that there is some magical method by which you can successfully operate a department store on a newsstand capital.”
This isn’t about thinking that if we want something badly enough, it will come to us.
But the point is, if you are dreaming about a department store and you have a newsstand right now, you can choose to show up completely and wholeheartedly to your newsstand every day. You choose to do everything you can to make this newsstand as successful as possible. If you don’t hang your head low and think, “all I have is a newsstand,” if you go to work whistling, serving everyone with a big smile and great service, chances are your newsstand will grow bigger. And more successful.
Chances are the way you tend to that newsstand (like the lettuce pods!) will yield the growth you desire. Wallace says, “make every act and thought constructive.” He believes that if we stay positive in our acts and thoughts, if we always speak from the place of our dreams and visions, people will be drawn to us. He calls this a “place of increase.”
“Consider that your newsstand is one department of the store you are going to have; fix your mind on the department store, and begin to assimilate the rest of it. You will get it if you make every act and thought constructive.”
One day, it will be a department store.
What if it doesn’t grow and thrive the way you had imagined?
Think about it. You are still living in the seed of your dream. You still have a beautiful newsstand that attracts customers because you show up every day with a smile and kind word. You still have the essence of your dream — which is having work that enables you to serve people and impact their lives on a daily basis. You are happy. You love your days.
Whether your newsstand grows into a department store or not, or whether it takes twenty years longer than you had imagined is not the point.
The point is: can you love the process of showing up each day to tend to the dream of who you are and the life you want to live — no matter what?
Can you train yourself to scan for what is, instead of what is missing?
Wish for what you have
My son taught me one of the most beautiful lessons about all of this.
When he was three years old, it was his birthday and we had a chocolate cake for him. I lit the candles and whispered to my son to make a wish before he blew them out.
I watched him close his eyes, and blow out the candles.
His dad and I clapped and then I leaned in and whispered, “What did you wish for?”
My son whispered back: “a birthday cake.”
Talk about instantly stepping into a place of having what we want. We need to see that it is right here, in front of us.
When we are livin’ the dream, we learn to focus on what is on the plate in front of us. We see it, taste it, appreciate it.
Customized tribute books
One small step
Today, can you practice with this? Can you wish for something you already have and watch how good it feels to “get” it?
Can you take one small action step that is in service of a bigger dream and feel in your bones that this small step is a part of the dream? You are not outside of it.
You are livin’ the dream. You’re in it. It’s already yours.
In the midst of everyday life, it is easy to forget how extraordinary — and fleeting— our lives are. Thus, Sherry believes in a simple philosophy: make moments into gifts. She helps people appreciate who they are and the people they love through customized tribute books and other one-of-a-kind gifts that inspire us to celebrate, share, and build beautiful relationships. Don’t wait; say it now. Find Sherry here.
Guest Post By Kent Youngstrom
how me. the not so tortured artist. became to be.
i’m just a regular guy, nothing special—i just happen to be an artist. as an artist, i assumed i needed to be in a gallery for people to see my work. yet galleries seemed to shut me out and preferred my bio to be much more impressive. i figured if galleries didn’t want my work, then maybe no one else did either. doors weren’t opening for me, and i wasn’t sure what to do next.
i began to frantically look for new avenues, hidden pathways or mysterious portals to show my work—anything to keep my dream alive.
i sought off on the seemingly impossible journey of self promotion.
i was scared. nervous sweat. the kind that smells different. bad. the kind where you can’t stand to be next to yourself. what if this doesn’t work. what if i’m exposed?
kent youngstrom publicity for artists
i really don’t think i can find enough people who like what i do to pay my bills on a consistent basis. there are so many real artists out there. they are intimidating.
artists are cool. i’m not that cool. i pretend to be, but i’m really just a dork in what not to wear clothing. i’m really not that much of an artist in the way i was taught to think of one. my figure drawings would fit right in the fifth grade art hallway. no one would know the difference. can i call myself an artist if i can’t even draw a horse properly?
there was no miracle red button to push. i had to try things i was not comfortable with at the time.
that dream was, and still is, the easy part. i started to realize i needed to stop fantasizing about what i wanted and make a conscious decision to use the skills i had to pursue the next stage. i had art—it was time to use it.
i set up a trade with a photographer friend: i gave her some art, and she took some great pictures of my work. i worked with people like susan + a few of her friends to develop fun + snappy email introduction that got attention without screaming, “look at me, i’m awesome.”
the epically awesome alexandra franzen who is a friend of both susan and i got me on the right path with this.
mine sounds like this. (don’t be lazy – make you own – this is mine.)
i’m kenT and i’m an artist (but not the tortured kind.)
i create one-of-a kind-paintings. you may have seen my work in cb2, on sale sites such as gilt.com, or popping up in celebrity home photos in people magazine. all from my charlotte, nc studio.
i’m writing today to send an avalanche of appreciation in your direction (warning: gushing praise, straight ahead.) i love what you’re up to, and i’ve been reveling in your inspiring work for quite some time. your inspiring x of perfect pictures prompted me to swing into your inbox with an ever-so-slightly-coward request.
i want to work with you on something. anything.
much like peanut butter + chocolate, gin + tonic (or bacon + anything), i’m inclined to believe “we are better, together.”
i can edit this when appropriate and make it personal as to what i would like to work with them on. it does not always equal a yes to working with me. but more often than not it does get a response.
i set up a consistent presence on my website and social outlets. i started to broadcast a manifesto as much as a body of work.
you can see it here.
kent youngstrom how to market your art
slowly but surely, people started to answer me, promote me, collaborate with me, and buy from me. eventually I heard from a major retailer who had been sent a small photo book. that company ordered 300 of my original pieces, and they sold out in seven weeks. finally, doors were popping open, and folks were starting to know my name.
each time, my portfolio grew and someone else noticed. i started small. small became a little larger each time.
i have taken small into painting editions limited pieces for cb2, running my total to over 2,000 original paintings; brushed, boxed + shipped to their warehouse since 2012. i made new partnerships with vendors like minted, icanvas, bezar, and jace lipstein of grungygentleman. i continued to work with great people at gilt, deny designs, apartment 2b and lulu and georgia.
a few folks have contacted me to let me know they purchased a canvas at marshall’s home goods. others phoned to say they saw a piece on hgtv.
collaborations are a spectacular way to grow your following. each person or company you work with will market your work to their tribe. look to work with people and companies that align themselves with what you do and what you stand for.
bottom line, i learned that no matter your talent, a magic fairy is not going to drop by your home, studio, or secret lair and volunteer to make you a success.
my advice: my two cents to get you kick started: start with great photography of your work or work that your tribe is drawn to. show it. post it. link it. pin it. work it. make contacts. keep in touch.
get off the couch.
work your backside off.
show up on time.
soon enough, people will know who you are.
kent youngstrom how to make a living as an artist
kent youngstrom is an artist, but not the tortured kind. he is on a mission to make the walls or your home, office or secret lair as amazing as you are. . .
find his work at kentyoungstrom.com
follow his behind the scene + studio life in Instagram @kentyoungstrom
be something. if you want to make something. releases april 18 on amazon.com and . . .
is a pop top energy drink spiked with caffeine laden words that are calming to the soul, while at the same time capable of spurring volcanic eruptions of energy and frenzied moments of accomplishment
be something. if you want to make something encourages makers to stay in the moment and allow ingenuity to be the pace car. each short blurb hands over an uncooked account of an artists rocket fuel fast, can’t stop, won’t stop lucky, sometimes mixed martial arts bloodied adventure. it humorously highlights the speed bumps that were approached way too fast and encourages the reader to push past the exit ramps desperately calling for companionship and accelerate toward the reward on the horizon.
be something. if you want to make something runs over the big scary words of the business world like “copyright” and “business plan” and spits out what makes real sense in the life of doing more of what you love for a living.
pull back the tab and sip a bit . . .
Your book. In the hands of a literary agent who loves you. Next year.
I have been cleaning house. Literally. My office. My computer. Assessing. Evaluating.
Clearing out the old to bring in the new for next year.
And….I found this extensive list of literary agents in many different genres that I had created a while back for you: 10 Best Resources to Find a Literary Agent: And Sell Your Book to a Top Publisher
Download it here.
Find a literary agent – Write a book proposal
Here is another resource.
Authors who are seeking to be traditionally published want to find a literary agent who has contacts at all the top publishing houses.
And who absolutely adores you and is willing to work with you on crafting your book proposal – which is essential to securing a top notch publisher. To write a book proposal you want to make sure you’re doing two things:
- Follow the instructions on how to write a book proposal that includes all the essential elements a literary agent and book publisher need to see that proves your idea is viable and that you’re the right person to write this book.One of the most important elements in any non-fiction book proposal is your platform. Which means your reach. Your online and offline presence and ability to sell books. It includes your email lists size, your speaking engagements, your blogging and website statistics and more.
Want to know why our Gluten Free cookbook didn’t pass muster with my agent? No platform. My friend Karen Leland and I wanted to recreate our favorite childhood recipes – gluten free. However…. we don’t have a following and are not famous — in the realm of cooking. Nor have we been on a competitive cooking show (unlike my two clients who have been on The Next Iron Chef). Our book proposal failed because we didn’t have a platform.
Here’s the video we put in our proposal to show that we could handle ourselves on camera.
2. Pay attention to the literary agent’s guidelines for how they want the book proposal formatted.
For example, my agent wants the proposal to be in a sans serif font like Arial or Verdana for easy online reading. By the way, even though he’s my agent I reviewed his website on how to format my manuscript and to make sure I was giving him my book proposal in the way he wanted it. I wasn’t aware of some of his requests like.. he doesn’t want paragraphs separated by line spaces. He wants them indented. These may seem like trivial requests, but since agents like mine review over 1000 unsolicited manuscripts every month these kind of details make for easy reading — and could make a critical difference if a literary agent is on the fence about your work. You want your chosen literary agent to feel excited about working with you — not frustrated.
Here is a paragraph from his website about making your book proposal interactive:
Accessibility. In most cases, editors and publishers (the publisher is the business person who runs the publishing house – s/he’s the editor’s boss) are often very young, often in their 20’s or 30’s. So you need to try to make the proposal as accessible as possible. This means that you should consider using charts, side bars, graphics, tests, and so forth to make the proposal as interactive as possible, as well as to make it look interesting on the page: remember that you’re giving this to somebody who was raised on TV, so s/he may have a very short attention span. Of course, the extent of the “look” of your proposal really depends on the subject matter – so if you’re dealing with very serious subject matter, and we’ll be targeting an academic or very serious house, you need less of the “look”; but a more commercial house may require more bells and whistles.
Find a literary agent for my book
Jerry Jenkins has recently released an in-depth blog post on how to write a winning book proposal (both fiction and nonfiction) to agents and publishers based on everything he’s learned from 40+ years of experience in the industry and his 190+ written books.
Want help with your book proposal? Ping me here.
Want to do it yourself? I’ve got you covered.
I hope you find the literary agent who is right for you!