GUEST POST BY COURTNEY KAMMERS
It’s five AM and I am sitting at Starbucks.
I need to be at work in two hours. I need to buy groceries. I am planning to go to the gym this afternoon. I have a meeting later tonight. My laundry needs to be folded. My lawn needs to be mowed. I need a haircut. I need to get the oil in my car changed. My husband and I haven’t been on a real date in a while.
My days can feel overwhelmingly busy, even cluttered at times. But this early, with a cup of coffee next to me, I am in my element. I can focus on the task at hand without being distracted by my ever growing to-do list.
The reason I have such unrelenting focus is because I love what I am doing. I am writing.
Writing is the only passion that has never faded with time. So, even though I work a disappointing and difficult job, even though I want to schedule some quality time with my husband, even though I need to make sure I stay healthy and spend time exercsing, and even though I could honestly use a good night’s rest, I will wake up at four AM to steal a few hours of writing time before the real work of the day begins.
When I was younger, I always hoped to be a writer when I grew up. Reality hit me the first time I was late paying my rent. I needed a real job. I needed to be able to pay my bills and save for my future and pay for college. I got a nine-to-five job that would allow me to make enough money to accomplish those tasks. I started taking college courses online and in the evenings. And time just passed, the way it always does when we aren’t paying close attention.
Please do not get me wrong.
I was never unhappy with this life I was living. Women have an incredible capacity for waiting and hoping. So, while I was not pursuing my passions, I always felt that there would come a time when I would get the opportunity to finally chase my dream. I was waiting for the time when I could do what I wanted. I was hopeful that I would not have to wait too long. I wanted to write books. Not just any book. I wanted to write a book that could capture true feelings. I wanted someone to tell me that I had been able to put into words the way they were feeling but hadn’t been able to express. I wanted these things, but I was just waiting and hoping for them to happen.
It wasn’t until recently that I traded out my predisposition for waiting in exchange for a go-get ‘em attitude. I was sitting at a table with a group of strangers. We were about to listen to a lecture, but the evening’s speaker had us start with a few roundtable questions to briefly discuss so that we could get to know our neighbors. One of the questions was how we would spend a million dollars. My table mates had variably interesting answers. They would attempt to cure a disease, they would pay for the grandchildren’s college, or take an amazing vacation. I knew my answer. I would quit my job and write full time.
Now, I didn’t leave the event completely changed. I didn’t turn in my two weeks notice and spend my entire day writing from a table at a local coffee shop. However, I did do something I hadn’t done in a long time. I got out my laptop and began to write. I am in no position to quit my job. While I would like to think that someday my writing will be what puts food on the table and gas in my car, at least for now I need to work a full time job that has a steady paycheck.
I have learned the value of prioritizing.
While I cannot stop going to work each day, I am allowed to occasionally let my husband find his own dinner so that I can write for a few hours. While I need to continue to make sure I stay active and healthy, I can skip watching a re-run of Friends on television if it means I get thirty minutes to write a few lines in the evening.
In this way, I have started to pursue my dream. Re-prioritizing has worked like a miracle, and I encourage any woman with a dream to start there. Let your spouse do the grocery shopping while you take a little time to find and pursue your passions. Let the laundry go one more day undone. In this way, we aren’t being selfish. Rather, by taking a little time to pursue our passions, we becoming happier. In my experience, a household is only as happy as the least happy member. So, when I started following my dream, and starting finding joy in the stolen moments, my family got a little happier too.
My first novel was published in August of this year. I was terrified that only 100 people would read it and 99 would hate it. I was terrified that I would fail at the one thing I know I am passionate about doing.
I had to exchange the measuring spoons I was using to gauge my success.
Sure, I could watch famous and popular authors and compare myself to their success, but that would not make me happy. And it wouldn’t change the joy I felt when I saw my book come to life. Instead of measuring myself in copies sold or in five-star reviews, I have begun to measure my success in the support of the people around me.
When I look at how encouraging and incredible they have been, I feel very successful indeed! So, I leave you with these final thoughts.
What would you do if you had a million dollars? How would you spend your days if your full-time job was to pursue your passions? And what is stopping you from stealing a few hours here and there to make those passions a priority?
Together, let’s agree that we will skip the gym once this week, and skip an evening of television tomorrow. Let’s agree to let someone else make dinner, and let our kids pack their own lunches. I know that we cannot really stop being wonder-women, because let’s face it, women seem to be what holds the house and family together, but we can take a break for a few hours.
So, let’s agree, to pursue our passions and make our dreams come true.
Courtney Kammers was raised on books and coffee. She spends her free time going on adventures with her husband, snapping photos with her sister, and writing stories by herself. Most of her writing has been hidden away on her laptop, or penned into journals. Her writing was featured in a national magazine at age 13. Her first novel, All Things Fade, was published in August of this year. She lives in Washington.