Re-Framing Your Dreams

On Saturday, I had the honor of being part of a remarkable event:
Launch Your Creativity.

This inspiring gathering is held each Spring in a gorgeous Parisian-themed tearoom, 
and attended by 45 women who are seeking guidance, support, and encouragement 
as they pursue their own creative dreams. 
Most dream of launching a new business – a store, a fashion line, a business service – 
and there are women who attend as a 'jump start' to a new life.

I am one of those women, too.
I joined seven AMAZING women on a panel of speakers:
LYC IV Speakers, from left:
me, Cheryl Turner, Tara Wilson, Sharon Hughes, Jenny Doh, 
Lidy Barrs, Jane Button, Debi Beard, and Christine Rose Elle.

Titled 'Re-Framing Your Dream', my presentation asked this question:
“What do you DO when your dreams don't work out the way you planned?”

Read the whole story and my presentation notes after the jump...


 

My friend and LYC founder Sharon had been asking me to speak at her events for two years. 
My background in retail visual styling and store design 
is a great addition to the other subjects covered by the experienced and successful speakers, 
and I was honored to be asked to participate. 
Yet because the events are held in Southern California, and I was based in the Seattle area, 
the logistics just never worked out. 
I was busy running two businesses, and couldn't get away from them.

Well, all that changed in the fall of 2011.
Everything about my life changed then...

Without sharing the 'Lifetime Movie' details of what happened,
I'll say that the result is that I am single (separated, then widowed) after 32 years of marriage,
 live in Southern California again, and am rediscovering who I am and what I want to do.

I attended this beautiful event last April as a guest.
I went because my life had undergone radical changes over the preceding seven months. 
I needed to be surrounded by positive energy to assist me in shifting my own perspective, and to heal. 

And my friend Sharon knew that I would find what I needed there. I did.

This year, I finally accepted Sharon's invitation to speak at her event.
But I didn't talk about retail visual concepts or displays or stores or brands...

In the 19 months since the awful day that everything changed for me, 
I have been on a journey of release, recovery, healing, rediscovery and rebirth. 
And it is from that journey that I learned some valuable lessons...
those are the lessons that I shared in my presentation on Saturday.

Titled 'Re-Framing Your Dream', my presentation asked this question:
“What do you DO when your dreams don't work out the way you planned?”

Because I have been an artist all of my life, I presented my subject wrapped in a metaphor:
'Dreams as a Masterpiece'. 
A one-of-a-kind Masterpiece that only WE can bring to life.
Just as an artist begins with a vision in his head
then transforms a blank canvas with color and brushstrokes, light and shadow, depth and perspective, 
our lives give us the opportunity to create something from our vision:
Our Dream.

And as we do, that 'canvas' finds itself in many different 'frames'...

With the visual aid of eight very different picture frames, 
 I talked about the process that a Dream takes as it is being created
and how situations affect it - and us.
Not every journey is the same, but the cycle is similar and most people can relate...

 dream a little dream

This is your secret 'hidden in my heart' dream.
The one that begins as a thought like 'what if...'
(there's a WORLD of possibility in those two little words!)

The frame is tiny, but valuable and beautiful.
We cherish it, hide it away, and keep on dreamin'...

 a growing dream

 This is the phase when your dream begins to grow.
You think about it constantly, you doodle and make lists, 
you start your research, and you can't sleep at night
Because the dream has you SO excited!
The frame is more detailed, a little bit bigger, more clear.

At right about this point, you want to tell everyone about it.
DON'T!!!!!!
Tell your mom, tell your BFF, tell your sister. maybe your husband/partner.
Do NOT tell the neighbors and the gals at church or work, 
and definitely not the lady behind you in line at Target!

Protect this little dream! It's like a baby bump...
because once you start showing, it seems like everyone on Earth has questions and advice for you.
All of that will overwhelm you and confuse you. It will make you question every choice and decision.
Only the people that can support you and help you need to know about it right now...
Don't let strangers touch the baby!

 a grand dream

You've spent time researching and preparing, making a business plan and lists,
finding resources and continuing to add to your 'idea files'.
You have people you trust around you to give advice and answer questions.
The more you grow it,
your dream becomes the GRAND dream:
Your way to share what you value with others, with the world.
The frame is larger, very detailed, elegant, beautiful, and ready to be revealed.

Whether it's a product or a service, small or large,
will impact five people or five million people, 
it is a worthwhile dream
because it comes from your heart, your passion, your own unique talents and skills. 
It is your heart on display!

When you reach this point, you're sharing your dream with everyone.
But now, it's strong enough to hold up under the questions and doubts and opinions of others.

Sometimes, other people even share it FOR you...

 a spotlight on your dream
Sometimes this happens, and sometimes it doesn't:
 You become 'noticed'. You get media attention.

the frame for this is large - but plain.
because the focus of any spotlight needs to be what it is SHINING ON.

Here's what happens:
Your facebook LIKES and Twitter followers are growing astronomically.
Your photos are shared all over facebook and Pinterest and Instagram.
Bloggers are talking about you, linking to you, and asking you to write guest posts.
Popular magazines start calling and want to run feature stories on your or your business or your home.
Ellen wants you on her show!

Yes, the spotlight is FUN! It can be a great experience,
and it CAN help you grow your business awareness and reputation.
...But it should never be the POINT of your dream.
It should be a by-product of your dream growing and moving forward according to your plans.

Never exhaust yourself pursuing the spotlight.
Never let reaching or being in the spotlight be the focus of your dream.
(unless your dream involves acting!)

 a messy dream

This happens to everyone, to every dream, so get ready...
At some point, something is going to go wrong and get VERY messy.

The frame that I used here has a great story:
It was gold when I bought it at a thrift store.
I brought it home and spray painted it white, so it would match the other white frames I already had.

I don't know if you can tell from the photo above, but that frame is not white.
It's ivory. And the paint is drippy, runny, separated from the base coat in cissed spots
and it looks like it's got smoke damage from a fire.

After my momentary frustration over the dismal results,
I realized that it was the perfect visual for this part of the presentation...
Because that frame is a HOT MESS.

Life, business, and dreams can  - WILL - get that way, too.
Things won't always go according to plan.
You are going to face some whopper messes along the path to your dreams.

Bad marketing campaigns, products that are ill-timed (or copied!), 
supplies that don't arrive, clients that don't pay, 
illness that causes you to miss a huge opportunity...

Need I say more?

What do you do? You clean up the mess the best you can.
You fix it, spin it, recall it, refund it, repair it...
eat crow if you have to.
and then move on to the next step.
live, learn, apply, go forward.

forward to the next phase:

Have you ever heard of an 'underpainting'?
That's when an artist paints OVER an existing work with gesso
to create a clean canvas.

And then they start over...
a revised dream

There are points in the growth of a dream and business
that force you to stop, take notice, and then take action.

Perhaps you've spread yourself too thin and are overwhelmed.
Maybe your sales are down and you don't know why.
Maybe this dream just doesn't reflect your vision anymore.

what do you DO?

STOP.
Get those trusted advisors together for a pow-wow.
Look objectively and honestly at what's happened and why.
Then make hard choices and necessary changes...

Usually, that means scaling back. Cutting things away. Slowing down.
A step back or a step sideways is NOT FAILURE! It's EXPERIENCE!

The frame is smaller than the frame around your Grand dream, but it's more valuable.
You can see the swirls and curves that reflect the Grand dream frame, even though it is smaller.
What you can't really see is that it's made from a far more valuable material!

Redefining and restructuring your dream may just make it more valuable.

 a destroyed dream

Sometimes, due to something that comes out of nowhere,
our dreams are destroyed...

A natural or other disaster. A pile-up of factors that just can't be cleaned up.
The choices and actions of others who impact our lives and our dreams.

Unbidden, those things come like missiles from out of nowhere, and destroy our dream.
(And sometimes US in the process.)

The frame is broken, cracked, damaged,
and the dream is torn, dirty, and unrepairable...

There comes a point, my friends, that you have to stop fighting for it.
A point where you have to accept that the dream is no longer breathing.
It's gone.

And that is the point when you have to release it. Let go.
Grieve the loss, celebrate the memories, learn from the experience, 
heal from the hurt, and move forward in a new direction. 

My own story is that my cracked, broken, and unrepairable frame
held not only my dreams, but my whole life.
Moving on is hard work... but you can do it.

and when you do, you have to remain open and ready for the arrival of

 a NEW dream

It may just turn out that the new dream you dream -
another one that is born out of your heart, your passion, and your purpose -
will be even BETTER than the one you had in the beginning...

the frame is larger, more beautiful, more detailed, and more substantial
than the Grand dream frame that seemed so perfect before.

At the end of my presentation, I shared this: 
Although I have grieved and released my former dream and my former life,
though I have learned so much that has allowed me to understand why much of it happened 
and why it ended the way it did,
and though I am ready for and excited about the new life that lies in front of me now...

I have NO IDEA yet what my NEXT dream will be!

I truly don't. I have ideas, I have some things I am going to pursue and see how they 'pan out',
but I don't have a huge vision and goal in mind. YET.

But I know that I WILL have another Dream. It's just not time yet.

I know without doubt that my new dream will grow from my true passion
for finding simple ways to make spaces and environments beautiful and enjoyable,
and from my desire to share that with others to enrich their lives.

Whether it becomes creating sets for an entertainment giant,
or creating displays for a well-known retailer,
or opening a store of my own or starting another vintage show,
or simply continuing with my consulting and writing and speaking,
I know that the 'big picture' will come into focus soon.

I'm just going to keep on taking one step forward – 
or at the very least, on those days when it's SO hard to be starting completely over at 51 – 
I'll just keep FACING forward. Because even that is progress.

A masterpiece is made one brush stroke at a time
.  
And then the perfect frame is found.

I will never lose faith again – not in me, not in good, not in God.
And not in the fact that I am here to share my unique gifts and abilities and vision with the world – 
however it is framed, my dream is one that the world needs. 
And so is YOURS!

So I find myself smiling a bit wryly as I share this unusual post on my blog...

This blog is where I have shared ideas, information, and inspiration that is all about how things LOOK. 
Your store, your displays, your brand image. 
And for many years, I focused on exactly that in my own life: how it all looked from the outside.

This journey I am on has taught me to deal with the reality of how it really looks – inside and out. 
It has taught me to be authentic, and to follow my own advice and 'Tell My Own Story'. 
As I continue to write and speak and consult with retail businesses, I will stress this to my clients. 
Open your eyes, see the situation for what it truly is, and then get to work. 
Re-define your business, and be authentic. 

The canvas of your dream may be 'framed' in a brick and mortar store, 
or an online boutique, or a space in a vintage mall or show. 
No one else is you, no one else offers what you do the way you do. 
Tell Your Own Story. Create your dream. The world needs you, and your dream!

If you are visiting my blog and attended the event on Saturday,
please leave a comment with a link to your own blog, website, or facebook business page.
I would love to support and encourage you on your journey 
of Launching YOUR Creative Dream!


 For more information about Launch Your Creativity
visit the website here
visit the ning community here
visit the facebook page
here




2 comments:

  1. beautifully done Debi! I 'pinned' this post to my "Blog Posts Everyone Should Read" board. I'v efaced similar life circumstances and am still waiting on a new dream. Appreciate your vulnerability -- it's what really makes a difference. May this coming year be full of beautiful surprises.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beckie M, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and leave me such a kind comment! I appreciate that more than you know.

    I lift my glass in a toast to you, and to our mutual hope for the arrival of our New Dream! .:..:()>-<)
    (that's a champagne glass!)

    ReplyDelete

my take on retail visual design:

"The thing is, retail design is driven by psychology. It is by manipulating space, visuals, lighting, sound, smell, and mood that we influence customers to enter, stay, browse, buy, and return. It is an endless exercise in change, endurance, growth, education, and imagination that enables retailers to stay on top of their game and at the forefront of their customer's minds. Yes, what you sell IS important - but even the very best merchandise won't sell at full price if it's presented in torn boxes on dirty shelves in a store that is too crowded to turn around in. Visual impact is a huge part of business, and utilizing the principles that have been proven to work can help you build a better business." ~ DWK