Whenever I am getting ready to work on a new project, I read some of my favorite quotations of all time. I have been collecting these from the time I was young and continued while my children were young and posted many of them on the refrigerator. Now I still have them on the fridge, but I also have them posted on my monitors, computer hutch, and even walls throughout the house. The most enduring, inspirational, and motivational quote that I have found to live with has to do with dreams. It is this:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. (Goethe)
This quote has been with me all my life. It has often kept me going when my dreams and goals seemed too hard to get to or too remote in time. But once started toward those dreams, stepping out boldly to achieve the next level, I have found time and again that the power you need is right there in that process of doing the things you need to do to get the job done. This is true not only for the things you know you are able to do right now, but also for the dreams you have that will stretch your mind and your heart ever upward. Success is never as elusive as we fear quotes on motivation. Take that bold first step-a phone call, an email, a paragraph. There! You have begun it!
In high school, I wanted more than anything to become a teacher. I was active in the future teachers’ group, volunteered to tutor poor children every Saturday morning for several years, studied as much about teaching as I could. I was dedicated. But I was also one of seven children, and while we never lacked for any necessities and my parents did their very best to give us as many advantages as they could, there was not a lot of money available for college educations. When my older brother got into Princeton (as was my mother’s dream), all monetary efforts went there. My older sister lived on campus at Kutztown. I knew early on as number three that if I was going to get to college and live my dream, I would have to do it, for the most part, by myself.
I worked hard in school and received some small scholarships and grants. I worked in the delicatessen of a local A&P food store, clerked at a department store, and worked odd jobs and babysat to put together as much money as I could. I still had to get loans. I commuted. My father gave me his old “puddle jumper” so I could shuttle myself back and forth to work, college, and home. My junior year, my parents lent me the $250.00 I needed to live on campus for one semester, saving me over an hour driving to add some study time to my day. I owed them a great debt of gratitude for teaching me independence, hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. I would never have appreciated my education as much if it had been handed to me.
And I did it. I had a delay of three years between my junior and senior years, but that is a story for another day. After we married and had our first child, my husband (who was in ROTC at Rutgers) and I were sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. We were far from home, and I still remember how my fingers froze as I hung my husband’s uniforms and the baby’s diapers out to dry in the bitterly cold wind that swept through the plains in winter. We counted out pennies to buy milk for the baby at the end of the month. But we believed in what we were doing and where we were headed. We were blessed. He finished his tour in Vietnam as a decorated helicopter pilot and came home. I got my teaching certificate that same year, living at home in New Jersey where I had started out. When we left the military, I taught while my husband went to law school. Later I started law school the same year we added two children to our family. A few years after that, a serious auto accident nearly caused me to bleed to death along the side of the road and that too is another long story. Challenge upon challenge presented itself to us, yet we believed we could do it all.
Time and again I have felt the message that I was not done yet. Those of you who have known adversity as we have–lean times, injury, lost jobs, the nearly unbearable loss of our second child, suicides in the family, all of the painful things life can send, take hope from this. When you have dreams, you are empowered to take bold action to do the things you feel called to do. Your spirit rises up when you need it the most. You will know the deep joy and satisfaction in what you can accomplish. There is the magic of it: whatever life hands you, you can get through to reach success. In the difficult times, you can find inspiration all around you. Your mind will be uplifted and your action inspired. Begin it. And keep going no matter what. Your dreams will become your reality.