How to Revive a Dream Deferred

November 14, 2011 by  
Filed under current, Guest Space

I am so thrilled to welcome back Alison Gresik, Life Design Agent for Creatives, as our Guest Writer today! More about Alison below.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick.

Proverbs 13:12

Putting off a dream is such a wrenching decision. Whether you’re postponing for practical reasons or to follow another incompatible dream, letting go of that precious vision is akin to watching something shrivel and die.

And picking the dream up again when you have the chance can be just as hard.

What if you missed your window? What if you lost your touch and can’t get it back? And how can you return to the dream while still honouring what you have done with your life?

My dream from the age of twenty-one has been to write fiction full-time. I have deferred that dream many times, to make money and to take care of others, to chase other dreams that required sacrifices.

When my writing dream faded too far into the background, I did indeed get heartsick. I lost my zest for life and my confidence in my own desires. I lost my sense of purpose. No surprise, then, that my sick heart led me into the valley of depression.

The lowest point came when I thought I would have to surrender writing entirely in order to have a family. I didn’t trust myself to meet my own needs for creative expression in the face of other demands – goodness, I could hardly say no to friends and acquaintances, how would I say no to my own children?

To save my life, the dream demanded that I learn how to stop putting it off. So by necessity I found two ways to revive my dream:

1. Clear space in my life for the dream.

I needed to stop making writing an all-or-nothing proposition, and keep the flame alive even when my days seemed too full.

Some writers told me to accept that motherhood would be a season of not-writing. I couldn’t do it. I looked around for other role models who found ways to combine writing and mothering, and I found them.

When I brought my daughter home, I devoted those first months to The Artist’s Way and morning pages, staying connected to my inner world while everything changed around me. During maternity leave with my son, I got up early to work on my novel for an hour every day.

These commitments preserved the lifeline of connection between me and my dream: my identity as a writer.

2. Expand the dream to encompass all of my life.

To get the courage to seize my dream, I looked deeply into myself to see what truth and beauty I needed to share with the world. When I re-read the short stories I had written, I saw the beauty of a mother’s tenderness, the ecstasy of splashing in the rain, the consolation of art. I saw the truth that love is painful when you cannot love yourself, and that sometimes you learn who you are by seeing what you’re not.

Reminding myself of the story I have to tell helped me see that I would tell that story through everything I did, from writing to mothering to coaching to travel.

Even when I don’t put pen to paper, I am embodying truth and beauty that others can see and be moved by.

Whether we practice a traditional craft or not, all of us are life artists. We take the raw material of the everyday and shape it into an expression of our selves.

Our relationships are poetry. Our wardrobes are sculpture. The way we slip our shoes off is dance. The structure we give to our days is architecture. Our signatures are design.

Life artists, I implore you to pick up the dream that’s been languishing.

I know the fears and regrets are swirling. To make the task less daunting, I’ve created the Field Guide to Truth and Beauty, a self-guided retreat that leads you through your life’s creative work and shows you its uniqueness and meaning.

When you look at what you’ve made through the loving eyes of an admirer, you’ll see the value there and be all the more inspired to move forward. And the dream will feed your soul, instead of drying up like cast-off bloom in the sun.

You have not missed your window. A new window opens up every day.

You have not lost your touch. You may need to dig away the overgrowth to find it again, but your essence is still there, and the fallow season will have matured and enriched it.

You have not wasted your life. Everything you’ve done has been an expression of who you are. Now you’re ready to shape that expression with purpose and care.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”


Image: Joel Penner

About our Guest Writer

Alison Gresik is a fiction writer who coaches creatives to design amazing lives in support of their art. Visit her website at and follow her on Twitter at @AlisonGresik.



3 Responses to “How to Revive a Dream Deferred”
  1. Mystique says:

    I revived my dream two weeks ago and now have a brand new blog…so glad to be writing again! I missed it :)