The story of the apple, the flaming sword, the crown and the lion begins with "once upon a time..."
Once upon a time, there was a girl who had big dreams and lots of desire to create a work of art from her talents and skills, but she just didn't know very much about the "how to" part.
So the girl - who was me - began a regular program of deep meditation and guided visualization while consciously, and determinedly, putting herself in asking mode with an open heart and mind.
In other words, I went into states of meditation while holding my deep desire for insight and simply waited for answers, observed signs, captured insights, followed directions...and opened myself to whatever needed to be known in order to move to the next steps of my journey.
For those of you who have done this kind of work, it is quite remarkable to let it direct you, isn't it? Similar to lucid dreaming, guided visualization invites you to relax deeply and walk your mind through a receptive mode, observing without interfering with what's going on.
If the subject of your quest is to find answers to some life question or dilemma, then you settle yourself into the question itself before you begin, knowing that information will arrive - in some form or other - that will shine some light on your request.
And so it was for me asking about the nature of my career - my very survival - during a time of stressful life circumstances and little support.
I call what I eventually received The Four Gifts.
The first was a bright shiny apple.
I didn't want it at first. :) I was terribly disappointed and actually tried to give it back. How could this silly symbol be the answer to my heart's desire and the seriousness of my request? Was I supposed to make my living with an apple?? I was on the cusp of big stuff I tell you ...BIG!
Then I went to a women's writing retreat led by an author/editor I knew pretty well and lo and behold she told the group that we were going to practice various creative writing techniques for the whole week using one single solitary symbol. "Choose well" she advised! While everyone else was hemming and hawing I was into that apple from the second the words were out of her mouth. How fortuitous to have a masterful teacher guide me into some understanding of what this rather disappointing symbol actually meant.
By the time the week was done you can't even imagine what I did with the word itself. I created ode to apple in clusters, diagrams, synonyms, word groups...you name it. Mostly, that was the point. I named it. Health, holistic, ripe, knowledge, seeds within, and the best one - the old "apple a day keeps the doctor away" - which gave me valuable insight into the scope of my field of endeavor: preventive medicine.
OK then. This was starting to make sense...
I practiced validating my "other than conscious" ability to manifest the exact right thing for me to know, and I clearly followed my directive even while in the midst of the storm (of which there were some doozies.)
Laugh if you will but a few years later came the flaming sword. AHA!! That's more like it!
The only thing was it didn't feel victorious when I finally received it. By now I was older and wiser and it felt more like the tool I would need for the responsibility that foretold a journey where, if flaming swords were needed, I was probably in for it. So be it when you pioneer any movement against the tide of common experience or people's comfort with the party line.
Third came the crown. I can barely handle that one to this day. No pansy crown this - more like a jewel encrusted gold monolith that I was supposed to get comfortable wearing. I accepted it without judgement. Perhaps one must do this in order to ordain themself no matter what the work is when you yourself are the creator...
Fourth and last came the lion.
I saw myself climbing a mountain. It took time - lots of time - and effort - lots of effort.
As I reached the summit, I could finally see over the top and view the other side.
What I saw was a tiny lion cub cowering about 6 feet below me. He was looking up, clearly wanting me to pick him up. As I reached down, he crawled into my arms. As I lifted him up to join me he began to grow and grow and grow until by the time I straightened up I was holding a very handsome full grown lion.
I knew at that moment that my business would grow, and that with time - and a very long climb - I could handle the size and strength of it.
My symbols have sustained me through all sorts of challenges over the past years as I have witnessed events unfold around me.
That brings me to this past week. The photo above is the cover image on the new fall catalog from our distributor APG that carries four of our new YPC Print/CD titles. I didn't see the catalog until we were presented with it at the Book Expo America event at the Javits Center in New York, but my eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw the cover.
Although I have been fortunate in being promoted for the programs I have created for other companies, I've never had a National Distribution channel for products that my own company produced before - not even for one title much less for four - but there's my lion, strong, proud and full-grown right on the cover, with the placement of our offerings filling the opening page. I think this is a good sign :)
My heartfelt message for you:
If you have a dream, then you mustn't give up.
Don't ever give up.
Work hard... work long... work it on the side if you must... but don't ever give up your dream.
Expect the road to twist and turn, life may have many bumps in store for you.
You may have to shift, delay, postpone or get along with far less in the way of support than you would ever hope for. You may even have to go it alone for a while.
People might laugh and call you a loser, or worse.
Don't give up.
You may fail. Don't give up.
You may fail again. That's the way of it. Don't. Give. Up.
"Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it" said the great philosopher Goethe.
May your own genius shine through, and may all your dreams come true.
Let me know how it goes...