Hold on Tight to Your Dreams

“There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all your life spend your days on the end of strings that somebody else pulls.” -Howard Thurman

 The first memory I have of myself painting was when I was in kindergarten. I was working on a profile of a woman with blond hair, wearing a red dress. My teacher was so astonished at the level of my skill she brought the rest of the faculty in to watch me. When I ran home and showed my creation to my mother, she barely gave it a glance before she discarded it. Today, I believe she had a personality disorder and didn’t have the capacity to be supportive. I really struggled searching for the courage to live my dream of being an artist. Part of me believed I was gifted, and the other half thought I was delusional.

Preparing for college, I informed my high school counselor that my sights were set on a career as an artist. She assured me that wasn’t realistic. No, my future had teacher or nurse, stamped across it. I was heartsick. Even though I didn’t argue her prediction, my mind still whispered, “Someone is going to do it. Why not you?” That thought is was what lead me, at 17, to begin reading books by Norman Vincent Peale, the father of positive thinking. His message fueled my longings and gave me the determination not to abandon them. Holding on to my gift is one of the triumphs of my life. I could have so easily accepted what the adults in my world told me. As time unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear – authority figures don’t know everything.

When I became a parent, my joy couldn’t be contained. The love I felt for my children made my mother’s lack of interest in me even more obvious. One thing was certain, I would make sure my kids knew they mattered.

The girl in the illustration is my daughter, Bridget, when she was 21. She sits on a moon composed of her dad’s chagrin. Yes, that is his face embedded in it, and those are her words waltzing across the sky. Bridget was born with a sense of entitlement. At 3 years old, when I told her I was the boss, she exclaimed, “I’m the boss too!” At that moment, I made a pact with myself to protect that fire in her. I wanted her to believe she could do anything. I wanted her to know that her hopes and aspirations where important, and nothing could stand in her way of achieving them. When she was in junior high, I took her and her cousin to the Oprah Winfrey Show. We were in the audience for an episode on girl’s self-esteem. I hoped they’d make the connection that Oprah and her staff weren’t so different from them. Knowing that regular people do amazing things makes what we long to achieve more attainable. This first occurred to me when my children’s friends looked at my illustrations and couldn’t believe I had painted them. I saw the significance of understanding that the extraordinary always comes from the ordinary. Knowing that is what gives credence to the words, “Someone is going to do it. Why not me?” And why not you? What gifts were you born to share with the world?

I do what I want- photo I snapped the above photo of Bridget to base my illustration on. Under my direction she sits on a “picnic table moon,” holding a martini glass.

Today Bridget is is still doing what she wants as a local television news anchor and reporter. Once she got the bug to be on TV, she never even considered it wasn’t possible. She is a born communicator and loved being on air from day one. Diane Sawyer and Bridget ShanahanBridget’s role model is Diane Sawyer. So in 2010, when the Oprah Winfrey Show requested recommendations for a “Harpo Hook-Up” show, I sent an email (okay, 33 emails) to her website telling her staff about Diane’s influence on my daughter and how inspiring it would be for Bridget to meet her. Sure enough, the Oprah Show hooked her up. Bridget got to sit in on ABC’s World News as Diane’s guest. It was one more opportunity for her to see that big things are accomplished by ordinary people. Most of all, what I yearned for Bridget to take away from that experience was that dreams do come true. And they do.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.


Sunrise Faith

Sue ShanahanWhenever I have to begin a new illustration, I’m always afraid to start.  I hem and I haw and I haw and I hem. Why? Because there is no earthly reason that I’m capable of bringing forth that kind of beauty.  In my mind, the images are always vague.  I want them to be in perfect focus before I get going.  But it doesn’t work that way. Until I learned the meaning of the phrase Sunrise Faith, I could stay paralyzed for weeks.  It never occurred to me that the same power that calls the sun to rise, lives in me too.  The magic begins when I put my pencil to paper.  That act of trust opens the floodgate for Spirit to flow through and express itself.  As it turns out, I don’t need to know exactly what the end result of my painting will look like. God will fill in the details.

Sunrise Faith is a concept for anyone who has something they want to accomplish.  Divinity plants the seeds of our aspirations in our hearts and grace brings them to fruition.  From creating a masterpiece, to finding the perfect job or house, it’s a benevolent, loving wave we ride.  If you’re trying to figure out exactly where the current is taking you, you’re  resisting the flow.  And that is exactly when we begin to sink.  All we need to get started is to simply begin.  We will be given the next step to take as the process unfolds.

Twenty years ago a dream was planted in my heart.  I wanted to create a picture book.  Over time, it was put on the back burner as “real life” took over. Finally, finally my longing is being realized.  My story Glory in the Morning is finished and is now in the hands of app company extraordinare, Auryn.  They are in the process of transforming my work into a picture book app for tablets and e-readers.  But my dream won’t be in full bloom until there also is a traditional picture book in children’s hands.  I’m not sure how that is going to come about, but I wait in joyful anticipation for it to be revealed.

Being confident that God, who began a good work in you, will carry it to completion.  -Philippians 1:6

What dreams are you and Source bringing to fruition?

Spread the word!  Be one of the first 5 people to leave a reply and I will send you a signed print of Sunrise Faith.  Follow my blog.  Each new post will include the chance to win a free print.

Sue Shanahan

In photoshop I made a book cover for Glory in the Morning and placed it on a picture book. I believe visualization is the beginning of realizing a dream.

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved.