When I was in my 20s, fresh out of college, my college roommate showed up on my doorstep touting her brand new handbag. My mouth dropped. She was carrying a Kate Spade bag.
She said it was a graduation present from her mom and grandmother.
To someone fresh out of college, barely able to afford rent, seeing a designer bag on the shoulder of a friend causes major bag envy. I could not afford a bag between $100-$400. And guess what? It would take another ten years before I could get my very first Kate Spade bag.
In my 20s, Kate was a dream. In my 30s, I didn’t get just one bag, I got five, because I could finally afford her. Don’t get me started on the stationary line! In my early 40s, I added clothes, shoes and jewelry. To have a wardrobe meant Kate Spade had a prominent right to a space in that closet.
But as time moves on, business plans change. Coach (a brand I refuse to buy) bought out the Kate Spade brand last year, tried to put an end to the online flash sales (the sales that allowed so many women the opportunity to buy a Kate Spade bag), and started pulling the bags from shelves at department stores. As a result of this takeover and how they treated the Kate Spade brand, Coach shares dropped 14% just one month after buying the brand out for $2.4 billion.
Just add that to one of those reasons why I refuse to buy Coach. With their acquisition, it meant my Kate Spade shopping days would come to an end.
[Since someone will ask what is wrong with Coach. I do not like to carry what everyone else is carrying. Everybody has a Coach bag. Even with Kate Spade, the majority of people usually choose to carry Coach over Kate Spade. So I’ll go with Kate Spade over Coach. It’s like Louis Vuitton in NYC. Everyone has a Louis (even I do). But I would rather carry my Fendi over my Louis any day, because everyone carries a Louis in NYC. Kind of goes along with the argument: If your friend jumps off a bridge… If everyone else is carrying it, am I going to be like everyone else or stand out on my own?]
Learning of Kate Spade’s death really made me sad. She was a brilliant designer. She really helped bring out the girly girl in me. I wanted to hug all of my Kate Spade at home and love them just a little bit more as my way of remembering her and the little bit of happiness she brought to me every single day. She was a dream to me for so many years.
I remember when I was in my 20s, standing in Saks Fifth Avenue staring at the Kate Spade bags on the shelves. I could not afford anything in that store. But during my lunch hours, I would walk around Saks and Neiman Marcus making a mental wish list of what my life would be like if I made more money. I would own a Kate Spade bag and a Fendi baguette.
I would ask the ladies behind the counters to let me see one of the bags up on the wall behind them. Sometimes all I wanted to do was just hold one, study it, before giving it back and saying to myself, “Someday.”
That bag my friend brought over…I found a similar bag with a dragonfly where the logo would go for $9 and carried that bag for years. It was like Kate Spade, but it wasn’t. The dragonfly represented the Kate Spade June Lane dishes I’ve been lusting over for the last 15 years. During those starvation years when I worked for the Attorney General, I liked to pretend it was my starter bag…the bag like Kate Spade’s bag that would one day lead me to a real authentic Kate Spade handbag.
It wasn’t until I moved to NYC that I could make all of those dreams come true of owning all of the fashion I dreamed of owning someday. That’s the crazy thing about New York. For the right dreamers, it is a place where you can make every single one of your dreams come true. Kate Spade was one of those dreamers. She made her dream come true here.
In 1998, Forbes released an article on Kate Spade’s beginnings. On the eve of her first trade show, she got this idea to put the label on the outside of the bag. So she spent all night sewing them on. The next day, Barneys ordered 18 bags, but told her to sew the labels back on the inside.
Incidentally, a Vogue editor saw the bags at the trade show too and decided to feature the bag in their magazine WITH the label on the outside. This is what making something go viral looked like back in the old days…before the internet and social media took over. So guess what Barneys had to do? They had to call her back and ask for more bags with the label on the OUTSIDE of the bag.
Her instincts paid off.
What Kate’s story tells us is that despite what the world tells you, listen to your instincts and follow your dreams. Stay true to yourself. Believe in your dream. That’s what she did. She took chances on her impulses and she created a whimsical and beautiful empire.
I will never understand the reasoning of selling her namesake, but for most of us, we were buying a piece of Kate Spade’s dream. Her dream brought so much happiness to so many of us. We were proud to wear her name. Every single thing that women are afraid to say they love, but they do (like glitter), she let us know that we are never too old to let our inner child shine. She gave us glitter, shine, pastels, sophistication, fun…but also that 1950s housewife vibe…even if we never become housewives.
Ms. Spade, thank you for the last 25+ years of your namesake. You brought so much happiness to so many women. That, right there, should have earned your wings. Your beauty and creativity will be greatly missed. If God decides you should continue to create up there in heaven, just make sure you stay true to who you are.
My prayers are with her family and friends as they grieve the loss of this beautiful visionary.
For many years now, I’ve struggled with becoming the person I know that I am inside. I’ve spent many years doing the little things to prepare myself for the big things in life. I always felt like I was just biding my time. For what? I did not know.
My Moroccan friend, Driss, told me years ago that everything happening in my life is for a reason. If I were to look outside the situation, my journey would look like a map. There were markers showing one point to another to another. That map was leading me somewhere…my path to my own destiny.
This past year, I made a lot of major changes and decisions. If I was going to be honest with myself, I hated hockey. I’ve hated it since 2012. The lockout and what the players did on Twitter sealed how I felt. I tried after the lockout to fall back in love with the game again, but ended up hating it even more.
When I initially retired in 2012 from hockey writing, I really didn’t want to have anything more to do with it. When my editor asked me back a year later, I decided to let go of the dream of having a family of my own (which is why I retired) and go back to the career. I broke my own heart and told myself that the dream to have a family is no more.
Perhaps that heartbreak added to the hatred towards the sport and covering it. A few months after returning to hockey, I found out I had a tumor in my parathyroid gland. I spent the next two months preparing for the worst, like my doctor told me to do, making sure all of my affairs were in order for the ‘just in case’ I didn’t survive the surgery.
When I woke up in the recovery room, everything in my life had forever changed. The story of my life prior to that surgery was done. Who I was after the surgery…that was the person I had to discover.
For a lot of people, they have a before and an after in their life. Usually some major traumatic event occurs and the person’s life changes forever. They are no longer that person they were prior to that traumatic moment. They’ve changed.
That was what happened to me post-op. I struggled a lot that first year. I struggled with memories. I had to wait an entire year before all of my memories came back. When they did come back, the emotions attached to them were no longer there.
The sisters of the Meditation Center told me that losing my memories was a good thing. I’ve been carrying a lot of pain in my soul. To no longer have that pain, why would I want to remember it? It should be considered a blessing. God had his reasons for wiping those memories clean.
As a writer, I needed to know what that pain was in order to write about it.
Moving In a New Direction
Last year, knowing I was very unhappy with continuing to be a hockey writer, I asked myself, “What do you love?” The simple answer was books and movies. So I decided to do that. It started with a Film Festival. Next, I attended the Book Expo conference for writers, bloggers, etc. I attended another film festival. I started getting invitations to movie premieres, talks, parties, etc. It was like this world accepted me right from the start and welcomed me in.
My entire world changed.
Hockey season started up again and I just didn’t want to be there. The reason I stayed was because sometimes you just don’t know who you are when you have become a certain identity. People see you and know you as a hockey writer. So what would happen if I were to change that?
I quit in March after the girl that had been helping me cover the Devils revealed that she had to deal with some misogynistic crap and someone tried to kiss her…and these people were members of the press. After I read her account, I realized, you know…that really sickens me that this happened to her.
For years, I’ve had to listen to assholes say shit to me about being there. Old guys would tell me I didn’t know anything about hockey. I could be eating a carrot stick and they would stop and say something nasty about my weight. I’m sure if I was model thin, they’d say I was trying to get a hockey player husband (and yes, I have heard many people accuse me of that over the years).
I was there to be a writer. I was not there looking for a husband. Sure, there were players that had crushes on me, but I was adamant about not being that stereotype that the only reason why women get into sports is because they are trying to get with the player. I rejected every single player that showed an interest because I refused to be the person people wanted to accuse women in sports of.
The misogyny in sports is very real. I just brushed it off and buried myself in my work. But then I realized…wait…this is why I truly hate hockey. These assholes have been saying shit to me for years and I act like it never bothered me, but the truth is that it always did. To know this also happened to the other girl…oh, hell no. I refused to be part of that culture anymore.
I was set to take over the spot at the New York Rangers, the team I wanted to cover since day one. I decided that I didn’t want it anymore because those same jerks were over there, too.
Turning down covering the New York Rangers was a tough decision to make. The Rangers have always been incredible to me. The last time they went to Europe to play a few exhibition games, they invited me along (even though I was the NJ Devils beat reporter). I was the only US based reporter that went along with them and the NHL. The Rangers were also the only team to reach out after I released why I was leaving hockey. I will always love the NY Rangers. They were nothing but good to me.
I did feel like I was letting female hockey fans down. You can try to fight the good fight and represent women in a culture dominated by men, but are you really fighting for anything if you just stand there and let the harassment happen game after game after game? What are you actually accomplishing by saying nothing and remaining?
Leaving hockey was the best thing I could do for myself. I wasn’t passionate about hockey anymore. When you’re not passionate about something anymore, you really shouldn’t be doing it.
A New Beginning
When I quit, people asked me what I was going to do now, thinking that this was the end. No. It was a new beginning for me that had been unfolding for over a year.
When I met fashion designer Malan Breton at the NYCIFF, he told me that he used to be a sports commentator. I was in shock. This man who creates masterpieces was a former sports commentator, model, actor, journalist and so much more. He made me realize that we should do everything we dream of doing. One day, as we’re going along our path, we’ll finally find our true calling.
Looking at my map of life and comparing it to his, I could see that our lives were quite similar. We tried on so many hats, just looking for the right fit that would define us. He helped me open up my eyes to see that this was only the beginning of my journey.
After I quit hockey, authors started contacting me to review their books, willing to do interviews. Before that, I had to seek them out. I had to talk to publishers, meet with the authors, just to get the interviews. I don’t have to do that anymore. They are contacting me directly now.
I got more and more invites to movie premieres, special engagements (like the 25th anniversary of “Silence of the Lambs” with the cast and crew in attendance), invitations to fashion events, art events, etc. I kept getting free stuff from vendors in hopes that I would review them.
Leaving hockey opened up that world completely for me. People were always conflicted about approaching me about their stuff because I was doing hockey, which is not what they were doing. After leaving hockey, they felt more comfortable approaching me. Trust me when I say, leaving hockey was the best thing I ever did for myself. It was a wall that was preventing me from accessing the world that was more like me.
All of this leads to my present
That person I’ve been afraid to let out, well she is currently out. As in, I stopped ‘preparing’ myself to be a novelist. This last year, I met a lot of publishers from various publishing houses. At year end, two had approached me to ask if I had a novel to turn into them. I didn’t.
For some reason, I had this fear of becoming that person I wanted to be (like most people). I was always preparing, writing for other sites and my own blogs. I was writing what I thought people wanted, not what I wanted. What I truly wanted was to take these book ideas inside my head and actually commit to writing the entire story down.
It is time for me to switch to writing books.
Last year, Kim Thùy told me that I should be the one writing books, not her. She loved my writing. That said a lot to me because I think her work is a complete masterpiece and beautifully done. When someone whose work I love tells me this, you would think I should follow through, right?
It takes a dream arriving at the right moment to make me realize now is the time. A couple of weeks ago, I had this dream that was so intense, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The story it told was just so incredible. The elements in the story were so intense with emotion, I realized I had to write this story.
I sat down and started writing down my notes in a notebook, transcribing the dream. 18 pages later and on my third gel pen, I had only told the beginning of the story. I hadn’t even reached the part where the bad guy is introduced.
As I wrote down my notes, my playlist would start playing songs that related to exactly what I was writing in that very moment. It happened again and again and again. You know what that is? That’s the universe telling you that you are on your path. You are doing exactly what you should be doing. You are on your way to your destiny.
As I got lost in this dream, I started to see that map of my life Driss was telling me about. What happened in this dream included a person I’ve been dreaming a lot about these past three years. I never understood why. Each time I had an intense dream that pertained to the story of my life (i.e. the dreams I remembered), this person was in it. I had no clue why he was in it, but he was in it. I just thought he represented someone else, because the story is similar to the story between me and another person.
When I stepped away from writing down my notes for the day, I started thinking about how weird everything was falling into place. Then I realized the main character in this book…his presence in my life goes back to the late-1990s. He’s the reason why I got into hockey. He’s the reason why I wanted to see the New York Rangers play. I was like…this is so bizarre. Then I looked at that map of my life with this new element and had to smack myself in the head. I was reading the map all wrong. I’d been reading it wrong for years.
I was biding my time and I had no idea why. Well, everything is now understood. I now understand the map of my life. I was becoming the person I was meant to become…a novelist. By starting the work on the book, making myself live in each and every single moment I am discussing, telling myself that ‘you must write for yourself,’ my whole universe has shifted in the most incredible way.
When I got the invitation to see David Duchovny, I didn’t RSVP. But then they emailed me again and I finally relented. I’m glad I did. He wasn’t there to talk about acting. He was there to talk about writing. He inspired me to become the narrator of my story and not let anyone else tell my story. I have to remind myself to write for myself. I look at these words before I write:
This is my writing mantra. It helps me to understand that when I tell this story, I have to do this my way. I have to fully be present.
Come as You Are
COME AS YOU ARE. That is what I tell myself. That is what it means to be present in the process of writing. You are giving a piece of yourself, so you need to be brutally honest with yourself as you write.
“Come as You Are” is also a very spiritual song for me. When I was struggling with meditation, this song came on and I realized this was God’s way of saying just come as you are. Sometimes I strive to be the person I used to be and get frustrated that I’m not her anymore. That frustration was making it so difficult for me to meditate. “Come as You Are” made me realize that God already knows my struggle and doesn’t care. I should just show up and be present with him, no matter what state I’m in. I’ll get to where I need to be eventually.
I’ve come to realize that the dream I had a couple of years ago about walking away from someone I loved dearly and watching his heart break was a foreshadowing of my future. God was telling him to let me be. I’d come around when I was ready. There was something I was going through and I had to go through it alone.
My struggles with meditation are about those inner struggles that redefined me after the surgery. The heartaches I was carrying in my soul needed to be dealt with and the surgery triggered that need to wipe the slate clean before it is too late. Letting go of the frustration helped me to understand that I’ve changed. I have to accept that I’m not going to be that perfect soul anymore. I am broken.
Writing for Yourself
‘Write for yourself and no one else’ is about making sure that I’m the only person involved in this writing process. In this day and age of trying to do quick, mass sells in the marketplace, we oftentimes get so involved with trying to figure out what other people want to read, we lose our own authenticity. We lose sight of writing something brilliant…something that will withstand the test of time.
The reason why Anne Rice became so popular was because in 1976, she wrote a book that had never been done before. She wrote the classic “Interview With the Vampire.” She is and continues to be one of the most prolific writers because she is very much a part of each of her stories.
Her stories involve something that happened in her life at that very moment. The struggles she’s going through, the pain as she works through each loss, sickness, etc., her books are a reflection of how she was living at that time. As a result of being true to her very being, she is one of the most celebrated bestselling authors of our time. Every book she has written has been at the top of the bestsellers list.
These days, I oftentimes see her ask what people want. That’s the problem with social media. People get wound up in trying to figure out what their audience wants instead of just doing what they want to do. We all get messed up in wanting to be accepted by others, so we try to give people what they want instead of just creating what we want to create and sharing it with the world.
This novel I’m working on is about my life post-op. It’s about a man who has lost his wife he loved dearly, and then gets her back for a moment. It’s about a woman running away from the abuse, because she is dying. It’s about death and how he takes pity on her and gives her a second chance. He gives her borrowed time. It’s about helping people learn to let go of the person they love more than life itself.
I think, in a way, this book is for someone. It’s to help him let go. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched someone’s heart break because they know you no longer love them. I watched that happen and there was nothing I could do about it. Those memories of how I felt about him did not return after the surgery. They never did.
I think this book is my way of saying “I’m sorry I hurt you.” The true elements to what happened in the real story are hidden in this story in such a way that it is supposed to help him let me go.
This is not the first book I wanted to write, but something tells me that it is needed now, not later. The other two can wait.
Diving into this novel, I realized that a screenplay I’ve been going over in my head (I’m up to season 4 in my head, need to get to a season 7) is starting to become more realistic to me. Last summer, I headed into HBO Studios for a seminar they were hosting. I literally had no idea how any of this TV business stuff worked, especially for writers.
I had accepted the invitation to attend the screenwriter’s seminar, because I actually wanted to start writing for Hannibal. Imagine my surprise when it was the NBC Executive in charge of Hannibal that was giving the seminar. Synchronistic?
I got from that seminar that Hannibal was about to be canceled. It didn’t surprise me after seeing the first 3 episodes (it got too artsy, I couldn’t hear or see anything…it was driving me nuts). But the thing is, there is hope for Hannibal’s return in a few years, but not to NBC. That means they’ll need writers in the future.
Also synchronistic was getting the invitation to attend the 25th Anniversary of “Silence of the Lambs.” Jodie Foster spoke about why she wanted to do this film and it totally changed the way I viewed the movie. I ended up sitting behind Howard Shore, the composer for the film. I almost fan girled right there in my seat. He’s written the music for almost every major film. Most recently he wrote the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit trilogies. I’ve been listening to his works since I was a kid and now he’s sitting directly in front of me to watch “Silence of the Lambs?” I swear to you, my universe is very synchronistic.
My connection with the film industry over this last year has landed a lot of crazy opportunities. The whole point in these opportunities is to learn, because this is a whole new territory to me beyond just watching a film. I’m learning about the ins and outs to the film industry, especially as a writer. I’ve met directors, actors and screenwriters this past year. The funny thing is we are inspiring each other to do great things. That’s what is so amazing about living your dream. You surround yourself with people that are living their dreams, too. They become your support group. You help each other reach each other’s dreams by supporting each other in our own endeavors. A lot of times it’s just adding whatever your talent is to the mix and being a soundboard of support.
There is something to that energy of creative types getting together. We feed off of each other’s energy.
When I decided to write my novel and complete it when the publishing houses make their rounds at year end, I started down a whole new path to realizing I was making my dream come true. When you’re on your path in life, you start to see things magically falling into place, as if to confirm to you that you are on the right path.
It’s like the birds are singing just for you. That is what it means to be living your dream that was designed for no one else in this world, but you.
The opportunities that have arisen over this last year for me was all part of the universe opening the doors for me to see that following movies and books was the direction I was always supposed to follow. Getting my name out there and writing about hockey for a few years was what helped me get my foot in the door when I began meeting with publishers last year. I kept telling myself that writing about hockey was helping me to become a better writer so that one day, when I was ready to sell the novel, it would make me legitimate and not some no name writer no one has ever heard of.
No one is interested in what I wrote for hockey, but knowing I was a member of the credentialed media, it legitimizes the fact that I am a writer. That means that the publishing houses and their agents are willing to talk to me. I’ve seen people with novels in hand going from one publisher to the next to be rejected because they didn’t know who they were.
If a publishing house is going to take a gamble on you, they need to like you right from the start. If you’re a no name who hasn’t put yourself out there to legitimize yourself as a writer, you’ll receive a lot of slammed doors in your face.
One thing I’ve realized as I’ve met writers over the years, they know when they are in the presence of another writer. They can just tell.
When I met Brad Meltzer last year, he looked at me and asked if he knew me. I responded that I didn’t think so. He replied that he knows me from somewhere but can’t put his finger on it. I just shrugged my shoulders. I had a feeling that maybe he was right. Maybe we did know each other somehow, but couldn’t put our finger on it.
I met Kim Thùy. She signed her book and then gave me her personal email to do an interview for this site. I was so surprised she was willing to do that for me. Our correspondence with each other during the interview surprised me. What I learned from her is to try and learn to write with fewer words. There’s always a way to say what you mean in more eloquent ways.
When I met Amy Tan when I first moved to NYC, I asked her about her rock band and if they would be playing anytime soon. She looked at me and said that when I finish my first novel to bring it by and they would help me make it better. I was like…WHAT? “They” being Amy Tan, Stephen King and Scott Turow. Those three are in a rock band together with a few other major American authors (like Dave Barry, Mitch Albom, etc.).
The irony in this is that I wasn’t even a writer yet. At that point in my life, it was just some far off dream. It was the person I wanted to be when I grew up, but I was nowhere close to making that dream come true.
She looked at me like she knew for sure I was a writer and re-emphasized that they would help me make my work better and give me helpful insight to get my work published for the masses. This meant a lot to me because Amy Tan is one of my favorite authors. The fact that she could see right into my very soul and see that I was a writer, that meant something incredible at the time. She was the person that awakened that sleeping writer within. I became a writer after that moment.
Now, it’s time to become the novelist. I don’t want to write other people’s stories all of the time (sometimes, but not all of the time). I need to write my own story, because truthfully, the things that have happened in my life that have helped define me are the stories I want to share.
This site was always about sharing the stories of people making their dreams come true in an effort to inspire others to live their own dreams. I just haven’t been sharing mine with everyone. Now, I am.
If you’re like most people, you have a dream. And then you have several other dreams of things you’d like to do in this lifetime.
Take me, for instance, I always dreamed of going to Morocco. I always wanted to see U2 from stage level. I always wanted to be a writer. I dreamed of being a hockey writer. I always wanted to get married and have a family of my own.
Four out of five isn’t bad. There’s the dream (which hasn’t happened yet), and then there are the lesser dreams (which are easier to make come true).
I always dreamed of going to Morocco. I dreamed about it for years. Then one day I realized that I had the resources to go and make that dream come true. I did a quick Google search on “Morocco Tours” and ended up booking with the first site I found. I don’t regret going by myself one bit.
The experiences I had from that trip went far above and beyond anything I could have ever expected. It was a dream worth having and one worth living. I made friends there and learned many things. Who knows? One day I may write a book about the amazing moments I had when I was there. Maybe I’ll even buy a home where displaced women and orphaned children can live some day.
As for seeing U2 at stage level, that hasn’t happened yet, but it will happen this summer. I was able to get tickets down by the stage this summer. It will be my third U2 concert in this lifetime. I had always wanted to be down by the stage. This time, I had the resources to purchase a ticket down by the stage, and actually be able to find one. The latter part is always the harder part.
Being a writer…well, that’s something I’ve been doing for years. Blogging, writing newspaper articles, freelancing, and even writing content for Fox Sports and Inside Hockey (being a hockey writer). All of those dreams came true.
I know there are many people that dream of those things and still wonder why they can’t seem to make it or (for hockey writers) get credentialed into the media. Writer (for Marie Claire, and many other magazines) and fashion blogger/stylist Nicolette Mason talked about privilegebeing one of the factors that got her foot in the door to be able to write for the big names in the fashion industry.
While it may be shocking to most, privilege is also what factors into opportunities. Privilege does help you get your foot in the door. But it also takes intelligence, drive and hard work to actually make dreams happen.
For instance, I was granted my first interview back in October 2007 by a hockey player that had seen me sitting in the front row of New York Rangers games for a few years. It wasn’t just an exclusive, it was his big ‘f you’ to the New York Rangers. I had to make a decision on how the article should be released. I opted to protect the player, which meant protecting the Rangers.
When the article was released, the Rangers breathed a sigh of relief. The player hated me for it. But I ended up making the correct choice, because eight years later, he’s retired and I’m still allowed to cover the Rangers in their press box. I was even asked to cover them while they were in Europe (both times). The reason why they asked has a lot to do with knowing that I have the resources to cover them in Europe during an age when other North American media are told to scale back their costs due to the economic landscape.
Privilege gets you in the door much easier. It gets you the jobs you want, the stepping stones you need to make a dream come true, and the fast track to making those dreams come true. It also provides you with opportunities that some people will not have access to because they do not have the resources.
Privilege is money, education, background and access to things that most people do not have access to.
How does one attain privilege?
Well, not everyone is born with privilege. You have to make it part of your dream in order to succeed.
When you graduate from high school, you may have dreams of how you plan on living your life. For the career minded, you know exactly what you’re going to do and how you’re going to get there. I’m going to tell you now that the best laid plans very rarely, if ever, get to the finish line because life happens.
When I was in high school, I wanted to be a politician. I mapped out the course, the school, the city, the major, the internship, and whatever else I needed to do to get myself into the Capitol building. I told all of my plans to this guy that I’d been in love with since junior high. He was also my best friend. He said to me, “Wow. It really looks like you have your life all mapped out.”
Would you believe those were the last words he ever said to me? Two weeks before my graduation, he put a bullet into his heart. One of the things he cited (and there were many) as the reason why he was committing suicide…I had made life plans without including him in it.
He put an end to that dream and life plan.
I still followed the course I mapped out for myself, but my heart and passion were never in it. Life had happened to me.
I didn’t start to move forward until my late twenties. It took a broken heart, an insane monthly education loan bill to get me to decide to change my life. I was getting peanuts working for the government. I could barely afford to buy food with the amount they paid me. I realized that I didn’t have to live this way. How you choose to live life is a CHOICE. I decided I was going to put myself out there and demand I get paid two times the amount I was getting paid, get a better health plan, and find a better life.
That’s how I ended up in New York. It was the only place in the world that bit when I put myself out there. I hopped on a plane. Did an interview and walked away with a job. I moved to New York two weeks later.
This is where dreams started to unfold. It was NY that gave me many opportunities. I took advantage of them as they became available. I fell in love with hockey and the New York Rangers. I decided to take two loves, writing and hockey, and put them together. Over time, I started to command higher and higher salaries, because I became good at what I do and I love doing what I do. I became passionate about the things I was doing. Passion makes you a valuable part of any team, and they will pay you well just to keep you from leaving.
My point in sharing this is that you can create your own privilege. You can make more money. You can create your own opportunities. It starts by believing in yourself and making yourself go out there and make things happen.
So how do you start?
Before I get into the numbered points below, start with a notebook. Write down every single dream you have for yourself. Consider this your bucket list. Each year, go through it so you can see what dreams you accomplished and which dreams you would like to accomplish in the upcoming year. Highlight your accomplishments so you can always go back to see what dreams you have fulfilled. It will motivate you to keep chasing after each and every single one of your dreams.
Pick a few dreams you’d like to accomplish over the next year and pursue it at all costs, no matter what the outcome may be. It’s better to know what happened instead of regretting never having done something.
1. It takes telling yourself that YOU DESERVE A BETTER LIFE. You may be getting paid peanuts. You don’t have to accept that life anymore. Work on your resumé. Don’t just list the jobs where you’ve worked. List your experiences you’ve had in life, especially the things you are passionate about. If you’re out making a difference in the world, volunteering, part of a community project or not-for-profit, LIST IT. I have always found that the most interesting things about a job candidate is in that miscellaneous area. The reason why I got hired all rests in the things I did outside of work. It told potential employers more about me than what school I went to or where I worked before.
2. If you haven’t been doing things that would make that miscellaneous part of your resumé look good, then go out and do things that you can get passionate about and DO IT FOR FREE. I refuse to take money for writing about hockey. I have turned down paying job offers to write about hockey. I just never felt right about taking money for it. I believe you lose a sense of yourself and the passion behind what you’re doing when you agree to take money for something you love so much.
I helped musicians in my twenties. The best thing they could do was put me on their VIP list so I didn’t have to pay to get in to see their show. It really helped when I was getting paid peanuts by the government. I helped startup and work for a not-for-profit FOR FREE. I chose projects to work on that I was passionate about. I did that all FOR FREE. Doing that helped boost my resumé even more because what I did for free was actually why I got hired and could command a large salary and get exactly what I was asking for and even more. It was doing these life experiences that created my work ethic and character. I know exactly what I’m worth, and I expect to be paid more than what I’m worth.
The most important thing about choosing your projects you’ll work on for free, you’re assisting people that are trying to live their dreams (or people that need help). You help them without expecting anything in return. In exchange, you are actually gaining life experiences, as well as your own job training that can be applied to other facets of your life. Choose a project based on your dreams. If you dream of doing something in music, get involved with something that has to deal with music. Always do things that are closely symbolic to your dreams. You have to pick up and learn how to live your dream. It helps if you start by learning directly from others that are out there living their dreams.
3. No matter what your dream is, you have to pay the bills. You can’t go chasing after a dream without money in tow. You still need to eat, have a roof over your head and have your bills paid. Many people work a day job so they can have their real career – their dream. It is that main job that pays for everything, including your health care. I’m sorry to say, you still have to work your main job before you can work the dream job full-time. I’d say wait until you’re making more money from your dream job before quitting the day job. Just make sure you equate in how much you really cost your employer (after all the benefits, like health care, are computed in). Don’t quit until what it costs your employer to have you employed at their office is equal to (or less than) what you are making at your dream job.
4. Become involved in the things that will bring you closer to your dream. I will have to say that I fell into a lot of things that became a part of creating a dream. I didn’t get into hockey until my first New York Rangers game in 2005. After that, a hockey writer dream began. I went to as many games as I could, sitting down in the first few rows just to study the game. There were things I picked up down at ice level that I definitely would never have noticed if I sat further up (like in today’s day and age, sitting all the way up in the press box). Those days sitting in the front row was what prepared me to cover the game of hockey.
GMs of teams appreciated reading what I saw. There were things that they may not have been aware of that I would pick up. For instance, did you know that alcoholics sweat differently than regular people? I could tell a player was under the influence just by the way he sweated. I could tell which minor league player had the potential to make it to the NHL permanently. It’s that je ne sais quoi that sets them apart. Very few people can pick up on it. That’s why they’re called scouts.
These days, I attend a lot of arts related events because that is where my life is steering me. When I asked myself what I loved to do now, movies, the arts, books and theater came to mind. So that’s where my new course is heading. What do I do to make that dream happen? I throw myself right in and pursue whatever comes at me. That is usually in the form of film festivals, conferences, premieres, going to shows, meeting and speaking to the people in the industry, and developing friendships with them. There are a lot of facets involved with making a dream come true. Just go out there and put yourself directly in the middle of it all and watch it unfold.
5. Having money helps in this area. It buys you better experiences and VIP treatment. I find that it removes the wall from being an outsider to becoming an actual insider. Instead of dreaming of being one of them, you become one of them. No matter what anyone tells you, Sean Avery (former hockey player) put it best when he said that money gets you a lot further in life. It definitely helps you get to where you are going.
Money is the most important resource to have when you are pursuing a dream. It paves the way for you. It gets you into the things you need to get into without putting a wall up between you and the dream. I find that life is a lot easier when you have the money to afford your experience. Dreams, unfortunately, cost money.
Putting together a film…it costs money. Creating a book…it costs money (and a lot of times right out of the author’s pocket). Creating artwork…it costs money to make it. Becoming a professional athlete…it takes money to prepare, train and buy equipment. How are you going to become the next big basketball star without a basketball?
6. Education is crucial. No matter what field you are pursuing, you need the expertise. You need the credentials. You have to be knowledgeable in your chosen field, no matter if it’s the arts or sports, you need to have the brain to go along with the game. You need to become an expert. You need to continuously learn, because nothing stays the same. It always evolves.
Lawyers and doctors have to continually learn, because laws change, scientific breakthroughs happen. They have to attend continuing education courses all of the time in order to stay abreast of their practice, as well as change with the times. Everything is constantly evolving, you always have to evolve with the times, or lose in the game of life.
Even in hockey, players that know the game and have been playing it their entire life, they are always learning from each other, trying out new equipment, and adapting to the game as it changes. The hockey game is very different today than it was the day you were born.
As the owner of this site, I am constantly reading how to make the site better, what I need to focus on to create better content as a writer. I attend conferences. I take classes. It’s not because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m learning how to do things better than I did before.
7. Practice makes perfect. If you’re a writer, athlete, actor, etc. you have to constantly work towards perfecting your craft. In Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell’s most important message is that it takes 10,000 hours to perfect your craft. That means, no one will take you and your dream seriously until you have perfected your craft, so start practicing.
Bill Gates spent over 10,000 hours working on his dream before he could even make a penny off of it. He wasn’t just an overnight billionaire. He put in many, many hours before Microsoft came into being. It’s the same for Mozart. He wasn’t just a prodigy. He had to work many hours to perfect his craft.
For some people, they may ask how I was able to get these interviews for this site. Throw in every single factor above, including spending the last eight years writing about hockey. Writing about hockey helped prepare me for this next adventure in life. Spending all of that time interviewing, writing, and establishing the type of person I am when it comes to being a writer, that’s how I was able to perfect my craft. It’s not just the constant practice, it’s who you become after you put in all the work. You’ll find that practice does make perfect, but it also helps shape you into the person you are setting yourself out to be.
8. It’s all in the mindset. Staying positive and thinking only positive thoughts all of the time will help you achieve your goals. If you need more money to make things happen, don’t get down on yourself. Write out what you need to do to make each dream happen, every single little detail. Focus on each detail.
Do you need to make more money? How much do you need to make to make the dream happen on top of the expenses you have already? What are your options to getting more money? Do you need a better job? What would a better job be for you?
Do not discount happiness throughout this entire process. One of the reasons why I love my job so much is because of the people around me. They make me happy…even my bosses. Make sure that wherever you put yourself, you have a positive atmosphere around you. If you constantly hate everything about your job, you can’t make the dream happen. There’s no “When X happens in the dream job, then I’ll be happy.” No. Start the happiness now. Only choose a job where you will be happy. You’ll find that happiness is very much a part of making the dream happen. If you’re not happy, you’re going to be stuck.
When I found my current job, I had written out the things I wanted most. I wrote down an insane number of how much I wanted to be paid. I wrote down insane things of what kind of benefits I wanted. I reached for a pot of gold and came back with diamonds. The job I ultimately chose was the job that not only matched what I was asking for, but gave me way more than I could ever ask for. There was something else I had written down on that piece of paper. I wrote down…to have way more than I was asking for. To have way more than enough.
I got exactly that.
If you need resources on how to get into the positive mindset, I recommend starting with Rhonda Byrne’s “The Secret,” moving on to Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist,” and then to Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” It’s all about changing your mindset. Your mind is much more powerful in making the most incredulous dreams come true. Your mind calls into your universe exactly what you put out there. So if you’re thinking negative thoughts all of the time, a lot of bad things are going to happen to you. If you focus only on good things, amazing things will happen to you.
It’s not some new age quack thing. I’m living proof of that philosophy. I’ve been practicing it since 2007. How else do you think I scored that interview from a New York Ranger on my first try as being a hockey writer? Positive thinking.
I also highly recommend meditation to help you find that inner peace that will keep you happy all of the time.
As you can see, making dreams come true is multi-faceted. The most important thing is believing in yourself and your dream. Making dreams come true is a lot easier when you’ve created your own ‘privilege.’ You’ve got to put in the work (and a lot of hard work at that) to make that privilege happen. Most importantly, you have to keep your mind positive. Think negatively, and plan on everything falling apart on you. Feel free to ask questions by posting below or sending me a comment in the Contact Page. You can also ask on my Twitter account: @MichelleDoPW