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[ Personal Narratives ]

Daring to Dream Big in Recovery

My recovery has been a process. Outwardly, there is an overall trend of forward motion—progression, if you will. Joe McQ. describes it beautifully as a journey of uncovering, discovering and discarding. That has certainly been true of my recovery. First I discarded alcohol, then drugs, then smoking, and then food. I never anticipated that I would uncover a burning desire to move to Portland, Oregon; or that I would discover my ability to write and create. I would have categorically denied such big aspirations nearly five years ago. Yet, here I am: on the precipice, about to make a giant leap of faith.

Discovering My Own Big Magic

I started my creative journey in early recovery. Initially, I made jewelry and kept a journal. Then I cooked—a lot—and started to experiment with new foods and flavors. I then began a blog sharing my journey towards health and wellness.

In pursuing my creative path, I came across Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic. It blew my mind. It is quite possibly one of the most profound books that I have ever read. This book spoke to me.

Perhaps I was finally open to channeling and listening to my creativity, which was buried in addiction for years. Maybe I was finally ready to hear a message with crystal clarity and appreciate its brilliance. Or could it be that I finally had the self-confidence to find my voice and express my passions? Who knows? But all of those wonderful things are happening in my life: my writing was appreciated and I was asked to write for publications. I was journeying from strength-to-strength.

In her book, Gilbert shares her wisdom and passion about creativity. She encourages the reader, with profound empathy, to be their brilliant, creative selves. To celebrate the gift that is creativity and to act whilst inspiration strikes. To be brave. She explained creativity as a life force that moves through you. Should you not grasp it, she says, it will flow through you on to the next person who is ready to seize it.

Gilbert talks about fear in a way that gives it life. She illuminates fear and she gives you the tools to talk to it and to dance with it. She says,

Creative living is a path for the brave, we all know this. And we all know that when courage dies, creativity dies with it. We all know that fear is a desolate boneyard where our dreams go to desiccate in the hot sun.

That book lit a fire under my ass. I finally dared to believe, to think that my dreams were a possibility. I could move to America, and I could live and pursue a more creative life. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to check this is all real. At other times, I feel so overwhelmed by the speed at which my life is unfolding that I feel like I am suffocating and I cannot breathe. Then there are those pockets of peace, where I am able to take long, deep breaths and soak it all in. I smile, deeply, and my heart sings. I catch my breath, gather poise, and then seize the next opportunity.

​Making the Journey, One Step at a Time

It is like I have been planning a trek to Mount Everest and I have reached base camp. The months of preparation have stood me in good stead and I am trekking forward. That is not to say it has been a smooth hike. My “Everest” represents my move to the US and pursuing my creative dreams. The obstacles and challenges have led to losing my footing: the loss of my brother, the end of a relationship, betrayal of trust, the loss of friendships, broken promises, and disappointment.

My journey, in itself, is huge: I am moving continents, without a job or anywhere to live. On face value, some might say—and have said—that I am crazy. I have had to wade through the criticism, doubt, and haters. Every time I am knocked down, I get back up, stand tall and know in my truest self that I am living a creative life, bravely. I have a vision.

Reflecting On A Magical Life

If I sit for a moment and reflect on this year, I can see the true courage with which I have dreamed big. I see the magic in the spaces where I used to feel doubt and fear in my decision-making. Sure, they’ve come along for the ride; but, as Gilbert says, they have no control over the steering wheel or radio station. I ask myself again and again: Can I do this, and can I do it well?If the answer is yes, then I grab it by the balls and give it my all. I grit my teeth and I dig deep. I get back up.

As for the obstacles and hurdles, well, that’s life. Fuck me, they hurt. My stomach lurches and I doubt myself. I ask myself, Am I crazy? But I breathe, smile, regain composure, check in with my values, and keep trekking forward.

I have a dream, a knowing. I believe wholeheartedly in my passion: to talk wildly about health and wellness in recovery (and all that encompasses). I have a message that life in recovery can be a life beyond your wildest dreams and it is there for the taking. Believe it.

Because if I do not believe in me and my dreams, I may as well lay with them, desolate, in a bone yard and watch my life desiccate. That is not my life. My life is Big Magic.