Take a second and look at the young woman in the photograph above. She’s lovely, isn’t she? If I had to guess, at the time of this picture, she was seventeen or eighteen-years-old and on her way to a high school dance in the late 1940’s. A few years later, she would meet a young man and they’d marry and have four children. She’d work in food service for the better part of twenty years, and establish a lucrative catering business in a quaint Louisiana town on the banks of the Mississippi River. Known for her shrimp dip sandwiches and Italian cream cheese cake, she’d make a good name for herself in the Miss-Lou area. She would be happy and content with her life, but sadly, unfulfilled.
That woman is my grandmother, Gilda Burgess, and her dream was to be a pharmacist. The times didn’t make it easy for her. In the fifties and sixties, a woman’s place was in the home. I feel sure my grandfather would have supported her wholeheartedly if she’d shared her aspirations with him, but she remained quiet until the late nineties when I was graduating from high school.
“Mamaw, did you always want to be a caterer?” I asked as she hemmed up my royal blue cap and gown.
“No, baby. My dream was to be a pharmacist,” she replied, a hint of sadness in her voice.
“What stopped you?”
Her shoulders lifted and fell. “I could say any number of things: kids, a household to run, work, but in reality, it was me. I stopped myself. I could’ve done it. Certainly my family would have been supportive, but deep down… I was afraid.”
“Don’t be,” she replied, kissing my cheek. “Learn from it. Be brave. You can do anything you set your mind to. Anything.”
Even today, her words echo in my mind, driving me on to new heights. Sometimes, they are the only thing that keeps me going. When I get down on myself—which is more often than I’d like to admit—here are three things her story teaches me that bring me back to reality again.
Your dreams encourage you to live passionately. What do you think about when you wake up in the morning? Or when you go to sleep at night? When you’re navigating through the mundane everyday task of your job what gets you through the day? That is your passion… your dream. Hold onto that. Covet it. There will be naysayers. Obstacles. Failures. But they will make you stronger. If you’re knocked down six times, get up SEVEN. Keep going.
Your dreams are authentically made for you. If God, the Universe, or whatever Higher Power you subscribe to has placed a dream in your heart, go after it with everything inside of you because YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE IN THE WORLD WITH YOUR GIFTS. No one else has them. Sure, people exist who can do the same things you do and likely, there will always be someone who can do it better, but those things are inconsequential when it comes to your dream. You are authentic… and so are your ideas.
Living your dream encourages others to live their own. This quote from Marianne Williamson has always resounded with me: “And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” When you are true to yourself, others will see it and they will want to emulate you.
It’s not easy, y’all. Nothing worthwhile is. You’ll want to quit more times than you’ll want to carry on, but don’t give up. Don’t give in. Be relentless in the pursuit of what sets your soul ablaze.
For Elizabeth Burgess, writing is not only what she loves to do, it is freedom, salvation, and escape. It is life. Introduced to the art of words at a young age by Junior High English teacher, she poured herself into a self-study of all things poetry and prose throughout the entirety of her high school and college career—hoping to one day become a lyricist in Nashville. As the years went on, her dreams changed and morphed, but her love for words did not. A nurse by trade, Elizabeth loves incorporating the medical field in each book she writes.
Her favorite characters are always flawed, and if you see her wearing any color besides black, you know she’s sick. Thanks to her maternal grandparents, she believes she can do anything if she sets her mind to it, and will always offer you a glass of sweet tea if you come over.
When she’s not working on her next novel, she enjoys Saturday nights in Death Valley, listening to Fleetwood Mac on rainy days, and taking pictures of her beloved Louisiana. Elizabeth is the author of The Waiting Series and Witch Dance, Book 1 of the Hopewell Coven. She lives in Northeast Louisiana’s farming country with her partner Terri, two Catahoula Curs, Bowie and Pike, and host of spoiled cats.
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Thank you for sharing this inspirational guest post with everyone here at Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins, Elizabeth! Your enthusiasm for chasing your dreams is contagious, and I know that followers of the blog will enjoy learning little bit more about the spark that REALLY ignited your writer’s fire.
DID YOU KNOW: Elizabeth Burgess won the opportunity to share her blog at Scribbles on Cocktail Napkins by winning one of our Weekly Scribble Challenges? YOU can win the chance to guest post here too! Just click #SSC on the toolbar above to check out the prompt for this week’s challenge. Participation is quick and easy, and a great way to
procrastinate interact with your writing peers.
These flash fiction challenges fuel creativity. They’re a relatively painless pool for writers who’ve never posted their work to wet those feet, OR for established authors/bloggers to pick up a few new readers.
So, what are YOU waiting for? This week’s challenge wraps up Saturday. Unleash your writerly self.