Guest post by Cynthia Morris
In 2000, I stood in the Père Lachasie cemetery in Paris, marveling. I marveled at the beauty around me. I marveled at death brought so intimately to life in this city of graves.
I marveled that I could speak French. After ten years away from my francophilia, I had found my way back to France and the pleasures of speaking French. Playing with the language felt like coming back to an old friend that I wanted to know better.
There, full of the marvelous on a gray day in Paris, I vowed to return every year. And I have, every year except 2002 and 2003.
What made this possible? When I made the vow, I had no idea how I would fund transatlantic trips to one of the most expensive cities on the planet.
Oddly enough, a long-deceased bookseller made coming back easier. Sylvia Beach, the original owner of Shakespeare and Company bookstore, was a compelling figure and the bigger story of her life inspired me to write a novel based on her.
On my annual trips to Paris, I delved into Sylvia’s world. I relentlessly explored the streets and alleys of Paris, sniffing for clues to what this place was like in 1937. I rummaged in dusty bookshops, spoke to booksellers and befriended random passersby, as one does in Paris.
I became more familiar with this city of marvels. These trips helped me feel that I was building on my French degree. These adventures gave me the feeling that I was living my passion, one stroll at a time.
How did a single woman building her business afford trips to one of the most expensive places on the planet? I wasn’t funded and I’m not rich.
Commitment drives chutzpah
My intention to travel and my dedication to this project, along with some creative fundraising, allowed me to travel without going into debt. But I had to gather up my chutzpah – get gutsy – to make it work.
In 2003, drawn to Paris by the Shakespeare and Company literary festival, I conceived of a plan to raise funds from making art. I approached friends and family, promising a hand-painted postcard to anyone who gave me money.
I drew and painted and sent seventeen cards. The money from that wasn’t a ton, but it fueled at least one day in Paris.
Then, in 2005, I began leading workshops in Paris and other parts of France. Combining my coaching, my teaching, and my love for beauty and art, I created a unique experience for others. Profits from these workshops began funding my trips to France.
Clueless but willing to try
When I was a fresh graduate with a French degree and no clue what the future held, I desperately wanted to live in France. After that ten-year hiatus from my francophilia, I made the commitment to keep my passion for it alive.
My historical novel, with its demands for more and more research, helped me live my dream and honor my commitment. Now, I’m content to live in the US and visit Europe often.
Your focus and commitment will look totally different than mine. Not everyone wants to annually visit Paris or wherever.
But imagine the difference it would make if you took your wish and turned it into a commitment. Even if you don’t know how it will pan out, dare to commit.
Too often we squelch our dreams because we don’t immediately know how they will be realized. But with the power of intention and the focus of a project you want to bring to life, answers and solutions appear along the way.
What’s your Paris? What commitment can you make to that passion and what project will help focus it?
Cynthia Morris loves putting her French degree to good use in Paris. When she’s not in France, she coaches writers and entrepreneurs from Denver, Colorado. Cynthia’s novel, Chasing Sylvia Beach, launched online on June 22nd, 2012. Find out more here: http://www.ChasingSylviaBeach.com
“Too often we squelch our dreams because we don’t immediately know how they will be realized.” – TOO TRUE.
Great post on recognizing a thing that could fuel your passion and mold your life, and giving yourself to it, again and again. Intention is magic. Commitment is intention distilled, the catalyst for action.
We all need to hear these stories to inspire and encourage us, and to remind us to find and tell the stories of our own commitments, our own paths traveled. Thanks for sharing, Cynthia!
Thanks, Shelly! I am glad this article resonated with you!
I just met Cynthia Morris when I took her ‘Write Your Book Now!’ breakout session at the WDS2012 in Portland, OR. Talk about a small world.