On Dreams and Concerts and Stores and Photography


(I’ve been meaning to write this post for nearly a month now and have just never found the time. What better time than during my month of Getting Things Done, right? Interestingly, after some completely unrelated experiences this week, I realized I hadn’t written it yet because there was more to the story that hadn’t happened yet.  All this time, I’ve been feeling like this post was just one more thing on which I was behind, but really, it was right on time.  Go figure.)


I fear I will have morphed into a 14-year-old girl with this post, but I can’t help it. I went to an Ed Sheeran concert last month and it changed my life.

To defend myself and my slide back into crazy tween fandom, I have to say I’ve never really been to a concert before.  Unless you count Ray Boltz.  Or Jim Brickman.  Do you count those?  Um, no. Please say you don’t.  I mean, Ray Boltz. For real???  That’s only worthy of the term “concert” if you use it with air quotes.

So.  A few years back, I made this list of 40 things I wanted to do before I turned 40. One of them was to go to a real concert.  Earlier this year, a whole slew of my Maine Facebook friends went to an Ed Sheeran concert out east, and my Facebook feed was filled with their rave reviews. It sounded like an amazing concert, and since my first choice isn’t touring right now (P!nk), I decided I wanted to see him.

Lucky for me, he was coming to Summerfest in Milwaukee this summer. Unlucky for me, I never got around to getting tickets.  Summerfest came and went, and once again people had a great time seeing Ed Sheeran in concert and I was not one of them.  Bummer.

When I found out he was coming to Chicago, I jumped at the chance.  I had actually purchased the tickets before I knew what day or time the concert was.  I may possibly have an impulse problem…Maybe…

Anyway, Christina Perri and Passenger appeared with him, and then he came on for the main show. The concert was amazing, the songs were crazy, the arrangements actually blew my mind…Through the whole thing, he (and Passenger, although traffic was bad so we missed Christina Perri) poured their heart into their music.  They took risks, they worked hard, they performed creatively, and all I could think was, I could never do that!

Of course, I could never do that.  The music, the guitar, the way he masterfully used technology to become his own live band, the rapping, the dancing, the crossing genres…none of those things are in my skill set.  But in a more general sense, what a very intimate thing, to strip yourself to your creative bones in front of thousands of people and just put it all out there!  What courage it must take to be yourself, to take risks with what you love, and to do both those things in a very public way.  It was that I was thinking of.  I could never do that.

That made me really sad.

When the concert was over, I remembered how at one point in my life, the world was an oyster for my confident, eager self.  I believed in my passion, believed in possibilities, believed in hard work.  But somewhere along the way, I lost my brave.  I lost my myself.  I don’t know if it happened in the busyness of raising children or my chronic lack of sleep or the heart-wrench of infertility and miscarriage, or the simple passing of time without appropriate self-care.  Now, I question my value rather than standing in it confidently.  I apologize and defer and sacrifice to my own detriment. On bad days, I hardly remember who I am, my identity seeming ambiguous and irrelevant at best.


This week, I visited a friend’s soon-to-open store. It’s been a dream of hers for some time now, one I heard in bits and pieces while she did daycare and I tried to get pregnant and we held each other up through the struggles of heartache and the daily grind.  I couldn’t wait to see how she’d arranged her treasures in her site, and when I opened the door and the sheer beauty enveloped me, I felt a lump in my throat.

Partly, it was so stunning, it left me speechless.  I literally had no idea what to say.  Everywhere I looked was a feast for the eyes, her signature all over the biggest themes to the smallest layered details.  My friend is so naturally gifted, and to see this display that had so obviously overflowed out of her abundant gifts left my head spinning.  She wasn’t performing in front of a massive crowd a la Ed Sheeran, but in her own way she was doing just what he did, stripping herself to her creative bones and laying her passions on the line publicly.


But I also felt this tiny and unexpected twinge of anxiety, and it caught me off guard.  It happened so fast, just as I walked in the door, that I almost didn’t notice it.  Huh. What was that? I wondered, but I tucked it aside so my excitement over my friend and her store could dominate.

When I left, I thought back on that fleeting emotion.  Anxiety?  Why? I wondered. All of a sudden, several seemingly unrelated parts of my life converged–a friend’s store, the Ed Sheeran concert, anxiety, feeling like I could never do that…

It was all about dreams.

As a young person, I had a lot of dreams for my life. As an adult, however, not a lot of those dreams have come true, or at least they haven’t come true in the way I expected them to.  Partly, that’s a very good thing.  Childhood dreams are fantasies constructed of childish desires. I’ve matured since then, thank goodness.

My adult self dreamed new dreams and better dreams, but when I lost my brave, my dreams shriveled.  I stopped being brave enough to share myself with others.  I stopped believing that my dreams were worth pursuing. I stopped believing I could work hard and accomplish things that mattered. The “justs” slunk into my psyche–I’m “just” a stay-at-home mom, I’m “just” a part-time employee, I’m “just” a piddly blogger.


A photography forum of which I’m a member had their annual conference this weekend and they live-streamed the event.  I caught a few of the sessions, and one was by internationally acclaimed portrait photographer, Sue Bryce. Her session was all about dreams and who you are as an artist, and she began by asking us what we wanted. I immediately thought, I don’t know! And then she went on to say that a lot of us probably answered, “I don’t know,” and she explained that we really do know, but when we’ve lost touch with ourselves and our dreams, we can’t own it.  She encouraged us to mull over that question and then to bravely state our answer, because no one ever achieves a dream they aren’t willing to own.

I’ve been thinking about that. I’m not entirely sure what my dreams are.  I know they’re not to perform in front of thousands of people or to open a store or to have an international photography business–although I love that the world is rich with people who are living their dreams as examples and inspiration.  But the prospect of finding them again makes my heart beat faster and leaves me a little starry eyed and breathless.

You know–much like the way 14-year-old girls feel when they hear Ed Sheeran sing.  But for entirely different reasons. 😉

It’s funny to me the way things all come together. And as tangible proof of that, one of the things I bought from my friend’s store–before I had figured out any of this– was a beautiful necklace that says, “Brave.”  Go figure!  I think it’s time I got the message!

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  1. I love this post. It is so authentic. Also, I can relate to those 14 year-old moments when you’re slightly older changing one’s life. Regarding the ‘not knowing’ what your dreams are: Have you thought about completing a simple values sort or drafting a mission statement? It did wonders for me. Keep up with the productivity!

    • Thanks! I do love all those personality/values/strengths tests! Have you ever done Strengthsfinder? That’s one I’ve had my eye on for a while now! Thanks for stopping by!

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