Two weeks ago, I started blogging around my new focus: follow your yellow brick road, which as you can see from the title I’ll refer to as FYYBR when that’s what the post is about. The phrase is familiar, of course, as is the idea that each of us is on our own journeys. But what does that mean for me – and you?
- I believe we are all on amazing journeys toward our dreams and goals. Sometimes we take detours and sometimes there are setbacks, but the important thing is the journey. How we get there, who comes with us, what tries to stop us. It’s all important, and the more tools we have, the better prepared we are, the more fun and exciting the journey.
And then I asked the question, “What does it take to follow your yellow brick road?” Once again, I turn to the 1939 movie for the answer.
The first thing you’ll need, as you do for any journey, is an idea of where you want to go. Without that you’re not in Oz – you’re in Wonderland. In Chapter Six of Lewis Carroll’s book Alice and the Cheshire Cat have the following exchange:
- “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
That is a very different scenario from Dorothy who knows exactly where she wants to go. No, it’s not home. She tells us from the beginning what she most wants is a place where there isn’t any trouble. Initially, she believes this place must be “far, far away”. It is after running away trying to get to this distant, unknown destination that she realizes the place she is longing for is no further than her own backyard – but realizing we’ve always known what we most desire and discovering that it’s not as distant as we initially thought is a blog topic for another time.
To follow your yellow brick road you must at least have a goal, an intention, a dream or even just an idea of where you want to end up. This is very important because as we see in The Wizard of Oz, and as most of us have experienced, this journey is not going to be a straight line between two points. There are going to be twists, turns, double backs, setbacks, fears to face, blocks to overcome, and times when we’d rather lay in a field of poppies and go to sleep.
So, we start with knowing where we want to go.
And what do we need next? Why our brains, our heart, and our courage – usually in that order. You can’t really be surprised that’s the answer, right? Brains are the what, heart is the why, and courage is the added desire that will help see us through when we just want someone to “talk (us) out of it.” You need all three, and preferably in that order. Courage without heart can lead to some pretty villainous choices. Heart without brains? Well, we’ve all been on some of those journeys, and they don’t end well. And any of them alone? It’s a good start… but it won’t get you where you want to go.
Your brains to begin. You need to know what you want, where you want to go. This can be about your purpose or it can be what you want to have happen this month or this year. Short or long-term goals. Big career? Great. Home and family? Travel the world? Be a stand for self-compassion and give a viral TED Talk? Run for office? Lose 25 pounds in the next six months? Finally get the house cleaned and cleared? All wonderful and worthwhile journeys to take. Not all journeys are world and life-changing. Some can be simple and still quite meaningful. The only person it needs to mean something to – is you.
Your heart is your reason, it carries you forward, and the reasons are as varied as we are: to be financially successful and to be able to give back more easily, to look great in clothes and pictures, to make a change in how our country is run, to be a role model. Again, the why is personal and as unique as you are. My career goal is around writing great books that reach lots of readers. My why is the hope that the emotional journey of my characters, and especially my heroines, will light a spark in these readers so they too go for what they most want.
Courage is what keeps you going when it gets hard. It comes from within and, as we see in the movie, it comes from having good support in our lives. Because it’s going to get hard. Set a goal, a dream, an intention that matters to you and watch how quickly fear of some kind shows up to say “stop”. This is risky, scary, dangerous. Courage gives us what we need to say, “Yes, that may be so, but this matters, so I’m doing it anyway.”
Brains, heart, courage are the key ingredients for your yellow brick road. I believe you can find them.
Coming next – looking a little more deeply at each of these, especially courage and including how to discover where we want to go, and then I’ll tell you how this all connects, for me, to writing romance.