Living Your Purpose

Your Dream Rejected?-- How This Can Work for You!

When I was in my 20’s, it was my dream to be a great poet, published and recognized for the depth and quality of my work.  I had other jobs to pay the bills, but writing poetry was the work I did to express my authentic self.  Of course, if you’re going to be a recognized writer, you have to send out your work for publication.  You have to be seen.  This realization at first sent shivers down my spine of fear and excitement.  I was sending myself out into the world with each envelope of poetry mailed off to a new publication! 

            Well, you can imagine what happened.  I had some lucky hits that struck the right target magazines and got published.  I also had dozens of rejections returned to me as small slips of paper with mostly impersonal messages--  “Thank you for your submission.  Your work does not fit our current requirements.”  At first, I was dismayed that my own original voice was not being heard out in the market place.   

            Then I began to see the humor in being rejected from so many different magazines from all over the country.  I started plastering a wall in my bedroom with the rejection slips, because I wanted to write, and I wanted to show that they weren’t going to stop me.  Also, I figured if someone had sent me a rejection, that meant that, in any case, they had seen my poems.  Whereas, if I’d never sent them out, no one would even have read them at all.   

            To paraphrase from former professor Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture, “If you’re wanting to create something and you hit a wall, it’s the universe saying, ‘How badly do you want it?’”  I wanted A LOT to be seen and heard in my own unique way-- & curiously, these tangible rejections reminded me that I was staying on track with my vision.  All I had to do was find the right targets, educate the right people, and I’d be out there with my published poetry.  And that’s what happened.

            Now when I coach people who are serious about going in a career direction that’s radically new for them, we do exercises to play with their attitudes about what it is to be rejected.  Rejections can be learning experiences that remind you of what you want and what you don’t want in your life.  Remember, too, that rejections often have to do with conditions beyond your control (e.g., who’s in charge, finances, etc.).  Rejections can actually help remind you to take charge of the directions you choose, the people with whom you connect, and the way you educate your contacts about the benefits of what your plans.  Rejections can be motivators that help propel you forward! 

            Join in the conversation!                     

  • What’s your dream or vision for yourself?
  • How badly do you really want to achieve your dream?
  • What will help you find the value in rejections as you go forward towards your dream?

Poetry and New Choices for Authentic Living

I found it!
      And now when the storms wail
      and the face of the sun is masked in clouds,
      when my shining fate revolves to dark,
      my light will never be extinguished!

                    --  Fatwa Tuqan

            These words, written by a Palestinian woman in her homeland during the tumultuous period of the 1930’s & ’40’s, reflected both the chaos in her family’s life at that time and her emerging presence as a traditionally raised woman joyfully embracing her new professional identity as a writer, a poet, and radio speaker. 

            Fatwa Tuqan was a woman brought up to obey the men of her family, not to express contrary opinions, and to stifle her own feelings and voice.  She was forbidden ever to leave the house, for her whole life, because she accepted a jasmine blossom from young man who dared not speak to her (while walking home from school, which she loved “more than home” for the way it nurtured her longing for a wider world).

             For her to move forward as a writer, reading her words aloud to others, and at last speaking authentically, was an unimaginable leap of creation, requiring a deep connection to poetry, the support of her brother in transforming herself, and the belief that this self-transformation was essential for her to thrive.  “One day you finally knew what you had to do,” as the poet, Mary Oliver, states unequivocably.

             As both a life coach and poet, I am deeply aware of the importance of finding out what you are passionate about, what you are wanting to share with others-- then finding the work and the way of living that allows you to embrace your passion and expand your life.


 1)   How have you felt held back from expressing what really matters to you?

 2)   How have you been supported in being authentic and open to your aliveness?

 3) What is the light in you that will overcome your clouds of fear?