Lauren McLean Iuppa Ayer

Poet | Artist | Optimist

Dare to Excel

Six weeks since my last post and in many ways I am still struggling to pick up the threads of my Quest that suddenly unravelled at the end of March. Sure, I have had moments of clarity, epiphany, and even a few bursts of creative energy, but on the whole I have continued to slog through my days for, now, more than three months. That’s more than long enough.

Enter #DareToExcel, the latest brainchild of wonder-tracker Jeffrey Davis, the man who brought us #Quest2015. His timing could not be more perfect. And so here we are at the start of a new month-long challenge and the point of transition from the first to the second half of the year–both beginning in the month I, myself, began–49 years ago next week.

Forty-nine years… I have to admit, that’s hard to wrap my mind around. I don’t feel 49, and I sure don’t feel almost 50. I barely feel older than 29. It’s funny how life sneaks up on us.

Back when I did turn 29, I totally freaked out. For some reason it’s the year before the big birthdays that get me, as though I suddenly realize that I only have one year left to accomplish everything I wanted to do before reaching whatever looming age is approaching. And usually I do check off the top thing(s) on my list. At 29 I completely changed careers and learned to belly dance.  At 39, I bought my first house. And now, with 49 one week away, I find my mind turning toward the big dreams I’ve longed to accomplish before I turn 50, which in turn leads me back to the power of questions.

#DareToExcel Challenge – 1:

What burning question of possibility will influence what and how you create during the next 30 to 90 days?

Choose and write down or illustrate the burning question of possibility you commit to. Don’t be afraid of illustrating it with a little personal flourish. The best innovators and design thinkers make their work “their own.” So own this question.

Write it on a card. Print it out on a poster of your own making. Make it attractive to your creative mind of action so that every day this month you will Rise to Excel and live this question.

Of course I never seem to be able to answer with just one question, and this prompt is no exception. Two questions bolted into my head in rapid succession–one focused on the big picture, and another on a specific project.

What if I (we) stop planning, analyzing, over-thinking, worrying, and controlling (or at least trying to control) and instead just focus on making?

This is a theme that has come up for me repeatedly throughout both Quest 2015 and my life. I am a thinker, a dreamer, a planner, sometimes even an obsessor, often to the detriment of actually getting things done. For the next 30 to 90 days, I plan to switch that up. To start with the making, and save the thinking for once I have actual work to think about. Consider it a NaNoWriMo approach to the rest of my creative life–maybe even my entire life. Starting today, I will spend my limited time and energy on word counts and stitch counts and completed action counts. At the end of the challenge, I’ll tally everything I did and decide whether I have enough to start building with or I need to keep my head down and my hands busy a little (or a lot) longer.

Which brings us to the second question:

What if the story is wrong?

A couple of weeks ago I posted the following to the Quest group during our weekly howl-out:

About an hour ago while I was washing dishes, a book idea came to me. I think this might just be the one.

The book (code named 3T) centers around a medieval tale, one that I have been deeply drawn to since the first time I encountered it and whose main character has shown up stories I’ve written, and who I have met the embodiment of, over and over again in my life. In some ways, that story has helped define who I am and how I relate to other people and to the world.

But what if that story is wrong? Because I am beginning to believe that it is. And the transformation of that wrong story into the right story will be the work of the book.

So here here they are, the first a dare, and the second, the existential question that has already started to break everything open. The how, and the what.

And just in case you were wondering, yes, it even includes the apocalypse.

Intrigued by #DareTo Excel? Read what some of my fellow#DareToExcel participants came up with then take the pledge

 

3 Comments

  1. Hooray for staring down the big, tough questions! I’m so excited to see what you’ll come up with. And as a recovering medievalist, I am completely stoked about the premise of your novel. Perhaps you will need a critique partner at some point down the road (she said hopefully and shamelessly). 🙂 Anyway, I’m really looking forward to daring this excellent adventure alongside you!

    • layer

      July 2, 2015 at 2:08 am

      I will definitely need a critique partner (and have been hoping you might consider it). 🙂

  2. You nudged me towards bravery today. Thank you Lauren! I cannot wait to see what unfolds here. xo S

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