After years and years of building a business, I shut everything down last year. I pulled the plug and walked away. It was sucking the life out of me. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. Who had I become? I call it my Jerry Maguire breakdown. Breakdown? Breakthrough.
It was an incredibly difficult decision, but I was finally free. It was exciting and terrifying. Shortly after, I headed to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival with a clear mind and an open heart.
Truthfully, I had many moments of “what the hell have I done?”
But I said to the Universe, “Whisper something magical to me, point me in the right direction” and the Universe delivered.
Sundance Film Festival was on my short list of “Things I Must Do Before I Die”. Surrounded by inspiration, immersed in the filmmaker’s storytelling and literally bumping into Robert Redford on the street one night, I knew what I had to do.
I had been joking about winning an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for years. In fact, I had been using an online avatar that consisted of my face badly photoshopped onto Halle Berry’s body when she won her Oscar. It was one of those “some day” goals. “Some day….. when I’m retired, after the kids have left for college…then I’ll sit down and finish my screenplay.”
Going to the Sundance Film Festival ignited something unexpected inside of me. I returned from the trip totally fired up about finishing the screenplay I had been dreaming about for more than ten years.
I upgraded my Final Draft program.
I subscribed to all the filmmaking, film festival and screenwriting newsletters I could find.
I reviewed my notes from Robert Mckee’s Story seminar, a birthday present I had given myself many years prior in preparation for “some day”.
I dove into shelves of books I’d been saving about how-to-write-a-screenplay.
I immersed myself in the study of film. I even went to my own private Ed Burns Film School, which really means that I spent 2 months watching all of the Director’s Commentaries on every one of Burnsie’s films. (Ed Burns is famous for being a great teacher and loves sharing his passion for independent filmmaking.)
I studied and read and even did plot outlines on index cards. I started creating my storyboard. However, very little writing was accomplished.
I had no schedule, no deadlines and no real, daily motivation pushing me forward. Instead, I daydreamed about the Academy Award speech I was going to make one day. Something tells me, that’s not the best way to get on that stage.
What the hell was wrong with me?
I had the time, the support, the ideas and was perfectly capable of putting fingers to my keyboard and yet,
I. Did. Nothing.
All the while, that little voice in my head is whispering; “What is wrong with you, Sandy? Why don’t you just write this thing already?”
(Answer=I am afraid.)
Luckily, I’m intimately familiar with this state I was in. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a big dream whisper in my ear.
I spent the better part of 30 years searching for my purpose. I longed to do something meaningful with my life. Early one morning in October, 2001, I opened my eyes and heard a whisper; “Start a Journalution”. I had no idea what that word meant, much less that I made it up (I like to think it was given to me). You can read the whole story in my first book that was published five long years later.
So, I’m no stranger to this place of fear and inertia. Fear of a big dream. Afraid to put myself out there (again). My inner critic screaming things like; “What if you fail?” “You can’t do that, who do you think you are?” and my personal favorite, “You Suck.”
But just because I’m familiar with this place of fear doesn’t mean that’s where I’m staying.
I’m sick and tired of feeling like I’m not living up to my full potential. So, with Tom Petty playing loudly as my soundtrack
“Now I’m free ~ free fallin’”
and this quote above my computer….
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body. But rather, to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming …. WOW what a ride.”
Here I go. As the copy guy says; “That’s how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there.” (more Jerry Maguire references, I can’t help myself, Cameron Crowe is such a friggin’ genius, isn’t he?)