Commonly Confused Words Part 3
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The Cost of Pursuing Dreams

Reaper shadowThe other day, I saw a guy on Facebook complaining that his wife wanted him to come to bed...but he wanted to spend more time blogging. He looked to be in his early 20s. He was asking this private group for input on "what he should do". 

Having survived widowhood and seeing too many people die in my presence, I made the observation that his blog won't be the one standing by his bedside as he exhaled his dying breath.

A business man quipped "Yeah, but with the divorce rate, you're not even guaranteed your spouse will be there, either."


There's a biblical saying that has universal import: What is it if a man gains the whole world and loses his own soul?

Fundies interpret this as a heaven vs. hell dilemma, but from a mystical, archetypal point of view, the true question posed is this: If you go after a "big dream" (or series of dreams)--and accomplish them--will you end up satisfied? Fulfilled? Happy? Whole?

Or will it be like the funny bumper sticker riff on a popular phrase that states He who dies with the most toys still dies?

Earlier today, I read a post by my Tarot colleague Tierney Sadler called Making the Tough Decisions. I understand what she's putting forth and, to an extent, I agree. 

Maid 400For example, my Mom was a homemaker who--other than church--never really took up any hobbies. When my Dad died last year, she found herself a bit lost...and bored. I tried to encourage her to "get a life" a few years ago (you know what I mean) when I saw my Dad's health declining.

But no dice. As she had for decades, she felt responsible to be there at home 24/7 except for church functions--including cooking 3 meals a day (she was born in the June Cleaver era). 

So I really hear what Tierney is saying. And yes, we women need to pursue our dreams--which may include sacrifice. But, with all do respect--and I don't mean this offensively--Tierney isn't married, nor does she have children. Both of these states profoundly changes the decision-making landscape.

Yet, I also know what it is to live with someone who pursued his dream at a very high cost. 

My first husband was a first chair classical trumpet player and jazz instrumentalist. Through the music of Phil Driscoll (a Christian trumpet player), John got turned on to a man named Roy Roman. He discovered that Roy taught a "no pressure" trumpet method which would allow musicians to play for hours without "blowing out" their lips (and reaching the high notes).

Turned on by his dream, we left college after four years and no degree, then moved in with John's father. He refused to get a job so he could practice this "trumpet method". For two years, we lived off the "kindness of strangers" and sold things while I starved and studied the Bible...and he played these godawful exercises based on a VHS tape for two years. (Click here to see a sample.)

I still remember being so hungry and my first husband finally agreeing to visit a local diner for a fish sandwich. We stayed in the car and I had to half it with him. I don't believe I ever savored a meal so much in my life (after living off fried cabbage and hotdogs for weeks).

Imagine listening to that for 8 hours a day in one room? Although we lived in a 2-story house, my father-in-law was a serial maturbator who loved to use Vaseline and electric pumps at all hours--greasy doorknobs everywhere. Not to mention the crazy transsexual porn I'd find stuffed in the basement toilet (did he really think those images would flush?).

So, I stayed cooped up in our bedroom for two years while John not only played those exercises, but put any cash handouts we received towards personal phone lessons with Roy--at $65 a pop for for 30 minutes (this was 20 years ago, mind you).

John Playing for Our Wedding

We couldn't apply for welfare because they wanted to know John's Dad's income and info...even if we didn't use his resources. So that was a no-go.

Because I pored over the want ads, I finally found a church in need of a pastor. We got the pastoring gig and, even then, John would put hours and hours and thousands of dollars into learning this "method". When he didn't do that, it was all church stuff and trying to save souls. 

All while I languished in the living room wondering how I could get a life with no money and a 1988 Buick that was so big it may as well be a boat (in the mountainous regions of PA, no less).

Long story short, my husband died trying to learn that damn method. Five years of our marriage--and countless dollars--down the drain. He even asked the doctors if he could bring the trumpet in with him to practice in the hospital when he was diagnosed with leukemia. They said yes, but in a cruel twist of fate, John passed out in the shower because no nurses were attending him--falling face first into the ceramic toilet. He busted all his front teeth and shattered his mouth bones. He would have bled to death with his 300,000+ white count if it wasn't for a nurse that just happened to be standing outside and heard the fall. 

I happened to be back home because of the emergency diagnosis that gobsmacked us and had me scrambling to tie up some domestic stuff so I could live with him at the city hospital for 6 weeks during chemo--or else I would have been watching him like a hawk. It was the only day I wasn't with him during his treatment.


John Prom
Before Leukemia
John Chemo
After Leukemia

Even after John got his dentures and thought he "beat" leukemia, he still kept trying to learn that method and spent an enormous amount of money for those lessons (Roy Roman happened to be one of those "prosperity preachers", so he knew our financial situation...but didn't give a damn). By then, John was on Social Securit disability (thanks to my efforts). Otherwise, we would have been up shit creek yet again...

To say I was severely neglected, emotionally tormented and physically malnourished would be an understatement.

You know, I didn't intend to share all this. But I guess it finally needed to see the light of day.

I don't have all the answers, but I do challenge you to think about your creative pursuits--including what it costs if you do pursue them, what it might cost if you don't...and what it might cost your loved ones.

Only you can weigh your soul against your life path to determine if it's right for you, worth the price you may have to pay. 

-- Janet



Wow, Janet. I wish I could give you a hug right now...and a whole freaking fish sandwich! I'm so glad your life is wonderful now. Thanks for sharing!

Janet Boyer

LOL! One of these days, I'm believing we'll get to meet, Gayle...and you can buy me dinner. ;o)

I'm so glad my life is great now, too! This is kinda sad, but, before we were married, I gave Ron an ultimatum: I will never, ever go hungry under any circumstances. If we must get groceries on credit cards, we WILL. It was a non-negotiable for me. We had to do it more than once, too.

I'm glad he understands...and is a responsible, gracious primary breadwinner. :o)

Robyn Jones

So touching and I relate to being hungry. I remember going to bed early just to stop the hurting. I also remember what it felt like to stop dreaming because I thought it wasn't my turn. When we dream we teach our children to dream. We just have to treat their love like precious gifts. I'm glad you were able to tell your story. It had to be told.


What a great post. And I'm not in the least offended. I know that choices about pursuing my dreams and whatnot are so much easier for me because I have no family to consider. In fact, I always feel a little weird discussing stuff like that with marrieds and moms because I simply cannot put myself in their shoes. I think I have good advice, but I also think there are many nuances that I can imagine, but not fully understand. Outside of my dogs—and I do treat them like children, though I know it's not really the same—I don't have to live a life of putting others before me. I mean, I have clients whose needs come before mine from 9 to 5. But I don't live a life where my first thought is of someone other than me. So there's a lot about your life I can't fully wrap my head around. And, not for nuthin', there's a lot about going it alone that marrieds and moms can't fully understand, too. I do think you have the harder job, though. :)

Janet Boyer

Oh Robyn. ::hugs:: Yes, anything to distract from the gnawing pangs... Having a dream is so important. With creatives, though, there's sometimes a fine line between the urge to create...and obsession. It's hard to navigate, at times.

I really appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to comment. I'll definitely be posting about pursuing dreams, determination and resilience in the future!

Janet Boyer

You are so right, Tierney: singles have their own difficult path to tread. Ron was single for 25 years, yearning for a soulmate. The stories he told me were heartbreaking.

Although I've not been single since I was 18, those years with John sure felt single. Well, worse than single...because of the potential that was available (and not seized).

I was single for a year after John died, and totally rose like a Phoenix (I preached his funeral). I got on an exercise kick, started my own interior decorating business and flourished like nobody's business. Dare I say it was the best year of my life? Not having responsibilities to spouse or child is extraordinarily freeing.

But, I wouldn't trade my two guys for the world. They've given me so much, including updrafts to help me fly! :o)


I think you are right-this was something you needed to get out and I thank you for sharing.I come from along line of self made individuals and watched my father try to make his dream a success against all odds and a growing family. There was a great deal that we went through while he tried to fit a square peg in a round hole. As a work from home mama and wife I understand the dilemma that arises when the line between work and family is blurred. Sometimes it's 50/50 and sometimes it's 80/20 but the balance in all our many roles is key and, of course communication. My husband reminds me when I'm out of balance and he supports me when it's clear that the imbalance may be necessary. It's not easy but you pay to play, I suppose, in anything we pursue.

Jenny Milchman

Janet, it sounds like both you and John paid hefty prices, his even greater, of course. Good for you for thinking about these things...and I hope your dream treats you with kindness.

Janet Boyer

Wise words, Laura! Yes, it's definitely a balancing act...and a shuffling of priorities and rearranging of values. I think that's where we often get snagged: not determining our core values and THEN making sure our lives are in alignment WITH them. What do you think?

Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! :o)

Janet Boyer

Jenny, it's so good to see you! :o)

We were guided by our religious beliefs, too, and that kind of extremism breeds other types of extremism I think... We were taught to "sacrifice all" and such, so, at the time, such suffering was chalked up to "bearing our cross".

When you're in it, you don't see it for what it is. In our case--especially John's--it was an irrational, naive obsession...all for the sake of "the call".

My dreams right now are to live in the moment. Period. And, if it doesn't align with my values or what feels good/right, I won't do it. I've learned a lot from my scars. :o)

Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment, Jenny!

Tina Starkey

Wow, how amazing is that, that you posted this when that is exactly what my book is about. I have willing shared a good portion of all my trials and tribulations I've endured however; I'm still standing. I want to inspire folks so they will go forward in their life instead of being stuck. You rock Janet!!! You just gave me the last confirmation from the Angels that I'm indeed on the right track. I wish I could give you a big hug right now.

Janet Boyer

I'm thrilled to hear that my post sparked a confirmation for your own projects, Tina. YAY! Isn't that fab when that happens? Synchronicity rocks!

I'm glad you endured and are now inspiring others to get unstuck. It's a rewarding path, to be sure! Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment. :o)

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