Archive for November, 2009

Gift of Validation


We know intellectually how important –  and difficult — it is to follow our dreams, path and convictions.  Those ever looming questions we ask:   Who Am I; What is My Purp0se, are usually repeated throughout our lives.

We also learn from early childhood that what we TRULY want is unobtainable.  Our dreams are easily buried or dismissed through rationalization.  Following our dreams takes courage because in the path of dream realization come many defeats.  Part of the process.

I feel as though I march to the beat of my own drummer as Henry David Thoreau urged in his writings.  Most recently, despite huge obstacles presented in the adversity of our global economy, I persisted and now my book “Stress Rx:  103 Prescriptions for Overcoming Stress and Achieving Lifelong Happiness” is in print,  audio, and getting increasing attention.

I can accurately say that writing the book and seeing it to publication has been one of the most stressful experience of my life.  Asked  how I survived all the challenges, I tell those who  ask that “I took my own advice and re-visited my book frequently, applying the prescriptions.”

Validation comes sometimes out of the blue.  Last week I received a telephone call from Kathy Donovan, who explained that I had been in her thoughts for 22 years since she first took my creative writing course in the spring of 1987 at Miami-Dade Community College.

“You walked into the classroom barefoot, in jeans, and sat cross-legged on the table at the front of class Indian style.  You opened my mind and impacted my life at a time I needed a positive influence,” she said.

Kathy talked about how I took my class to the Cameo theater on Washington Avenue to experience performance poetry and recalled things I had taught about altruism and truth.

She reminded me about the popular “Bad Poetry Night” with author Dave Barry as a judge I organized on Lincoln Road Mall and she regaled me with anecdotes I have long forgotten, but were deeply meaningful to her.

She left Miami to finished her undergraduate degree at American University in Washington, D.C.  Taking a creative writing class, she chose me as her topic for a writing assignment about someone who had been a major life influence.

We talked for a long time and Kathy touched me deeply when she said:  “Professor Riley, you never really left.  Any time you want anyone to tell you how wonderful you are, just call me.”

I’ll treasure those words more than any corporate salary could have swayed me into their ranks and out of the classroom.  I had already done corporate before and opted to pursuing my dreams that include teaching others how to follow their dreams and let go of fears in the process.    Kathy said she was enabled to do just that for herself and now is back in school at Converse College pursuing her MFA.

Yes, I admittedly am a hopeless romantic and incurable optimist.  With all the negative commentary we are constantly bombarded with about global problems, I see this  as an exciting opportunity to heal long avoided wounds and move in the direction of higher consciousness.

Kathy Donovan took the time to track me down and validate my decisions that have been filled with discovery and insights not gained otherwise.  For this huge gift, I am proud and forever grateful.

We have spoken once again since that initial conversation and plan to meet after the New Year.

To follow and manifest our dreams should never be “too late” for anyone.  As for me, I’m just getting started.