Close up of a beautiful woman looking at the horizonAs I said in my last blog post of 2013, I won’t be doing my month-end accountability posts this year. Instead, in keeping with my chosen theme for the year of moving forward, the last Monday of each month will feature a post designed to get us all thinking about some aspect of moving forward in our lives.

This blog post was inspired when I recently started re-reading Julie Andrews Edwards’ wonder-filled middle grade novel, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. Early in the book, the children meet a delightfully eccentric professor, who tells them of the amazing land of the Whangdoodle. When they ask him how to get to Whangdoodleland, his answer at first makes them scoff, but later makes them learn to think and see in an entirely new way.

Quoting Professor Savant: “There is only one possible road you can take,” he said, “and that is to go by way of your imagination.” When the children protest that using the imagination to get somewhere is absolutely impossible, he says that he had to learn to do it: “I had to stimulate and teach my mind to become aware and open to any possibility.”

It seems to me that the Professor has given us the beginnings of a road map for moving forward, no matter where in our life journey we may be, no matter what we are doing.

The keys seem to be being aware, and being open. It is so easy to get caught up in doing things the way we have always done them — even if that is apparently not working — and just continuing on without question. The Professor challenges us to stop and look around us. SEE what is around us, and see what other possibilities might be out there.

One of the things those of us who are writers dread is “writer’s block” — when we just can’t seem to get the words down on the page. We feel stagnant. Our brains are muddled. We keep trying to get that chapter done, but it just isn’t working. Perhaps we need to look at it in a different way. Look at the character in a different way. Ask ourselves ‘what would happen if’ and start to imagine the possibilities, even if they might seem outlandish — as outlandish as reaching Whangdoodleland.

Sometimes that block we come up against is in our work. We get thinking that we can only do certain things — I know I’ve thought that. Then, from somewhere, a new idea flits past us. If we’re not aware, if we’re not open, it might just flutter on by. On the other hand, imagine what might happen if we’re open to that new possibility? I ended up launching a copy editing and proofreading service, because I started looking for new ways to use my abilities.

In one of her blog posts, Emma Walton Hamilton talks about learning the concept of ‘story radar’ from Peter H. Reynolds. He urges writers and illustrators to hone their story radar, to be open to the ideas that flit by. In the same way, perhaps we can develop our ‘possibility radar.’ We can learn to look at obstacles and opportunities from new angles, and see the possibilities inherent in each.

I found an excellent article about being creative, and being open to possibilities, on the University of Kansas’ website, in the Community Tool Box of their Work Group for Community Health and Development. You might want to check it out, as you seek ways to be more open to the possibilities in your life.

I’d also suggest reading The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, or re-reading it if you’ve already read it. It has a lot to teach us about being open, about using the imagination, about seeing things in new ways, about the possibilities and opportunities that are all around us.

I know I need to keep reminding myself this year to be open, to be aware, to be willing to risk, to take chances when opportunities present themselves. They won’t all turn out as well as I would hope, some of them might turn out better than I could ever have dreamed. I need to stay open.

How do you open yourself to new possibilities?

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