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Excerpted from Live the Life You Love by Barbara Sher. Copyright © 1996 by Barbara Sher. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"When my life would get quiet for a moment, I could hear the nagging voice of unfinished dreams."

Barbara Sher, Live the Life You Love, Part 2

And that's very lucky for you. If your dreams didn't trouble you, you'd forget them entirely. That's what you were trained to do. Most of us were told that we'd have to make daunting sacrifices to go after what we love: we'd have to abandon our lives and live in garrets or on mountaintops and we'd have to have talent a thousand times greater than anyone else, because only special people make it. Whenever we dream out loud, we're criticized for being foolish by people who really have no idea how special we are. As a result, we crush our dreams without giving them half a chance. Whenever we begin thinking, "I'd love to travel," or "I'd love to paint," we quickly rattle off all the reasons why we can't: "I don't have the money, I don't have the time, I might not be good enough..."

How do I know all this? Because I'm just like you. In the middle of trying to survive as a single working parent with two jobs, I too watched my birthdays come and go. When my life would get quiet for a moment, I could hear the nagging voice of unfinished dreams. What were they? I didn't really know. But sometimes in the evenings after I'd put the children to bed, I'd have thoughts I never would have admitted to anyone: maybe I was special. Maybe I was supposed to be doing something remarkable Maybe one day I'd be respected for doing what I loved.

Sometimes I'd even take a tentative step. I'd convince myself that I should be able to make something of myself, no matter what the odds. After all, we create our own reality, don't we? All I had to do was believe in myself and I could do anything, right? At least, that's what it said in every self-improvement book I'd ever read--and I had read them all. Just think positive, tough it out, never quit. If you can't follow through on a dream, the problem is all in your head. Change your thinking.

Pardon me, but when I write those words I start getting all steamed up because believing them made me feel like a complete failure. If those phrases work for you, more power to you, but they have never worked for me. I can't tell myself how to think. I can't do just anything I set my mind to (trust me on that one--I've been trying to learn Latin for years). As for quitting, I'm famous for it. I still fall off diets with stunning regularity.

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