Me, the universe, and Javier Bardem

In September, I took Andrea Scher’s wonderful online class, Mondo Beyondo, which is all about dreaming BIG and then making your big dreams come true. I took it in part because the day after I subscribed to her blog, Andrea ran a sale, offering all her classes for about 60% off their original price. It seemed like a sign, so I enrolled, not knowing what to expect but knowing that  my dreams (and the way I think of myself as an artist) had changed dramatically over the past year. They felt fragile and uncertain in that way that fledgling dreams often do.

So I took Andrea’s class and it was just what I needed. I learned a lot about me. For instance, I learned that I’m a safe dreamer. I set goals I’m pretty sure I can reach, and then I build dreams around them.

Or, I did.

Now I think that’s a terrible way to dream. It’s not even a good way to set goals. It limits me right from the outset by staying within the bounds of what I believe I can achieve. I assume it’s a form of subconscious self-protection. If I want only what’s within my reach, I’ll be far less disappointed in life. But, of course, you can see the problem with that way of thinking. I’ll also be less challenged, less realized, less impassioned, less… giddy.

Honestly, I was surprised to learn this about myself. I think of myself as being very proactive and reasonably adventurous, but when it came to writing down my mondo-beyondo (biggest, shiniest, most joy-inducing) dreams, I hesitated. I’d start to write something down, and then pause to analyze the probabilities, deciding in a flash of insecurity-disguised-as-insight that some dreams were just too far out there to include. And, just to be clear, I’m not talking here about dreams like slow dancing with Javier Bardem or eating cheesecake in space. The dreams I was hesitating to write down were much more attainable: growing my art-based business, finding an indie publisher, seeing Italy.

I’d love to say that the minute I realized I was unconsciously capping my dreams, I stopped that nonsense and added to my list some seriously wonderful and improbable things, but that’s not what happened. I struggled. I had trouble including dreams if I couldn’t see how to reach them.

And then one day in the class they told a story about a woman who was dreaming big and bountiful, when she realized suddenly she could never achieve all her dreams by herself. So she got out a piece of paper and divided it down the middle. At the top of the left side she wrote “Me” and then she listed the things she could do to reach  her dreams. On the right side she wrote “The Universe,” and underneath listed all the things she’d need the universe to help her with. It made me laugh. I don’t believe that the universe is a benevolent and interested force waiting to grant my wishes.

And yet…

I felt immediately the pull to make a list like hers – the left side acknowledging the work I have to do, and the right side a wish list for things like luck, timing, and serendipity. And really, I reasoned, if I was working hard on the things on the left side of the page, the stuff on the right side would be far more likely to happen.

So I made a list, of course. (Thank goodness, or this post would have been very anticlimactic.)


I made the list, and I’m sharing it because this is the time of year when a lot of us are thinking about where we’ve been, and where we’re going, and how we want our lives to be. And I have to say that this list was much  more fun to make than the goal-oriented lists I normally hammer out in December each year.

I figure I’ll spend 2014 working the stuff on the left side, and watching for the stuff on the right side, because it may not be a benevolent and interested force, but the universe is vast. It’s full of possibilities, and paths, and choices, and crazy, dumb, beautiful luck. Part of my work – a big part of it, actually –  is just to stay open to it all.

It’ll be like a dance, I think – me, the universe, and, by extension of course, Javier Bardem.


I’ve been working hard in my Etsy shop. There’s lots of new art (with more coming) and new shop sections, including one for the items I’m phasing out of and have put on sale. Come see!


  1. Nina Badzin on December 19, 2013 at 4:42 am

    Oh my goodness how true that we cap our dreams. I’m like you–able to name a dream but only if I can see it realistically happening or can at least consider it reasonable. It’s such a good idea to have that “what I need from the universe” list alongside it to sort of give yourself permission to dream bigger. Sounds like a really worthwhile class.

    • j on December 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

      It is a worthwhile class, especially if you’re a little too rooted in the possible. 😉

  2. Cab on December 19, 2013 at 9:38 am

    We are all part of the Universe. Therefore, you are helping fulfill the “Universe” side of my list by just being you. And I’m very grateful for that. xo

    • j on December 19, 2013 at 10:10 am

      Aw. Thank you, Cab. I fell the same way about you.

  3. Pam on December 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Love the list!
    For quite a while I’ve had an idea to make a list on a roll of paper from the calculator of all the things big & small that I dream of doing & just see how long it rolls on. Your list makes me want to do it even more!


  4. j on December 19, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    You should definitely do that! And then let’s throw a “Pam’s got a ginormous dream list” party! xox

  5. Naomi Wittlin on December 19, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Are we not putting things on our dream list because we think we can’t achieve/accomplish them and are we “letting go” of expectations that we have failed to meet? I kind of wonder.

    I just this week decided to abandon my (internal) expectation that I would make a profit from my art or photography. The pressure from myself was just too high and I was judging myself for it. Then I threw the idea that validation=sales out the window and I feel so much better. But I hadn’t considered that perhaps the whole thing was a failure! I sure hope not… I didn’t try nearly hard enough to make it happen. I simply felt that my path is meant to journey elsewhere… not sure where yet… stay tuned.

    I agree that we should shoot for the stars and dream big, challenge ourselves and then realize that we’re ok if those dreams don’t come true. Like you say, staying open to possibility is the real work.

    You rock!

    • j on December 20, 2013 at 8:07 am

      Actually, I’m a big believer in “you don’t know until you try.” I don’t think it was a failure to try and see, and then find out that making a business around your art was taking the joy out of creating it. That’s all part of honing in on what your real dream is. I think letting go of a dream that isn’t making you happy is brave and smart, and more people should do it instead of making themselves miserable sticking to the plan.

      Four years ago, I thought I only wanted to be a fiction writer. Specifically fiction. All other writing seemed lesser to me. Now I can’t imagine limiting myself to just fiction, and I’ve found other forms of writing that I enjoy much more… not to mention other art forms that are completely lighting me up inside. But before I found this path, I spent four years writing a novel, and before that, four years getting a degree in creative writing.

      I guess I think our paths are windy and full of detours and experiments. The more things we try on our way to finding what we really, truly want, the better.


  6. lunajune on December 19, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    here is what I’ve learned in my ‘Allowing’ the Universe to bring me things…. the second I think, well it’s not coming… it pushes it away again, and truly the asking is with our vibration and our thoughts and not just words on a paper… writing them down is to see them, but you gotta feel it, go FEEL BIG…. and watch it…
    I’ve had an amazing year of awesome things flowing into my life, 7 weeks paid vacation, a month of it in Ireland, a week of it in Iceland, 2 weeks of it just doing whatever I wanted to do
    I wanted to see Ireland in the the spring, and spring waiting for me to come, it was late coming and as I started in the north I got to watch it unfold as I travelled down and around , a dream come true….

    feel it… see it…. be it…..

    I’ve got a couple huge things I’ve been asking for lately … hoping the unfolding of them will be very soon.. will keep you posted

  7. j on December 20, 2013 at 8:14 am

    That’s wonderful and inspiring, June! On Facebook, someone told me about her own weekly goal-setting practice. She includes goals over which she has no control. She told me they not only usually happen, but they happen within the time frame she gives them. She found her dream home that way and is moving in this weekend.

    Deepak Chopra says that “letting go of attachment” means setting your intention, doing whatever action that requires, and then letting go of your attachment to a specific outcome. I think if you do the first two things (which correspond to the left side of my list), a positive outcome is hugely likely (the universe side).

    Which is a long winded way for me to say, I agree with you. It takes more than just writing them down. 🙂

  8. Something Good | A Thousand Shades of Gray on December 23, 2013 at 5:20 am

    […] Me, the universe, and Javier Bardem from Judy Clement […]

  9. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) on December 30, 2013 at 11:37 am

    😀 I love the idea of making a list that distinguishes between what we can control and what we can’t. That’s really very cool. And I think you’re right: if you work hard at the left side, the right side becomes more and more likely. Wishing you a wonderful 2014, j, full of good things in both columns.

    • j on December 31, 2013 at 8:49 am

      Thank you, Annie. Wishing you the same! Happy new year!

  10. Karin on December 30, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I love your list 🙂 Even your words are such an art. Mine would look fairly similar, just replace “art” with poetry.
    I always write off my wishes and dreams as “just part of my hobby” and am always too afraid to believe in them–because I am just as afraid of being let down. After a while, it’s easy to lower your standards because you feel that’s much more attainable.
    But despite what I tell people in real life, I have so much hope for the things I wish for–it’s just so hard to say them out loud and have people understand how serious I am about them.

    But maybe eating cheesecake in space isn’t such a bad idea after all 😉

    • j on December 31, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Actually, I’m falling more than a little in love with hand lettering, so thank you for the words-as-art compliment.

      Your comment is so powerful and honest, Karin. Admitting how much we want something does leave us feeling vulnerable. I’ve felt it too. I wonder if it’s because then, if we don’t get it, everyone will know we didn’t get this thing we really wanted (and that’s embarrassing). Or is vulnerability just inherent in the act of self-revelation? Or… yes.

      I think we should make 2014 the year we stopped worrying about all that and stood unabashedly in the validity of our own deepest desires.


  11. Estrella Azul on January 4, 2014 at 6:45 am

    This is something that happens to most of us, I think. And I’d also love to say that the minute I realized I am unconsciously capping my own dreams, I stopped that nonsense. It’s not what happened. It wasn’t until a friend pointed this out and her question “How much longer are you willing to put up with this instead of being in control yourself?” that I started seriously considering changing something…
    But now I have, and although the Universe doesn’t provide out of thin air, I do realize that by taking steps myself toward what I want to achieve, some things are bound to come my way from that other side of the list.

  12. Deborah on January 18, 2014 at 6:14 am

    I feel the same about Benecio Del Torrrrrrrrro. <3 And dreams. Another artist long ago shared her favorite quote with me, and it so applies here (to every one of us afraid to dream bigger)

    "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now."

    To us, to dreams, to the Universe, to Mr. Bardem and Mr. Del Toro.

    Thank you for inspiring me to remember to dream and to make a list! <3

    • j on January 20, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      I’ve never read that whole quote, but the “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it,” has always been one of my favorites. Even better to see the whole context!

      Thank you back!

      • Deborah on January 20, 2014 at 7:28 pm

        And wouldn’t you know, Saturday afternoon, after commenting here, there was a movie on with Benecioooooooo 😀 You’re quite welcome!!

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