Whatever You Always Wanted to Be

Pleased to be Piloting the Skies, BradensEye + Guru tandem photo courtesy of epic SkydiveHawaii

I prefer to think we get to do it all. Whatever it is that we want kind of all. By no means am I delusionally suggesting I’m making it the moon or scoring the Nobel Prize for my writing anytime soon, or if ever. But, we’re responsible for that gap from womb exit to earth entry. Too much seriousness is akin to a dream-executioner. In this life of teen angst and genocide, I wanna be your boombox blaring held above John Cusack’s iconic character Dobler’s head for ‘Say Anything’. Taking it more like recess between the first breath and our last grabs your gonads in a more fun-loving river tubing way. I’d like to disrupt you on this Journey to cheer you a Don’t Stop Believin’ mantra.

You can be whatever you always wanted to be. You just might have to bend your own rules, or others, to fit the size of your accomplishment in the original box. The rub is in the thinking bit. Case in point — One thing I always thought I wanted to be was an astronaut. Failing in so many categories from academic grades, to science acumen, I recall one new years eve when I took acid and experienced a psychedelic trip outside in the woods under the stars and I completely thought for a period of time that I was on the moon. I’ll add the time I was dreaming but felt as if I was awake, where I was sitting on another planet watching the earth rise up in the sky. My angle is that I’ve managed to obtain astronaut-vision more than once in my lifetime without being an actual paid astronaut!

Let’s try another example that may be slightly more relatable. I began a fascination with cameras and photography when I was a young girl watching my godmother shoot family portraits or supremely memorable vistas on our trips together. Viewing my own family’s trove of photo albums further fed my curiosity. Long before the internet and mobile devices, I played around with any camera I could get my hands on. By my double-digits age, I’d added a longing to be a photojournalist. Flash forward to present day, where I skipped the lines of higher education learning and stock photography era possibilities, and nearly everyone has access to a camera of varied sorts. With this very blog, married to my Instagram and personal Facebook social media, I’m living my dream of becoming a photojournalist.

I craved to be a ballerina. I took to ballet moves easily being very thin and lithe in my earliest years. I memorized our ballet recital routines gleefully. One day, I wished to glide through the air on stage under the strong arms of a handsome leading man. I’m still super flexible and practice my bendy moves or giant leaps often when on sandy beaches (the cushion of the soft ground support the increase in my weight since my youth). I can go wear a tutu at the Burning Man event, or for Halloween, or any costume party and twirl to my heart’s content. While I never made it to center stage in this way, I’m eternally a ballerina at my core.

Organization has always been key for me. So, why not parlay this pattern to synchronized swimming? This is a great time for me to freely scold myself for the lack of effort I may choose to put into seemingly meaningful things to me. To watch the skills of harmonized bathing beauties is awe-inducing for me. I get off on all things in their place, neatly matching up, so topping that with flawlessly integrated to please the eyes became a standout fire-in-the-belly burst of possibility at one time for me. Swimming was easy, so I had that down pat. I didn’t quite account for the incredible labor that goes into these powerful moves. While I never adopted the penchant to take my love of swimming to the professional synchronization level, I’m keen to show off my backflips, pointed toes, or lengthy treading capabilities whenever in the water.

I couldn’t imagine not trying to be a marine biologist. Jacques Cousteau remains a hero of mine. He defined much of my childhood imaginative lake and ocean swimming explorations. I wasn’t afraid of the bottom or the dark corners. I was mystified with the creatures I’d see floating by. I wanted to go to the depths of our biggest oceans and meet the most unknown creatures. Again, science and math would stump me from the higher realms, but I dare you to convince me I’m not an everyday marina biologist given a good mask and some deep breaths to dive as deeply as I’m able.

There have been a few supermodel blips that have crossed my mind. Anyone who knows me well might scoff and stop reading right here. I barely stretch to 5 feet 4 inches in height. Where I was once called “boney butt” at middle school age, I developed more quickly into being referred to as curvaceous, zaftig, a Marilyn Monroe chest to hips to buttocks va-va-voom type. While this should not disqualify me from anything super, even supermodelish, I think you can determine the amount of self-esteem issues I evaded by not choosing this as an income generating path. That said, there was the one time when my sister and I posed for the local tennis magazine to show off their new line of girls tennis outfits. It was the only time that ever happened, if you get my drift (wink wink, we’re not the modeling type). Rather, I’ve claimed my personal fame with friends photo shoots from time to time, pretending to glam it up, strut my best, and not worry about the retouching or lack of edibles I’m allowed between shoots. If anyone ever wanted to take me up on posing just as I am for a good brand or reason, I would still entertain this more transparent version.

I wanted to be an archaeologist. I’ve collected rocks, panned for gold, searched for geodes and sought out many rock carvings in my time. The history of where we stem from and how we got to places and how we survived fascinates me to no end. It also helped me to have a super nerdy geography instructor in college that encouraged my rock exploration time as much as my Deadhead music tastes, and who reminded me of famed Lewis from Revenge of the Nerds.

I knew I should be a doula. It’s not only that I wanted to be pregnant and birth a child myself, but being around baby mommas always made me so shiny. A woman’s body creating life is an extreme beauty. I am intricately in awe of all the pieces to making the puzzle of a new life. Add to this your preferred doses of comfort, ease, breath-work, massage, music, hypnosis, meditation, verbal venting, or whatever road your pregnant self may desire. All things baby-making seemed right up my alley of nurturing and loving care. While I never stepped into this career arena, I’ve delighted in supporting aspects of them for my preggie friends, family, or referring others to divine resources.

I thought I could be an astronomer. I will never tire of anything to do with stars, orbits, outer space, all universes and galaxies and quantum leaping everything. I didn’t quite bank on the educational curveballs around my lack of scientific abilities. With the advent of apps like my favorite SkyView, I’ve been able to turn my depth of interest in the wonders above into a teaching tool with my nephew or tribesmen in foreign countries to show off my astronomical adoration. I melt into all smiles anytime I’m faced with a wide night of twinkling goodness beaming from above. I’ve even made some exceptional trips for major solar eclipse events. Layman’s astronomy can be as groovy as the big time.

Oh, to be a pilot! To hover in the sky, soar through the clouds, bank away from sunrises or sunsets alike, the entire view of the majesty of our planet below you, all seems completely full of rapture to me. I’ll readily admit the cost and time to commit to flying lessons to obtain my pilot’s license, not to mention the added costs to buy or share a plane, have daunted me into tabling this as a sidebar dream-to-be. However, I’ve never held back from asking to sit in the cockpit to talk with the head honchos flying any craft I’ve been lucky to board. I’ve held the handles of many a yoke on larger jets, private jets, and a few helicopters. My crème de la crème date with the sky was launching myself (with tandem aid) from a plane when sky-diving. In those brief moments, I’ve made my own sense of piloting the skies.

Seafaring is a captain’s life for me! Growing up on lakefront property, attending summer sailing camp a few years, and being gifted a bathtub attached to a sail type of vessel as my first personal watercraft solidified some serious sailing genes in me. I was so fond of racing on the sailing team in my later college years. I did choose to decline a hankering to follow a yearning to get my captains license after graduation. A desire to learn to run boats up and down the Atlantic coastline, and later beyond if it so took me, was cast aside when Hollywood instilled a passion for film production I’d not seen coming. Still, to this hour, I’m often at my best when aboard a sailboat. Sailing is a lifelong commitment I’ve long decided I won as a gift without having to compete, race, or take on the nautical captain title. A quickest way to romance me is any epic sailing opportunity. I’m a sailing lifer since not an expert.

I trust in motivational speaking. It’s rare that I’ve come across someone with positive ambition to help others who is doing a really poor job. I have encountered a few speakers aiming to support who are deeply disconnected from their audience. I’m moved by all things inspiration, honesty, and transformation. A few good friends have suggested I could turn this charm over to the bigger game of speaking. I’ve taught classes about personal assisting to celebrities, which is geared at motivating (or could be demotivating, depending your take on it all). I’ve produced guidelines for coursework around speaking your truth, honesty, appreciation, and positive partnerships in intimate and personal relationships. I’ve not (yet) gotten anything off the ground beyond my immense devotion to family and friends in need. So far, my motivational speaking has been small scale, but it’s a scale in the least.

I wanted to be on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. It wasn’t about being on tv or to become an actress. I think this calling had something to do with being around a nice grandfatherly aged man, which he was to me at the time I watched this show in my early years. More importantly, this was a calling that is an underlying factor in everything I’ve been seeking and doing ever since I came into being — just knowing it was ok to be me, exactly as I am, no pseudo-Braden. I can perform at the rate I’m able. I can realize whatever potential I can manage at any given time. I am special — you are special — we all are special, just the way we are. Right now and always.

If my legend is being remembered as a philanthropist I’ve done something really right. I may never see my name compared to that of Bill and Melinda Gates, but I know every penny shared, volunteered day, and Board position I’ve held benefit people in need. I’m dedicated to a life of service in much of my spare time. Whether we help by looking after someone’s children, pets, helping someone cross the road, carrying groceries to a car, giving a hug, listening to someone’s issues, teaching someone yoga moves or meditation techniques, offering tech expertise or easing another’s life in a myriad of ways, we are all philanthropists in our care for others. Giving does not have to be based in the millions and billions numbers-wise to make a dent in helping humanity. I am generous with my concern for the welfare of others plus tithing. I am my own little philanthropist.

There are people everywhere every day endeavoring to be what they’ve always wanted without the specific means that might make it certified by everyone’s standards. I think all of these people are doing it for real. The parents who allow their kid to break apart their old car to see if it can be put back together because the child always wanted to be a mechanic. The dancer who never headlined a Broadway Playbill or Bolshoi stage yet took to teaching young ones in the backyard of the local school. The singers who belt out Stevie-Wonder-smooth ballads while showering only. We’re all so talented and all too often hung up on this concept of ‘making it’ instead of just being it in whatever form that’s got to be.

Prepare to be prepared. My awesome retired Delta Force army uncle Fred is quick to remind our family of the infamous 7 P’s: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. It’s a good-spirited rendition on using your noggin in advance of tackling much of anything in one’s life. Officially I find each word breaks down into essential motivation to get you into anything you’re seeking to score:

  • Proper is what will honestly produce a slam dunk execution.

Happiness + Victory = Attainment is in the eyes of this observer and doer. I don’t find settling very settling at all if it means we’re sizing up ourselves and others by what they didn’t do. I find creativity always has a place. So, just like one may choose to dump on about failure after failure, I prefer to applaud experimentation and learning. In this vein, I proclaim you can be whatever you set your pretty heart out to be. I think I’ve achieved just as well as the people who’ve discovered the newest batch of planets every time I peer through a telescope because I see things far beyond our daily reach and I care about them so much too. You may not be renowned, famous, win a price, appear on a magazine cover, or receive a medal, plaque or certificate for doing it the same way as others, but I know you can be everything you ever wanted to be.

You must simply choose to believe you can and you are whatever it is you please.

LOVER of life. Especially people, places, philanthropy and photography.