By any means I can conjure, my lifework is to ignite the imaginations of people to dream without limits and to pursue their passions with action. It requires confidence, something I once lacked to the bone. Standing before a crowd and holding a microphone was as frightening as handling a reptile. If I drove alone from Buda, Texas to Dallas, I was sure a tire would blow out on a deserted stretch of I-35 in the path of a tornado. Or tornadoes. Oh heavens—and riding horses! As a native Texan, that fear was something to keep secret.
Whether it’s fear of public speaking or snakes or skydiving, the key to success is perseverance and courage. My advice to anyone actively trying to accomplish a goal is to climb right over obstacles and do not listen to a word of discouragement from those who say, “Do you know how hard that is? You’re crazy. You can’t do that!” Because, I swear, if I can, you can. Your path may be bumpy, but whatever happens, your sense of self-worth comes in the trying. Nothing happens if you don’t try, so give it a shot. All you have to lose is perhaps the best opportunity ever to come your way.
It takes confidence to pursue your wildest dreams. It takes courage to build confidence. And boy, does it take a lot of never-ending practice to build the courage you need to achieve your goals. If there’s something you want to do but are afraid to do, do it anyway—and do it now. It’s perfectly okay to be scared. Who isn’t at times. But never let fear keep you from your passion, joy and achievement. Empty your Bucket List. Ask your family, friends and believers to be with you on your quest.
Once upon a time, I was mired in a misery of wishes until…the afternoon in 2005 when I was watching Oprah and folding the daily mountain of laundry. She kicked off the show with: “Write in with your dreams!” I thought, “Hey, I’m a writer. I’m going to write my dream and she’ll make it come true!” But when I picked up a pen, I was stunned to discover I had none—or if I had one, it had fallen down the rabbit hole and I would have to brave it out and go claim it. A month or so later, after praying to know my dream, it came to me in an epiphany and I wrote it down:
To rid myself of fear. To be a fearless traveler with a mission. To wake up every day with joy. To have adventures. To take care of myself and my children financially. To have plenty of time, talent and money to share. And mostly, to have something meaningful to say—to live a worthy life—so that at the end of my days, I could say, “Way to go, Dianna. You did good.”
Que milagro! That is exactly what happened. My fears evaporated one by one, poco a poco. Suddenly I found myself living in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, taking hot air balloon piloting lessons, and giving magical balloon rides to underprivileged children. I’ve lived in rural Mexican villages, skydived many times, lived on a sailboat, organized human peace symbols, and ridden on the back of motorcycles through two countries (and once even ended up behind the Federales in La Carrera, the “Mexican Road Race”!) Most recently—by means of The Maiden America II, a hand-painted car signed by a thousand or more people—I’ve been honored to collect the dreams of people from many nations for an unintentional project, a book: SOS: MESSAGES OF LOVE, HOPE AND PEACE.
People have asked me, “What next?” I’m working on books about the people I’ve met along the backroads, highways and skyways—from Atlanta to San Francisco, Niagara Falls to Laredo, Port Aransas to Mexico City, Veracruz to Puerto Escondido. After 20 years writing books for children, I’m excited to share what I’ve learned through these experiences. It is simply this: no matter what our race, gender, religion, nationality or political party, we share the same dreams. We pray for peace, for the well-being of those we love, for safe communities and affordable education, for a drug-free world, for the ability to pursue our ambitions.
Throughout the 12-year odyssey, I’ve met only the kindest, most resourceful, ingenious souls who offered aid, food, money, and a place to stay when I needed help. Most touching and encouraging were the warm embraces of strangers given in parking lots. Wherever you go, there will be good people—and a few who inspire us to redouble our efforts to leave a legacy of peace on earth and goodwill toward mankind.
To speak logically, eloquently and with poise as I pursue my dreams, I joined Toastmasters. Learning to communicate effectively, with the guidance of a group of people whose support is given freely and sincerely, is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself. Its rewards last a lifetime. Friends and I are planning a road trip around the country in 2020 to speak about the people of the United States, the issues we face as a nation and a powerful global neighbor–and especially our privilege to vote. Your voter registration card is your ticket to citizenship. Casting a ballot is an act of patriotism. It unites us and strengthens our country.
And so it goes.