Of Underdogs and Everyday Alchemists

A formidable courage resides inside you

The path to your dreams is sometimes treacherous

But cast aside the shroud of skepticism

Ask your imagination for the stepping-stones to your aspirations

You have but one fleeting moment here with two choices:

The dark imprisonment of I can’t


The enchantment of …


-Wanda St.Hilaire/Of Love, Life and Journeys

I read it all of the time. I listen to it on interviews. It’s the basis of most new age philosophy. We create our reality. All of it. For someone struggling to create a new reality, it’s a hope-filled message, but a concept sometimes as slippery as a mossy rock.

When you think about it, it makes sense. We see evidence of it every day. Each one of your friends, colleagues, relatives, and acquaintances living in the same country as you—in the same environment as you—live a completely different reality than you.

I have a friend who has just opted to sell her beautiful home, downsize her life to fit in a U-Haul, and follow her French amour clear across the country from the lush B.C. coastline to the rugged and cold Appalachian mountains in southern Quebec.

Another friend has, over the course of our friendship, gone from being a black and white pragmatic to delving deeply down the rabbit hole of the esoteric and other-worldly realms.

The friend whom I write to in The Cuban Chronicles once upon a time backpacked through Europe and fell madly in love with the south of France. She came back to announce that she must live there. She sold her home, her business, and an office building and off she went to a little town called Céret where’d she been only once. She lived in France for 15 years.

A while back, an extremely quiet and introverted client opened up to me after a 7-year business relationship. He was always intently focused on (picture) framing and I learned, to my utter surprise, that he is a mathematician of some renown. While he built frames, he worked on his mathematical equations and was developing a sophisticated theory of probabilities for lawsuits and strikes. He was working towards his PhD, which was costing him $250,000, and I learned that for a mathematician to use a super computer, it is at a cost of $25,000 per hour! Unfathomable. He was to be only one of five people in the western hemisphere with this background when he finished.

I have a new artist/musician friend who decided 20 years ago that he would dedicate his life to art and forgo the trappings of a prestigious and lucrative career as a surgeon. His perception of the world is one that is considerably dissimilar to the masses. Musical compositions run through his mind and he sees beauty in the simplest of things, such as a leaf resting on a snow bank. His filter is one of life as art.

When we awaken each morning to begin the day, we don’t give much thought to the lives of others, how vastly they may differ from ours, and that what our day holds is a creation by us.

If we love how we spend our days, who’d think to consider how our neighbors conduct their lives? But if we are not happy with the way our life is structured, it’s something to ponder. So how do we deconstruct and reinvent?

For me, clues come with a sudden rush of excitement and from what captivates me. If someone speaks Spanish anywhere, my ears perk like a dog hearing “Treats!” I want to engage. If I hear Latin music, I want to dance. The sound of a spectacular piano or violin composition deeply moves me. When asked about a country that I’ve been to, my body language shifts and I perceptibly lighten. I can talk endlessly about the topic of my travels. If someone wants to know what my books are about or has questions about writing, I am happy to chat for as long as their attention span holds. When friends get into a discussion about sex (even though I’ve almost forgotten what that is), I’m all over it.

I have one friend who, off and on for many years, has been my playmate (sadly, off right now). She gets my warped sense of humor and we’ve been known to pee our pants laughing over the most inane minutiae. Lovers have been outstanding playmates—not just for the obvious, but for gourmet food forays, foreign escapades, dirty dancing, cocktails in steamy bars, wine tastings, picnics, spontaneous day trips, and weekend hideaways. Play and laughter, which seem so elusive right now—especially in the dead ass grey of winter already thrust upon us Calgarians—is the ultimate “jazz” for me.

Swept along in a current of our routines and schedules, we can become a victim of our own tornado, with life sucking us into the eye of the storm without conscious creation. We want to be cognizant of those things that ignite our passionate self and notice if they are a frequent part of our days.

Whether we have a life filled with drudgery, one fulfilled with our bucket list of happiness, a life of quiet desperation, or one with a sense of deep meaning and purpose, we have set the course. And, we have the power to charter a new one.

I’ve had many moments of wild manifestation, so I do know firsthand that this stuff isn’t pure bullshit and blather. However, like losing the frequency on the radio, I’m in the static zone where the song doesn’t sound so good at the moment. I need to remind myself of those magical spaces of time when the signal was crystal clear and the music was symphonic.

My most favorite stories (I love a good story) are ones of underdogs succeeding and overcoming insurmountable odds. Everyday thousands of people on this planet find themselves in the right place at the right time—maybe just in the nick of time—to triumph over something. It could be an illness, it might be breaking through as an artist, maybe learning to speak after a stroke, or a long-awaited financial reward for hard work well done.

No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I always cry when I watch the Susan Boyle saga. In her first début on Britain’s Got Talent, Susan states to Simon Cowell that her dream is to be a singer like Elaine Paige, to which a perceptible mass groan can be heard. Susan is the farthest thing from an Elaine Paige, or so it would seem to our hardened hearts and disbelieving eyes.

It is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever watched and I doubt I’m the only one who feels that way judging by the 108,132,672 YouTube hits on her audition. Even if you watched this before, take 10 minutes out of your day, maybe before bed, and view the début Susan Boyle video (and really listen to the lyrics to consider the turn her life took), and then the next two I’ve chosen. I promise you’ll be inspired.

You saw how everyone laughed and rolled their eyes when she said she wanted to be like Elaine Paige. Who’d have guessed this would ever be possible, never mind less than a year later? (Susan 2)

Then this beautiful outcome

The brilliance of this true tale is the absolute proof of the power of the human spirit to create the life of our dreams. Susan’s story before that fateful day, by all appearances, is one of obscurity and smallness. A compelling belief deep inside Susan’s heart, in spite of being teased and tormented throughout her life, gave her the courage to step in front of a massive, critical audience and sing.

I must remember to stretch my imagination into the field of the unimaginable. To be the alchemist of my life. To stay open, dig deep, and boldly go where I’ve never gone before.


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Post © Wanda St.Hilaire
Wanda – Authorpreneur www.awritelife.ca

Beautiful photo © Francis A. Willey

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