Paula Christen: Livin’ the Dream

Paula Christen will teach a watercolor workshop this fall.

Paula Christen will teach a watercolor workshop this fall.

Flowers blooming, gardens are growing and craft fair flags are flying! It is the warm season with fall soon on the way. Along with the rising temperatures, workshops and classes that allow you to explore your creative side, pop up just like the sunflowers. Yes, every time I saw paintings at a show or art festival, I had to stop. I dreamed of being that person; painting, showing my work and meeting people through my art. Sadly, for over 20 years, that was all I did – dream. I was afraid.

It was too scary to think about taking a first step toward that big dream or signing up for a class.

Everyone would know so much more. Not having done any artwork for years, the other students would be far ahead of my rusty skills. I would not be good enough and it would crush my dream. I would fail.

Maybe I would even have to let go of my shiny dream. Sounds silly, but it was so important to me, I could not start.

Finally, it was more painful to think about how I would feel if I did not take a class. Not doing it was me “failing me”. Even if those first paintings were bad (and they were), I had to start. Not doing it was no longer an option. It was time to step off the curb and board the train.

Well, actually, it was a plane, because my first real class was a workshop in France. See, there was another dream I had – travel to Europe. So I rolled all those dreams into a big ball of life firsts. Once you commit, it’s easier to keep the momentum going – a first passport, a first transcontinental flight and traveling solo. That trip is a major milestone in my life – not just for the travel and art, but also for pushing me to live, not just dream.

We all have those risky dreams. Some will become our best memories and some will just gather regrets.

How do we know which ones are going to be the best? Choose to chase the dreams that scare you a little. Pick the ones that are painful to imagine your life without having lived that experience. Everybody starts at Day One – Rembrandt, Picasso, Jimmy Buffet and Hemmingway all had a first day of living their dream. Will you be bad at first? Very likely. Will you get better? Absolutely! Now, quit reading this and go live your dream.


Paula Christen, watercolor artist and teacher, lives and maintains a studio in Winthrop. She will be teaching a 2-day workshop “Fall Colors in the Mountains” at the North Cascades Basecamp, Mazama WA. October 24 – 26, 2014. Contact Paula at