“What I Know about Mindfulness and Living into Your Dreams”
In 2001—at age 48 and just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks—I chucked a successful, 25-year career in higher education (I was assistant dean at a university business school at the time) to pursue my childhood dream of working in the entertainment industry. You see, in 1964, when I was 11 years old, I fell in love with show business when I saw The Supremes on The Ed Sullivan Show. I told my mother that night, “I’m gonna meet them someday!” Yeah…right kid….
Fast forward to 1972. I was in college and wanted to be a writer. I wrote an article about The Supremes and sent it to magazine after magazine. And I got rejection slip after rejection slip. Just as I was about to give up, an editor called: “Get us an interview with The Supremes and we’ll publish your article.” “Sure, I can do that,” I said. When I hung up the phone, I said to myself, “You fool. You’re just a 19 year old college kid. How are YOU going to score an interview with the world’s biggest female group?” Well…
…Two weeks later, The Supremes were performing near where I lived. I screwed up my courage, went to the theatre and sent a note backstage, requesting an interview. This burly bodyguard came out—my knees were shaking. I was sure he was going to throw me out. Instead, he handed me a slip of paper that read, “Come backstage after the show, Tom, and I’ll give you that interview.” It was signed, “Mary Wilson.”
I was on my way. It had been just 8 years since that little boy said to his mother, “I’m gonna meet them someday.” That article became the first of over 30 articles I have written for various media outlets.
And then it happened….In 2001, Mary Wilson called me and said, “I’m going out on a national tour and need someone to handle my merchandise and business. Are you interested?” This was my golden opportunity—and I wasn’t about to let it slip from my grasp. I resigned from my university job the very next day. It was at that point that I realized that maybe I didn’t have performing talent—but I have management talent. And entertainers need business people. THIS was my entry point into the world of show business I had dreamed of.
Following my dream was not without adversity. Mary Wilson’s tour was scheduled to begin in NYC on September 16, 2001, and had been booked at theatres around the country for 6 months. Six months in Europe was to follow. Well…we all know the devastation that occurred in NYC on September 11, 2001, and the chaos into which the entire world was plunged. The world, the tour…and my dreams were in shambles. That’s when I heard a little boy’s voice deep inside say, “You didn’t come this far to fail now.” I started laying the groundwork for the next phase of my life.
I worked for Mary Wilson for 6 years, and loved every minute of it. I also started working with other artists, including Arlene Smith (The Chantels), June Monteiro (The Toys), Sarah Dash (LaBelle), The Velvelettes, and actress Dee Wallace. In 2007, I ghost wrote Barbara Alston’s (The Crystals) autobiography, and edited Carl Gardner’s (The Coasters) autobiography. In 2008, I took what I learned from all that experience and formed The MotivAct Group, offering seminars, workshops and coaching to help people clarify, set AND achieve their goals—to live into their dreams just as I have lived into mine. I trace all my success back to the images I saw on my TV screen in 1964. You see, you never know where you will find your inspiration.
So…here is what I have learned:
1. Ask yourself, “What do I want to do right NOW, so that I don’t regret NOT doing it a year from now?
2. Ask yourself, “What are MY hopes and dreams. MY goals and aspirations.” Never let anyone tell you that your dreams are silly or unimportant. Make things happen for yourself.
3. Know your worth as an individual—and never let anyone take that from you.
4. Know your risk tolerance.
5. Tell other people what your goals/dreams are—and ask your trusted friends to hold you accountable for achieving them. You never know who may hold the key that opens the door leading into your dreams
6. If something speaks to your heart, don’t hold back…JUMP! Step out on faith—and I mean deep-water faith.
7. Progress, Not Perfection is the mantra I live by! You don’t have to do it right on the first try…you just have to get it going. Small successes build upon themselves,and momentum will carry you to the finish line.
8. Identify what you are most passionate about—what excites you so much that you can’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning.
9. Making your dreams happen is about using your fears and frustrations as the fuel for transformation.
10. Most important—take time for yourself every day. Even if you can spare just 30 minutes from your hectic schedule, DO IT every day without fail. Do something that is soul satisfying and that nourishes your inner being. Meditate…listen to music you enjoy…read (NOT for work!)…get moving…go for a run or walk…work in your garden. Whatever brings you joy, peace, can calm.
59 years ago, I had what seemed like an impossible dream. However, you see, no dream is impossible. Have the courage to follow your heart. Believe in yourself. I guarantee that you WILL find your dream in that place where your mind meets your heart and your soul.
Tom Ingrassia is an award winning author, radio personality, motivational speaker and Motown historian. He is the founder and president of both Tom Ingrassia Productions and The MotivAct Group. Tom’s first book, One Door Closes: Overcoming Adversity By Following Your Dreams (co-authored with Jared Chrudimsky) is currently being adapted as the documentary film, One Door Closes: Korey’s Courage, which will premiere in the fall of 2023. It was named Best Self-Help Book by the New England Book Festival. His second book, Reflections Of A Love Supreme: Motown Through The Eyes Of Fans was named Best Music History Book by both the NABE Pinnacle Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Tom currently is working on his third book. From 2000-2006, Tom served as Executive Assistant and Creative Director for Mary Wilson of The Supremes. An in-demand speaker, Tom also is host of The Motown Jukebox on WCUW 91.3FM in Worcester, airing on Wednesdays from 9 am to 1 pm. Contact Tom at www.ingrassiaproductions.com .
Photo of Supremes (Florence, Mary, Diana) Detroit Free Press, “It’s Diana Ross’s Birthday, 10 Underrrated Supremes Songs,” Dan Austin.
Photo of Mary Wilson and Tom Ingrassia, courtesy of Tom Ingrassia
Photo of Tom Ingrassia, courtesy of Tom Ingrassia