Our Dreams Matter

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Our Dreams Matter

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” – Harriet Tubman

Last fall my son asked me if I had any dreams. “Of course,” I answered quickly. As he talked, I poked around the dark crevices of my mind searching for a dream I could share. Sadly, I couldn’t think of one.

He was charged and the conversation went forward sans my contribution. As he excitedly told me of his dreams, I realized there had been a time when I too had dreams. Just like my son, I once believed that whatever I could dream could truly happen. I never doubted that if I put my mind to it, worked really, really hard, and played smart that anything was within my reach. I remember feeling excited and energized by all the possibilites.

As my son continued, it dawned on me that somewhere along the way I stopped dreaming. I realized that I haven’t felt inspired about what’s next in a long time. While I was glad to see his enthusiasm, I felt sad for me.

Over the next few months, I tried to remember the exact day, the precise minute I last felt excited about my life. Throughout high school and college and into marriage and motherhood I was a dream machine plotting all the wonderful that would fill my days. Sure, there were disappointments. Plans had to be changed to accommodate all the moving parts of my life but I was mostly optimistic.

Being the daughter of a career Marine, landed me in eight different schools, ten different homes, five different states, and one foreign country in my first thirteen years. I never had a negative experience. To me it as a grand adventure. But because of all the moves, I always regarded my grandmother Claypool’s regal, white house, lovingly filled with family heirlooms as home. It was the one constant throughout my childhood.

Even before I started my family, I dreamed of making this kind of home for my children. I wanted my kids to feel the way about the home they lived in with me as I felt about my grandmother’s house. So, when we bought our house in Temecula, California, I set about creating a family home that would be filled with love and cherished memories.

For two years I poured all my spare time and money into decorating that house. I painted and planted and sewed it into what I pictured as perfection. I dreamed of watching my daughter walk down the stairs in play dresses, then prom dresses, and then her wedding gown. As I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with my kids on the patio, I dreamed of doing the same with my grandchildren.

So, when the tech bubble burst and my husband announced that he had been laid off from his software job, my bubble burst too. I realized that if he didn’t find a job quickly and near where we lived, we could be forced to move from this house in which I had put my heart and soul.

As we stretched his severance and he searched for a new job, I did the only thing I could to protect my heart. I detached from the house. The idea of loosing it hurt too much. It was the only way I could cope.

We didn’t loose the house that time. Joe was employed inside of a month and bought us two more years before fate stepped in again and we were uprooted for good. It didn’t matter. I lived in the house, but I never felt the same about it. It was just a roof over our heads, a mortgage that had to be paid, and nothing more.

The threat of loosing that dream was so painful I just stopped dreaming. I didn’t want to hurt like that again.

For the thirteen years since, I’ve really not made plans, set goals, or checked things off my list. I’ve latched onto other people’s dreams and supported their efforts, but I haven’t dared dream for myself. I’m terrified that the second I do I will loose whatever it is.

A life without dreams is no life.

As I continue to listen to my son talking of his plans for his future enthusiastically sharing all the projects he wants to tackle and things he wants to experience, I knew that I had to find a way to dream again. I had to unearth those long hidden desires. I had to figure out what really excited me. I had to name it and claim it. I had to move forward towards what I wanted.

It’s really difficult for me to write about this. I’m still struggling to figure it out.

I don’t want to glom onto someone else’s bucket list. I want dreams that are authentically mine. I also want to be sure that I’m helping others. I want to leave this Earthly Heaven a little better than I found it.

In order to do this, I’ve found I have to hold myself in this strange place where I have laser focus on the goals for which I’m working but am open and accepting of whatever happens. I have to feel worthy and deserving while being honest about what it is I really want and need. I have to surround myself with people who are supportive, loving, and generous while reaching out to those who are hurt and broken. I have to work hard knowing that what’s best will come easy.

It’s an odd bit of alchemy.

I’m moving forward slowly taking tentative steps as I carefully mull over each idea. I try to wait patiently until I feel it in my bones. That’s why I’ve placed such importance on goal setting and vision boards and all the other exercises I do to unearth what will really make a difference in my life and the lives of others.

Our dreams matter. I’m taking this seriously.

 

 

10 Comments

  1. What you have described will help many people who have become supporters and cheerleaders- and even some who have lost themselves in others’ dreams. For me today, it will suffice to make the world a little bit better before I go to sleep. That just might mean that I will be extra diligent in cleaning the offices today. On the other hand- this photography passion- which has been aching put to the side while I heal my knee and start those master’s courses, is welling up- and begging for expression… Thank you for reminding us about our dreams. I wish you to have a beautiful awakening for a new dream and completion for some of those life-long dreams that you still carry! Love, Kari

    • Kari, you have to keep taking pictures. Even if it’s just around your house and through your daily life. You have a gift for photography. You have away of putting people at ease and getting the real person in the photos. I know you have a lot to do, but I hope you’ll keep snapping, everyday. It’s in your blood.

  2. Well said. I know exactly what you mean, too. As I saw the title, I thought to myself… hmmm. Dreaming. I haven’t really invested in that luxury in quite some time. I find so much of my life is wrapped up into helping my children realize theirs.
    “I want dreams that are authentically mine. I also want to be sure that I’m helping others. I want to leave this Earthly Heaven a little better than I found it.”
    May I sincerely suggest you read 7 by Jen Hatmaker.
    http://www.christianbook.com/7-an-experimental-mutiny-against-excess/jen-hatmaker/9781433672965/pd/672965?en=google-pla&kw=christian-living-0-20&p=1167941&gclid=CN2d6uyUorYCFQuxnQod1nMAjQ
    Strap on, sweet sister, you’re in for a ride… and your life might not ever look the same.
    Blessings to you and yours this Easter.

    • I hear you. I’m guilty of throwing my time and energy behind the kids while neglecting myself. Isn’t that what all good parents do? I’ll check out the link (thank you) and let you know what I think. As for the ride, I’m committed to white-knuckling my way through whatever is out there.

      BTW…I vote you renew your blog. It’s one of my favorites to read, for real.

  3. “Our dreams matter. I’m taking this seriously.”

    Me, too. As you know, one of my dreams is to be a traditionally published novelist. But how is that going to happen if I don’t spend a good chunk of every day writing? Yes, I am a busy girl but I have the same twenty-four hours every day that everyone else does; it’s a matter of how I prioritize it. So why do I consistently shove writing to the bottom of my to-do list? It’s probably FEAR.

    We are afraid to dream dreams for fear they might not come true; we do not take the necessary steps to MAKE them come true because if we do not try then we cannot fail. In “The Prosperous Heart,” Julia Cameron says that procrastination is fear and the antidote is risk. “When we step forward in faith, our fears dissolve.” So we need to keep moving, dreaming ever bigger dreams and taking every bigger risks. “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    • I agree with you and Julia. I also think another key component is self-worth. For me, believing that I’m deserving doesn’t come easy. As my husband and I make plans to mark our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, I’ve really had to wrestle with this one. The idea of taking money that could be used on practical things and spending it on frivolous expressions of our love has made me face this demon. I have to decide if it’s ok for me to want what I want. I have to decide if I value myself enough to allow myself to have what my heart desire even if it’s not practical. My husband can love me to the moon and back and lavish me with gifts, but it is all meaningless. I have to decide that I deserve all the good in my life and that I’m worth having my dreams come true.

  4. Our Temecula house, just two doors down from you, was our dream house as well. I don’t dream about it and haven’t for a long time. We do recall fondly the friendships we formed more so than the house. So glad social media keeps us connected. The house was a house – the friendships last. Glad to call you and Joe friends.

    • It was a very special time and place. I know that leaving (as difficult as is was) was best for us in many ways. I’m not sure I’d be on this path if I’d stayed and I like where I am.

      I have since come to know that home is anytime I’m embraced by people I love and who love me even through the interweb. My energy goes to people not things.

  5. This post really resonated with me. I used to have dreams too, and don’t know when or where I stopped dreaming, but I definitely don’t look forward to the future anymore, nor do I relish the present the way I know I should. As you know, it’s not for lack of trying, but I just can’t seem to find any dreams anymore. I spent most of my life looking forward to the next big “event” that I thought would finally make me happy–graduation, a new job, marriage, kids… and eventually I just ran out of the next big “next.”

    • It’s really difficult, Holly. I’ve seen your hard work and even though you say you’re done, I believe you’ll figure this out. It’s this paradox of being perfectly content exactly where you are while being totally focused on what you want while be totally cool with whatever happens. I once lived for events too. Nothing ever lived up to my expectations. Instead now I point myself in the direction I want to go and stay in the moment as I move forward. I’ve not perfected it and in it’s imperfection it becomes perfect.

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