Right now there is a recurring theme in my life - I am "chewing/contemplating/reviewing" and trying to sort out where I've been from where I'm going. I feel that this is the opportune time for me as I start my newly married life with my husband. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to start over; to be given another chance at love w/another person (as we all have the love of God) which is something we all desire but not all of us find in this lifetime.
I haven't had a life of dreams. To me it's all been about survival. Surviving my childhood. I couldn't wait to leave home and get away from all the demons that haunted me there. Then it was getting through my 20's and trying to find myself. When I hit 30 things skidded to a halt with the untimely illness of my dad and his death. At 35 I was having another baby and moving back home to Richmond from Virginia Beach and again it was about surviving with 3 kids, a full-time job, school and my first marriage. Fast forward 10 years, 10 kids, 2 jobs, 2 years of staying at home with my babies, the breakup of my abusive marriage and here I stand:
Happy, thriving and DREAMING of a future filled with so many possibilities it boggles my mind.
Not the dreams of kids - $$$, big houses, fancy cars, vacations around the world but dreams of many great moments like this past weekend with friends and family - making memories that last a lifetime.
Dreams of my kids, grand kids, and time with my husband. Dreams of seeing them in college, getting married and asking for our advice. Dreams of many more mornings of seeing the sunrise, feeling it caress my skin and warm the earth. Dreams of reaching out and serving in the community and giving back to everyone that assisted me when I needed it most.
Just the idea of dreaming is a blessing in itself because it's not something I ever let myself do. I refused to have those hopes and desires only to see them dashed but now, well if they don't all happen that's OK. I'm going to enjoy the journey that gets me there. One day at a time, one dream at a time and no pressure to attain them but permission to enjoy it to the hilt when/if I do!
One of my favorite weekly columnists from Canada, Sheila Way Gregoire, had a column about dreams that I have been thinking about since I read it. I totally agree with her thoughts about changing what you dream about as your life changes. Look at me - not only am I changing my thoughts but making them better, more fulfilling and less intangible.
How about you? What dreams have you had looming over your head for years that weigh heavy on you because you haven't fulfilled them? Isn't it time to let them go or rethink them so that they will bring you joy, hope and inspiration not heartache?
Dreaming New Dreams
May 22, 2009
Last weekend my husband brought home the movie Marley & Me thinking that since it was romantic, it would naturally lead to romance. Unfortunately, the length of the movie threatened his intended result, and he confessed later that he found himself whispering under his breath, "Die, already dog. Hurry up and die!" But Marley took a while to succumb, and I, who am not particularly a dog person, still found myself tearing up.
Marley & Me , though, isn't really a dog movie. It's more about what it means to be at peace, even with a dog that eats answering machines without chewing. The focus is on columnist John Grogan, who has made all the right choices. He marries a good woman; he lands a good job; he has wonderful children. But despite making these correct choices he's restless. He had a certain vision of himself, and now he's hitting forty and he's not that person. And as he stares at his friends and family at his surprise birthday party, he wonders if he has failed.
Last weekend, right before we watched this movie, my family and friends threw me a "Forever Thirty-Nine" party. They figured doing it next year, when I really will be forty, would be too difficult because I'd be expecting it. So last Sunday my best friend unveiled a scrapbook of my life, people told stories and roasted me, and in general I felt extremely appreciated.
Such events, though, do cause you to examine your choices. And all too often, when we go through this exercise, we look back on our lives and find them wanting. Yet perhaps the reason this examination is so painful is because we use the wrong measuring stick.
In that scrapbook, the 23-year-old version of me in the graduation gown had a certain vision for my life. I was supposed to be the CEO of a hospital, or the director of a think tank foundation. But here I am, homeschooling my kids, putting dinner in the crockpot, folding laundry, writing columns, and raising money for an orphanage in Kenya. Not exactly what I had planned. That doesn't mean, though, that it's wrong.
Many of us feel restless because we haven't achieved our dreams, but I think what we miss is that we are not the same people who dreamed them. I am not fresh out of graduate school with visions of Toronto skyscrapers in my head. I'm a small town mom with a tent trailer.
There's nothing wrong with dreaming, but the dreams should be about looking forward, not looking back. When I hit forty, I won't have achieved many of the things I thought I would. But I've achieved different things. True peace comes not when we tick off everything on our life's to-do list; it comes when we get comfortable in our skin, make choices that reflect our values and who we are, and then live out those choices, in the nitty gritty, day by day. There's nothing wrong with assessing your life and making changes, but make sure those changes reflect who you are now, not who you thought you'd be once.
I am not who I was. And my dreams, though they seemed big then, were really quite small. They didn't involve two blonde teenagers who still like to hold my hand when we walk. They couldn't see the changes trips to Kenya would make in me. They didn't know how a small tombstone tucked in a country cemetery would change my heart. They didn't realize how being married to my best friend could bring a satisfaction so much deeper than any paycheque or title. And so I am different today, but I'm comfortable with it. And as I approach middle age, that's really the best gift I could have.