“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” — Henry David Thoreau
YOU CAME HERE FOR A REASON.
The day you were born was a celebrated miracle. Everyone cooed and ahhed, not only because you were a cute, wrinkly baby, but also because you represented the beautiful promise to make the world a better place and to create a happy, fulfilled life. If you’ve ever held a newborn baby, I know you’ve thought this about them – that they arrived on earth full of potential to manifest their dreams and to create joy.
A new baby is humanity’s fresh start.
But, somewhere along the way, perhaps you’ve lost the ability to think of yourself as having that same potential.
Dreams? What dreams? you might say, befuddled, maybe angry, that I’d even bring it up. Yeah, when I was a kid, I wanted to… Play for the Red Sox/Be A Ballerina/Serve the Poor in Africa. But then I grew up. And realized these ideas were ridiculous. I have bills to pay, mouths to feed…
What does it mean to grow up? Sometimes I hear people say ‘grow up’ and think it sounds uncannily like give up. In the course of regular life, who has time to manifest their hopes and dreams? Right?
I’M BEGINNING TO REALIZE: WE ALL DO.
The problem isn’t time, but rather a matter of prioritizing what’s important and cultivating a conviction of this must happen now.
When I was a little kid, my dream machine was humming. I wanted to be a lot of things.
First, a dancer. (My stage name was Martha Sunshine.) Then, a writer. (My pen name was Agnes DeMiller.) Always, I wanted to be a mommy. (Of course, they’d call me… Mommy.)
Life, as life does, had other plans for me. In a nutshell, after I graduated from grad school, I worked as a writer for various companies but ended up being a mommy first and foremost – a role I’m ecstatic about.
The thing I’m not as ecstatic about is the fact that I put my other dreams on hold. I always lived the responsible and expected life, forgetting my stage dreams and giving up the idea of ever becoming a famous author.
Babies, work, grocery store runs, hurried vacations, Sunday dinners with family, and a whole host of other regular life activities brought my dream machine to a standstill and put the kibosh on my creativity. I was a mommy, a wife, community member, a daughter, a sister, and a Good Responsible Girl. I didn’t have time for anything else. And that was fine. Life was good. I loved my life. I felt I had plenty of time to tie up all the loose ends of what I wanted to do when I grew up.
BUT THEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.
Life, as life does, threw me some curve balls that didn’t fit into my game plan. Mom got cancer. My dad-in-law got cancer. Both were dead in six months at 65. Kevin and I lost two of the gentlest, most encouraging souls in our lives. We also lost our own cocky assurance that we would always have tomorrow.
I started thinking back to when I was a little girl, playing Martha Sunshine or Agnes DeMiller. I began to believe my play as a child might be something to pay attention to. Why did I forget my big dreams in the course of day-to-day living? Was I living authentic to the script I started out with, or did I let life get in the way of… well, living?
Did you forget your dreams somewhere along the way, as I did?
I spent a lot of my young adult years following along with the way people do things in our culture, in most cultures, without questioning any of it. I went to school, went to college, went to grad school, got a sensible job, got married, had kids, bought a house, settled down, etc. As time went on, I was very happy as a wife and mom but sensed something was missing. I lived a great life but felt like I was coasting. I loved everything I did but knew I had more – so much more – I wanted to do.
I’m realizing: the time to focus on the undone dreams is now.
Now, back to your story… Think back to when you were a 5-year-old. What did you pretend to be? Next think back to when you were headed to high school. What interested you then? Next think back to when you were graduating high school or heading off to college. What did you say you wanted to be when you grew up? The question that brings it all together (and you were waiting for this one, weren’t you?): What are you doing now? Have you grown up? Or have you given up?
Do you believe, deep-down, that you can manifest your hopes and dreams into reality?
I didn’t, for a long time. But when my mom died a few years ago, I saw very clearly that life moves on at a steady speed, tossing me this way and that, whether I’ve manifested my destiny or not.
I have a lot of story to tell here. I didn’t always live a deliberate life – and, even now, I have some work to do. Not too long ago, though, I was only living an acceptable life. This wasn’t acceptable.
When people see that I’m now working toward my dreams, sometimes they avert their eyes as if I have an ugly deformity and they are very politely trying not to stare at it.
I’m stripping away the layers of gunk here, guys, and polishing up what’s underneath. I’m tearing away the layers of appropriateness and acceptability, peeling away the slime of too many “should’s,” and ripping out of my life those things that no longer serve me to create space for more joy.
You and me, we don’t have time for games anymore. The day-to-day life you’re leading is fine, good, good enough, but is your life feeding your soul? Are you on fire doing the things you want to do? Have you discovered your manifest destiny? Are you even looking for it?
I started this website as a way to reach out to a community of people who think normal, acceptable life is fine and good and good enough but who feel a pull to be and to do more. These are the folks who hear a voice, inaudible at first but increasingly louder, that tells them, “Now is the time to create the life you’ve always imagined! Now is the time to add fuel to your dreams!”
Breaking out of your normal life to do something different – even if that something is better – is very difficult. And it takes courage. I’m not suggesting that everyone even wants to. But I know we certainly did – that’s why Kevin and I have changed a lot of things for ourselves and our family. Starting with our temporary escape from Normal when we took six months in Belize, we’ve begun the long and steady process of figuring out what kind of life we want. The clock is ticking.
If now’s not the time to create the life I want, I don’t know when is.
Please join me. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Share your story with me and with my other readers. We don’t live in a vacuum. We need each other for inspiration and encouragement to do the best we can with the years we have left.
Do you believe, deep down, that you can create the life of your dreams? Tell me how below. Sharing it is the first step in making it real.