As I traveled over 3,000 miles across 9 different states in my yearly girls road trip with my bestie, it occurred to me that everywhere we went, people were doing life .. in the now.
Some of our trip was intertwined with family, suffering from age, infirmity and the isolation that comes from having lost a spouse.
The isolation contrasted the feeling of driving the many miles, viewing uncluttered and some undeveloped roads in America, where a small shack is a home, and laundry hangs between the trees on a limp clothesline at noon.
Majestic mountains hugged each other with forests that seemed eternal, even enchanted.
Freedom to a woman living in a nursing home is different than that of someone who has the means to move about the country and go to the store, or church, or even a hair appointment.
Those of us who are free to move about sometimes forget that not all are free.
How many moments do we waste complaining about small things .. the weather, other people, and maybe even things we do not have?
So this Independence Day, I ask myself, “What am I doing with my freedom? And am I using it to help others?”
A thoughtful, inspiring, and uplifting 4th of July.
I cherish the heritage of those in my family’s genealogy who fought for freedom. I also cherish that we all live and love on this earth together, a celebration of humanity.
The more of this beautiful world I see, the more I desire to explore it.
Life things, you know. Laundry. Wash dishes. Clean the bathroom. Return phone calls. Check emails.
I love cleaning house and I know that seems weird.
Who doesn’t love the smell of soap? And clean laundry swishing about in the dryer?
My bestie and I are just a week and a half away from our yearly girls trip to my home state and also to another state where my oldest daughter and her family live.
This is the time of year when all my creativity dances like fireflies on an Indiana hill in the summer.
I love to travel and see new things, and explore our country and its people.
Things like a painted barn make me smile. So do cows. And chickens on the run.
Old houses. Apple orchards. And more.
I love visiting my family.
My annual trip is a must for me. In a perfect world, I could make that trip, in various capacities, a few times a year.
Instead of saying see you next year, it would be a few months.
So one of my dreams is to make enough money to both take care of my usual and do several trips a year. And perhaps wrap some book signing into that, and maybe a couple speaking engagements, to help fund that.
Everyone, I believe, has dreams beyond the ordinary.
Over dinner tonight with friends, we all discussed what kind of cars we would have if we were wealthy.
(I don’t prefer the word rich. I am rich because my life is richly filled with church, family and friends. Wealth is material and money based.)
One said a friend of theirs saw a Rolls Royce they’d like to have.
I said no way.
Give me a king cab pickup truck fully loaded and a Jeep Wrangler the same, and we are good.
Well my friend reminded me, that hey you need your everyday car.
Hmm. Well. Maybe a Dodge Charger.
But given the present cost of gas, I am so glad I don’t have a truck or a Jeep.
Wealthy to me: I want to be established enough that I not only take care of my own bills (which I have been doing for years), but also being able to contribute in great ways.
Dreams run on hopes and as long as hope exists, we have dreams.
So where does planning come in?
If I have a dream to take an extra trip next year, or send a special gift, or fund an activity, I have to plan. Scribble some figures, save a little here and there.
I can’t tell you how often I have heard people say if I only had the money for ….
And these days, it seems to be more of a challenge.
Some dreams don’t involve money.
Sticktuitiveness. (There is a red line under this word as I type. I assume it is not a word. But I have used it for years.)
When I think of people who go to work the same job every day for years and years, I see someone who whether they meant to dream that way or not, already is accomplishing their dream just the same.
They showed up. Again. And again.
There are authors I know who started with a notebook and pen, literally. They would submit and submit and resubmit, until being rejected again. And then they resubmit.
Another try. And another try.
Moves are as valuable as a monetary resource.
How many of our goals involve money? How many require consistency? And how many simply unfold as we take the first step?
Start to talk about Jesus, there might be crickets in the room. But stick with me, please.
This morning, I was listening to one of Rick Warren’s talks from his “Peace Plan,” and at 5 a.m. with coffee in one hand and a pen in the other, heard him say that we are to dream big dreams and if we dream a dream that does not require the help of God, then it is too small a dream.
He talked about how we listen to public speakers who tell each of us that we can be anything we want to be, and how he disagrees with that. He says we each have specific things that we are “shaped to do.”
Basically, it goes that if you are in the right occupation, for example, then there is less stress and your job is fun.
I love it! Yes, and yes. I love to write and every time I write, I feel a creative fulfillment, especially now that I am writing both news and feature articles, as well as pursuing creative writing (books underway) and my blog.
Writing is one of those things that seems so natural to me.
I have various dreams that involve writing.
There is that word.
These days, for many reasons, people quietly take in bits of faith or spiritual encouragement and avoid discussion at times because as Grandma always said, “avoid talk about politics and religion.”
Yet my Dad and Granddad would sit in opposite chairs and go at both subjects for hours!
When I think of faith in my own life, I am quick to criticize my lack thereof at times. Maybe that is natural too .. master of your own destiny so to speak.
I have heard it said, well God gave you a brain.
Faith has been described to me over the years in a number of ways.
“Let go, let God,” one says, while another says “God’s got this,” and another “He won’t bless you unless you have faith.”
If we take a leap of faith, it could be a calculated leap of faith, the kind of leap where you make a plan, and somehow know you will need Divine assistance.
I am not one to run a haphazard budget.
I know to the cent most days what available funds I have for basic things and other things not so basic. We all agree the cost of living is ridiculous these days and those back yards of chickens, goats, pigs and produce look better and better all the time.
Self sufficiency is one mantra that helps us all get through.
So when I think of faith and dreams, I think I am not going to limit myself that way. I might have one dream and God suddenly brings something into my life I had not considered.
Is faith and dreaming the same thing?
I can only draw on my own experience, and you can likewise draw on yours.
Thus far, I see a golden thread that knits together my dreams with faith that somehow, they will come true, while also anticipating that as my charismatic friends say, “God shows up.”
I need to update my list of dreams. There are a few things I have not added. Plans? Yes. Hopes? Absolutely. Fears? We should talk about that.
Maybe tomorrow? Let’s explore how our fears interfere with our dreams.
As a young mom at home with my babies, our schedule was governed by the alarm clock (essential for me to have a cup of coffee and gather my motivation for the day), sunrise, breakfast, lunch, supper and bath time.
Looking back at those years, I am amazed at the energy I had.
Prioritizing became so important to me in those days. Do what matters.
Time marches on.
I think any person that has been a stay at home parent deserves a degree of some sort.
We also homeschooled.
I started watch wearing when I started working at a bank. It seemed like the thing to do, to seem more professional and with it.
Now I wear a Fitbit and it talks to me occasionally. I and my watch are one.
It seems we hurry everywhere these days.
With technology advancements, we have more time than ever. Yet less?
I try to take advantage of little moments here and there. Make the phone call. Write the blog. Pay a bill. Water the plants.
Cleaning my car, spring cleaning the house and working out are all little plates that spin about my head. Other necessary things to do. I applauded myself for getting two bags of items to a non-profit for donation. It is a start.
So we see life sometimes crowds out our dream planning, dream musing, or even our dream actualization.
Where we really do something we always wanted to do.
I feel like news reporting and creative writing are two of my dreams that have come true. It is funny that this road started with me telling my friends that yes, I was a customer service rep at a medical facility, and write on the side.
I wish I could have a nickel for every time someone said “writing, huh, don’t give up your day job,” obviously kidding but also slightly out of scepticism as to whether I would reach my dream.
Ha, ha!! Of course, we know the rest. Writing is my job, and more than that, a passion. It’s my way to make a difference in this world and learn more about other people and their stories, which inspire me.
Time. It is the little moments that count. Little motions. Little moves.
How many minutes did you spend today planning your dreams?
For a few days now, we have been discussing dreams and plans. Yesterday we learned what to put on our list of dreams, and yet without a corresponding action or plan, we get nowhere.
Every goal has a deadline.
Reporters and editors are familiar with this language. Everyone in the sales world, likewise. To know the time, or best time, to launch a project is paramount to its success.
And we have heard it said that hey, everyone has 24 hours in a day. The sun comes up and goes down, and there we are, looking at our lists.
I sit in wonder at people who are skilled in the world of time management. A lot can be accomplished when the puzzle pieces make sense.
But what does making sense have to do with time management? And dreams?
Streamlining is a word I love. To me, it is how one rises in the morning, enjoys a cup of coffee and after morning devotions, hits the day with gusto.
(Gusto can be hard to come by, but this is not the topic of said blog for today, ha, ha.)
Streamlining is where I line up the activities of my life, the necessary moves, so that at some point in the day I have time to dedicate to my creativity. For you, it might be having enough time to conquer a billion piece project that requires both time and patience.
For me, it is the chance to let my creative side flow and also allows me “planning” time. This is when I feel most fulfilled as a person.
While it is true that often, our dreams and plans fall on the floor like a basket of fresh eggs, splat .. also true is that when we have the list, the intention and the determination to make time for our dreams, at least some of them come true.
Let’s all agree to look at our schedules, and see if there are small pockets of time we can dedicate to our dreams.
I stood and stared at the aquarium tanks, feeling as if I too was floating and exploring the depths .. of what .. my soul? My purpose?
The Florida Aquarium is one of my favorite places to visit. Although I am not adventurous enough to go scuba diving, I love the idea of being so close to marine life, and safe 🤩
(As opposed to swimming away from a hungry shark or being stung by one of the millions of jellyfish I admire.)
One might look at me and say (with a droll mouth, as some would do) well you live a boring life.
I told you yesterday we’d talk about how to get started with making a dreams list. Believe it or not, there are many who have never contemplated anything beyond this day. Not that it’s a bad way to live, and yet ..
“I want to travel,” said my friend. Having already put her foot in well over twenty states (or more, perhaps?) she still has places she wants to see.
So a dream list starts with things you find interesting. Your passion. Things that make you smile or that you find relaxing. Chill.
Add to that a few curious things. You know, those things you have considered but never seriously.
Ask a friend for a suggestion or two and add it to the list.
Cut out magazine photos of the places or things you would like to see. Paste them all on a board or tack them to a bulletin board.
If you were asked to describe your hopes, dreams and plans, what would you say?
I always like to add “if money was not an issue,” as that and scheduling are two dream blasters.
“Alaska,” my friend said. A dispatcher at a local hospital, most of her waking time was spent making those connections .. all .. day … long.
When I saw her post the photos on her timeline, I knew. She reached her dream. Then came the stories of Alaska in the spring. Of what a typical day looks like. And how big the plants get.
Day planners. Calendars. Lists. Bulletin boards.
I guess it is one thing to say “hey I am dreaming of one day ….” And then you fill in the blank, and actually do it. Or not?
We hear people talk about winning the lottery, finding their pot of gold, hitting it big or their ship may one day “come in.”
The sun sets. The sun rises. And we find we are no closer to our goals than we were before.
One woman, when asked to describe her dream vacation, went into great detail. Every move, every plan. How much it would cost. Where she would go next. I was like wowwww. Now there is a planner.
So I looked at my own dreams. And plans. Suddenly it made sense why some of my dreams came true and some did not. (Although truth be told, sometimes your dreams can change as time goes on. Maybe you learned something new to add to your list of dreams.)
Some folks are list makers and others ‘movers and shakers,’ some like to go with the flow and others swim against it.
I’m a list maker. Mundane notes of where to go, what is needed, maybe something inspirational I heard, an observation or a hmmm.
One plan I have .. since this is the month of June .. is to make a plan on paper. (No special reason why I picked June, it’s just hey, it’s June!) Corporations, large organizations, non-profits, government entities, and even churches do this.
A 100 page report of a “strategic plan.”
What is yours?
Tomorrow we will talk about “Where do I start?”
Life is an adventure. But it doesn’t have to be haphazard.
Happiness. Good cheer. Positivity. Kindness. Goodness. Self control.
Lack of peace. Confusion. No boundaries. Dismay. Despair.
The two groups of words contrast just like light and darkness.
Many times, when I have shared my story before a group of people at an event, at church, or elsewhere, people have asked me ..
“How do I get over it? How do I release the pain of my past? What do I do with these feelings of depression and despair? How do I forgive the one who hurt me?”
And our conversation then floats to the usual .. what does your support net look like? Have you considered counseling? Are you in a church?
Do you have any close friends who can walk beside you? Do you have any hobbies you enjoy?
The room gets quiet as the soul considers .. what can I change to bring about my healing?
For me, emotions flow freely. It goes along with creativity. Creatives see and feel, express. Emotions come out in my writing and in my crafts. I turned to creativity as I worked through confronting the pain of my past.
Then later, I learned, through various friends, counselors, books and podcasts, that one can improve one’s emotions through a renewed thought process.
Replacing downer thoughts with positive thoughts.
Example: I could never attempt that (goal, dream, occupation, pursuit, etc) because I am not enough (not smart enough, not physically strong enough, not mentally strong enough.)
The Flip: With God’s help, I could accomplish that. I am not sure how, but I am willing to research, learn, grow, practice.
Our emotions and general outcomes can improve when we go after our thought process.
Last night, I delivered a talk in front of nearly 75 people.
And did so with confidence.
There was a time in my life .. even ten years ago .. where that would have been a challenge. But one of my college professors told me that I would one day be a professional speaker and have the ability to move people to greater things. I remember shaking my head, and also remember how all of us in speech class, except one, shook like crazy when we got up to speak.
A very sweet lady I know has claimed Philippians 4:13 (from the Bible) as her verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
There is more we could explore on this topic. But for today, ask yourself .. is there something you are not doing, or not trying, exploring or living because of the fear of failure? Or because the emotions just are not there?