Okay, so as soon as you read this post, I want you to RUN, and I mean RUN, not walk, over to my friend Becky’s blog, Interstellar Orchard. She is an amazing writer, (and person too!), and she recently wrote a post on What Kills Dreams. As I read it, I was nodding my head like yep, yep, yep, and yep!! All so true! Becky is a wonderful example of what determination and guts and practical planning can combine to create – a life whereby she lives the way she wants to, the hell with what everyone else thinks!
The thing that I hear the most from people is about fear. When I first shared my dream with folks about leaving my librarian job at Harvard, it was a lot of their own fears projected onto me in the form of their worrying about me and whether I could make it. Would it be too big of a change? Could I handle it financially? Why would I want to leave something so stable? Something so high paying and that I went to school for, for MANY years and spent so much money on?? (Yeah, I’ll be real and admit that that last part still weighs on me some days, more than I’d like.)
Another fear I had (and still have, although to a lesser extent) is the fear of isolation when taking such a big step away from a life that you have taken years to cultivate. It was actually this fear of mine that prompted this video by my good friend Dan of the Wander Dano channel on YouTube:
I admit to still thinking of wanting to do the nomadic life like he does for part of each year, but part of what keeps me from doing it is the fear of isolation or loneliness. Even though I’m usually an outgoing person, to still always be on your own, without a set of good friends physically close by, always at the ready to catch you and lift you up, it can still seem a bit scary to me.
One thing I heard a lot from my mom while growing up was “you can do anything you put your mind to.” From my grandmother, I would hear my name repeated, “Terri, Terri, Terri….. don’t make a mountain out of a molehill. One step at a time. ” Meaning: CALM DOWN and BREATHE. (I had a tendency back then to sometimes take a small problem and get myself all worked up.) These days, when I can see myself starting to act that way, I try to ask myself if it would be a problem I would be concerned with a year into the future. More often than not, the answer is “no.”
I am very grateful today to have had two women in my life that were strong and showed me that I could be the same. Neither ever felt like they were successful, but they were good at raising grandchildren and children. None of us ended up on drugs or addicted to alcohol and I think we’re contributing members of society in one way or another. My brother with his music and innate running and coaching abilities, my sister with her abilities to educate kids and overall be a great mom, and me, well, I guess with my love of animals and the ones whose lives I have saved either by adopting them myself, or helping them to get adopted.
I used to be so afraid of what others thought of me. I really did. Then I grew up. (I just wish it had happened before I hit my mid-30s.) I used to always think everyone was smarter than me (a lot of people still are, but I don’t take what everyone else tries to tell me as the gospel truth to which I should always adhere, and I try to keep my own mind’s opinion on things, while still realizing there is stuff out there for me to learn.
Realize that if you chase your dreams, you ARE going to make mistakes. You WILL. But it’s how you react to them and learn from them that is important. Looking back, I see lots of mistakes I’ve even made over the past two years, whether it be through dating, or choosing to live in an RV thinking it would be long term, and only lasting for 8 months, or thinking living in a small town would be the antidote to the stresses of big city life for so many years. I made mistakes by moving into an apartment in AZ that was too expensive for me to sustain, which kept me locked into a position at work that I didn’t feel suited for, but the salary was enough to keep me going.
Realize (and I know this is a cliche, but it’s very true) that it really IS the JOURNEY and not always the destination that matters. When I first thought of moving out of Boston, I was so focused on the WHERE (ask my long-suffering friend Dan — he’ll start bobbing his head up and down like crazy.) Having now lived in three towns/cities in 2 years, and in 6 locations over that short period of time (if you include the trailer park in Kanab, the employee campground at Lake Powell, the two studios in Greenehaven, the studio I moved to in ABQ, and the house/apartment I find myself in now in ABQ), I can now say that the location isn’t as important as I thought it once was. Granted, location is somewhat important as it can determine the type of climate you live in. I now think it’s a combination of what you are doing with your life in that location. I may not be solving world peace every day here in ABQ, but I like to think I am enriching the lives of at least a few others I come into contact with every day.
And maybe, just maybe, I’m inspiring a few others to make small, incremental changes every day in order to help them chase their dreams. Even if it’s just inspiring someone to write their dreams down on paper. Or to go volunteer at an animal shelter one day, or to walk some dogs that desperately need the attention. Or to wake up that little bit earlier every morning to get up and do a workout or go for a run. Or to just pull out their computer and do a little bit of research every day into other locations, or jobs that could make them feel happier with their life.
If you’re feeling “stuck” in the life you currently lead (as I hear from a lot of people), then just try one thing, one small thing, every day. Nothing is worse than feeling stuck in your life but not doing anything to change it.
For me, what kept (and still does keep) my dreams alive is when I get out of my head and write them down. Seeing them in black and white, on real paper, or writing here on this blog. It’s a practice of admitting things, putting them out there in the universe, for just yourself (or in my case, a few others), to see.
And again, as I said, check out Becky’s blog post on what kills dreams. She decided her life in Wisconsin and then South Carolina wasn’t exactly right, so she set out to change that. She bought a Casita and a truck to pull it with, and then she traveled and did seasonal work. Now, she’s a writer, and only does seasonal work for part of the year. The rest of her time, she’s inspiring others to live their lives the way THEY want to, not by the way that conventional society would probably prefer.
What kind of dreams do you have? What keeps you from fulfilling them? What little action could you take today to move one step closer to chasing them? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
As always, thanks for reading!