Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dream Simple

Maybe you've noticed that I enjoy coming up with monthly motivational phrases. Last month's was -- Shut your mouth and live your life! A reminder to live a fulfilled life that will help prevent mindless eating. Or something like that.

For this month my motto is -- Dream Simple.

We've all been told to dream big. But dreaming big often backfires on me. I have a very vivid imagination and really enjoy creating a fully illustrated alternate reality in my head. That's when the over-achiever side of my personality takes over and outlines a series of steps necessary to achieve said gigantic dream. Those steps then morph into expectations, and pretty soon reality kicks in, perhaps in the form of a malfunctioning thyroid or an ovarian cyst from Hades, or just in the demands of raising a family and running a household. It seems that sooner or later I realize that the gigantic dream I'd created for myself isn't going to materialize.

How do you feel when you've taken steps to reach a goal and come up short? I'll be honest. I feel crappy. Demoralized. Defeated. Depressed.

Hence my new motto -- Dream Simple.

Here's the thing, dreaming, imagining wonderful things for yourself, feels great. I don't ever want to stop dreaming. But I'd like to stop feeling like a failure. Looking at my past experiences with dream drop-out, I can see that I aimed for the stars and landed in my backyard.

But is the backyard such a bad place to be? Not really. It's where our chicken coop is, where we get three fresh eggs every day. It's where I play fetch with my dog while I'm out doing chores. Come spring it's where our lilac plants will bloom, where the strawberries will come on, where the grass will need mowing, where the kids will lay out a blanket and read in the sun. And I'm going to join them.

I can see that these alternate realities I've been creating for myself often neglect to take into account current realities: kids, chores, husband, church callings, genetic predispositions. If I'm going to stop feeling like a failure, I'm going to need to start dreaming with the backyard in mind. Dreaming simple means considering where you're starting from, thinking about who you are and what brings you joy.

Joy. That's what dreaming simple is all about. Instead of aiming at joy, I can see that my dreams have been aiming for recognition.

Old habits die hard. Our family is in the process of creating individual history pages to add to my father-in-law's personal history book. I've been asked to write a one page summary of my life up until I got married. Sunday I dug through boxes in the basement and found a scrapbook I kept from middle school through high school. It's full of straight-A report cards, awards and certificates of recognition for everything from camp certification to English Sterling Scholar and valedictorian. If it extended into my college years it would be more of the same right up until I graduated and began my career as an at-home mom.

No wonder I've been making myself miserable. I spent the first half of my life seeking and getting recognition while overlooking the joy of the jouney. There is very little recognition, awards or certificates of achievement given to mothers. But there are countless daily joys.

Dreaming simple involves recognizing dreams that have come true and acknowledging blessings and gifts. Sometimes dreaming simple means imagining your life staying the same. Wow. That's a new thought for me, but a powerful one.

I don't need to dream about having a different life or being a different person (i.e. a skinnier one). I can dream about where my current life is taking me, dream about the joys that lie ahead. But most importantly, I can be grateful for this wonderful, simple dream that I'm living.


Flashlight Girl said...

Amen, sister! Enjoying the journey, actually pausing during the journey to recognize that the moment one is currently in is great, is so much harder than it sounds. Remember in Anne of Green Gables when she would pause to "mark the moment" in her memory. We should do more of that. Reading on a blanket in the backyard. . . it doesn't get much better than that. Especially when I'm stuck in the cold of February snow! :) See, I'm wishing my life (or at least my seasons) away again. Slow learner.

Suko said...

Christie, your post got me thinking.
Yes, the simple things can be wonderful (and are really not that simple). Also, when your child succeeds, it is at least partially because of you, so you can share some of the credit (but none of the blame when things go wrong--LOL). I would add, "Follow your bliss", because the (so-called?) bigger dreams may be just around the bend. Life is a balance between enjoying the journey and arriving at a destination.

Christie said...

Flashlight Girl, thanks for the Anne of Green Gables idea of "marking the moment." And, like you, I tend to wish away certain seasons. Sigh.

Suko, I loved your list line, "Life is a balance between enjoying the hourney and arriving at a destination." Very wise. Thanks ladies!

Suko said...

Thank you, Christie. Your post is outstanding. I am striving for that balance!