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Not quite what you thought it would be

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11nov08_bluA few days ago I was watching something on television while my husband sat in his reclining chair reading the paper. There was a scene in the show featuring a middle aged man walking his dog along a street at night. The scene was illustrating the thoughts of married men in a typical suburban neighborhood, and for this scene the narrator said the man was thinking, "Oh crap, my dreams are never going to come true." It was a funny, unexpected line and it made both my husband and I laugh a little. We both knew that while it is funny, there was quite an element of truth to it and it led to a conversation on the subject of dreams people have and how life events and developments do cut people off from their dreams ... often. That is a sad fact, but let us not leave things there. I look at myself, and I have been experiencing the opposite for the past few years. Many of my dreams have come true and continue to do so. But, here's the thing: these were not my original dreams. Well, some of them are not original, or older dreams. Many of the dreams of mine that are coming true now are dreams that have evolved over the course of my life. What then, makes the difference between someone whose dreams do come true and someone whose dreams fail? I have a theory, purely a theory, based on my own experiences. In my life, I have certainly experienced many challenges, some of them very dire and painful. There have certainly been many tears and many perfectly good reasons to cry. 11nov08_oldbarnPerhaps you have read in one of my earlier blog posts that I admit to there being times when I (much to my chagrin) felt sorry for myself. Woe is me, or woe was me. Even now, though I am experiencing one of the very best times of my life, there are plenty of unexpected developments that come along to challenge my faith, my ability to dream, and my ability to make dreams come true. The difference between me now and me about twelve to fifteen years ago is that now when challenges and disappointments come along, they do not give me cause for alarm. You see, I know I can get through and live through pretty much anything. I have confidence, based on actual life experience, that I have an unlimited capacity to create new dreams and go after them and to re-evaluate earlier dreams and let go of them if I need do so. I have dreamed up many things I would like to be, do, or have during my life. Some were fun, playful ideas that really did not have a great deal to do with who I truly am -- even though they seemed to be at the time. Others though are more basic to me, and those are the dreams that seem to stick around and keep shining on a golden hill that does not seem entirely out of my reach. When I was a little kid, I knew I would be a writer. Through my teen years, I wrote much poetry which I was far to shy to share with much of anyone at all. Someone I loved, a boy, unfortunately made some unkind comment about one I dared to share with him and punctured the delicate film of the poetic bubble I was keeping myself inside of. My heart was exposed to open air, and a beautiful flow of poetry ceased to release itself from within me. 11nov08_applesWhen I was in my early twenties, with two young children and a home to care for, I continued to dream of writing. I longed to write novels, and felt incredibly and ridiculously (now that I know better I can say that) impatient to have the time to write. Oh, how my heart ached to write stories. The frustration at never having the time to devote to it was painful. Honestly though, what would I have written about? What did I know of life at that time? Of course, I felt as if I knew so very, very much. Oh yes, I was wise beyond my years in my own estimation of myself. A few years later I did manage to find the time to start writing short, short fiction stories. That was a beautiful time and I loved the writing. I would feel inspired and rush to grab some paper and a pen and sit down writing frantically in an effort to "catch" my story before it dissipated into thin air. The stories were fun, funny, and bizarre. That was my style, such as I could find my style at the time. For a while I submitted my stories to publishers and had just begun to build an impressive folder of rejection letters when life took a turn that would put my dreams of writing on hold for a little longer ... divorce, single parenthood, struggles and turmoil became my lot in life. I did try writing for a while after the divorce. I remember one particular time when I was attempting to write a story on my computer and the kids were climbing all over me as I madly typed in an effort to capture the inspired thoughts, those darned ethereal creatures that could come and go so quickly. The picture in my mind of that moment is from outside myself. I see a comical scene of a woman sitting at a computer focusing on her monitor as one child attempts to spin her chair and the other climbs up the back of said chair, holding onto the mother's hair for support with one hand, and grasping across the mother's face with the other. 11nov08_geeseThe kids won, it was only right that they should. Life became a series of events and struggles that led me far astray, or so it seemed, from my dreams of being a writer. Food needed to be put on the table, the children needed parenting, the house needed cleaning, cars needed to be maintained, rent needed paying, utilities ... you know the story. You do what is right for your family, not what lingers in your heart of the scraps and pieces of the dreams of youth. Just like the narrator in the television said, "Oh crap, my dreams are not going to come true." Similar thoughts, worded a little differently, walked through my mind many times. It doesn't mean I didn't love my children. I loved and still love my children more than life itself. They came to me unexpectedly, they brought with them a lifetime of love and adventure. The feeling of longing for dreams and "realizing" you will probably end up never getting there are just honest feelings that have nothing to do with whether or not you love your family. For me, solving the problem of how to feed my family led me in directions I never expected. I actually became very adept at solving that problem by being a quick study in a variety of fields and trying quite a few avenues of freelance entrepreneurship. The pain of the struggle and the necessity of not failing because the kids were depending on me helped bring out the best I had to offer as a solver of problems. 11nov08_leavesAs a matter of fact, that struggle and solving the problem of "food on the table" led me down a course of events that ultimately led to my discovering when I was in my early 30's I could draw and paint. That led to learning digital art, which led to my being hired by an internet start-up company, which led to my learning quite a lot about website design as well as the business side of the Internet, and ultimately to where I am today. It led me to new dreams I never would have known to dream about earlier in my life. When I take a good look back at how my life has unfolded, solving the problem of "food on the table" led me to where I am today and back to my original dream of being a writer but with all kinds of other cool stuff mixed in. The summer before I met my husband, I was reorganzing my life yet again. I had closed down a business I had attempted that did not go well, my son and daughter had moved out and on their own, my parents had moved to Denver, my oldest brother had passed away and I had taken a few months off to deal with various family matters. I was not sure what I wanted to do next, and was sending out resumes and looking for work but not very certain what kind of work I wanted to pursue. My son and I were talking on the phone, and he suggested that perhaps I should just focus on writing. It is funny when I look back on it; such a simple suggestion. I was looking in the mirror a little while later and I realized, "I am a writer." Yes, there were many other things I could do, but in my heart what I am is what I was when I was a kid. I am a writer. When I was a little kid, or a teenager, or a young adult and single parent I didn't know enough to realize where my dream of writing might take me. My view was very limited by a life still green on the vine. I could not have known back then that there would be this thing called "the Internet", or something known as a "blog". I could not have known that in the middle of my life I would meet a man on "the Internet", marry him and move to a 200-year-old farm in Western New York. I could not have known that a few months later I would decide to write a little blog about my new life and a little bit of knitting. I certainly could not have known that through various sets of circumstances my little blog would come to be read by several thousand people each week or that I would design some knitted items and start publishing and selling knitting patterns. Knitting patterns, really? This I could not have known and yet, here I am. 11nov08_pondI am a writer, and I get to write from a beautiful old farm where I also get to live. I get to have a dear husband to share life with, a flowing river right across the road, I get to knit in the morning, write and paint in the afternoons, I get to know and love that dear sweet dog named Blu, and I have two wonderful children who are adults now themselves ... learning a thing or two about their own dreams and the unexpected paths life can carry you along as you ease your way through and into dreams that can come true. The way I wrapped up the conversation with my husband was this: If you came into life with some finite number of dreams you were assigned, then "Oh crap!" would be true. Yes, some of your dreams are not going to come true. I can pretty much promise you that. Just remember, that is not the whole story of you. The cool thing is that you did not come into this life with only a certain number of dreams you were allowed to dream. The number of dreams you can dream is infinite, plus they can get better and better the more you actually live your life and learn a bit more about who you really are. ~firefly

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