Dreams to Reach For

In 2000 I had a “mid-life-crisis.” My oldest daughter was living over seas. My oldest son was on a high-adventure backpacking trip with Boy Scouts. I had recently had two miscarriages, which turned my “feel-better-when-pregnant” world upside down.

I crawled into bed for a few days and refused to get out from under the covers. I grieved all the lost dreams from my past; mourned all the things I would never get the chance to do. I was angry that time passed so quickly; and furious that I couldn’t have it all and do it all.

And then, while I was wallowing in despair, I randomly thumbed through a scrapbooking magazine. An article in that issue of Memory Makers was powerful enough to get me out of bed and back on my feet. It was the birth of “My Dream Book.”

Based on this article, and on “WishCraft” by Barbara Sher, I put together a scrapbook of things I still want to do sometime before I die. I guess you could call it another form of a “bucket list.” I didn’t just make a list of things, however. I decorated 2 pages for each idea and gathered them in a notebook, ready to add photos and journaling once I accomplished each “dream.”

As I worked on this scrapbook, powerful things happened. I realized my life was not yet over—there was still plenty of time to experience whatever things were most important to me to pursue. As I shared my book with family, my children began to see me as someone more than just “mom,” someone with hopes and dreams of my own. And, over the years, as I have shared this book with friends, some of them began to dream for themselves and wrote down their own list of possibilities to pursue.

I also discovered that there is power in capturing dreams in written form. It makes them feel “doable.” It is a first step toward taking those dreams seriously and in making them real. Within just a few months of finishing that blank scrapbook, we rented a jetski while on a family vacation, we ordered a brand new car, and, later that fall, my husband sent me to meet my oldest daughter in Europe for a few weeks of travel. “Dreams” were already coming true!

To help jumpstart YOUR “dream-book,” here is what I chose to include in mine:

  • Swim with dolpins
  • Re-conquer my fear of heights by successfully climbing difficult walls/cliffs
  • Get something off my chest in an op-ed piece…and see it published!
  • Go on a white water rafting adventure (in the Grand Canyon??)
  • Spend time with (or as!) an ethno-musicologist
  • Make weekly entries in a personal “illustrated journal”
  • Spend a day playing in a waterfall
  • Teach an adult how to read
  • Write a book and have it published
  • Help research & edit a family history/memorabilia book (based on Grandmother Celia’s postcards?)
  • See my children happily married
  • Return to canoe in the Boundary Waters of MN with my family
  • Climb a mountain
  • Once again become fluent in Spanish (or another foreign language)
  • Celebrate our 40th, 50th, and even 60th wedding anniversaries—still happily married!
  • Have an article I’ve written be published in a magazine
  • Spend a week kayaking along a coastal area (or even just a day!)
  • Follow the route of the Oregon Trail (at least part of the way in a covered wagon!)
  • Learn synchronized swimming
  • See volcanoes in Hawaii (including hiking inside craters and seeing lava hit the ocean)
  • Invest in building happy memories of fun times together with our grandchildren!
  • Go on a cruise
  • Visit Yellowstone National Park in the winter
  • Adopt a wild mustang & tame and train it
  • Learn fencing
  • Have a joke published in Reader’s Digest
  • Again play cello in a community orchestra
  • Know that each one of my children and grandchildren have a vital relationship with God
  • Put all my photos in albums & be up-to-date with scrapbooking! [YEAH, RIGHT!]
  • Work on a political campaign for someone I passionately support
  • See some of my scrapbook pages published!

Here are more “dreams” from my scrapbook that have been at least partially accomplished:

  • Ride on a dog sled [still want to do this in winter—rode behind Iditerod sled dogs at Dream a Dream Kennels in Alaska, summer 2009]
  • Experience “white nights” during a polar summer [experienced in Alaska, June 2009]
  • Ensure that my children have at least one great experience that I’ve had
  • Learn to snowboard [did it once—that was enough! Killington 2001 with sister Jo and sister-in-law Rebecca]
  • Spend time overseas—as missionaries directly or working along-side missionaries [we are in Navajoland instead of overseas…May 2010 to present]
  • Ride a jet ski [August 2000 Lake Cumberland KY; May 2007 with Stausmires at “the Rock” Lake Erie]
  • Return to the Yucatan Peninsula with someone I love [with family in 2002 and again with husband to “house hunt” in 2006!]
  • Spend one year travelling—with NO summer [spent 2 weeks in Chile in July 2007 with my mom to snow-ski on her 70th birthday)
  • Explore a wild cave [with a guide in Yucatan, Fall 2002]
  • Hike the entire Appalachian Trail [started this…and because of where we now live I want to start working on the Continental Divide Trail instead)
  • See the Northern Lights [twice in Ohio!!]
  • Find a job for pay (or a volunteer position) that uses my skills and creativity [editor and writer of monthly newsletter for PetConnex…and now working in Navajoland]
  • Be a ski instructor for a season [I’m counting being a ski-patroller and OEC instructor for 4 seasons!]
  • Visit Jasper National Park & Banff [May 2009 while on RV adventure]
  • Go on a whale watch and see a breach [June 2009—Kenai Fjords National Park ½ cruise while on RV adventure]
  • Order a new car—and choose the color! [PT Cruiser—summer 2000]
  • Visit England [twice…and planning for another trip next year]
  • Hit the road for a year in an RV [after Randy’s cancer and James’ death – December 2008 through August 2009—travelled out west and in Alaska]
  • See the start & the end of the Iditarod [saw the starting point in Anchorage, stayed at Dream a Dream Kennels with Iditarod racer and dogs, participated in Iditarod Educator’s Camp…still want to actually see the race!]
  • Learn to make stained glass & make a panel for our dining room [Randy commissioned two stained glass panels in memory of James…not particularly interested in doing this myself anymore]

Looking back 10 years later, our lives have changed. We have less income and some things have lost their importance to me. Here are some entries that I recently moved into another probably-will-never-happen album:

  • Travel to Prince Edward Island & see the “Anne of Green Gables” sights
  • See the wild beauty of Nova Scotia
  • Help with renovations and live in a new-use-for-an-old-building home (barn, covered bridge, church, etc)
  • Skinny-dip on a private tropical beach with my husband!
  • Go on a vacation where I really contribute (with Earthwatch??)
  • Watch the sun set over Machu Picchu
  • Go on safari across the Serengeti Plains of Africa
  • Paint “Creation” on a flight of stairs [did all the sketches…no longer have stairs!]
  • Fill my passport with visas from different places
  • Heli-ski virgin snow
  • Make my own maple syrup
  • Own a grandfather clock [no longer have the space for one!]
  • Ride in the GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure)
  • Trek to Mt. Everest Base Camp

And, finally, here are a few more “dreams” I just might add to my book:

  • Visit Laura Ingalls Wilder sites [is it cheating to add this after the fact? We visited DeSmet SD and Wisconsin in July 2009. I would now like to visit her home in Missouri…]
  • Blog regularly for at least a year [I’ve started on this…both for Lybrook and for myself heading toward 50 years old]
  • Get EMS certification [already have EMT-Basic, seriously considering going for Paramedic certification, especially so I could eventually teach First Responders and so I could get qualified to lead Critical Incident Stress Debriefs]
  • Help my children follow their passions…and find careers that interest them
  • Follow in the footsteps of Eliza Doolittle…wear a fancy hat and cheer for the horses at Royal Ascot! (I won’t scream “Move yer bloomin’ arse!” … I promise!) [hoping to do this with my sister Jo in June 2012]
  • See building or renovation plans ACTUALLY BE BUILT!
  • See “down-the-road” how I’ve made a difference in the life of a young person
  • Challenge others to “reach for their Dreams” – and celebrate with them when they accomplish it!
  • Help Anna earn at least 50 Jr Ranger Badges…and maybe even 75 of them?! [She is currently at badge 42 with 3-4 years of age-eligibility still to go]
  • Swim with Manatees – in memory of James
  • Self-publish a photo book … or two or three!

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