I’ve spent a lot of time lately reflecting on what it takes to fulfill a dream. The energy and language of my dreams has changed as I’ve grown and aged. As a child in Plymouth I focused on what I hoped to find under the Christmas tree (see list from 1983 below), where I wanted to go to college (Harvard) and what I wanted to be when I grew up (2 highlights: criminal defense lawyer and actuary). As a teenager I dreamed of who would be my first boyfriend and what college life would be like. In college I concerned myself with how I could make the best use of my summers and what I would do after graduating (those dreams were definitely based more in fear than the wonder and delight that punctuated the dreams of my youth). After meeting my future husband at 21 and moving with him to San Diego at age 23, the dreams of my 20’s reflected on where we’d finally settle down, whether we’d ever make it to Coachella or Bonnaroo, and what I would be when I (finally) grew up. Twelve days before my 30th birthday I became a mother. The dreams of my early 30’s focused on my kids (and, in turn, me) sleeping through the night and my one-year old successfully potty-training (that would be the influence of my mother, the British nanny. Both kids were fully potty trained by 2 1/2; with experience I realized 12 months was a bit unrealistic). By my mid-30’s I began to dream of weekend women’s retreats and of ways to pursue my interests while still fulfilling my role as a full-time stay at home mom.
As I’ve journeyed through life, one area that I’ve developed a passion for is the process of creating the future. I’ve been fortunate to meet amazing people, read inspiring books, and take transformative courses that have helped me understand the role humans have in creating our lives. In effect, our thoughts create our language and our language creates our world. Some of these thoughts turn into reality immediately (i.e. I want a glass of water), while others take time to nurture. In dream language, there are short-term dreams and long-term dreams. My Christmas wish list was a short-term dream, while my desire to go to Harvard was a long-term one. I declared my Harvard dream at age 6 (as a mom to a 4 and 8 year old, that kind of blows my mind), and I finally fulfilled on it 11 years later. The closer I got to my dream, the more scared I became that it wouldn’t come true. As a senior in high school I changed my mind and decided Princeton was the school for me. Interestingly enough, I got accepted to Harvard and wait-listed at Princeton. After holding my desires strongly in my mind for so many years, it would take more than a little fear to stop them from coming true. From what I can tell, there’s a Universal energy waiting to support us in accomplishing our deepest desires…if we can figure out what those are. Mark Twain is credited as saying: “I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” As we get older and are faced with the distractions and responsibilities of daily life, it can be difficult to nurture the long-term dreams for as long as it takes to fulfill them. For some of us, we’re so focused on surviving life that even the short-term dreams become unattainable. Our thoughts are filled with the realities of car troubles, money scarcity, health issues, relationship drama…and we escape with TV, Facebook, booze, or countless other vices…whatever it takes to get through the day.
In 2008 I was in almost daily conversation with Kristi, a woman I’m proud to call a friend and mentor. We were both part of a group committed to sufficiency, the practice of choosing to view the world through the lens of “I’m enough.” I was still fairly new to motherhood at that point (my oldest son was born in 2006) and I’d recently moved back to New England from San Diego. My choice to stay home with my son left me satisfied and at peace in some ways, and filled with doubts and discontent in others. The challenge of carving out a life for Danielle, the woman, while living in my husband’s hometown of Warwick RI (a bit of a culture shock after living in San Diego for 7 years) and spending the majority of my days meeting the demands and needs of a very active toddler, left me at times feeling overwhelmed and disconnected from the person I used to be. My conversations with Kristi helped to ground me in the language of sufficiency–instead of lamenting what I didn’t get done that day, I learned to celebrate my daily accomplishments, no matter how small they seemed. At one point, Kristi suggested I start a blog, something that had never occurred to me. I remember where I was when she said it; it became a defining moment in my life. I recognized her suggestion as something completely in alignment with who I am and a natural self-expression for me. It started as a conversation, and became a private dream that I held onto and nourished through the sleepless years of early motherhood, with no idea when or if it would become a reality. I wrote my first blog post in September of 2008, and dutifully saved it in a folder on my computer.
Since that first blog post, I’ve distracted myself with birthing another son; moving twice; reading about a hundred novels; washing thousands of dishes; and watching more bad TV than I care to admit. Amidst those distractions, I still held onto that dream and I channeled it into many amazingly written emails, some deeply reflective journal entries, and a handful of blog posts saved in my “Writing & Blogging entries” file. I came up with all sorts of reasons why I couldn’t just start a damn blog already: the most dominant one being that I wouldn’t know how to set it up. Anybody who knows me will tell you that I can research the heck out of anything. I fancy myself a bit of an information hoarder. Surely there must be one or two websites that could have guided me through starting a blog, had I cared to look. The thing is, I didn’t care to look. I threw myself into studying motherhood and filled my days with the responsibilities of running a household; I looked forward to weekly playdates and monthly concerts (thank you for keeping me connected to that piece of myself, dear music friends!); I researched the safest products and pushed endless trains around tracks and tucked my dream away somewhere, to be tended to at a later date when I had the time and energy and could think clearly enough and perhaps sit uninterrupted without someone needing something from me for more than five minutes.
Just like my dream to Harvard didn’t just go away because I grew fearful as the time approached, my dream to write and blog publicly didn’t just go away because I basically ignored it for six years. The wonderful and interesting thing about the Universal energy that wants to see us fulfill our dreams is that it does what it can while we are off doing other things. I actively nurtured some other dreams while I ignored my blog dream, and in 2014, some of those dreams started to feed off each other. I knew that one day I wanted to become certified as a health and wellness coach, and that as part of that I wanted to offer coaching in creating the future. I invited a group of women to gather at my home in early February to create our Intentions for 2014, and I envisioned that gathering as one of my first ‘programs’ in my future career. I declared to that group of women that in 2014 I intended to fulfill my most closely-held dream of starting a blog, knowing that making a declaration to others is a powerful way to make me honor my word to myself. By August I hadn’t taken any steps towards creating my blog, and I couldn’t bear to disappoint the women I had made a commitment to. I wrote my first official blog post in September, named and publicized my blog in October, and once I started writing I couldn’t stop the ideas from flowing, I couldn’t deny my dream of becoming a health and wellness coach any longer, and as it turns out my dreams are connected, one is feeding the other, and life is unfolding in a way that I could NOT see happening just a few months ago. Now I can’t remember what the heck took me so long to get here…except that I know it was fear of being vulnerable, fear of being inadequate, and maybe also the fear of what will happen if I actually accomplish my big dreams…what then?
It’s a little weird to write a bunch of words about myself and not know who may read them. I use first person language as much as possible because I don’t know what your experience of life is, so I try not to assume the royal “we” in my writing. My hope is that you see some of your own life in my writing, and that you consider what dreams you may have tucked away deep; dreams that are safe and protected but also unfulfilled and wishing for nourishment. Will 2015 be the year they find a place in your consciousness again?
Dylan & Cooper as infants…my most worthwhile “distractions”
Here it is…my very first blog post. Until now it was tucked away on my computer, for my eyes only.
9.11.08 around 11:30pm
So, I’m new to this whole idea of blogging. I’ve been writing in a diary for as long as I’ve been able to write. Not always consistently, not always in the same format, but always writing. I write letters to people & photocopy them before I send them. I started writing a journal to my son before he was born, before I knew he was a son. I write thank you cards, Happy Spring cards, Happy New Year’s cards (but not Christmas cards). I write. Writing is part of who I am; it IS my creative expression in this world. It’s not my only creative expression, but it’s the one I feel most connected to and the most comfortable in. So I guess it’s natural that it would lead to blogging one day, but it’s still a whole new thing. I do miss the touch of the pen on the paper, the value of having good penmanship. I’m faster at typing, and it feels good to do, but I still miss the physical writing piece.
With this blogging, they say you should find your niche, find your target audience. I used to work in marketing, so I get that. Be overly specific, be so freakin’ specific about who you want that you intrigue other people who aren’t that. So, who do I want? And who am I?
That’s part of this whole mothering thing, and I guess part of life in general. I am continually discovering who I am, and who I want to be. I am also continually challenged by the limitations/restrictions that my life as a mom presents. Is “limitations” the right word? I have made the choice to stay home with my son, and I’m grateful to have that choice. However, being responsible for the life of another human being definitely brings different expectations to the table.
I sometimes use the name “naturalmama” as a login name for online communities. That is who I am…sort of. But after googling “natural mama blog,” and reading the first one that came up, I realized that although that IS a piece of me, it’s not all I want to write about. The term “Sufficiency” holds a high place in my life, and in what I’m pursuing as my life’s work at the moment (not paid work, mind you—well, maybe, depending on how you look at it). Should I weave that in somewhere? How would someone else describe me, if they found me on the internet? New age? Sounds weird…and not me. There are SO many facets to who I am, it’s hard to limit it to just one. There’s that term again…limit. I’m sure this is what many other Moms feel too. Are we really encouraged as a culture & as a social group to fully engage & explore the meaning of being a “Mom” to each of us, and to embrace what pieces we identify with, and forgive what pieces we choose to leave behind?
The funny thing about becoming a Mom…it’s not something you’re born into. It’s something you grow into. It’s something that some women choose, and some women don’t and some women end up being, even though they didn’t really want it in the first place. Because it’s something that comes later in life, it seems to come with all of these either/or conditions. I can either be a working mom, or be a stay-at-home mom. I can either take care of others, or take care of myself. I can either pursue my career, or I can put it on hold to raise my family. I can either take time for myself, or I can really be present with my child…but can I do both? When we enter the phase of new mommy-hood, it’s like learning who you are & creating yourself in a whole new way, every single day. Sometimes I want to reclaim parts of myself from the past, and sometimes I’m content to leave them behind. Sometimes nostalgia for the past, and for what could have been, is overwhelming. And then, my child laughs, or cries, or calls out for his da-da (I like to think he doesn’t say my name that much because I’m with him so often—nice justification, huh!?), and I’m brought back to the present moment. I guess it’s really the journey I’m grateful for, as much as it stretches & pulls me sometimes to places I’d be comfortable not visiting.