My oldest daughter asked me what my New Year’s resolutions are. I told her I didn’t do resolutions, and sent her this pic instead:
Following your dreams, or making a plan to go after what you want is important. Without dreaming, human beings might become soulless shells of ourselves, wandering around with no ability to give our lives meaning or purpose. Over the years, as I’ve pursued my passions, I’ve encouraged others to do so. And now I want to encourage people to do something else: GET REAL.
For a long time, I lived in what I call the Land of Potential. I always saw how things could be, I worked toward my goals, I made plans, I fed my psyche positive affirmations like a drug addict snorts cocaine. (Actually, I don’t know if that analogy is correct as I’ve never done drugs in my life, but I hope you get the idea.) I turned myself into a positive person. I dove into my stories, created other worlds and happy endings, hoping that one day I too would have this elusive happy ending. I mean, if you fake it long enough, eventually it should come true, right?
As my friends and readers know, three years ago, my marriage ended. At the time, I remember going public with it, finally no longer feeling like a fraud by pretending my life was an HEA when it wasn’t.
Skipping over the past three years, I’m going to insert you into my life about a month prior when I discovered a lump in my armpit. Terrified it would be cancer, I sought medical advice and was told it was a cyst. Nothing to worry about, right?
I developed more cysts and boils on the surface of the skin. Turns out I had shingles and a staph infection. It would have been easy for me to delve into the world of my books – write a story, narrate some more, pick up my kindle and read one of the hundreds of books I never get time to read. Submersing myself in the land of make-believe sounded like a great idea, but I knew I couldn’t do that this time.
I knew for myself, I have a habit of manifesting physical conditions when I’m letting go of things emotionally. These illnesses were information and I needed to listen. I won’t bore anyone with the details of my healing, but I will say that I took this opportunity to listen to myself, and figure out what I needed to do to heal.
Well-meaning friends told me to “envision the life I wanted” once I was well. While I sincerely appreciate their well wishes and sentiments, as I’m sure I’ve said this to others on occasion, I knew that envisioning my future life illness free was not what I needed to do. I had to “get real” with myself, look at the life I had and live in reality.
“Getting real” for me meant taking a look back at the past and seeing my life for what it was, not what I would have liked it to have been like. I had to come to terms with the fact that in any given situation, I did the best I could with the knowledge and awareness I had at the time. I had to stop eating myself up inside (and quite literally with the infection I had) over things I could not change.
Being real with myself also meant, I had to deal with the current situation. I put on hold all work projects until the New Year, a situation I’m blessed to be able to do. A lot of people might not have this “luxury”. I meditated a lot, I slept A LOT, I made outings short if I had to venture out, and did what was best for me in the moment. While the Christmas season can be blessed with joy, it’s also a time when others place expectations on you for visitation, outings, etc. I made sure to do what was best for me and while I made apologies for not being able to attend some events, I did not allow myself to feel guilty in the least for not living up to the expectations of others.
I took the opportunity to see how different my life, and all the wonderful people I’ve brought into it by changing my life one step at a time. I realized how much love and support I had in various forms which I did not have three years ago. Accepting that the hard work I’ve done inwardly, as well as outwardly, has paid off was a wonderful realization.
So, here’s my long-winded point: Make your vision boards, set your goals, dream big about how you’d like your life to be. But don’t get so caught up in the fantasy, you forget to live your life for real.
Your goals will only be met if you put the work into it, if you deal with your life on a daily basis and live in the moment. Is that always fun or pleasant? No. Is it necessary? I believe so. It is for me.
Keep your day dreams where you can see them, just don’t make them all you see. Some times we want something so bad, we try to force it or create a reality that isn’t there. Be open to the journey and let things unfold as they should. It’s easy for us to stay with the familiar because it’s…well, familiar. This quote from Jeremy Wade of River Monsters fame, summed up how I feel about any new venture in life, whether it’s career, relationships or what have you:
“Dejected, I stared at the water and pondered the strange mechanics of perception – the perplexing fact that you can only see something properly if you already know what you’re looking for.” (Jeremy Wade, River Monsters, 2011) It’s difficult for us to perceive of anything new when we’ve never seen it before. But isn’t that half the fun of life – to venture into uncharted territory and see what happens?
In conclusion, dream big and create the reality you want, but I think Jean-Luc says it better: