Tag Archives: dreams

Bittersweet

As I hugged my son before he headed back to college, I looked up and saw my neighbor from across the street with two of his young boys.  Seeing them triggered a memory of us moving into the neighborhood when my son was only four and his sister not yet born.  So much has happened in the time since we moved here.  Now my little boy is a man, and my dream of raising beautiful children has been realized.  I waved to my son as he headed away, then blinked and felt stinging in my heart.

I went inside and told myself to put on a smile and be glad he was able to visit the entire break.  My practical side usually wins out, but not this time.  I wondered why this good-bye felt so poignant – and came up with no explanation.  After all, my son is a junior in college and has been saying good-bye between terms for 3 years now.  His university is only 80 miles away; I will see him quite a few times over the next months.

I looked for comfort by reminding myself how wonderful it is that he has grown into an extraordinarily beautiful person.  Then another memory flashed through my mind.   Many years ago, a friend and I walked together after leaving our boys to start their first day of kindergarten.  As the school doors shut behind us, my friend stopped and leaned back against the closed door.  She slumped and looked out absently.  “Now what?” she asked the air around us.

On that hot August day sixteen years ago, I did not share my friend’s feeling of emptiness.  In fact, my reaction was the opposite.  I was excited about my son starting school and looking forward to what would come next in our journey together.  Now I identify with my friend much better.  Today, I understand how bittersweet it can feel when some dreams come true.

One day my neighbor across the street will hug his son as he leaves home…, but today is my day.  I blink a few more times and let “Now what?” float through my thoughts and feelings as I wait for what’s next on our journey.

Davis at 5      Davis at 20

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Raggedy Ann

I woke up on my 5th birthday to bright morning sunlight coming through the windows of my grandparents’ den, where I was sleeping on the couch like I always did when we visited their house.  Lying on my side facing across the room, the first thing I saw was a Raggedy Ann doll sitting on a chair by the door.  I couldn’t believe it!  Raggedy Ann was the gift I wanted with all my heart!  Seeing her was so incredible, I wondered if she was really there.  Then I remembered it was my birthday, and flew from the couch to pick her up.

100_9121 She truly was a Raggedy Ann doll, the full-size one with red hair, red and white striped stocking legs, apron, calico dress and bloomers!  If she was the real Raggedy Ann, the one in the books Mom and Dad read to me, she would have “I love you” written inside a heart drawn on her chest.  I checked.  There was.  I knew right then it was going to be the best day ever.

Raggedy Ann has been with me for over forty-two years.  As I moved into my ‘tweens, she sat on my bed with an assortment of stuffed animals.  Eventually, the stuffed animals were given away and Raggedy Ann placed safely in a box for many years.  She had become a bit tattered over time and needed stitches in her neck and a stocking replaced, so when my little girl was born Raggedy Ann was put on her shelf instead of into her hands.  Raggedy Ann didn’t hold the same sort of appeal for my daughter, so this worked out just fine until it was time to store Raggedy Ann once again.  It’s funny how a particular moment or gift will stick with you all your life.  Although Raggedy Ann is a doll long outgrown and will likely never be on the top of any future granddaughter’s wish list, I will keep her safely stored, because the truth is she is keeping a wonderful childhood memory alive for me.

Raggedy Ann HeartI’ve been thinking about the children I know now and how excited they are about Christmas next week.  Many of them will wake up Christmas morning hoping the gift they want most will be in their stocking or under the tree.  I was once one of those kids, and on many years received the gift I wanted most of all, yet it’s the memory of Raggedy Ann sitting on the chair of my grandparents’ den that stands out as my most delightful childhood gift.  Christmas is just a few days out.  I hope each and every child wakes up to an exciting fun morning with plenty of delight and love in everyone’s heart.

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Improvement Needed

Have you ever noticed how many little tasks can be completed when you are procrastinating about starting something more important?  You wouldn’t believe how clean my office became today.  Magazines sent to recycle, binders labeled, notes sorted and filed, and everything dusted.  Not only that, but procrastinating helped me finish several “to do” items on various lists.  People were called, emails sent, follow-up completed, and a new clean “to do” list created.  The only thing better for wrapping up loose ends than procrastination is an impending vacation.

It’s handy to have all the little tasks completed, my desk swept clean, and my task list whittled down.  My business improves when I follow through on good ideas by contacting people and following up.  For these reasons, procrastination can be helpful, but there is another side to my story.  Procrastination also keeps me from building my skills and business as well as I can.  The problem with procrastination and deadlines is not finishing the project on time.  It’s knowing I could have done a better job.  Revisions and improvement need time, and not just the time to do them, but time to realize what needs changing.  Too often, I let myself procrastinate until there is no time for improvement. 

I wrote about procrastination in a December 2011 post, “An Easy Life”, and noted that being comfortable in your lifestyle allows you to avoid unpleasant tasks.  This is a different take.  Here I am talking about procrastinating in areas you WANT to improve, in letting yourself stay at status quo when you dream of being a rock star (or a keynote speaker coaching star).

There are many projects for which I have built enough skill to do the job well whether or not procrastination is an issue.  My performance is fine and when someone tells me I did a good job I say “thank you “ and smile, even though inside I know it wasn’t my best effort.  It feels like I’m putting up a false front, looking good on the outside with so little going on inside.  On the other hand, if I accomplish my mission, so what if it isn’t my best effort?  What does it matter as long as I do a good job?

It doesn’t always matter.  Good enough is good enough in some cases.  The disappointment comes when there is a gap between where I want to be and where I am, coupled with the knowledge of an opportunity wasted.  I don’t mind performance gaps when I’m working to improve, but it bothers me when I let go of a chance to do better.

What changes when you put time in your most important priorities?

I’m working on whittling down my procrastination habit as well as my never-ending task list.  Being a naturally creative resourceful person, I’ve figured out some strategies for making change.  One is having an accountability group that teleconferences weekly, another is having my own business coach, and a third is to create additional requirements that force me to finish the primary project earlier.  For instance, now I video-tape my presentations, watch them, and then make changes.  This means I have to finish my presentations much earlier.

It takes time to undo one habit and replace it with another, but I’ve already proven my willingness to change in other areas.  I’ll use those examples as reminders to myself that change will happen if I keep it a priority and find strategies that work for me.

In the meantime, I have a clean, organized office once again, with a shorter “to-do” list.  However, the next time I wrap up so many loose ends I hope it’s because I’m going on vacation!

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Clarity

I like to spend time in my imagination.  It’s a fun place to be.  Plans develop, careers soar, homes grace magazine covers, and children all grow to be happy and successful with lots of time for mom.  Yes, I really like imagination.  My reality is pretty good too, and I enjoy spending time in the present, but my imagination seems to hold my future – or at least future possibilities. 

How can the fun of daydreaming be used to create the life you want for yourself? By using the act of imagining, you can lead yourself to the steps you need to take to live in that dream.  (As a life coach, my solutions almost always involve action!)  The dreams you have represent what you value and want in your life.  You can expand on your dreams and do more than want it; you can define the goal so clearly that you know exactly what to do to live the dream.

First, let me explain about dreams versus fantasies.  Fantasies are fun, too, but they are not based on something over which you have much control.  Winning the lottery is a fantasy of mine.  However, there is only one way I can make the fantasy of winning the lottery real:  buy a ticket.  So far, buying lottery tickets hasn’t worked for me.  I’ve imagined winning and bought a ticket or two, but nada, not a thing has happened except the exchange of a dollar for a few minutes of fantasy.  (It’s worth the buck though.) 

Conversely, if you have some degree of control over turning your dream into reality, then it’s a dream worth pursuing with action.  The challenge is for me always is “How do I move from where I am now to where I am in my imagination?”

One tool that works well for me is clarity.  From the soft blurry focus of a dream you can develop a clear vision of what the dream looks like in real life.  What does a dream of success look like?  If I dream of being the kind of speaker who has audiences rolling in emotions of laughter, understanding, insight, and connection…, then how do I put clarity in this dream?  (and I do have this dream….)

A good place to start is by asking myself more about what I’m seeing.  Who is in the audience?  Are they parents, businesspeople, men, women, children, corporate employees, college seniors, retirees, fitness fanatics, entrepreneurs, or who?  What is my topic?  Is it cooking tips, magic tricks, social media strategies, entertainment, or overcoming obstacles?  Why in the world is the audience listening to me?  What does it give them to hear me?

That’s a little bit about what I mean by clarity.  It’s taking the dream and adding details, the kind of details that point you in a direction of steps to take.  If I know more precisely what the dream represents, then I have a clearer understanding of what I need to do to break free of the dream world and move into the present one.

A lot of business gurus will tell you to identify your market very clearly, and then identify what problem you are solving for them.  It’s a good strategy.  It can move you from dreaming about business success to living it.  Identifying your market clearly and the problem you solve for that market is another way of adding details to your dream of a profitable business.  I like the idea of using this strategy to move any dream from imagination to real life. 

If clarity works for business dreams, it can work for personal dreams.

I dream of being the kind of mom with whom my kids are always pleased to spend time.  What does that look like in real life?  How do we spend time together?  What does it give them to spend time with me?  What do we talk about and how do I respond to their stories, excitement, tragedies, and requests for advice… or for a sympathetic ear?  How do I make time for them and what do I do to make it easier for them to be with me? 

Most people do not clarify these kinds of details when they think of personal dreams, but I do because it’s very important to me that this dream stays real; in order to make it real, I need to be clear on what my role is in the transformation.  Like any goal, business or personal, it’s up to me to turn my dream into real life. 

My dreams of becoming a sought-after speaker, of growing a solid profitable business, and of being the kind of person whose children want to spend time with her are each up to me to make real.  There are many strategies to employ, with one being to paint the pictures of my dreams vividly, and use those renderings as blueprints to build a better reality.  Blueprints make it really clear on what the dream looks like in real life, and what my role is in making it happen.  A blueprint gives me clarity.  Then I have to move out of my head and into real life, one step at a time.

What is a dream of yours?

What would it become if you added in all the details?

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