I’m facing a bit of a crisis in my life… ok, I’m being a bit dramatic. Beae with me on this one. Several weeks ago someone complimented me on “living the dream”. I don’t know if they were joking or jealous. But being the literal person that I am… I responded, “What IS the dream?”
Wait. Really. Am I supposed to be living the dream? What IS my dream? Why don’t I know what my dream is? There I stood at a cross roads. Do I even have a dream?
Honestly, I can see why people go through a midlife crisis… jumping from one opportunity to “follow their bliss” to the next until they figure out what their dream is… yeah, midlife crisis waiting to happen. And the thought-tunnel for this blog post started there. So, this topic has now been brewing for some time. Wander down this path with me?
Sure… they have happened to me… great, amazing, jaw-dropping opportunities have come my way. I have a sweet looking life from my Facebook and Instagram posts: I have an amazing (and good lookin’) hubby, adorable dog that loves me so much she could lick my face off, we’re living in a stylin’ place, drive some pretty great wheels, etc. I have a blessed life. I truly do. Things have happened to me that I could have never dreamed up on my own. And still I ran with them. I mean, I literally RAN with them. I was HANDED those opportunities – you better believe I jumped on board.
For instance, having some of my handcrafted creations featured in a national best-selling magazine?! My response: “Yes, Madam Editor, I’ll send you some of my designs so you can include them in a photo shoot. Oh! You want to put it on the COVER of the magazine?! Sure – I’ll put something together for you STAT!” I set to work to strategize how to make the logistics come together to meet their expectations in delivery time and quality of product. I jumped on that opportunity train and rode it all the way out of the station…
Winning the middle school science fair? OK! (Yes, THIS, my friends, is the epitome of “success”!) I won 2nd place! The premise of my research and testing? I sampled and tested the reading rate of various subjects when they read black letters on various colors of paper. Yeah, that was a very scientific study and I’m sure the big publishing houses could benefit from this information. I mean clearly, they’ll all want to use orange paper instead of white going forward, right? Because it’ll help their readers get through the books faster and their customers will have time to buy/read more books. Right?! And as an astute 12-year-old I set out with a mind to win 2nd place knowing that, right?! No. But boy, I pushed myself to do the best I could in completing the task.
Finding an amazing love story and being brave enough to trust again (after dealing with years of horrendous pain and shame)…. landing an amazing job that gave me more opportunities to grow and explore… purchasing a home as a single woman (just years after being left with nothing)… enjoying the amount of globe-trotting I’ve done… the list goes on…
Spending 4 months of my life living/working in Geneva, Switzerland and getting a chance to roam around and travel the surrounding area on the weekends? YES PLEASE!!! Having my parents come out for a 10 day visit, giving my mom a chance to travel outside the USA for the first time? Thank you, fancy company that I love working for, and working hard for!
Speaking of, having the opportunity to use my talents on a daily basis by adding value to a firm and their clients and their objectives… and for the most part enjoying doing it for over 18 years now! I actually LIKE Mondays… yes, I’m weird.
Being asked to speak in church… about sex… in Romania. Craziness! This is crazy because I was a woman speaking in a church in Romania at a time when women were not permitted to speak in church, let alone even sit next to their husbands. Yes, in a Christian church. Men sat on one side of the aisle, and the women sat on the other side of the aisle. And there I was talking to the women of the church, on the stage, behind the pulpit, teaching them what the BIble says about the importance of sexually purity. (And one of the male Romanian Pastors was standing just outside the back door listening in.) Besides being so vulnerable about the topic, my presence behind that pulpit was laying some important groundwork for their future leadership roles among the other women in the church. I can promise you, when I was five years old I never said to myself “When I grow up I want to leave a legacy for the women in the church of Romania.” Never. And yet I was given the opportunity and you better believe me when I say I ran with it.
Having some of my photographs published in poetry books, as cover art for a jazz album, in corporate calendars and marketing pieces, and more? OK! What a treat!!! Did I take expensive and technical classes and use fancy equipment with hopes of being recognized for my superior skill? No. I just followed my gut and took pictures that appealed to my sense of style and feeling. But I sure worked hard at balancing all of that creativity! (wink)
I am not THAT lucky
Literally… I could not have dreamt these things up. (If anyone would have told this girl who did horribly in ALL of her math courses that she would enjoy working at an investment firm probably would have been laughed at!) I know that a lot of people dream and dream and pray and hope endlessly for good things to finally happen to them. Not me. I didn’t go out of my way seeking these amazing opportunities. The doors opened and I saw the opportunities and I jumped on them! I fully comprehend that I am blessed to have been given these opportunities.
But dare I say that I also worked HARD to prove I was worthy of these opportunities. I am a perpetual learner. I have constantly pushed myself to be the best ME I could be. But to dream up these specific types of dreams? No. These things that have happened to me – these are things that wild dreams are made of. I’m creative – but not that creative. These were opportunities. And as they say “opportunities are what dreams are made of”… right? RIGHT?!
What do I want to do “when I grow up”?
So, here I am… still asking myself “What ARE my dreams? Do I have a dream? Do I know what I want to do ‘when I grow up’? And is that my dream?”
And I’m feeling my mid-life crisis creep closer… (wink)
OK – I can dream about financial freedom, more days off, a life of leisure on the back of a yacht with a mimosa in my hand. I could dream of a quiet, simple life with no cares in the world. I could dream of all the wealth this world can hold and more. I could dream of a studio (my own creative space) for a place to play in all day long. The list could truly go on…
And maybe I’d be happy with some of these things for a short period of time… but in reality I know I simply wouldn’t be fulfilled by any of these things.
I’m not kidding. That’s just not how I’m wired. That’s not to say that those things can’t be someone else’s dream. But they aren’t mine.
A few things come to mind, but at first glance they seem more like items from a bucket list or personal goals. But they aren’t really big fat “DREAMS”… are they?
Lori’s Bucket List
- Write a book or two, maybe even finish that cookbook I’ve been threatening
- Ride a zipline when I hit my next weight loss goal
- Have coffee with Linda Carter (yes, seriously)
- Hold the hands of my parents and grandparents as they take their last breaths
- Go on a bike ride with George W. Bush (yes, seriously… ok, that one might be pushing it)
- Take my husband to Romania, to give him a tour of the places and people who changed my outlook on life
- Live in Paris for a month
- Participate as an Honor Flight chaperone
- Visit and tour Jerusalem and the countries of my heritage (Norway and Germany)
- Go skydiving
- Have my ashes scattered into the Black Sea – yes, I have a bucket list item for that too (hopefully not on the same trip as taking my hubby to Romania for a visit)
- … the list goes on…
And that’s a really good start to a bucket list (you should see the things I’ve already marked off that list in my 40+ years). And I’m sure this list will continue to grow over the years. I am bound to set some more goals and I’ll work towards marking those off the list. But in all honesty, it’s not my dying DREAM to sit down for coffee with Linda Carter. I would just really like to do that one of these days.
Which brings me to this question… if all the wealth in the world or coffee with Linda Carter isn’t going to do it for me… then why am I here?
Why were we created?
So here’s my question – what if the long-held belief of chasing our dreams / of following our bliss… was plain ol’ bad advice for living? Are we really created for the purpose of finding and following our bliss? Do we really get up every day, clean up and get dressed, and go out to our paying “day jobs”… just to work towards what we do when we’re old enough to retire? Or is there more to this existence than that? Logically I know there should be more to this life than that.
What if my purpose is beyond me? What if focusing on what motivates me is more fulfilling than “living the dream”? What if my purpose is to live a fulfilled life? What if my purpose is meet some needs in others’ lives? What if my purpose is way beyond my own hopes and dreams and the things I think I want out of life?
What if my purpose is to worship my Creator in everything I do? What if He knew what truly fulfilled my inner drive and intertwined that into my reason for existence, my purpose? What if He created me to use His gifts… and THAT was in turn “following my bliss”? What if I am “living the dream”?
“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
What if this day-to-day life (the life that sometimes looks mundane) is all about worshipping my Creator in everything I do? What if I was created to be used by Him? What if I was created to use the gifts He gave me to worship Him and in turn be literally ”living the dream?”
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
This I know: I am fulfilled and I believe He is pleased during my acts of literal worship (singing) to using my talents (the physical act of honoring Him with my talents) to being obedient when He asks me to go out of my comfort zone and do something (that list is long).
I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that living in His presence and under His wing of protection is where I’m supposed to be. And when I listen for His direction and He opens doors of opportunity and guides me toward them? At that moment, I am living out His plans for my life, and that often intersects with my place of fulfillment, and therefore my dream.
So, I think I’ve figured it out. So, what IS my dream?
My dream is multi-faceted: 1) I want to live a fulfilled life. 2) I long to use the gifts and talents He has given me to make a difference in the world. 3) I strive to be obedient to His plan for my life. 4) I desire to worship my Heavenly Father all along the way.
What’s cool about that? My friend was right… I am living the dream!
However, and for the record, I won’t turn down a request to have coffee with Linda Carter. You know, just for the record…