A Dream Realized

This moment is a dream realized.

Six years ago, I was totally burned out from teaching and I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career.  The idea of another year in the classroom made me want to cry.  I had the idea that a life coach might be able to help.  I put an ad on Craiglist offering tutoring services, got one response to tutor a second grader two days a week, and used that money to pay for a coach. At our first session, she asked me to describe what I wanted.  What were my goals?  Why was I coming to see her?  What kind of life did I want to create for myself?  She asked me to make a list.

This was incredibly difficult for me.  I tried to make my list, but nothing on it sounded really exciting.  A house? A career I truly enjoyed?  That was pretty much all I could come up with. I did want those things, but they just felt so vague and distant on a bullet pointed list.  Also, I couldn’t differentiate between what I truly desired and what I thought were logical, realistic goals for me.

Like a good coach, she tried another strategy.  

She asked me how I wanted to feel.  

I told her I wanted to feel happy, safe, and free to be my authentic self.

She asked me to visualize what that would look like.  What would a typical day in my life look like where I felt happy, safe, and free? From the time I woke up until I went to bed.  She called it a mind movie.  I still found this difficult but this is what I saw:

I woke up in the bedroom of a bright, one story house.  It was warm and sunny.  I felt energized and happy to get up.  I walked out of the door and down the hall and entered the main living area- which was one big room.  There was an office on one side where I could work from home.  There was a bright, clean kitchen and a countertop with plenty of space.  There was a bottle of red wine on the counter, and I noticed that I had no desire to drink it.  Off of the living room area were two sliding glass doors into the yard.  Right outside the doors was a covered patio with a table and chairs.  Josh and my parents were out there with a young child- my child.  My heart felt so warm seeing them together.  I knew my parents didn’t live there, they were visiting, but my house had plenty of room for them.  I also knew that I had to go to work, but I was looking forward to it.  There was no stress around work, and I had the option to work from or go to an office.  I had the sense that I had started a business.  It was exciting and fulfilling.

From this vision, I was able to make a list of what I wanted my life to look like.

Yesterday, six years after dreaming up this moment, I realized it had all come true. Every. Single. Detail.  I have a bright, beautiful home, a perfect two year old son, my family is visiting.  I truly enjoy my work and I’ve started a business.  There was even a bottle of red wine on the counter, which I’ve happily abstained from for a few months now.

If I had not developed my own sense of self aware-awareness and gratitude practice, this moment would have gone unnoticed because this day was not without its challenges:

We woke up at 3:30 AM to the chirping of a dying smoke alarm battery, spent the early morning hours trying to disconnect it, which did not work and only set off ANOTHER smoke alarm.  Then I took too many vitamins on an empty stomach and felt nauseous for hours, something urgent and frustrating came up at work, we found a loose dog in the neighborhood and as I was busy looking for the dog’s owner and getting him some food and supplies in case I was unsuccessful, my son had a number of outbursts and tantrums and I felt stretched thin. (Good news: we found the owner around 7 PM!)  On the surface, it looked like more of a hectic day than my “dream life” day.

It was actually perfect.

It was the perfect reminder that you can have all the things you want, but the ups and downs of life, the annoyance of middle of the night wake ups, physical discomfort, work pressures and frustrations, and the more critical moments of tragedy, loss and despair, are inescapable to everyone.  No one is spared.

The power to choose how you respond to life, how you feel and who you’re being is the most valuable lesson I learned from my coach. I realize now that the feelings of happiness, safety, and freedom to be authentic were always accessible.  I didn’t need to get the “things” first (but they are a pretty sweet bonus!)

I’d love to know, when you think about all the things you want in life- the experiences, the relationships, and the material things- what’s underneath that? How would you like to feel as you navigate this life?

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