Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Keeping those dreams alive

You've all heard the advice -- live each day to the fullest -- or to phrase it as Tim McGraw did in his hit tune -- Live Like You Were Dying. Unfortunately, it's not always easy to do that.

These days we're all juggling careers, families, elderly parents, car pools and many other demands of everyday life. How, in the midst of all of that, are we even supposed to remember our dreams, much less find a place for them in our lives?

A couple of years ago, I started asking myself exactly that. Not only was I writing several books a year, but I also owned a bookstore, which I ran myself, working there several days a week for several months of the year. I tried to spend time with elderly relatives in other cities. And I split my time between two different states -- Florida and Virginia. I hardly had spare time to think or read (my favorite pasttime) much less dream.

One day I took a step back and said, "Hold on. What happened to my life?" As a writer, I'm used to talking to myself, but not always to listening. This time I did. I knew something had to change before it was too late to do some of the things I've always enjoyed such as spending time with friends around the country or traveling overseas.

Since giving up my career wasn't a realistic option, I decided I had to give up the bookstore. I'd owned it for ten years and loved almost every minute of it -- not so much the flood from frozen pipes that caved in the ceiling -- but all the rest of it. A booklover can't help but enjoy opening boxes of books every week and trying to put them into the hands of readers who will love them. And someone who works in front of a computer also needs that human interaction. Still, I saw no other choice, so I sold most of the inventory and the building, crammed way too many boxes of leftover stock into my house and prepared to get back to my dreams. But what were they?

I sat down and made a list of all the things I'd once planned to do -- from small things such as making a point to stay in touch with people I'd neglected to the large ones such as trips I'd wanted to take.

I'm happy to report that I'm slowly getting back to my dreams. I've spoken to people I've missed and taken trips to new places -- the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Ireland this year -- and to visit an old college friend in Denver last year. I can't say I'm living every single day to the fullest, but I am getting some much-needed balance back into my life. Maybe that's the best we can hope for, that amidst the craziness of everyday life, we can find a few moments or even an occasional week to do something special, something that will make our lives a little richer.

Have you struggled to juggle everything going on in your life? Have you found ways to live your life to the fullest, to stop neglecting your dreams? Share your solutions with us.

Sherryl Woods

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Blogger WriterStriver said...

As a kid, I told a lot of tall tales and constantly dreamed of having conversations with people I would probably never get to talk to in real life. Or I would dream of the things I would do when I got older. Somewhere along the way I told myself to quit dreaming because I didn't want to deal with the heartache of not realizing those dreams. Now I have my own children, and I love nothing more than to watch them pretend and share their big, elaborate dreams with each other. And I tell them exactly what my mom told me, you can do whatever you set your mind to, if you're willing to work hard and never give up. To heck with being sensible and realistic. I want to be a dreamer again. I love that you had the courage to give up something you were doing to make room for pursuing your dreams. Just reading that inspires me to reevalute my to-do list to make way for my own dreams. Thanks for that!

September 19, 2007 1:39 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

That sounds familiar. My husband and I hit good paying "career" jobs and moved to the Outer Banks two years ago! We both now work part-time and pursuing our passions. The beach, the sun, reading, writing, politics, music, charity work, flying, ... We have also had time to catch up with old friends and make so many new ones! It has been wonderful!

September 20, 2007 6:30 AM  
Blogger Dena Braves said...

There's an article in the current issue of Orion Magazine by Rebecca Solnit( that I just read and would like to share. It's called "Finding Time". She characterizes 'slowing down' as an act of resistance and I agree. Trying to slow down and simplify in our society is often met with resistance from all sides and often feels like an 'act of resistance' - but I am determined to continue on the path!

September 29, 2007 7:20 AM  

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