Do you ever have those moments where you’re stopped in your tracks by a thought that maybe you took the wrong path in life? It happens to me every so often, and actually just happened a few days ago. I was getting ready for the day, thinking back on our trip to CA, remembering how much Ava loved being by the ocean and how she came alive at the beach, and I was suddenly struck by the thought, “What if we made a mistake settling down in the Midwest?” Should we have followed our dream a long time ago when we imagined moving to CA? Mind you, we are in the process of closing on a plot of land where we hope to build our forever home. So this thought was a little more than unsettling to me. And, of course, because my mind enjoys roller coasters, I spiraled down the loop of shoulds. Should we back out of our land? Should we sell our house and move to the coast? Should we become one of those families who live in a tiny home and use all our extra funds to travel the world? Silly little mind.
Dreaming is something I’m really good at. It’s one of the things I love about being an entrepreneur. In fact, I love that part of running a business–planning for the future, setting goals, and dreaming big–more than I love the actual work of the business (more on that in a future post). But it can get me into trouble too (see above).
I’ve had to work hard to train my brain–the left side of my brain–to kick into gear when the right side wants to flutter about in dreamland. As I was imagining packing up our lives and moving to the beach, thinking about how good my husband looks all tan and toned and my daughters with their sun-kissed blonde hair, my mind shifted to another memory. We had just landed in Chicago and were in the baggage claim picking up our luggage. A woman approached us with a lost Southwest drink ticket and offered it to us for our next trip (she must have seen the glazed look in our eyes after a full day of travel and knew exactly what we needed the next time around). We thanked her (and took the ticket, we’re no dummies). She then proceeded to engage the girls in a friendly conversation, asking them where they went, and commenting on their Minnie Mouse stuffed animals, clearly a token from their trip. Her inquiries were gracious and genuine and after she walked away, I leaned down to my oldest and said, “See, honey, that’s why we live here. People are so kind to one another here.”
As quickly as I remembered that memory, I remembered all the reasons why I moved to and stayed in the Midwest. I remembered why Cory and I decided, in that first year of our marriage, to plant roots in this part of the country, and why, after getting pregnant with Ava, we believed moving closer to his family was the right move for our new family. It wasn’t exactly the glamorous choice, moving to Indiana. And I would be a very rich lady right now if I had a nickel for every time someone asked me how I ended up here from CA. But this was our dream too, and I’m very grateful to be living it out.
That’s the thing about dreams–they can change. They’re amorphous in that way, able to be shaped and transformed by new circumstances.
In those moments when you’re ambushed by the should spiral, I think it’s helpful to ask yourself if the dream you’re being reminded of is an old dream, a dream you’re currently chasing, or the twinkling of a dream in the future. (If it’s a dream that was never yours in the first place but something you picked up from Instagram or Pinterest, have a little chuckle and toss it back.) If it’s an old dream, thank it for stopping by, be grateful for the memory, and remember all that occurred to get you where you are today. If it’s something you’d still love to pursue, but not right for right now, write it down, store it away in your heart, and promise to come back to it. It’s not right for right now, dear dream, but maybe someday. Life has a funny way of coming full circle, and I truly believe that it (Life, Destiny, the Divine) will fulfill the desires of our heart if we remain open to them. Even if those desires end up looking a little different in the end.