I would never label myself a dreamer. In fact, most likely the exact opposite.
dream er (n)
a person who is unpractical or idealistic
To me, a dreamer is someone who has grandiose idea(s) with no plan or means to act upon, complete or sustain their idea. . For me, a dreamer has their head in the clouds and the silver lining keeps them there, floating high above reality and those of us more accurately labeled pragmatics. There was a time when people such as these were as irritating as a thorn in my sock, poking through just enough to irritate my skin. *
I have spent my fair share of time dreaming about what it is I would love to be doing. Activities, vacations, even the so-called perfect job. Envisioning the environment, the office, the co-workers, and the tasks, large and small that I would be responsible for. The scope varied from running an orphanage for children that would never be adopted but instead live under my care, showered with love until they were old enough to begin a family of their own. To a private Family Therapy practice that helped families of all shapes sizes become the best family they could be while learning what has brought them to the point that they are at in their life of dysfunction. (Disclaimer: Obviously I am simplifying here in one blanket statement that in no way covers the wide array of families I would serve.) Or a quintessential Bed and Breakfast that erred on the side of comfort with just the right hint of luxury. Many a nights I lay in bed dreaming of how these would look and feel, the pleasure and joy they would bring to others and thus to myself. Drifting off to sleep with a renewed sense of hope that I could live the life that I was dreaming about.
Awakened by the blaring sun pouring in my window, the light forced my thoughts, along with the hope from the night before, to be neutralized and set back on the straight and narrow. Here’s the deal with living the dream, most often it is just that, a dream. It is the answer to the question, “If you could do anything, no holds bar, nothing could stop you (not lack of money, lack of education, where you live, who you are now), what would you do?” The problem is reality. In real life there are so many things to stop you from simply doing what you would love, or think you would love, to do.
Lack of education, a degree, money for start up capital, one or all of which would be needed, are often the cause of delay or complete derailing of the pursuit of happiness. And for some, where you live might be the biggy putting a damper on your dream. For instance, if you would like to be a deep sea diver and you grew up on a farm in Montana. Not a lot of access to water outside your front, or your back, door. Stories abound, a large percentage about women, single moms in particular, who have gone back to school in order to pursue a career either of passion or due to a passionate desire for financial freedom. Also known as, getting the creditors off your back. I truly admire these women/individuals. It not only takes guts, it takes grit.
Lack of education has held me back from pursuing most of my dreams. Having looked into what it takes to start a private mental health practice, I have seen first hand the daunting mountain it is necessary to climb. High school diploma, followed by a Bachelors Degree, then a Master’s Degree and finally a minimum amount of supervised experience are all required. All things told, even if I were able to go to school full time, I was looking at a minimum of 6 years of schooling. Knowing I wouldn’t be able to go full time due to family obligations, 8 was more realistic. Eight years!? That seems a life time, not mention the juggle of college classes and family life seemed overwhelming on a good day, and impossible every other day. It wasn’t the first time I had looked into this dream. The first had been when I was a newly divorced, single mom. Going to school full-time, working full-time, and raising a child in elementary school did not even seem remotely possible, not even for a dreamer.
After seriously looking into it when I had a partner to help support myself and my daughter, filling out some college applications and checking the cost, I began to question if it was really the dream I wanted to live. As much as I love listening to others, trouble shooting their problems, concerns, issues, asking questions that lead to a-ha moments, the idea of once again being obligated to a set schedule with office hours that are less flexible than flying by the seat of your pants, is not exactly what I wanted in life. The question remained, what is it that I truly want? What is my dream life? The answer, unfortunately, does not equate to a steady income. Quite frankly it may equate to no income at all.
My dream week day would consist of:
Reading (a few chapters of a book of choice)
Working out (work out video or go for a run)
Coffee with a bit more reading
A bit of house work (load of laundry, make the bed, etc.)
Lunch while watching a movie or a show (or out with a friend once a week)
Writing (a blog post, an article, work towards a novel)
Afternoon tea with a book
Time with my son (play games, go for a bike ride, soccer practice)
Cook dinner for my family
Once a week:
Volunteer with a women’s group or
Mentor a teen girl or
Writing groups or
Walk someone’s dog….
Family/Friends time….soccer matches, game nights, dinners
About a year ago I began seriously writing my memoir. I joined a nine month program called Memory Into Memoir, now known as The Narrative Project. With specific weekly and monthly goals I made headway towards what had seemed a lofty goal. At the end of the nine month I was given the opportunity to sign up for an additional six month group that would push me forward in the process to finish my book. I held back knowing some life changes were on the horizon for my family that would take a good deal of my time and attention. Either that, or I was self sabotoging my book writing. The jury is still out on that one.
The progress I made was very encouraging, it was also very scary. What if I really did finish my book and send it out into the world? What if a publisher picked it up and printed my story? I found this realization equally exciting and terrifying. While considering my story and the book I was writing I thought about the platform that I hoped it would create. Writing the book would not be enough, sharing my life, my experiences, my mistakes, and my triumphs were ultimately meant to help other women who found themselves where I had been. Or better yet, teen girls who were on the same path looking for a fork in the road and the ability to choose differently. It was in that search where the idea of obtaining my license to be a mental health provider/family therapist became more serious to me. Having that degree would give me credibility, make me an expert on the subject. It would be a fantastic addition to the by-line on my book jacket cover, website and anywhere else anyone looked up to see who I was.
I would not be: Kristi Lyn Reddy the formerly abused wife telling her story. I would be Kristi Lyn Reddy, CMFT, sharing my story, my knowledge, my expertise in an effort to help other women. Those letters, CMFT (Certified Marital and Family Therapist), bearing the weight I needed to be taken seriously. I believed it would also help me obtain speaking engagements to share my story with groups of women around the city, state, country, maybe even the world. Not for fame and notoriety, in an effort help as many women as I could. To use my story for good. To live out my purpose. Getting those letters to have behind my name overwhelmed me. Once again, I had to stop and think, Is this my dream life?
Maybe, but maybe not. I am certain I want to use my life to help others. I am willing to use my story in any way I can in order to do that. I am not certain I want be a therapist. Putting the idea of school on hold I decided instead to focus on writing. The struggle has been juggling my time, but more honestly allowing myself to use my time to write when it isn’t a ‘job’. To me, a job is something I get paid to do. Obviously when starting out writing (and for some writers forever) you don’t get paid much, if at all. Unless you are Stephen King, you aren’t getting $400,000 for your first novel contract.
Fortunately, I have an incredible partner who believes in me and encourages me to follow my dream, my passion. He agrees my story needs to be told and also holds the same desire to live out our purpose in life. So much so, that he will be retiring from his full-time job, one that he has worked at for over 30 years very soon. Upon retirement he will join me working full-time in real estate. There will be a time of transition with me training him on areas that he has not assisted me with over the past 13 years while he worked with me part-time on weekends. Over time he will take on more as I continue to assist him as his designated broker. I will then have more time to invest in writing: blogs, articles, my memoir, and other books. It appears the only thing, or person, standing in my way, would be me.
I hereby, grant myself permission to pursue my dream. To write, now and more going forward. Typing that, invigorates me!
What is your dream life? Rather than think what you would do, no holds bar, no strings attached, think, what am I willing to fight for? To strive for? To go the extra mile for?
*Note: My idea of a dreamer is tainted by past life experiences. Many ‘dreamers’ lead successful lives and create, cause, lead amazing lives that touch others.