Monthly Archives: January 2014

The home I forgot

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Ever have that dream where you have a house you forgot you had?  Or rooms you forgot were there, or a guest house in the backyard you just remembered you can use as your hideout?  I had a dream like that last night, but it wasn’t the usual sort.

I was returning to a house where I lived but felt like I hadn’t visited in awhile.  So excited to be there, I ran across the lawn and up to the front door where I paused momentarily because I knew the doors were locked.  Yep, I thought, trying the doorknob.  Not getting in today.  But then, wait a minute, I had my keys in my right coat pocket after all.  I hurried around to the side door after a short debate with myself over which door I should take.

Home I always had

The house was a two-story, like one of those newer style houses popular in the last thirty years (not too vague a description, is it?), but when I entered through the driveway door, I was back in the downstairs hallway of my childhood bi-level home in New Jersey.  My current cat Ally was there, and I briefly considered how long she had been waiting on me, since it felt like awhile since I’d last been home.  From time to time I have sick dreams like that, in which I have a baby I’ve been forgetting to feed.  The child or pet is usually fine — I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t — but it’s always a defining moment when I realize that huge responsibility I’ve been shirking.  When I started learning how to decipher dreams, I decided this recurring theme was an indication that I’m not taking care of myself in my waking life.  And it’s true.

This week hasn’t been more difficult than any other, I guess, but I have been more tired than I usually am.  As part of a New Year’s resolution to finish the novel I’ve been editing for more than four years, I first joined my writing group’s 31-day January challenge to make a goal of writing every day and then, to encourage myself along, volunteered to host weekday online writing sessions from 5:30 to 7:30 a.m.  I’ve accomplished all but one, so far, and it’s been awesome.  I’ve written/edited a lot and enjoy having that early-morning time when there’s nothing else going on that requires my attention. Nothing except for sleep.  Getting to bed by 9:15 at night is great in theory, but making it happen is a different story, especially on days when I work later than I’d like to and don’t get home until 9 p.m. (Thursday).

A solution might be moving the writing sessions to, say, 8 to 10 p.m., but there tend to be more obstacles to overcome at night.  I never have anything between 5:30 and 7:30 a.m. to get in the way of writing time.  Nobody ever calls that early, and my husband is usually still asleep.  By all accounts it’s a perfect plan — until a migraine strikes.

That’s the challenge, isn’t it? … balancing what I have with what I want, and deciding how reasonable it is to expect these things to balance out.

Finding out I have a bigger house than I realized is a combination of inspiring and depressing.  When I wake, I wish I had the dream house, but then I tell myself I already do — if I use what I have wisely.  It’s all there somewhere, hiding behind doors I have yet to open.

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Do what you love… (what, now?)

Have you seen that Prudential TV commercial that asks viewers about their dreams?

“We asked people, ‘If you could get paid to do something you really love, what would you do?'” says the announcer, a professor.

People give him answers like teacher, baker, pilot, architect, and art historian… “or a writer.”

“What if I told you that someone could pay you to do what you love, and what if that person were you?”

Ooh, intriguing, I thought. Slice me off some of that awesomeness.

Treat yourself to a good life!

Treat yourself to a good life!

“That’s what I envision retirement to be.”

Wait, what?

“When you think about it, “isn’t that what retirement should be? Paying ourselves to do what we love?”

In that moment, the kitchen floor dropped out from beneath me.

So the guy who wants to be a teacher is going to wait until he retires to become one?

The one who wants to be a pilot is going to wait until he’s 65 to start taking lessons?

Okay, sure it’s a commercial about saving for retirement. They’ve got to make retirement accounts appealing and all, but it actually had the opposite effect for me. It wanted to be all uplifting and inspire us to save for retirement so we can have the money to do all the things we don’t have time for now.

But seriously, do they think we need to wait for retirement to be happy? Whoever wrote that commercial has a sad definition of what’s possible in life.

One of my friends is a social worker by day, but that doesn’t stop her from being a brilliant photographer the rest of the time. Oh, and she writes a novel every November too — AND has time to have a life.

Another friend, a stay-at-home mom of five, is also a published author.

And a third, a mom of three with a full-time job outside the home, writes a novel every year and has published short fiction.

And another started her own publishing company from her house two years ago, with her daughter who lives two hours away, recently completed college, has her own job, and just got married. What if they’d seen that discouraging commercial before trying to pursue their dreams? Would they have thought their lives too busy right now to think of doing what they love?

So what do they have in common? They didn’t listen to people like Professor Pessimism who might have told them their dreams are a “someday” kind of thing.

Life is full of unexpected barriers, and anything can happen between now and retirement.

Live your dream now, while you have the chance. Then retirement can be the icing on the cake of a life well-lived.

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