Living the Dream

There aren’t too many people who can say that their lifelong dreams have been realized.  Some get sidetracked on the way to those dreams.  Maybe their dreams were unattainable or maybe they simply change course.

I have always wanted to be a writer. Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be the one who wrote the wonderful stories that I spent hours reading. I wanted to be the story-teller, the one who captivated the imaginations of innocent minds and made them aspire to be everything they could be.

I wanted to be a writer.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but it became my dream. I knew it’s what I wanted to do when I was in the third grade and wrote,  “If I was on the Mayflower.” A simple story, but it lit a fire within me that could not easily be put out. I needed to write.

I remember spending hours laboriously tapping away on the keys of my father’s old Electra typewriter using write-out to correct the many mistakes I made. (Erasable paper came out while I was in junior high and I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven!) The stories were about everything, anything, and nothing. I was embarrassed because I didn’t think they were any good and ended up throwing the typed pages in the trash.

But my father noticed.  The first time I asked to use his typewriter, my father smiled and carefully took it out of its case and set it gently on the dining room table.  I was surprised because I had the reputation for breaking everything I touched. But he didn’t seem to mind.

“Let me know when you’re done so I can put it away,” was all he said.

Even then I would get lost in my stories.  While the other kids were outside playing, I sat and let my mind wander. Many of the stories were about me and what I would do when I grew up. Some were about things I wanted to do; travel to different lands, become a famous dancer, or save the world.

I showed my dad a few stories and he would tell me how proud he was of me. But I never thought it would take me where it did.

Like many people, my dream got sidetracked with marriage and children, but I never gave up writing. I’d write just to write and when I finally got a computer of my own, I wrote even more. But even though I had a passion for writing, I still didn’t think I had what it took to be a professional writer.

Encouraged by a friend, I decided to go back to school and learn how to be a better writer, not exactly sure where it would take me.

At this point, I had to ask myself, what kind of writer did I want to be?  What was I good at? What was my niche?

I tried my hand at creative writing and found that it really wasn’t my forte. I wrote some poetry, but that too, came up a bit short.

I joined the newspaper at my community college. I had been the editorial editor of my high school newspaper and liked it then; would I like it just as much now?

I didn’t have to wonder for long because soon I was volunteering for the stories that no one wanted. I took pictures whenever I could. I always had my camera with me just in case something interesting happened. I gained the reputation of being a photo-junkie.

I found that I enjoyed the interviews, the writing, the layouts, the photography, even the deadlines.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was preparing myself for my future; I was becoming a journalist.

Everyone has a dream.  This is mine.  I will be graduating from Mount Mercy in December and I’m making plans for my own newspaper. Am I crazy  to think that my dream could actually be coming true?

No, I just consider myself lucky. I have the faith to keep taking that next step, the hope that I will see it happen, and the determination to see it all materialize.

I think everyone has a dream.  Some see it happen early in their lives. Others, it takes a little longer, but it’s always possible.

In the words of Walt Disney, “If you imagine it, you can make it happen.” I believe that now. I believe that anything is possible. I have already succeeded.

Busy Person’s Retreat-Part 2

My experience with the Busy Person’s Retreat was short but sweet, a reprieve from my everyday life as a college student/employee/mother/daughter/editor in chief. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began, but was pleasantly surprised at the results.

The retreat was meant to have a spiritual basis and many of the meetings were guided by scriptures. But that wasn’t always the direction our conversations went in.

I found out in our first meeting that my guide, Sister Katherine Hill, is from Detroit.  Katherine is a counselor with adolescents and young adults. Though I’m neither adolescent nor young adult, she was easy to talk to and I was able to share personal parts of my life with her.

Katherine told me that she used to conduct dream workshops and taught people how to analyze their own dreams. I jumped at the chance to ask her about my own strange dreams.  As she spoke about what my latest dream might be revealing, I realized that there were things in my life that I was not looking at, issues I have swept under the rug.

Was it because I am so busy that had kept those issues under wraps, or maybe because I don’t really want to deal with them? 

Probably both, Katherine told me. Our minds, our egos are equipped to keep us from dealing with too much at once, especially if the issues trigger pain.  Who wants to feel pain? Our minds help us to avoid that at all costs.  Unfortunately, it also makes us not deal with reality or be honest with ourselves anbout our true feelings.

What I appreciated most about the retreat was being able to talk to someone candidly about things that were bothering me, someone who has a different perspective about life, and being able to share with someone how I really feel about my life.

But the hardest part was admitting to myself that I am not perfect.  (I know it sounds silly because I know that no one is perfect, but try telling my ego that.) Who really wants to admit that they’ve made mistakes and have hurt the people they love?

Katherine helped me see that the past is the past and we can’t change that. We are all human and no one is perfect.  She showed me that is what we are put on this Earth for, to learn and experience life.  How will we learn if we are always doing everything right?

What a smart lady.  These things she told me, I have heard before.  But I think slowing down and having a personal conversation with her has helped me retain more of its meaning.  She helped me to see that these feelings I have will not go away on their own, especially if I keep sweeping them under the rug. The only way to resolve them is to deal with them head-on.

My experience with the retreat was a memorable one and I will take what I learned and apply it to my life. One of things Katherine told me at our last meeting was, “When the lesson is learned, the teacher disappears.”

At last, I am beginning to understand the lessons.

Making “Me” time important for balance in life

Finding any time for myself can be difficult, but this week I’m participating in the Busy Person’s Retreat, an event sponsored by Mount Mercy University.

I had no idea what to expect and found out at our opening meeting Sunday night that it’s more just time to pray, reflect, and talk to another person about it for about 20-30 minutes a day.

I can handle that, I thought to myself. I like to try new things and decided that I needed to do more things for my spiritual side.

Sister Katherine was chosen as my guide.  Katherine is from Detroit and is visiting Mount Mercy for the retreat. She said that she worked with adolescence and young adults as a counselor and has even conducted “dream” workshops

Amazingly, I have always found dreams very interesting and couldn’t resist asking her about my own.

“Can you tell me why I have such crazy dreams?” I asked her.

“No, but I can teach you how you can tell yourself why,” she said. She explained that she teaches people how to analyze their own dreams so they can use that information to help solve their problems.

We were given a packet with which to base the next four days of prayer-reflection-meditation time on.  Other resources such as how to prayer, ideas to ponder, and things to reflect on were included, as well.

Sister Shari, the director for identity and mission for the university, compiled the materials for the retreat and said that the retreat is a good way for people to slow down and look at where they are in life.

It’s no secret that I like to keep busy and talking to Katherine showed me that because I am starting later than most college students, maybe I am trying to make up for lost time.

It makes sense. I raised my kids and put my life on the back burner. I almost forgot what my dream even was. I am realizing now how precious and short time really is. I have finally found something that I love to do, and I enjoying doing it.

I hope this retreat will help me look at my motives behind why I do what I do and shed some light on how I can find a balance. I’m concerned that I’ll allow my work dominate my life, that I’ll forget how to enjoy all that life has to offer.  As much as I love my work, I don’t want to become a workaholic, something I have seen happen to others.

But I believe this is part of the plan God has for me. All the experiences, all the lessons that I have learned in my life have meaning.  Those experiences have made me who I am today.

I have long given up trying to explain life or God, for that matter. But I know He is taking me in the right direction. Maybe this retreat is His way of saying, “I think you need to slow down and look at what is going on in your life.”

I am going to continue my blog at the end of the week to let my readers know more about what I got out of the retreat.  I have a feeling I will be amazed.

Americans shouldn’t panic over gas prices

Gas prices are going up again.  Why are so many people surprised? And why are they thinking we need to tap into the oil reserves?  If we were to use all the oil in the reserve, what would happen if we really had an emergency?

A few years ago when gas prices first hit the $4 mark  there were a few grumbles among the masses, but people didn’t panic like they’re doing now.  All it takes is one person to suggest such a thing, and they tell two friends, and they tell two friends, and so on and so on…well, you get the idea.

I once heard a news report which stated that as gas prices go up, it’s a sure sign that the economy is getting better. I have no reason to dispute this, but it just doesn’t make sense to me.  If the economy was getting better, wouldn’t the prices go down?

But if this is the case, (thousands of jobs have been created in the past few months) isn’t paying more at the pump a small price to pay to have people working again? What happened to taking the bus, riding a bike, or even walking to your destination?

I am no longer a smoker, but when I did buy cigarettes, they were selling for $3 a pack. I thought that was outrageous!  The other day I saw an ad for a pack of Marlboros…$5.75 a pack.  And you don’t think people will spend $5 a gallon for gas?

People are worried that the country will run out of oil, or that the Middle East will cut us off completely. Let’s forget for a moment that the people who run that business really like money.  Wouldn’t they be cutting their own throats if they quit selling their precious oil?  Besides, that just might be what the country needs. It might force us to come up with an energy plan is more safe for the environment. We can do that. We’re pretty smart people.

I’m not worried about the rising gas prices. I sometimes think that people talking about it just makes it worse.  Rumors get started and people don’t really know what to think. The logical choice is to just accept that this is the way it is and move on.  Invest in a bike or get the exercise you’ve been talking about.  The situation really isn’t as bad as people think.