There’s a comfort, there’s healing, high above the pain and sorrow. Change is coming, can you feel it? Calling us in to a new tomorrow. Won’t you stand up, stand up, stand up? Won’t you stand up you girls and boys?”
–Sugarland, Stand Up
As a part of an exercise with some middle school kids I visited last week, I had them write down their dream on the back of an And Then it Rained: Lessons for Life bookmark.
Now, as most of you are probably well aware, dreams tend to change a little bit between the ages of 12 and, well, every age after. If they didn’t, I’d be working at a pet shop in my local mall (yes, this was my #1 goal at that age). Yet the point, I told them, was not necessarily to look back and think of this particular dream, but rather to always remember that they should keep dreaming, and above all else, keep going after their dreams.
At the end of the exercise, the kids went around and shared them with the rest of the class. A number of them said they wanted to be famous — an athlete, a singer, or an actor. A few of them mentioned how they wanted to help other people. “That’s awesome,” I told them. It took until the second-to-last class, but finally one of them posed the question back to me.
“What are your dreams?”
The thing that caught me off guard about the question was the whole plural thing, “dreams,” what are my dreams. I’ve always been a one goal kind of girl — get to my dream college, graduate, finish a book, have that book make the best seller list — which was why I only had them write down one. But the question made sense; why wouldn’t you have more than one? Why wouldn’t you have some short term, some long term, and some that maybe even build off of each other? So, today, on my 28th birthday, here’s a short list of mine. (Yes, many of them do have to do with my book — hey, when you spend seven years writing something….)
Dream #1: 1 million (+) people read my book. Now, you’ll notice that I didn’t say I want to sell a million copies. I realize these two goals go hand in hand, yet the latter is not why I wrote a book. I’m not trying to make money. In fact, I’m not even trying to make you think I’m a good writer. Instead, I want to….
Dream #2: Inspire people. I want people to read this book and think “Hey, that reminds me of this dream I have, I should go after it,” or “Maybe I really can do that,” or even “Maybe these challenges aren’t as hard as I thought they were. I can get through them.” It’s the pay it forward part of my book, and initial feedback is good that it’s getting the job done.
Dream #3: Start a foundation that will help kids reach their dream college. Depending on how much poking around my website you’ve done, you may be wondering about Sky Blue Mission. For now, it’s a work in progress, a subsection of my savings account; but I intend to take the proceeds from the sale of And Then it Rained: Lessons for Life and start a fund that helps kids get to their dream college. As I said, I’m not writing this book because I want to make money, and how cool would it be to help fund dreams, as much as inspire them? Why college? Well, if you read the book, you’ll understand :).
How about some dreams not related to my book?
Dream #4: Spend a month in Italy. I didn’t get to do the whole “backpack across Europe” thing after college. Perhaps I could’ve, but with student loan payments on the very near horizon and plenty of other expenses, it seemed best to start my “real world” job as fast as I could. It’s stayed in the back of my mind though, Italy being the frontrunner of places to see. Who doesn’t want to spend a month basking in the sun of Tuscany, eating (and drinking a few glasses of wine) their way through little towns? This dream is actually scheduled… May 2012 can’t come soon enough!
Dream #5: Live within driving distance of my Alma Mater. It makes me crazy that I don’t. I love my home state, and I’m very lucky to live in a college town where I have great teams to go out and cheer for. But they’re not my teams, my fellow alumni that I’m cheering with, and nothing reminds me of this more than when I actually do go back to my college town and attend an event with those dressed in the same colors as me, yelling loudly for the same team. I don’t need to live in my college town, in fact, I’d rather not. Just somewhere where I don’t have to hop on a plane to spend a day roaming around campus, and could maybe even think about getting season tickets.
Dream #6: Own a beach house. Yes, I’m going to have one someday, and I’m not waiting until I retire, either. It doesn’t have to be big, can be a condo even, but I want something on the beach where I can wake up and go running with my golden retriever in the morning, sit out on my deck and watch the beautiful sunrise over the ocean (hint: I prefer East Coast beaches), or walk to a nearby market or seafood restaurant.
Dream #7: Move to the beach. I mean, if I’m going to have a house there… No really, I want to live by the ocean. There are times when I think to myself “Would I really appreciate it as much if I lived there?” But every time I’m back, I remember I would. It took me until I was 18 years old to finally get a chance to see the ocean, and perhaps that’s why I just don’t think I’ll ever be able to get enough. (Yes, this all fits in just fine with #5).
Finally, one last dream… I want to Change the World. Simple right? And not at all ambitious; yet as I said, I have a tool now that I believe will inspire people. It’s not going to end hunger, solve world peace, force enemies on the battle field to shake hands and walk away. But if it gives people the motivation to overcome their challenges, and/or to follow their long held passions, then, well…
The possibilities are endless.
What are your dreams?