I receive a notification a little while ago that a stranger likes one of my blog posts. They even comment, “Very nice post.” Not remembering what the post is about or when I wrote it, I follow the link and reread it. It was about having the courage to move forward to accomplish some of my dreams. I had identified my aspirations, had created a vision board filled with hopes and intentions, but was scared to take steps to actually make them happen. Maybe I’d be disappointed. Maybe it would be the wrong ambition. Maybe the road to get there was too daunting. In the post I committed to writing down each week something I dreamt of doing and then taking one step toward reaching that goal. I ended the post with: In exactly one year and two days I’ll turn 50. I want to enter my 50s already having accomplished some of what I am starting to dream about now.
Wow. I’m reading that post today, exactly one month and one week after I turned 50. And I’m feeling the pressure. I’m truly nervous to look back to what my plan was for this past year, worried to find out how I’ve measured up. I’m so scared to disappoint my 49 year old self. It will be heartbreaking to feel regret. I almost wish I don’t have to take stock right now and that I can ignore the compulsion to see how I’ve performed.
This feels important, though. It is right before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year – an opportunity for honest reflection. The timing is somewhat perfect. Looking back and looking forward. What type of year did I have? What type of year will I have? Was I who I hoped I would be? Did I make that earnest 49 year old me proud? Have I accomplished some of what I had started to dream about then?
My first thought is that I know that I had really good intentions. I have practiced gratitude all day long, all year long, other than those difficult moments when it took me longer to find it. I see my vision board, propped in front of my bedroom TV, at least a couple of times a day. I look at it more mindfully a couple of times a week.
Did I write down a goal each week and an actionable way to move toward that goal? No, I honestly didn’t. Were there many times throughout the year that I was down on myself because I thought I should be further along toward reaching some of my dreams, but was too stymied by fears and limiting blocks to truly move in that direction? Yes, definitely. Do I wish I made the time to write more blogs? I really do. Do I regret not getting together with more friends? Absolutely.
As I am writing this, I am walking over to my vision board because it’s a visual reminder of what many of my dreams were one year ago. I take it down, sit on the bed, and I get ready to look at it through a different lens. It doesn’t feel good that I’m about to judge myself based on what dreams I’ve accomplished or not. It feels kind of obnoxious – after all, when I made the vision board, no one said there was a time limit. I reassure myself that it’s healthy to know if these are still my objectives, and if they are then I need to be accountable to reach them.
I’m actually having a hard time writing this because I’m overwhelmed by my emotions right now. There has been a long commercial break between the last paragraph and this one, while I gave attention to what I had chosen to place on this board, when everything I put was just a hope. If I could whisper this, I would. I am truly grateful. I am blessed. Although some of the things on my board are taking longer than others to manifest, I realize that I am on the path to reaching almost every dream. I look at all of the different themes created out of pictures and quotes cut from magazines or printed from google images. And I am doing this. Not always in the way I imagined I would. But I am in motion. And that to me is all I had hoped to see.
I feel the relief of knowing that I am actively participating in making my ideal future happen and that I am not just waiting for it to appear. It also gives more power to some of the goals on the board that I have not reached yet. I need to concentrate more on those. I also start thinking of additional things that would add even more fulfillment to my life.
Guitar is not on this board. I loved my guitar lessons but they have become so sporadic over the past few weeks that I think I should finally admit that I don’t “take guitar” anymore. Every time I pick it up, though, it fills me with joy. I’m going to put a guitar and other dreams relating to playing guitar on my next board. That might make it more of a priority for me. A lifelong aspiration of mine has been to connect meaningfully with people who live in different parts of the world. I’m not sure how to define it more than that or what I would do to make it happen, but I at least want to start thinking about it in a serious way. Who knows what being reminded daily of that childhood longing will manifest in my future? Ooooh- writing a book. That is very daunting and I really don’t know how to even begin it- but it’s so high up on the bucket list that I hope I have the courage to add it to my next vision board. In one year, I will be an empty nester for my first time. Hoping to take advantage of opportunities this transition will allow, instead of lamenting the loss of my favorite stage of life thus far, I plan to continue brainstorming ways to find purpose.
What do I find so incredible on the board to have filled my eyes with tears? Love. So many different quotes and pictures that were a whimsical, improbable fantasy a little over a year ago, are now my current reality. I take a moment to bask in the beauty of that fact. Running an inspirational workshop – something that feels so right for me, almost like a calling, yet was tied up with such fear of failure. The excitement is stronger than the fear. Come join me on December 16th!
Looking at the board gives me courage. I am inspired by the words I see there: Let’s do this! Transform your life, Inspire, Strike a power pose (complete with a picture of me in that pose). You are powerful, Authentic, Leader, Creator. The board is filled with happiness: Find your happy, Feeling good, Live happy, Agent of positivity, Let my spirit fly. Let your joy rise to the surface. Yes, my joy rises. A picture of my beautiful children. Strong, calm, happy,
Placing the board to the side, I sit quietly with my emotions. It occurs to me that this post would be more interesting if I was uncomfortable and filled with regret. But it’s happening in real time, I had not guessed what the findings would be, and this fortunately for me is a possibly more boring post with a happy ending. How I am feeling, one year later, is the actual evidence to how I’m doing. It’s more important than physical accomplishments. My feelings guide me, letting me know if I am on the right path for me. Am I feeling constricted and tense? Change paths or think a different thought. Am I feeling expanded and bubbling with joy? Keep going!
I was stopped by a colleague a couple of days ago, as I was walking across the campus of the school where I work. He called out to me, “What are you so happy about?” I hadn’t realized that I was looking happy. I ran through dozens of responses in my head, but realizing he was waiting for a response, I just summed it up in one word. “Life!” and continued on my way. And that’s how I know that I am where my 49 year old self last year hoped she would be one year later. Phew!