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Trade Paperback
192 pages
Aug 2005
Bethany House

Growing Your Own Turtleneck...and Other Benefits of Aging

by Martha Bolton

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Dreaming Your Life Away

Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.--Unknown

One of my father's favorite things to do was to browse through farm real estate catalogs and circle the ads of whatever properties happened to catch his eye. Some would be spreads of twenty acres, some fifty, and a few would be a hundred or more. It didn't matter how large or how small the farm was, my dad would dream about buying it and living there one day. Dad had grown up on a farm and spent a lot of time thinking about returning to his roots someday.

Unfortunately, he passed away before ever making that move and seeing his dream fulfilled. The closest he got to returning to farm life was those catalogs and his dreams.

My mother had dreams, too. One of those dreams was to see Washington, D.C. After my father passed away, leaving more circled ads in farmland magazines than footprints in green pastures, I determined that the same thing wasn't going to happen to at least one of my mother's dreams. So early one morning I "kidnapped" her and we flew to our nation's capital. It took some secretive planning on my part. I had to call her work and prearrange for her to have the time off. Then I needed to make the flight and hotel reservations and plan out our itinerary. It took a little extra effort, but looking back on it now, I am so glad that I did what I could to help fulfill this one particular dream of my mother's. Especially since a few years after that trip, she developed lymphoma, and due to her frequent chemotherapy treatments, travel was all too quickly out of the question.

Lesson learned? Life is too short not to fulfill or at least attempt to fulfill our dreams and the dreams of our loved ones. As long as our dreams are healthy, legal, and don't hurt anyone else, we should do everything we can to go after them. Too many people get to the end of their lives realizing that they did nothing except ponder the great "what might have beens" of their life.

Have you thought much about what dreams you might be postponing? What are you circling in catalogs and brochures and travel books? Where have you always wanted to visit or perhaps even move to? What have you dreamed of accomplishing? Or maybe just attempting? What talent lies within you that has yet to be released? What is your passion? What were you created to do that, for whatever reason, you have been postponing year after year after year? What is your dream and, more importantly, why are you waiting to do anything about fulfilling it?

Start putting your talents to work today, not tomorrow. Give your passion the attention it deserves. Whether it be teaching, singing, building, learning, traveling, or whatever else you've been longing to do, give yourself permission to do it. Your dream has waited long enough.

It's important to remember, though, that all you have power over is the pursuit of your dream, the attempt, and the perseverance. The outcome is not in your hands. Still, it's not the outcome that brings you all the satisfaction. There is a good feeling that comes from merely having attempted to follow your dreams. Succeed or fail, at least you know you tried.

Not one of us is going to get to the end of our lives and be handed a refund for our unfulfilled dreams and plans.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I see here on your life report that you never did fulfill that dream of becoming a professional baseball player. Okay, here's your youth back. Go give it another shot."

Life doesn't happen that way. If we want to fulfill our dreams, timing is everything. And there will be for all of us dreams that we can't go back and force to come true. We just have to accept that. It would be difficult for a sixty-five-year-old woman, no matter how attractive she may be, to fulfill her dream of becoming Miss America. By the same token, a fifty-five-year-old, 118-pound man will probably never fulfill his dream of becoming a professional football player, even if he can play a pretty good game with his grandchildren. Fifty-five-year-old bones are still fifty-five-year-old bones.

But the dreams that are still within our grasp, the ones that carry a degree of possibility, the ones that still burn inside us, those are the ones that we shouldn't give up on.

It comes down to this: While we're waiting for the "right" time, the only time we have is passing us by. While we're waiting for "perfect" circumstances, the only circumstances we're ever going to be offered are leaving us behind. We can plan all we want, dream all we want, hope all we want, but eventually it's up to us to take that first step. There is nothing sadder than someone reaching the final chapter of their life and having nothing to look back on except regrets.

So don't forget, there is more than one way of fulfilling your dreams. If you've always dreamed of becoming a doctor, but circumstances, responsibilities, and maybe your grade-point average has kept you from pursuing that career, you can still apply for a job or volunteer for a position in the medical industry. If you've always dreamed of traveling the world but don't have the funds to do it, maybe you could look into getting a part-time job at a travel agency. There are plenty of travel perks for people in the travel business. Who knows--you just might be able to earn money and see the world, too. Whatever it is you want to do, if you put your mind to it, you can probably find a way to either fulfill your dream or at least get a taste of it.

So go after your dreams. Celebrate the portion of your life that lies ahead of you, and don't fall into the trap of thinking it's too late. We may not have our yesterdays, but we have today and tomorrow. Don't waste them.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.--Goethe