For much of my life, my mom has oft repeated the little phrase “Dreams are free”. She predictably uttered this line whenever an idea for something grand was met with scepticism, and I believe it bred in my sister and me the concept that dreaming was a free gift we could indulge in, whenever and wherever we wanted. I spent much of my time growing up with my head in the clouds inventing future plans out of nothing but scraps of inspiration. I’ll admit that sometimes it got the better of me as I struggled to live in the present, or accept dreams that couldn’t come to fruition. Even now, though I’ve honed in on the type of dreams I want to indulge in and pursue, I still find myself struggling to be released from unrealized dreams. However, the pros of dreaming big have far outweighed the downsides of broken dreams, because sometimes the results are even greater than I could have imagined. To me, that’s part of what makes life exciting and worth striving after.
“the pros of dreaming big have far outweighed the downsides of broken dreams, because sometimes the results are even greater than I could have imagined.”
My husband Will and I have always spent a lot of our time together dreaming. Plans for the future include his spreadsheets that outline how we could achieve our goals, and my sketches and lists that incorporate dream homes, renovations, and trip plans. We actually have a name and design for a Cajun restaurant that will likely never happen. Whenever we get the opportunity to sit down for a Cajun meal in the Deep South, we always revert back to dreaming about our imagined eatery and what it would look like. Let me tell you, the po’boys would be off the hook.
As I continue to pursue big dreams, the older I become, the more scepticism I encounter. I think in my 20’s people were content to raise eyebrows and say things like, “Well, anything’s possible”, as a polite way of responding to my grandiose ideas. But now in my mid-30’s the responses I receive are usually sceptical doubts regarding the practicality of dreaming.
I keep hearing things like, “What’s the point of even pursuing my dream?” or, “There’s no way I could do that when I have everything else to juggle,” or, “I have no idea what I would even want to do!”.
This has gotten me thinking, and I’ve begun to wonder how much time women my age actually spend dreaming. And not just busy moms with kids to raise, but full-time career women who have devoted their adult lives to becoming financially and professionally successful, and have sacrificed many of their passions in the process. It makes my heart ache as I long for women to spur one another on to pursue their passions and cultivate dreams that make their hearts beat fast and their eyes widen at the prospect of imagined possibilities becoming reality.
If any of this resonates with you, and you have dreams that you desire to realize, or you just want to cultivate long-buried ideas that could potentially enrich your life, here are three things I do that help me to nurture the seedlings of dreams into beautiful harvests.
1) Create a physical space that inspires your dreams.
I collect inspiration like it’s going out of style— decor, books, art, music etc. that allow my mind to shift into another time or place. If you would love to travel to Italy one day, start filling your home with art prints, books, and decor that invite you to dream of Rome or Tuscany or Venice. Hit up the library and check out a stack of travel literature, cookbooks, and beautifully illustrated coffee table books that prompt your mind to wander. Declutter your home of the things that stress you out or provide function only, and slowly incorporate pieces that make your eyes light up and your heart sing every time you open the front door. Bring in florals and music, create food and watch movies that tantalize your senses. The dreams don’t have to be specific, like an ideal job or a travel destination. They can be a sense of something, a coming together of things that help to dust off your imagination and spark a fire in you. Your home is a haven and a space that can allow you to be free in thought.
2) Designate mental space that enables you to awaken your imagination.
Within our busy days, it’s not easy to find time to experience the quietude necessary to let our imaginations run wild, but even if it’s for five minutes upon waking, cooking dinner, or driving the kids around, I intentionally devote small slivers of time to allow the seed of an idea to blossom into something more substantial. As an added bonus, these bite-sized ‘dreamlettes’ offer a far more life-giving escape from the stresses and pressures of every day life than a quick scroll through the internet. Find someone to talk to who won’t scoff at your ideas and instead will serve like a bellows to ignite the coals of your passion. Protect and kindle the dream in your mind, building confidence and desire before allowing just anyone a glimpse into your embryo of an idea. Dreams are tender and need a bit of coddling in the early stages. I love using small spaces of time to let ideas build momentum and weight.
3) Carve out calendar space that allows burgeoning dreams to ripen.
Whenever I schedule time to myself, I ensure my time allows for dreaming and scheming. Sometimes I plan on a long walk, or a morning at home alone, or even a weekend away once in a blue moon. No matter what you decide works best with your calendar, bring along journals, books or other media that captivate your imagination. Perhaps invite a friend or loved off of whom you can bounce ideas. Dreams need to be cultivated and visualized if they are going to manifest as realities. Never have I had a goal in mind or a dream on the horizon that hasn’t happened without spending a substantial amount of time crafting a visual of what that reality might look like. Pray, seek wisdom, and define your dream when you have scheduled time to clarify what your preferences and parameters are. Once these are in place, you’re well on your way to moving forward and pursuing your dream with fortitude and focus.
I believe we were all created with a purpose, and even if we don’t know what our truest passions are, there are are tried and tested ways that can help you uncover your desires and bring them into the light. As the traditional spiritual says,
“Hide it under a bushel, no. I’m gonna let it shine.”
What is beneath the surface of your everyday routine that is ready to burst forth and serve as a light in the world around you?
I want to encourage you to discover your gifts and desires so you can truly become who you’ve been designed to be. In fact, this is such a strong desire of mine that I’ve written an entire manifesto on this, specifically for you. If you’d like a free, beautifully-designed copy for yourself or to share, you can download a copy here.