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50 weeks | It matters that I dream | no. 0044
This week I am drawing out my visions for my family, and my work as a mothering space activator and an artist. The munchkin’s dad charged us with an assignment to write out our 1-year, 5-year, and 10-year goals, and then present them to each other. This is a very hard task, we’ve both acknowledged. Our “plans” are currently well-intentioned, half-drawn iterations of a future that is both near and far away. On paper these dreams are suspended between the etchings of what we think we know, and the blank spaces left in honor of that which we are certain we know nothing of.
I organize this vision into a series of circles. I start filling the circles in with what I want to accomplish or create by the specified time. I write these things with an almost daring assertion of possibility. With each stroke of the pen, the doubt parade marches ever loudly through my thoughts. How will you be able to do that? You’re going to need a lot of money if you want that. Don’t you think that’s a bit much? I mean, who are you, really?
Still, I press on. I make sure that I include all facets of my ideas. Nothing is too big, I keep telling myself. I am amazed at how much inner-coaching this seemingly simple activity requires. I mean I am writing in my notebook. No one is going to see it unless I let them. Why then am I so cautious about how much space I allow my dreams to take?
This tension is curious to me. Every few minutes I gather up the courage to add a little more detail to the vision. This is almost impossible to do without first wondering to myself, what will my mother think? I observe myself walking on eggshells in my own journal. It occurs to me then that writing is also a way to experience our dreams outside of our own thoughts. Placing the impossible into such definite configurations of letter and punctuation makes it just a little more possible. Having to read what I claim is true for me sets me in motion to act on it in a way that my private, tucked away thoughts will never do.
When I reach the 10-year circle, I begin filling it in. I am choosing not to get hung up on the gaps. I mean, everything is subject to life doing what it’s going to do anyway. But when I start checking the proposed dates, I realize then that I’ve actually imagined life beyond a decade from now. How bold of you! It delights me that I have to add another circle to my vision. I am feeling slightly more audacious and– with a deep breath as if to say, “what have I got to lose?”– I write down what I think I know of my life 15 years from now.
It surprises me how real the whole vision feels to me in that moment, as if I’ve peered into the future and watched an actual scene in my life–and it matches what I have drawn. This is my life. A lightness bubbles up and I marvel at how I almost missed the reward of this pleasant sensation. If I had remained too afraid to include all the things I really want in this life, I wouldn’t be feeling this fleeting moment of synchronicity. This brief but perfect accumulation of seconds when the worry from doubting does not crowd out the work of dreaming.
It occurs to me that this is the scary part of dreaming. The part where it’s just you and the raw reflection of your precious hopes for a future you can and cannot control. Sometimes we think the beginning of “living our dreams” happens when we tell the world what it is we want to do. Or maybe when the community around us nods their approval that we are truly fulfilling our purpose. Other times we rely on those closest to us to breathe faith into these delicate visions, praying their beliefs can make up whatever has been lost to fear.
But the work of activating our dreams begins in a much more intimate manner. The utterance of truths to your own face in the mirror. The firm delineation of words on something more permanent than air and water. Words whose sole purpose is to document your capacity to see beyond this now. Writing then, is often the first tangible form of the dream. It means something quite profound when we stop, and sit inside of our imperfect lives, and write something better into the script anyway.
I still wonder about all the factors making it challenging to dream at times. The hardened expectations of family and society for who and what I should be, the mental leaps required to imagine a financial freedom not yet present, the unknown elements of what my child and future children will need me to prioritize over myself. The list could easily go on and on, but the imperative to dream remains the same.
As a mother I have to constantly practice the art of dreaming. My children are depending on me to show them how to translate the magic they make in their minds into the magic they can make with their hands. I have to write all my visions down and stretch the muscles of my imagination daily. This is exhausting, especially when it feels like I have to squeeze the moments for dreaming into days already densely packed with munchkin matters and familymaking.
One of my dreams is to give birth to many more babies. When I mention the number to elder women in my family they roll their eyes and ask me if I know what I’m getting myself into, all the while believing somewhere in their hearts that I can do this sacred work. I obviously do not know everything, but I am also not devoid of all knowing. There is a calling on my life to be a mother. And not just to be a mother, but to be an anchor for the mothering. I understand this now, more clearly than ever, after so many stumbles along my path. When I look at the rough draft of dreams sketched in the notebook, I see finally an acceptance of this calling. That initial articulation every dream must make on its way to reality.
The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.