I last posted about my life reorg quite awhile ago. Part of the delay in getting this next post up was due to how busy my life has been over the last few weeks, but that's not the whole story. The truth is, I found the next assignment surprisingly challenging. It sounded easy enough- write a list of 100 dreams. These could be big or small, they just had to be things I wanted to accomplish in life.
It wasn't easy. Not by a long shot. In fact, I still don't have a list of 100 dreams. I have a list of 25 dreams and two ongoing things I'd like to add to my life. Despite my failure to actually complete this task, I found the exercise very useful. The difficulty I had in doing this was surprising to me, and very thought-provoking. I don't think I would have had this much trouble earlier in my life. Was my trouble at this time due to my age or my status as a mother? I suspect it was due to both.
I realized as I started thinking about what my dreams are that I was assuming that my adventurous days were behind me- I was thinking that I was too old for some things. That is pretty silly. I am 38. People on my dad's side of the family regularly live- and live well- into their late 90s. My Mom's oldest brother is over 70 and still going strong. Chances are, I'm not even half way through my life. Realizing that was quite a wake up call for me. Why was I assuming that my time for achieving dreams was over when I still have at least half of my life ahead of me? That makes no sense.
I think motherhood plays a role in my problems with this assignment, too. In our popular culture, mothers aren't really expected to have their own aspirations. The good mothers are shown as caretakers, whose goals in life all involve supporting their kids. If a mother has her own goals, she is usually portrayed as being incredibly conflicted about them. This is probably related to our cultural hang up with the idea of working mothers. Regardless, I think it is B.S. I can support my kids in their goals and dreams (and even support my husband in his goals and dreams!) without completely abandoning my own goals and dreams.
So there is no good reason why I can't write a list of 100 dreams. I haven't given up. I'll get to 100 some day. But for now, I'll be content with a list of 25 dreams:
- Set up my travel website and put in the effort to see if I can make it a success, whatever that means. I guess I’ll know it when I see it....
- Learn how to take good photos. Most of the nice photos I post were taken by my husband.
- Write a list of 100 (or should it be 200?) major islands and visit them all. I’ll have quite a few crossed off already.
- Visit all of the US National parks
- Have a meaningful yoga practice. Bonus points if this lasts for more than a month.
- Raise great kids. I get to decide if they’re great. When is this “done”? I think by age 25 it is their own fault if they screw up. But maybe I'll change my mind about that when Pumpkin is 25....
- Visit the carribean already. Which is better? Carribean or South Pacific? I can't say because I haven't been to the carribean!
- Publish a book. I haven’t decided yet if self-publishing would cross this off.
- Read some Tolstoy. I’ve never read any. It seems like I should...
- Swim behind a waterfall.
- (Help) build a database, website, or software tool that develops a sustaining user community- the kind with power users and evangelists. This could be within a company; it doesn’t have to be a publicly available resource.
- Take another “big trip”- be gone for multiple months.
- Visit every continent. Yeah, even Antartica, even though it will be cold and I’ll get sea sick going there.
- Be part of a company/team that brings a drug to market. I’ll have a small part, but I still think it would be a thrill.
- Cruise somewhere. Probably Alaska or Fjords. But do it in style.
- See a concert at Carnegie Hall. Classical music strongly preferred.
- Spend a weekend in a hotel where the attraction is the room (eg, oceanfront condos at hotel del)
- Live in a house that is completely decorated how I’d like, inside and outside. My husband says this will never happen. Pessimist.
- See Machu Picchu. My husband is probably going to insist that we hike to it, but I’d be happy to take the train.
- Have conversational proficiency in another language
- Be The Boss. I’d love to stop implementing other people’s boneheaded decisions and start implementing some of my own boneheaded decisions. I think being an independent contractor would fit the bill, but I don’t know if I can hack the business development that would go with that.
- Live in a foreign country. (With the caveat that I don’t want to do this until my kids are much older- probably until they are off to college.)
- Take my kids to see a live performance of Beethoven’s 5th. It is still one of my favorite symphonies, and it is a good intro to classical music for kids.
- See the pyramids in Egypt.
- Take a big train trip. Maybe the Orient Express? Bonus points if I can do it in luxury.
And here are the two things I think I should try to do, but which aren't really goals because they are never completed:
- Have a date lunch or dinner with my husband once a month
- Take a walk every day. OK, most days. I do my best thinking while walking!
I also came up with some things I've already done that surely would have been on earlier versions of my list:
- Take a big trip
- Go to Easter Island
- See Angkor Wat
- Lead the informatics department at a small biotech
- Get a PhD
I was struck by a couple of things as I worked on my list:
- I didn't think of career related things to put on the list until I'd been working on it for several days.
- A lot of my items, both past and present, involve travel.
Hubby thinks that these two things are good and normal. I wonder if it says something about what I should be doing with my life, work-wise (i.e., not what I'm doing now). On the other hand, I don't necessarily think that I should try to my travel part of my career- sometimes trying to do something as a career sucks the joy out of it. For instance, I like music, but I know that trying to be a professional musician would make me miserable, and would probably destroy my love of music.
So it was an interesting exercise, on many levels, and it was actually a lot of fun to try to figure out what I really want to do with my life in the broadest sense. And it gave me a lot to think about for my life reorg. I think my next post in this thread will try to pull a lot of the things I've been thinking about from doing these exercises together. But I make no promises about how long it will take me to get that post written. I have a lot of thinking to do first.