Big and Bold, soft and quiet

by Christie on April 23, 2014

Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography

Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography

A few weeks ago, I got together with a couple of girlfriends for a weekend of relaxation, creativity, and friendship. After the typical chit-chat and talk about work and children and families, the conversation eventually turned to the topic of dreams. Not the what-goes-on-in-your-head-while-you-sleep kind, but the what-goes-on-in-your-heart kind.

As I talked about some of my Big and Bold Dreams – things like publishing books and traveling around the world – I realized that my earliest dreams, my truest dreams didn’t seem all that big or bold at all. In fact, they seemed kind of uninteresting and rather basic. If I am really being honest, when I strip away all of the glitz and glamor that comes with the typical “dreams talk,” my most heartfelt dreams are really quite simple, more like Soft and Quiet Dreams than Big and Bold Dreams. Things like becoming a mother and raising a happy family, sustaining a loving marriage, creating a comfortable home, maintaining healthy relationships with extended family, enjoying a handful of enduring friendships.

While I think that it is an amazing privilege that we are able to talk about Big and Bold Dreams, and then to actually work toward achieving those dreams, I can’t help but notice that all too often, it seems, that when we talk about hopes and dreams, we forget about all of the less-flashy and somewhat boring dreams that we have – dreams that we hold so close and inseparable from our core that they almost don’t seem like dreams at all.

As children, our dreams are often very big and very bold. We dream of becoming an astronaut or an actress or a major league baseball player, of being a President in the White House or a princess in a castle or a knight fighting dragons. Then, as we grow up, our dreams start to look a little more pragmatic and maybe a little more fiscally-focused. Things like winning the lottery or owning a four-star restaurant, publishing a bestseller or seeing our photo on the cover of TIME Magazine, driving a fancy car or buying a big house with an ocean view.

So often, we think of dreams as these big and bold accomplishments, as once-in-a-lifetime moments, or as flashy, look-at-me kind of successes. But what about the dreams that we live and feel each day? What about the dreams that aren’t necessarily accomplishments or successes, but look more like happinesses and joys and quiet contentments? What about our dreams that have already come true?

What I am realizing is that there seems to be this tendency to focus on our Big and Bold Dreams to the exclusion of our Soft and Quiet Dreams – the ones that have already come true and that we live each day in a rather ordinary and not-at-all-flashy kind of way.

The thing is, I think that we need both kinds of dreams, the Big and Bold Dreams and the Soft and Quiet Dreams. We need dreams so big and so bold that they excite us and scare us and push us to change and grow and progress. But we also need dreams so natural and so genuine that they calm us and connect us and fill us with a deep sense of purpose and contentment. Because hope might lie in dreams, but joy lies in all those dreams that have already come true.

So let’s dream those Big and Bold Dreams, the brave dreams and the glittery dreams that stretch the imagination and make us come alive. Let’s share those Big and Bold Dreams, and let’s put our hope in those Big and Bold Dreams.

But let’s also honor our Soft and Quiet Dreams, the gentle dreams and the humble dreams that hold us close and make us feel alive. Let’s acknowledge those Soft and Quiet Dreams, and let’s rest for a while in those Soft and Quiet Dreams. Though they might not be flashy or seem all that exciting, they are the ones strong enough to hold up all those Big and Bold Dreams after all.

What are some of your Big and Bold Dreams? What about your Soft and Quiet Dreams?

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This post is part of the weekly Photo Inspiration Challenge.  Special thanks to Angie McMonigal Photography for her photos. Make sure to visit her website or facebook page. Her work is both stunning and inspirational.

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On Jumping In and Making Splashes

by Christie on April 21, 2014

Jumping In

Jumping In

I have been staring at a blank page for the past thirty minutes and I can’t figure out why. I’ve gotten up to get myself not one, but two cups of coffee. I’ve watched Heidi (Teddy’s goldfish) swim around his tank for a little while. I’ve watched Brock Stettman (Jackson’s gecko) sleep in his terrarium. I’ve checked Facebook for the millionth time. I’ve done a multitude of household chores, just about everything except writing anything.

Maybe the difficultly comes from lack of ideas? But I don’t think that is the reason. After a six week blogging break, the ideas are definitely there. Maybe I’m a little rusty after staying quiet here for so long? But I don’t think that that is it either since, though I haven’t been writing here, I have actually been working feverishly on other writing projects over the past few weeks. Maybe it’s the weather? Distractions? Not enough sleep last night?

I could come up with a million guesses as to why I’m having a hard time getting back into the writing groove, but when I strip away all the speculation and excuses, the real reason that I’m having difficulty writing is pretty basic: it’s because I’m scared.

Whether it is writing or parenting or lawyering or teaching or whatever-ing, I think that there is this innate human need to crave feedback. And not just any feedback, but positive feedback. We want to know that we are on the right track, that what we are doing isn’t just a fool’s errand, that we are actually doing good, maybe even making a difference. And after taking such a long break writing here, I want to jump back in with a splash, with something big, something SPECTACULAR. But here I am barely managing to dip a toe in because I’m too darn scared to jump in.

Last week, I handed over work that I have spent months – if not years – creating to some dear friends for feedback. And after the initial exhilaration wore off, I found myself covered with a dark cloud of doubt and fear. This thing that I care so much about, that I have worked so hard on is in the hands of beloved friends whom I love and respect and who love and respect me. There is no reason to be scared, and yet, I’m absolutely terrified. Forget spectacular, what if it’s not even any good? What if I’m not any good ?

One of the reasons that I love writing so much is that it mirrors Life in so many ways and represents some pretty universal truths. So many of us want to jump in the pool, maybe even make a SPLASH, but we’re too scared that the water might be cold or that we’ll get water up our nose and in our eyes or that others will think that our splash is too big or too small or too whatever. So we dip our toes in or sit on the chaise lounge and flip through a magazine or we slide in real gentle and quiet-like so that no one notices us. We want to be spectacular, but we are so darn scared that we won’t be that we just sit there. We stare at blank pages. We tell ourselves someday. We tell ourselves that SPECTACULAR is for other people, NOT for us.

But what I am learning is that sometimes just getting into the pool is pretty spectacular. Sometimes it’s okay to dip our toes in and take it slow. And sometimes it’s even okay to just rest on the side for a while, reading in a chaise lounge, watching and learning.

But then there are times when we just have to jump in with a big old cannonball or a spectacular belly flop and see what kind of splash we make. Because the water might be cold or we might get water up our nose, our the splash might be too big or too small or too whatever, but we can always get out and dry off and try it all over again.

And maybe that is what spectacular is really all about. Not the pretending and the wishing and the wondering, and not a desperate need for positive feedback at the expense of learning and growing, but the risk-taking and the advice-asking and the forever-trying.

Because there are a million opportunities to jump in, a million chances to try over again, and a million ways to be spectacular, regardless of what kind of splash we make.

 

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Hope and Surrender

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Memories and Mindfulness

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What Chicago and a Tiny Town in Wisconsin Have in Common

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Twelve years ago, I moved to Chicago, a city of nearly 3 million people. I came to Chicago from a tiny rural town in Wisconsin with a population of only about 5,000 by way of a seven-year stay in Madison, Wisconsin, which is home to approximately a quarter million people. There are many stark and […]

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UP THERE and down here

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Over the past few weeks, I have been working on a resurrected writing project – a task that is likely to continue for several months to come. Whenever I delve into a task as daunting as this one, I look to various sources of creative inspiration and motivation. I read more poetry and search through […]

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