One of the first people I met through the local homeschool group was Wendy McDonnell, who hosts Family Matters, a weekly radio show on the local university station. Given that we’ve been on homeschool hours, I haven’t always woken up on time to listen to the whole show, which starts at 8 am on Sundays. The last few weeks I’ve almost grumbled that I woke up too late to even hear any of it, but I quickly shushed the grumbles since it meant I got to sleep in – still a luxury with my youngest.
But a change is coming in our lives. My husband and I are trading places starting on Tuesday. He lost his job, along with about 25 percent of his colleagues, a few weeks ago. With only four weeks’ severance, the pressure was on us to figure something out sooner than later. When I was searching around for freelance opportunities, I came upon a recent posting for my old job. I took a few days to think about it, and the more I thought about our options, the sweeter this one seemed. I know the job, I know a good chunk of the people, and it’s only a 20-minute walk or 5-minute bike ride from my house. With my husband staying home, I no longer have to fit drop-offs and pick-ups into my schedule. I’ll be able to enjoy the walk or bike ride in solitude. We won’t need the second car, which was always more expensive than predicted and about which I’ve always been ambivalent. My working will take the pressure of my husband’s job search, so he can find the right role and circumstances for him. It could even move some of my dreams forward.
So I’ve been practicing waking up earlier, and yesterday morning I was up early enough to hear all of Wendy’s show. And what serendipity! She interviewed Alex Baisley, a local person I’d never heard of before, who helps people connect with and work towards their dreams.
I have two big concerns about going back to work (one of them is not relevant here and is totally irrational anyways). The second concern is that I will need to stop pursuing my passions outside of work. Photography has largely taken a back seat in recent months, but I still want to finish my derby project and start another one. And I want to keep learning about sustainable food production and growing my own food and cooking nourishing meals. I had pretty much come to the conclusion just last night that maybe I need to choose between food and photography, and how much does that suck?
Anyways, yesterday morning’s show with Alex Baisley. It turns out it was actually a rerun from 2010 but that doesn’t lessen the serendipitous feeling for me. (I’m paraphrasing based on my memory, so I apologize for any inaccuracies or misrepresentations.) Baisley said that people often see dreams as a luxury (I know I do! And it makes me feel guilty about pursuing them) but he doesn’t see it that way. He says dreams are our way of growing and of being and doing more than we might have thought possible. He points to trees. It seems that the point of their existence is to grow as much as they can with the resources available to them before they die. Why would people be any different?
He talked about how he often has people write a list of 50 big dreams. And how they start out thinking that would be impossible but they manage it just fine. And then he has them pick just one and do five-minute actions to move towards it. It could just be Internet research (one of my own favourite obsessive tendencies). It could be a conversation with someone. It doesn’t have to be big at all. But he said that as you get further in your research and conversations, the dream seems more and more possible. As well, you may discover that four or five other dreams get taken care of in the process of chasing the first one. He pointed out that your dreams aren’t in conflict with one another because they all come from the same heart (yours), and maybe you just can’t see how they’re connected yet.
He also said that it’s important to talk about your dreams with other people. You can be self-deprecating and talk about what a crazy idea it is so you don’t sound obnoxious, and good things may come from the conversations. If you want to run a half-marathon, for example, you could find yourself talking to an experienced marathoner who gives you hot tips for training regimes or specific races. Some people may try to downgrade your dreams but you need the big dreams to get you off the couch. Running a 5k might be more doable than a half-marathon but it’s not exciting enough to get you training. And you’ll likely do a 5k on the way to the half-marathon anyways. It’s important to do things that you find at least a little bit exciting and a little bit scary.
The show gave me hope that I can find a way forward without giving up my other dreams and passions. In fact, I can imagine a future in which my husband and I say that his losing his job was the best thing to happen to us. I’ve learned so much about myself in the last two years, and I’m looking forward to applying that learning to my work life.
Do yourself a favour. Settle in with a cup of tea of glass of wine and listen to the whole podcast. I was rapt.
And if you’re local, don’t forget about my upcoming photography workshop. It’s one of my dreams to teach at least one workshop (preferably more), and the thought both thrills and terrifies me. I’d love to have enough people sign up to actually run it.