Dare, Dream, Do

My biggest regret in my life thus far is that I didn’t dream big enough.  For many years, I only let myself think about really realistic goals that worked within my perception of my religion and my family.

When I was in college I had no less than 4 professionals approach me and try to “recruit” me to their profession.

My economics teacher wrote me a letter and basically said something to the affect: “Girls don’t usually get A’s in my class.  You should consider switching to Economics as a major.  We need more women in the field.”

One of my education teachers pulled me aside and told me I needed to be in higher education.  I shouldn’t stop with a Bachelor’s Degree-  “a brain like mine needed to continue”.  She offered to write me a letter of recommendation and be my sponsor/mentor while I pursued a Master’s Degree.

The Jr. High principal where I worked as I went to college told me I was wasting my talents as an Elementary School teacher.  She thought I needed to be in the Jr. High setting because people like me that work well with Jr. High age kids don’t come around often.  I had an unusual gift that needed to be appreciated.

Then there was my dentist from my home town that called me right after I graduated from college.  He said, “I know you just finished your degree in education but I want you in my office.”  He offered to pay for me to go back to school so I could get another degree in dental hygiene, or he would pay to have me trained as a dental assistant or his office manager.  He didn’t care what I did, he just wanted me to work for him.

But I said no to all of these offers because I felt directed to teach elementary school, but also because I didn’t allow myself to dream.  I had a small vision of my future.  I thought I had to do something that would work well with motherhood.  I never considered business or economics or any field that was traditionally male.  Since I paid for college all by myself, I didn’t think I could afford higher education.  I never even really considered my talents or my passions.  I just knew I needed to have a stable job and make some money.

I am not saying I made a wrong choice.  I loved my years teaching and I loved my students.  I still keep in touch with a handful of them and my memories of those teaching years are dear to my heart.  I am able to use my teaching skills every day as a mother.  But I do wonder where I would be if I had allowed myself to dream to the fullest extent of my potential.  Maybe I would have been a lawyer, a politician, a journalist, a college professor, a sports caster or an ER doc? (I am surprisingly calm under trauma.)

I’ll never know.

But I do know about dreams now and now I want to dream big– past the boundaries of my family and religion.  Past other’s expectations and even my own limiting beliefs. I want to dream big even if others think I’m crazy or they don’t think I have the potential.

But where to start?…

First I read the book “Dare, Dream, Do” by Whitney Johnson.

As she talked to many amazing women she noted that most of them didn’t feel like they had a right to dream.  So she wanted to write a book that encouraged women to dream and that helped them achieve their dreams.  The books shares all kinds of stories of women realizing their dreams.

In the book Johnson states, “dreaming is a process.  I came to recognize that achieving goals isn’t as much about gaining credentials or training as is is believing in possibilities and being in a place where you can explore possibilities.”  I am in that place and I am exploring.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the idea of “dating dreams”– just like dating guys. There is no commitment.  No long term investment.  You shop around until you find your dream and when you find the right one you know it.

Next I started dating a few of my dreams to see if we were going to work out.  I had one dream that I was pretty hot on and then we went out on one or two dates and I dropped him.  I might be willing to date his brother in a year or two.

Other dreams I am dating are

Building a home

Writing a book

Living in another country

Homeschooling my kids

Growing my blog

Dating is working for now, but I really want to make a commitment. So when I saw that Whitney Johnson would be in town to speak last week, I signed up to go.  As she spoke, a few things that night that really hit home with me.

She said, “It is our privilege to dream.”  I needed permission.

Ms. Johnson also said, “We dream to truly grow up.”  I am still pondering on this statement, but I get it.  And as you dream you discover who you really are.  I am ready to do both.

And probably the most significant point she made for me is that we dream so that we can show our children how to dream.  We model for them what dreaming looks like and how to follow dreams. She said one of the most influential factors in the life of a child is a parent’s unlived life.  As we dream we  help our children fill the circle they were meant to fill.

This point sold me. So I am dreaming big so that my kids, but particularly my girls, know they can dream.  They can be whatever they want to be or do whatever they want to do.  There is no box for them to stay in.


So for now all I have really done is allow myself to dream, but that is huge. I have dated a few dreams and I see myself moving closer to a dream commitment.

And in the meantime I consider what Theologian Fredrick Buechner said: “God calls you to a place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

I am honing in on my ‘deep gladness’ so that I can meet the ‘world’s deep hunger’ and my own. And there will be no regrets this time around.

Dream big with me ladies!

10 thoughts on “Dare, Dream, Do”

  1. I am wanting to delete this whole post and start again because so much more is coming to my mind on the topic of dreams– so much more I want to say or points I want to clarify. But I decided I am not going to leave the post as is. I am not going for perfect posts. I am going for posts that make us think and look at our world differently. And sometimes just getting thoughts out of my cue and into the world opens up my mind even more. I will just have to write a follow-up some time.

  2. I loved this post. It made me uncomfortable and squirmy as I read it because you speak truth and it’s hard for me to hear. Sometimes we think that our “dreams” will conflict with our righteous goals and that we can’t have both. I think I was taught this my whole life (thus the uncomfortable feeling). Why not dream? Why not strive for greatness? Great things to think about!

    1. Jen, it was hard for me to face that I didn’t let myself dream for many years. I realized I dreamed as a child and even college was a big dream for me, but that is as far as I let myself go. I was going through a divorce and needed to earn a living. I went into survival mode. But dreams change as we grow. We add some. We delete some. We bring some to the front and push some to the back. Children weren’t always my dream, but they are my main dream right now. the other ones are brewing on the back burner. I stir them late at night or early in the morning and am waiting for the time when they are ready and I am ready. Thank you!

  3. I have been thinking of this so much lately (maybe its my midlife crisis at age 41 🙂 I was accepted into a program to become a child life specialist at a children’s hospital when I was engaged. I didn’t do the program because I fel like I needed to go be the bread winner while my husband was going to school. I still regret it and want to be a child life specialist!

  4. This is such an awesome post! Finding the room to dream and explore is so critical! I’ve been thinking about where my next dreams will lead, and I don’t know exactly, but there has been so much joy in the journey. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and spurring a few of my own!

    1. Jaime, Thank you! And the good news is we don’t have to know exactly what are dreams are. But like you said there is joy in exploring and discovering them.

  5. This has me thinking. My youngest just started school and while I love my quiet days at home – folding laundry in peace! – I can’t imagine quiet days of chores for the rest of my life. I have a small, flexible part time job so I don’t need work. Just something to be interested in! Trying to give myself time to figure it out.

    I went to college just to get a job too. Wish I had lived in the french house a semester or borrowed some money and gone to study abroad. Didn’t even occur to me at the time. But my mom raised a daughter who graduated from college and I will raise a daughter who I hope will graduate from an adventurous college career and then get married. Every generation can improve…

  6. I was thinking of this before I read your list of possible dreams. Part of the reason we are not allowed to dream is because we are all boxed into the same categories in the public school system. We aren’t really told about what is out there and how capable we are (at least I wasn’t) Home schooling can broaden our children’s imaginations far more then public school. We can take them by hand and go to… where ever your imagination takes you and where ever their imaginations take you!

  7. Since talking with you last summer I have read almost every post you have written and I have to say that we are so much alike it’s crazy! Thank you for expressing what I feel so eloquently! People generally don’t tend to relate to me or rather don’t know what to think-they call me super mom9i don’t get it) i guess because I am kind of out of the box…cherishing my kids instead if sending them off to pre-school at 2, cooking healthy meals, becoming a RN amidst having 3 babies. Sometimes it is hard because there is so much more that I {we} want to do and thinking about it almost makes us seem ungrateful for what we already have but we like to dream BIG!

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