Susan Badeau

There are only two lasting gifts we can give our children - one is roots, the other is wings

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Not There Yet .... Part 1: "Living the Dream"

Posted by Sue Badeau on August 24, 2022 at 6:25 PM

In August 2020, exactly 7 years after the publication of our book, "Are We There Yet? The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids"  my husband and I realized that the answer to that question continues to be "No, Not yet." So, inspired by the virtual realities of COVID life, we bought an RV and set off on the newest chapter of our life adventures. We have been living the #RVLIFE ever since. I had intended to blog from the road, but life happened along the way, or maybe I just got lazy. But I did (and do) post a lot on social media, mostly Facebook, mostly sunset photos and other updates about our life and travels. And when I do post these breathtakingly beautiful photos inevitably I get two kinds of comments. 

 

  1. "Girrrrrrrl, you are SO lucky! You are living the dream! I am sooooooo jealous."
  2. "Your trip looks awesome and you sooooo deserve it."
These comments always get me thinking, and reflecting. Is this "the dream?" Am I "sooooo lucky"? Do I "deserve it?" And my answer to all of these questions is "yes," "no", "well, yes, and" or "not really, but". So today, I am going to unpack the "Living the Dream" comments, and next time (maybe tomorrow?) I will tackle the "you deserve it" comments. 

Living the Dream



I post lots of pictures. And I have made a conscious decision to focus on beauty. Pictures of sunsets, the ocean, flowers, trees, birds, rivers, pebbles, shells, anything that catches my eye and takes my breath away. OK, sometimes pictures of scrumptious food, I just can't help it. And of course, pictures of my adorable grandchildren whenever possible. 

It looks like a dream. But it is not a dream, it is a very small slice of my real life.

I am not retired, I am still working and work is sometimes hard, sometimes stressful, sometimes even overwhelming. 

And I love many people dearly and deeply. People who have whole histories of trauma. People who are struggling with addiction, or lack of jobs or housing, or depression, or challenges raising their own kids. Financial struggles. Health and mental health struggles. Relationship struggles. Grief, loss, pain. Incarceration. Re-entry. Loneliness. Racism. Walking it out. Working it out. Sorting it out. Being right sometimes. Being wrong alot. Problem solving. Re-grouping. Seeking forgiveness. Falling down. Getting back up. Falling down again. Lots of hard stuff. 

Some days the hard stuff crashes over me relentlessly like the waves pounding against the shore, another one and another and another. 

And then, another sunset. Yes. I must be the luckiest person in the world to soak in all this beauty. Every. Single. Day. Even the cloudy days. Even the rainy days. Even when I don't see it, the sun rises. The sun sets. The tides come in, the tides go out. A flower blooms. A bird sings. Living the dream. 



Five Steps To Living Your Own Dream

So many people say, "I wish I could do that, I'm jealous." Good news - you, too, can live the dream. For real. It might be in an RV, or not. It might be travelling across town, or across the world, or writing a book or walking the Camino De Santiago like my friend Gary Mallon did. Because living the dream didn't happen by luck or chance. There were (and are) five steps involved and you can take these same five steps to go live your dream too.

1. Work hard
Even before you know what your dream is, you must know this - it will take hard work to get there. Hector and I have both worked, and worked hard, since we were in high school (or before if you count paper routes and babysitting jobs). Many times I have worked three or more jobs. We didn't suddenly wake up one day with an RV in the driveway and a continuously full tank of gas. We worked our tails off for years and we continue to work now to keep our dream happening.

2. Dream BIG, but set small goals
Dreams are not the same as goals. Dreams need to be big and sparkly and bold and scary and impossible. You can't hold your whole dream in your hands, your hearts burst at the seams because dreams can't be contained. Jedidiah Jenkins, in his book, "To Shake the Sleeping Self" puts it this way, "Each of us has a mash-up of talents and experiences and potential that plants something in us, and becomes a dream.....A dream is the myriad ways we could be fulfilled in life using our talents to make beautiful things. But then there are goals.Goals are specific guesses at what we could do or become to fulfill our dream. Dreams are like a compass that points in a general direction and goals are the islands in the ocean along the way."  Hector and I are both big dreamers, but we are also able to get into the trenches, get into the nitty gritty of life and knock of small goals one-by-one along the way. As you set goals on the way to your dreams, there will be twists and turns in the road, the big amorphous dream will begin to take shape and one day you will wake up and realize, "this is it, I am really living the dream."

3. Believe in 12th chances  and more..... Own Your Mistakes, Learn and Adapt
Its easy to say we believe in second chances. But what about third chances? What about 12th chances? What about 47th chances? We have to keep believing that everyone is capable of learning, changing, growing, healing and doing better. We have to believe this for ourselves before we can believe it for others. We have had some colossal mistakes along the way to living our dreams. Errors in judgement. Errors due to arrogance. Errors due to ignorance. Mistakes, missteps, mishaps. And sometimes stubborn pig-headedness. Sometimes our mistakes have cost us dearly. Financial loss, sure, but moreso I mean in terms of hurts to ourselves and to others, harm to relationships. Wounds that can be deep and scars that can be lasting. Sinkholes and gullies that are hard to get out of. Its not always easy to recognize a mistake let alone to own up to it. And even then, it is hard to learn from it, and actually change as a result of what we learned. And worst, it can be hard to recognize that some mistakes can't be fixed. But on the road to living your dream, you will make mistakes. Own them. Learn from them. Believe in second chances and third chances and 12th and 47th chances and more. You might not get to live your dream until you have burned through many dozens of mistakes.

4. Don't quit - keep a sense of Wonder
When all those mistakes pile up on you and when your view is like the one I have today - deep fog, heavy clouds, no sun at all - it can be tempting to give up and quit. When everyone you love seems to be in crisis at once, when you lose a job, or a friend or a pet, in these moments dreams seem frivolous or ridiculous or useless. I've been there. In fact, on many days, I am still there. Every time one of my kids or grandkids is struggling and I can't immeidately fix it and make it better, I feel like a failure and I want to quit everything. But then, the sunset comes again and I remember that there is still beauty and wonder and even on the cloudiest day, the sun is still there somewhere. 

5. Live in WHOLENESS 
A lot of people advise living in the moment. Be present. Good advice, often. But I like to remember memories from the past. I like to anticipate what might be ahead in the future. I enjoy the present but I live in the wholeness and connectedness of past, present and future merging together everyday. Expect beauty every day. Look for it. Breathe it in. Feel it in your pores. Listen for it. Connect the beauty of today with your memories of past times. Sometimes this will make you ache and cry and grieve for what is lost. Sometimes this will make you smile and laugh as you unpack an almost forgotten moment of joy. Connect the beauty of today with the hopes you have for the future. Your future. Your children's future. The future of the earth and the world and the generations not yet born. Hope keeps the dream alive. Yeah. Cliche, I know. But, still true. Even in the brokenness of unfulfilled dreams, and even in the "not yet" of the now, there is beauty and wholeness.

So go ahead, get out there and live the dream. 

 

Categories: Building Bridges of Hope

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