Dream Big And Often!

2020 was definitely the year of dreams unfulfilled and broken dreams. Many of us experienced this first-hand as the Coronavirus sneaked in like a thief in the night, taking beloved family members and friends, destroying businesses, and subjecting our children to a virtual way of learning that is both frustrating and isolating for so many. Perhaps it’s hard to imagine that our dreams will ever come true in the wake of this horrible virus. Life will never be exactly like it was previously, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing, rather it can be an opportunity to take a “self inventory” and finally prioritize once and for all the dreams that we have for ourselves, but have put on the back burner for so long. The past 10 months have certainly put everything on hold, but as we slowly turn a corner now and begin to finally see a beacon of light at the end of this long dark tunnel, this would actually be the perfect time to start realizing those personal dreams. I think it’s safe to say that the one thing the coronavirus has definitely taught us all is that life can suddenly turn on a dime, so make the most of the days that have been given to you, for tomorrow is truly not promised for any of us…

Like any other challenge, realizing your personal dreams won’t be easy. In fact, it will take a certain amount of discipline and determination, just like anything else that is worthwhile. And then there is special needs parenting that is a 24/7 proposition… Let’s face it: we special parents have been and continue to be so focused in making sure that all of our child’s needs have been met for so long, that somewhere along the way we have lost ourselves and our dreams. Part of that is the intense and constant caretaking of our children that really doesn’t leave room or time for much else. Yet, we can’t ignore that fleeting thought, or persistent voice that desires more… Perhaps at some level we feel guilty about actually doing something for ourselves because that takes time away from our kids and what they need, which is always something! When Brian was little I was very guilty of this; I felt I could never do enough for him. If I missed a therapy appointment or an opportunity of any kind that would enhance his life, I would berate myself for not doing such and such and honestly drove myself crazy! It was the classic case of perfectionism gone mad, though I couldn’t see it at the time. Is it any wonder why I was anxious and unsettled so often…While I don’t regret anything I did to help Brian, (actually, I’m glad, because otherwise I would have always wondered “what if ?”) I wish I had been able to relax more and actually enjoy many good moments that happened, regardless of interventions. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20…

The truth is, the best gift we can give to our children is a fulfilled parent, one who can somehow find a balance, even in the midst of an often chaotic life, because we need to, and because we are worth it! This is one of the most important life lessons I have learned as Brian’s Mom. As a parent, it is impossible to run on empty for too long. Sometimes, we don’t have a choice, depending what life throws our way, but we know how we feel when the roof finally crashes on our head because of self-neglect when we choose not to take care of ourselves. It’s not where we really want to be and our children certainly don’t benefit from this either. It’s time to make new plans for ourselves, starting with that first step..

What are your dreams? What have you been postponing for so long? What is really stopping you from taking the first step towards the realization of your heart’s desires? It doesn’t matter how small or large the dream is: the main thing is to get started. One of my fulfilled dreams has been writing this blog. Years ago, long before blogs were in existence, I knew I wanted to write in some capacity, but was unsure of my subject matter. Well, Brian’s arrival into the world became my inspiration! It would take several more years until I actually created the “Marvels and Moxie” special needs blog, but the point is, it finally happened. Self- publishing is another dream that I hope to achieve this year. Exploring Yellowstone National Park one day with Brian and Jim is another. Going back to Europe to see Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Scotland for the first time is another huge dream of mine. I have no idea how or when these things will happen, but I know that they can and am open to the possibilities that will get me there. Learning to play the piano is another; I have started with the very basics and have proven to myself that learning is indeed lifelong… What does all of the aforementioned have in common? A self focus that is fun, entertaining, and a break from the special needs world, a true balm for the soul!

I also have other dreams that are much simpler, yet just as satisfying and more of the self-care type: taking a nap, reading a non-special needs book for entertainment, or meeting a friend for a cup of coffee. Dreams fulfilled of all shapes and sizes make us happy, hopeful, and encouraged. They energize us to persevere in the tougher times and give us something to look forward to. We owe it to ourselves to listen to our inner voice and follow our hearts, for life is short. I can’t believe that I will turn 60 this year- it’s funny how you always feel young at heart, but the truth is, I have lived more than half of my life already. With the remaining days that I do have left on this earth, I would like to make them count with no regrets.

It is time to get started! Grab a piece of paper and a pen. Close your eyes and think about what really makes you happy, things that inspire you and give you joy. As these images appear, write down what you see in your mind’s eye- there are no wrong answers here, only possibilities. Reflect some more and keep writing, then relax when your list is complete. Review your list and see what you have already accomplished or what you you want to do in the future. Make a commitment to yourself that you will achieve all of the things that are on your list, one step at a time, no matter how long it takes… Refer to your list often for encouragement and keep your eye on the prize. Check off your accomplishments as they happen. Add more dreams to your list, delete those that you no longer want, for this is a fluid/ dynamic list. Pat yourself on the back for any steps taken towards the fulfillment of your dreams and reward yourself often. Repeat this entire process as needed!

One of the immediate benefits of the above exercise, is the ability to detach from our son or daughter’s needs, even if it’s just for a little while. We really need to give ourselves a break and permission to pursue our dreams. Over time, we can train our minds and bodies to relax and focus on ourselves, an absolute necessity for our physical and mental health. Many of us hope to outlive our special children; I certainly hope to be a “bionic woman” and be around that long for Brian. Fulfilling my own dreams is one of the ways I can do this, despite the challenges of time and effort, if I make this my priority…

Wishing us all “sweet dreams” of the realized kind, the ones that give us a sense of great purpose and fulfillment. We were created to live a full life, one that has balance and meaning. There is no doubt that our special children’s needs can make these goals elusive, but we can’t ignore our hearts desires, lest we do so at our own peril and theirs as well. Besides, it’s time to finally have some fun for a change; we definitely deserve it after all these months! Happy Parents equals Happy Children, one small step at a time, one day at a time..

Until next time, thanks for reading! 😊

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