Dream On

Try Lots of Hats coverThe other day I had a casual exchange with someone who led me to think about the concept of “living your dreams”. I was walking with Mom and Stella on a beautiful path that runs along the Intracoastal Waterway. It is a popular place and there are always people walking their dogs so Stella gets to socialize with lots of varieties of her species – and we do, too! When Stella gets too tired she rides in a stroller and this sight often inspires comments and starts conversations with fellow dog owners.

On this particular day we engaged in a chat with a nice looking man in his late 60’s who was walking with his two dogs. He told us he lives on his boat in a nearby marina and Mom said “Oh, that sounds like my daughter. She’d love that”. I laughed and said “Maybe 20 years ago but not now”, which he interpreted to mean that it was an unfulfilled dream of mine. He said “it’s never too late; you’re not too old to live your dreams” and other things along those lines. He seemed convinced that I wasn’t “living my dreams” and proceeded to suggest different things I should do – sky-diving, flying a plane, etc. – and stressed again that I’m not too old try. I knew it would be futile to try to explain to this man that I am living at least one of my dreams. Retiring at 60 to spend my days reading, writing, drawing, learning, and anything else I choose does not make for an exciting story but it was my dream.

 The fulfillment of that dream led to others. I discovered an online venue where I could sell my artwork as greeting cards and I published my first book, Try Lots of Hats. Since then I have also published a collection of personal mother/daughter stories, Velvet Ropes: The Ties That Bind Mothers and Daughters, and my first mystery, Finding the Truth (an e-book). I haven’t received a large financial gain or accolades for my work but, for me, these were important milestones – and dreams come true.

Sure, I still have some unfulfilled dreams, like traveling around the country in an RV, visiting Italy and England, owning a vacation home in the mountains, being a best-selling author and a popular artist, meeting my soul mate but … who doesn’t? I accept that I don’t have the freedom from responsibility, the resources – or even the ability – to live out every one of my dreams. For most of us life is a balance between taking care of our responsibilities and fulfilling our dreams – it is a very rare and fortunate person who can make all their dreams come true.

My final conclusion – and what I want to share with you – is that your dreams are your dreams. Don’t judge them against anyone else’s dreams because they are as unique to you as your fingerprints and DNA and don’t let anyone criticize them or try to talk you out of them – in fact, you’re better off only telling your dreams to someone you trust completely. Dreams can be very fragile things. Dream on!

I was not looking for my dreams to interpret my life, but rather for my life to interpret my dreams ~ Susan Sontag

Food is Stella's dream come true!

Food is Stella’s dream come true!

You can see more of my artwork and books at www.lyndalinke.com

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An Introverted Tale

A Star to DiscoverShe pulled the car into the garage and pressed the remote to close the door behind her. It always felt like she was closing out the world when that door rumbled down. She exhaled a deep sigh of sweet relief as she entered her peaceful home. Her dog was waiting for her as she entered the kitchen from the garage and greeted her with much tail wagging and soft cries of happiness. She placed her handbag on the counter and bent to pet her dog. She felt a comfort and happiness to be back in her “sanctuary” that would be hard to explain to anyone who didn’t share those feelings. She knew that many people were lonely and unhappy about living alone but she didn’t feel that way. She never had a problem spending time alone and, in fact, most of the things she enjoyed the most were solo activities like reading, drawing, writing, and listening to music. She had discovered in her later years that she even enjoyed traveling alone – no matter how much she liked someone, after a few days she craved solitude. She knew this was something about her that was hard for some people to understand. The past couple of weeks had been good, but also had depleted her energy reserves and she was looking forward to recharging her battery with alone time. Her best friend, who lived in another state, had visited for 3 days and it had been wonderful to spend time with her. Then she had enjoyed a vacation with her mother and, finally, that night she had attended a friend’s birthday party. She hadn’t really wanted to go but she had promised so she drove for more than 45 minutes in the pouring rain to her friend’s house. She enjoyed the first hour at the party but, making small talk with people was an exhausting experience for her and she had to force herself to stay an “acceptable” period of time before leaving. She realized that most people didn’t feel that way but she was used to living in a society where extroverts were in the majority and she often had to pretend to be one in order to get along. She changed into her pajamas, settled on the sofa and happily picked up the book she had left on the table a few hours earlier.

This little story is about someone who is known as an introvert – defined generally as one who is drained by social encounters and energized by solitary, often creative pursuits – it is about me. Shyness is not the same as introversion, although the term is often used interchangeably. I admit I did struggle with shyness in many situations in the past but, I have overcome that and I am perfectly able to socialize when I want to. The difference now is that I often prefer not to. I know and accept myself much more than I did 15 or 20 years ago when I used to force myself into social situations on a regular basis because I believed there was something wrong with me if I didn’t so, I tried to “fit in”. To me, a “cocktail” party is like a holding cell – that doesn’t mean I can’t keep up my end of the small talk and even enjoy some of it, it just means I’m counting the minutes until I can escape. These days I’m not trying to prove anything to myself or anyone else so I stick with things I like, such as one-on-one conversations, small group gatherings, and lots of solo time. I like to visit historic sites and beautiful vistas – Las Vegas and cruises are not my style. I’m not a hermit, a “loner” or some other kind of defective personality and, in fact, I’m more empathetic and a much better listener than most extroverts I have known. I have a deep respect for my privacy and for the privacy of others. I’ve recently been reading a book called “Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength” by Laurie Helgoe, Ph.D., that refreshingly validates all that and points out the many positive aspects of the introvert personality. I don’t feel the need to explain myself or make excuses anymore but I do wish I had read this book many years ago when I felt so often like a misfit – now I proudly and unashamedly declare that I am an introvert!

FYI, some famous introverts include Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson, Julia Roberts, Clint Eastwood, Abraham Lincoln, Woody Allen, Carl Jung, and Jane Goodall. Surprisingly, many performers and public figures are introverts. We might think of introverts as librarians or writers but, in reality, they can succeed in almost any career as long as they are in tune with their need for solitude, thinking, and problem solving.

If you recognize yourself in anything I have written and have ever felt like a misfit because of it, I highly recommend that you read the above mentioned book and embrace the things that make you unique and special.  Trying to be something you are not is never sustainable – plus, it makes you unhappy! Once again, the bottom line is self-love.

Stella enjoys a quiet moment of  solitary contemplation

Stella enjoys a quiet moment of solitary contemplation

See more of my artwork and books at Lynda Linke Productions