Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Rules of Life---Part Eight

The Dream Book

I thought to wind the series up with this post. I could add a lot more of my ‘rules' but won’t for the sake of brevity.

Interestingly enough, I’ve been receiving a few private emails on this series and I’m only too happy to offer a compassionate ear and a sharing of my own life story. I never deem to give advice as everyone’s journey is so different and it’s always a question of finding one’s own way through life with the answers rolling in of their own accord.

At least that’s how it was for me.

I call them the 2 X 4’s of life – and I’ve been thwacked over the head by them on more than one occasion. There’s nothing like pain to grab my attention and force me to change – my outlook, attitude and circumstances.

I started to write an observation book one time on this whole concept of clinging – whether it is to a person, a place, or stuff. Or pre-conceived ideas. I’ve seen the clinger cling so tight to the ‘clingee’ that it either literally or metaphorically explodes. I’ve seen people stay in unhappy partnerships and heard both sides of the reasons. Which don’t amount to a hill of beans really but involve keeping him or her ‘happy’ or ‘secure’ while the other partner says the same thing. And there you have it – two desperately unhappy people clinging for dear life to the false concept of each other’s happiness until the whole thing implodes, as it inevitably does.

I had a dear friend clinging to her house as it represented the only security she had. She couldn’t afford to take a holiday or go to the theatre as any spare change went to paying down the mortgage. Then her house caught fire with the insurance company paying for the fortune in repairs less the deductible. This was followed within a year by the house being flooded. All the new ceramic tiles peeled off the walls and the floors like yesterday’s newspaper.

At this point she said f*** it. I’m just going to have a good time. And she did. And she’s never been happier.

In my time I clung to dreadful jobs and desperate relationships, friends who betrayed me and poor real estate choices. I would take care of you long before I would take care of me. I slowly learned that life was not about clinging to stuff but about realizing dreams. And the amazing thing was that the dreams didn't have to cost much materially and most were actually free.

About fifteen years ago I heard of the concept of The Dream Book. One buys a large blank journal and proceeds to go through it all page by page, each page headed with a dream. No matter how silly, infantile or hopeless seeming.

I felt a little foolish, taking all those pages and listing a dream on each one, some were childish, some were what I thought impossible.

Part of the process is on the first day of each month I go through each and every single dream and if there has been an effort to achieve even a minuscule part of that dream I write it down. It reinforces my belief that anything, literally anything can happen to make these private ephemeral thoughts come closer to a reality.

For instance, one of my pages said “Write”. I hadn’t written anything apart from my journal since high school.

I followed this with what I had written, where I had submitted it and then my first publication about ten years ago as a columnist in an Irish magazine.

Then my short story collection was picked up by a publisher, my cards were ready for sale, I had a win in a recent Irish poetry competition and a recent request from a new paper here to do a column for them. I write all these things down on the page to reinforce the power of the dream once it gets focussed on every month and then making room for it to move into my life.

Another page said “Open Up Kitchen”. I’d always had these tiny hemmed in kitchens and I love to cook. So I saved my money and a couple of years before I sold the Toronto house I had a wall taken down to open up the kitchen. And one of the first jobs I had done in this old house was to, yes: you guessed it, take down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room. It’s symptomatic of opening up my life.

You get the idea. I’ve a hundred dreams (for now) in all stages of development and on a bad day I can look inside the book and realize, hey, there is some magic after all, I did run that marathon in my fifties!


  1. "And there you have it – two desperately unhappy people clinging for dear life to the false concept of each other’s happiness until the whole thing implodes"

    My parents were like that. I have just written a little bit about it.

    I have only just come across your blog so will have to go back over your Eight Rules in full.

    Some people who have viewed my blog think I am clinging onto the past by writing about it, but that's not quite the case: I am merely trying to document it.

    Mostly I am trying to move forward, eat more healthily and make better choices in life from now on, I just wanted to document some of the past as well.

  2. wow. this is a powerful post. you realize dreams because of who you are, not because you write them down. but i also see that writing them down is part of who you are.

    this paragraph, especially, resonated with me this morning. i have been grappling with this kind of thing in the last few days (and have written about it, obliquely, on my blog this morning):

    I never deem to give advice as everyone’s journey is so different and it’s always a question of finding one’s own way through life with the answers rolling in of their own accord.

    thank you for a wise and illuminating post. even though you never deem to give advice, your posts do it for you, in a manner of speaking.

  3. Welcome G!
    I have visited your blog and will comment later.

  4. Thank you Laurie.
    In this blogging world by holding aloft our own lanterns we can perhaps illuminate paths for each other.

  5. I so admire your Dream Book method, WWW.

    I'm trying to recall a phrase I pushed into the back of my memory bank many Moons ago - I forget the exact words, but along these lines:

    "Anything the mind can perceive and believe, it can achieve".

    Your book is a practical way of keeping those items in mind, a kind of non-mystical creative visualisation technique.

    Some mystical types say that we create our own reality, via our thoughts - you are helping top creat yours, with the help of your Dream Book.

    I'm a bit too lack-a-daisical to be able to keep such a Book for myself, but it's a fascinating idea. :-)

  6. A dream book sounds a great idea. It's brilliant that you've achieved so many things by having those dreams working away in your unconscious. I've never been much of a dreamer, Jenny's the one for that and she's achieved amazing things. My rather unambitious philosophy is just to let things happen - but only if they're things I'm going to enjoy. It's worked pretty well so far, I've had a very interesting and varied life, full of joys and surprises!

  7. T:
    It's a memory thing a lot of the time with me, my head gets so crammed with ideas they can all fall out unless I write them down!!
    I don't think ambition has anything to do with it! It sounds like you're pretty easy going and make yourself available for the opportunities on offer! A pretty cool way to live!

  8. Without really trying very hard, but wishing to anyway, I have become unclung from many suburban middle class concepts already, that had become quite a burden to me without me consciously realizing it. I do feel so much less burdened than I did before. It is about ideas and convictions and material things.

    Now I am unclinging myself from a marriage and a "Love." See how I wrote that with a capital letter? I thought that that was how big it was. The Love of My Life! Turns out that's really me minus insecurity.

    My next dream is to make new friends. I think this secure person will make them and hopefully the right ones too.

    Thank you for your Dream Book idea.

  9. You are doing very well, my dear. coming through a lot of pain and letting go. Clinging=Crushing.
    It is so very hard say goodbye to a relationship that once meant the world.
    Other dreams will replace it, they always do.
    Now is the time for you to reinvent yourself.....

  10. That sounds a similar concept to a 'goal bowl' where you divide a paper circle into sections representing things you want to happen and write in each segment under a little picture of your goal, reviewing it periodically.

    I think its human nature to be scared of change/cling onto the past for security and I'm sure we all do it. But I think there's a happy medium between still valuing the past and holding out ones' hands to the future, hoping it will meet one halfway.

    I have pushed myself out of my 'comfort zone' in so many ways in the last couple of years in particular and things are starting to happen for me, albeit I am still stony broke and almost as worried about living expenses as your friend with her house! (which reminds me, must renew my home insurance!)

    Re relationships, I guess there's also a happy medium between splitting at the first sign of trouble and being committed to making each other miserable for years on end - as my parents have!

  11. Ah, the illusion of security, Laura.
    Yes the bowl sounds like a great idea too. Another one is writing down the stuff that is most important to you on 10 pieces of paper and setting fire to them while speaking of how much they mean. A great exercise on de-clinging.
    the relationship thing is my greatest challenge in life. Still working on it!

  12. I love the idea of the Dream Book. I'm a bit like that, too. I have lots of ideas (or dreams if you want to call them that) but they just float away into thin air. Unless I write them down.
    I think I have just found a use for a lovely notebook I bought a while back, simply because I liked the cover.

  13. me too, B, if I don't write them down and review them every month.
    I often think my mind is far too busy!
    thanks for visiting!

  14. I haven't tried the dream book. I did keep a list of things I intended to do, but got so fed up looking at it later on when I realised I hadn't done any of them. So I stopped it. I guess blogging has replaced it in a way -though now telling about what I have done. Your dream book is about hope and I like that. Maybe I'll try it.There's no age limit on doing it is there?

  15. OF:
    I think looking at the thing monthly is what keeps the focus where it should be! And even tiny steps help, let's face it, it is the journey and never the destination!

  16. Dear Webwisewoman,

    Just wanted to let you know that I have just quoted you in my latest blog, basically quoting some of the best comments from my readers.

    I hope you don't mind but I was especially bowled over by readers such as yourself who made reference to my writing skills.

    Your comment of 12 June 2008 now appears in my latest blog today:

    If you object to me using your comment in this self-publicising way, just let me know, either in a comment or e-mail and I will remove yours and leave the others.

    Thanks + best wishes,

  17. Oh go ahead Sharon, what I said was true!


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