We all dream. Even if we think we don’t. Even if we are scared to tap into that space. We dream. When we sleep...when we are awake...we dream.
Some kids dream of being a princess or a police officer. When I was a child I dreamed of being important. I wanted to matter. I wanted my profession to be a Vet or a Dr...I knew others respected these kinds of people and I wanted that. After my Dad’s shooting. I wanted to take all the pain away from everyone around me. I wanted to give him his legs back. I wanted to change the world. His world. I had big vision that someday I would. As I grew up and the world’s views came into focus and my dreams blurred. Over the years I became very good at answers. Telling people what sounded good. What they wanted to hear from me. And mainly learning to say the “right” things, kept me from many gut wrenching conversations. Not all though. No one wants to hear that I wish I could see my Dad walk again. That I truly dream of our families not being divided and life being normal again someday. My deep thoughts felt like a prison most of my life.
Does anyone really want to know what you want? When someone asks about your life to get to know YOU...why is the first question...”So, what do you do?” That question literally haunted me for years. Even in a profession that most people won’t do. Where I held people until they took their last breaths and their families long after...I still wondered if the letters behind my name and title were big enough. If my education was good enough...like what?!? How on earth did this become my mindset??? Why couldn’t I see my value outside of “what I did”. Mostly because for me, it was safe to combine my purpose and passion into what I “did” for a living. That’s noble and I don’t regret it...but who you are and what you do are in fact different. If you already knew that by now...I bow to you...but what kept me up at night is that I lost my way along the years. I lost me. And I’m still picking up those pieces and I’m not sure I ever knew what I really wanted back then.
I don’t blame my career. Becoming a Nurse saved my life. It helped me escape an abusive marriage and gave me stability and strength. I was accepted. I wish I could say I always knew what I wanted...that I had a clear vision for life as a little girl, but that’s just not true. When you have a choice in your 20s you make one that will set you up for stability in the future...even if it’s not exactly what you want. So I did. And then...I was “important”. I saved lives. However, I always felt something missing. If I were totally honest, I’d tell you I always wanted to do hair. Be a stylist. I longed to be someone who can take a situation that was already beautiful and add some flare and spice that really made someone shine. Be creative. Free. A person who showed them the beauty I see in them. So, rather than me being “important when I grow up” what I really dreamt of was to nurture others in a way that made them important. My vision was that we’d all win that way. I still believe that today. Building a rock solid stylist business at an early age was terrifying to me, so I went with the medical field instead. I didn’t understand yet how taking risks would someday fit into my story. This season of my life was structured by my career and in many ways helped me live out the dreams I thought I wanted. I gave my life to trying to show others the beauty I saw in healing, but never thought twice about giving that gift to myself.
Along the way I had some ground breaking moments...ones that changed me forever. Watching countless people live and die with grace. Being part of crafting care plans that were executed like the textbooks said they would...but many that did not. Living, breathing, and nurturing everyone around me. It felt good. I got to do good and get compensated for it. How lucky was I??? Until that nagging “something is missing” really started to get louder and louder. Am I “be-ing” or “do-ing”?? Hard truth. I knew very little then about being.
If I had a dollar for everytime someone said “I could never do what you do” I’d be a millionaire. In the early years it felt good. I choose to do the hard things that so many wouldn’t...they even told me so...until internally I started asking, why DO I do this?? It seemed absurd. Right!!?? What else would I do/be?? How else would I be important if I wasn’t a Nurse?? Those questions, especially that second one kept me from moving forward at all for many years. The common theme here is that I so often let the thoughts and opinions of others guide my path. I trusted that they knew better than I. They didn’t. They meant well (sometimes) but they didn’t know what I really wanted.
2014 offered an opportunity to change like never before. Up until then I hadn’t really ever given myself credit for how brilliantly I championed change. Adjusted and rolled with the punches. Between multiple moves...jobs...men...heartbreak...I always said I hated change. Which couldn’t be true because I welcomed it often. What I found was that I had developed a dislike for commitment actually. That came from my Dad. He was a non committed nomad. Never staying put too long. Anywhere. So, finally at 29 years old it occurred to me that my commitment issues were what really had me upside down emotionally. Not change. What took me so long?? Not sure. But, change was my friend. Offering shelter and new beginnings. But no stability. I wanted to understand commitment.
2014 I started to learn that I could no longer run from life. Not if I wanted the dreams hidden deep down to come to life. And it was hard. Is hard. I am no longer the same human I was then. That was a girl...terrified and lonely inside. Even when the outside looked bright. I did the hard things again...I learned to stay. Not in a stuck kind of way...in a way that doesn’t escape. Life is hard. I couldn’t out run the hard. Sadly, over the years my connection to Dad was in learning from his mistakes and not living wildly how he lived. In all reality his heart was all I ever really wanted. Once he left this Earth...I realized, in fact, I had it with me the whole time. Deep down I admire my Dad for living wildly. To me he was courageous and strong. It was merely his actions that left me confused. In 2014 I vowed to learn more about who I am...instead of focusing on what I “do”. It’s been the biggest blessing of my life. Yes people make mistakes. My Dad sure did. Humans do really bad things sometimes...but my deep dream is of crafting a way to show people that it’s who they ARE that matters. Because that’s what he showed me. It’s Not really what we do. Once you own who you uniquely are...the rest falls into place. The world may tell you different. But I’m living proof. My Dad spent years trying to own who he was...as a Dad, son, friend, as a paraplegic...I can’t imagine what that felt like...but I can tell you, as his child...I won’t ever forget to own who I am because I watched how it tortured him when he couldn’t.. In the end his laughter and heart are what we remember. Amongst all the bad decisions and hurtful moments...it’s his heart and who he really was that I’m carrying forward. I have 2 beautiful siblings that have a part of his heart too. We all know deep down how much our Dad shapes our lives...if he did anything at all...He loved us, even if he didn’t DO it like everyone else. That’s my take anyway. After his death and as I catapulted myself forward into a new future I vowed to only bring the good parts of his story. Owning it all but leaving the bad were it belongs.
Changing my entire life scared me terribly, but what was more scary?? Thinking about the regret I’d live with if I didn’t even try...I stopped living by what I was “supposed” to do and unpacked my bags. The reckoning was finally here...my blurred dreams were starting to come back into focus...but was I ready??