Sunday, August 18, 2013

The New York Dream

I have lots of dreams, and by dreams I mean life ambitions and goals. Most of them are pretty vague, which makes realizing them kind of complicated in a way I can't quite put my finger on. I have, for example, dreamed of going to New York City in this foggy unclear way since I was a tween girl reading Sassy magazine. Probably before that. Don't Judy Blume books take place in New York?

New York City is a little over 600 miles from Detroit, yet somehow it felt like I would never get there. I have been to places much further, but New York seemed somehow unattainable. Maybe because all of my dreams seemed similarly unattainable, because they are vague ideas. Yet I've continued to daydream and keep my aspirations in a safe little pocket in the back of my mind.

What I'm learning, and it's really not all that easy for a bunch of reasons, is to remain positive and hopeful, and to grab onto opportunity while I can. I wish I would have started learning this life lesson a really long time ago, but I am grateful to be learning it at all. A lot of people, a whole lot of people, never do get around to it.

Back in June, a couple old friends from high school, whom I hadn't seen in many years, happened to be in Detroit the same weekend - one from Texas, one from New York. Somehow the stars aligned for us to get together one night, along with my friend Shelly, who, like me, still lives in Michigan. We started talking about visiting Texas and how fun it would be. And then we made tentative plans to get together again a couple days later, before the two of them headed home, in opposite directions. Turns out I couldn't make the second get together, and I half jokingly texted my New York friend, saying I would just have to come and see him in New York instead. He replied, telling me that Shelly was going to be visiting NYC soon. I texted Shelly and asked her when she was going. She told me the dates and said, "You should come too."

Immediate response: dismissal. I couldn't possibly go to New York. Right? I have four kids, and money is tight (isn't it always?). And I had that whole personal crisis I talked about in this post. But here it was, this dream of mine, suddenly a whole lot less vague. Now I had a friend to go with me, a place to stay for free, an actual date. Here's something to know about your dreams. Hang on to them, and when the time is right, take a step toward making them real. One step turns into another, and that leads into another. Talk about them. Say it out loud, "I could do this." Admit to others that you're thinking about it. Ask for help. I talked to my mom and my mother-in-law to see if they could help with the kids, since Chris would be working while I was gone. Lo and behold, they said yes. One step closer. I thought some more and realized that, obviously, traveling alone costs considerably less than traveling with four kids. And that there is quite a bit to do in NYC that doesn't require spending much money. That vague, very old dream of mine was no longer blurry. It was coming into focus. Shelly started telling me about her friend's apartment, where we'd be staying, and things she thought I would like to do in New York. I started figuring out just how much this venture would cost. Things were getting specific. My dream was becoming a reality.

The universe wants to help us realize our dreams. That might sound new age-y and hokey, but I believe it. It's not magic. We have to do the work. We have to take the first step, the leap of faith. We have to keep moving, and looking for signs. We have to accept help that can make our dreams come true, and to recognize and seize opportunities. We have to believe.

I am not one to study the Bible, but this verse from Matthew 7:7 illustrates my point perfectly:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

This is how the world works.

Often, I am so wrapped up in the mundane day to day stuff that I don't have the energy to focus on anything else. But when I do, it is more than worthwhile. How surreal it is to look back at last weekend and let it soak in that it really happened. I really did do all those things and see all those things. I read the signs and acted on the opportunities I was given, and I took a leap. Maybe it wasn't the best time to spend the money (when is it ever a good time?), but I know I will never regret that trip. I got to be just me, hanging out with my friends and sight seeing and shopping. I got to refresh. I got to do something I've always wanted to do. I know millions of people visit New York every year, and that it's not necessarily a remarkable thing. But for me, it was.

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