This post is dedicated to my parents. Not only are they the most iconic, beautiful people who had the best photos taken of them … they are also genuine and supportive and they have taught me more in life than I could have dreamed possible.
Have you ever heard anyone talk about what they’d really love to do… like become an artist, a journalist, a glassblower… whatever it is! More often then not, they have a “regular” job they aren’t too happy with and they consider this dream of theirs to be plan B.
“If things go well… if all the planets line up…if I get lucky, etc.”
Here I am today saying that if you don’t consider your DREAM TO BE YOUR PLAN A, then you aren’t dreaming in the right way. It’s entirely true. It’s as cliche as the day is long, but you guys, we only live once. One time. Uno. One go around – and it’s up to us to make the most of it.
My parents have always taught me this. They’ve also taught me that money can buy you ZERO happiness. Zero. Having enough love to support you throughout your day is what we all need. They’ve taught me that, too.
And if that isn’t enough, do the old “When I’m 80” test.
When I’m 80, I do not want to look back at my 9-5 (unless that’s my dream- which I know for some people, it is) and wonder why I was willing to sit under a florescent light (think Joe vs the Volcano…) and go through papers and not move throughout the day. When I’m 80 it won’t matter if I spent up to a year in my 20’s very poor, hungry and not sure of what was to come next. It WILL matter if I wasted it and became unhealthy and unhappy and unfulfilled in the process.
Think about that. It doesn’t even take the “when I’m 80” test sometimes. Sometimes all I have to do is think, One year from now, will this matter?
When Greg and I stay up late and drink coffee and chat under Christmas tree lights -because we have a Christmas tree up all year round- this is usually what we’re talking about. I imagine my parents did the exact same thing when they had all these surprise daughters, a pastor’s paycheck, and rice and beans. They were the poorest of the poor… but they say they’d have it no other way. They started out living in a rented basement. They had my older sister way sooner than planned. My dad still became a pastor. They made things work. They were skin and bone, quite frankly. But they had love.
This is something that brings tears to my eyes. I get very emotional, realizing that my parents are REAL people. Have you had the same epiphany? In these photos, my parents are MY AGE or younger. They were once in their early 20’s and they had dreams, worries, and they were scared of making mistakes and raising a family.
Sometimes I look at these pictures and it just hits me how similar I am to them. Right now, this very day, I am so much like my parents. It’s hard to believe they were once my age. They once had a life without Melinda. They cried when they found out they were having twins (partly because of happiness, partly because they had no idea how that would work.)
Because my own parents have such a rich story, one that I love to hear and one that I don’t mind living in my own way (being poor and young and in love), I have a certain way I want to live my life.
I’m BLESSED enough to have parents who support what I want to do. Never once, not ONCE, have they told me that I should consider such and such job, because it would pay well. Instead, they hear me say I want to be a writer and they say, “Okay. You better spend plenty of time and effort on it, then. We believe in you. As long as you are doing what you love and what God have given you as a spiritual gift.” They are really big on that- spiritual gifts. I truly believe that mine is writing. My sister and husband are in a band; their spiritual gifts are obviously music.
I told Greg long ago I’d never ask him to get a job that meant wearing a tie. That means a whole number of things, but most importantly, Greg hates wearing ties. That’s one way we keep ourselves happy. He supports my writing enough to tell me, “Don’t get a 9-5… if you’re working full time, make sure it’s something you love. Focus on your writing. Spend time on it every day. It will be worth it.”
Today I read Amanda’s blog over at The Lady Okie and it really got me thinking. I am in a similar situation as she is… I’m about to be unemployed. It’s scary.
But that’s what happens when you drop everything for a farming internship that pays next to zero, and then they don’t have winter work. That’s kind of how the farming world works. I wanted to be outside and learn… and now, well, that part of my life is about to be over. For the first time ever I don’t have the next job lined up. I’m choosing to believe that this is one of those Blessings In Disguise my mom is ALWAYS talking about. More time to write, right? More time to read… right? If I really spent 8+ hours a day on my DREAM, then being unemployed would probably pay off in the end.
In the meantime, I don’t mind having no extra money. I don’t mind following in the footsteps of my parents and drinking cheap wine with Greg over a meal we planted out in our garden. We’re taking time to spend less. We’re enjoying more that way. It’s surprising, isn’t it? The less you have, the more you enjoy things.
Talk about a blessing in disguise.
Plus, having no money builds character. Kind of like going through an ugly duckling phase in middle school. Yup, built all my character. ;)
I refuse to stop writing just to get a job that’ll solve all of our money problems. I am willing to sacrifice now so that when I’m 80 or older, I’ll look back and smile and say, “Wow, I really went for it, didn’t I?” I want to take that risk because without risks, what is life, anyway? A flat line means dead. Let’s spice it up a little and have our highs and lows, because that means we’re alive. (think hospital monitors…)
And if you are blessed to have parents like mine, that’s awesome. Let’s get together and talk about how awesome they are. If you have always had issues with your parents pushing you toward something you aren’t passionate about, then let me be the person to tell you that life is too short and precious to waste on something that doesn’t give you a reason to wake up in the morning with a smile.
You Only Live Once doesn’t mean taking crazy stupid risks and living in the moment. That’s selfish. It means taking care, believing in yourself and others, and trusting that it will all be okay. It means working hard to achieve a goal. It means being true.
Thanks Mom and Dad, for teaching me this. I love you guys so much.
the appreciative Lou