This One Life

What I Learned from my 8-year old about Dreaming

I ushered in this new year super on-fire.  I woke up early January 1st making pretty graphics to guide my year that looked like this.2016 GoalsAnd like this.


I challenged my kids to make vision boards.  I invited them to fill a poster with all the things they would love in 2016.  I cleared the kitchen island to let their imaginations run free. Their dreams began to find their way into 11×17 format.

My oldest son started clipping away, deep in focus, wanting to make sure he didn’t miss anything.  He covered all the bases – homeschool goals, health, being nicer, travel.  I smiled to myself thinking, wow, we have guided this Jedi well.  My youngest started cutting out big letters to spell out his dreams.  Five-year old spelling awesomeness.  I hovered over his bold typography cutouts, pleased.

Then, my 8-year old daughter Avery grabs her gluestick and her scissors.  She puts one picture on her vision board:  a lemur.  She draws plenty of colorful squiggles and rainbows alongside.  Ten minutes flat and with a flick of her beachy wild hair, she’s done.

I found myself tweaked, asking her in that southern Stepford mom smile, “That’s it? Don’t you want to fill it up with anything more, honey?”

My inner voice said, “This activity should be taking at least a half-hour, dreams are big right?”

She said “No, mom, I don’t.  That’s what I most want this year to happen, that’s it , and I’d be super happy.”  Then she hopped off the barstool and skipped along to her room.

It made me pause.  WTF Avery – one picture? My first-born, goal-wired nature buzzed with discomfort.

Then, I had that moment that is now becoming a regular occurrence in this homeschool journey.  That oh shit moment that challenges all I think I know.  That realization that I have been a conditioned dreamer.

What drives me to think an annual vision board must be chock full of life’s experiences all at once?

What about the singular beauty of having that ONE thing we are laser-focused on?  The ONE THING we would sell our brother or our dog for to get there. Yes, I think my daughter would sell her brother Dylan or our dog Gracie to see lemurs in the wild. Avery gave me a moment’s pause on the difference between creating a full year and a fulfilling year.

In 2016, I have to be honest with myself which one I’m shooting for.

In years past, full meant productive for me.  Full meant I had something “worthy” to show for myself.   The most bad ass vision board assignment in class up on my wall and checked off my list at the end of the year for example.

In this moment, I got the reminder, fulfilling means doing the things I’m uniquely here to do.  Those things also happen to make me super happy.

This requires NOT doing all the things I am capable of doing.  Not cramming my vision up with things that look good but don’t serve me in the moment.   Like training for a marathon when I just want to do yoga three days a week so I can stay in shape and write more.

Building dreams from unique ability versus capability creates exponentially different results and fulfillment levels.  This distinction is something I have to remind myself of often.

Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic Coach, has some great stuff on this distinction:

Unique Ability: Creating the Life you Want

Dan Sullivan Unique Ability

So, this year, my intention is to explore what fulfills me and put some action behind it.  To let go of the pressure to tick off all the boxes of well-roundedness, all at the same time.

I can honor who my kids are more too.  An orderly and passionate vision boarder like James.   Or a one, clear shining beach picture with lemurs kinda dreamer like Avery.

I can honor who I am.  The mom that birthed these two kids that are polar opposites.  The mama that is part OCD organized first born and part hippie chick Latina writer girl at heart.

As I start my mornings now, Avery’s message, “Mom, that thing would make me super happy” rings in my ears. Not Mom, that would make me feel productive or accomplished or worthy.  Just super happy.


1 Comment

  • Reply
    Irene Campos
    January 16, 2016 at 12:54 am

    I really enjoy reading your writing pieces. I too need to aim for super happy more often. Avery knows where it’s at:)

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