So I began to wonder why we wait until we get cancer or our health begins to fail to plan the year of our dreams.
I mean, really.
No one would fault you, if your life’s calendar was suddenly running out, should you plot those final months to include your most treasured destinations. Cramming in each bucket-list item would make perfect, albeit desperate, sense.
Not enough money? We find it, don’t we, when the chips are down?
But, when no medical threat is looming (at least to the best of our knowledge), somehow it is regarded as irresponsible to spend our time exactly where we most want to be, doing what we dream of doing.
I’m bucking the system.
Next week, I’m having a milestone birthday and so, at the beginning of 2013, I proclaimed this the Year of 50. This, you see, would be the year of always saying yes.
Should someone ask…
I vowed in advance I would just say… “Yes.”
So, when my sister asked me to join her on the annual trip that honors her son lost far too young, I said yes. We had a marvelous time at the beach.
When the beach retreat that serves families who have kids with cancer asked if we could pitch in this summer, the answer was again yes. We met wonderful people and worked our butts off, laughing all the while.
When our church requested our presence as counselors at the high school beach retreat, we jumped in. Nine hundred students on one quarter-mile stretch of beach and up all hours for nearly a week? No problem.
Hang out with friends from Germany at our cabin? Absolutely.
Take my sister away for a week at a friend’s lakehouse? Yup.
Travel with my husband on business to New York City? Yes, please.
There has not been one time this summer that I’ve dreaded one wonderful thing ending, because something new and exciting lay just ahead, each and every time.
Say it with me: Yes.
Oh, I could have buckled under the loaded questions my husband began fielding. “Doesn’t Cheryl ever stay home? She always seems to be somewhere else. Must be nice.”
Um, yeah. It is.
I’m finding that it’s always nice when you honor your intuition. It knows what you need most. This year, I needed to breathe. And laugh. And see and do, surrounded by those I love so dearly, while my health is at its peak. I’ve achieved most of my career goals, my kids are grown, nest is empty and heart is stoked.
“What about work?” you ask.
Well, as the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way. For most of my life, I’ve carved out work that suits my personality and passions. As luck would have it, I’m a writer and there just may be a book in all this. In any case, I saved and planned ahead.
No matter what, this has been the year of my dreams and I wouldn’t trade anything for it. My time in the disaster-relief nonprofit world proved the world is full of courageous souls who have clarity and live joyfully despite little money.
Every year won’t look like this. But, when I die, you can be assured that I reached for my dreams—and LOVED fulfilling them. The credit is not all mine – it has taken a village at times but, most of all, each yes.
Next week, I will celebrate my fifth decade of living. Oh, the walls could talk. But on this birthday, there will be no rooms—only a tent on the steep side of a Peruvian mountaintop.
Yep, tomorrow, a new adventure begins—perhaps the most challenging (and exciting) of my lifetime.
It’s finally time.
Tonight, we carefully fill our backpacks with the barest (lightest) essentials (for me, that is two changes of clothes and my precious, albeit somewhat-heavy camera gear) and reassure ourselves one last time that our passports are valid and accounted for.
By tomorrow night, we’ll be in Cusco, Peru. On Sunday, we’ll step onto the Inca trail to trek for five, sometimes-grueling days along ancient steps to Machu Picchu. It has been called one of the Seven Wonders of the World.All I know is those mountains are STEEP, the air is thin and I’m no athlete.
So yeah, I’m pretty nervous. Even what will surely be thrilling can also be scary as the unknown.
But my 18-year-old son and husband, both of whom are plenty fit, will be tugging me along and helping me to achieve my goal. I’ll also feel you there, rooting for me.
Oh the celebration we’ll have at the top at sunrise on my birthday!My greatest wish for your next 50 years—or however many you actually have left—is that you will say yes to your dreams each and every day.
Your Life depends on it.