Sunday, July 13, 2014

Published 1:30 PM by with 1 comment

What do you do when your dream is in jeopardy?

Yes, We Rise| What do you do when your dream is in jeopardy?
Nic Nac Paddywack during chemotherapy
Life throws us curve balls and huge obstacles that force us to reconsider everything about ourselves. When you are the midst of that fight you are doggedly holding on to your dream... even if it is just the basic thought that "I want to stay alive".  But my thoughts today are centered on...

What do you do when you realize that your dream is in jeopardy? 

Do you continue to fight? Do you let it go? Switch directions? What do you do?

I am a breast cancer survivor. I am a lot of other things too but that one thing flavors a lot about me. It has reshaped how I see myself, how I see the world and it has shifted what my dreams are and how dedicated to their pursuit I am.

The two years that it took for me to go from diagnosis to reconstruction were probably the most challenging years I have ever gone through. When I was diagnosed, I was in the midst of fulfilling the dream of becoming a mother and a wife. Or so I thought. I went through all the "proper" steps. I analyzed my thoughts and accepted my dream desires. I figured out what I needed and wanted in order to make those dreams come true and I worked my plan. I felt adult and confident and accomplished. Making plans and following through really was never my strong suit. But this family thing? I wanted this since I was a teenager in high school. I finally admitted it to myself and I set forth to see how it could happen. It took some time... finding the guy and all that.. but I was ready.

Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I switched gears (after a lot of prayers and tears) and focused on getting better. It took 2.5 years. The damage was major. I emerged cancer-free, minus one breast, minus a job and minus a relationship... but I was alive. And confused. And scared. I was a emotional mess with a body I barely recognized. My smile wasn't even the same. I really didn't know who I was anymore. I didn't know who I wanted to be anymore.

Yes, We Rise| What do you do when your dream is in jeopardy?What do you do when everything you knew changed? How do you recover?

For me, writing and blogging had become my outlet throughout my treatment. It was cathartic to write through my feelings and then share them with the world. I learned that there were people out there who could relate to my journey and my confusion. I opted to continue blogging after I was "better" and to talk about the next step in the journey... survivorship. As crazy as it may seem, I feel strongly that blogging saved my sanity and my life. It gave me a new dream. Or rather, it reconnected me to an even deeper dream that I had suppressed for a long time -- becoming a writer and being paid for my work.

While I don't make a lot of money doing what I do, I've never felt more sure that this is what I was created to do. However, this dream doesn't cancel the others. Including the one about being a family. Chemotherapy stole my fertility. So my dream of childbirth had to change (pivot) but I still desire the family part (the hubby, the house, the vacations, the family gatherings...). I still want that. It may come but I realized recently that yet again I am in the midst of a dream shift.

I want a house. I said it... I mean it... because it is true. I want a house. Actually, I want a big ol' huge grand house that I can live in and (hopefully) grow old in and create tons of memories in. Yet, my dream of writing is not bearing the financial fruit that will allow me to purchase the house of my dreams. I am constantly asking myself... is it time to pivot yet? Time to let that dream go and perhaps find another way to fill that void? The short answer is... I don't know. I really don't know.

My dream of "home" is in jeopardy. I realized that the desire for a family was centered on the feeling of having a home of my own. A yard, some trees, a pool... a grand kitchen, an awesome and comfortable family room. Room to play and relax and be comfortable. For me, that dream is a huge house. For others it may be a nice townhouse or a condominium or an apartment. The setting matters to my dream. It may not matter to yours.

I am standing at the corner of "do I continue to do what I'm doing" and "girl, you need to scrap that writing and go find a high-paying job".  I feel lost. Same way I felt lost in my life before I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I hated my job back then. I sincerely hated waking up in the morning, getting dressed, commuting for an hour and a half... fake smiling all day and then reversing that long commute. I hated my job. I loved that my paychecks were deposited regularly and that they didn't bounce. I enjoyed many of my colleagues. But joy? At work? Not even remotely possible. Today... I often write through the night into the day and am afraid to sleep because there's so much rattling around in my brain that I want to get down. It is the difference between living in a dark closet and running free on the beach. I feel free when I write.

This is what I do but it doesn't position me to get the next portion of my dream scape. Now I'm confused.

Yes, We Rise| What do you do when your dream is in jeopardy?So, what do you do when your dream is in jeopardy? 

You've dared to dream. You've admitted to yourself and perhaps to others that you do have a dream and it is XYZ. You start planning and thinking and trying to map your way there. The work starts... and then after some time the grind gets tiresome. After some time you realize that perhaps your dream isn't well thought out. Or perhaps you've aged beyond its validity. Or the money you need isn't the money you have. Whatever it is... your next thoughts and actions are critical, I believe, to your self-view.

Learn to pivot.

First, don't beat yourself up for not achieving your dreams. Despite what it appears to be on television... everyone doesn't always get to live all of their dreams. But you can reexamine your dreams and then pivot. Pivoting only means to shift. Perhaps you've always wanted to be a rap star. But at your 50th birthday party last month, it may have dawned on you that perhaps your ill raps won't make it to the Grammys. It is okay. Look at ways that you can perhaps pivot that dream. Maybe you can become a YouTube star. Maybe you can become the king at karaoke at your local watering hole. Perhaps you can work with the youth at your church to help teach the children the art of rap and how they can use their voice and ideas to worship. If it is your destiny to become a star, it will happen. You just have to get out of your own way.

Adaption is better than extinction.

Adapting to your surroundings is better than dying in your stubbornness. There are times when being bull-headed works. (I'm a Taurus so I am quite obstinate at times) And there are times when you have to accept that what you think you know, might not be the only truth. Learn to adapt and not look at it as giving up or giving in. Businesses that adapt, maintain a long life. Those who take cues from their customers and the economic climate last. Those that don't... die. Like the dinosaurs. Don't be a dinosaur. Look around always... and when necessary, adapt.

Practice gratitude.

Always be grateful. Always. Yes, breast cancer sucked. Yes, my relationship ended. Yes, I'm physically not able to give birth. However, writing candidly about breast cancer launched a new career path for me that fit who I am far better than anything I had ever done before. I win awards for this. You have no idea how good that feels. That relationship ended and forced me to become clear about what I was doing wrong in my dating life and when I recalibrated I found a great guy who makes me smile every day. I no longer take being childless for granted. I love the children in my life... and I appreciate my peace when they go home.

Exercise faith.

You are not a mistake. Your life is not -- even with the troubles and obstacles and crap. You have a purpose and a reason to be here. I think that sometimes we become caught up in thinking that something out there validates who we are and whether we're worthy. It doesn't. It may give you the boost you need to keep going... but it doesn't or shouldn't define you. Believe that the same God who made you, had a reason for doing that... and perhaps the obstacles you are upset about serve a purpose in your life. Breast cancer was my obstacle. I learned so much about me from that time that I wonder who I would be had it not happened. I wasn't happy before. Not really. I am happy now. The price was high but I'm happy I paid it. I now have faith in me. I have more faith in God. I realize that He didn't make a mistake -- not in making me, or allowing me to go through those hard times. I'm more talented than I believed before. I know that this part of the journey is a blessing too.

Accept that you are human and sometimes life doesn't go as planned. 

 Simple as that. Sometimes things don't work. It is okay. Look at the bucket list and decide what's next. Work on your vision board and see where you want to go next. We are all flawed and yet we're still fabulous. Someone may learn from your journey. Perhaps you will learn from someone else's. Find a way around your own self. And smile.

Yes, We Rise| What do you do when your dream is in jeopardy?
Maybe you've reached the end of the road with one dream. That doesn't mean that new hope isn't waiting right at the corner. What else can you dream for yourself? Pivot. And go after the next dream on the list.

When your dream is in jeopardy of failing, you have to reexamine the parameters of that dream and then adjust. 

With love... and a hope for a cure. 
~~Nic Nac Paddywack~~

1 comment:

  1. Marcus SmallwoodJuly 13, 2014 at 2:33 PM

    Great points. I would love to be involved in this march and no many other fathers who will want to be a part of this. One thing i have noticed over the past couple of decades of parenthood is fathers need to be prepared to "push through" the gatekeepers at schools. Schools often don't know how to receive fathers when they stop by. The reaction by teachers, office staff and administrators is not always as receptive as it is for mothers. People verbalize that they want more male involvement but their body language, tone, and actions sometimes send a different message. Not much you can do to change them, so you have to change you (the dad). If a father is not accustomed to visiting the school it is really easy for him to feel unwelcome. You have to "push through" and tend to your child's business.