Dream a little dream

I’m not fond of the term Bucket List. I think it’s a crass way of reminding yourself to live life today and not put off the things you want to do because life is too short. But I appreciate the intent behind it, especially since having children. Life seems to have a way of getting away from us when there are little mouths to feed and chase, and we forget all the things we hoped to do with our own lives.

Do you remember the dreams of your youth, the dreams you had before real life responsiblities? The kind of dreams where anything and everything was possible? Dreams that were fuelled with promise and excitement. You had your whole life ahead of you and the only obstacle is living at home. Sometimes I do, especially when I reflect on the passage of time and how quickly our lives become enclosed in a box of routines and expectations.

I recently finished reading Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.  Beyond the fact that it is a delicious and exquisitely written tale, I found myself thinking quite a bit about one part of the book. Elspeth dies and leaves her London Flat to her nieces, twins Julia and Valentina, who move from Chicago to live there. Julia is particularly delighted at the opportunity to go on adventure and live in a different part of the world, far away from their parents. 

I went to university only a 40 minute drive from my hometown, and though I lived on campus for a short time, I could often be found at home on weekends. After graduation, I got married. I was young, and ready to embark on my career. Though we didn’t have children until we were married for more than five years, we spent the early years building homes and careers. We travelled yes, but not extensively and not in the way I had always thought I would. We settled into life in the same small town I grew up in to raise our family. And life moved on. Ten years later we have built two houses of our own, we have prosperous and successful careers and two beautiful boys. I am blessed.

But when reading, Julia’s enthusiasm and youthful zeal called to mind the fact that I had never done that, even though I had always wanted to. I was struck that there were so many things I believed I would do in my life and have never have, and how I truly have no plan to do them. So I thought I would share some of them with you here—record them for posterity, but also as a reminder that I have much life to live and plenty of time to make them happen.

  • I’ve always wanted to spend a year living and travelling in Europe. Now I hope to share that someday with my children.
  • What’s a meal without a lovely, fragrant glass of wine? I’d love to spend time becoming a true wine connoisseur, not a sommelier, just to have a better knowledge about pairings and the qualities of a good wine.
  • School has always been an important part of my life. Learning, growing, changing and building my capacity. I want to study for my Masters in Professional Communication. I hope I find the energy to do it!
  • I’d like to read poetry, really steep myself in the study of it.   
  • Slowly I’ve started to learn the benefits of meditation, I’m hoping to become good at it and to make it part of my daily routine. 
  • I want to learn to be an authentic Italian cook and grow a vegetable garden. And I want to be good at it, really good at it. And feed my family with ingredients that I produce!
  • I want to become a runner. It’s not about running a marathon, just running regularly for my health and for my peace of mind.
  • I’ve always wanted to open and run a children’s book store. I don’t actually think this will happen, but it’s one of my greatest desires.
  • I want to rent an RV and drive all around North America with it. Yes, this is true.  (And yes, Jana, I suppose it is in the fashion of Walter from Franzen’s Freedom). My husband just wishes I’d give up the RV and go for a motorcycle.

None of this is particularly dramatic. I’m not a dramatic person. In fact I’m quite a homebody, with just a flicker of the travel bug. But it is about living life a certain way, filling it up with comforting and wonderful experiences. I find listing them here therapeutic and invigorating. How about you? What’s on your list?

Image: ‘the green bucket‘ via a Creative Commons license.


31 thoughts on “Dream a little dream

  1. Corinne says:

    I have that book sitting on my nightstand…I loved Time Traveler’s Wife, so I’m equal parts excited and hesitant to read Her Fearful Symmetry….
    (I’ve always wanted to have a bookstore as well!)

  2. Melanie says:

    I read that book right when it came out and while I didn’t love it as much as I love love loved the Time Travellers Wife, it was very enjoyable and hard to put down. (and a bit shocking!)

    I recently made a list of 30 new things to try before I turn 30 (next year) to give myself a little kick in the butt in trying new things. Your list is great and I hope you can accomplish everything!

  3. Rudri says:

    This is a great list Christine. In the last four years I became a runner and went from running just half a mile to running ten miles. It can be done. The meditation is something I desperately need, but for some reason hesitant to embrace right now. Maybe someday…

  4. Sarah says:

    I love the RV idea! That is a dream of mine, too. Maybe when we retire, Ted and I will sell the house, buy an RV and be of ‘no fixed address’ – what a liberating way to live.

    You have a great area to run in!

  5. Chantal says:

    I will have to think about my list. I really haven’t thought about it in so long. But I do know that my 5yo wants to go to NYC and we plan on doing that this summer. And my 9yo is in love with the idea of RV’s so I also plan to rent one for a X Canada vacation in a few years. 🙂 I guess I am living my life with their lists for now.

  6. I love your list, Christine! And you know, it’s never too late… certainly for some of it, which seems very much in grasp. If not immediately, than in the next few years.

    Even the living abroad may not be out of the question. I was fortunate in that the “travel bug” bit me early. I saved and worked and went overseas to live while a teen – three times, and one of my sons has done the same as well, during high school – and parts of summers.

    There was a lovely woman writing a blog from France – she returned recently. I cannot recall her name. But she and her husband up and went to France to live for 10 months or so – with their kids – as something of an adventure. There’s far more to it than that, but I think it was quite an experience. (Perhaps one of your readers will recall her blog?)

    Your bookstore idea is delicious.

    (I would stop in to browse, and sit, and savor.)

  7. My list would be to visit Italy, run a half marathon (maybe a full marathon), open a coffee shop. Have another kid.

  8. Leslie says:

    Adore this post, Christine. I agree with you about the crass term – who wants to be reminded of life as a “bucket” that we’ll eventually “kick?” – but the adventurous, forward-looking intent. I nodded along to your list – in general, I want to learn more, and cook more, and make more and do more. I’ll have to think hard before adding the “what” after all of those, quantifying and qualifying my dreams.
    And I agree with BLW – your bookstore idea is delicious. I need some recommendations!

  9. Amber says:

    My list changes all the time. But that doesn’t matter. I don’t think the point is that you have set goals that you achieve. I think the point is that you give yourself permission to dream, and to change, and to just be YOURSELF. The you that isn’t someone’s wife or mother or employee or employer or client or …

    You know?

    • Yes, I agree! The point is to have a list – to allow yourself to dream and indulge your curiosities – even if the list changes often. I love to dream big, and then try to bring that idea down to a manageable step. Like if I wanted to learn to cook authentic Italian food, I might sign up for a cooking class. Or buy a great cookbook and try one new recipe a week. Or just travel to Italy and eat as much as possible!! But I’d allow myself to explore this dream, in small steps.

  10. You couldn’t get me within 5 yards of an RV, but oh, to travel Europe! I’d love it. I’ve always wanted to live in Italy for a year and learn to cook. I don’t see it ever happening, but a girl has to dream, right?

  11. ShannonL says:

    Very interesting, Christine! I love the RV idea – Daniel and I would love to do that, too! Most (if not all) of your dreams sound very attainable… I can totally see you opening that bookstore once you retire!

    I’ve never really been much of a dreamer. I think I mentioned this before, but I do wish I would have learned how to sing when I was younger. That’s all I can really think of though! Good luck to you!

  12. Wendy says:

    I would like to live in Omaha. I’m doubting that is on anyone else’s bucket list : )

  13. alita says:

    I, too, loved every single delicious word of HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY.

    Like your dream to own a children’s bookstore; My dream is to own a campground. It is a dream that will most likely never be fulfilled. It is a lovely dream though and I refuse to let go of it.

  14. It sounds like our husbands would get along splendidly. : )

    Like you, I enjoy and flourish in an academic setting. I know that one day I will return to school for a master’s in either social work or family therapy. And, if I so desire, maybe even a Ph.d. I get excited just thinking about it!

  15. I tend to live in the moment, which has its benefits, but this post has made me realize how powerful creative visioning can be. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Completely with you on the wine sommalier (I do what I can to learn by drinking lots – it’s a tough life!) and on the bookstore – always thought that would be lovely though I know I probably have a totally unrealistic idea of what it is really like.

    Also the running – I do a bit but it’s never enough.

    I have done the Europe thing, and loved it, but have fantasies about summer in a villa with the kids in Italy and another summer in a cottage in Scotland and/or the Isle of Man chasing my ancestry. Wow, obviously I need to make more money!

    But dreams are good. Important. Soul-satisfying. Right now I’m dreaming that my husband will finish the veranda he’s been working on for two years before winter. Could happen!

  17. Belinda says:

    Lovely post. And everything on that list seems doable.

    I don’t have an official bucket list but i prioritize doing new things and traveling to new places with my family. I have a strong activist side and hope to go to the Congo one day and meet some of the women and girls who have such an indestructible will to live.

  18. Jen says:

    Great list! I also don’t really love the “bucket list idea”…I prefer to think of it as a “live better” list…so travelling europe, becoming a runner and eating healthier are also on the top of my list. And I did the cross-Canada RV tripping with my parents about ten years ago, it was a fantastic and cheap way to see the country…something you should definitely do with your boys someday!

  19. Hyacynth says:

    I must pick up that book! I loved the Time Traveler’s Wife. {Now, to find the time to read it!}

    I think the things on your list are wonderful dreams … dreams that could really be realities. I’d offer you any help I could muster in the vegetable garden category — even just starting with some small baskets of tomato plants could be a fun thing for you and the boys.

  20. We are actually planning a short RV trip this summer–and are VERY excited about it!

    As for the rest of my list…I don’t know, it keeps fluctuating and changing. I definitely want to spend some serious time in Europe. And I want to go back to performing on stage at some point, though that’s just really not feasible right now what with the kids and the writing. I’d like to get really good at playing an instrument (either take the piano back up again or learn the violin) and learn another language. I’d like to write a novel. Like you, I’d like to get really knowledgeable about wine–something I’ve dipped my toe into but it’s a pricey hobby!

    You know what I was thinking about yesterday? It’s not that I don’t have time to do these things–well, at least learning an instrument or a language–all it would take is 20 minutes a day of serious study to make progress. I have 20 minutes a day–or I could find it or make it or take it. But I sometimes get so enmeshed in the details of my life that it just doesn’t occur to me to do anything outside the ordinary…until another year passes and I still haven’t done whatever it is on my list.

    I’m not beating myself up about it. This is a season of my life that won’t last forever and I’m fine just being. But I think drumming up a little discipline and taking on ONE thing on my list, seriously, until I create a habit out of it would make my life a little more colorful and fun. So I’m going to try it. Anyone with me?

  21. Those dreams seemed like such certainties at one point, didn’t they? When you had all the time in the world? It was like that for me. Now, some of mine are scrapped (I’ve changed) but some remain. Some are painful reminders of what I haven’t accomplished, but as you said, some are now things I look forward to experiencing with my children. (I worked in a children’s book store throughout college though, and it sure seemed like a lot of work to own…;)

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