Almost two years ago, my husband and I were planning a trip to Spain. We’d had a hard couple of months, and needed an adventure in a beautiful place to reconnect with each other and with the beauty and vitality of the world.
Ever since a family vacation to Ireland and England at age 9, I’ve been passionate about traveling. I can still picture the verdant fields, castles, and windy cliffs with the ocean below. At 17, I spent two weeks in Toulouse with my French class, and at 20 I spent my junior year in Paris.
Traveling has also always been a core part of my relationship with my husband. We camped in New Hampshire, canoed in Quebec, honeymooned in Paris, and took a ferry from Rome to Sicily (seeing Stromboli, Mt. Etna, and the ancient Greek Valley of the Temples in Agrigento). I love his openness to and excitement about the world, which inspires the same in me.
I honestly didn’t know a lot about Spain before we went, but I knew I wanted to see flamenco dancing–which we did. We also walked on the walls of Avila, toured the beautiful Alhambra in Grenada, and ate oranges that we picked ourselves in Seville. We budgeted for the trip, secured the vacation time, and our dream became reality. We rented a car and drove south from Madrid to Andalucia. The mountains, miles upon miles of olive groves, and abandoned castles were breathtaking. I felt truly free, immersed in a beauty that I had no part in creating.
It’s important to dream big, and equally important to make those dreams a reality, even when other people aren’t happy about them. (They’re your dreams!) They can be flexible, evolving over time as we get more information and our vision gains clarity–but we owe it to ourselves to pursue them. Life isn’t meant to be endured, but to be lived.
As a couple, we’re currently toying with a few dreams (as documented in several Google Docs and Excel spreadsheets): building a deck on our roof that would have views of a park, a stadium, and the Empire State Building; taking a 10-day trip around Bavaria, Germany; and investing in a vacation rental property in Brescia, Italy.
While we may not know the exact shape these dreams will take, we’re doing the footwork of communicating about our hopes and priorities, researching options, and playing with budgets. We have engaged an architect. We have weekly “business meetings” where we review our spending and savings. We look at pictures of Brescia (that’s the fun part) and property listings. Even if we decide to use the money elsewhere, it’s perspective-widening simply to imagine what’s possible.
Personally, I recently acted on my dream to mentor a child in Big Brothers Big Sisters. I had volunteered in the past with New York Cares and really missed it. The fact that I could develop a long-term mentor relationship with one girl also appealed to me. Nyshira will be 11 later this month. A few dates, phone calls, and texts later, I completely love her.
What dreams do you want to achieve? What’s your vision of your future life? Is there an area in your career, family, health, or personal growth that you long to develop? Are you excited to get in shape and train for a 10K race? Do you secretly want to turn a hobby into a second career or even go into a completely different line of work? Do you want to spend more time with your family, or travel the world?
Our dreams matter. They speak to our deepest (often our highest) selves. What might at first seem impractical or too hard just might be the thing that changes our lives–if we’re willing to listen to that inner voice, and do the footwork. It won’t happen without our attention and effort, but the results are worth it. What’s more, when we’re our best selves, we’re able to be of greater service to others. We can share our abundance, unencumbered by fears. So don’t be afraid to dream big, but don’t stop there.