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SALT LAKE CITY — Over the past two weeks, I fulfilled a life dream with my mother of traveling to Europe. This started in earnest a year ago with an opportunity (my mother’s phone call of, “I want to take you back to the 'Old Country,' i.e., Scotland"), but was a seeming impossibility (age of my children, life schedules) that became a stressful possibility (“Can we just hire a travel agent?”). At last, planets aligned and we were off.
As we traveled through four countries, I noticed signs for “Take Away” — meaning, fast food or take out. Using a double entendre from this experience, I’ve thought about this question: What happens after realizing a dream? What exactly has been my personal “take away”?
1. I can do things that I'm absolutely sure I can’t
From the get-go, I knew from past and painful experience I was not a great trip planner (i.e. the scary hotel where I tried to cook a Thanksgiving turkey in a baby doll oven with a drunk man banging on the wall next door…) However, I learned.
I also learned it’s possible to travel in a train, taxi and bus, as well as eat, sleep and visit global sights using only three French phrases; that you can miss a vital train, lose your passport and break your suitcase and still resolve each situation and enjoy a successful trip; that my mother and I could spend two full weeks together in three countries in various living conditions (with or without sleep-depriving snoring, depending on whose story you believe) and come out of it happier, more connected and ready to repeat.
2. I must teach my children to pursue their dreams
I learned again that dreams are crucial: they grease the daily grind. Faith gives life purpose, family and relationships give it meaning, and dreams give it sparkle. As my children watched this process unfold, they saw that time marches on. Two weeks passed, whether a dream was achieved or not. How could their time be better used toward pursuing personal endeavors?
They learned that vision is crucial, beginning with “What if…” and a life vision board: I’ve had “Go to Italy” on mine for 10 years. That planning, delegation and preparation are all key to achieving. They also learned they were as integral a part of making my dream happen, as I am to theirs. Without their willingness and support, I could not have enjoyed this extraordinary experience with my mother.
Now, three of our children are making plans for their own trips and what they need to earn to get there. These are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that have become possible because the vision has not only been allowed, but encouraged and pursued.
3. I must allow a real-time evaluation of family life
Whenever a mom is gone from the home — whether an hour or a week — it’s a perfect time for a real-life check on what her children have internalized from what has been taught — slightly scary, but helpful. Thankfully, I came home to a tidy house and fed children. And I learned that despite my prepared schedules for laundry, chores, babysitting and supervising, life happened and they ignored and/or adjusted the plan, and even improved it.
For example, my supervisor child decided to establish the same babysitting schedule each day (rather than volunteer a time). It worked beautifully. Moments like that tell me, in some things, we’re moving in a good direction — and they’re smarter planners than I am.
Consider the last time you achieved a personal dream. What did you learn from it, what was your personal take away? I encourage you to remember and then share it with your family. In that way they can share in the learning and enjoy a spark of motivation for their own desires.
Connie Sokol is an author, speaker, TV contributor and mother of seven. Contact her at www.conniesokol.com.