Life is but a dream :: Let the river guide you

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Sometimes the best thing you can do is to stop paddling, lift up the oars and the paddles and just drift. Let the river guide you to the special places you might not have seen otherwise.

In the grand scheme of things I consider myself a lucky person. No, I've never won the lottery - in fact, I've never won anything at all, ever, and I've certainly had my fair share of trials and tribulations, especially over the past few years. It's November and the month that we are supposed to focus on all that we are thankful for. Tonight I posted on my Facebook page that I was thankful for my dishwasher. It was meant to be humorous, of course, but it was true. I make a mess in the kitchen and tonight was no exception. It's the little things that we take for granted that I've learned to be grateful for them almost every day. But sometimes life tosses a few curve balls your way and you focus less on what you have than what you have not. Fear is powerful and tends to have a fierce grip.

I'm still, after nearly two and a half years, adjusting to this fairly new life as a single parent to three children. I am often both mother and father. I have to be chauffeur, without a backup, and nurse, chef, and now handyman. I'm learning to be more and more self sufficient. I love my independence but being independent is a scary thing. I am in charge and responsible not only for myself but for my 3 children. As I strive to get my own company off the ground and work endless hours into the nights and on weekends, I've not reached financial success yet. And that terrifies me. Working for yourself - as any independent contractor or freelancer will tell you - is an interesting journey in itself. You'll have months of smooth sailing followed by months of crippling drought. The drought is scary. It is mind numbingly scary. I was worried and vocal to some friends... Most of my friends have not ever been in my situation. I had never been in my situation before, so I can't expect them to relate or even understand. As they remodel their homes and plan fun family vacations, I wonder, will I get paid on time? Will my paychecks make it to the end of the month? I hope this won't last forever... but maybe it will.

I had one such month not long ago and a friend said in not so many words, quit complaining you have your health. When you're worried about not paying rent or having enough for groceries, you worry. Especially when there are children involved. And they get sick. And they need to go to the doctor, And they need medicine. No one can possibly understand what that fear is like unless they've been there. "At least you have your health." I tend to think that food and shelter are the two most important things in one's life. "At least you have your health."

What no one knew was that I had been to the doctor for a routine checkup - the first routine checkup in nearly 20 years. (Of course I'd been to the doctors for poison ivy and strep and ear infections and all that.) I was long overdue and I knew it. I finally went at the urging of the man I was dating, who happened to be an oncologist. During a routine exam my doctor felt my neck and felt something suspicious. Suddenly I was being sent for ultrasounds and biopsies. "Don't worry, thyroid cancer is the best kind of cancer you can get." It wasn't the cancer or the thought of chemo or losing my hair that had me so rattled and upset, but the thought that I may not be able to pay my bills that month... and the thought that there may be no presents under the tree for the children. It had nothing whatsoever to do with health, even though my own at that time was in question. That's how much of a chokehold that kind of fear has on you. I am happy to report that the tumor is benign and I will get it checked again in 6 months by my endocrinologist. 

For now I seem to be back on smooth waters. I can rest easily, and think clearly for the moment. But I know the struggle is not over. And as much as it terrifies me I embrace it. I am not thankful for it, but I embrace it. You see, I am struggling because I am doing something I have very much wanted to do, and very much want to do. I know that I won't reach success overnight, but I am confident, that in time, I will get there. I embrace the struggle because I know that the reason it's there is because I am following my own dreams... and for that I am thankful. I am grateful. 

As the river twists and turns and changes speed with the current, so has my journey the past couple of years. This is every bit as much a part of my life and my reality as was my childhood on Manhattan's Upper East Side, my summers in the South of France and my education at an elite British Boarding school. This is just an extension of my journey. This is where the river has taken me, and soon the river will take me somewhere new - I can hardly wait to see where that may be.

I have learned something in the very recent months about life and ambition, hopes, dreams and the journey of it all. I have learned that sometimes we spend too much time planning and paddling and trying to take control of our own destinies. Sometimes the best laid plans are when there are no plans at all. Sometimes it's best to lift the paddles and the oars and to see where the river takes you. No doubt you'll run into some fascinating people and see some breathtaking sights along the way - people and sights that you may have missed before because you were speeding past them so quickly.

One particular person has said to me over the past few years that I am wasting my time. Unfortunately this has been told to my children as well. I would be much better off in an office, sitting at a desk from 9 - 5, he thinks. Not only does my parenting schedule not allow for that, but I can't imagine not trying to follow a passion or a dream. And most importantly I want my children to see what I am doing, learning, creating. I want them to see the struggle. I want them to see me trying to chase a dream.How can you not give something you feel so passionately about a try, just once? And what if I fail? And what if I do? It would be more of a failure to have never even tried in the first place.

I started this blog over 7 years ago. It has changed many many times over until it became exactly what I have wanted it to become. Through this website I have exponentially improved both my writing and my photography skills. Through this website I have gotten every single one of my jobs or projects. I have never had to seek. People have sought me. How cool is that? For the past 2 years I've taken this from a simple blog to a brand that showcases all my talents. I initially gave myself 6 years to get my own business off the ground.It sounds fair. It sounds right. It's all starting to happen. It's all starting to come together. Give up now? Never! Quit my dream? Never! Let the river guide me? Absolutely!