As I wrote in Part 1, “Our narcissists defined us as a person wrongly and pressed us into a lifestyle that was inauthentic to us. They scoffed at our dreams and mocked/appropriated our creativity. In the end, we crawled into our shells and gave up on living, really living!”
This is our big chance to jettison all of that, step back and design a life that would make us really happy. Maybe even your “dream life”!
This is Your Dream Life!
Grab your journal and let’s do some brainstorming together. Power up the ol’ imagination. What do you want your life to be like? What secret dreams did you / do you have? I need this exercise desperately today, so let’s do it together. Let the creative juices flow and then later, we’ll dial it back to be practical and within our budgets. Here’s my dream life:
I want to live in a beautiful world where people are kind and narcissism doesn’t exist. A world where the media reports on the good things 95% of the time and the bad things only 5% of the time. A world where family doesn’t mean suffocation, friendship doesn’t equal disrespect and love doesn’t hurt.
I want to live like a gypsy, traveling in a fully outfitted house-on-wheels. It could be an old, updated RV or a refurbished schoolbus. As long as it has a toilet, water for sponge baths, a stove, a bed and wifi, Michael and I will be in Heaven. Like turtles with our home on our back.
I want to park it in the shadow of mountains. There’s no greater joy than waking up, looking out your window and seeing the Rockies. I want to ride in a hot air balloon and watch the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta every year from my little RV.
I want to travel the world — sing along to Rocky Road to Dublin at a pub in Dublin or watch the lippizaners of the Spanish Riding School perform in Vienna. I want to spin in the meadow where Julie Andrews spun for The Sound of Music. I want to eat sushi in Japan and taste gyros in Greece. Most of all, I want to trod the paths C.S. Lewis walked in Cambridge, visit The Bird and Baby pub, peak in the window of The Kilns, lay a flower and shed a tear on his grave.
I want to be an artist. To set up my easel and paint plein air…and actually like my art when I’m done. I want to be a photographer, taking breathtaking photos of nature. I want to be able to play bluegrass fiddle.
I want to be tall and thin with the kind of figure that makes people say, “Boy! She can really wear clothes!” And I want to be a sociable, glittering extrovert with lots of energy and no shyness.
I want a Thomas Kinkadesque cottage brimming with old-fashioned flowers in wild abundance, trellises, Secret Garden benches, flowery bowers and hidden fairy corners.vA beautiful place to park my gypsy wagon when my wanderlust wanes.
I want to regain the focus and learning ability I had as a child so I can actually enjoy reading Shakespeare and learning languages without bogging down and losing my passion. I want to rediscover my love of books and be able to find them at the library — salty sea tales, great mysteries, juicy biographies. Great poetry. I want to study philosophy and read Plato and Aristotle – or whoever it is.
I want to live the (so-called, although I highly doubt it) “high class” life Dr. Frasier Crane aspires to (however shakily.) Like him, I love the theatre and the symphony and want to enjoy them from a box with season tickets. Opera too!
I want Folgers Instant Coffee to taste like it did when I was a kid and my grandparents got me hooked on instant coffee. (Yeah, yeah. But I like it!) I want to be so rich that I can enjoy champagne, fine wines, caviar, foie gras and a money-is-no-object unlimited diet of fish and seafood. I want a personal chef who will have an awesome array of wonderful food perpetually available – including sushi.
I want to own at least one Rembrandt and feel at home flashing my little paddle up and down at Sotheby and Christie’s auctions. I want my home to be so full of stacks of books and art and antique photos and astrolabes, that it’s like living in a museum! Or a hobbit hole. Or the set of The Shape of Water.
I want peace. To feel safe and secure, like I did as a little child when Mommy was my god and could fix anything. I want to feel OK about myself to such a degree that I forget about myself most of the time. I want to be Erma Bombeck so I see life through the filter of humor and stop taking everything so damn seriously. Most of all, I want my husband to be healthy so we can celebrate our fiftieth anniversary in 2062.
And when the curtain falls on the drama called “Lenora” I want to look back with quiet contentment and satisfaction, not regret nor guilt, knowing that I enjoyed the time God gave me and did my best to do the right thing in every situation and every context. If I can remain financially solvent, always live independently and then die peacefully and go to Heaven afterwards, well, that’ll be a dream come true!
What were your dreams? What life did you brainstorm? Everyone is different. So what floats your boat? I’d love to read your fantasy life in the comments section below.
Those are my dreams, some attainable, some not. Some realistic, some not. That whole thin, extroverted, high-energy, clotheshorse thing definitely not! Artistic – only in my fantasies! Bluegrass – yeah, no. Alcohol makes me itchy and dizzy and I don’t like being itchy and dizzy. I’ve never tasted caviar nor foie gras and would probably hate them if I did. And if I want fish, I’d better learn how to catch ’em out of one of our 10,000 lakes! (I’m told eelpout tastes just like lobster!)
So now it’s time to dial back our dreams. To tailor them to our God-given situation, abilities, talents and budgets. How can our lives now fulfill our dream-life without breaking the bank? How can we appreciate what we have now and use a little creativity and ingenuity to realize our dream life today without waiting for the “someday” that never comes. “Don’t save your good dishes for the elf version of yourself,” my mother always said. And that applies to time too! Enjoy it now!
This Is Your Realistic Life
With the advent of the Internet, a lot of expensive, unobtainium things have become cheap and obtainable to common folk like you and me. For example, I just learned that the world’s great art museums are offering high resolution, downloadable fine art by the Old Masters on their websites! How cool is that!?!
The great auction houses live stream their auctions so we can virtually attend in our jammies from the comfort of our homes. Fantastic!
A few years ago, the Metropolitan Opera began broadcasting their operas in high-def to theatres nationwide. Brilliant!
And I’ve learned how to make sushi and gyros at home. So that problem is solved too.
But let’s face it: You and I will probably never be rich. (Do we really want to be? Does “money” automatically equal “class”? I think not! Reality TV has proven that money doesn’t equal class, style, intelligence, morals, good relationships, mental health and especially not happiness!) I’ll never be thin, energetic nor extroverted. (And if I was, I don’t think my husband would’ve bonded with me anyways, so that’s okay too!)
Here’s how I plan to give my life an Extreme (yet, realistic!) Makeover so I can kinda, sorta realize my dreams and enjoy the life, the time and the talents the Good Lord has given me now. Be thinking how you can do to realize your dream life…now.
First, I’m going to use self- control to get myself off the “easy” time-filling, mindless entertainment of the internet, YouTube and TV — unless it’s something I really enjoy. I’m only going to watch shows that are truly hilarious, truly magical, truly transcendent, shows that truly transport me to a place I want to be. For a geek like me, that means Doctor Who, The Big Bang Theory, Frasier, guilty dog videos on YouTube — stuff like that. (Suggestions welcome!)
That means, I’m going to have more time for reading. It takes more energy than being a passive audience, but it’s worth it. I’m going to save my money and try to find old books I truly want to read. To buy those Rembrandt coloring books. Perhaps, if I get off the electronics, my attention span will lengthen and I’ll regain my childhood ability to focus. My friend sent me a wonderful book about fine art. Time to buckle down and read it!
I’m going to be more disciplined and organized. If there’s a meteor shower or the Northern Lights are blazing, I’ll be outside with my blankey and binoculars. If there’s a live stream of an Old Masters auction, I want to make note of it and tune in. Pretend I’m actually in attendance in New York or London. If Minnesota Public Radio is broadcasting the Minnesota Orchestra live, time to brew Earl Grey, sit back and just listen, imagining I’m in the nosebleed seats of Orchestra Hall again. If they’re broadcasting Handel’s Messiah from the Ordway, I’ll be there in spirit, if not in body. And every Christmas Eve, I’ll join in the live broadcast of The Festival of the Nine Lessons and Carols from King’s College, Cambridge, England while our once-a-year treat of scallops sizzle in hot butter. Life can be both rich and cheap, if I just put forth a little energy, a little ingenuity, a little planning.
I don’t really enjoy cooking unless creativity is involved. Luckily, my husband is a good sport with a taste for ethnic cuisine. That means I’ve got to keep on learning, exploring, searching for that next untried dish, the next unexplored cuisine. In the absence of my mythical personal chef, I’d better keep myself motivated to cook. Although my tastes run to champagne, I’m very happy with my Manischewitz sipped slowly from a crystal (garage sale) goblet.
I already have the little cottage in the woods and cherish it. But there’s so much more we can do with it — as funds allow. Kinkadesque doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a labor of love over many years. Every year, we’ll invest in a few more perennials. Lily of the Valley this year. Definitely lots of tulip bulbs, irises, daffodils, hyacinths. I already have roses, hollyhocks and morning glories. We have plans to build a trellis from pallet wood. Maybe in twenty years…Better Homes and Gardens will come knocking. (Ha!)
And that goes for our dream RV too. We talk about it all the time. Today it’s a pipedream. Tomorrow, we might actually find a 1970s RV or old bus going for a song! We could gut it. Rebuild it a little at a time. What is life without something to always look forward to!?! Planning and dreaming is 75% of the fun anyways!
But there is one thing I can do now: surround myself with laughter. Laugh at great comedians. Laugh at the dogs. Laugh at myself. Laugh at the ridiculousness of life. After all, laughter is free.
Now it’s your turn. How can you realize your dream life now respecting who you authentically are without breaking the bank. Forget how the narcs made you live! Start fresh.
Who are you?
How do you want to live?
Wipe the slate clean and dream a little!