Three years ago, I received a review copy of a book that has proven to be one of the three nonfiction books that, outside the Bible, have most influenced me (more on those other two books in the weeks/months ahead).
I blogged several times about the book, but then I stopped. Not because the book was no longer impactful, but because working through the process was a long one for me. While a big part of me wishes I would have been able to zip through it and now be enjoying its fruits, some of the things that slowed the process -- a semester-long trip to Europe, for example -- were so wonderful that I don't regret them.
What book? Progress on what?
The book is Dream, Save, Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers Like You, by Betsy and Warren Talbot (link provided below). In it, the Warren's outline a practical and doable plan by which readers can determine their ideal life and, to the degree realistically possible, making that ideal life a reality.
It became the foundation of my efforts to redefine my life after the death of my husband.
I began working through the process three years ago, and for the sake of those who didn't read the posts I read back then, I'll recap this week (and perhaps next) before jumping to where I am now.
The first step in the process is to discover the dream. The Warrens propose a fairly structured way of determining the dream; they advise their readers to carefully analyze their current life and do two things.
First, a "dreamer" should list everything it is about their current life that they don't like, being as specific as possible. They urge the reader to not just write down something like "my commute" but to dig deeper. The idea is to determine what it is about, in this case, the commute that makes it a negative. Is it the cost? The time "lost"? The method of the commute?
The second step in dreaming is to add "the possibilities". Readers are instructed to list all of the elements they would like to add to their life. Some readers, for example, might put "serve as a volunteer on a weekly basis" on the list of possibilities.
These two mini-steps of the of the discover process took me quite some time. The first part -- listing the negatives of my current life -- came easy to me, as the Warrens indicate is often the case.
Adding the possibilities -- dreaming of what I did want -- took much longer. In fact, until just recently -- over three years since I officially started working through the process -- was I able to identify the elements that created the picture of my ideal life.
Don't let my slowness discourage you or cause you to blame the Warren's plan. My own personal situation was a huge factor. Working through the grief, numbness, more grief, etc. in the aftermath of my husband's death 7 1/2 years ago was a significant impact; so were 3 moves (all positive, thank goodness), the trip to Europe, and other factors.
Looking back, I also realize that I struggled with letting go of my old life; without even realizing it, I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to replicate my old life. Of course, that was an impossible endeavor.
Ultimately, though, I've been able to determine not just what I didn't want in my life, but also what I want my life to include.
It was only then that I was able to identify what my "dream life" looks like:
I want to live full-time (or as much as possible) in an RV . . . traveling as my whim and the weather take me (avoiding extreme temperatures except for "vacations") . . . earning additional income from some creative pursuit (freelance writing, preferably) . . . returning on a fairly regular basis to visit my son and daughter here in Missouri. I want to live a simple lifestyle that is healthy spiritually, physically, socially, and mentally. I experiences, not things.
There it is . . . my dream.
If the idea of moving from a dream through a plan to living that dream appeals to you, I hope you'll get a copy of Dream Save Do: An Action Plan for Dreamers and work through the book alongside me. I'd love to hear about your experiences. For more information, go to http://www.marriedwithluggage.com/dream-save-do/ (While I did receive a free copy of the book for review purposes, I do not receive any type of compensation for referrals.)