What It Feels Like to Live Your Dream

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All of my life I’ve wanted to live in Paris. Not forever – just for a few months.

In my imagination, I quickly develop a set of expat and French friends. I find ‘my’ arrondissement. After a morning of good writing, I make my way through cobbled streets to a small table where I sip my café crème and watch the passing parade.

Les heures stretch on indefinitely in the grey lace of my imagination, and I wander around Paris in a bubble of sweet contentment. I have found my place in the world.

For 35 years, I have nursed this dream. And in just a few days, I will find out whether it is true.

Can I trust the longings of my imagination? Or have I just been fooling myself?

On every trip I have made to this extraordinary city, I have felt myself come alive. Her chic, feminine spirit calls me forth like nothing else.

Yesterday, I dug through my closet and unearthed my ‘Paris clothes’ – the grey, black and brown dresses and skirts. The heels unworn for months and months in California. The scarves.

I’ve even decided it’s time to wear make up again. So I muster up that dormant, waiting woman – the one seldom seen. Because life usually requires blue jeans practicality, doesn’t it? At least it did when I was a hands-on Mom living in the country.

And so this is why I have longed to live in Paris for a while. In some basic way it is time to return to this part of myself. Not just for the week or two of a vacation … but all the time.

I need to feel myself first as a woman, and secondly as a ‘person who gets things done’. Paris seems to be the place to make that happen.

In the slow crawl back to balance and happiness, all the parts of me want to emerge. There is no reason to hide anymore, or pretend to be something I’m not.

I will make my way; there will be ups and downs. But none of that really matters because simply by doing this, I am reclaiming myself again.

And that is what dreams are for.

What dream have you been waiting to claim?

 

In Praise of Completion

good-byeI am a person who likes to rush ahead, leaving things pretty much done … but not always completely. Perhaps you know what I mean.

Last night I had a dream in which I was waiting to exit a gas station behind a massive 18-wheeler. Slowly it navigated a right turn; there was much backing and filling. And so I grew impatient.

Suddenly I took off through the station, heading for a strip of grass. I could see the road ahead – freedom, I thought! But just then my car bottomed out in a ditch designed to prevent this, and I ground to a halt.

In other words, don’t get ahead of yourself, Suzanne.

How I want to dart ahead and do, do, do in a mad swirl of busy-ness. Then I won’t have to feel the pain of wrapping things up with tender care. But on the other hand, I won’t know the precious satisfaction that comes with that completion, either.

I learned this when I cleaned out my daughter Teal’s closet about eleven months after her death. I dreaded the work. But when that fateful day came, it turned out to be an extremely beautiful process. A transformational one, really.

I gave myself the entire day in an empty house to do the job slowly, lovingly, and with great care. I would never again manage her belongings; I would never fold her clothes or ball up her socks. In fact, they would all be gone.

It was one of my last duties as the mother of Teal. And so I wanted every last movement to count.

I felt every minute of the process to my core; I was aware and awake and fully present. And I sobbed openly as I worked.

Then, when it was over, I walked away complete.

Something alchemical happened that day. I opened up to a new level of inner peace, and a significant part of my grief simply broke open and evaporated into the night air.

I was now no longer a grieving mother. I was just Suzanne again, a woman who had once raised a beautiful daughter named Teal, who now flows around her in a shimmering state of grace.

Never in my life had I experienced such a round, full sense of accomplishment. For not only had I completed a difficult task, I completed a role as well.

The same completion happened with my former girlfriend, a woman I moved in with a few months before she ended our relationship. I left, deeply hurt, vowing to have nothing more to do with her. Then Teal died a few months later; we patched things up a bit but my pain was too great. I was not ready to be friends.

Recently, while on a spiritual retreat, I thought I saw her at a distance, going into the dining room. Through I window I could see her distinctive fur vest, her blue eyes, her hair, and I went into a blind panic.

She’s here! Oh my God! my racing heart wailed. I hurried away to a nearby chapel, fell to my knees, and prayed to God to help me get through this encounter.

We hadn’t spoken in more than a year, but on some level it seemed inevitable. And what in God’s name was I going to say?

I had been mired in a stew of fury since our break up. All of my anger over losing my daughter got foisted on the ghost of this woman, even though I had no intention of ever contacting her again.

There was no easy peace between us in my mind. And so there was no completion.

As I prayed in the morning half-light of the chapel, I asked for some kind of deliverance. I was done with the pain and the loathing; it was time to get on with the rest of my life.

I asked Spirit to help me walk into that dining hall, eat my breakfast, and keep my serenity even in the face of my former partner.

Ah, but life is so funny. The woman I saw through the doorway was not my former partner at all. She was just a woman who looked a bit like her. And what I thought was her fur vest was, in fact, something crocheted, grey and loopy.

I shook my head as I got my plate of eggs, aware of the divine comedy of all of it.

But then after breakfast, I sat down with a blank piece of paper and wrote a letter of love and thanks to my former partner. In an instant, I could see how our relationship had served me. I learned so much about my weaknesses with her – all the fear, the scarcity, the clinging, and my incessant craving for security.

I doubted I would send the letter. She already knew that I appreciated what we had, and that we were both far better off without each other. But now I knew it as well. And I knew it was all okay.

As I sat in the courtyard, watching hummingbirds flit here and there, I became aware of my intense gratitude. For my former girlfriend. For Teal. And for the wheel of life as it plays on in my heart.

Completion like a cool, soothing wave of relief washed over me; my fear and anger was no more. Instead it was replaced by something far greater: Love.

And that, my friends, is really the point of completing anything.