As I look at the list of dreams it seems impossible. How will I ever accomplish this? But I'm getting ahead of myself. You don't know me or the story behind this journey. It was June of 2008, a week after my birthday, and I was in Sonoma, California vacationing by myself. It sounds fantastic, right? Stretches of vineyards glistening in the sun surrounded by hills of oaks. Wonderful food and wine to taste. A romantic setting to share with someone you love.
Except I was dealing with a broken heart. Without boring you with the sad details, lets just say I was going through a messy break-up. On top of that, I had recently sat by my brother's bed as he lay in a coma fighting for his life. He'd recently had emergency open-heart surgery from contracting MRSA (penicillin resistant Staph). Gratefully, he lived, but the stress caused a fight between my mother and sister-in-law and my family was torn apart.
I felt like my insides were a punching bag in a kick-boxing class.
To lift myself, I sat in the park writing down all the wonderful things I had accomplished in the last eight years. I've always made lists. Things I need to do. Places I want to see. Goals and achievements. As I wrote down my achieved dreams a smile began to appear. I had forgotten what it felt like to have my cheeks pudge as my eyes crinkled. I wondered if the muscles in my face were weak after so many months without that movement.
The happiness grew and I started thinking about what I wanted for the future. The last six months, pain and fear controlled my life. I was tired of mere survival. I wanted to feel that I held my destiny in my hands. A list began to grow and when I was done I had added eighty new dreams to my completed twenty-one. I sat back overwhelmed by everything I desired. I added one more....to laugh so hard with a stranger my stomach hurt. I couldn't remember the last time I had laughed.
I folded the piece of paper and put it away. Who was I to think I could have everything I wanted? I went on feeling sorry for myself and praying that someday the pain would end.
As I returned to the hotel, the concierge invited me to have a drink with two other guests. That's when the magic happened. After a few glasses of wine, a woman brought up poop, yes, poop, and told the concierge what her poop should look like to ensure good health. The concierge looked at the woman and said, "You're telling me I'm supposed to turn around and look in the toilet at that smelly s@%t! You've got to be kidding me. I don't have time to turn around and ask, 'hey how you doing today?'."
Between the look of bewilderment on her face and the sound of her voice I burst out laughing. She continued asking questions, wondering if people really did this. Tears dripped down my cheeks, my nose ran, my face cramped, and my stomach knotted with laughter.
That night, I looked at the list of dreams. What was the chance this dream would come true so quickly? What if I could accomplish all of them?
In the following weeks my life transformed. I began to salsa dance. I thought that hiking half-dome and camping in Yosemite that summer would be impossible since I needed a camping reservation six months in advance. Two weeks later, I received an invitation to go camping and hiking in Yosemite. It seemed every week a dream would come to me. Where I had been lonely and without close friends, a whole community opened. Within the first year I had checked off sixteen of my dreams - almost as many as I had accomplished in my life.
That's when I decided to pursue this list with everything I had and to share my journey. I'm a private person. I once loved the fact that I could Google my name without any hits. But this journey has been extraordinary, and I hope it can inspire others to go after their dreams.
Maybe life is supposed to be miraculous even in the midst of pain. Maybe we're meant to have everything we want. I guess I'm willing to find out. I have sixty-four more dreams to complete. I have no idea how I'm going to do it. Cross your fingers, pull up a chair, and see if I succeed.