View of hilly Istanbul from our kitchen window
“it’s a low low road
You’ve gotta roll down
Before you find your way, my friend
And it’s a high, high hill
You’ve gotta climb up
Before you get to the top again”
–Grace Potter and Mark Batson,
from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals’ Low Road
How are your resolutions going?
I’ve never been much into New Year’s resolutions, and I’m even less interested in “should” these days. “Should” is probably one of the worst habits I needed to break, actually. I did a lot of things I should including eating healthy, exercising, and living a clean lifestyle for the last decade. Not that those things are bad and didn’t help me be healthy longer, but I got cancer anyway… I did the work I should, hosted celebrations I should, took care of others as I should, volunteered as I should. I did too much “shoulding” and didn’t seek as much joy as would have been good for me. In the busyness of should, I lost the dreams. I lost the play. If your resolutions are sticking and getting you over bad habits you need to drop, by all means, keep on. That’s important.
I should be dead by now. That’s the last should I’ll ever need. I am done with should. My dreams orient my days. I will do what’s naturally needed to realize my dreams. What gets me through treatment far from home these days is dreams of more normal times and vibrant life. I sit through chemo and hyperthermia dreaming of little and bigger things that I’ll enjoy when I heal. In that way, I put 1 foot in front of the other in terms of the things I must do. It’s the dreams that pull me into the future through the daily grind. They orient me without chastising or dictating or yelling too loudly. Dreams are more like good friends, rather than bullies.
My dreams involve simple things like cooking in my own kitchen and shopping at the grocery store myself again. Taking a warm bath. Being able to run around the track and lead another yoga class or even do a regular Vinyasa flow for myself. I dream of trying out a Hammam here in Turkey when I feel better. Wearing more normal clothes that don’t have to accommodate a swollen abdomen, as recommended by the ever-stylish Kathryn. Learning from Shelby how to wear whatever ends up being my hair again. Adding the make-up and earrings to feel pretty because that still sounds like fun. Trying out the air fryer I bought for Grant for Christmas. Hugging my dog. Walking my dog. Sitting in the backyard with the Lacks and other neighbors. Perfecting Keto pizza so I don’t miss Papa John’s (even if Grant says it’s gone downhill…I’m a foodie, but not a snob). The sun on my shoulders and the sand between my toes. Many more spectacular sunsets and breathtaking sunrises. Ongoing date nights with my husband. I dream of walking in South Chagrin reservation – being strong enough to cover the whole trail – with Sharon again.
Bigger, longer-term dreams include watching my kids flourish in college and beyond. Being on beaches, frolicking in the water, and vacationing with my family, for years to come. Empty nesting and retirement travel with my husband. I’ve wanted to experience Iceland, Australia, Africa…and anyplace John would like to see. And Michigan and Florida from time to time, where we have friends and family I’d like to hug, including my cousins’ daughter Aria. I dream of seeing live music which many of us miss because of Covid, like seeing Grace Potter and the Nocturnals again at the House of Blues.
It’s still incredible to me that my cancer has overlapped completely with a pandemic, for good and bad. I dream of the normalcy of traveling to board meetings in New York City, and the novelty of finding a keto restaurant where I can eat everything on the menu including dessert(!). I dream of hiking in Colorado and dancing with abandon at our niece Sarah’s wedding in November. I dream of swimming in any body of water whether it’s Lisa and David’s pool, the Gulf of Mexico, any ocean or sea, or Lake Michigan. Beaches feature prominently in my dreams. Any and all. I dream of connecting with and having fun with friends, old and new.
My heart dreams of soaring as I watch my son graduate from high school and sending him off to prom in June. I dream of the melancholy but “it’s-all-good-really” feeling of moving him into his dorm for college later this summer. I can hardly wait to see my daughter enjoy a semester abroad this fall while remembering my own experiences as a student in foreign countries. I want to see what she makes of these experiences and what good our kids will do in the world. I dream that our kids orient from joy rather than should because I finally learned how to model that. I dream that they won’t have to learn these lessons the hard way because I did that work while they watched. I dream of continuing to work in whatever ways makes sense, feel good, and make the world a better place…maybe even another book…not because I should but because I can’t keep it in, as was true the first time and happens with all of these posts. I dream of the joy and satisfaction of creative flow. I dream of learning new ways “to channel cosmos into the chaos” as Madeleine L’Engle has said. I dream of seeing and realizing more beauty, not because it’s new, but because my eyes and soul are more attuned to it…or maybe also because the veil of adulthood is pulled back and I can remember what I used to see as a child.
In many ways, I dream of the life I had but with much more presence and appreciation. That’s what I’ve heard from people who go so low as I’ve been physically and climb back up again. The physical transformation mirrors the emotional and spiritual.
I’m done with shoulds.
What I’m not done with is life.
I have dreams.
I wonder, what are yours?