A few weeks ago, I was sitting in church daydreaming.
I know this is probably something I shouldn’t admit: Me, letting my mind wander during the pastor’s message. But when I snapped myself back to reality, I realized something was different about the images floating through my head.
I had been daydreaming about the future.
My mind was drifting off to a place full of potential and promise. I was excited, thinking about the wide open space before me.
If you’ve been reading for the past few months, you know I’ve been a bit stuck. I’ve been trying so hard to hold onto the moment that I wasn’t allowing myself to look forward. I had an amazing summer of being present with my family. Each day was full of activity and felt vivid in the colors of life. I wanted to fully engage in all of the fun of summer and experience each day with my whole heart.
At the same time, I needed to mourn what had ended. As I counted down the days to college move-in day, I felt like I was trapped in quicksand. I would try to pick up a foot to move forward, but instead I would sink a bit deeper in the dread of saying good-bye and the longing for the past.
The same thing would happen with my past life of going to work. Each time I went to church, I would struggle with all of the reminders of how my life used to be. I missed being part of a team, working with amazing people and getting to use my gifts and talents in a meaningful way.
I had spent the last 10 days of summer at home with just our oldest son. The other three kids had started school a few weeks earlier. Those were precious hours, but also long days of working through checklists to make sure we had everything, had completed all of the forms, and packed whatever mystery items we might be forgetting for this move into the unknown. (I’m not even sure how people do this AND go to work. The tasks felt like they would consume entire days.)
Walking away from our son at his college dorm room was the most difficult thing I’ve done so far as a parent. But I had stored up so much dread and anticipation during that long senior year of endings and good-byes that it was actually a relief once it was done.
When I realized I was daydreaming about the future with so much anticipation and hope, it made me realize how much work God has done in my heart the past three months.
That first Monday morning, I woke up for the first time in a long time with the freedom to think about myself. What did I want to do? I didn’t have to be at work at a certain time. I didn’t have to go shopping for any college supplies. I didn’t have to plan any fun activities with the other kids now that they were back at school. The time was mine.
I got started on what I jokingly refer to as my “fake job.”
For many years, I’ve been wanting to pursue my own creative passions. Finally, I had the space to do it.
It’s amazing, but I actually have been spending every day working. For the first week, it felt futile to work so hard at a job that didn’t pay any money. But I was determined to keep pressing forward. Each day, I seem to get a phone call, text message or e-mail with some small encouragement to keep going.
I’ve been submitting articles to online publications. In the past few days, I’ve received several e-mails back with the fun news that my writing was accepted!
I’ve been diving hard into my Pinterest account as a source of driving traffic to my blog. I’ve been creating “Pin-worthy” images for 12 years of blog posts about creative projects, photography and gluten-free living. I’ve been meticulously analyzing my stats to determine what’s working and what isn’t. It’s been fun to see my blog traffic grow after years of wanting to learn (but never having enough time) about this secret Pinterest world of SEO, the strategy of pinning, and joining group boards.
I’m praying about what’s next for me. But the future doesn’t feel so scary now. Before it felt like that moment when you are staring at a blank canvas and you can’t choose a paint color or decide on your first stroke. Now, most days I’m embracing the unknown of what might appear.
I’ve been looking at the chalkboard in my kitchen everyday with that phrase I wrote as a reminder: Cherish the past. Engage in the present. Embrace the future.
It feels good to be putting those words into action.
Even in my daydreams.
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