Sunday, January 21, 2007

Positive Dreaming

“…In my mind I’m goin’ to Carolina

Can't you see the sunshine

Can't you just feel the moonshine

Ain’t it just like a friend of mine

To hit me from behind

Yes I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind…”

Aahh…the poetic lyrics of James Taylor, someone whose music I’ve come to know and appreciate more and more in recent years. His relaxing tones, easy voice and entertaining storytelling are something that I find I am able to appreciate as the years go on, especially in a time where most songs on the radio contain lyrics that consist of about five words, and are only intelligent enough to be able to describe some variation of sex using phrases I’ve never even heard of. Although I really don’t know what Mr. Taylor was imagining when he wrote this song, I can tell you that for me, this song represents my present…and my future.

My life in the last ten years has been anything but what I imagined it to be when I was young. I suffered through a divorce, I was a single parent for several years and then married a good man that came in a package deal with two children…plus an ex-wife who had trouble finding stability in her life, and a family that was mostly wonderful, but with problems of their own that unfortunately sometimes stemmed out to us. He was a painting contractor…the “finishing guy”…and although he had a business that was a well-oiled machine, he was never going to be in the six-figure income bracket, no matter what he did.

I had baggage of my own with two kids with Tourette syndrome…and the ADHD that goes hand in hand with that (we suffered through many screams and tears just to get homework done in two hours that should’ve taken 20 minutes). I also had an ex-husband who could be very unstable himself. Although I had returned to school in my early 20’s to major in art, I did not have the opportunity to finish because my mom had passed away, and my dad needed to sell our house. Shortly thereafter, I married and had children. After my divorce, I found myself floating from job to job just to find something enjoyable, lucrative, and that allowed me to leave at 3:00 so I could be home for my kids in the afternoons. I eventually ended up with two out of three (lucrative, part-time jobs that require no former schooling are a rarity on Long Island, and I imagine just about everywhere else as well). Still, I am not where I feel that I'm supposed to be forever.

Enter the power of positive thinking, and the ability to “dream”.

I admit that in my past, I had a tendency to be a “defeatist”—you know, the person whose personal dictionary features the words “I can’t”, “I’ll never” and “If only”, amongst other negative catch-phrases. The culmination of negativity inside of me surfaced after my mother had died. Hadn’t I spent years praying to God every night to “please never let anyone in my family get cancer, have a heart attack, acquire any fatal diseases”, and basically never, ever die? Why didn’t God hear me? I was so twisted in my thinking, that I felt as if everything was useless, and that maybe there just wasn’t a God after all, and we really were a cosmic accident. How could He let her die?

I realized after her funeral that one of my very dear friends, Ann, did not show up to the wake, nor did she even bother to call me at this heartbreaking time. When I brought this fact up to my best friend, she told me that Ann couldn’t come because she was in the hospital having surgery for…cancer. I remember thinking, “Cancer?!? But she’s only 22!” Ann eventually had to have three surgeries (the first initial one to remove an ovary, the second one where she was opened and closed immediately because the hospital was not equipped to handle the severity of her case, and the third time to remove all of her female organs—a complete hysterectomy before she even turned 23). I found it amazing, however, that during her chemotherapy, losing all of her hair, feeling sick as a dog—she was able to keep an upbeat attitude, and only believed for the best. She kept her sense of humor, even if it was self-deprecating, and tried to keep everyone around her thinking positive. I believe one of her biggest tools was a book called, “Love, Medicine and Miracles”, by Dr. Bernie Siegel. She gave me the book and insisted that I read it...telling me it would help me, even though my mom was not around anymore to benefit from it herself.

Reading this book opened my eyes to the power of positive thinking. I started to see how a negative attitude could prevent even the strongest of people from attaining health and vitality. Dr. Siegel describes how people can “will” away something as simple as a cold—how a child who was very sick one day could miraculously feel better the next day if they knew that they were going to do something enjoyable, such as go on a field trip. I started to understand what happened to my mother—she heard the word “cancer” and immediately gave herself a death sentence. There was no positive thinking on her part, except that she was “positively” going to die! Even though we, her family, begged her to go to Sloane Kettering (one of the most prominent cancer hospitals around, and located a mere 40 minutes away from us), she refused to go, saying it was “too much” for her. I don’t know about you, but I would go to the ends of the earth if it meant that I might have a chance to live a quality life and have a brighter future. I’m only sad that my mother wasn’t able to benefit from Dr. Siegel’s positive beliefs while she was still alive, especially since she had one of the most “curable” forms of female cancers.

Through the years, I tried to read more “self-help” books and tried to get rid of the negative framework in my brain. I found that for me, the secret to thinking positive was to have hope for the future, or a “dream”. When I went through my divorce, I got through it by thinking that God felt that I deserved to be treated better, and that there was someone else out there for me who would appreciate me. And I was right…I met a man who seemed to have positive thinking ingrained in his genes, which only helped me more. But imagine where I would be today if I stayed bitter and negative…if I didn’t allow myself to “dream” for a better future. It frightens me to even think about it.

With our situation being what it is, my husband and I have had our share of ups and downs—not with each other, but with those around us. Because we refuse to feel defeated—and there have been times when we were unsteady and almost fell into that pit—we are usually able to handle everything that comes our way, and trust me, there have been some “doozies”. Throughout it all, however, we have been able to overcome the negative with positive thoughts about our future. A future which seems to encompass the peace and tranquility that we desire in our lives right now, but because of our obligations, are unable to attain at this time. Occasionally, I'll do something as simple as placing an inspirational picture or decorative piece strategically in our home...something I'll pass often that will remind me of things that are yet to come, such as the "Dream" sign that rests upon my fireplace mantel. Sometimes the simple things really do count.

One of our dreams is to own a home in the country. A nice, big place with plenty of property so our kids can visit with their families and have room to “run around”. A place where we look out our window and can’t help but feel positive because the view will allow nothing less than a sense of wonder an awe at the miraculous beauty of nature. A place where our friends and family can go to escape the negativity of their own lives, even if it’s only for a day or two. In my dream, I’m cooking breakfast for the multitudes and making them my famous pancakes, bacon, eggs, and coffee. The snow could be falling outside on the evergreens, with my Christmas tree twinkling in the corner of the family room…or the summer sun could allow us to sit on the deck and soak up the view of mountains rising majestically over a lake, blooming flowers and wild birds gathering around the birdfeeder located just outside of my vegetable garden. There’s soft music playing in the background, and everyone is relaxed, de-stressed and un-pressured. However, since this is but a dream right now, I decided that I can not allow myself to wait until we own said country home to feel the pleasures of what I long for.

This morning I decided to make my pancake breakfast for the gaggle of teens that slept over last night. I put on James Taylor, and listened intently as “Carolina in My Mind” played in the background:

“In my mind, I’m goin’ to Carolina…can’t you see the sunshine…can’t you just feel the moonshine…”

In reality, I know that I’m in my crowded house full of teens that come with all of their teen stressors. I know that today is Sunday, and another stressful week of work awaits me tomorrow. I realize that there are family issues that are a long way off from being ironed out at this time. But I’ve “...up and gone to Carolina in my mind”. In my thoughts, I imagined myself in the country, cooking over my old stove in a kitchen at least twice the size of the tangible one I was standing in. I did “see the sunshine”, and I felt happy, as though I did have a taste of “moonshine”. Yes, right now that country home—which will most likely not be anywhere near a Carolina—is all “in my mind”. However, I believe with all of my heart that someday, somewhere—if we continue to think positively—our dream will come to fruition. My proverbial “Carolina” will finally be my reality.




Footnote: Ann is currently 44, has been married for almost 20 years, and has two beautiful adopted daughters.


For further insight on positive thinking, I invite you to visit Carine at http://www.carine-whatscooking.blogspot.com/ and read her most recent post. And for proof positive that a peaceful life in the country can be attained, pop on over to Matty’s post "Never Say Never" at http://runningonempty-matty.blogspot.com/.

35 comments:

Carine said...

very nice post Lisa-love the use of the song-very apropos. thanks for the plug

Lisa said...

Carine,

You're very welcome...I forgot how (I'm not really sure I ever KNEW how) to just have your name hilighted instead of putting the whole website in...sorry! But I'm sure some people will cruise on over to pay you a visit!

Take good care,
Lisa

Big Dave T said...

Guess it's a good day to read this (Monday) as today is supposed to officially be the most depressing day of the year, with holiday bills due, the weather, New Year's resolutions collapsing, etc.

It's all relative, though. A lucrative, enjoyable job that allows you to leave at three? And you got two out of three? Heck, I'd settle for one.

Lisa said...

Dave,

It's enjoyable, and I get out at 2:30 (with a 7:30 start). But lucrative? Nada. We do have great benefits, but that's about it! Some of us were talking the other day and wondering why we continue to work there, the pay being as lousy as it is (well, in NY, anyway. I'm sure it's probably a lot to someone in another, less built-up state). We all decided that it sure beats pushing a pencil! We get to go out and help other people, and even go bowling once in a while...and we get paid. Not too shabby!

Take good care,
Lisa

Kacey said...

Your post reminds me of the people who constantly put off buying a bathing suit until they can get into a smaller size. Then, the summer sun dims again and they hide themselves in winter woolens for another season. You never have any fun if you don't get into the water or into the kitchen, even if it isn't in Carolina.

Lisa said...

Kacey,

How true...and I used to be one of those "I'll be happy when..." people a few years ago. I realized at 42 that I really only have today. I can spend it being happy or I can spend it being miserable about things that I can't change right now, anyway. So I decided that I liked the "positive me" better, even if other people didn't (you know, the ones that are still waiting for the perfect moment to be happy...the ones I used to commisurate with). That was two years ago, and I really haven't looked back since (not that it's always been easy...but I won't go back to the "dark ages" ever again if I can help it)!

My "Carolina" is probably going to be located in upstate NY or in PA somewhere (right now we're leaning towards PA, the taxes are much lower). We feel that we get closer to it every day...and if we don't, well, we're still happy anyway!

Take good care,
Lisa

LZ Blogger said...

Lisa - And here I always thought it was "CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'" ~ Shows what I know! ~ jb///

Lisa said...

LZ,

Well, that's where my kids want to be! I used to live in Thousand Oaks...I couldn't afford it now unless I hit the lottery! So unless they actually move there and start families, well, I'll still be here in the East. Thanks for stopping by!

Take good care,
Lisa

Matty said...

Lisa,
Hold tight to those dreams! When all is said and done,,,,,thats what we have left is our dreams and goals and hopes!
Wow! And I thought I had baggage when I met my 2nd partner?,,,,I had 2 sons,,,and told him I was a package deal,,,,,,it just so happened the package got bigger, the sons left the nest but now I have 2 grandkids!
I'm sure though, that if I met my partner 30 years ago, I would have passed him by,,,,,I didn't have the maturity then to realize what I really wanted from life., but now I do!


Your dream will come true, it depends on how badly you want it!

Lisa said...

Matty,

Well, right now my son, 7 of his friends and my daughter are in the living room fighting over Guitar Hero. I can not even BEGIN to tell you how loud it is in this house. How badly do I want it, you ask? I'm ready to run away to the country tonight and not tell anyone!!

Seriously, at least I know where they are. And they're all having a good time...and that's something I've always dreamed of, also!

Take good care,
Lisa

Drama Div@ said...

One Day, One Dream Will Come True

When it's late at night
And your dreams do not seem to go as right,
Just think of the one you love
Even if he was a fictional dove…

Love might not be living on Earth,
But we've known it since birth,
So don't wet your pillow at night with tears
And believe there will come a light out of those dark years…

Hug the sky and trust me you'll feel okay…
Think of tomorrow and forget about yesterday…
You must believe what you do is quite okay
Even if that wasn't your dream, but it is today...


Don't give up dreaming even if you failed more than once;
Failing means success to those who want to succeed
'Cause they still have got the seed
Which urges them to proceed…

by: Anan M.K. Tello

Lisa said...

Drama Div,

Thanks for stopping by, and for the lovely poem. Are you the author? Very nice!

Take good care,
Lisa

Prashant said...

Hey, take my words:
Whatever is happening in the life, don't forget to smile and spend time with your family.

Take Care..

Desiree said...

I've been trying to finish this post for days and every time I start I get interrupted and could not finish. Finally I made it! LOL

This was a great post Lisa and I could so relate to a lot of it. I used to really have that same self defeating attitude. Changing the way I think has really changed my life. I totally believe in positive thinking and in visualizing what you want from life. My personal experience has been that both items work very very well!

Teri said...

Love the post chica. I also love Kacey's comment about the bathing suit! Finally, this JT song is one of my all time favorites. It's a hat trick!

Ciao bella...

Matty said...

Good luck with the writing course, Lisa!

dublin said...

Lisa, I have enjoyed lurking on your blog for quite some time now (though I don't think I've ever commented before).

I know your posts are always on the deeper side...but, I am TAGGING you, anyway. Feel free to pass...but if you want to take a moment to analyze and list what others might consider strange in you, then jump in with the rest of us!

~Monica of Dumplings, Three

Lisa said...

Prashant,

Yes, those two things are way up there on my list of priorities! Sometimes when it gets hectic and stressful, I remind myself that someday I'll actually miss all the chaos!

Thanks for stopping by!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Desiree,

I agree. In addition, a good portion of my dad's side suffered from depression, and I know that my brother and I have had our bouts with it as well. We've each learned to control it in our own way. Exercise does wonders. My brother is 60, and looks like he's in his 40's. And since I've stopped exercising regularly, I've noticed that I get "down" more often, though never to the point of feeling "hopeless". I guess that's where the "positive thinking" steps up to the plate! It really works, even if it's not always easy! I just tell myself that I will get back into a routine and have my 30 year old body back in no time! Hey, it works for me... ;)

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Teri,

So glad you enjoyed! :)

JT never fails to put me in my "country" mode! I love his lyrics, and the ease of his music.

And finally...Kacey is, what we say here in NY, a "pissa"! And I know you will agree with me on this: she's also a very wise and wonderful woman...and I love her posts!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Dublin,

Thanks for commenting, and for "lurking"! I can tell you that some of my earlier posts seem to be on the "lighter" side...and since I'm usually such a silly person, I guess I really should try to be a little more comical!

As for the "tag", well, it would take me quite a while to post six things that were "strange" about me (I'd have to interview a few people to find out what they feel is "weird" about me, as well as figuring it out myself), and I find that I'm just so pressed for time lately! So maybe I'll tie it into a post that I'm presently working on in my head that was inspired by something that my hubby said to describe me. Hope that'll suffice! Stay tuned!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Matty,

Thanks for the good wishes...but you all may have to sit through my writing assignments, as I may have to use them for posts due to my lack of time!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lucy Stern said...

I love the picture of the log cabin kitchen. I have always wanted to live up in the Colorado mountains in a log cabin....I can just smell the fresh air and see the thousands of stars on a clear night. I can see a fire in the fireplace. Hummm....now I'm dreaming again.

Lisa said...

Lucy,

I'm drinking a delicious, steaming hot cup of coffee...it's Sunday morning...JT is playing in the background...and I open my checkered country drapes to view...my neighbor's yellow, wavy plastic patio roof, his rusty antennae on top of his house and a bunch of unidentifyable boxes stacked so high on his patio that they rise above my 6-foot fence. And people wonder why I live in Fantasyland!

Thanks for stopping by!

Take good care,
Lisa

Matty said...

Lisa,
On the 'share the love awards' I voted you #2......Happiest Blog,,,,,,,and #5.....Most Inspiring.......

Hope you win!

LZ Blogger said...

I would have thought you would have made it to Carolina by now! ~ jb///

dublin said...

That will (suffice, that is!)!

Looking forward to the future post!

~Monica

dublin said...

That will (suffice, that is!)!

Looking forward to the future post!

~Monica

Lisa said...

LZ,

I know...it's sad, isn't it? You get to go to Tahiti, and I just get to live vicariously through your site!!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Matty,

Oh, goodness...thank you!! I have no idea what that is, but I appreciate your votes!!! You'll have to let me know where to check it out.

I went back to school on Saturday, started a new position at my job on Monday, and I can't seem to catch up...I haven't even written a new post yet, and this one posted ten days ago already! Forgive me for not visiting, I'll try to get there later!

Take good care,
Lisa

Lisa said...

Monica,

I'm very, very behind in my writing, I'm so sorry! Also...I re-read my response to you, and thought it rather "snooty". I didn't mean to sound like I don't think that ANYTHING is strange about me...I definitely fall into the strange bird category...but I needed to be specific, and I didn't ask anyone yet! And I haven't had five quiet minutes to gather my thoughts (I'm writing this with two minutes to spare, as I have a million things to catch up on)!

Take good care,

Lisa

Betty said...

Dear Lisa,

Well, It sure seems to me that you're currently living in a "happy house" like the one I posted about recently. Yet that's no reason not to dream about one even more wonderful, which can accomodate even more laughing people, right? That's how I'm trying to see my situation- with appreciation for what is, and eagerness for even better. What I have to watch for is thoughts like: "But if I move, I'll be financially strapped for the rest of my life!" My goal now is to eliminate any and all negative thoughts, as you suggested on your comment on my post....

And BTW, I just love the upstate NY/Pennsylvania area which might be your "Carolina"- that's where my roots are. Who knows? Maybe I'll end up back there someday!

Hugs,
Betty

Lisa said...

Betty,

Yes, I was long-winded on your post last night...and I hadn't even had any wine!! Sorry about that! But I definitely see where you're coming from, and it's so very confusing.

I went through something about two years ago that made me realize my way of thinking was askew. It was keeping me in a place where I didn't want to be. I had to change everything--my attitude, my mindset, etc.--and it's an ongoing process, all the time. But I'm in such a better place than I was back then...and I don't feel "hopeless" anymore.

I should mention that it had nothing to do with anything that society would consider really serious--and it would make a great post if I were anonymous--but it affected my family greatly, and we've never been the same. And I've come to realize that this situation, although tolerable now, is years off from being rectified. But I, as well as my husband, have faith that it will be someday. That's the positive thinking that I'm talking about...not letting the negative have a chance to take hold. I've come to realize that if you have enough faith, all things are possible!

Well, there I go again...blah, blah, blah...I should spend this time trying to type a post!

Take good care,
Lisa

Loving Annie said...

Wonderful vision, Lisa. Thank you for inspiring me with that post !

Lisa said...

Annie,

Thank you for coming by! I'm glad it was inspiring to you--when I'm feeling stressed, thinking about what I wrote inspires me as well!

Take good care,
Lisa