Back in 2005, I was 47. I lived in a lovely semi-rural town in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. My daughter had moved out and on to her adult life in Boston, about to discover a world that she could not have imagined those mornings she stood at the end of the driveway looking out over the Mill Pond, season after season, waiting for the bus to stop and bring her off to school.
I had moved from our 2 acres of land where I watched the fox play, the deer — or escaped cows – graze, and the sunset in a west that I could only dream about. I was then living in a lovely little apartment, looking out over a different pond, with good friends within walking distance and the first in a series of seriously strange landlords.
I was, in almost every way, shape, and form – miserable. I was working in an abusive environment, underpaid and overworked, I was dealing with a ten-year immune system disorder that was, at time, completely debilitating and exacerbated by two bouts of Lyme. I made just enough to live on — but never enough to escape. And I would drive past the entrance to Route 90 and think about how much gas I had in the car and how far west I might get before I ran out of gas or money or courage. My dreams were bleak.
Music has always been one of the pleasures of my life – singing, playing guitar, listening, coffee houses, concerts, satsang, chanting – letting the lovely vibrations move through me and move me to another state of mind. In 2005 Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand released Dream Big:
I adored the album. I adored the song. I listened often. I felt the message and yet felt a barrier between me and my dreams. And while there were outer changes (2 new homes with equally strange landlords … a move to a job that ended up being equally abusive … seeing a trend here?) the inner changes seemed blocked. Frozen.
That’s when I began studying New Thought philosophy. Reading Ernest Holmes and Eric Butterworth. Listening to Abraham Hicks. Watching the movie “What the Bleep” and then investigating all the people on the reading list. Learning and becoming certified in EFT. Shifting from a psychological/spiritual point of view to integrate more of an energy systems point of view. And understanding it all, not as Truth with a T, but stories, metaphors, ways of reaching toward understanding the ineffable.
And my life shifted. Slowly. Inside. Outside still looked similar – weird landlords, abusive job environment, deeply troubled boyfriend, and never enough money. But … I started to dream just a little.
In March of 2007 my father died, cancer ravaged him quickly, and he was gone almost before we knew it was real and possible. In June of 2007, I stood up in my living room, sick and tired of being so sick and tired, and declared – out loud – that I wasn’t willing to continue to live this way and I wasn’t willing to die.
So … I did what one does – and cleaned the apartment. I found a set of EFT dvds that addressed immune system challenges – I didn’t even remember ordering them. But, I put them on, listened, tapped away to Gary Craig and the other teachers and started to feel better. Slowly. I went from being barely able to walk to the end of the driveway to get my mail to being able to walk a mile through the shady old cemetery in town.
As I walked, I dreamed, I spoke affirmations out loud – the dead didn’t mind. I envisioned a different life – not what it looked like, but what it felt like. And in August I told the president of the college the terms under which I’d be willing to stay in my position. I was prepared and when she refused, I handed my resignation. I gave them – and me – six weeks.
At the time, I had $200 and no clear destination – but I knew that I was leaving and finally following Route 90 west to the mountains. I settled on Montana. I sold everything I owned. I applied for jobs. The week before I left, I found a house share. I had just enough to get there and had a potential job waiting for me. So I said goodbye to the places and the people I had known for the past 15 years and got ready for the complete unknown.
On October 18, 2007 – after two years of listening to Dream Big, after two years of learning how to dream bigger than what life offered me in the moment, I packed up my PT Cruiser with everything I owned and took off west.
Like my daughter, standing by the Mill Pond, I discovered a world that I could not have imagined. I met people and had experiences that changed me forever. I went back to school and got a master’s degree in technical communication, became the president of the board of the local arts foundation, worked for an environmental organization and learned about geomorphology and fladre. I was accepted into a PhD program in Oregon, left Montana weeping and returned a few months later after hating the school and the program. I found my canine companion Shai, worked for the state government, and learned Sufi dancing.
There were days I couldn’t believe I was me. I was unrecognizable to who I had believed I was for so many years. I learned so many wonderful, terrible, valuable, challenging, amazing things – but the most valuable was learning that I could change the inner me without having to change the outer circumstances first. In fact, the outer circumstances seemed to flow more easily the more I was able to dream myself into who and how I wanted to be.
You can support my work on Patreon with an ongoing monthly donation.
Your patronage will allow me to
create audio meditations and visualizations,
hire a writing consultant to help me to craft my next book, and
teach workshops and classes.
My big dream is to create a collaborative and integrative healing center.
I’d love for you to join me in these ventures.