Big Dreams Welcome Here

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 “If you don’t have a dream, how can you have a dream come true?” –Jiminy Cricket

It hit me the other day – I’m 40. Okay, it’s been hitting me every day, but you know what I mean.

It’s time to go big or go home.

No more small time dreams for me, friends. No more tailoring my visions of the future into something that seems attainable. No more living life on a small scale.

It’s go time.

I’m dreaming big, now. I got big dreams, and I am putting plans into motion and working towards those dreams, day by day. It’s baby steps, but enough baby steps eventually equal the distance of one giant leap.

I decided to create tangible evidence of my big dream pursuits. Something that says, “Hey! Big Dream! Over here!” So I made a gigantic dreamcatcher, one big enough to capture some of the biggest dreams out there, and I put it on my front door.

Welcome, big dreams! Come on in! Can I offer you a coffee or a glass of wine?
Welcome, big dreams! Come on in! Can I offer you a coffee or a glass of wine?

(I have a very tolerant and supportive husband.)

I cannot tell you how much fun I had making this. I have a tendency to hoard crafting supplies or bits of this and that to be upcycled at a later date. This project (with some additional treasures found at the Long Beach Center For Creative Reuse) was made with all that artful detritus.

I think it fairly screams, “Big dreams welcome here!”

Want to make your own dreamcatcher? Here’s a great tutorial from The Journey Junkie.

Go ahead, I dare. I dare you to dream big. Because what greater joy is there in life besides having that big dream come true?

 

 

Getting Outside My Comfort Zone

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Forgive my recent absence, friends. I have just returned from a rather epic adventure, and while I had assumed I would be having all these amazing experiences and feel dazzlingly creative and spend a whole bunch of time writing while I was away, I found the opposite to be true. I spent most of the time just trying to absorb the experiences I was having, let alone to feel creatively inspired by them. I was happy just to be up and awake and energized enough to walk another ten miles that day. Each day I fell into bed utterly exhausted and each morning it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed and do it all again. Forget about morning pages or mind maps or blog posts or even journaling about what happened each day. Just having the wherewithal to keep going felt like a triumph.

Don’t get me wrong; I had a fabulous time. I am epically grateful. Hubs and I spend three weeks roaming around Western and Eastern Europe. I celebrated my 40th birthday. We went to a friend’s wedding in Bulgaria. We made new friends in Turkey and Greece and chatted with fellow travelers in Rome. We saw ruins, we browsed museums, we ate plate after plate after plate of new and delicious food. We drank ourselves silly on raki and rakia and wine. We dipped our toes in the Black Sea and rode busses and trains and boats and planes and cars. We made the most of our precious time away from our daily routines in Los Angeles.

It was exhausting.

I have discovered, as a creative person, that it is not merely the experience itself that fuels my creative life. It is the time and space to absorb the lessons of the experience, to process my thoughts and feelings about it, to figure out the take-aways and to discover the absurdities and the funny moments. To see how it has changed me, for the better and for the worse.

I did learn that I need to lose about 20 pounds because the extra weight makes my feet swell in a very uncomfortable way.

I did learn I still don’t much care for lamb or mushrooms or anything anise-flavored.

I did learn that I have a great affinity for the cats of the world (okay, I knew that one already, it was just reinforced).

Beyond those easy things, there is much more to uncover, and I will share those thoughts and experiences in the coming days. I know that getting outside my comfort zone, no matter how exhausting it is, is one of the most important elements of personal growth. But I think it’s going to take a little time in my comfort zone to unearth that wisdom.

Until then, here are some cat pictures from my travels.

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The Perils of Creature Comforts While Traveling Abroad

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Okay, you guys, I’m going to admit to something REALLY embarrassing.

I went to Starbucks. In Istanbul.

Now, I almost never go to Starbucks in the US. In fact, I can’t even remember the last time I did. I prefer the coffee I make at home – nice and weak. Starbucks is generally too strong for me, and I refuse to pay that much for a coffee. I’m cheap and I have bad taste, what can I say?

But I do like my morning coffee – two to three cups with 2% milk and a teaspoon of sugar. It’s my ritual. It’s my way of alerting my brain and my body that it is time to get moving for the day. I look forward to it when I get out of bed.

I’ve been traveling abroad for a week now, and my routine is shot to hell. As it should be while traveling. Travel provides an opportunity to get outside oneself, to see things from a new perspective. And the only way to do that is to get outside the regular routine.

Except yesterday I was really tired and had a headache and I hadn’t had a coffee in the morning the way I like it in a few days and I have PMS and I’m grumpy. So when we surfaced from the Metro in Instanbul on our way to Ferikoy flea market, there was a Starbucks RIGHT THERE OUTSIDE THE STATION, and I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO HAVE A LATTE. Like my life depended on it.

I went whole hog. I opted for the Venti. Hubs didn’t want anything (he would not stoop to get a Starbucks in a foreign land), so I got in line and ordered my latte. And I felt pretty good because I could order it without knowing any Turkish because Starbucks is the same everywhere. “Venti Café Latte,” was all I had to say. Though I did end it with “teshekkur ederim” which, I’m told, is Turkish for “thank you” and is the only Turkish thing I know how to say on the spot.

I paid with my debit card instead of using up the lira I had in my pocket, which I thought would be better put to use at the flea market where they likely didn’t take credit cards. Between hubs and me, that card is the only one that works everywhere we are traveling because it has the chip and pin. All our other cards are the stupid American swipey kind that only work in some places in Europe that have the swipey thingy. Many of you who have traveled abroad have likely encountered that quizzical look someone gives you when you take your card and pretend to swipe it to try to convey the idea that the person needs the swipey machine instead of the regular machine.

Americans must look like lunatics to other people.

I paid and waited for my receipt. I stood there for a few moments, but when I noticed a long chain of receipts that had been spit out before mine, I realized the cashier had no intention of giving me a receipt. And since I couldn’t ask him in Turkish, I just let it go and moved on.

That was a terrible mistake.

You fucking delicious latte, you.
You fucking delicious latte, you.

I enjoyed the latte, my headache abated, my mood improved and we went about our day. We had hoped to visit Taksim Square in addition to the flea market, but it was completely cordoned off because of possible demonstrations. It was the anniversary of the conflict there between civilians and the government/military about bulldozing a park and the police were preparing for the worst. We read they had water cannons at the ready, and our host thought there might be conflict and possibly tear gas to dispel crowds. As fun as that sounds, we opted to skip Taksim Square. So after the flea market we hopped on the metro over to the old town and walked around.

It was a beautiful evening and we decided to treat ourselves to a special dinner at one of the rooftop restaurants in the area that offered stunning 360 degree views of Istanbul. Mostly I just wanted some wine. Not only had I not had coffee in a few days, I also had not had wine. It’s not that easy to come by in the areas of Istanbul outside the tourist center, and most of our stay has been visiting and staying in the not-so-touristy areas.

The beautiful sunset right before I realized what an idiot I am. Still, it's very pretty. It's too bad I kinda ruined it by being stupid.
The beautiful sunset right before I realized what an idiot I am. Still, it’s very pretty. It’s too bad I kinda ruined it by being stupid.

Since a touristy dinner was my idea, I told hubs I would pay. At the end of the meal, I got out my wallet, and to my dismay my debit card was missing.

You know that feeling you get when you realize you have done something terribly, terribly stupid? Yeah, that’s the feeling that gripped me in that moment. Tears instantly spilled down my cheeks (hey, I said I had PMS). I frantically searched my bag but knew I wasn’t going to find it. I knew where it was. At that FUCKING STARBUCKS.

Oh, the divine retribution, the perfect kharma of it all. I have NEVER IN MY WHOLE LIFE lost a credit card. I’m super persnickety about keeping tabs on stuff like that. My punishment for having a Starbucks in a foreign land was the stressful and irrevocable separation of my person from my one reliable source of funds, for the first time in my adult life.

Fuck me. If only I had insisted on a receipt. I probably would have gotten the card back.

I made a call to the Starbucks, but the person who answered didn’t speak English, and since I can only say “thank you” that wasn’t very helpful. Our waiter spoke to him briefly and asked if they had my card, but they said no. Another call to the Starbucks the following morning by our wonderful Turkish host confirmed that my card was indeed gone forever.

The call to the bank was super fun, too, let me tell you. Surprisingly, you actually talk to an American person when you call the fraud hotline to report your card lost or stolen. And the three Americans I talked to could not quite wrap their heads around the idea that I’m in TURKEY (where is that? I assume they asked themselves) and needed my card shipped to my next location in BULGARIA (even more head scratching ensued, I’m sure).

So, I will wait. Luckily, I am a “prepare for the worst case scenario” kind of person so I am not in any kind of bind without the card. I just feel INCREDIBLY STUPID.

I promise I will NEVER GET STARBUCKS AGAIN. No more creature comforts for me whilst traveling, dear friends. No more giving in to the familiar while exploring distant lands. That’s not what this journey is about.

And maybe it’s time to stop using the coffee as a crutch, anyway. Got it, Universe, thank you. Note taken.