I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. Even as a child, day dreams occupied most of my thoughts while I was supposed to be engaged in other things – like math class, long-winded Sunday sermons, and scoldings for lack of attention during the aforementioned activities.
To this day I don’t know how to figure percentages and I once purported to be a banker! (That didn’t last long.)
This week I’ve been pondering the tasty little gems I gleaned from my favorite author, Julia Cameron, in her new book “Finding Water.” This little dissertation is packed with a wealth of suggestions on how to experience smooth sailing in a turbulent world while bringing your dreams into tighter focus.
Faced with mounting global problems which are large and overwhelming, Cameron suggests we cling to the small and positive tasks we can do each day– like walking the dogs, folding the laundry, washing the car and playing with the cat. (Yes, this self-proclaimed dog lover has adopted a cat. She’s been living with us for six weeks and still doesn’t have a name except Cat – well, sometimes Crazy Cat, or Damn Cat.)
But back to mindless activities: Their beauty is that they give you time to let your mind wander to glorious (albeit mostly unattainable) heights. Sometimes I dream of becoming the Editor in Chief of Southern Living. Other times, when I’m feeling especially delusional, I imagine winning a seat in the U. S. Senate and drafting creative bills to solve America’s thorniest problems.
See what I mean? You can think as big as you like while taking small steps in that general direction. I renewed my lapsed Southern Living subscription and was delighted to learn that the Senate gets more than three months vacation each year. I’m in!
Julia gives you some exercises to perform each day. Today, I made a list of things I love – it goes on for almost four notebook pages. The exhaustive list includes things like growing a juicy red summer tomato, spotting a rare snowflake falling form heaven; a crisp fall day, and a good book by the fire. I love a flower bed with something (anything really) in bloom, a bubbling pot of chili on the stove, the crunch of gravel under my feet while walking in the countryside, and the satisfaction of a clean, orderly home which I someday hope to achieve.
This activity is especially helpful when you are being pushing to the edge of a cliff and trying to regain your mental footing. Doing the small doable things can restore a sense of stability and even happiness. Another Juliaism to which I relate: “A happy Person is someone who turns his coat inside out and falls in love with the color of the lining.”
I bought a coat last year in a hideous color of magenta which makes me nauseous. So I turned it inside out and discovered a beautiful silky paisley lining. So when you see me wearing my coat inside out, just remember I’m doing it on purpose.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a blog for bouncing baby boomers reaching retirement. Her book “Love, Laughter, and Losing My Keys” is available at local bookstores and gift shops.