The Practical Dreamer's Handbook: Finding the Time, Money and Energy to Live Your Dreamby Paul Edwards, Sarah Edwards
How often have each of us imagined having the freedom to live the life we yearn for -- a new career, more time with loved ones, a business of our own, a special place we would love to live -- only to drum up a hundred different reasons why it can't be done: our bills are too high; we're tied down to our current home; our families will disapprove; it won't pay enough -… See more details below
How often have each of us imagined having the freedom to live the life we yearn for -- a new career, more time with loved ones, a business of our own, a special place we would love to live -- only to drum up a hundred different reasons why it can't be done: our bills are too high; we're tied down to our current home; our families will disapprove; it won't pay enough -- the list goes on and on.
In The Practical Dreamer's Handbook, best-selling authors Paul and Sarah Edwards, who helped pioneer the "working from home" phenomenon, will put an end to these if-only's and show you how to create the lifestyle you desire.
The Edwardses explain how to draw on the natural, untapped creative talents that you don't acknowledge but that underlie your dreams, so you can use whatever resources you have to bring your dreams to fruition.
The Edwardses draw you into a tapestry of inspirational real-life stories of "practical dreamers" who have courageously created their ideal lifestyles. They take you through your own transformative inner journey to mastering the tools to keep your ambition alive, and to create the seemingly magical circumstances and positive coincidences best known as good fortune.
Along the way, they present specific tasks for changing your life that can easily be incorporated into your daily routines to help keep you on track. These include finding a memento to carry with you that will serve as an anchor to keep your dream alive moment to moment; changing your attitude toward money and time so they become assets instead of limitations; and creating a novel experience that becomes a physical bridge between daydreams and a new reality.
You will close this book with newfound conviction and tools to live your dreams. The Practical Dreamer's Handbook is invaluable for anyone yearning for something more -- or less -- from life.
- Penguin Publishing Group
- Publication date:
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- 5.78(w) x 8.52(h) x 1.02(d)
Read an Excerpt
YEARNING FOR YESTERDAY
... OR SOMEDAY
... Suddenly, again, a feeling, known on more than one
occasion as a child, an unbearable intensification of all senses,
a magical and demanding impulse, the presence of something
for which it was alone worth living.
VLADIMIR NABOKOV, Glory
Everyone has dreams, both day and night. Mostly, they're Just thatdreamsentertaining, amusing, interesting, or distracting fantasies. We daydream about what we'd do if we won the lottery. We imagine what it might be like to live in Hawaii instead of just taking a vacation there. We wonder what would have happened if we'd married our high school sweetheart. We extrapolate about the kind of movie we'd make if we were a director or screenwriter. We fantasize about how great the hottest pop singer would be in bed.
But without the yearning of desire, a dream is only a diversion. Yearning brings dreams to life, wakes them up and plants their seeds in our hearts. It was yearning I saw burning in my father's eyes even as he lay dying. He wanted to perform. He ached for it. It was a burning desire, a hunger. When I saw it then in my father's eyes, I recognized it had been some time since I'd felt that kind of desire. At the time, I felt mostly tired, overcommitted, obligated, and pressured. When and how had I lost the beat of my heart's desire? How could I get it back?
LISTENING FOR RECURRING THEMES
Some of us are lucky. We seem to have been born knowing what we ache for like theprofessional singer who told us, "I don't remember a time I didn't want to sing." Or like hair colorist Diane Carolaw, who remembers, "From the time I was a little girl I always loved playing with colors." Mixing colors seems to be in her blood.
Others of us knew our deepest desires once upon a time but we've forgotten them. Jonathon Storm forgot his for a while, but only briefly. As a child and a young man, he spent many hours in nature. It was his passion. But like so many of us, when he entered college, he set out on a more "practical" course. He decided to become an architect. However, a three-month summer vacation traveling throughout Europe and in the wilds of Alaska changed the course of his life. While sitting on a glacier, taking in the sounds and sights of nature around him, he realized what he wanted and needed to doto be in nature, listen to its sounds, and record and capture its music to share with others. And that's what he's done. He became a nature-recording artist.
Storm and his wife, Laura, live simply in a meadow near Port Ludlum, Washington. His life is a mixture of sunny fields, dewy forests, windy seas, and many bright, cold days and long, dark nights. He spends at least two months a year outdoors recording, four months in his studio creating albums, and the rest of the time administering his recording business, Earthtunes. But it's the field time Storm lives for.
Perhaps we're all born with some core of desires that will bring us such contentment, but we just don't recognize them. I remember, for example, having a peculiar fascination with my first English textbook. I had no idea what "English" was. It was just a name on one of the books my mother brought home from the bookstore on a hot August afternoon so I could start the third grade. But I remember feeling excited when I touched its shiny orange coven Its smooth stiff spine seemed to hold some magic attraction. After school started, as I sat conjugating verbs and diagramming sentences, I couldn't imagine what the fascination had been.
But I was always an avid reader, and as a teenager I remember buying one new spiral notebook after another with the intention of writing my own book. I rarely got past the first few pages though, for at that stage of my life I had no stories to tell. But when it came time to declare a major in college, I chose English. For the life of me I don't know why I decided I would be an English teacher, but after one semester of practicum I knew teaching English was NOT FOR ME. Much later in life, however, after I'd been a practicing psychotherapist for six years, based on a serendipitous recommendation of a friend, I attended a conference on the future. To my surprise, it would rekindle my long-forgotten love of language and the desire to write ... and alter the course of my life.
As I listened to the speakers describe the changes we could expect over the coming years, I had a sudden, startling realization. I wanted to write a book with my husband about new ways to live and work. This desire was as clear as if I'd always known it. I was ablaze with energy and rushed home to tell Paul that I wanted us to write a book together. He was equally excited. In that moment, yearnings that had woven loosely through my life like a recurring theme emerged as a full-fledged dream that we've been living now for over twenty years.
What are the recurring themes in your life? What dream fragments are woven through your lifetime?
FEELING DISCONTENT, DISSATISFACTION, AND DIS-EASE
As always, the seeds of my sudden desire to write a book had begun with a feeling of discontent. A feeling that there was something missing, something more I wanted. Although I didn't recognize it at the time as something I'd wanted to do all my life, a growing undercurrent of discontent led me to attend a conference I wouldn't otherwise have been interested in and to do so with an open heart and mind, willing to entertain new possibilities.
Often we don't allow ourselves to feel our desire for more. We believe we should be satisfied with the life we have. We allow school, a job, or family responsibilities to determine the nature and structure of our life without our ever actually considering if it's what we want. We may simply be living our lives the way we saw our parents live theirs. Or we may think we're living our dream, only to discover that the dream has run its course or turned out to be only part of the picture or even someone else's dream. For many years, for example, following my dream to become a writer was exhilarating and thrilling, everything a dream should be. We wrote ten books, all were still in print with over a million copies sold. We had other books in the making. What more could anyone want?
"You've had enough." "You can't ask for more." "What more can you expect?" "You can't have everything you want." "Aren't you ever satisfied?" How often do we hear such messages while growing up? How often do we say them to ourselves even now?
Each day I was feeling a little more tired at the end of the day, a little less eager to leap out of bed in the morning, a little less enthusiastic about doing more and more of what I'd once enjoyed so thoroughly. Then, three years ago, I got ill.
Often discontent, dissatisfaction, and dis-ease are natural precursors to some emerging desire. They're signals that we're hungry; alerting us that we're starving for something more. Think about it. When you start to get hungry, you feel a little uncomfortable and then you recognize that you want something to eat. The longer you go without eating, the worse you feel until you start to get irritable, maybe feel a little sick in your stomach, and before long you're ravenous. Of course, if you don't eat, eventually you get ill. That's how desire works.
Is it OK for you to want more?
If I'd been listening to the signals of discontent I might not have gotten ill. But sometimes we get so busy we don't notice that we're getting hungry until we feel really awful. That's what I had done. I was so busy doing what I thought I wanted to be doing, or felt I had to do, that I wasn't hearing the messages of discomfort and discontent that would have alerted me to the new desires I needed to pursue. The signals were buried under the details of my daily routine ... until I got sick. Then I could no longer ignore the message that something was missing from my life. It seems there was another theme running through my life, one I'd long forgotten and hadn't listened to in years. Something alive and beating in my heart.
* Try This
Sit down now and complete these two sentences "All I want is ... " and "If only I could just ..."
In the classic musical My Fair Lady Eliza Doolittle tells us exactly what she wantsa room somewhere, far away from the cold night air. In fact, as the song goes, that's all she wants. What about you? Finding what you're yearning for often begins by paying attention to what you're muttering under your breath. When you hear yourself saying, "All I want is ..." or, "If only I could just ..." it's a sign that you're feeling frustrated, even desperate. The "all I want's" and "if only I could's" are almost always less than what we really want, but they are a doorway to our real desires. Once we give ourselves even a small taste of "all I want is ..." we can move on to the other desires that underlie new dreams forming in our heart.
So how would you answer the question, "All I want is ...?" Get it out in the open right away, because you probably won't be able to get on with what you really want until you start to feel the undercurrent of dissatisfaction and discontent, large or small, that's permeating your life.
All I wanted was to get away for a while, to go someplace with no phone calls, no deadlines, no e-mail, no traffic, no long lines. Just some peace and quiet. But, of course, such protestations usually arise from deeper, more fundamental desires. They're a doorway to a deeper restlessness, dissatisfaction, yearning, or hunger from which a totally new dream will arise.
No matter how many days I set aside to relax, for example, no matter how many days I asked my assistant to hold my calls, no matter how many extensions I got on particular deadlines, that uncomfortable, discontented feeling just wouldn't go away ... until it finally led me to do something I never could find the time to do.
Although various friends had invited us to visit them in retreatlike settings before, we "could never get away." We couldn't fit a nonwork-related trip into our schedule. But when some friends we hadn't seen in years asked us to come visit them in their mountain cabin, to my surprise we said yes. Even as we drove the hour and forty minutes it took to get there, I was concerned about taking such a frivolous trip. Little did I know that one three-day, Fourth of July weekend would change the course of my life forever by taking me back in time to experience first-hand just how much I was missing. Once again serendipity had presented me with exactly what I needed. But if I hadn't been at my wits' end, I would most certainly have overlooked it.
In his book Finding the Hat That Fits, John Caple calls such discomfort "divine discontent" and he identifies several signals that let us know when it's time to start listening for what it's telling us. We've elaborated on his list below.
SIGNS OF DISCONTENT
Here are sixteen signs that there's something missing in life and a new desire is waiting to be born. Are any of them familiar?
_____Not wanting to get out of bed
_____Difficulty motivating yourself to do routine tasks
_____Losing interest in things that once engaged you
_____Nagging doubts about yourself and the course of your life
_____Worrying about how you'll keep things together
_____Feeling bored and restless
_____Wishing you were someone else
_____Having frequently bad dreams or nightmares
_____Feeling mildly depressed for days on end
_____Overeating, using alcohol, drugs, or TV to feel better or escape
_____Feeling chronically tired, deenergized, and listless
_____Losing a sense of enthusiam
_____Getting frequent headaches, stomach upset, and other aches and pains
_____Sleeping too much or too little
_____Nagging, complaining, and bitching
_____Feeling constantly overwhelmed and irritable
As you read this handbook, let your feelings of dissatisfaction and restlessness surface and heighten.
As long as we dwell in complacency, as long as we won't allow ourselves to feel discontent, as long as we deny that things are less than we desire, as long as we drown our dissatisfactions in diversions like drinking, doing drugs, watching endless hours of television, overeating, sleeping long hours, or whatever, we will never connect with the desires and yearnings that can point us in the direction of the changes we need to make.
Once we acknowledge our dissatisfaction, we open the door to once again feel the magic of being alive we've known in times past and long to feel again.
REMEMBERING THE MAGIC
Remember when you were a small child? Remember that magic feeling you used to have sometimes when you first woke up in the morning of a special day? Remember the feeling of everything being fresh and new and tingling with possibility? Remember that almost electric feeling that anything could happen?
Maybe it was the morning of the first day of school. Or maybe it was the beginning of summer vacation. Maybe it was the night before a big game, heading off to summer camp, or Christmas Eve. Later in life, maybe it was getting ready for your first date with a special someone who made your heart stop. Maybe it was your senior prom. A graduation ceremony. Your wedding day. The birth of your first child. Or a moment when you not only achieved a long-desired goal but also surprised yourself by surpassing even your greatest expectations of what you could do. Sometimes you can pinpoint no reason at all for the magic you feel, but you remember the moment all the same.
Well, we were about to have one of those magic moments as we approached our friend's cabin in Pine Mountain. The trip began quite conventionally. Packing, lugging things to the car, hitting the freeway traffic that makes you wonder if you should have stayed home, the blasé scenery you could see along any six-lane highway in the U.S.A. But well into our trip, as we turned off the interstate to head inland, we began noticing a dramatic change in the landscape. The desert was morphing into a forest. The temperature was dropping. We turned off the air-conditioning and rolled down the car windows to a welcomed breeze and the sweet smell of pine trees. But it wasn't until we turned off the highway into the Los Padres National Forest that we knew something extraordinary was about to happen. As we rounded the first bend into Pine Mountain, we had to catch our breath at the sight of the towering trees and S-curved vistas and knew we were having one of those experiences we'd never forget.
We call such times Magic Momentsthose rare turning points in life when suddenly you feel totally alive and vibrant. When time seems to stand still and everything seems to flow effortlessly. Everyday cares fall away and you feel unaccustomedly at peace with yourself and in harmony with life around you. We'd had such moments before, but it had been quite some time. Chances :are you've had such moments in your life, although you may not remember them. It's the magic of these moments that most of us want and need to recapture in our lives.
The memory of such moments, however buried as they may be, lie beneath whatever restlessness and discontent we're feeling, connecting us to the best of our past. Capturing and remembering these moments provides an undeniable sense of what we've lost and enables us to begin the journey that will bring it back into our lives.
* Try This
Take a few minutes to recall the Magic Moments, large or small, in your own past. Sometimes, as you can see from some of the following examples others have shared with us in our workshops, the small moments can be as powerful as the large ones.
"Those were the days, all right," he recalled with the gleam in his eye that lit up his voice. "Snapping the ball around the infield. Stirring up the chatter in the outfield. Running after fly balls till my legs hurt. Playing heads-up ball. Looking alive. That's it. That's being alive!"
"My grandmother and I would sit on the big swing on the front porch, and she would tell me stories about the teddy bear who traveled to China in an underground elevator." Years melted from her face as she remembered. "The locusts would be singing and the crickets would be chirping and she would braid my hair. Summer afternoons on Grandma porch. Time would stand still."
"When I was little, I used to dream of being a circus star. My dad would take me to the circus every year and we'd walk through the tents and I'd close my eyes and smell the hay and the canvas and the rope and the animals and I could see myself on the high wire. I still have all the old programs on the top shelf of my closet. I can show you," she offered, hoping we'd urge her to go get them down.
"She asked me what I'd want if I could have anything and I said I'd love to have the bathroom redone with a Jacuzzi and she said, `That's it? That's what you want most?' And I started to cry as I thought about all the dreams I had lost." She looked as if she would cry again as she spoke.
Not everyone has positive memories at first when they try to recall the Magic Moments of the past. If you have trouble, start writing about whatever you're experiencing as you think about the past and work your way through to the magic like this example:
"I didn't want to try to remember magic times from my youth. All I could think of were the disappointments, all the things that didn't work out for me, the embarrassments. But then I started to remember the magic I used to feel exploring new routes to get to school. I found at least ten different ways to cover that ten blocks. I remember the alleys and roundabout shortcuts that made me late to school so many mornings. I remembered how excited I felt every year opening brand-new textbooks. They smelled so good and were filled with the promise of so many things I didn't know. I remembered how excited I was to wake up and see the first snow of the year. How we'd all header Chelsea Park with our sleds and pile on and streak down the steepest hill, and almost slide right into the Jersey Creek. How the snow would cake on our mittens and we'd always have to taste it."
THE INNER COMPASS
This magic feeling has been called many different things. Some people refer to it as "optimal" or "peak" experience. Behavioral researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls it "flow," because that's the term people often use to describe how it feels: "It's like floating"; "I was carried by the flow." Whatever it's called, it's accompanied by amazing bursts of energy. It draws out the best of our abilities and strengths we didn't know we had. Dedication and determination kick in. It's almost addictive, in that we want to experience it again and again.
We refer to the unusual level of drive and determination these Magic Moments inspire in us as the "Rudy Factor," after Rudy Ruettiger. His legendary efforts to make the Notre Dame football team despite the seemingly impossible odds of his slight five-foot-six-inch frame and a mediocre high school academic history inspired the movie Rudy.
You may have seen the Rudy Factor operating in young children at play or when trying to master some activity like walking or riding a bike, jumping rope, skateboarding, or playing jacks. They do it over and over, falling and tipping over and tripping and floundering, again and again, but undaunted and oblivious to time or who's watching. This is precisely the kind of energy "that magic feeling" can release. It transforms us into someone who can do just about anything we set our mind to; and it's just what we need to reclaim what's missing in our lives.
The more an activity captures that magic feeling, the more likely the Rudy Factor will start working for you, and your chances of doing whatever you're intent upon doing go up dramatically. And vice versa. The less an activity feels like one of your Magic Moments, the better served you will be to head in another direction. So, consider this magic feeling to be like a barometer, or better yet, an inner compass.
Throughout life we have many opportunities to weigh how we feel about one direction over another, compare one option to another, or consider one path against another. In weighing our choices, we can return every time to this inner compass. We can use it as a reference point to compare all options we consider in charting our future.
* Try This
Give your choices the "Magic Test." Is there any magic in them? Can you feel it? Poet Rusty Berkus calls it her Goose Bump Test. "When I get goose bumps from an idea or possibility, "she says, "I know I better proceed that way."
We got goose bumps often over that Fourth of July weekend in Pine Mountain. I could feel the magic in the air. We had begun to remember ... because what we had lost was right there before our eyes.
LOOKING BACK TO LOOK AHEAD
We can't miss what we don't remember, but we feel instead vague sense of loss or yearning that only remembering can heal, an undefined nostalgia often triggered unexpectedly by a strain of music, a scene in a movie, or suddenly coming upon the very thing you're missing.
For example, I had forgotten about "dark," that is when you can't see your hand in front of your face. Years of headlights, clock radios, high-intensity streetlights, crime-deterring garage lights that glare in your bedroom windowall this light had erased my memory of dark. But when confronted with darkness I remembered how, as little kids, my brother and I were afraid of the dark because it was dark. We would whisper stories to each other in the void of night until we fell asleep, reassured by the sound of each other's voices.
I had forgotten stars, as in that thick, sparkling blanket that fills the nighttime sky outside the city. "Stars!" I exclaimed with glee as if meeting a long-lost friend. And I suddenly remembered hours of stargazing, lying on my back on the picnic table in my parents' backyard, pondering the mysteries of life.
I had forgotten friendly, as in making eye contact with strangers, greeting each other with a smile, a hello, or a wave of the hand. Can I remember that? Certainly not for years past. Head down, walking straight ahead, minding your own business. It's not polite to stare. You won't see anyone you know anyway. That's what I knew. But once upon a time I must have known something different, because the first friendly "hello" triggered some long-ago programmed reaction. "Oh, yes," I thought. "Friendly, smile, wave, say hello."
I had forgotten that once upon a time you could talk to children without that look of horror crossing their face: STRANGER!! DANGER!! Children laughing, running up to show you their winnings from a booth at the fair. But I remembered as I saw it once again.
I had forgotten wind, the sound you hear when there are a lot of trees and no traffic. What was that sound I kept hearing? Is there a highway nearby? Could that be the wind blowing through the trees? No, it wouldn't be that loud. Oh, that's the "roar" of the wind! I remember having heard the wind described that way.
I had forgotten about not having to lock the car when you ran in the store and about leaving your house unlocked while you went uptown. But now I remembered coming home from school in the midafternoon. The door was never locked even if Mother wasn't home. I remembered going over to Daddy Jim and Aunt Pauline's house. They were our next-door neighbors. My brother and I were welcome to walk in anytime, whether they were home or not, because they were like family, and the door was never locked.
And speaking of neighbors. I had forgotten knowing your neighbors as more than a polite "Hello, how have you been?" I'd forgotten about sitting on the porch, dropping by to chat, and stopping on the street to pass on some news. Oh, and I'd forgotten all about going over to help make a cherry pie for the Fourth of July. Frankly I'd forgotten about seeing anyone I knew without making an appointment. I could walk through the crowded malls near where I'd been living for hours or days and never see a familiar face.
Yes, familiarity. That's something else I'd forgotten. Seeing the same faces at the post office every day. Faces of people who knew your name and you knew theirs. People who talk to you as people, not as clerks.
I'd forgotten about community fairs where everyone can participate without applying, auditioning, or knowing someone who knows someone. A community that wants you to participate instead of pay at the gate, because they need you.
"Yes, yes, yes," my heart said. "I remember. I remember and that's what I want! I want trees, and wind and stars, and the songs of birds, and friendly faces that know my name, all that and more. I want to write in a place like that." The memory of those spiral notebooks I kept buying as a teenager flashed through my mind. I was sitting, notebook on my lap, pencil in hand, out on the porch or under the weeping willow tree yearning to have stories to tell and there was wind and there were trees and there were the songs of birds ...
I began to hear it, a faint wild beating of my heart, a pulsating desire that moved me to tears.
* Try This
What have you lost? Or never had, but wished you did? What are you yearning to have in your life now? ... Someday? Remember. Put words to them. Write them down and don't forget.
and post it to your social network
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