When Your Dreams Get Bigger

It’s been one year since my cancer surgery.

It’s been five years since I moved to Oregon.

It’s been ten years since my divorce.

So much has happened before, between, and since those events.

Most recently, I relocated from Portland to the Oregon Coast for my dream job at a non-profit art center nestled in a gorgeous forest at the base of Cascade Head and the Salmon River Estuary. I had wanted this for almost a decade and finally, I realized my dream to live and do meaningful work in the art world on the Oregon coast. So why do I still feel like something is missing?

Sometimes you realize your dreams are bigger than you first imagined.

Through minimalism, I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection these past few years. I’ve constantly been examining my goals, my values, my career, my relationships. I have continued to grow and evolve throughout the process, as I should. What became clear to me recently is that even though I do meaningful work, it still wasn’t fulfilling at my core level and it still took me away from Cole more than I’d like. Although I love Oregon with all my heart, most of my favorite people are two thousand miles away. Oregon is still my most favorite place on earth but it isn’t going anywhere however, parents age and nieces grow up quick.

With my career, it feels as if I keep playing it safe by doing what I’ve always done. I am good at it so someone is always willing to hire me to do some version of it. It’s easy to keep doing the same thing but it should be no surprise that I continually go unfulfilled on a larger scale. What I’ve kept pushing aside is my desire to do creative based work for myself. I’ve come up with every excuse imaginable over the years why I can’t start my own business from “it’s not stable enough”, “I won’t have health insurance anymore”, “I won’t make enough money to live comfortably” to “I’m not dedicated enough to stick with it”. Maybe all of that or none of that is true. My most recent job did me a great service. They appreciated me, encouraged me, supported me, and made me feel so incredibly capable. I have never felt that level of support in any job ever before. I began to believe that maybe I am capable of a lot more than I give myself credit for. Maybe it’s time to stop saying “I can’t” and start saying “I can” to those scary things I’ve talked myself out of in the past?

I’m a firm believer that our lives should be built around what we value most. For me, the list is simple:

  • Cole
  • Photography
  • Nature
  • Creativity
  • Travel
  • Friends/Family
  • Meaningful work
  • Freedom
  • Growth

First up on my new exciting agenda is to travel with Cole. On September 2nd, after completing my housesitting gig in Lincoln City, I will bid farewell to the Oregon Coast and embark upon an epic road trip throughout the western United States. I am going to visit all the places I’ve been dreaming about all these years — National Parks, historic sites, monuments, strange roadside attractions, etc. I’ll camp, couch surf and stay with friends along the way. There is no specific timeline, I just want the freedom to go where I please, spend as much time as I want there, and then move onto the next place when I’m ready. If that takes 3-weeks or 3-months, so be it.

After that, I will go to Wisconsin and spend quality time with friends and family, enjoy the holidays, and begin to build my own business. I will collaborate with others, I will spend time plugging back into my network and building new relationships. I will teach myself things I don’t already know and will build my portfolio of work to eventually sell my services on a scale that supports me and Cole full-time, anywhere we want to live. I look forward to sharing more details about my new business as things come together.

It is through this plan that I think I’ve found the perfect scenario for what my life needs right now: travel, being creative, helping others, spending time with those that matter the most to me, and doing something that challenges me and helps me grow both personally and professionally. Most importantly, I’m open to whatever feels right and what I learn along the way. If what I want changes, or a different opportunity presents itself, I will not automatically push it aside because it’s not part of “the original plan”. Through this openness, I suspect I will always end up exactly where I’m supposed to be.


“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” Henry David Thoreau

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