There was a young college professor on GMA the other day, giving what was ironically titled The Last Lecture, intended to be given by someone retiring. But this fellow is dying of cancer in a few months, despite looking very hale and hearty. Part of his lecture was his list of the childhood dreams he came to realize in his lifetime, and he suggested everyone give thought to making such a list, just in case there is something you still need to accomplish.
Here's my list:
1. I began writing at about the age of 10, actually was published in the DC papers when I wrote letters to the editor, then some juvenile magazine printed something I'd written. On I went to write for several magazines, always fortunate enough to be paid for what I was writing, including restaurant reviews (part of the dream!).
I wrote a regular column, every two weeks, for a small-town newspaper in Maine.
Now I've self-published my book of humorous essays AND read one of them on Public Radio (another part of that dream).
2. Wanted to act on the stage. Did, in community theater at the university up in Maine. Was even Mrs. Higgins in My Fair Lady
3. Dreamed of being in a chorus line. Well, I did that, too. Again, the university theater when they didSouth Pacific
...I was one of the dancing nurses and the sailors would grab my ankle as we ran by. (My stepson's best friend was the cutest sailor and HE is now on Broadway in a musical and has acted in several TV shows.)
4. Wanted to be a social worker, but went one better than that, by becoming regional representative for a congresswoman and keeping that position when she was elected to the US Senate, for a total of 18 years. That meant I assisted people with their trials and tribulations with the federal government. Since my husband was a Vietnam vet, that became one area of expertise for me.
5. Dreamed about living in New England, particularly at Christmas time. Lived in northern Maine for 19 years, long enough to realize two feet of snow on top of 6 inches of solid ice was hardly romantic! Note to self: change dream to SW Virginia.
6. Hubby and I together built a part-log home on the side of a mountain, overlooking a beautiful lake. We had help only with the foundation, roof and fieldstone fireplace, built with stones we'd gathered ourselves.
7. Hubby promised we'd go dancing every week (OK, we met during the disco dancing craze in California) but it turned out to be squaredancing up north. Maybe that should count as half a dream!
8. This is a tough one: I wanted to make a difference in this world, and I believe I have in some small way, perhaps by remembering how optimistic and cheerful my Grandmother Booker always was (they called her Toots or Mamie, and the place lit up when she came in the front door) and attempting to follow her example. She'd answer her phone: Good MAWNing! ...and you could hear the big smile in her voice.
We'd go out to lunch and she'd ask the maitre d' to assign the best looking waiter to her table, because "I tip GOOD!" Sometimes she'd get TWO cute waiters, and she'd invite them to come swim in her pool. I don't think anyone ever took her up on that, but I wasn't there all the time. When I called to tell her I was bringing Dick from California to meet her in Florida, and that we were getting married ...she was 80 at the time...she said: Oh, you're so lucky, all I can find are old men!
Some in our family found her to be difficult, but she was always my example, the person I most wanted to emulate. With a twinkle in her eye (my grandfather having passed on years before) she'd say she couldn't wait until she was old enough to pinch young men in elevators and they'd just laugh rather than get offended.
9. I love to sing, although my alto works best surrounded by other alto singers in the choir and the praise choir. I made my debut singing "When I Grow Up" in my best Shirley Temple imitation...singing to the BACK of the school stage, MY back to the audience as I was scared to death! My poor Mom was mortified. I must have been 5 or 6 years old.
10. Fortunately, I lost my fear of speaking to audiences when I first signed up with Toastmasters (as an adult) for exactly that reason and went on to speak at the same podium as governors, senators, etc. My Mom used to tell us we needed to practice good table manners because we might be invited to the White House for dinner some day. Never made it to the White House, but DID have several opportunities to dine at the Governor's Mansion in Augusta, Maine, after my boss, Olympia Snowe, married the Governor. Christmas there was glorious; the garden club decorated incredible trees for every single room. I took my grandkids and stepkids whenever possible, to give them that experience. Jock McKernan (the Governor) was very attentive to them and always posed for a picture with them, once with a group of us sitting on the front of his desk very casually in the Capitol Building.
Hope this hasn't come off as bragging, but as I look back, it's wonderful to focus on how many dreams I did realize, this inner-city child of DC with a presumably bleak future.