I had a hard time titling this podcast–because I want you to acknowledge all the good you do. And I want to emphasize the value in what might appear to be insignificant.
But I also want to emphasize that we don’t need “credit” to matter and to be happy. So take this however it feels best, but my main goal is to offer some perspective and encouragement today.
In our April ARISE call about the nuts and bolts of dreaming, I asked our group of ARISERs to share what helped a dream from the past to come to fruition–because if you look at your life right now, at least some part of that was a dream at one time.
One thing I noticed was that we, as a group, had to define the words “dream” and “success” a bit.
We often think of things like “writing a bestseller” or “doing an Iron Man” or becoming famous or notable. But dreams are often far less tangible, and they often are only noticed by a small number of people (or just ourselves).
And sometimes our efforts might not be clear for years.
So as we organize our projects and tasks and build our Command Centrals here at LearnDoBecome, I want to make sure we see the beauty of what we, as life architects, are creating along the way.
First Story: Juventa and the Trees
One of our ARISERs posted this incredible story of a dream that literally took years to “come true,” and she wasn’t even the direct beneficiary. With her permission, this is what she shared in our group:
“I realized that some dreams take time and are not meant for us but for those who come after us. In a way, I have been a sower most of my life. We have moved every 5 years or so over the last 25 years (our current home of 6 years is the longest we’ve ever been in one place). Our moves always seemed to be just in time for my fruit trees to be loaded as well as my gardens to be at the point of a bountiful harvest. It was hard saying “goodbye” even though I knew that the new owners would benefit from my labor.
“In our first single family home, we backed up to a storm water easement. It was an exceptionally wet year when we moved in and the easement filled up with water, creating a drowning hazard for my little kids. The water remained there for several years, creating a tiny “pond” that ducks would frequent. Unfortunately, it also housed swarms of mosquitoes which proved to be difficult for our family. I spent many months at the city offices trying to find a solution to the filled up easement, to no avail. We even met with a civil engineer but our plans were not approved by the city. Over time, I became bitter that this problem hadn’t been disclosed to us when we purchased the house.
“In addition to this, we also backed up to a highway which was super loud and I felt like we had little privacy and safety. I pondered over our situation for a very long time and worried about it constantly.
“Then one night, I had a dream. A literal dream. In it, I was sitting on my back deck and instead of seeing a highway and a water-filled storm easement, I saw a beautiful forest of trees. There was such a peaceful feeling to the property and I felt overcome with emotion. It was a strong enough dream that it woke me up out of a dead sleep. After I woke up, I couldn’t shake the vision from my mind. I realized that while I didn’t have control over many things, there were things that I could do.
“Having very little money, I decided to get 10 free trees from the Arbor Day foundation. When they arrived, it was a tiny pack of 1′ tall “sticks.” A little disappointed but determined, I prepped the earth and with the help of my husband, kids, and mother-in-law, we planted all 10 trees. I then saved up to get four larger evergreen trees to plant along the back near the easement. I surrounded my property as well as the easement with the trees. I realized that the trees could provide not only a sound barrier, but also a natural way to soak up some of the water and prevent erosion.
“Every day I imagined what the full grown trees would look like and plead for them to grow quickly. They received much love and care. Over time, the water in the easement began abating. Oh how I longed for my forest. But then the day came when we had to move. The trees were still tiny. We left having never seen the fulfillment of my dream. I felt like I had failed.
“We eventually moved to the west coast and as things happened, it had been almost two decades since I had visited my old home. In 2021, I finally had the opportunity to go back and see it. My sister drove me down the highway so that I could see our house from the back. I was shocked that I couldn’t find it! We drove back and forth several times and then I finally saw the rooftop of our old home. Not only had my trees grown up, but many others grew as well, filling up the easement and creating a beautiful forest. While I didn’t want to bother the new owners for a view outside the deck, I was able to see the front of the home. It felt like a beautiful cottage nestled in the woods. The view of the highway was completely hidden and I heard the sounds of nature surrounding me.
“I felt tears well up in my eyes when I saw it. I guess my dream wasn’t for me after all, but for those who came afterwards. (Before and after photos below). Some dreams are hard to visualize or realize, but seeing this property gave me hope that there is a bigger plan than just mine and that my small efforts truly amounted to something great.”
(This is an image carousel below. Simply click on the image to scroll through the before and after pictures.)
I got chills when I read her account and saw her photos–and I wasn’t the only one. I think her experience taps into that part of us that hopes our efforts will make a difference–and the wonder and awe that comes when we see a power beyond our own transform our “little saplings” into full-fledged trees.
Thinking about her experience over the past week or so, I’ve been noticing “saplings” everywhere.
Second Story: Lia’s Book
Our daughter, Alia, became friends with Lia back in middle school. Lia was adopted from China, and when she first came to America, she didn’t speak English, she was essentially starting her education from scratch, and she needed to move around in a wheelchair.
But she had a huge smile and so much love to offer, and during lunchtime, the girls would braid each other’s hair, and Lia and Alia would exchange notes in each others’ lockers throughout the weeks and months. We even had the privilege of hosting Lia’s first “friend birthday party,” and it was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever experienced.
Well, Lia has had a dream for a long time about writing a book that would encourage others. Her life, we’ve learned as she’s shared more details with us, was beyond challenging as she was growing up. But we are amazed by her positive outlook and her ability to make something beautiful out of something that could be considered heartbreaking.
Over the past few months, Lia and Alia have been working together (and letting me participate here and there) to write a children’s book. And the other day, Alia let us read the most recent draft and showed us a few of the illustrations they’ve had commissioned.
Here are a couple that Lia said we could share here at LearnDoBecome:
I can’t even articulate how I feel as I see this book coming to life. It’s beyond inspiring to me–so full of beauty and hope and all that is good in the world.
Third Story: A Friend Who Created a Home for Those with No Place to Go
Eric and I were able to travel with our daughter a couple of weeks ago to visit some friends she met while on her church humanitarian mission.
We were amazed by each family we met, but there was one woman in particular whose story had a profound impact on me.
She had a difficult upbringing and overcame several personal challenges throughout her teens and early adult years. Today she is providing a home for her two brothers, who are now clean from their drug addictions, and she’s caring for her two nephews, whose mother is currently in a drug rehab center.
We sat with her in her home for about 45 minutes–as she coordinated the dinner for her family and snuggled her nephews and provided an update on how things were going. All this has come with a lot of sacrifice on her part–putting some of her other goals on hold so she could be available for her family. One phrase she said went right to my heart: “Everyone needs to know they have a place to go.”
I don’t know if she can see how remarkable she is. She spoke about her work and her efforts as though they weren’t that big of a deal.
But really, when you open your heart and invest your energy in the support of others (whether they benefit now or in the future), that is a really big deal.
I’m sure as I’ve told these stories, you can think of even more examples you’ve seen in your own life.
The reason I wanted to highlight these was because in the productivity/business/organization space, there is so much emphasis on getting more done, being faster, excelling in efficiency, and achieving things that will bring admiration, praise, and status.
And yes, I want you to finish your projects and lists, I want you to feel a powerful sense of progress in your life, and I want you to get out of the mental and physical piles that can so easily weigh us down, but at the root of it all, LearnDoBecome is about moving forward on the things that matter most.
Getting organized and clearing clutter is a beautiful process, and it will free up your time so you can pursue your dreams, live by your heart, and make the contributions that only you can make.
I love you and this community so much, and all of us here at Team LearnDoBecome are cheering you on today!
Two STEP Wins:
One of our Four Weeks to Finished members recently shared their experience with breaking down large projects into more manageable steps, and it is so encouraging!
As Liz was just getting started with the STEP program, she was able to see some amazing “wins” from the very beginning. Way to go, Liz! We are so excited for you and the progress that you are making.
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