Are you giddy with excitement? After all, you've done it . . . you've realized your dream. It's time to celebrate! Your dream has come to fruition, and it's now time to live it. Give yourself credit for your vision and making the journey. I hope you took time to enjoy the journey. In my case, the journey was as important as--and at times more important than--the dream itself. The journey helped me learn my capabilities and who I could count on for encouragement and support.

Living my dream helped me learn more about what I'm made of and who I am. Because living your dream makes you deal with the realities of the dream in context. And reality can bite. Sometimes the bites are nibbles; sometimes they create wounds that require stitches. Don't get me wrong, my life in Paris is rich--full of diverse experiences. I have wonderful friends, there's a rich culture, a diverse population, great food, art, the Eiffel Tower, the Seine River, Louvre Museum, Opera Garnier, Sacre Coeur, Montmartre, and so on and so on. But, like life, it's not always sunny. As a matter of fact, it rains quite often. And the only time birds have pooped on my head (and face) has been in Paris. It's become fairly routine. I mean, really, is there a message?! There are issues with unbelievable bureaucracy, daily life, etc. And my life in Paris revolves around my illness. Unfortunately, the realities of life don't take a vacation because you're living your dream.

What I've learned, however, is that it's all in how you cope. If/when the tough times come, it's paramount to be more focused on living (enjoying) your dream than surviving it. For example, when I'm faced with challenges unique to being in Paris, I take time to walk along the Seine River, look up at the Eiffel Tower if it's near and, more often than not, savor a macaron or other yummy pastry (that I ordered in "Franglais"--my combination of French and English). I've been through the fire and had to wing it in the midst of struggles while living my dream. But it's been worth it. I have no regrets. The Paris I see now--my Paris--is more beautiful than I imagined because it's touchable, relatable. I've learned to appreciate it despite its imperfections, which I see more clearly now. While it's often true that you can't know what you're getting until you get it, what you see when you take off the blinders and the rose colored glasses (the fantasies of your dream) can be a beautiful blossom. It may require a shift in your thinking, but learning to see things, people, and situations for what they are rather than what we want or imagine them to be, is one of the greatest lessons we can learn in life. Living my dream has taught me as much about life and myself as it's taught me about life in Paris. No matter how difficult, it's been a joyous, enlightening, and enriching experience.

Very few things in life are as perfect as we imagine, right? With that in mind, you may need to remind yourself a time or two that this dream is what you asked/worked for. As with anything else, you must take the good with the bad. And no matter how living the dream turns out for you, bear in mind that it took a lot of effort and courage to get where you are. Even if it turns out to be something less than you envisioned, don't overlook the blessings/advantages. You now know you're capable of doing something of this magnitude, and you'll always be able to say you lived your dream. No one can take that from you. And you don't have to live this dream forever. There's no shame in deciding you've had enough of the dream. Others may view it differently, but it was your dream and you fulfilled it, so you've succeeded in what you set out to do. And that means that if you're so inclined, you can plan and live another dream. You are strong, capable, and courageous. And even if you don't know it, you have inspired others. I applaud you. Bravo!

One of the greatest blessings of living my dream has been the ability to use the experience to help others. It would be a hollow victory if I were the only person served by realizing my dream. I pray that sharing some of my experiences has been a blessing to you. It's been a joy for me.




Is it raining where you are? It seems like it has been raining everywhere lately.  Of course, the rain has been heavier in some places than in others.  Some got drizzle, some got a steady rain, and some got torrential rains. I don't know about you, but I used to dislike rain.  It's wet, and things look dark and dreary in the rain.  Driving in the rain can be treacherous, dirt becomes mud, and so on, and so on.  Plus, I'm a Black woman who has hair issues when it rains.  One of my aunts used to call rain "God's liquid sunshine."  That sounded cute, but it didn't work for me at the time.

What a difference time and life circumstances have made in my appreciation of rain.  To say I like rain now would be a stretch.  But sometimes, when it's drizzling, I purposely delay putting on my rain hat or opening my umbrella until I feel a few drops.  Yes, even with my Black woman's hair issues.  Why?  Because those few drops have the ability to jolt me into the moment and remind me then and there that I'm alive.  Of course, I know I'm alive since I'm breathing, but sometimes I am so focused on what's going on in my life or what I must do that I need a reminder to be in the here and now.   And since we need rain for things to grow, it's difficult not to appreciate the steady rains--as long as they don't last for days, right?  Also, I think some things just look better in the rain.  For example, I think San Francisco and Paris are more beautiful and romantic when it's raining.  But torrential rains are quite another matter.  Recently, we've seen the damaging effects in the US, Haiti, and Pakistan, among other places.  It's often difficult to find anything redeeming about torrential rains when they leave death and destruction in their wake.

I find that the figurative rains in my life often have the same effects as the literal rains.  The drizzles get my attention.  The steady rains stimulate growth--that is, if I'm smart enough to learn the lessons.  And sometimes when life's rains make things look dark and dreary, with time I am able to gain better perspective on things.  Although the torrential rains may wreak havoc, sometimes it's because I haven't learned a lesson from the steady rains.  Or, sometimes it has nothing to do with something I have or haven't done, but is meant to take me to another level--to strengthen me for new opportunities.  When I was growing up, I used to hear older people say, "There's never been a storm that didn't end."  That's true.  And while I can't tell you I have grown to like the rain, I can tell you that I certainly appreciate the sunshine more after the rain.