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May 01, 20233 min read

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

I used to have trouble trying to picture what my life would look like in the future. If I sat in a quiet place and closed my eyes to envision life, I would just see darkness. My brain would then start drifting to all the thoughts that were creating that darkness: Kyleigh’s appointments, Wren’s trips to therapy, their medication refills, and the school meetings. The darkness would quickly turn into incessant worry about the health of my children.

I didn’t want to live in a constant state of being overwhelmed and worried so in an attempt to dig myself out of these emotions, I had decided to attend a personal growth conference. During the conference, we were asked to close our eyes and imagine our future. The speaker was asking questions as the audience had their eyes closed: What does your future house look like? What does your future neighborhood look like? What is your future-self wearing? And on and on.

I sat in the audience with my eyes closed hoping that this would be the time that I could vividly see how I wanted my life. I had paid money to attend the conference so this time it had to work. Sadly, all I saw was darkness. After the list of questions, the speaker then told everyone to open their eyes and spend the next 10 minutes writing in detail everything they saw. I opened my eyes and at the top of my paper I wrote the word, “Nothing”. For 10 minutes, I stared at a full sheet of paper with 7 letters written at the top. It was at that moment that I committed to doing the work to once again start dreaming.

Dreaming about the future can bring hope, excitement, and motivation. Our focus on the future keeps us moving forward. We would never expect a runner to run a new trail with their eyes closed. We would never expect a runner to run that trail while looking backwards. We would expect them to stay focused on the path ahead moving quickly and staying out of danger. I, though, was trying to navigate the trail of life with my eyes closed.

Managing thoughts and emotions helps us dream. My eyes were closed because I was wallowing in emotions created from the thoughts about being the parent of chronically ill children. As I worked on the thoughts that my brain was telling me and changed how I was feeling, I started thinking about the future. At first, like an occasional black and white TV show, the thoughts were not frequent or vivid. The vivid movie reels come when you begin to choose what you think and how you feel.

Dreaming for a young child is easy. Their imagination about the future is extraordinary at times. We were once like this, but at some point along the way, we become consumed with the difficult part of life. We become stuck and stop looking ahead. It is never too late to revisit that childhood imagination and once again learn to focus on the future. It may feel safer to keep your eyes closed, but in reality, we are alive and well when our eyes are open and we are choosing our journey.

Are your eyes open to your future?

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Maureen Michele, MD

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