Finding new dreams when life throws a wrench in your plans.

Shifting Dreams: When Life Changes Your Plans

Yesterday as I was lying on the couch I watched the branches outside gently dancing in the wind. I thought of how nice of a day it was and how fun it would be to drive myself to a nearby lake. And then instantly thought of how much would have to change just to accomplish that tiny task.

Some days the whole illness thing is quite a drag, I’m not gonna lie.

But I’m a glutton for punishment, as my husband lovingly tells me. So my daydreams didn’t stop there.

I though of how cozy it would be to visit a local coffee shop, without the fear of someone’s perfume or loud voices sending my symptoms into a tailspin. Then, of later sitting at the lake, without worry of how the sun’s warmth or bright rays may affect my delicate system.

I dreamed of someday exploring the long list of waterfalls here in Oregon. (Sing it with me: Don’t go chasing waterfalls…)

I’ve thought about dreams a lot in the last couple of years. Plans I had made. Goals I had set. Visions of where I’d be as I approach the big 3-0 this year.

I’m sure you aren’t surprised when I say that living with Lyme disease and having a handicap parking pass weren’t exactly at the top of my bucket list. Let alone ON the list.

Before sickness took hold, Trevin and I had envisioned that by now we would have a budding family. We would have traveled to Spain, among other cities, states, and countries on our list.

We planned to move further north than southern California – and that we actually did accomplish! (Hello, southern Oregon. Don’t tell Trev, but I have a pretty big crush on you).

There are many things about our life that I’ll admit would never make my dream list. I’m sure you can think of things in your own life that weren’t things you’d have chosen either.

Yet, somehow…here you are.

Perhaps in a job you never dreamed of having, in a city you thought would be the last place you’d live, or single when you’ve always dreamed of marriage and a family.

It can feel depressing at times, can’t it? Sitting in this place of “what now?” or “will this ever happen/change for me?” We wonder what dreams we dare to keep holding onto and if it’s time to just let go.

For some of these plans, letting go can give beautiful freedom. For others, there is deep grief involved in loosening our grip. There is so much pain in accepting that some things may just never be.

And even though this place is raw and feels deserted,

I believe dreams can still exist here.

They may look different, yes. They might sit in the shadows, over in the corner of “someday, I want to do this. Today I legitimately can’t, but someday I will.”

They could be the kind of dreams that feel small or maybe even as if we’re settling for less, but they’re the dreams we have the strength to reach for. The ability to cherish in this moment.

These are the ones that give us hope wherever our hearts are sitting. They’re the dreams that don’t require us to wait for xyz to happen before we bask in their beauty.

They give us a sparkle now.

Chronic illness and shifting dreams

My simple dreams have become my fuel of late. They may seem far too basic to some, but they’re just the right size for me.

They’re things like being able to enjoy short visits with family or going for a drive through the countryside with Trev. It’s the task of successfully nurturing the pot of herbs a friend gave me and crafting a blog post each week.

These are my little dreams, filled with hope and purpose. They are reachable and enjoyable NOW.

I still have the bigger dreams. The dreams of traveling, building a family, becoming a better writer, attending cooking classes, and beating Lyme disease. But the reality is that sometimes those dreams feel so distant it’s painful.

So I am learning to give myself permission to set them back on their shelf when my heart is too heavy to hold them. To remind myself that I’m allowed to grieve what cannot be, what has been lost.

And I’ll keep reaching for the day they can be made possible. Hoping for someday. Asking God for the answers I’m aching for.

But for now, I’ll hold onto the pieces of these dreams within view.

I have a husband to love and support. Nieces and nephews to enjoy. A community of writers that inspire me to keep sharpening my skill. Fellow illness warriors who amaze and encourage me to keep fighting. An incredibly wise doctor who is advocating for my health and giving me hope to dream of wellness.

These are my pebbles of hope. My current fuel for tomorrows.

My plans and circumstances may change, but I will still reach to be a dreamer.

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19 comments

  1. stephieestie says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your condition. I too, have a condition that completely turned my life upside down. I pictured my life a certain way but at 19 I was hit with a condition known as IC. Thank God I am able to manage it but there are still those bad days where I just curl up in bed and cry. We must not loose hope though as our lives can quickly change again for the better. Thank you for this post. 🙂 Will keep you in my prayers and here’s to hoping Spain will come one day. 🙂

    • Kami Lingren says:

      Thanks so much for reading, Stephie! I am so sorry to hear of what you’ve been going through. That is so young to be hit with a serious illness. I, too, have the curl up and cry days. I’ve learned (well, am still learning!) that I have to let myself have those without guilt because this struggle is real and heavy. Then I can dry my eyes and usually feel better! Thanks so much for the prayers – I will be praying for you, too!

      • stephieestie says:

        Thank you! I know it came as a shock but then I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism at age 4. Nothing can really prepare you for a life altering event but I believe we need to have faith, as hard as sometimes it can be. 🙂

  2. plus+beauty27 says:

    Such a great post! I really enjoyed reading this! I can relate to it in many ways. I never thought I would be where I am at in my life and my dream is to feel like my old self again. You’re a great writer and I look forward to reading more of your posts! I got your email and will email you back soon. I hope you have a great day! 🙂 xo

  3. Kim says:

    Such a great post! Thank you for the reminder and practical tips of living in the moment and loving the things we’re still able to do.

    • Kami says:

      Thank you, Kim. It can be a challenge, I’ll admit – especially on my worst health days. I think it’s a process and one that involves a whole lot of grace. <3

  4. Chelsea W says:

    Lyme disease is, like you said, a drag. It definitely took away plenty of my dreams–starting with me having to withdraw from college only about two semesters away from graduating. People are always asking me or trying to persuade me to go back but it took EVERYTHING out of me. I realize I can try to reach the “big dreams” without finishing up my college degree, but it still would’ve been nice to have finished it. Having learned I can appreciate little dreams is amazing now, though. Even though I’m basically houseridden (better than bedridden like I was), I can pick out things I want to achieve and accomplish them–or not. It’s okay to give myself a break here and there, I’ve realized. Lyme disease is harder than I’ve ever thought it would be. So glad to have read this post! I love the ending because I’ve always been a dreamer as well, and I will continue to be. xx

    • Kami says:

      Chelsea, I’m so sorry for all that you have lost in your own fight with Lyme. It is a struggle that is hard for those on the outside to understand. I can relate to what you shared about not returning to school – I had to walk away from my job 3 years ago and don’t know when I’ll be able to work normally again. I so agree with the idea of giving ourselves a break as we sort out this new way of dreaming within our limitations. We are doing the best we can, fighting daily for wellness. It’s a job within itself! Continuing to dream with you, sweet girl. Sending hugs your way! xo

  5. Judy McGowen says:

    Kami,
    Although we suffer from much different ailments, I feel you are writing from the pages of my mind, body and soul!
    As I read your blog faithfully I find myself amazed at your honesty, strength, positivity and accepted weaknesses!
    You uplift and ease my hurting heart and soul with your beautiful soul searching words!
    Kami, you are a beautiful inspiration.
    Together we live, together we fight!
    Thank you!
    Sincerely,
    Judy McGowen

    • Kami says:

      Judy, I’m so touched by your kind words. It always warms my heart to know someone else was encouraged or resonated with one of my posts. I love what you said: “Together we live, together we fight!” Yes, ma’am! Sending much love to you <3

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