While I was in Italy this summer, I kept saying to myself; “I am living in the middle of my dreams.”
And this became not only the way I felt, but my mantra, and ultimately one of the hashtags I’d use to post my pictures and tell the story of my trip. #LivingMyAdventure #InTheMidstOfMyDreams
Because though I’ve been to Italy before, indeed I’ve traveled many places in the world throughout my life – this trip was different.
This trip was one I’d imagined for myself ten years ago while daydreaming about places I’d like to return to one day. This trip was one I’d imagined for myself five years ago when I was struggling with finances.
This trip was one I’d imagined for myself two years ago while locked down in Covid. This trip was one I imagined for myself a year ago when my friend first spoke to me about her new venture, “Women Who Walk the World.”
Ten years ago I’d visited Italy and loved it so much I knew I wanted to return one day. I threw my coin in Trevi Fountain and made the wish. After coming home, I imagined myself back in Italy again with my husband. I daydreamed of the places I’d been and experiencing them all over again, as well as exploring even more of it.
Five years ago I decided to follow some financial advice and restructured my savings accounts to include an account for “Fun.” It’s a savings account to do something just for me, just for fun, and for me that is traveling. I began to add extra money into this savings account whenever I could, inspired by my imagination as it took off thinking about taking trips around the world again.
Two years ago during Covid I began to daydream of what I’d like to do once we got through that time. I imagined myself back in Europe wine-tasting, eating great food, hiking, walking, and doing something very special just for myself while I was there. I wasn’t sure what, but a friend of mine had inspired me to think about walking the Camino in Spain, and I thought about that.
I imagined myself joining her there one day. It gave me something to hope for during that dark time.
One year ago I was meditating and the thought of Italy came into my mind again. I imagined what it would be like to go again. I daydreamed of the possibilities.
I’d spoken to my friend Anita about how she’d walked the Camino in Spain, and we talked about walking other places in the world. An avid traveler, I knew she’d been inspired to do something with her life that would allow her to combine her love of travel with her love of walking. She wanted to create a business with another friend of hers she’d met while walking the Camino that would share this with others. She imagined where they’d go, and Italy was one of the first places they spoke about.
Despite all that was going on in the world, these two ladies decided to plan their business anyway, and to prepare for it as if they were going regardless. In the middle of lockdown, when the world stopped, they imagined what it would be like when it all opened up again. And they wanted to make sure they were ready.
They imagined the possibilities, the places they’d like to take people and the places they wanted to travel themselves. Then they talked to friends they thought might be interested in doing this with them, an inaugural journey walking parts of the Via Francigena in Italy and the beginning of the Camino and Via Francigena in France. The positive responses were overwhelming, so they began to seriously plan it. And Women Who Walk the World, LLC was born.
It was a venture there was every reason to believe would not happen as we still were unable to travel when they began their planning, and Covid was on the rise. The future was completely uncertain. There was no way to know if it would work, if they’d break even or go bust, if anyone would even be able to go.
But she imagined she could, and so she did.
One year ago I wondered if I could prepare myself so I could join my friend on her new venture. I imagined walking through Tuscany with her, the feeling of freedom as I allowed myself to simply move my body and have the focus of each day be not on what to do (there’s only one thing to do, and it’s walk), not my destination (the point is not to get there but the journey getting there) – but where I placed my foot in the next heartbeat.
Then my husband came home from work that day and out of the blue said; “We should go to Italy.” And there was my confirmation. I decided to act upon all of the imagining I’d been doing.
I signed up with my friend to join her inaugural group of women and walk a part of the Via Francigena through Tuscany. I then began to make plans with my husband to join me afterward in Italy.
We weren’t certain we’d even be able to go. This was before it was even open for tourists, when travel was still limited, when vaccines were only just coming out and boosters still weren’t available. This was in the middle of 2021 when not only Covid but many forms of unrest were happening.
But we got travel insurance (just in case), and set things up anyway (reserving everything we possibly could reserve as fully refundable, including plane tickets). We imagined ourselves there – but we also are practical people and we prepared for the worst while hoping for the best. Mostly, I hoped for the best. In fact, I spent time imagining it.
Or, as my friend Anita put it: “We always say to ourselves what if everything goes wrong? But really… what if everything goes RIGHT?”
So I imagined it would.
I Had Dreamt It
I began to build up my strength to do the walk, finding groups to walk with around my area as well as hiking on my own. There’s so many beautiful trails around Southern California, and I took advantage of them. As I’d walk, I’d think about Italy, about Tuscany, about what it felt like to be there before and how it might feel now. It would give me the impetus to keep moving even when I was tired or didn’t really want to move my legs anymore.
I researched areas to go in Italy, places to stay, things to do with my husband when he came – and as I looked at the pictures online and read the articles, I’d imagine being there, standing in that particular room with that particular view at that AirBnB, or walking by that gorgeous lake, or seeing the art in that ancient museum. And the excitement of it all would spur me to search more. I could feel an inner fire burning in me, guiding me forward, exciting me. I’d fall asleep dreaming of what I’d found that day. I’d wake up hungry to find more.
After a lot of preparation and work, it all came together. And when the time came, most of the travel restrictions had been lifted. We’d been fully vaccinated. We were able to go. At that point the most current strain of Covid wasn’t even on the rise yet.
It all came together exactly as it should, exactly as if the universe, as if God, seeing what I’d imagined, helped it to come true as easily as possible.
Which is precisely what happened, by the way. Seeing what I’d imagined, all things came together and conspired to make it so. And the trip itself turned out to be even better than I’d imagined because of it. It was, as I said, all I had dreamt of and more.
Rachel Marie Morton, a contributing author to insidewink.com, recently posted;
“God did not give me the life I dreamed of.
He gave me a life better than I could imagine for myself.
This is my truth as well.
Yes, there were also difficulties, times when things didn’t go perfectly, scary moments, disappointments, and exhaustion. It’s life, after all. Hiking a 16 mile day up steep hills to get from one cobblestoned ancient town to another is no joke and tested my endurance, whether the middle of Tuscany or not.
Yet even all of that played into the story I’d formed in my mind years before and the romance of it. It gave me lessons and helped to create changes in me that allowed me to face my fears, face my inner insecurities, face my “unsafe self” and learn how to trust again. I learned how to believe again. I learned my own strength again. I learned to feel safe again.
And this led me to being able to fully embrace life around me again.
I was literally living in the midst of my dreams. And it was all because I’d allowed myself to imagine the possibility of it in the first place ten years ago.
At one point during my trip I posted a picture of myself at Lake Orta in northern Italy and said;
“My Present Self would llike to thank my Past Self for daring to dream & not giving up on the Future Self that ultimately became… Me.”
Imagination is the Key
Imagination is the key to making our dreams come true.
In fact, more than a key, it is the foundation, the brick & mortar, and all of the elements needed to build those dreams into something we can actually live in.
There is literally nothing created in this world by a human that wasn’t first a spark of imagination. Every modern convenience we have, every piece of art, every note of music first began in someone’s head as part of their imagination.
All artists from musicians to poets to actors to authors know of the Muse and how she can visit from time to time. Imagination is her landscape, her home, her space of being. It is where she rests, resides, dances and drinks, and it is in the middle of imaginings that she is most likely to visit us.
This is where things such as airplanes are born, imagination literally taking flight through the minds of those who looked to the skies and shaped something to take us up there.
It is where electricity was born, indoor plumbing …even toilets. Let me tell you, after you’ve had to use a few of the public “toilets” (holes in the ground) in Europe, you come to appreciate whoever invented the first on you could actually sit on! I imagine them imagining how much better it would be to sit rather than squat over a hole, and figuring out how to do that.
That may sound course or rude, but the fact is, imagination doesn’t only give us priceless works of art such as Michelangelo’s David, it gives us practical things like bathrooms and toilet paper. It makes life easier and better, and then beautifies it around us with art, music and culture.
Of course, imagination alone cannot complete that work.
The elements of imagination come together in an alchemy of inspiration, effort and intention that then literally begin to manifest into this reality whatever it is we were thinking about.
It is a powerful alchemy, the most powerful in the world, in the universe, in life. But when we take that fiery spark of imagination and combine it with the air of inspiration, the grounding earth of effort, and the liquid water of intention, anything is possible. Literally anything.
But we have to do the steps needed in this physical space to make things happen.
We have to be the ones to figure out how to make water run through pipes. We have to be the ones who experiment with lightbulbs until we discover the one that lights up. We have to be the ones to build that first commode over a hole and sit on it.
We have to be the ones to work through the logistics of what it would take to get a person into the air. We have to be the ones to build it, test it, refine it, and make it better until it is something that is capable of staying in the sky.
We have to be the ones to save the money, sign up for the walk, get our passports ready, and get on that plane to go there.
We have to be the ones to teach ourselves how to fly.
But all of that only happens when we allow our imagination to fly first.
Questions to Inspire Imagination
-What are you imagining right now?
-Are you consciously imagining good things for yourself?
-Are you allowing your mind to daydream of all the wonderful possibilities in life?
-Are you allowing your heart to consider things that would make it happy and creating stories around what that would feel like if it happened?
-Are you using your imagination to go as far as it can go into visualizing the best things in life coming directly to you, and what that would feel like?
Not as a conscious visualization homework project of some kind, not as some sort of meditation practice, not even as some kind of preparation to try to manifest something into your life. Let all of that and those expectations go.
I’m talking about simply daydreaming. Allowing your mind to wander. Writing a story in which you are the hero and you are doing things, experiencing things, that make you smile when you consider them. That lend a sense of excitement to you. That make you feel happy. Having some FUN with it, and just allowing that to be all it’s about – playing in your imagination.
Playing with it as we did when we were children. Without expectation, without limiting thoughts or beliefs, without anything but the idea of just being in your mind and letting it roam free for awhile.
This is true imagination, and the birthplace of those things that become wings with which we can fly.
-What are the things your imagination focuses upon?
-Are they the good in life?
-Or are they fears, anxieties, worries, anger, disappointments, assumed insults, divisions, strife?
Because what we choose to focus our imagination upon is what will show up in our lives.
When you spend your time imagining the worst, very often the worst doesn’t happen. But many times, something else that we don’t like does. It becomes our “proof” that life is unhappy or unsafe or bad, and we then cycle into another round of imagining the worst. This can lead some people down a road of imagining some very negative things indeed – and forming that into the world.
Imagination has led to airplanes being created so humans can fly – but it has also led to bombs being created so humans can die.
The Muse can come in many forms, and she is indiscriminate. She will attend you and serve you what you ask for, without judgment, for she’s not human, she’s an energy, a Celestial, a goddess, something which is neutral in her power. It is up to us how we choose to wield the power she offers, and up to us what we choose to create with it.
At this time, more than any other, it is imperative that every single one of us chooses to wield it for the good. Not just “for the good of humanity” which is something so lofty it puts most of us off and unable to relate to it. No, I’m talking about for the good of ourselves, and those close to us, and our community.
It starts with imagining the most wonderful things for ourselves
It starts with lifting our hearts up and giving ourselves hope as we imagine living a life filled with joy. It starts with imagining that this truly IS possible.
As you imagine good things for yourself, and you use the alchemy of action – that inspiration, effort and intention – to bring those good things into your life, you will find yourself more capable of imagining good things for others as well.
Your imagination extends outward the more you use it to bring good into your own life. It grows to include your family, your friends, your community… until ultimately your imagination really is able to encompass the idea of “for the good of all humanity.” Indeed, it can go beyond even that and include; “For the good of the world, and for the good of the universe.” Your imagination could include the good for all of life itself.
The Alchemy of Imagination can even heal you
Do you feel as if you are trapped and you can’t see a way out? Not sure what to do about a certain situation? No idea how to bring health into your body, your heart or your mind? Imagination can and will help you, if you choose to shift your focus off of the problems and onto the idea that good is able to come to you.
Imagine that there can be answers to fix the problems in your life. Imagine what that feels like. Imagine you are able to get those answers easily and quickly. You don’t have to find the actual answers during your imaginings, you just have to imagine that you CAN find them. Eventually you will.
This same process applies to the world as well. We can find answers, we can find common ground, we can find peace, we can create a world that is better for every living being, not just humans, but every single part of the Earth. I believe this. But it only can happen if we imagine it can happen. If we even start with just the possibility that it can happen and imagine that. If we follow our imagination into what it would feel like to have it happen.
The Alchemy of Imagination could heal the world.
If we allow our imaginations to soar.
We don’t have to find the answers in our imaginings. We just have to imagine that we do.
So I put forth to you a challenge and an encouragement, just as I gave to myself ten years, five years, two years, one year ago… imagine something really cool that makes you smile you’d like to have happen in your life.
Now imagine it again.
Now imagine it again.
Now imagine it again.
Keep on imagining it. Eventually the answers to how to make it happen will come to you. Eventually you will enter the alchemy that helps to manifest it into your reality.
Eventually, you will change your world. And in the process, change yourself.
By JEANETTE DUBOIS
Jeanette is a film & tv editor, writer, director and producer who’s worked on Emmy & Telly Award winning shows, movies, and music videos for a variety of networks. She’s also a trained operatic who mostly sings to her cats now, though sometimes she expands her audience to her family & friends. She loves gardening, good books, good wine, and good conversations, preferably all at the same time.
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