It’s a story of a woman who made a dream happen but she did it on a small scale. I love that: it’s something I aim to foster in my own life, especially amongst family life because it’s easy to let go of dreams in the busyness instead of looking for opportunities to weave them into life in a sustainable way.
Image credit: New York Times
This story is about Sandra Foster. She transformed a hunting cabin into the romantic Victorian cottage she had always wanted by renovating it herself; many of the decorative items inside the cabin were secondhand finds. The cabin doesn’t have a bathroom or kitchen; its a fairy-tale inspired space of dreams. Sandra Foster and her husband live a brook-paddle away in their 1971 caravan. I can imagine myself sitting in that room with an absorbing book and a cup of tea. You can read more of the story here.
Dreams. I would gladly give up my dreams for my children; however, in the course of parenting, I came to a realisation by pondering this question: do my children need a mother who empties herself or shares herself? The latter seemed more edifying to both parties, and so began my quest to share what I’m passionate about with my children and weave it with joy in this life we live together.
I long for spontaneity, community, small moments, simple pleasures, everyday beauty, really good food and a quiet place somewhere to live surrounded by trees. A lot of trees. I wrote it out over three years ago and I enjoyed revisiting it.
My bicycle is the colour of the sky; I feel like I’m flying. The wind tickles my face and sings of freedom as it rushes past my ears. I like being alone in a busy place. People doing people things. As I slow to a stop, I notice the weed growing there. It’s pushing up defiantly, impossibly in the crack between the brick wall and concrete path and I like that. I make a mental note to check if it’s still there each time I come. My bicycle looks even bluer leaning up against the red brick wall. I leave it there and run my hand along the rough exterior as I walk the last metres to the entrance. The sunshine on my face is shadowed by the yellow and white stripes of the awning above me. I look around — colours, shapes — and allow my eyes to inspire me. I chat to the jolly looking man behind the counter and decide on lamb, rosemary sprigs, crusty bread, pink potatoes and yellow beans. Oh, and fresh raspberries plus creamy yoghurt in a pot. The brown woven bag, heavy with produce, fits perfectly in the not-white-anymore basket on the front of the blue bicycle. I salute the weed with a slight nod of my head before the rattle of a slow bike joins in with the chorus of the town.
The way home takes me through rows of majestic pine trees and I watch the dappled light dance on the ground as my legs pump in a steady rhythm. I don’t stop to look up at the sky behind the tress this day. Onward. Ahead, I see a wooden home, standing alone bar trees for company. I feel happy. Alive. I push harder. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.
Herb pots. Five stairs. Red door. It’s dark on the outside, light…so much white with scatterings of bright coloured accessories on the inside. I’m home and it’s quiet. Achingly beautiful silence. Yet, the remnants of the morning activity are there: that empty bowl on the pale wooden bench; the forgotten sock on the bathroom floor; the beige and black throw my daughter wrapped around her shoulders at breakfast sits elegantly on the white chair, waiting. These inanimate objects: it’s like I can hear them underneath the quiet: it sounds like a lingering hum, almost-non-existinent soft like a deep undercurrent. I leave it as it is for now and pour gold tea from a delicate teapot into a pretty cup and close my eyes as I bring it to my lips. I like the clink sound when the tea cup kisses the saucer as I put it down. With a lingering undercurrent of hum surrounding me, I lose myself to the absorption of activity.
Later, I wait to see the happy faces of my children after school. I prepare my face for the biggest of smiles for each one of them as I see them. Chatter. Together we stop for a milkshake on the way home. Five bikes lean against red bricks this time. I forget to acknowledge the weed. Before me, I see four precious souls sitting in a row on bar stools. They aren’t mine, but they belong to me. I imprint the image in my mind’s eye…so I can remember. At home, a roast is waiting.
In reality this is not my life. I don’t have a sky-blue bike with a basket…yet. I don’t live within pine trees. I don’t have a wooden home or a red door. However, I’ve laced some of the essence of my little dream into everyday life.
- One day a week I don’t plan dinner; instead, I shop at a local delicatessen and fruit shop and I look forward to the element of surprise.
- I almost always drink tea out of pretty cups instead of a mug.
- I blog because I love to write and connect meaningfully with those around me, and I can lose myself in words.
Just small things really. And I have many little dreams. I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer I guess. Instead of giving them up, I look to find ways to weave them through life in meaningful ways. It’s important to me, as a mother, to retain a sense of who I am because sharing that with those I love the most is a gift I want to pour out…to give.
Keep your dreams alive in a sustainable way
1. Write it down
Write it down in present tense, as you would be doing it.
How can you incorporate the essence into everyday life?
3. Start slow. Start small. Be sustainable.
When you have a family, things change. This is not a bad thing but it’s true…and I find it’s important to be realistic about goals and expectations. There’s value in doing something small.
Often when I’m in the delicatessen, I feel a giddy excitement like I’m there in my dream.
5. Weave it
Find different way of doing the things you love around, and with your child/ren.
6. Look for Opportunities
It’s like when you buy a new car and all of a sudden you notice the same car everywhere. When it’s spoken, when it’s written down, when it’s there, opportunities come. Not so much randomly as by observance and capitalising opportunities.
7. Make it
Look for natural opportunities and also be proactive, be brave, to make it happen.
Dreams are wonderful…but they can breed discontentment instead of inspiration. I love the Prayer of Serenity:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
This is grounding for me, being the dreamer that I am.
Contentment is a mindset. Gratefulness is a choice. Happiness is a consequence.
In Sandra Foster’s Victorian Cabin, I see the beauty of dreams come to reality on a small scale.
I see joy and contentment.
I see the importance of not giving up yourself but giving of yourself…and that’s the difference.