Living My Childhood Dream

March 10, 2011

in Life Lessons

Outer Banks Childhood dreams.

What first comes to mind when you read these two words? Do you think about your hope of becoming a vet or astronaut? Does an image of you in a superhero cape bring back a happy memory, remembering those days when it felt like anything was possible?

What has been on my mind this week, as I thought about childhood dreams, has not been about a specific wish for my future, but a childhood memory. A memory that carried with it great inspiration for my life.

My grandfather was driving with the windows down as we drove towards Wildwood Crest, New Jersey. He told me that if I focused on my senses, I could smell and then hear the ocean before I actually saw it. I remember bouncing in the seat, barely able to contain my excitement, but following my grandfather’s instruction to begin to experience the ocean before seeing it for the first time.

Standing on the beach staring out at the ocean, I screamed to my mother, “Mommy, it’s the biggest bath tub I have ever seen.” As I jumped up and down, my long pigtails bounced and blew in the breeze. I stood in that spot, wearing my green and white polka dot bikini and matching green sunglasses, for what could be considered an eternity for a restless six-year-old child.

I struggled to comprehend completely what was before me.  The enormity of the ocean was overwhelming, and the beauty was magnificent. I can still feel the emotions that bubbled up inside as I watched, entranced by the waves and endless horizon. Joy, awe, excitement, and wonderment rushed to the surface.

It was a pure, innocent moment as I discovered the beauty of something in this world for the first time. A haiku I wrote captures the moment:

Excitement fills me

Standing at the ocean’s edge

All is possible

I am a 41 year-old single, working mom with two children and a crazy dog. These responsibilities alone make my life hectic and busy. But I am also in photography school, write for my blog, write for other online sites, work for Studio30 Plus, date, train and race in multisport events, maintain good connections with friends, and more.

Never could I have imagined when I first separated from my ex that life would shape and take hold as it has these last two years. My children are happy, we have wonderful friends, my writing is well received, I continue to be offered more writing opportunities, and I love growing and becoming a better photographer. I would not have thought I would be in such a good place in my life, or that I would embrace writing and photography as creative outlets for myself in those dark days early in the separation. But I feel, at this time in my life, that I am standing on the edge of the ocean again for the first time.

I am living my dream.

The dream that anything is possible.

NOTE: Today’s post was inspired by a writing prompt at Studio30 Plus, which is a social media site for writers over 30. The prompt this week: Childhood Dreams.


{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandi March 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I still feel that way every time I’m at the ocean. It’s why I will probably never live more than 30 minutes from it. It’s been that way my entire life: something about the seeming endlessness of the horizon that is refreshing to me. Makes me feel like I can start over.

Beautiful post.
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Brandi,

I love to be near any body of water, but particularly love the ocean. The sound, smell, feel of water rushing over my toes, the beauty, the sand…everything.

Thank you for your kind words.

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Random Girl March 10, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Beautiful, simply beautiful. Your gratitude for that one singular experience is palpable. Joy in moments, right? Well done!
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Thank you Random Girl. I enjoyed writing to a prompt. It flexed my writer’s muscles a bit.

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Starthrower March 10, 2011 at 3:20 pm

What a great way to feel! Yay! What first comes to mind is the great joy I have in knowing that I have made some dreams come true which creates the energy to make more dreams come true and like the ocean there is the ebb and flow and I can’t make them happen when it’s the time of low tide and I gosh, what time is high tide coming in? Sometimes I can’t wait. I have to though. I have to just let the dreams come true when it’s time.

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Naked Girl in a Dress March 10, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Having patience can be difficult at times, but what unfolds in life is usually worth the wait. Glad you are seeing your dreams realized too.

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Classic NYer March 10, 2011 at 4:41 pm

What a beautifully written post.

I have to say that personally I fall victim to the circular trap of thinking on the one hand that I’m too young to live my dreams and that I should “give it time” as the older folks say and “be patient” and on the other hand that if I don’t do it now, I’ll spend the rest of my life living in what Thoreau called a “life of quiet desperation”… and I’ve seen enough people older than I am living this way to know that it’s not just my paranoia…

I think it’s kind of funny that I read this just literally five minutes after posting about where I would go if reality were as limitless as imagination, haha.
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Rene Foran March 10, 2011 at 5:00 pm

I just love the heck out of this…
and your haiku is simply beautiful
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 10, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Rene,

I saw your writing prompt submission in the Studio30 Magazine queue (the privilege of being on staff (: ) and loved your take on CHILDHOOD DREAMS. It was a great prompt this week and I loved the opportunity to have it guide my writing today.

Thank you for the kind words.

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Talkative Taurus March 10, 2011 at 6:22 pm

That was absolutely awesome, girl! You took a much different approach than I did, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading that and remembering that feeling at the ocean’s edge. It gives me an even greater perspective on seeing those wonders in our world.

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Naked Girl in a Dress March 10, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Thank you for stopping by to read my take on the prompt this week! I will head to the Studio30 Plus Forum to read your piece as well.

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Kimberly March 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I love the HOPE and JOY that I hear in this post. I wish you all the best as you continue to create a fabulous life!
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 10, 2011 at 9:48 pm

Thank you Kimberly. Life has become exciting with endless possibilities because I have regained my childhood dream; the thought that anything is possible. I look forward to seeing where the writing and photography journey takes me in the coming months.

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Jewels March 10, 2011 at 9:07 pm

I love this post becaue I can relate to it so much…I always went to the PA Pocono Mountains but every other year we had family reunions in Ocean City, NJ and I felt the same way…smelling the ocean for the first time, seeing it for the first time. It’s a humbling experience. I love just listening to the ocean. Congrats on living your dream! Beautifully written.
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 10, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Thank you Jewel, for the kind words and sharing a bit from your childhood.

What I can tell you is that the feeling I had as a child has not been lost on me as an adult; I still love just watching the ocean. And to be still in the moment and listen to the surf, there’s nothing better.

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Lance March 11, 2011 at 10:56 am

I like the powerful stance you take. It makes the words much more inspirational.

I just saw your tweet from last night to me…yes, it made me feel better. I beat myself up over my writing. I’m glad you don’t.

thank you
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 11, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Hi Lance,

I beat myself up about my writing too; it’s what we do, right? It’s just nice to be there for someone else when you witness him doing it to himself. I am glad my tweet could make you feel better.

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Simon March 11, 2011 at 11:41 am

I have really struggled with this prompt to the point where I think I’ll skip this week.

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Naked Girl in a Dress March 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Simon,

No worries! I look forward to reading what you write based upon next week’s prompt. This is the first one I have submitted actually.

Have a great weekend, you saucy Brit!

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Lee March 12, 2011 at 6:00 am

I looked forward to our summer vacation every year, when we made the long eight hour trek from Pittsburgh to Wildwood Crest N.J.
It was the highlight of our summer, going deep sea fishing, water-sliding on the boardwalk, and playing in the ocean. Like you, I have magical memories of those days and I think they played a formative role in shaping my future.
I now live on Maui and rarely do a few days pass without some beach time. It is the place I feel the happiest and most content.

I wrote a piece for the Studio 30 prompt as well, though I took a more circuitous route… my first attempt, hopefully not my last.
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 12, 2011 at 6:39 am

Lee,

It is wonderful to connect with someone who also has childhood memories visiting The Crest, as we called it. We went every summer for years, usually staying for two weeks. Extended family would vacation there at the same time, with many houses rented.

How blessed you are to live so close to the ocean!

This was my first prompt, but not my last either. I am going to check out what you wrote as well.

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Jessica March 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

There is something about the vastness of the ocean that makes me feel that anything is possible and the whole world is before me. I love that you get that feeling too and that you have it right now, at a point in your life where you have overcome challenges and found a new you.
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 12, 2011 at 8:50 am

Thank you Jessica!

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Chippy March 12, 2011 at 8:27 am

That was a lovely post – I’m in the UK but I’d love to stand and look out at the ocean – closest thing I have is the North Sea… and I’m guessing it doesn’t have quite the same effect.
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 12, 2011 at 8:50 am

Chippy,

Thank you for visiting. I love any body of water actually, but the ocean is my favorite.

Go stand at the edge of the North Sea; maybe it will inspire you!

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Kristy March 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Beautiful and hopeful!
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 12, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Thank you for visiting and commenting Kristy.

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yvonne@attracted to shiny things March 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Wow, we have a lot in common. I’m also divorced with two kids (no dog though). I was so scared for so long of the change a divorce would bring, and even though it’s strange and lonely sometimes, I’m much more free and happy than I was in the past. Great post, I came from TRDC.

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Naked Girl in a Dress March 13, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Yvonne,

It can feel lonely at times, but I find that overall, I am in a wonderful place and that this is a great time in my life. It took awhile to get to that place, but well worth the work.

Thank you for visiting from TRDC!

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Galit Breen March 12, 2011 at 11:12 pm

I love how this post came full circle. And I love how you’re embracing the present and reveling in it. That’s a skill, and a hard earned one at that.

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Naked Girl in a Dress March 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Galit,

What kind words. Thank you.

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Frelle March 13, 2011 at 11:57 am

thank you for the inspiration and the perspective. I am where you were, and aspire to be where you are :)
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 13, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Frelle,

You are welcome. I am so happy something resonated for you in this piece. You will be where I am now, just have patience. And, so you know, I am not always in that wonderful place. We all have moments of fear and doubt, where we take a step back. It is recognizing that happened, learning from it, and moving forward again that is most important.

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Rebel Chick March 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm

I’m stopping by from the TRDC. I really enjoyed this post. :)

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subWOW April 2, 2011 at 3:06 am

This is beautiful and powerful. I hope I can get to where you are now some day. Soon.

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Naked Girl in a Dress April 2, 2011 at 8:12 am

Thank you for the kind words. I loved writing to this prompt.

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Alison@Mama Wants This July 9, 2011 at 12:20 am

In darkness, there is light. I think it’s fantastic you found the light from where you were two years ago. Love that the idea of standing at the ocean’s edge, spells opportunity, possibilities and hope.

Stopping by from TRDC.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 9, 2011 at 8:36 am

Lately it feels like I am standing on the edge of a cliff instead of the ocean. I am getting nervous about finishing school and the expectations I have set for myself. Regardless, I am happy and that is most important after being in darkness for so long.

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Anastasia July 9, 2011 at 7:46 am

I am so happy for you that you are living that dream. It’s a great dream!
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 9, 2011 at 8:17 am

Thank you Anastasia. I am nervous and excited all at the same time.

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Writerly Wanna Be July 9, 2011 at 9:03 am

What a beautiful post….the touch of memoir and a wave of inspiration. I love the images and your connection to that childhood memory.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 9, 2011 at 9:45 am

Thank you for your critique. What kind words. So glad I chose this one to share with TRDC today.

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kelly garriott waite July 9, 2011 at 9:25 am

I love the way your grandfather taught you to be observant, to be aware of the ocean before you actually saw it.
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 9, 2011 at 9:45 am

My grandfather was a great man for many reasons. This is just one example.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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Kir July 9, 2011 at 11:10 am

Oh wow, it is so good to see a childhood dream come to fruition. I know that I used to read books, and dream of writing like that, or weaving a tale. You do that so well…so glad to see u doing what u love!
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Tina July 9, 2011 at 11:22 am

Great post! I actually love being at the beach, because the sound of the waves is soothing to my heart. I just don’t get to go as much as I would like, and the beaches here in Texas are not the same as they are on the east coast.
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Rick December 17, 2011 at 12:52 pm

Great post NGIAD! Love your writing.

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Naked Girl in a Dress December 20, 2011 at 7:46 am

Thanks Rick!

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@bluenotebacker July 25, 2012 at 10:49 am

The more I read and get to know fellow single parents my age, the more comfortable I feel about being one, and the easier it is to be happy with my life, or at least to *not* be distraught at the direction it’s gone. Thank you for sharing!
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

You are welcome. Thank you so much for visiting! Single parenthood is something to embrace and enjoy.

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Kimberly July 25, 2012 at 3:05 pm

It’s so wonderful that our lives blossom and thrive when we take care of ourselves :)

So glad you took this path, after all, it’s the one that intersected with my life
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

How sweet of you Kimberly. Thank you! I am so happy we met as well.

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The Defiant Marshmallow July 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Any person who is even close to living her dream is doing great, in my opinion. To actually be doing it is pure joy, and it inspires others. I loved reading this!

As a semi-employed photographer (it’s still part-time, but pays for itself and then some) I know the creative itch it scratches. I encourage you to keep it going. With writing AND photography, you have the world right where you want it!
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Naked Girl in a Dress July 26, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Thank you for the lovely comment. I do love the outlet photography brings. We are in the same place with it being very part time, but I love when I get a freelance gig!

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Jester Queen April 3, 2013 at 10:46 am

The first time we took him to the ocean, my son refused to get in. He said, “It so big, and I so small.”
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Naked Girl in a Dress April 10, 2013 at 7:43 am

Smart kid. :)

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Joe April 6, 2013 at 9:01 pm

I like the whole thing, but especially love the haiku. That gave me goosebumps.
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Naked Girl in a Dress April 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

Thanks, Joe. I really enjoyed writing that piece, which was the result of a Studio30 Plus writing prompt. It’s great to have a writing assignment; you never know what will be the end result.

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