This week, I read a copy of The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery for my book club. It was everything you would expect from a book by L.M. Montgomery: descriptive characters, a relatable heroine and of course, a love story.
Valancy Stirling is the protagonist in this novel and although only 29 years old, she is considered an old maid. Living in a town where marriage is the one big accomplishment girls are allowed to make in life, she feels like she might as well die. Her family is obsessed with her observing the proper way of doing things and her day is set by schedule and routine. She is not allowed to pick her room decor, the color of dress she wears or how she wears her hair. All these rules are stifling to her, but she doesn’t know what to do until she finds out that she might not live out the year. With her death staring her in the face she begins to break free from her family’s restrictions: styling her hair differently, wearing green and even taking care of the town drunkard’s dying daughter.
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I won’t give away the ending, but I will tell you that her choices to break free from restrictions and pick what she wants in life ultimately lead to a far greater happiness for herself and for others including the family that had tried so hard to restrict her before.
Although, I am not dying or an “old maid”, I found a lot I could relate to in Valancy. I don’t have a restrictive family telling me what to do, but I do tell myself what I can and can’t do quite frequently. As I read about her choices to break free, I was reminded that we all live out a dream in life whether or not that dream is of our choosing and that most of us have choices about which dreams we want to live out, we just don’t stop and think about it very often. This week, I decided to think about it and wrote down a list of 100 dreams, following the advice here from Laura Vanderkam, I included some I already had done, just to give me a few quick wins.
1-Learn to read and do basic math.
2-Learn to drive a car.
3-Graduate from High School.
4-Hold a part-time job I enjoy.
5-Save enough money for college.
6-Graduate from college.
7-Marry a nice guy, who is also funny and cute.
9-Learn to paint.
10-Own a cat.
11-Never own a cat again.
12-Start a blog.
13-Learn to write.
14-Learn to play the piano.
15-Go on a mission for my church.
16-Visit the beach.
17-Teach my children to sew.
18-Visit an amusement park with kids.
19-Cut my girls hair nicely.
20-Have an uncomplicated, but nice getting ready for the day routine.
21-Teach my kids all the practical skills they need for living on their own.
22-Read books with kids.
23-Introduce kids to “good” boooks.
24-Be someone who is there for others when they have a hard time.
25-Volunteer in my community in a meaningful way.
26-Yell minimally at others-obviously mostly aimed at my children.
27-Support husband and kids in their dreams.
28-Write and have an article published for 3 magazines.
29-Sing regularly with a choir.
30-Learn to sing some Broadway songs I love.
31-Establish familiar traditions and decorations for holidays.
32-Volunteer in kid’s school.
33-Go to an education conference.
34-Write a children’s book.
35-Learn to be firm, but gentle in teaching kids.
36-Write a novel.
37-Grow a successful garden.
38-Have a summer vacation my kids and I enjoy.
39-Have a clean and organized home.
40-Make enough money for tuition for a master’s degree.
41-Learn to draw better.
42-Get a master’s degree.
43-Have a family crest and motto.
44-Have beautiful artwork in my home.
45-Train my hair to part on one side.
46-Have good camping recipes.
47-Have neighbors over for a potluck or dessert night.
48-Make my own personal commandments.
49-Be well read.
50-Find and record family stories.
51-Have a core set of recipes for dinners and desserts that I can serve when company comes over.
52-Have a silly dinner with kids.
53-Put home movies together into one DVD we could watch on the TV.
54-Learn to sew.
55-Sew skirts for girls for church.
56-Visit friends from our old city.
57-Run a 5K with kids.
58-Get together with friends from high school.
59-Have rules and set consequences with kids so I react less out of emotion and more from love.
60-Find some poetry I enjoy reading.
61-Read and understand more of the classic literature and plays.
62-Learn how to operate my camera.
63-Take better pictures.
64-See a concert with my husband.
65-Help my children memorize some scriptures and songs.
66-Learn to manage a blog.
67-Make a beautiful painting for my entry way.
69-Have a more systematic plan for taking care of things at my house.
70-Learn a language.
71-Have a book of quotes.
72-Be a regular and meaningful part of my extended family’s life.
73-Have 2-3 nice and interchangeable outfits for wearing to dressy occasions.
74-Memorize scriptures and important quotations.
75-Have adequate seating for our family room.
76-Furnish and decorate my children’s rooms-let them help pick it out.
77-Never dye my hair.
78-Be fit and active in my older years.
79-Learn all the names of the people in my church family.
80-Finish updating our current home.
81-Paint my kitchen cabinets.
82-Take our own family portraits.
83-Sew a cute dress and shorts for myself.
84-Sew doll clothes with and for my girls.
85-Visit France or England including museums and castles.
86-Go on multiple hikes to see beautiful scenery like waterfalls.
87-Have a photo album record of our family for each year.
88-Have a journal record of our family’s happenings and memories for each year.
89-Be able to open and close my dishwasher door easily.
90-Have Christmas music I enjoy listening to.
91-Learn about other cultures, countries and histories.
92-Hang more curtains in my house.
93-Establish a more cohesive homework station.
94-Eat more healthy food and help family to do the same.
95-Surround myself with songs and podcasts that uplift and inspire.
96-Make a church bag for children (individual).
97-Spend regular, meaningful time with children.
98-Have a hobby I do with my spouse.
99-Buy a hat I like.
100-Have a plan in place to better take care of myself and my children when we are sick.
Now, it’s probably not healthy or realistic to pretend like I don’t have any restrictions in life, but even in taking care of life’s necessary tasks, I think I can find more ways to create joy and purpose in my life. Writing down this list helped me realize what some of those action items could be and will be my catalyst for the next year as I seek to find more joy in the lovely life I already have.
Write it down in a journal, talk it over with a friend
or leave a comment below or on Facebook.