Thursday, June 28, 2007


The strategies up to this point have been used for you to internalize your dream by creating it, deciding a plan of action, learning and preparing for the journey, and visualizing your self as accomplishing your dream. Now it is time to claim your dream and make it real. Until now, it has not been too much more than a figment of your imagination and as fleeting as your own thoughts. Similar to a fetus that grows internally from a speck of an egg into a six pound human being, the dream must have a birth in order to develop and become the reality it is meant to be. To speak of your dream is to breathe life into it. You must tell people your dream, what it means to you, and how it will become an important part of your life. This may be the most important step, for this is the point where a dream will start to grow or die a sudden death.

Speaking your dream can be exciting and motivating. If you are surrounded by positive thinking people, they can encourage you and maybe even help brainstorm and build a stronger foundation on which to build your dream. However, if you tell people who do nothing to support you and tell you things like, “It is never going to happen,” you may feel foolish and decide not to go any further. People are robbed of their dreams everyday by thoughtless comments made by others. Accept the fact that not everyone is going to believe in your dream. That’s ok. They don’t have to. It isn’t their dream. It’s yours. The only one that can give it life or put it to death is you.

After working my first full time job teaching independent living skills to people with developmental disabilities in Cincinnati, Ohio, I decided it was too hard to commute on a daily bases in a climate of snow and freezing rain. If I was going to work, I was going to find a place to live where I did not have to navigate my manual wheelchair through the snow and ice. When Susan and her husband were relocated to San Diego, I quickly took vacation time to visit her during the winter. It didn’t take me long to decide that San Diego was the place for me. The move would mean leaving friends, family, and the only full time job I had known. It meant saving money for the move, locating an apartment that was wheelchair accessible, hiring a moving company, packing all I owned, and driving myself and three cats 3000 miles across the country. When I told my friends and family that I was moving to San Diego, I didn’t get much of a response. They didn’t believe it and they might as well patted me on the head and said, “Sure you are.” Perhaps I didn’t truly believe it in the beginning either, but I saved money until I felt I could afford the move and then asked Susan to help find me an apartment. Once an apartment was found and the deposit and first month’s rent was sent, everything fell into place. I gave my notice, hired a moving company, packed my belongings, and moved to San Diego. Friends admitted they did not believe I would go. One of my friends who came to terms that I was actually going to drive 3000 miles across the country with 3 cats fenced into the back seat of my Dodge Omni, convinced another colleague to help me drive across country. When people continued to hear the things I was doing to prepare for the move, they slowly understood that my dream was more than just wishful thinking. As I became committed to completing the steps in my plan, I, too, realized my dream was becoming my reality. As impossible and unlikely this dream seemed to be at the conception of the dream, it grew into a possibility and became my reality.

Remember, the life or death of your dream will depend on your desire and determination to see it through to the end. Own it and breathe life into it!

Linda Thompson, MSRC, has 30 years professional experience serving people with disabilities as instructor and advocate. As a keynote speaker, she addresses audiences of parents, professionals, care providers, students, congregations, and business administrators/employers on the importance of recognizing the individual and abilities rather than the “labels” of disabilities. “People with disabilities are people first. Our disabilities are second.”

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