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OK, we…

  1. Focused on reducing our materialistic consumption.
  2. Eliminated debt so we didn’t have to keep working for more and more money.
  3. Figured out what really mattered to us.

Then…  4.  We made a plan to achieve our dreams.

As Dan says, “If you plan, you can.  If you don’t, you won’t.”

This is probably an over-simplification but in the end, it’s true.  Like the quote from Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t… you’re right.”

In our early discussions, Dan and I thought we wanted to go to Sedona.  We honeymooned there and had friends who’d moved to the area (Cottonwood) and we thought life would be nice there.  Then we realized there was no water.  Even back in 2003 the water wars were already in the news in the Southwest.  Since water was probably a key in maintaining happiness (being a basic requirement for life), we started to look elsewhere.  Eventually, we realized Minnesota was a better location, Land of 10,000 Lakes and all.

How did this happen?

In 2001, my mom and her husband (also Tom, one of the three after whom my son was named) had moved to his hometown, Alexandria, MN.  We visited for Thanksgiving that year and told ourselves Minnesota was WAY too cold for living.  But our son spent a couple summers up with Gramma Ruth and mentioned that he wanted to live in Minnesota when he grew up.  I know, it’s crazy to think a kid will have any idea what he’ll want as a grown man but I’m still hoping he ends up here someday.

Dan & I had also visited Minnesota in the summer too, and on a trip to Itasca State Park over 4th of July a few years later, fell in love with the place.  This was in no small part due to the song “Ghost” on the Indigo Girls’ album “Rites of Passage”, which I must say is an altogether amazing album, one of my favorites.  “Galileo” is probably my favorite track… but I digress. The lyric I love is this:

The Mississippi’s mighty but it starts in Minnesota at a place where you could walk across with five steps down. And I guess that’s how you started, like a pinprick to my heart, but at this point you rush right through me and I start to drown.

When we reached the Headwaters of the Mississippi, I felt at peace.  Maybe this was the Universe giving me a sign, maybe it was a confidence in knowing I’d found and was on vacation with my true love, maybe it was just my sentimentality, maybe none of the above. Maybe for Dan it was the amazing hail storm that struck dropping golf balls of frozen slush that covered the ground in the heat of the day. But, for both of us, something stuck that day.

So thin threads… that is the substance of which a life paths seem to be built.  Little things that lead to bigger and bigger things, in a new or continued direction, depending on which strands you decide to pick up and follow.

We made a dream page together with photos of land filled with trees, outdoor showers, windmills, cottage rooms, flowers.  We put to paper what we hoped would become a reality in the next few years.  We searched for land, finally finding a piece that we could afford, we started building and planning for how we’d make a transition to a life outside the Rat Race.

We downsized our stuff, paid down the house, got our son Tom through high school and started into college and then Dan said he thought it was time for him to search for a job in Minnesota so I could leave the Rat Race.  I didn’t think I had ever heard more beautiful words.  I didn’t believe it could happen at first, and even as we got closer, it was hard to have full faith and confidence that everything would fall into place.  But it did.

He’d spent 12 weeks in 2013 at the Harn creating a space where we could live full-time.  (We quickly realized we still had quite a ways to go when we got to serious thinking about moving and living there full-time.  We still needed water and a heat source.)  We started working on getting the Indiana house ready for sale.  I started packing as if we’d be moving by fall.  Dan took a trip in May 2014 to Minnesota to look for work but nothing striking happened.  Meanwhile, I made plans for a 3-week trip to Missouri in September to visit an EcoVillage called Dancing Rabbit, hoping I’d be able to leave my job by July or August. Surely by the end of August I could find a way out?  While I felt this would happen, I saved enough vacation to make that trip without quitting… just in case.

We listed the house on June 18th , our son Tom left for a six-week trip to China on the 20th and Dan headed back to Minnesota the next day.  We figured, if Dan could get a job by July, then when Tom returned in early August, he and I could pack a truck and move everything to Minnesota.  Dan called June 26th to tell me he’d gotten a couple offers and was coming home that weekend.  We were moving over the 4th of July.

Whoa, boy!  I had to slam the packing into full gear to make this happen.  Knowing we were getting closer to making a reality of my dream to leave the Rat Race was a definite energizer!

If you’ve read closely or the section called “What I Believe…”, then you know I’m a big believer in Dream Pages.  While I don’t have handy the Dream Page we made together early in our relationship, in 2012 we each made a Dream Page to reflect our goals. Here are shots of one side of each of these pages.

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These are only a few years old but they are coming true, sometimes in ways we couldn’t have imagined back then.  We kept them in our bedroom where we’d see them every day.  When I selected the photo of the family on the porch, I had no idea we’d be living with two generations in one house by 2014.  Or that photo of his and her feet… How could I have known that a Reflexology class for couples we took in 2014 would have me pretty much curing a sciatic issue Dan had been suffering from since 2000?  And, yes, I will tell you! We did get to a “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me!” show in Indy.  What a blast that was.  I totally groupied Carl Castle!!  He’s a doll, by the way.

I encourage you to put your own Dreams to paper and watch as they start to materialize in ways big and small.  Dream Big, and then start Planning.

And in case you want to check out “Galileo”… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RiU2T4Psyc    http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/indigogirls/galileo.html