Over time, I have been blessed with the opportunity to hold several titles that I greatly appreciate and hold with high honor and humility.
They include being a wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, sorority sister, board member and president of America’s greatest weekly newspaper.
However, the newest title that delivers joy to me is that of mother. My husband and I have recently welcomed a healthy son into our life, and two became three.
When we look at our son, we view him not only with pride, but also with promise. As many people are fond of saying, “Kids grow up fast.” So although our son has just arrived to the party, in a few quick years he will be old enough to start thinking about what he wants to be when he grows up.
We already know that there is a lot of potential for him to be great, no matter what his goals in life end up being. Many of you have probably felt the same way about your own children.
After all, it was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday we celebrated last week, who said, “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve.”
Dr. King also reminded us that we stand out when we are excellent at what we do.
“And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it,” King said. “Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.”
Many of us know the rest of this quote, where King goes on to say that if a man is called to be a street sweeper, then he should strive to be the best in that profession, just as Michelangelo painted pictures, Beethoven composed music, and Leontyne Price sang before the Metropolitan Opera.
“Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry,” King said. “Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’”
What were you called to be great at? What kind of dreams have you had?
Many of us — if we had an even remotely “normal” childhood — had dreams as children. In other words, at a young age, we had an idea of what kind of career we wanted. Even if we didn’t have all the details down, we thought about what we wanted to be when we grew up.
Some of us, as we hung out with our friends and rode in our parents’ car or on the bus, even daydreamed about what kind of family, house and car we would have one day.
Of course, we had fun and got into the innocent mischief kids often get into. However, in the backs of our minds, we never forgot that we wouldn’t be children forever. In fact, most of us didn’t want to be children forever!
We looked forward to the “freedom” of being an adult, and doing as we choose without house rules.
However, when that “freedom” arrived, it also ushered in the reality that comes from things like bills, jobs, relationships, having children early in life and other factors that can sometimes present challenges. Lofty ambitions and dreams may have taken a back seat as we searched for a more practical place in the world after high school, whether it was in college, the military or the workforce.
Some people do achieve their dreams and reach the exact goals they have always had. Others, however, watch their dreams fade as they settle into the daily grind of securing the basics of life. Back in the day, they called it “the rat race” or “keeping up with the Joneses.”
This week, I would like to remind you that we never have to let go of our dreams. Life’s realities may require us to change how we achieve our dreams now that we are grown, but that doesn’t mean we have to give them up.
We can also restore the sense of adventure for life that we had as children, when we would wake up (especially on weekends) and excitedly look forward to enjoying our friends, watching our favorite television shows or enjoying our hobbies.
So, think about the things that you loved doing as a kid. Did you enjoy drawing, building things or singing and dancing? Did you have fun “playing church,” love “cops and robbers” or pretend to be a model at a fashion show with your friends? Did you enjoy helping your father work on the car in the garage, or helping your mother in the kitchen?
Were you one of the kids who could sell a lot of stuff at the lemonade stand, family garage sale or with school fundraisers? Maybe now is the time to start your own business.
Sometimes the calling that we have on our life in the present or future can be found by looking at an earlier stage of life. That calling could be a new career, or it could simply be a fun hobby to help you balance your life.
Either way, it is never too late to restore our dreams. I know this because of two great examples I would like to share with you.
Samuel Jackson remembered his gift for imitating other people as a kid and his enjoyment of a college acting class while he recovered from a drug addiction. In 1994, at age 46, he landed his breakthrough role in the movie “Pulp Fiction” alongside John Travolta.
Oprah Winfrey lost her first reporting job at age 23. However, she never forgot her goal of success in television and launched “The Oprah Winfrey Show” 10 years later. As we can see, her perseverance literally paid off.
Indiana native “Colonel” Harland Sanders had tried and failed several business ideas before remembering how much people enjoyed his homemade chicken. He launched Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was in his 60s.
No matter the realities of life may be, we can always tap into the power and promise of our dreams.