Dreaming and Doing with a Dry Erase Board


Recently, I got a lease renewal notice from my landlord taped to my door. I opened it, puzzled, because I moved into this apartment in October more than three years ago. Ownership had changed a year ago, and they were changing terms and getting caught up with residents. Luckily, they gave me more than a month to decide if I was going to renew my lease and for how long. Weirdly, when I get my lease renewal, I start dreaming of impermanence and travel.

I guess that when you have a mortgage and a house or condo, you take a different view of things. Perhaps, you are thinking more of roots and equity and home improvements. A few times, in the past, I have made decisions (or not made decisions) based on feeling trapped in a lease or in a commitment to an employer, or a relationship. And it was often frustrating when the lease and employment timelines didn’t coincide, or when the relationship felt stale.

So, a couple of weeks ago, one night after a long shift at work, I came home, and brewed a pot of herbal tea. A pot, not a cup, in the ceramic tea pot that I love. The best ruminating, dreaming, and decision making sessions begin with a beverage. I poured a small cup from the pot and crossed my legs under me on the couch. I sat in the dark, minus the twinkly lights twisted around the curtain rod over the sliding glass door. I could go month-to-month for $125 more a month, or I could give my notice, or I could pick a range of a number of months for renewal.

I knew that this was more than just picking a number between one and twelve. There are some dreams and transitions on the horizon. There are some bills to pay off, savings to build. There are ideas of living and working and traveling abroad. There is a marathon I want to run in the fall. There is a book manuscript to complete. There are some education goals and career directions I want to pursue. There is a writer’s residency I hope to get. There are some adventures to have and trips I want to take. I flicked on the light and looked back at my notes after my recent life-assessment-goal-making session. I thought back to a couple of recent conversations with friends, and a texting session with my younger sister. I thought of my older sister living in England, going for something she wanted to do. I thought of my nephews and niece, who seem to just do exactly what they are dreaming of in their adult lives, and I admire their confidence and follow-through.

I looked around at my lovely apartment and out the window at the tree I love, the moon and streetlights making it glow. I realized that I can make anywhere a home. I love Albuquerque, but also want to experience other cultures, other languages, other homes, other paths.

I pulled the huge dry erase board from behind the bedroom door. I found the colored dry erase markers. I poured more tea. I went back to my goal notes. I looked at my bills and debts and budget. As much as I wanted to leave the next week for a life transforming hike in Spain on the Camino de Santiago, I had to look at reality, too. I opened the calendar app on my phone to look at the spread of the next year (I don’t use it except for looking at the dates). I got up and stretched, poured more tea, and then turned on the kettle for more hot water.

I went back to the lease renewal notice and at my list of debts and amounts. I realized that a year seemed to be a good amount of time to renew my lease. It gives me time to pay off some debts, to put a bit into savings. There is something different about living life with intention and deliberation, not just having haphazard dreams with no follow up. A year felt like the perfect amount of time. With that decision made, it made it easier to focus on all the things I had come up with during my dreaming-goal-assessment time.

I looked at my notes and used the markers to write down goals and tasks across different categories. The categories were slightly different than the 12 areas I borrowed from the Life Book folks from my recent goal making sessions. However, I realized that all of my categories comprised the whole life view and that’s what was important, looking at things with a whole lens, not just looking at a snippet, a scrap.

I spent the next couple of hours writing out the goals and tasks on the big dry erase board. By the time I was finished, I crawled into a bed, exhausted at 1:30 in the morning.

I slept late the next morning and then got up with the help of a strong pot of coffee. I moved my desk from the bedroom into the hallway, and moved a couple of things around in the bedroom. I made a couple of new nooks and crannies, devoted to specific tasks and goals. I waited until 10 am before I pulled out my hammer. I hung the dry erase board in my room on the wall in the space where my desk used to be. I called the landlord and made an appointment to go into the office to renew my documents and to sign a new lease. For once in my life, my goals aren’t impossible to achieve in a year.

I have a year left in Albuquerque, at least in this apartment, according to my new lease. I have goals and plans for physical triumphs: the marathon and training plan are coming together very slowly. I’m working on my Spanish with the help of a few-years-ago-CD-purchase and an app. I texted my sister about planning a hike to get to the top of Mount Wheeler, the highest point in New Mexico for late summer/early fall. I want to make yoga practice a regular thing. I finished the intro and a couple of essays, plus read through some previously written essays, for my book project. I applied for a couple of side gigs. I updated my resume for an upcoming career fair. I made plans to get together with a couple of friends.

I moved $5 from checking to savings. I paid another bill. I called and made payment arrangements for one debt. I updated my resume and my LinkedIn profile. I requested a schedule change at work, so I could attend a career fair. I watched an online lecture for a course I’m taking. I made tentative plans for a weekend away in May. I sent an e-mail to an editor about a possible article. I cleaned out my T-shirt drawer. I meditated for 3 minutes. I journaled for mental health. I sent an email to a good friend who is teaching abroad to ask for tips and suggestions. I confirmed upcoming weekend plans with married friends of mine. I called my mom to tell her I loved her.

It’s all about the small steps, the large ones. This next year is a big one, a different one, April 1-April 1. Is this the year of April Fools?

My eye is on this next year and a big dry erase board.

2 comments

  1. Sounds like you are always on the go being very responsible with your personal and financial mandates. When in the Air Force, I was stationed in Turkey for 27 months and saw quite a few Greco-Roman remains from the New Testament. I have always wanted to return to Turkey and revisit those sites in addition to newly excavated Greco-Roman remains. But I am going to have to save a decent amount of money for that sojourn. Also, nothing like good sweet tea during the day.

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