(This column was originally published February 8, 2016)

I always had a dream, a picture in my mind of one day owning a home and in that home having an office with a couch and windows that looked out at trees and birds and sky. My animals sleeping on the cozy couch while I sat and wrote and sipped coffee.

All these years later… I am in that dream. That dream is real and it is mine. My dog and two cats on my couch, my office with windows all around looking out at trees and sky and birds and squirrels. My daughter in the next room listening to music. My fiance downstairs composing a song in his studio. Sipping coffee as I stop to say, thank you. Thank you for my life.

We all have dreams. Small, big, complex, simple… dreams. Visions. Images of what we want our life to look like. Thoughts of when we think those dreams should be realized. Plans for our dreams. Six years ago my dreams were slipping farther and farther away. Looking more and more impossible, ridiculous… pure fantasy. I was a broke, single mom who couldn’t get a job, couldn’t pay my bills, couldn’t put gas in the car. The career I had spent my adult life working at came to a halt. The dream seemed over and the only thing that mattered to me was taking care of my daughter. Keeping her safe, happy, warm, fed, loved and secure. And I did. Even when I was unsure where the next dollar was coming from she felt joy, protected, abundant. We focused on what we had, we celebrated life creatively, we wrote poems for presents, took walks along the river for entertainment, danced for no reason other than it’s frickin’ fantastic to dance.

I learned how to be grateful for the dream I was living. Instead of viewing it as a nightmare because it wasn’t how I thought it should be. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard. Financial fear is incredibly hard. But it taught me so much about myself. What I was capable of. What truly mattered. What abundance I did have if I was willing to open my eyes to it. I removed the shame and found the gift of walking through life’s challenges with humility, honesty, humor and willingness.

I also reflected on how I didn’t handle money well in the past. How I didn’t prepare for hard times. How I was naive and immature about so many aspects of my career. I had so much to learn and in that period of what seemed like never ending unemployment and financial insecurity I took the time to think how I would do things differently if given the opportunity.

So, when opportunity came that is exactly what I did. Like Scarlet O’Hara standing on the fields of Tara I proclaimed, I will never go hungry again!

I am awake. And my life is not only a dream… it is a far greater one than I ever imagined for myself. I cherish it. I respect it. I honor it by being as responsible, grateful, honest, giving, kind and hard working as I possibly can be. I am far, far, far from perfect. But every day as I drive to work I say in my car, thank you. Every paycheck that comes in I say, thank you. Every meal, tank of gas, clean batch of clothes, hot shower, light bulb that works and on and on and on… I say, thank you.

And here, sitting in my dream space. My dog snoring on the couch. The cat clacking at the squirrel outside the window, my finance’s piano playing faintly coming through the floorboards and my beautiful angel daughter who continues to be the greatest person I have ever known… I say, thank you.IMG_8837