The Dreamer and The Fuel

13900099_1048940548524573_4732012160546095309_n1This week is a big week – my wedding anniversary and my Nashville anniversary.  Twelve years ago, on our first wedding anniversary, a young nurse and slightly older musician moved out of a one-bedroom apartment in Buford, GA with a little furniture, pretty much no money and big dream.  We were wide-eyed, bushy tailed, and had no idea what we were doing.  The days have been long, the years have been short, but the dream remains.

Let me first say that this was not part of my plan.  If you have read any of the other blog postings, you know by now that I’m a planner.  I want to know who, what, when, and where.  I plan my days, my weeks, and years – if you would like I’ll plan yours too!  So when a tall handsome musician entered the picture, I was a little confused.  He didn’t fit the plan at all.  He was a free-spirit (which I had always made fun of), he made money playing bass guitar anywhere he could, he loved camping for goodness sake, he lived in a house with no heating/air, he drove someone else’s car on our first date – told me it was his and then bought it so I wouldn’t know – HEAVENS – but he was also kind, caring, and treated me like I was the most important thing.  Oh, no!  What happened?  I ventured off course.  I didn’t see this coming – I fell for a dreamer.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have dreams too, but my dreams are common and widely accepted.  No one ever looked at me like I had three heads when I said, “I’m in nursing school and hope to be a nurse practitioner”, but I can still picture the horror in some of the faces when I said, “He’s a musician and we’re moving to Nashville”.  You know the look – “Oh that poor girl, she must be crazy, bless her heart”.  Now my parents and sisters have always been supportive, but believe me I’ve heard every cliché in the book about “musicians”.  And, although there are celebrity examples of every bad thing you can imagine, my experience is that most musicians are just trying to make a living doing what they love.  Not too different from the rest of us.  I will say, however, that when I said, “yes” to this man, this life, and this dream I entered into what I believe is a calling, if you will – one that few will understand.

Let me explain…I saw a quote a few years back that rocked my world.  I have no idea who said it and I haven’t been able to find it since, but it was something like this – “Some of us wake up every morning to fuel someone else’s dream”.  This was me exactly and someone finally wrote it down.  I am the fuel.  I had struggled so long trying to explain to others-why did we move to Nashville?, what were our goals?, what was this dream all about? – and still most people didn’t (and some still don’t) understand my role as the fuel.  If I’m not careful, I can come off as the victim, the hero and/or the martyr – she works so hard, she moved away from her family, she’s all alone, yada, yada, yada.  In reality, I’m just the fuel – literally, at times, as the organizer, the day-to-day task manager and the financial planner; and figuratively, more often, as the pusher, the truth speaker, the reality checker, and the common song critiquer.  Nothing more, nothing less.  We’re a team – he dreams, I fuel – all day, every day.

I don’t think we’re really that different from other couples except that our dream is a little more far fetched.  One half of a couple is usually more of a risk-taker, imaginative, artistic, creative and focused on the future; and the other is more grounded, cautious, sensible, realistic, and focused on the here and now.  The dreamer and the fuel.

So if you’re the dreamer, the fuel, or if you’re a dreamer looking for the fuel (or vise versa)I’ve got a few tips…

  • It’s not a competition.  One role is NOT more important than the other.  Its easy to get side tracked and become so focused on my role that I feel more important; but in reality, without the dreamer, I’m just gasoline without a car.
  • Some people won’t get it.  I’ve found that no matter how successful my husband is there are always people who choose to see the negative side.  Some will be true haters, some will be indifferent, and some are really trying to help – but they just don’t get it.  My advice is to recognize it, choose not to judge them, and realize that this dream is not for everyone – so everyone doesn’t have to approve.
  • Stay true to the dream.  When we moved to Nashville, we really just wanted to live in a place where my husband could write songs, play music, make connections, and further his music career.  This doesn’t mean that he must be on TV or playing with a multi-platinum recording artist.  Those things are nice and if they come, they come, but our dream must never be driven by such.
  • Sometimes, the dream is delayed.  Pete Wilson says, “Just because your dream is delayed doesn’t mean it’s denied”.  This has brought me so much peace over the years.  There have been so many times that we had to put all or parts of the dream on hold – finances, children, bands fell apart, deals fell through, promises were broken, marriage struggles, etc. – but the dream remains.  Delays are sometimes necessary to prepare you for the next step.  Warning:  this is sometimes harder on the fuel because we focus on the here and now.  Cherish this time, lean in, believe, learn and refocus.
  • Stay flexible.  Uh, I hate that word.  Its the opposite of planning.  Remember when I said that a musician wasn’t in the plan?  Well, there will be so many twists and turns in your journey.  If you’re staying true to the dream, those twists and turns are necessary, so just go with it.  You’re not in control anyway – oh, how I could spend a whole blog post on this and I probably will.  Trust in the one who gave you the dream (and I don’t mean my husband), let go, and enjoy the ride.
  • Find ways to remember.  When the days get really long and hard I try to find ways to remember what we have gone through.  I don’t mean that you should have a pity party – I mean rejoice in what you’ve overcome.  Remember when and how far you have come – find a picture, a quote, a bible verse, a tattoo (oh my) and keep it close.
  • And Finally…Hold on tight to the encouragers.  Sometimes, when chasing a dream, it feels dark and lonely – when you feel this way, call, text, reach out to those on your team.  They get it and will give you the encouragement you need.

So, happy wedding and Nashville anniversary to me – the fuel – and to my husband – the dreamer.  May we dream, fuel and repeat – for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.

Mary Ann




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