As a little girl, I grew up dreaming about a lot of things.
I dreamed about growing up.
I dreamed of the places I would travel (mostly Disneyland repeatedly).
I dreamed of being an actress. Then a doctor. Then a dancer at a Mexican resort. (You might be able to guess which one was my parent’s favourite career choice).
I dreamed about my wedding.
And I dreamed about the man I would marry.
It turns out, I was wrong about almost all my dreams.
I never actually grew up – I’m still just a hair over (or under) 5 feet, depending on the day.
I’m not an actress. Or a doctor. Or a dancer at a Mexican resort (at least not a paid one).
I was right that I’d travel to Disneyland repeatedly. But I had no idea about the other 33 countries (and counting) I’d also see.
What about the dream I was the most wrong about?
My dream man.
This sounds terrible right?
Hearing this, you may think I’m unhappy with my marriage. Or that I'm still out there looking for my dream man.
Even though I consider myself a very self-aware person, sometimes I get it wrong.
We all do.
There are some serious differences between my "dream man" list and the dream man in front of me (spoiler alert: I really did marry an amazing man).
Here’s the differences between my dream man and my actual man:
Dream Man: Man who loves to dance. I love to get down. Salsa. Belly-dancing. Ballet. Kitchen dancing. Wine dancing. Fast dancing. Slow dancing. I love it all. I wanted a man who would join me on the dance floor (and around the kitchen island).
Actual Husband: Troy doesn't dance very often. It takes a giant crowd that he can get lost in (and usually a significant dent in a bottle of rum) for him to dance. But when he dances, I am in my happiest place! He looks happy - he has so much energy and life in him. It makes the moments when we are dancing together, my absolute favourite in the whole world.
Dream Man: Man full of compliments.
Actual Husband: Those who know my husband, know he's a man of not-so-many words. Getting a compliment from Troy is kind of rare. The good news? A compliment from Troy is completely genuine and true. He doesn't dole them out to fill conversation or to suck up to someone. If he says something kind about you, he means it. And that means a lot to me.
Dream Man: Man into spirituality and an uber-well-being lifestyle. I wanted my dream man to like yoga, exercise, and juicing. I thought I wanted a man who spoke my hippy-dippy, all-loving, free-loving, self-improvement loving language.
Actual Husband: Troy is not one of those men. He couldn't tell you what a savasana is (although he lays in one almost every night and on the couch when he watches Mad Men). He doesn't know what namaste means, or who Deepak Chopra is or many of the mindfulness/wellbeing gurus. And that's ok. Because even if it's not his thing, he lets it be my thing. He fully embraces that part of me and encourages me to do what is important to me and makes me happy.
Dream Man: Man who is super driven and type-A.
Actual Husband: Troy is brilliant. He's smart. And he's happy and accomplished. But super-driven and goal-oriented, he is not. He is, however, amazing at balancing life and fun and goals. And I need that. I need someone who is more laid back. He is the calming part of my life.
Dream Man: Man who pushes me on my goals journey.
Actual Husband: Troy’s not one to check in on my goals. Or even ask me about them. Wow, am I ever glad I did not find this! Now don't get me wrong: Troy fully supports me through and through. He encourages me and cares about my hopes and dreams. But he doesn't ask me about the progress of my goals weekly. Or check-in on what I've accomplished in a day or month (yes I would have wanted this.) And yet poor Troy suffers through me doing all these things to him.
The truth is, if Troy was everything I listed, I’m not sure it would work.
And if there were 2 type-As like me, we’d probably die of early heart attacks.
I work incredibly hard. I set aggressive goals.
I write to-do lists, and am constantly checking in on how I'm doing.
I don't need someone else doing it all the time.
I LOVE having incredible conversations that don't revolve around progress and results all the time.
Troy is the calm in my crazy storm of drive.
He is the steady foundation when my stress is high and I start to waiver.
He's the hug, the laugh, the grounding and the reminder that life isn't all serious.
He reminds me that life isn't about just doing, it's about being.
I wrote the “Dream Man” list for a few reasons (not the least of which is because I love lists).
The point of writing a “Dream Man” list was to find a beautiful, joyful relationship.
It was to find someone to share my life with.
Someone to be my partner in good times and bad. Someone to love me and to love being loved by me.
While I may not have hit all of the items on my list, I got something even better.
I accomplished exactly what I wanted – I found an incredible partner.
If there is one thing Troy has absolutely in spades, it is that he wants me to be happy.
In my soul, and in his, I feel that he loves to see me happy.
He encourages me to be the best me, and the most fulfilled me.
Ironically, it's a quality I didn’t have had the foresight to write on my list.
And yet, I can’t imagine our relationship (and my life) without it.
Because at the end of the day, what I really wanted was a deep love and someone to be truly, crazy, ridiculously happy with.
And no unchecked boxes on a list will ever take that love and happiness from my life.
Life is like this – it is full of surprises.
You can go in with lists. Expectations.
To-do’s. Guidelines. Specifications.
Clear goals. Defined plans.
And then, life shakes us up.
The key to success is an open mind.
The key to happiness is an open heart.
There are key things on my “dream man” list that my husband sure doesn’t fit.
But if I’d stayed attached to my list or my “dream”, I would have missed the amazing man he is.
See, the most important part of my dream was “have a relationship that uplifts me and fills me with love.”
Before you get attached to any plan, or list, or even dream, ask yourself “what do I really, really want here?”
Chances are, there are many ways to get what you want.
Plans change. Dreams change. Life changes.
When you stay open to what comes to you, and how (and even what!) you get in life, you’ll be amazed at your life.
In fact, it will probably be even better than you ever imagined.
Gratefully married to my non-dream man,
PS. I want you to stay open. Open-minded. And open-hearted.
Having an open heart is essential to your happiness. And to stay present to the wonders of life.
Although our month of love may be coming to a close, I believe there’s actually a beautiful opening.
An opening to putting love first.
To all the gifts of love.
And an opening to self-love.