And the Winner Is…

April 18, 2013

I am very pleased to announce the winner of our Help Name our RV Contest. I would like to thank everyone who participated in this, the first ever DreamBigLiveBodly.com contest. Many creative suggestions were submitted, and picking a winner wasn’t easy, but…

The winner is Janice Ebenstiner, whose single entry was selected by an international panel of judges (Diane and me). Her single entry was our favourite.

Henceforth, the name of our motorhome will be… The Dream Machine.

We liked The Dream Machine the most because:
• it makes reference to ‘dream’, incorporating a key element of my philosophy, the blog name, etc.
• ‘dream’ conjures up romantic images of all the dreams we can fulfill while traveling in our motorhome
• ‘dream’ also suggests that we’re living our dreams
• ‘machine’ helps others know that we’re talking about a piece of equipment (namely our RV)
• it rhymes
• it’s easy to remember, and most importantly
• it just feels right

At first I thought Janice might be making a retro reference to the van from Scooby Doo, but theirs was called The Mystery Machine (admittedly a better name if one is solving crimes, but not as good in our case). Nor is this the name of the van from Josie and the Pussycats, which was nameless as far as my crack research team (me) can determine.

As the contest winner, Janice will receive:
1) The pride of knowing that she is among the most creative and ingenious of this blog’s readers
2) The self-satisfaction of seeing the name that she proposed used regularly in this blog and our vernacular
3) Our heart-felt gratitude
4) The option of a guest blogging spot on DreamBigLiveBodly.com
5) A framed photograph of The Dream Machine taken during its naming ceremony

Patrick and Diane standing in front of the Dream Machine holding a bottle of sparking wine

The Naming Ceremony

Patrick and Diane standing in front of the Dream Machine holding glasses of sparking wine and signs that say 'Dream' and 'Machine'

Formal attire for the ceremony (I put on fresh shorts)

Thank-you again to Janice and to everyone who participated!


How to create your own Dreams List

April 3, 2013

I frequently make reference to My Dreams List in this blog.  People often ask me about it.  You too can use this tool to begin the process of fulfilling your dreams today.  The first step that I recommend is to create your own Dreams List.  Doing so will only take 15 minutes, requires no special training or skills, and could be the first step towards making your dreams come true.

We each must dream for ourselves.  No one else can or will do it for us.

Your time is limited, so don’t let it be wasted living someone else’s life. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. You’ve got to find what you love. Do what you believe is great work. If you haven’t found it, keep looking. Don’t settle.
Steve Jobs

Why is the Dreams List such a powerful tool?

Because it allows us to get clear about what we want and then to remain conscious of it.  See Why Dream Big and My Dreams List for more information on this.

So, what is a Dreams List?

It is the list of things that I would love to happen if I had no constraints whatsoever.  The things that I wish I could accomplish or experience if I had unlimited resources.

How do you create your own dreams list?

Get a blank piece of paper, and write the following across the top — “If I had unlimited time, money, and ability, I would…”  Then find a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted, and for the next 15 minutes, write down whatever you would love to accomplish or to experience in your life.

This is a brain-storming exercise.  Do not edit yourself.  Write down whatever comes to mind.  Do not limit yourself in any way.  Remember that you have unlimited resources and no constraints.  All obstacles will be eliminated.  Everything is possible.  Dream like a child would.  Let your dreams pour out onto the paper.  There are no wrong answers.  Have no concern for what others think, why you want something, or whether it is worthwhile.  If you need more time than 15 minutes, keep going.  On the other hand, your list doesn’t need to be long or even complete.  You can always add more dreams later.  Have fun with it.

Not sure what to write?  People often have dreams about their health, education, career, home, lifestyle, family, relationships, travel, etc., but your dreams are yours alone. Don’t feel obligated to write anything down, even about your spouse or your kids, unless it is something that you really want for yourself.

I’m too <fill in your own consideration(s) here> (e.g. old, busy, poor) to dream.

You’re never too <repeat your own consideration(s) here> to dream.  Everyone has dreams.  There is nothing, I repeat, NO-THING (e.g. young, stressed, sick, or afraid) that can or should prevent you from dreaming.

But why write down things that I’m unlikely to ever accomplish?

It doesn’t hurt to dream.  You never know what will happen.  Perhaps one or more of your dreams will come true.  Wouldn’t that be great?  Something is better than nothing.  What could it hurt to try?

“It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.”
— Bob Goddard 

OK, I did it.  Now what do I do with my list?

Keep it.  Put it some place where you’ll look at it periodically, at least once a month.  For example, on the inside cover of your journal or daybook, or on your bedside table.  Those who are more technically inclined might put in a spreadsheet, but print it out and don’t forget about it.  It’s important to review it periodically.

What else?  Shouldn’t I start taking action to achieve my dreams?

If you want to, then please do.  If you’re not ready yet, that’s OK too.  Just keep reviewing your list periodically.  Add additional items if you want, but don’t remove any.  If you see an opportunity to fulfill a dream (or take a step towards it) then go for it.  If you’re the planning type, consider your dreams when you plan your year or your month.

Final Thoughts

I believe that by creating my dreams list and remaining conscious of my dreams, that I am fulfilling more of those dreams than I would have otherwise (Dream Big).  I believe that the same thing can happen for you.  Please try it and let me know how it goes.  If you’ve already done it, I’d love to hear how it’s working for you.

The word 'DREAM' written in sand with a puple tinge


My Experiment in Community

June 8, 2012

When I started the latest incarnation of my blog, I gave careful thought to what I was doing (The Blog) and why (Why am I blogging?).   After 6 months of active publishing, I think it’s time to take stock of how I’m doing.  Here is my self-assessment.

Of the 4 objectives I set at the beginning, two were inward facing and two outward facing:

1)    To Create — This blog will be a creative outlet, an opportunity for me to bring into being something imaginative, entertaining, and occasionally, hopefully, inspired.

Publishing the blog has been stimulating and I have enjoyed the creative process.  I’m producing something that I’m proud of.  Some posts that I’ve particularly enjoyed writing from a creative perspective are The S&M Motel, Elisabeth, and Flamenco).  I hope that you’re enjoying reading and commenting on the blog.  With the goal of making it better, I welcome your feedback on my writing or any other topic.  Your suggestions are genuinely and greatly appreciated.

2)    To ReflectThis blog will encourage self-reflection, an indispensable activity on my journey of self-realization (the pursuit of self-knowledge). The blog will also be a journal of sorts, a record of memorable experiences, learnings, and other musings.

Writing encourages me to reflect on my experiences and to organize my thoughts.  I have definitely written about some topics that I was trying to process (e.g. Coming to terms with an alternative lifestyle, My Struggle with Stuff, Dachau, No Good Deed Goes UnpunishedParting is Such Sweet Sorrow), or where I wanted crystalize my thinking (e.g. Why Dream Big?, Why Live Boldy?, The Decline of the American Empire, Is Life Getting Too Complicated?).  As an added benefit, the blog also documents many of my memorable experiences in words and in pictures, the way a scrap book or photo album might.

3)    To Create Intimacy —  By sharing of myself, this blog will enhance my existing relationships and possibly develop new ones.

The blog has allowed me to stay in better contact with some family and friends while we travel.  I have also shared it with some new friends that we’ve met on the road, some of whom are now following too.  I think that I was a bit naïve (or overly optimistic) when I began about the complexities of online communication and relationships.  Despite the fact that the feedback I’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive, not everyone has responded favourably.  Not everyone cares or wants to be reminded about our gallivanting around the world.  People have busy lives and this blog competes for their limited time.  And, surprise surprise, not everyone agrees with what I have to say.  Although I never write with the intention to offend, I sometimes write about personal topics that are not often discussed, and I can occasionally be controversial.  Sometimes I don’t communicate clearly or people have a different interpretation.  Sometimes I suspect they just flat-out disagree with what I have to say.  I hope that they will find sufficient value to continue participating.

When I share my thoughts or beliefs or something that I’ve learned, I try to write them in a way that that is meaningful and true for me.  I don’t think that I have all the answers, and I try to avoid preaching to others.

Don’t tell people how to live their lives.  Just tell them stories, and they’ll figure out how the stories apply to them.  – Randy Pausch

I had hoped to receive more comments on the blog and to generate more dialogue, but I’ve learned that discussion of any in-depth or serious topics online is challenging.  Still, I greatly appreciate it when I do receive comments or feedback from others, and I’m willing to risk discussing some more weighty topics in the comments if you are.

4)    To ContributeI want this blog to be of value to others — one of my contributions to the world.  I’m optimistic that someone will learn, grow, or be inspired.    That someone will dream bigger or live more boldly that they otherwise would have.

I write this blog with others in mind.  I try to share stories that they’ll find interesting or stimulating in some way.  Ultimately this comes down to personal preference, so I try to write things that I would enjoy reading, and I get occasional guidance (usually on things that I shouldn’t write) from my wife Diane.  I hope that this blog helps to make the world a better place.  OK, that sounds like an overly lofty goal, but the sentiment is correct.  Although I have no direct evidence that it has occurred, I hope that I am helping to inspire others to achieve their dreams.  If you want to share a story about how this blog has touched or inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear it.

In addition to my 4 stated intentions, each of which has implied benefits, I have also benefited from increased learning.  To write about a topic I need to understand it first.  Although I’m not a journalist, I want to write with integrity, so I do my best to make sure I know what I’m talking about, and I try to check my facts.  As a result, I’ve learned a lot more about my subjects than I would have otherwise.

I’d like to thank-you for making May the most-read month ever for this blog.  There were over 1700 views of DreamBigLiveBoldly.com in May.  I must admit that I was secretly hoping that the blog would grow into a larger community.  It’s one way to get feedback that people enjoy my work.  If you know anyone that you think might enjoy the blog, would you please let them know about it.

How do you think I’m doing against my stated intentions?  What are your suggestions on how to make the blog better?  (Live Boldly. I can take it.)


My Dreams List

January 17, 2012

"I have a dream" printed on sign on a bulletin board
I have a Dreams List. It is what has become known in recent years as a ‘bucket list’, a list of things to experience before I ‘kick the bucket’. Over the years, my list has become an important tool to help me achieve my dreams. More information about why I choose to Dream Big and Live Boldly is available in earlier posts.

My Dreams List is an evolving thing. I review it several times a year. I incorporate it into my annual planning, selecting some dreams to pursue each year. I add new dreams to the list from time to time. I change priorities. To guard against ever giving up on a dream, I never remove anything from the list. Lower priority items remain there to remind me of what I once thought was important. As a result, I will probably never fulfill all of the dreams on the list, which is fine with me.

I started my Dreams List in 1991. I was 25 years old, recently graduated from university and working at my first professional job. My first list was hand-written, done as an exercise at a personal finance seminar that I attended. When I started my list, it seemed like a purely mental exercise, a bit of fun that would put aside and soon forgotten like the notes from virtually every other seminar I’ve ever intended. I was not particularly invested in it. The downside risk of writing down my dreams and never achieving them seemed more likely and more intimidating than the chances of ever fulfilling them. But I wrote them down nonetheless. In the following years, my awareness of my dreams ebbed and flowed. I was focused on my career. I got married. We bought our first house. Interestingly, none of these things was specifically on my Dreams List, but they were important to me (results speak) and essential to achieving my other dreams.

It was 9 years before my first dream came true. Two years later, I completed 5 more. Encouraged by my positive results, I began to focus more on my dreams. I reviewed them more frequently. I began to target specific dreams to pursue. With greater awareness came even greater results. I have already fulfilled more of my dreams than I ever would have imagined when I began.

Over the years, my Dreams List has grown and changed dramatically. It currently has 162 items on it. Of these, 56 have been completed. I plan to fulfill 14 more dreams in 2012, although the actual number will probably be less (I tend to bite off more than I can chew). There is something very satisfying about returning to my list to check off a dream that I added 20 years earlier, but the list is just a tool, a means to my goal of living a greater life.

I believe that having dreams and remaining conscious of them will increase the likelihood that they will occur. Writing down my dreams helps me with both of these. It also helps me to believe that I’m capable of fulfilling my dreams. I choose to believe that I can do virtually anything that I set my mind to.

I do not believe in magic nor pseudoscience and am therefore skeptical of the notion that intention alone can manifest certain things in my life. I have difficulty buying into Law of Attraction ideas such as those postulated in the books The Secret (Ronda Byrne), Think and Grow Rich (Napolean Hill), and The Power of Positive Thinking (Normal Vincent Peale), although I have read all three. But it is my actual experience that if I get clear and remain conscious of the things that I want, they are more likely to happen. Although the mechanism is unclear, it makes sense to me that this should be the case.

The first step is daring to dream in the first place (Dream Big). The second is to remain focused on my vision and to deal with whatever comes up (Live Boldly).

“A #2 pencil and a dream can take you anywhere.” — Joyce A. Myers

The word "Dream" written in the sand with water


Why Live Boldly?

January 9, 2012

I chose the name Dream Big Live Boldly for this blog thoughtfully. In a previous post, I wrote about why I choose to Dream Big. This post is about the second part, living boldly.

Having dared to dream, some action is required. Clear intention is important but not sufficient.

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. – Henry David Thoreau

Taking action is often the hardest step. It can be so frightening and confusing that many people never risk it. Their dreams are suppressed or forgotten or something that they try to pursue only when death is imminent, but by then it is often too late. There is nothing sadder than a life unlived.

Don’t put pressure on yourself. Pick one dream and take the first small step towards making it happen. Congratulate yourself. Then, take the next step.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. – Anonymous

Almost by definition, big dreams don’t come easily. Otherwise they wouldn’t be big dreams. We often start out with the best of intentions, but are inevitably met by challenges. The road is neither clear nor straight. Sometimes we don’t even know where to start. Life gets in the way. Faced with an obstacle, it is often easier to retreat, but what lays behind is only shadows. A pale reflection of what my life could be. It takes courage to continue to press forward (Live Boldly). Great things can and do happen if I find the courage to pursue them.

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney

Some common barriers on the road are a lack of money or shortage of time for which there will always be hundreds of competing interests. There will be people who don’t support me or who undermine me (consciously or otherwise). I will certainly meet my insecurities along the way, the belief that I’m too old, too young, not smart enough, not strong enough, under qualified, over qualified, etc. This list is almost endless. It’s important to know that all of these are mental barriers or things that can be overcome.

We create barriers for ourselves. We have our own mental barriers. And that keeps us from becoming all we can be, because we say “Well, I can’t do that”. But in the end… you can’t do it unless you can imagine it. And you can’t do it unless you can imagine yourself succeeding at it. – George Lucas

Any life endeavor worth pursuing involves some risk. We take risks every day when we drive a car, go to work, take a vacation, and fall in love. The correct response to life’s risks is not to run away from living, but to feel the fear and do it anyway. In the face of all the risks, I choose to live my life with courage (Live Boldly). Living a life of fear is no life at all.

A lot of people do not muster the courage to live their dreams because they are afraid to die.  – Les Brown

The key is to always keep moving forward. I hold the vision of the dream and deal with whatever is ahead of me. It helps me to focus on where I want to go, not where I’m frightened to go. We all face challenges. What defines us is how we respond to them. I find it useful to believe that things will work out in the end. In my experience, they generally do, and it helps me to get out of bed in the morning when things aren’t going well.

It’s very important that I always remember to enjoy the journey. What’s better than pursuing my dreams? I can’t wait until I have fulfilled my dreams to be happy. That day may never happen, but I can be happy right here, right now.

Note — If you haven’t seen it (or haven’t seen it recently), I highly recommend watching Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture.  Randy was a brilliant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who touched the lives of many, even when his own was ending.


Why Dream Big?

January 6, 2012

I chose the name for this blog Dream Big Live Boldly thoughtfully. What does it mean to me?

Life is short, way too short to sit back and wait for something good to happen. This is not a dress rehearsal. I want to live the best life that I can. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity.

Neon sign with the words "you only live once"

There are two essential components to experiencing my best life. The first is dreaming big, and the second, having the courage to continue to pursue those dreams despite all obstacles. This posting will address the first of these.

Why Dream?

When we were children, we all had dreams. Ask a child what they want when they grow up and they’ll quickly volunteer lots of ideas. But something happens on the way to adulthood. We put away our childhood dreams. We lower our expectations. We compromise. We give up. As adults many of us have forgotten how to dream or don’t dare to for risk of disappointment.

Everyone has a default script for our lives (parents, employer, spouse, kids, the government). Although they are generally well meaning, if I don’t have dreams of my own, these scripts will become mine. I’d rather be the master of my own destiny.

Dreaming is the essential first step to living a full life. To bring something into being, I need to first imagine it.

Before your dreams can come true, you have to have those dreams. — Joyce Brothers

Dreams have a tendency to morph into reality. Dreams envisioned are more likely to occur than those that are suppressed. There is no magic here. Although it is helpful to believe that one’s dreams will come true, what is necessary is only that one remain conscious of their dreams.

Despite what we’ve been taught, we don’t have to be rich, powerful, or unique to make our dreams come true.

If you can dream it, you can do it.  Always remember that this whole thing was started by a mouse. — Walt Disney

Why Dream Big?


Yoda looking up at The Hulk

Big dreams are inspirational. They can compete with all the other things demanding my attention. I seek a dream so compelling that I can’t help but achieve it. Something attractive and powerful.

Big dreams expand my abilities. They challenge me. Why limit myself?

Big dreams attract support.

The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. – W.H. Murray

Even if I fall short of my big dreams, I’ll still gain a lot. I doubt that I’ll achieve all of them, but it is better to fail spectacularly then to fade away without pursing them.

If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK. But you’ve got to shoot for something. A lot of people don’t even shoot. – Robert Townsend

The journey is the reward. I will live a greater life pursuing my dreams, even if I never achieve them.

Have you dared to dream? If so, are your dreams big enough for you?


My context shift

September 29, 2011

Have you ever experienced a change of perspective, paradigm, or context so significant that it literally transformed your life?  I have.

While trekking in the mountains of Nepal in the fall of 2009, I was walking with a friend and talking about a potential career change.  I was brainstorming all kinds of creative ideas (new jobs, business opportunities, writing a book, etc.) when he asked the question that changed my life, “Do you need to work?”  At first, I almost laughed at the simplicity and apparent naiveté of the question.  I didn’t know how to respond.  For some reason I wanted to say, “Of course I need to work”, but that wasn’t strictly true.  No one needs to work.  It is, like all things in life, a choice.  So I thought about it and then answered, “I assume so.  I don’t really know.  I’ve never really considered it”.  And so, I considered it.

Answering the question wasn’t easy nor quick.  It was six months before I emailed my friend to answer his question.  I replied that I could, with a reasonable probability, live a lifestyle that would be acceptable to my wife and I, without needing a job.  Notice all the caveats in that statement.  That’s because deciding to stop working is not a simple thing.  Despite what the advertisements for banks and investments imply, it is something closer to an educated guess than an exact science.   For many people, I suspect it is easier to just keep working than to even answer that question.

Although finding an answer took a while, the change of perspective was quick.  I needed only to open my mind to the most obvious scenario, the one that was staring me in the face.  In business cases, the status quo is almost always considered.  Potential alternatives are compared to one another, but also to continuing to do what we’re doing now.  But somehow, I was overlooking this.  Although I was not working at that time, my mind was so locked into the idea that I needed to work, that I failed to see the obvious.  I needed only to see things differently to realize a world of possibility.  Dream Big.

Have you ever experienced a context shift so significant that it changed your life?


The Blog

September 1, 2011

Welcome to DreamBigLiveBoldly.com. This blog is about my travels through life, both literally and figuratively. I intend to share some of my experiences in the world as I explore it, including exotic foreign locales but also special places closer to home. I will also write about the things I’m learning on my journey of self-discovery that I think may be of value to others. They may be things that have worked for me, or something that I’m currently learning or trying.

This blog is an experiment in creativity, intimacy, community, and self-reflection. For more information, see Why I’m Blogging. For more information about me, see About The Blogger.

Why would you want to read my blog? Ultimately your reasons are personal. I hope that you will find value and benefit from the time you spend here. My intention is to be entertaining and engaging enough that you want to participate and to return, that we both might benefit. Hopefully, you will share your experiences as a student of life, or perhaps be inspired to dream bigger or live bolder than you might have otherwise.