Turning Dreams into Realities

Reflecting on goals and achievements.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I am in my life.

Most of my thoughts these days center around my new home, still under construction. It was nearly three years ago, in the spring of 2012, that I first laid eyes on the land I’d later buy to build my home. Back then, I had an inkling of an idea — a simple summer home where I could escape Arizona’s heat with my helicopter parked onsite for my cherry season work. In those days, I had a man I thought was my life partner and I honestly thought I’d make that summer home with him. But things don’t always turn out the way you expect and I wound up moving forward on my own, rebuilding my life as I built my year-round home.

It’s easy to sit back and skate through life.
What’s hard is working and making sacrifices to make your dreams a reality.
But until you you do it, you have no idea how worth the effort it is.

It’s that home that I’ve been thinking about most lately. What started as a vague idea moved on to a series of sketches that were fine-tuned along the way with input by friends and contractors with more experience than I had as a builder. Some suggestions were good and changed my plans; other suggestions did not meet my needs or ideas and were discarded.

Emotional and financial challenges delayed the purchase of the land to July 2013. More of the same delayed the start of construction to April 2014. But all the time I kept working my ideas and fine-tuning my plans. Even as the shell of my building started to go up in May 2014, I was fine-tuning floor plans for my living space and resizing my deck.

Cliff View
The shell of my home this past summer, before I brought the helicopter inside.

But what I find most amazing — and what I’ve been thinking most about recently — is how something that came out of my head materialized over time on my land. I drew the building I wanted and did all the ground work to line up the people to build it. They built exactly what I designed. And they said it was good — not because they built it but because it was something they liked, something they understood would meet a need. I didn’t compromise and it showed.

And it is good. It meets my needs entirely: a place to store the things I’ve accumulated and need to get my work done and enjoy my life. Yes, I do have three cars — but I use all of them and I’m thrilled to have them all under one roof. Yes, I do have a boat and a motorcycle and an RV — but I use all of them to stay active and enjoy time with friends or on the road and I love having them secure at my home. Yes, I do have a helicopter — but I use it to earn a living and you can’t imagine how happy I am to have it under my own roof.

Now, as I work with contractors and friends to finish my living space, I’m reminded over and over about how that inkling of an idea for a summer home germinated and grew into a structure of my design for a year-round residence. As I run wire in my kitchen, I think about the microwave or coffee maker that’ll plug into the outlet I placed exactly where I wanted it to be. As I order cabinets and countertops, I think of how I’ll store my plates and glasses and silverware and how I’ll prepare meals and chat with visitors at my breakfast bar. As I buy appliances and bathroom fixtures, I think about doing laundry and baking cookies and soaking in my tub in front of the big bathroom window. As I stand at the door to my deck and gaze out at the world around me, I think about the afternoons I’ll sit out on the deck with friends, sipping wine and chatting about life as we take in the magnificent view.

Winter Panorama
I shot this photo from my deck the other day, while I was running wires for the lights out there. How can a person not be happy with this out their window? (You can click it to zoom in and see the details of the river and orchards and snowcapped mountains.)

Yes, I’m still dreaming, but bit by bit those dreams are becoming a reality.

And it’s my hard work that is making this happen.

I spent nearly every day of the past two weeks up in my future living space, running wires to electrical outlets. My fingers are sore and my cuticles are cracked. I broke my toe by stubbing it, nearly broke a finger by crushing it with a twisting drill, and have cut myself more times than I care to count. I’ve gone to bed exhausted and have woken up stiff and sore.

To pay for the materials and the work provided by others, I’ve made numerous lifestyle sacrifices, the most significant of which is living in an RV since I left my Arizona home for good in May 2013. While my RV isn’t exactly uncomfortable, it isn’t nearly as comfortable as a rented apartment or house would be. But why pay $1,500 a month or more on rent when that money can be used to buy appliances or pay a plumber for my own home? And besides, I worry that getting too comfortable in a temporary home might take away the urgency I feel about getting my new home done.

The reward for my hard work and sacrifices is seeing my dreams come true.

I cannot express the immense feeling of satisfaction and joy I get when I look at my new home and remind myself that it came from me. I designed it, I did what it took to get it built, I made all the decisions and paid all the bills.

And that feeling of joy is pumped up every single time someone comes by and says “This is going to be a great place when it’s done.” Do you know how often I hear that? Almost every time someone comes up to visit or work on my place. Over and over — they all say the same thing. From the UPS delivery guy to the guy who runs the pole building construction company. Inspectors, plumbers, drywall guys — they all tell me how much they’d love to live at my place. Can you imagine how that makes me feel?

I know I got it right — but I have so many people confirming it.

And as weird as this might sound, I have to thank my wasband and his girlfriend for making this all possible. If it wasn’t for him pulling the plug on our marriage and her convincing him to make me an enemy by going after my business assets, I never would have had the freedom to finally move forward with my life. Years of stagnation, living half of every year in a rut he’d dug, waiting for the man I loved to get his head and life together and fulfill his promises to me finally ended. Although the ending wasn’t the way I would have chosen, I know now, in hindsight, that it was the best way. A clean break is the best break. No more grief, no more frustration.

And now I’m moving forward again, rebuilding my life as a better life, making my dreams happen.

I love where I am in my life: happy, healthy, free, surrounded by friends, living in a beautiful place. Seeing the results of my hard work materialize before my eyes.

What else is there?

12 thoughts on “Turning Dreams into Realities

  1. Wow. This all warms my heart. I love seeing and hearing where you are now, especially after having traveled this journey with you the past few years.

    I also love seeing how you can visualize living in all these spaces down to plugging in your various small appliances and wine on the deck… all of it.

    I’m so, so glad you’ve come this far in your journey. Your story and how you’ve been moving forward and fulfilling your dreams is truly Inspirational and admirable. I’m beyond thrilled and happy for you, Maria.

    • Thanks, Shirley! I’ve been spending a lot of time visualizing lately – and I like what I see, even though it doesn’t exist yet! But I do want to repeat again that I wouldn’t have come so far so fast without the moral support of good friends like you. Thanks again.

  2. Maria, you have a beautiful home and helicopter. You’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge on your journey. You’ve discovered things about yourself that you never knew. I’m thinking that you wouldn’t turn back time, even if you could. You need to grow in life and not stagnate. You have been growing. Good luck in the future. A lot of people are pulling for you. You are your own woman. You have a lot to be proud of. Keep up the good work!

    • Not too long ago, I used to wish I could turn back time. But you’re right – I realize now that doing so would be a huge mistake. I’m so much better off now then where I would be if that huge life change hadn’t been forced upon me. Some people change and grow; others don’t. I know which one I am and I’m glad I finally got the opportunity to keep growing.

  3. And this is only the beginning!

    So happy to hear that your moments of grief have turned into personal glory. As it should be…an inspiration to others in the rut. (As you know, I fought it too.)

    How fun that we both are exploring and defining our individual selves and futures in this beautiful area! No looking back – only forward. Congratulations on your accomplishments thus far, and most particularly, how they have helped to bring you satisfaction and peace.

    • Anyone can dig their way out of a rut — if they want to badly enough and aren’t afraid to work at it. I think that’s what I was trying to communicate in this post. I made it — others can make it, too. Hard work, perseverance, and the support of friends is pretty much what it takes.

  4. Do you remember the first time you sat down to write a whole book on your own? If you were anything like me, it seemed to be an overwhelming task, one you weren’t really sure you could complete. Then you did, and discovered you were good at it. Eventually, writing books came easily to you, as it did to me (I’ve got 48 books under my belt now).

    Seems to me that history is repeating itself; though you’re not likely to be building any more homes, you’ve taken the one-step-at-a-time process we need and use to write books and used that experience and courage to do something way more meaningful. Congrats.

    • I was lucky — my first book was only four chapters ghostwritten for someone else. And my next book was co-authored so I only had to write half. They were good practice for what was to come. But yes, sometimes it did seem like a daunting task. Step-by-step, little by little, one task at a time. That is the way to do anything difficult. It got easier with almost every book. (And I’ve got you beat – I’ve written 85.)

    • I generally don’t count the early books where I wrote a few chapters, though the co-authored ones count (after all, the biggest seller – the JavaScript book that allowed us to move from LA to the wine country – is a coauthorship with Dori). My rule of thumb is that a book counts if my name appears on the cover. You’ve still got me beat by a mile, though. There were some years where you were really cranking them out; you’re clearly a faster writer. Ironically, my typing speed sucks, which is one reason I write long work like books via Dragon voice recognition.

    • I follow the same rule: name on cover counts. How lucky you are to be able to work with your wife! And, like you, I had a breakthrough book that changed my way of life. Actually, it was two books within a year of each other: Quicken for Osborne/McGraw-Hill and Mac OS 8 VQS for Peachpit. Each enjoyed very long lives and very good sales for about 6-8 years. Sadly, I suspect those days are gone for good. I’m just glad I found a new career to pick up when my writing career began to falter. Coincidentally, the very last book I wrote for Peachpit was about Dragon Dictate.

What do you think?