Over 50 & Thriving Series Over 50s Lifestyle

Why keeping your Dreams alive is vital to Thriving

July 26, 2018
Why keeping your Dreams alive is vital to Thriving

We all have dreams, don’t we?  Dreams give us hope and a purpose to work towards.  Life, sometimes has different plans for us, but that doesn’t mean we give up on our dreams.  My guest this week, in the Over 50 & Thriving Series, is Heather Erickson.  I met Heather through the AtoZ Challenge, earlier this year and when I read her story, I knew she would be a valuable contributor to the Thriving Series.

Heather, her husband and family, have had to face difficult times when her husband was diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer in 2012.  Since then, Heather has worked to encourage others facing cancer and their families to keep fulfilling their dreams despite their illness.  I”m sure you will enjoy Heather’s suggestions on ways why we need to keep our dreams alive in order to thrive.  You can also connect with Heather through her website and links to her social media, at the end of this post.

Why keeping your Dreams alive is vital to Thriving

To me, thriving over 50 means dreaming. Dreaming is essential to living your life with purpose, and purpose is essential to thriving.

Your childhood is spent listening to your parents.  Then you get married and have kids (maybe) and if you do, you discover that you are really centering your life on taking care of them. Your home fills up with their things and the older they get, the more things they add. You become a taxi cab driver getting them to and from every event they attend. And you wouldn’t change a thing. After all, you love them. But along the way you dream. Often the responsibilities of raising a family keep you from trying to fulfill those dreams.

There comes a time when you wistfully imagine life beyond these years. It’s likely in your early 50’s when the kids move out of the house and your life finally becomes yours. This is the time in your life to take all of those dreams that you stored in the attic of your mind and dust them off.

This doesn’t mean you have a midlife crisis and chuck all your responsibilities and sensibilities. It means that once the kids are grown and out of the house you have more time, money, and energy. How you spend them is up to you.

Here are some of my dreams. I want to:

  • Join the Minnesota Mycological Society and hunt mushrooms.
  • Travel more (and I already travel a lot)
  • Go on a cruise with each of my daughters (separately)
  • Visit Italy with my oldest daughter who is an Art History Major
  • Focus on writing mystery novels rather than books about living with cancer
  • Have my grandchildren over every Friday night and let their parents have a date night while they play with their cousins.

These weren’t the dreams I had for myself 10 years ago or even 5 years ago.

Back then I had dreams of growing old with my husband, traveling with him and doing missionary work in Pakistan.

These dreams had to change when my husband was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. It’s imperative to your ability to thrive, that you maintain or transform your dreams—even when life seems to steal the dreams you once had. Dreams give you a sense of purpose. They are something to hold on to. It’s okay if they change. It’s also okay to mourn the dreams you once had, that will never be fulfilled as you originally envisioned. In fact, it’s more than okay—it’s important. It is a deep loss, letting go of dreams.

That’s why you need to dream new dreams.

These dreams aren’t second rate dreams. They aren’t back-up dreams They are transformed dreams.

At first, this can feel like a betrayal, like you’ve given up. On the contrary, this process is you getting up. I’m willing to bet you’ve been knocked down a time or two in recent years. When that happens, you need to regroup, assess your strengths and values and decide what you are going to do that will give you the will to keep going.

Questions to help you identify new passions and dreams to pursue:

  • What do you like to learn about?
  • What priorities do you have that haven’t changed?
  • What new priorities do you have?
  • Are there dreams that include specific people?
  • Are there “one time” dreams? Things you will do once, like a hot air balloon or the ballet.
  • Have you wanted to do something that will be a regular part of your routine?
  • What changes do you want to make to increase your physical health?
  • Are there things that you want to do to improve your emotional well-being?
  • Do you have spiritual goals?

Now, make a plan. I recommend planning SMART goals. I have a post outlining how to take your dreams and turn them into SMART goals.

By transforming your dreams and making a plan using SMART goals, to achieve it, you won’t just survive. You’ll thrive!

Meet Heather Erickson

Why keeping your Dreams alive is vital to Thriving I am an author, writer, and speaker and homeschooling mom of 3. Since doctors diagnosed my husband, Dan with stage IV lung cancer in 2012, I’ve focused my writing and speaking on helping cancer patients and their families advocate for themselves and live life to the fullest, in spite of their illness. One of my SMART goals is to help people face cancer with grace.

My books The Memory Maker’s Journal and Facing Cancer as a Friend: How to Support Someone Who Has Cancer, are available at Amazon.com.

I also blog about writing at Heather Erickson Author/Writer/Speaker, and about living with cancer at Facing Cancer with Grace.



is vital to Thriving


If you are Over 50 and would like to contribute to the Over 50 & Thriving Series, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email at sue@womenlivingwellafter50.com.au and I can provide more details.
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  • Reply Miriam July 26, 2018 at 20:34

    Wonderful post Heather. I totally agree with you that our dreams can change as we go through life. However, what’s important is that we never stop dreaming and we keep dreaming new ones. Life’s too short not to. Thanks for sharing Heather’s story Sue.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 27, 2018 at 16:26

      My pleasure Miriam. I am meeting some wonderfully, wise women through my guest series. Have a beautiful weekend xx

  • Reply Heather Erickson July 27, 2018 at 00:21

    Thank you, Miriam. It can be tempting to stop dreaming when we see that some of the things we had longed to do won’t come to pass. It’s important to fight that urge and dream new dreams. Have a fabulous week.

  • Reply Debbie Harris July 27, 2018 at 02:25

    It’s lovely to meet you here Heather! I agree with you that dreaming is important and we need to be flexible, as life changes us along the way. Your story is very interesting and I commend you on your work. Thanks for sharing your dreams with us – all the best to you. Thanks Sue for another inspiring blogger ?

    • Reply Heather Erickson July 27, 2018 at 06:39

      Thank you, Debbie. One thing I have learned is that being flexible really helps to fend off frustration (How’s that for alliteration?). It can be so difficult letting go of dreams due to circumstances that are beyond our control. Flexibility allows us to say, “Yes, this is difficult, but I can see another path that might result in a different joyful journey.” Have a wonderful week!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 27, 2018 at 16:27

      Hi Deb, I’m pleased you enjoyed Heather’s post. We have a great community of wise women don’t we? 🙂

  • Reply Karen Hume July 27, 2018 at 05:53

    Hi Heather and Sue,
    Heather it is a delight to see you on Sue’s site. I’ve always found great value in every post you’ve written and this one is not only no exception, but very timely as many of us at this point in life are daring to dream new dreams.
    What great dreams you have. Since they are dreams with action (your SMART goals) you’ll make them happen.
    Oh and thanks for explaining what a mycological society does. Wouldn’t have guessed that one in a million years 🙂
    Sue – another great guest. Your Over 50 and Thriving series is going really well.

    • Reply Heather Erickson July 27, 2018 at 06:45

      Hi Karen. Thank you for your kind words. It is so important to make “actionable” dreams. It’s an empowering feeling to have a plan. Then to hold yourself accountable will really move you toward achieving your dreams. Action is a fabulous way to chase away the blues that can so easily plague us when we have to let go of some things. This time in life is full of transitions and transformation. Our dreams are not immune to that. It can be uncomfortable and certainly painful, but it can also yield a lot of growth. Have a great week!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 27, 2018 at 16:28

      Hi Karen, I’m so thrilled with each of my guests and their thoughts. I never thought I would meet so many new and wonderful women this year through my Thrive Series. 🙂

  • Reply Christie Hawkes July 27, 2018 at 05:53

    What an important lesson, Heather. I love that you said these new dreams are not second-rate dreams or backup plans; they are worthy dreams in their own rights. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose a partner, but I do know how it feels to adjust dreams to accommodate a partner’s health. It’s so easy to become bitter or resentful. That’s no fun for either partner. It was lovely meeting you. I’m off to visit your writer’s blog.

    Thanks for another wonderful introduction, Sue!

    • Reply Heather Erickson July 27, 2018 at 09:30

      Hi Christie. You make an excellent point. If we don’t dream new dreams, our loved ones can feel any residual resentment we may have (or even resentment they worry we might have), This can even happen when our children move out of the house. They might feel guilty for leaving us. If we are actively pursuing a dream, we will be thriving, and those around us will feel as good about it as we do. Have a fabulous week, Christie!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 27, 2018 at 16:29

      I’m so pleased I’ve introduced you to Heather, Christie and I’m sure you will enjoy reading her blog. 🙂

  • Reply Toni Pike July 27, 2018 at 07:48

    A very moving article, Heather, and I couldn’t agree more about the importance of having dreams. Your positivity is an inspiration.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 27, 2018 at 16:30

      Thanks Toni, Heather certainly inspires me and is another wonderful guest in the Thriving Series. Have a lovely day and thanks for stopping by to comment x

  • Reply Heather Erickson July 27, 2018 at 09:34

    Thank you, Toni. I am so thankful that I have a supportive family. It makes following your dreams much easier when those around you are cheering you on. have a wonderful week!

  • Reply Michele July 27, 2018 at 13:17

    I am a huge believer in dreams and I know that having dreams gives us a purpose for living. I think I would be depressed without any dreams. Some of my dreams have been with me since childhood, others are new to me recently. I think that is natural- it is okay to let some dreams go if they no longer serve you. I love the questions to help you identify your dreams!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric July 27, 2018 at 16:24

      I believe in having dreams, Michele because it does give us a purpose. I enjoyed Heather’s post and her message. 🙂

    • Reply Heather Erickson July 29, 2018 at 09:43

      Hi Michelle. It’s also a feeling of accomplishment when you achieve a dream, especially a long-held dream from your childhood. Having a way to identify new dreams and goals can be helpful when discouragement sets in (as it so often can). I love the phrase you used:” it is okay to let some dreams go if they no longer serve you.” Dreams really are a part of our life to serve us. They drive us to higher heights and greater joy. Have a great week!

  • Reply Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au July 27, 2018 at 17:00

    Hi Heather (and Sue) – I really enjoyed your post and the fact that our dreams don’t necessarily die, they just transform to fit our new normal. I thought your new dreams sounded pretty fabulous (probably because being a missionary in Pakistan wouldn’t be high on my dream list and Italy is!) I so admire how you keep pushing forward despite your husband’s diagnosis and you haven’t let it knock you down and beat you.

    • Reply Heather Erickson July 29, 2018 at 09:48

      Hi Leanne. Even physical changes that come with getting older change what is enjoyable to us. When we were first married, my husband and I traveled a lot and his parents said they had traveled in younger years but no longer enjoyed it. We wondered how anyone could pass up the opportunity to see the world. Now that we are older, we feel pretty wiped out after a vacation and we can see how one day we might find traveling more trouble than it’s worth. We have found that changing the way we travel has helped a lot with that. Again, this is transforming how we achieve goals and dreams. For example, no longer use a tent, we rent a cabin. Have a great week!

  • Reply Lori Jo July 28, 2018 at 03:30

    Hi, Heather – First of all, God bless you and your family. Cancer is a difficult life event to deal with no matter what the prognosis and it changes everyone involved forever, so prayers for all of you.
    Thank you for such a great post about adjusting your dreams and desires as life throws things in your way. My husband is one who locks into a mindset for what he wants to happen and that’s that. Therefore, when that particular thing does not happen or needs to change, he is very resistant and bitter. Then I have to hear all of the “should’a” “would’a” “could’a” about it for years, there seems to be no getting through to him. I am more flexible and have fluid dreams that I ebb and flow with, so his dejection causes stress on me with his negative moping around. His nickname is now “Eeyore”, ha! Thank you again for your insight and writing.
    Lori Jo – 50 With Flair

    • Reply Heather Erickson July 29, 2018 at 09:58

      Hi Lori Jo. Thank you so much for your prayers and kind words. I loved how you described your dreams as fluid. Water changes dramatically based on the conditions around it. it might become solid in the freezing cold, a mist in the heat or a refreshing, life-giving stream. Each has its purpose. It is hard when others around us seem immovable and resentful when things don’t go well. All we can do is be a positive person and live out our goals and values. Have a wonderful week!

  • Reply Amy July 29, 2018 at 05:50

    Such great points. TFS! Yes, our dreams do change as we go through life. Mine are so different now than what they were 25 years ago.

  • Reply Heather Erickson July 29, 2018 at 10:05

    Hi Amy. I love that our dreams change. Yes, it is a little sad when we need to let go of a dream that won’t come to fruition, but it opens up out time and energy for new goals and achievements. It’s a sign of growth. I once heard a great piece of advice about goals. As backward as it seems, when you are trying to reach a goal, look back–not forward. If you measure how far you have to go, it can be extremely discouraging. If you look at how far you’ve come, you will be amazed at all you’ve accomplished. Have a wonderful week!

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