Like other kids, my niece was almost 9 years old as she approached the final phase of childhood tooth loss.  One evening, after successfully wiggling out a molar, she expressed excitement in anticipation of the tooth fairy’s arrival.  My brother, feeling she was getting old enough to know the truth, decided to break the news to her that evening.  After telling my niece he was actually the one swapping teeth for money, she turned to me and said, “Aunt Carie, is that true?”  I responded, “No, I don’t think so.  The tooth fairy always came and left money under my pillow!”  At this point, I could tell she really wanted to believe me – but she also appeared conflicted over her father’s confession.  Still searching for a definitive answer, she repeatedly questioned us both until finally turning to my brother and stating, “Daddy, if you’re the tooth fairy – then prove it!”  She lifted up the lapels of his jacket while exclaiming, “Show me your wings, Daddy – I want to see your wings!”  So cute and so adamant at the same time.  Yet, she unknowingly reminded me of a very valuable lesson:  When you really believe in something with all your heart, don’t let anybody take that dream away from you.  Ever.

Think about it.  We all have a dream.  Or two.  Or three.  Maybe it’s an idea for a new business venture.  Perhaps it’s the desire for a career change or the need to make a fresh start.  Whatever the dream may be, I have found that something invariably happens:  Someone will try to dissuade me, or tell me I’m making a mistake, or say that I must be “crazy.”  Someone will say my dream is too risky, or that I’ll fail, or that I’m too old to try.  I’m sure no harm is intended.  And quite easily, I could find myself filling up with self doubt –  overwhelmingly tempted to give in and give up.  However, I also know that if I internalize their words – their words will quickly become my beliefs.  So, I just don’t do it.  Moreover, I know that one person’s perception is not necessarily my reality.  As my niece uniquely demonstrated with her father, until somebody can prove to me otherwise, I’ll just hang onto my dream with both hands –  thank you very much.

Not long ago, I watched an interview with Barbra Streisand.  At the onset of Barbra’s career, her mother urged her to put her dream of becoming an actress/singer on hold and become a typist … just in case.  Can you imagine?  Don’t get me wrong – I welcome any advice (especially from my mother) which will assist me in achieving my goals.  Yet, the decisions are ultimately mine to make.  Follow your passion and stay mindful of your dreams –  it’s amazing how easy it is to lose sight of the simple lessons we often learn early in life.  Here’s another valuable lesson I learned from my niece:  Did you know the going rate for a tooth has gone up from 25 cents when I was a kid –  to 5 bucks a tooth now?  Whoa!  Talk about a lesson in inflation!

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