I’ve come up with this new term that I’m calling “dream linking”. You start with one dream, not sure of where it will lead, and eventually it links to another dream. But the only way to experience dream linking is to start with the first initial dream–no matter how big or small. So here it goes! (this is a long one but worth it! :))
Many of you have watched our dream linking unfold over the last ten years from shooting family portraits to photographing million dollar weddings around the country to homeschooling to speaking to publishing books and then entering the world of TV and most recently a nationwide team of beautiful CONFIDENCE Teachers, my Disney show, Babble and Target! It’s insane when I think about how photography was a new found hobby only ten years ago. The last ten years of dream building was never on my radar when I was in my twenties! Even when I did TV interviews for my first book, Beauty Restored, I never once thought of doing more with TV. But that is the magic of dream linking! You can’t dream up everything at once because the dream you are working on right now, the one in front of you, has so much to teach you, equip you and prepare you for so that you can have even stronger faith to digest, embrace, and go for the next dream!
Brian and I are always taking that special time to listen together, continuously asking God what the next step is for our family. Some of you have heard me speak on the topic of living in the unknown, being willing to create in the dark. Just speaking on the topic holds me to a certain accountability to make sure we are always being intentional about living it and not just talking about it. But this newest link in our dreams is one that rocks my boat!
It started two and a half years ago with a dream to be fully out of debt by the end of three years (only five more months to go!). Before Brian quit his day job, he had been part of the high tech layoffs in 1998. Everyone thought the high tech industry would jump back, but it took him almost six months to land a new job. We were newly married, had just bought a home, got a new car and had remote control rock crawler that I played around with. Isn’t that funny?! Everything happens at once. Well, within that six months of trying to scrape by we accrued debt. And it’s insane to me how debt can just hook on to your life like a little fishing hook. You don’t really notice that first hook or even the next couple hooks. But eventually, you have several fishing hooks of car payments, mortgages, credit card debts, unexpected medial bills, etc… and one day you wake up feeling completely weighed down. The hooks are add up and start pulling you backwards, and you feel like you are walking through mud as you try to take your dream and move forward.
Over time our business found more momentum, and Brian eventually gave up his day job to do our business full time. But all those little hooks were still hooked into us–pulling us back, keeping us from running after our dreams with total freedom. So two and a half years ago, we decided to get crazy serious about getting out of debt. We bought Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness, the BEST book on how to get out of debt! And even though it was painful, completely absent of instant gratification in every sense of the word (since paying off debt takes time and there are always things you would rather do with your hard earned money than use it to pay off debt), we did everything his book said to do and stuck with it. Every other day, I would review our numbers and keep our financial goals in front of us. So we could visually be reminded of our commitment until we were done. But here is the thing; we had no idea what we were going to do once we accomplished this. We knew it’d probably feel great to be out of debt. Right? Obviously! But we didn’t know what it would open up for us. That in itself was often enough temptation to give up. Was life really that bad with this bit of debt here or there? The fact is that we couldn’t picture what we had never known.
Thankfully, we did not give up. The last two and a half years of staying focused on killing our debt has taught us so much and created discipline for us like we’ve never had. And not just in me and Brian, but the kids have been a part of it too! There is so much I could say about it. But the bottom line is that we were being prepared for the next step in our dream building. When you can start to envision your life without car payments, credit card bills, medical bills or any other kind of bill, your mind starts to find a little more space to stretch, consider and imagine!
However, you run against your own mental limitations because of things you have naively said in the past. Things like “We are going to live in this home forever because I can’t picture anything better.” Or maybe “We are going to pursue that idea when the kids are older because there is no way we could do it now…” We all have our statements that we feel so sure of when we say, and yet this summer God took a number of them apart during my morning walks. We played the game “What If?” For example, “What if I was open to leaving this home?” Instant stress! I may live in the jungles of Thailand for six weeks or survive Dengue Fever with my daughter or visit Egypt during a a revolution, but moving away from my hometown????!!!! SCARY!!! You may chuckle with me, but it’s for real! I’ve never left home! What if we did? What if we got even bolder with our dreams with the kind of fearlessness kids possess!
I am eating up Seth Godin’s new book, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?, because it is all about going for your dreams. A must read! How we need to stop waiting for permission, validation, the $200 when we pass “Go” and instead just go for it–take the risk of making our dream happen. Risk failing. Risk trying! But the risk involves pain too. This summer, I knew that part of “going for it” was leaving our home and moving. But there have still been missing pieces in it for me, and yet just processing the idea of moving across country was more than I could handle. So every morning these last few months, I’ve been prayerfully working it out, grieving ideas that I’ve always had of us being on this block, in this sweet neighborhood, tending my precious garden, having my parents only twenty minutes away…there has been much to grieve. And in opening my hands, being willing to let go of what I’ve held to so tightly, I now have hands to embrace the new.
Have I taken to long to get to this part in the blog post?! I don’t mean to draw it out, but I’m always hopeful that in sharing our honest struggles and challenges, you know you are not alone. And you are just as worthy of pursuing your own dreams!
What does it look like for our family of four to “go for it”?!
How does traveling the world for however many months it takes to film a Family Travel Show. What does that mean? It’s a dream that I feel like our family has been preparing for since the first time we rented a home in Thailand’s jungle–to have up close cultural encounters, bring positive exposure to foreign lands as we grow a thousand ways as a family, use our creative talents to empower other families and model for my kids what it means to go after the impossible. It means trying to raise close to a million dollars between now and January. If that doesn’t stop me… It means Brian directing a top notch film crew to help with production, editing, travel logistics and all the other GAZILLION things it takes to pull a show like this off! It means syndicating it to the networks. It means putting our sweet home on the market. It means boxing up all our belongings and putting it in storage. It also means living like nomads as we go from one country to the next. And if all goes well, stepping on to our first plane in early February with our funding raised and no clear idea of when we will land back in the states. We are thinking Dallas, TX! But time will tell and continuing to listen is key.
The most amazing part is now I see an even deeper reason for why our hearts were on fire to get out of debt. By the time we leave, we will have paid off all our personal AND business debt, except for that student loan from my graduate degree that I got thanks to a quickly approved for money from a service online. But that’s okay with me! Cars are paid off, medical bills done, only one credit card left and a few other straggler debts that are about to be finalized in the next few months. I can hardly believe it.
As Brian and I feel each of those fishing lines being cut with each new bill paid off, I feel even lighter, I feel myself running even faster, and I run towards the unknown with my husband and kids alongside me knowing that we will never know if we don’t try. If we don’t risk. If we don’t willingly step into the dark and trust that Someone is there, waiting to take our hands and guide us every step of the way.
The next few months are BIG! We have meetings being set up around the country to raise funding from potential investors and build interest among TV networks. Will you keep us in your prayers? We may do all this work between now and January and find that none of it works. We may come up short. Disappointment could be waiting for us down the road. But you know what, I’m willing to risk it. Brian is willing to risk it. Even the kids are willing to risk leaving their friends, their neighborhood and home behind.
Exhale again. Are you willing to risk for your dreams? If you whispered a yes at your computer because you are afraid of all that it could mean or not mean, you are in good company.
Join me over the next couple weeks, actually months, as we continue to share this process with you, introduce you to our new CONFIDENCE teachers, and give you the opportunity to possibly join us in one of those exotic countries our family plans to film in!
If you know that this is the kind of thing you want more encouragement in, I’m so excited to have a special series of FIVE different keynote talks available later this month! For the last two years, I’ve been building a series with these different keynotes I’ve done at conferences on how to live in the dark, step into the unknown, find your creative voice, and do it as a family. I can’t wait to have them available to all of you very soon! More on that to come!
Cheers to finding courage to dream, and then seeing your first dream link to the next dream and then the next and the next! Dream linking…what do you think?!
Love you all and cannot wait to see what all God has in store for you all next year! Love and hugs!
what a beautiful, amazing journey you are embarking on! I N S P I R E D!!!
I love the concept of Dream Linking!
Wow. Just, wow. I envy your ability to dream big.
Brian, Me Ra and fam … I have tears of joy! I am so very happy for you! I will keep you in my prayers. I am also very much looking forward to your keynotes! xoxo
Total confession that I stayed up till almost 3am because I was just plain jittery about posting this today. I think it’s that realization that we may fail OR we may succeed because you’ve let the dream be known. The season of safety that keeps the dream inside is officially over. That season is important for sure, as you wrap your heart around this crazy leap you are about to take. But getting stuck in that season is the risk. Anyone connect?! 🙂 Needless to say, I woke up so excited this morning!
Some of the countries we are thinking of right now (for Season 1 :)), but they could totally change are;
Thailand (where it all began for us!)
New Zealand (LYNDA BAYLIS!!! 🙂
We want to take families with us to places that are a bit off the normal vacation path, introducing them to rich culture, animal encounters and photo tips weaved in it out. Showing them how to do a trip to these places with kids, and why it is worth every penny! Plus much more!
We’ve been debt-free almost 4 years (other than the house). Dave Ramsey is awesome!!! 🙂
Me Ra! Having a show with my family about international travel is something I have daydreamed about for years!! Congratulations. I hope the next few months are fruitful so that you can make it happen. Your evolution continues to amaze and inspire.
So AWESOME Daniel J. Watkins!!! FOUR YEARS!!!! YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING!!! I can’t WAIT to be able to say the same!
Started in 2007 w/ almost $47k in debt. Took 27 months of beans and rice (and a job layoff)…but it all worked out. Congrats on your soon to be accomplished goal!
Gosh Me Ra Koh, I have been following you for so long and you are so inspiring. You are the reason I followed my photography dreams. I’m doing a happy dance over here for you…GO FOR IT! You are in my prayers and I will watch your show….even if its on at 2am. You and your family are amazing! I love the concept of dream linking and have never really thought about it the way you verbalized it.
Always Dream Big!!
Oh, Me Ra! I was so hoping that this would be your big news!!! I seriously can’t think of any family better suited to do such a show. I can’t wait to share this with my husband! We have been talking a lot lately about how we would love to travel to different countries with our own children when they get older, but nobody in our immediate family/circle of friends have ever done so, so it seems a bit scary. I can’t wait to see your show, because I know it will just get us more excited for the future for our own family. It will be absolutely fantastic to see your firsthand experiences in all the countries you visit. I am just so happy for you guys…I seriously can’t stop smiling! What a great way to start the day 😀
So excited for you and your whole family. Many adventures are in store for you. Embrace it, you are living the life many of us can only dream of. So many people are encouraged by you and your ability to dream big. Thank you for all you do: inspire, teach, and share. Good luck!!!!!
Dream linking – brilliant. Like you and Brian. My dreams just got clearer, being inspired again by you. And Pasc so shapley, Blaze looking like “c’mon Mom”?! Such wonderful contrast. Love to you and thank you for blazing and revealing another trail for us.
Wow! Thanks for sharing! So excited for you all and so very proud of you too! Gods grace and peace be with you all, you have inspired me a lot, thanks again and we’ll be praying for you all as you step out, Jehovah Fun!! 🙂
Can my family join you in the Maldives? LOVE * LOVE * LOVE your list!
Amazing! You are an incredibly brave, talented family and we are so lucky you share yourselves with the rest of us! Good luck with all the details ahead of you the next few/many months! Can’t wait to see what unfolds!
Soooooo incredibly happy for you, no matter where the dreams lead! Just so happy for you right now, in this moment. You are in such an amazing space: spiritually and mentally! 🙂
I don’t even know where to start except maybe…I’m glad you’re not shaving your heads. This is just fantastic, it’s amazing, it’s special, it’s the best idea ever and if there is any family that can do this, it’s yours. I will pray for you all and I know that you have the heart and desire to convince the right people that this idea is worth every penny.
I hope you end up in Jamaica, the Galapago, Iceland…the dream linking idea is endless and the world is BIG. To Brian, Me Ra, Pascaline and Blaze, don’t stop dreaming, dream big, dream wide, dream adventures and as you link your dreams just think of the stories and the memories you will have for a lifetime.
I look forward to following this new adventure. Good Luck and as we say in Jamaica…Walk Good!
Ahhhhh MeRa putting your dreams out there is when the dreams come true! So happy for you!
Wow! This is all such BIG news! Knowing your family, I’m sure you’ll get what you’re working so hard for! Your kids will have SO much to share with their friends and family about their adventures around the world 🙂
I can’t wait to follow your family’s adventures. You guys have so much to offer! So very excited for you all, and anxious to read as things unfold.
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii gotta tell ya – the moment we paid off our house….and realized how debt free we actually were…is the day we looked at each other like…WOW….”WHAT NEXT????” 🙂
i’m excited for you guys.
and hope you come back to flourish to tell us all about it! HAH!!!!!!
Whatever the part about Dallas, TX was… YES!!!!!!!! And yes to the rest!!! I’m just in awe, all of the time. So inspired! Love y’all!
This has light all around it and radiating beams (cuz it will touch so many others). Just. Yes!!! Excited for you and Brian and your babes. Love you.
I LOVE this MeRa!! You are such an inspiration! Love your faith and vision and seeing how The Lord continues to bless it. Praying for God’s hand of provision, faith and vision over your next steps! And, having your sweet family in the Dallas area sounds pretty great too! 🙂 we’ve been enjoying seeing your smile on Disney Jr!
wow! i’m excited for you!! and your family!! prayers, cheers, and high fives from me!! thanks for sharing – really, thank you.
So, so, so VERY excited for you, Me Ra!!! Your words spoke to me as I am in a season of big change as well. Thank you and best wishes! I can’t wait to follow along!
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