Finding Dreams in 2012

What better time than the new year to think about dreams?  Some people are born knowing who they are and what they want to be.  (Musica) I was not like this.  I searched for meaning in my life for a long, long time. I read books and books and books looking for answers. I just wanted someone to make it easy, put it in black and white; I wanted the ABC of

I didn’t think that was so much to ask. Other people found their dreams.  Now all I had to do was find those people and see if they wrote a book about it.

I ended up reading a lot of books, lots of biographies; but for the most part, I only found clues; I never found the list I was looking for:  first you do this and then you do that; I had to try and put two and two together.

Some books had more clues than others, and one of those was called How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci.  I picked it up because, it seemed to me, after seeing the title, if I could learn to think like the genius that painted the Mona Lisa, my life might get better.

And, really, how hard could it be?  This book said there were just seven steps to thinking like a genius every day!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha !

I was young.

It just happened I was going away for a few days, so I took my new book with me, up to Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, to a historic old hotel built in 1902 called the Mount Washington Hotel. It looked very much like the Grand Hotel (which I’d seen in the movie Somewhere in Time); I’d always wanted to go there.

I started reading my book in an old wicker rocker on the huge curving porch of the hotel with a far view to forever in front of me, and the cool smell of the high mountains surrounding me.  The hotel was a little run down in those days, in a genteel way, scruffy and peeling around the edges.  It had a big dining room with high, gilt-edged, ornately plastered ceilings and an old-fashioned menu that included quail, liver and onions, Jell-O, and a relish tray with hot peppers and crushed ice on it.  They also had normal things on the menu so I took my book to lunch there, and that’s where I discovered that Leonardo Da Vinci worked much harder on getting to know himself and finding his dreams than I did.  Much.

“The essence of Leonardo’s legacy is the inspiration for wisdom and light to triumph over fear and darkness.”    Michael J. Gelb

Michael J. Gelb, the author of How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, had made a sort of workbook.  He wrote about the principals of genius-Da Vinci-thinking and then combined them with self-assessment checklists and exercises to help the reader connect to a different place, one that even I could understand. One exercise was called “Realizing your Ideal Hobby.” Which helps the reader to work out a strategy for realizing their dream hobby — those life enriching, creative hobbies such as learning to play a musical instrument, learning a new language; studying dance, drawing, painting, acting, tennis, golf or sculpting and so on . . . the meaning of the words “follow your bliss.”

He even talked about sharpening question-asking skills, because how can you ask a question, if you don’t know what it is?

I’m barely skimming the surface in my description of this book; there is so much.  But my favorite exercise of all was something called “Mind Mapping,” inspired by Leonardo’s approach to note taking.  It’s a method for generating and organizing ideas.  I read that a person could use mind mapping for personal goal setting and discovering “their own originality!”  A clue! I thought, Count me in!

I’d woken early on the second morning, gotten dressed, grabbed my book and walked down the wide creaky staircase, gravitating toward the stone fireplace in the massive lobby under crystal chandeliers.  It was a chilly morning and the all the guests still seemed to be in dreamland except me. I found a cup of tea, pulled my shawl tighter, and settled into a creased and lined leather sofa in front of the crackling fire to read. I was inspired by the explanation and a diagram of “Mind Mapping,” so I pulled a piece of paper from my notebook and following the directions in the book, I drew this:

Squiggles on paper, not supposed to be art, but supposed to help me find time to nurture myself, live a healthy life, to achieve balance, and to do better. Each mind map, I read, can cover a different subject; your dream vacation, a perfect evening, your hope for the future, your plan to execute your plan; pretty much anything that interests you.  It’s an exercise that is supposed to train your brain to a higher level of personal awareness.

 You can have neither a greater nor a lesser dominion than that over yourself.    Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo’s way of saying Be Your Own Chaperone! 🙂 I’ll never have all the answers, but what I learned so far (I’m still on my quest) was that my dreams weren’t out there in space somewhere, big, unreachable and even unseeable; fragmented like the milky way; they were inside me, small and tidy and complete, I just needed to go inside to find them.

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirates loot on Treasure Island.  Walt Disney

Now what I have to do is mind map my way into getting my new book finished!  Onward and upward girlfriends! Have a wonderful day!  ♥  XOXO

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334 Responses to Finding Dreams in 2012

  1. Aging and experiences (good and / or not-so-good) have been my best life coaches. When I look back I do have regrets, but each day brought me to where I am on this day…….so I try not to second-guess myself anymore.

    Thanks for sharing this post 🙂

  2. Jocelyn says:

    You have found your way Susan. We don’t all get there. I have always had a dream to write a book, but truthfully, I am not really a writer. But it is deep in my heart, somewhere. When my children were little I home schooled them, and then they grew up!! Where to go, where to go…………..

    Keep on going girl, you have reached your dream 😉

  3. Monya says:

    What a lovely and timely post- the mind mapping idea is something I will be trying very soon. (Unfortunately my drawings are not nearly as nice as yours!) My SB 2012 calendar is up and hanging- Happy New Year!

    • sbranch says:

      Happy New Year Monya (and my drawings weren’t always so nice, practice is the key!)

      • Karen P says:

        I can’t wait for your new book, Susan! We can see the progression in your painting from your very early books and it’s so fun to watch! You’re SOOOOO talented and I’m sooooo happy that you found that gift that was inside you!

  4. Nellie says:

    Love the mind-mapping! Good to do, even at my “advanced age.”:-)

    Have a great Wednesday, Susan!


  5. Connie Michael says:

    Good Morning! Interesting reading – and I believe applies to us all throughout our lives…..age, experience, environment & opportunities (presented or self-made) influence our life choices – I’m finding that the older I get the more I want to do and experience… many things, so little time…! Age releases that fear of taking a chance……the fear of speaking up…. I’m finding more “let’s see what makes this tick” coming out…..if it works, great! If not, NEXT! 🙂 Thanks for some deep thinking (and so early in the morning at that!)….my mind feels a little exercised (streeeeeeetch!)…. chm

  6. Deborah says:

    That Mount Washington Hotel looks incredible! For a minute there I thought you must have gone to England! I love finding places like that, a bit old tons of history, and the porch and view!!! That is going in my memory bank for the next time Im in NH! Thank you for the mental excerises, badly needed! I love the quotes so much….Such good ones!

    • sbranch says:

      Thanks Deborah! I think the hotel has been brought back to her glory, from what I hear — I need to go back!

      • Lori from Maine says:

        My mom worked at the Mt. Washington Hotel as a waitress when she was a teenager. She went up there (from Boston) with her cousin and they stayed for most of the summer. She has some fun stories from that time of her life. By the way, Mom is 93 now, so that was quite a while ago 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          I bet she does have some fun stories! I wonder if she has photos . . . would be fun to see in the 40’s.

  7. Rosemary says:

    This is such an interesting post! Personally, never have I delved into such a search! Too bad, isn’t it? It seems like someone like you with all of your gifts, such as…ability to write, draw, paint, cook, nurture, etc. …well, it is more than worthwhile to do such a search. It takes time to do that…and dedication. Someone who is at that point, trying to figure it all out is my 26 yr. old daughter…really struggling with it. I am thinking that your whole post, not to mention the book, would be a place to suggest a little look-see. The mind mapping…truly a revelation. Thank you for this timely little pearl.

    • sbranch says:

      You are so welcome Rosemary. I have to say I’m sure I was born with certain things, but it took me a long time to discover them. I always think that if unknown creativity was hidden inside me, it can be inside others too.

      • Margot says:

        I am in the same boat as Rosemary, but with a 23 year old son. I believe as you do Susan that everyone has a talent inside themselves waiting to be discovered by themselves, no one knows who we really are deep inside except ourselves. It took me over 50 years to figure that out. 😉 Great book on Da Vinci!

        • sbranch says:

          Why don’t they teach this in school? Isn’t it the most important thing there is?

          • Margot says:

            They just get a student through and at the end they give the same old career placement tests that they used to in our day. Last Fall the Rev. said parents should nurture the given talents of their children. I had one teacher that saw my math talent, but I wasn’t a grade ahead or anything. However, if I knew all the jobs that I could have had besides teaching OR I could have pared it with another subject, such as, a foreign language that would have been helpful. Instead my family pushed me into the medical fields, which never became a career for me.

          • sbranch says:

            Funny how long it takes for the light in our heads to come on. But when it does, watch out!

  8. Karen P says:

    This is beautiful, Susan! Thank you for sharing your process toward self-discovery and where you were/are being led toward becoming all you can be! I LOVE your mind map, especially the part about time being our friend…it really IS!God gives us the minutes of our day and wants us to be productive with them….you have a very well-balanced “plan” there in your little curved porch-wicker rocking chair-quiet time discovery! Very inspirational for me in this new year! xoxo….kp

  9. Deborah says:

    Thanks for the recommendation!! I just ordered it. Can’t wait to get started mapping. Love the picture of Mount Washington Hotel too, I need to come visit.

  10. Audrianne in Holland Michigan along the shores of Lake Macatawa says:

    I have read Gelb’s book too and found it good food for thought. Sometimes we sell ourselves short. The Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island would be a treat for you and Joe. No cars allowed on the island – you walk, bike or take a carriage. The horses came off in late October and are on a farm on the mainland but in April they will head back across the lake to the island. When the lake freezes, it is lined with old Christmas trees providing a path for snowmobiles. A sight to see!

    • sbranch says:

      We’ve always wanted to go. . . I was afraid it would be overwhelmed with people these days, is there a quieter time of year to go?

      • Aggie says:

        I live in MI and have stayed at the Grand Hotel. We have gone in September after Labor Day when school is back in, so it is a very good time to go – I love the island – I think you would really enjoy it! It’s a short ferry ride from the mainland. A comment on mind mapping – I was so intrigued as I was taught that style of note taking here at work in corporate America 🙂 some years ago…went right into my files and found an old one I kept from 1999!

        • sbranch says:

          I think it was a popular book! Thanks for the Grand Hotel info!

          • Aggie says:

            You are most welcome!
            A tip for mind mapping is to use a pack of colored markers to help group thoughts – useful and pretty.

          • sbranch says:

            They actually tell you to do that in the book — but I was in that hotel by the time I got to that part, and there weren’t any! 🙂

        • Jerri Ellen says:

          I’d like to add that Mackinaw Island has many fudge shops, too. What could be better??

          • sbranch says:

            Now we’re talkin’!

          • Brenda says:

            I also live in Michigan and have stayed at the Grand Hotel for the Winsome Women conference. How wonderful it was. Although it was in the Spring and still chilly there we had a wonderful time. Spring or Fall would be the best time to go if you do not like it to crowded. I need to try the mind mapping. I have been wondering lately what it was I was suppose to do with my life. Seems unfinished at this point. So want to break out of my same ole office job type job that I have been doing since I was 18. Now 54 and a grandmother of 6 going on 7. How I would like to break that mold I have put myself into. The fudge is the best!!!

  11. sandi says:

    oh, how i needed this right now, susan! thank you…i must find a used copy of this book. my house is in a shambles, i don’t do the things i love anymore because of it…always feel like i have to do the things i should do first before i can do the fun and creative things i love…so i end up doing nothing. i am sorry to say i am a perfectionist and don’t know how to not be. if i don’t have the time to do it all i don’t do anything. i know that does not sound like a perfectionist, but it is true. i have to “gather” everything i need for a project before i can begin and so i never begin. if i do begin something then i think i have to do the whole thing in one session, and of course life gets in the way of that, because there is never a huge chunk of time to finish a big time consuming project all at once. i have always been a person who sees the whole picture all at once…sometimes this is a good thing, most times it is not. i don’t know how to see the smaller bits that make the whole. it is terrible to live this way and i am seriously going to do something about it right now. this year. in 2012. a mind map seems just the thing to be able to see the smaller bits, so thank you. thank you so much!

    • sbranch says:

      I think you will love this book! You are perfectly normal btw! 🙂

    • Lynn McMahon says:

      Hi Sandi~
      Please don’t be SO hard on yourself! I don’t know how old you are but at 48 after my parents died (2 weeks apart to the day) I had a revelation. Life is too short not to make time for yourself, even if it’s only 5 minutes a day doing something just for you. It is not selfish! I know my tombstone is not going to say ” She died with the cleanest house in town” hopefully it would be ” She was a giving person who loved life and all those around her.” It takes time to get to that point so hang in there!

    • Pat Mofjeld says:

      Sandi: I have always been told that I am a creative person. I even have a degree in Design. I used to draw, paint, quilt, sew, knit, weave, spin, etc. For 15 years I put it all aside and did medical transcription. I worked long hours, and worked a 6-day week. There was no time or energy for me to do anything creative. At first it was like trying to pound a round peg into a square hole. I remember that I resisted and fought it. The creative part of myself protested. But I HAD to do it as we needed the income at the time desperately. Now I am done, retiring officially, and for the past year I’ve been trying to catch up on 15 years of not keeping up things around the house like I would have if I hadn’t been working so many hours. It has felt overwhelming, like I’ll never catch up. I heard myself in your comment, Sandi. But reading Susan’s blog today and your comments made me think a lot this morning. We (you and I) need to re-think our priorities. I know I need to blow on the tiny ember of creativity that is within me still and I need to re-prioritize. I warped a loom for a beautiful Scandinavian runner pattern and have not allowed myself to just sit and weave and enjoy it, have felt kind of guilty sitting weaving mainly because of trying to address cluttered closets, drawers, etc.–other house chores that got put on hold for 15 years. But, again, where are my priorities? Susan, you’ve given me “permission” to think of myself and my REAL priorities, the creative part of myself that I shifted back to 2nd or 3rd place 15 years ago, and let my creativity take priority. I’ll still work on the house BUT it will not be the priority as it has felt the last year. My friend, Sandy Richmond, talked me into getting a personal planner at the office supply store for this year and I am going to start using it and included in my to-do list will be time to be creative!!! Thanks, Susan, and thanks to Sandy and all of you out there who encourage creativity!!! 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        Loved “blow on the tiny ember of creativity. . .”

      • Gert says:

        Loved “blow on the tiny ember of creativity” too!


      • Esther says:

        Sandi and Pat: I had the perfectly cleaned house that I spent weekends spiffing up, and then we moved to the country. One weekend I wanted to finish reading a book and thought the housework and laundry could wait. I sat on the back deck and started reading. I was visited by hummingbirds, our two cats, hawks and turkey vultures catching the thermals in the canyon below. Oh, and my husband brought me lunch, and asked if everything was ok. Several hours later I finished my book and sat back in the chair and “enjoyed the view”. The housework didn’t get done but what a wonderful change in philosophy. I’ve learned that “dust is a country accent”, hubby doesn’t care that the carpet is spotless and the clothes hamper is empty (or full) – he wants me to be happy. Creating a space where you can do what you love is the best reward. My sewing room has been transformed into my studio and an outdoor spot is starting to take shape as a garden retreat. Looking at everything you think you need to accomplish may be overwhelming. Taking baby steps…a few minutes each day, or once a week, to focus on one item will go a long way in helping you reach your realistic goals. I loved the “tiny ember of creativity” and I’ve added it to my favorite creative quotes. I enjoy Susan’s blog, her perspective on enjoying / celebrating our lives, and the quotations / songs that she shares with us.

    • peg says:

      Sandi! I am hearing my thoughts echoed through your post! Somehow, we have allowed ourselves to believe that laundry, dishes, etc. must be done before the fun. Got to change that…our nest is now empty and I caught myself yesterday being pulled in two directions….clean or create. And, mind you, it was a challenge because I’ve given in to the chores 99% of the time for the last 20+ years!

      So, when I get home from work today, I will pop a load of laundry into the washer, have a quick lunch and then, head down to my studio to rediscover all the magic that has been waiting for me. I’m a bit rusty on the getting started part…but I am determined. Part of my inspiration comes from all of the FOSB and Susan, herself. Thanks for posting….you have made me realize that I have to do it….no one can ‘make’ me! xo

    • Jean G says:

      Hi Sandi,

      I hear you! Been there. Still there, sometimes. That’s progress, though! Try taking little baby steps in letting go. Just one thing you feel you can let go of and put YOURSELF in its place. It’s like dieting for me – so overwhelming, can’t stick to it. But almost a year ago, I thought – “I can give up this one little thing”. And I did. A couple of months later, I gave up salted butter (LOVE it) – I ceremoniously threw it out, saying “Farewell butter; I knew you well”. Months later, some weight just came off naturally. It’s the same thing with perfectionism – we didn’t get there overnight, and it isn’t going to go away overnight either, but a baby step here and there is do-able, and that is a wonderful thing called progress (not perfection!). I hope you can let one or two little things go this year and gently put yourself in their place!

      Jean G

    • Enikö says:

      Sandi, I found that it helps to designate a corner of a room in your house (however tiny) to your art/project/writing/scrapbooking/passion. Have a little table and a comfortable chair facing in. Then bit-by-bit add whatever you need to feel “ready” for the creative process…it helps to place a lovely picture/photo/artwork on the wall…something that helps trigger your creativity. I once felt the way you do, and now my little corner in my bedroom has evolved into a roomy art studio in an adjacent room -filled with whatever art supplies I need to suit my fancy, a CD player, a personal altar, and essential oils. It is amazing what I can create every time I enter that private magical room…and guess what? I don’t see the laundry or the dirty dishes from my “perfect” little world. xo

    • Doreen Strain says:

      Hi Sandi,
      It’s me Doreen….just had to tell you this little bit of information about myself. I too like things to be perfect..but guess what…I just can keep up with it all. If you can believe it, I moved into this house three years ago. I moved from NY to FL seven years ago. I can confess to you all, I have a garage half filled with boxes that I haven’t opened since my move seven years ago. I was so “busy” that I never got around to emptying them. I would get overwhelmed when I thought about having to do it that I just let them go for seven years. Well, it bothered me so much that I just finally said to myself last week “Disorganization is the theif of time” (as my mother used to say) but just thinking about having to clean out the garage gave me anxiety. My friends even teased me about it. I finally took the big step last weekend. I told myself….”Self….take your time, even if you have to do a little each weekend…your going to keep doing it until it’s done. Sandi, I’m actually having some fun doing it. As each box gets emptied…I feel a sense of accomplishment. Sure, I still have a ton to do but guess what…I’m no longer going to allow myself to feel quilty if I sit to quilt or to work on my book. Because just like I have my quilting project and my book project…now I have my garage project. It might take me a year but I’ll get the garage done in this lifetime! LOL! It’s giving me a sense of accomplishment just knowing I’m working on it. I hear you sister about having let things go…guess what…what Susan said is true…YOUR NORMAL…we all do it. Some of us do it with little projects some of us do it with big ones. Don’t knock yourself down…your one of us and we’re all kindered spirits and feel for you. We’ve all been there for one reason or another. My mother used to say….your gravestone is not going to read “Her house was always immaculate”! Hang in there girlfriend..we’re right there with you. You’ll do what you need to do. It might be to work on what your heart desires or it might be to start little by little at getting done what’s bothering you. Whatever it is….we love you! FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  12. Beth says:

    Someplace closer (to you Susan) than Michigan is Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle NH. Another glorious old hotel with porches and wicker furniture and walks along the sea! Thanks for your thoughts also, no matter how old we get it is always good to look inside and reexamine (and remind ourselves) of the important things to us. So often the fast pace of life overwhelms what is really important. You and the other girlfriends here are the best! Thanks for the calm in a stormy sea of life!

  13. Lynn McMahon says:

    Good Morning~
    I was checking my email and there was another great post from you Susan!
    The mind mapping makes perfect sense! Keeping a balance…moderation of all things…appreciation…giving thanks to God…the gifts we receive daily, that we don’t always see as gifts…especially when we have just a normal, uneventful day…another birthday and another gray hair…family, friends….all God’s creatures….sunrises and sunsets…the stars and moon…I guess what I’m trying to say is gratitude is the key to a happy life!

  14. Country Gal says:

    I am partially living my dream . living in the country again and doing my photography ,the rest of my dream is to have a hobby farm and a country shop were I can sell my photos and others arts and crafts with in the community ! One day, One day !
    Awesome post !

  15. jeannine leonard says:

    How you inspire us, just when we need it the most. I cannot wait till your book is published and we can wrap ourselves up in it. Enjoy this beautiful but cold day.

    • sbranch says:

      Freezing our toes here!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Blue cloudless sunny sky here and 40’s–weird for Minnesota in January!!! 🙂

      • Doreen Strain says:

        Susan…freezing our toes here too in FL. It was 29* this morning when I went out to my car to go to work. Brrrrrr! I’m loving it though since I can wear some of my favorite sweaters. I’m missing New England! The seasons just aren’t the same down here. I guess it’s just the yankee in me! LOL! Don’t get me wrong…it’s beautiful down here too but my heart calls me home to Upstate NY. I miss the mountains! FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

        • sbranch says:

          I’m homesick when I’m in California, and right now I wouldn’t mind a table next to the sea with a best girlfriend in California!

  16. Treese says:

    I love dreams. They give us hope and direction and there is magic in them. It is like having a secret that only you know. Your new post is insightful and encouraging-one more wonderful gift from you to us for starting the New Year. The Mount Washington Hotel is an old beauty. I love staying in hotels that have a story to tell. This is the start of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War (2011-2015). I have studied the Civil War all my life as my grandfather was a Civil War buff. I am planning on visiting some of the battlefields on the exact days of the battles. I will be staying in hotels that were present during the war and I am so excited. I am planning a 3 month stay in Gettysburg next year for the 150th observance. I have been there dozens of times, but I never get tired of learning new information and meeting new friends. This is what dreams are made of-give me an old Victorian Hotel any day over a 5-star-although some of my friends don’t agree! LOL! Maybe some reader’s have suggestions on old hotels near battlefields.
    Treese/Colorado Cowgirl

    • sbranch says:

      That sounds heavenly Treese! I only went to Gettysburg once, but I was so impressed that the battlefield had been kept open and untouched and how quiet and solemn it was.

    • Holly says:

      Hi Treese! We love Gettysburg too. My husband and I both went to college in Gettysburg and we just got back from spending the New Year’s weekend there. Have you ever stayed at the Cashtown Inn, just 8 miles west of Gettsyburg? It’s old and it’s near the battlefield, which meets your qualifications! 🙂 We had a marvelous New Year’s Eve dinner there – the food is great! It’s a beautiful place.

    • Tamar Weaver says:


      That is SO cool. I am jelouse of your freedom to do that! I could not stay in thoses hotels though – just walk through during the day. I don’t belive in ghosts – but I AM scared of them. It is so neat that you get to make your visits on the the same days of the battles and stay in places that were standing when it happened. have a GREAT time. Lucky you!

      happy for you, Tamar

  17. Pam says:

    Really interesting Susan. I’ve always said I’m a genius, I just haven’t found what at yet!! I’m getting a bit long in the tooth now so I better find out pretty quickly. LOL.

  18. Georgie says:

    Ah… now we MUST come to NH and visit… the Mount Washington Hotel looks glorious! We did visit the Grand Hotel for their annual lilac festival and it was like living in a dream for me 🙂 Susan, you would love it.

    I’m learning to celebrate dreams, little, and large. The older I get, the more precious dreams become. Some of the joy comes in celebrating the dreams of others!!! Thank-you for sharing your journey with all of us. Your quest and success in showing us your golden nuggets, nudges and encourages us onward in our own journeys 🙂 How special to have a collection of girlfriends to walk along the road together.

    You’ve shared your gifts with us and we are happier for it!!! Thank-You Susan!

    Have a sunshine in your heart day!!! XO Georgie

  19. Martha Ellen says:

    Mind mapping-how intriguing–I love the idea–da Vinci was such a genius! I am ordering this book. The Mt Washington Hotel is just the place to contemplate and dream the wishes your heart makes! Our daughter lives in NH and we have been there many times. Thank you for your timely post as we begin the new year. ♥

  20. Becky says:

    Just yesterday I realized I am living my dream…I went to school to work in my classroom and before I knew it the custodian was telling me it was time to leave …I had been working about six hours but it seemed like only an hour…I teach first grade and I love it! Love the kids to pieces and can’t wait to see them next week…I always knew someday I would teach and here I am 58 yrs old and loving it!

    • sbranch says:

      Congratulations, how wonderful, those lucky kids!

    • Sandy Malsberger says:

      Becky, I lived my dream also through teaching. I taught first grade and loved teaching first graders so much. I am retired now (just retired in June), and I am now living a whole different kind of dream. But I have always felt that teaching children and teaching children to read is just about the best profession anyone could ask for (and dream about) in life. Aren’t we fortunate to be teachers!!! And thank you, Susan, for the wonderful morning’s post.

    • Tamsen says:

      Becky – I’m intrigued – how did you make the leap into teaching? I have my track suit on but an scared to jump…: )


  21. Cindy Tuning says:

    I know mind mapping and am thinking that the Developer of NYS Shock Incarceration Program must have read the same book. Mind Mapping is one of the excercises that we had to do during our 4 wks of “shock training” that employees had to complete to work at this facility.The premise of the training is that we put ourselves in the shoes of inmates that are doing the program and for 4 wks we do everything that is expected of them during this intense 6 month program….except we get to go home at the end of the day. It’s the model for all other such programs across the country.It has it’s pros and cons (no pun intended!) but is designed to give young offenders the tools they need to make better choices.I have never heard anyone else who has heard of this. I did this training 22 yrs ago and your post has put a whole different light on it.I love how you get us all thinking.

  22. D. Spencer says:

    Thanks for this post. Not only have I read and done mind-mapping for business things, I actually have mind-mapping software. Incredible process! But, did I ever think to apply it to myself? Noooo-ooooo.

    Think I’ll get that book and expand my horizons even further.

    Thank you!

  23. Randi Bault says:

    Dear Susan,
    I needed to hear your words. It’s a sparkly fresh New Year and I am going to map out my “dreams” for this year and hope to enjoy my journey…I want to organize my life to be less complicated, have time for me, and do all the things that have been on the back burner of my life- like watercolor painting (My B.A is in art and art history) and sewing & crafts. All these things I want to embrace, and be happy. I have had loved ones pass on (my husband and my momma) and it has been a long time since I have done things to make me feel alive and happy. I love you, your artwork and the way you share your joy with the world. You are an inspiration to me. I look forward to all your posts. I consider you a positive, joyful,sweet friend. I hope you have a happy wonderful day! —<–@ (rose) Randi

  24. Randi Bault says:

    PS My Momma loved your Dream Music. It made me think of her and I felt she was right next to me….

  25. Karen Saunders says:

    For me, I have always looked for inspiration through other people, books, etc. I read the biography of Beatrice Potter, Jesse Wilcox Smith (who I adore) YOU and many other artists and writers. I saw Michaelangelo’s drawings in London, DaVinci’s in Seattle (which Bill Gates so gratiously displayed for all the schools). I have an EXTENSIVE collection of books, magazines on art, writing, decorating, etc….. (you get the picture). BUT! There comes a time in your life when you finally have to quit hiding behind this and actually DOOO something. Before ya die, right???
    (That would be my own personal dilemma…) I said to myself, “I am NOT buying ONE more thing till I produce something myself….except your book of course! ha) It’s called fear of not succeeding… It’s only paper right?? White empty paper…..

    • sbranch says:

      🙂 yes! I would love to see the papers belonging to Bill Gates . . . have to go to Seattle!

      • Karen Saunders says:

        The place Bill Gates displayed DaVinci’s work was so neat. The papers were sealed in glass displays and lights would only come on for 5 seconds and go off. What was so neat about DaVinci is he was an AMAZING inventor as well. What a mind God blessed him with. (I’m lucky I can find my way out of the bathroom….) just kidding. btw…your up-beat personality, your blog, your positive nature and love for everyone and thing can’t help but influence so many people. (me as well) Our thanks to you is just not enough…but it’s the only thing we got!

  26. Paulie says:

    Hi Susan!
    Oh what an inspiring write you did here. It gave me pause ……… and I have to say that for many of us who have never found or recognized our dream that just perhaps we are exactly where God wants us to be and doing what He wishes us to do & that is the reason why …….we don’t have the answers and perhaps never will …….sometimes there are no answers and many times our quests are in vain!

    …………..but oh how wonderful the Mount Washington Hotel is and that porch is great for dreaming and for reading. I think you found your rainbow in life and are sharing it with the world Susan. That’s why you are such a success! What we share always comes back to us tenfold!

  27. Joann says:

    This is just one of the many wonderful ways you touch ALL of us!! I thought you wrote it for ME!!! And all of the other people who read this will think the very same thing!!!

    It IS inside of ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yesterday, I completed my vision board. I had a vision box, but the lid was on it, so I couldn’t look at all of the things I have a vision of each and every day. Now, the ‘cats’s out of the box’ as they say….like Jack-in-the-Box!!!

    So……………….wheeee, here I go into 2012 with some classes I’m taking on knitting and cooking, a new ‘slant’ on my blog and some clear visions right here in front of me.

    Keep pushing me, too……a little nudge never hurt anyone.


  28. Dawn says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post, Susan.

    When I was a little girl and discovered books, I wanted to be a writer. When my grandfather died, I inherited his electric typewriter, and wrote many stories, without even thinking about it. Then when I got a little older, for some reason I thought that you can’t just be a writer. You must have to take classes and know things about publishing. I got so intimidated by my own ideas about what it means to ‘be a writer’ that I stopped writing. Sometimes I find old stories I wrote and yearn for that inner freedom I had as a child, to write without being worried what anyone else would think about it…without worrying if what I was writing was ‘good.’ In some ways, I feel like my blog is helping me get back to that, though I still worry sometimes that no one will be interested in what I’m writing. I started my second blog with nature photography and promised myself that I wouldn’t care how many people were visiting it…it is really just for me, to record the seasons with photographs. That frees me from feeling pressured a little.

    On another note, I have so many interests, so many things I love to do, that sometimes I feel spread thin, and wish I only had ONE THING I really loved, so I could dedicate myself to it fully, and get very good at it.

    Rachel gave me ‘The Artists Way’ and I would really like to give myself the time to read it and let it do its work inside of me.

    Happy New Year! I read every post…even if I don’t always find the time to leave a note. 🙂

    Love you Susan.

    xoxo Dawn

    • sbranch says:

      You will love it, what a nice gift from Rachel! That’s what I was trying to say, sort of clumsy, but that sometimes, not quite believing, we make our dreams seem so far out of reach, when they really aren’t. . . your childhood love of writing was all you ever needed. I never thought I was a writer!!! Even when I was writing! Isn’t that funny!? All my best to you Dawn!!

  29. Nancy J. says:

    Susan Branch you are absolutely delightful. I LOVED your post. But then I LOVE your blog and you and Joe and the furrie friends. I am so amazed at your art and fun and everything you do. I am SO looking forward to this book. I have, I think, a copy of just about everything you have published and I treasure every one of them. You are such an inspiration of me!! I have a brand new blog of only 7 weeks… and I am dreaming. Yes it is so true…if you can dream it and you can make it so!. Thanks again for a wonderful post. I’m just loving them!!


    • sbranch says:

      Good Luck Nancy! I love doing the blog, I’m in my seventh month of it now, and it just gets better (and less scary to press the “publish” button!).

  30. Betty says:

    Just a quick note about the grand old hotel. We had our family reunion at Mt. Washington in 1993. I think the hotel was probably much like it was when you visited. It had an impressive renovation in 1999. The guest rooms look nothing like they looked when we were there. The dining room has changed but it still has that charm. We did enjoy the surrounding area. It is beautiful there in the summer. Haven’t tried it yet in the winter.
    I also loved the history: The Bretton Woods monetary conference took place there in 1944, establishing the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
    If I remember correctly, I think there was a room there with a brass plaque that said FDR had stayed there. I think he opened the conference. I know I new about Bretton Woods before I really knew much about the hotel. Maybe a bit off subject, but I just had to add. It was such a delightful experience!

  31. Kimi says:

    Hi Susan
    You know something Susan some times we get so caught up in what ifs and maybes and the should haves, or the shoulda, woulda, coulda, thing! and just make our selves crazy nuts! yep it can throw one under the bus! “Seems to me Susan you follow your heart yes, it seems to me you new what to do just needed to figure out how to go about it? and ya did!!! I look forward to reading this book of yours its just another way to help us find our way from the heart of another, I’m still lookin’ and I hope it continues. “Dreams” are away of finding adventurers. All you have to do is just dream and hope it never ends….

  32. Nancy J. says:

    Oops! That was suppose to say ‘You are such an inspiration TO me.’ Sorry about the fast writing flub there.

  33. Tam says:

    How interesting! I’m doing a word-a-month thing and this month’s word is DREAM.

  34. Jeanette says:

    Susan, Another fab-u-lous post! Thank you! We can never lose our dreams, thanks for validating that. I live in a constant state of self-discovery and truly enjoy the process. It’s what life is all about. I love the mind-mapping process – I so fervently believe once we get things down on paper, somehow they materialize even in the most unexpected ways. I hope you know how grateful I am for your Blog – you bring so much joy, learning, excitement, friendship and love into my life with every entry! Hugs!!!! xoxo, Jeanette
    BTW, I made your Chocolate Bundt Cake over the weekend in the Tree Pan….do I hear a drum-roll??? It was a HUGE smash! Absolutely delicious, a feast for the eyes and tummy. Had mascerated strawberries and super-soft vanilla ice cream. Lots of photos taken, oohs and aahs and moans of delight took place!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Love that! Thanks Jeanette!

      • Jerri Ellen says:

        I used the pan over the holidays, too! Everyone raved. My girlfriend borrowed it twice….I’ll have to get one for her, too!

        • sbranch says:

          My two best friends who live a couple of doors over on both sides of me, they both have one too! 🙂 Makes things look so festive!

          • Jeanette says:

            It really has the “WOW” factor from both presentation and taste. I love to watch people’s reaction when you start bringing it to the table!!!

  35. Pattie says:

    So, so connecting with this post. I too homeschooled my children, my job was being mom for so long that now it feels as though I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life. I’m just turned 60 and haven’t a clue where to go, what to do next! Perhaps this book, along with your though provoking words, will help to guide me. Hoping, hoping….trusting…that this journey goes somewhere good…..

  36. Regina Brown says:

    Love your Blog! I too have been searching for what I will be when I grow up!! I look back on my life and can see little bits and pieces of why Im here now. But this was not in my dreams ( I just opened up a antique store, one year ago) I didnt say someday I want to retire and open an antique store! But Ive always Loved old things,flea markets, antique stores, rummage sales and thrift stores!!! I love the history of old things. Talk about recycling!! Everytime something goes out of my store I wish I could follow it and see how many more times it will be sold, and where it ends up. To watch peoples faces when they finally find what their looking. The pure joy! But Im still looking! Look forward to your blog! It keeps me sane!! Lol! Cant wait for your new book!

    • sbranch says:

      How wonderful, your own antique store — if I could be more than one person, I would have one too!

  37. Amy says:

    Helpful and inspiring ideas, Susan. I’ve also learned to take clues from friends, family, co-workers. LISTEN when they tell you you’re talented and you should pursue this or that. It’s strange how sometimes people around us believe in our dreams more than we do! The best Christmas gifts I ever received were business cards with my name and email address on them, and books about jewelry crafting. It made me feel inspired that people close to me wanted to see MORE of my talent! Thank you so much Susan for sharing how you grew into someone who believes in herself!
    Happy 2012!

    • sbranch says:

      So smart, to listen and believe when others tell you. I used to think I couldn’t believe my friends, because they love me!!!

  38. Ann says:

    I love how you share with us Susan. From deep within your heart and soul. I have heard of this book, but never read it. I’m going to check the library website right now to see if it’s available. I can so imagine you snuggled in front of the hotel fire with your book and a scrap of paper, mapping out your dreams.

    • sbranch says:

      I remember that moment very well! Found that particular mind map scrap of paper, still in the book not so long ago!

  39. peg says:

    believe it or not, this book is available on Amazon (.com)! Hard cover, paperback and Kindle version! Just ordered a copy….here we go! ♥

  40. Yvonne Shafer says:

    Hi Susan! What a wonderful post. I’m still trying to find out what to do after retiring and I think your post will be a great help. BTW, I love the new calendar but think I found an error. On the last page with multiple years. 2011 and 2112 are transposed I think and February 29 isn’t shown. I found this by checking dates for my Nantucket vacation in July. I’m going on July 7 which is a Saturday. Maybe I’ve found my new job!

    • sbranch says:

      We seemed to have had a little bit of an editing meltdown on this calendar! Thank goodness all the regular months and days are correct and it’s just on that very back page, but not too happy about it. So sorry! Going to make sure it never happens again! July 7 in Nantucket, fun!!

  41. Julia Cameron’s book “The Artist’s Way” was the book that helped me get my creativity unblocked. And I started it in my neighbor’s lovely log cabin while looking after her cats. There’s something about being away from the familiar that makes a difference. I loved “Somewhere in Time” and have always wanted to go to the Grand Hotel, too. But Mount Washington Hotel does look like a lovely substitute!

  42. Linda Wattier says:

    What a great blog. Just the other day I asked my husband if we could go to Jackson Hole Wyoming to the elk refuge. You ride on a sleigh into the herd of elk. We always took our kids when they were little and growing up. Something gave me this feeling like I need to do this. It would be so much fun to do this again. We need to listen to our feelings. Sometimes I feel like I should clean etc. before I can quilt or knit. I think that’s part of being a woman. Are we too hard on ourselves? I too think its about graditude. Have a great day Susan and girlfriends.

  43. Terri says:

    Oh what a perfect post for today! I get my household goods delivered tomorrow (Thursday) and can’t wait to get things out of plastic containers and onto some real shelves and such. It will be the first time I have done that since I have been moving around this planet! That is a dream fulfulled ~ Finally! Hubby few back to Germany yesterday, so I needed the encouragement~ feeling a little blue today…thanks!!

  44. Rae Ann Roche says:

    PleasePleasePrettyPlease with sugar on top investigate the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island…would love you to speak there or do a workshop there…I would be the first to sign up…it is beautiful in the spring, summer or fall…there is even a Somewhere in Time weekend where everyone dresses in costumes…the state of Michigan would welcome you with open arms…

    • sbranch says:

      I wonder if they do booksignings there? Would be fun, next fall, for new book!

      • Rae Ann Roche says:

        YESSSSSSS…I am sure they would do a book signing…I think that would be a wonderful idea…they are closed now, but check out their website……I may be able to get you in contact with the family who owns the hotel…I’ll check and see what I can do…

        • sbranch says:

          I’ll put it on my list to try for also! Thanks for the idea Rae Ann!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            We’ve been wanting to check out Mackinac Island, too, for years. (since Somewhere In Time, actually…) We know about the “no cars” but does anyone know if you can bring dogs on the ferry??? 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            You’re so close! Lucky!

          • Aggie says:

            Pat was asking about allowing dogs on the ferry – yes – according to this ferry company (there is more than one ferry company), however, check this one out – good stuff in Q & A:
            Hoping for a book signing :-)!

          • sbranch says:

            Thanks for that info Aggie!

          • Rae Ann Roche says:

            You are very welcome…I hope your book signing at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island really really happens…if you go to their website, there are places where you can contact them…also look at their calendar for 2012…I know there is room for YOU…please keep us posted on your blog…so I can sign up!!!…

          • sbranch says:

            I will do that for sure!

      • Karen P. says:

        Yesss!!!! I’m with Rae Ann…a Fall booksigning at The Grand Hotel would be wonderful!!!!

  45. Laurie Walt says:

    Hi-I have always believed that putting things to paper made them do-able. It has worked for me over and over again! I like your creative approach and will try to make a fun colorful chart, afterall plotting our future is worth a few moments! And when your well seems empty, focus on helping someone else-my best friend and I are going to work with our piles of fabric and make comfort blankets, pillowcases, and small simple stuffed animals for stressed children. We can’t wait! Good way to start 2012? Happy New Year!

  46. sue says:

    For all the ladies who are overwhelmed with their perfectionism go check out She is a life saver.

    • sbranch says:

      Another wonderful thing about the internet!

    • dottie says:

      A word of caution — one can become a perfectionist about becoming a decluttered non-perfectionist — or something like that — just take the advice on all the how to declutter and adapt it to the level YOU need/want in your life is what I’m hinting at. Otherwise there is such a locked in rigid approach that once more there’s no time left to give to yourself and your dreams nor to create anything.

  47. Sylvia Johnson says:

    I gave my son this book about Da Vinci, which I had ordered from you. He is a 35 yr old senior at UCLA. After traveling all over the world, he decided to go back to college. He will graduate this spring in Architecture, which he loves. For my birthday he gave me his drawings of Da Vinci along with 7 principles from the book. After reading your blog, I feel I need to order my own copy from you. Wishing all of us the best in 2012!

  48. Lin says:

    We’ve stayed at Bretton Woods (though in the little adjacent “inn”! Love that place – we were there a couple of autumns ago. Thanks for the lovely memories! And I too loved Somewhere in Time 🙂

  49. Jeanne Hedin says:

    Another informative, inspiring and delightful blog from you. Thank you for reminding all of to explore our gifts and follow our dreams. I believe each of us has special gifts, even if we have to excavate to find them! 🙂 I’m about to read Einstein’s biography . . . love his quotes! There is one that says (loosely) that “Each of us is a genius in some way. We have to find our genius. If people judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will go through life feeling stupid.” I can only imagine what creative abilities and dreams and “genius” are contained in all the girlfriends out there! I hope we all have a year of discovery and inspiration. You’ve certainly pointed us all in the right direction. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I love Albert Einstein! He is, hahahaha I was going to say, “so smart!” But he’s not just a mathematician! He was a people person. Please let me know how the book is!

  50. Betsy says:

    I could be wrong Susan but I think one of the roads you have traveled has brought you to us. I think your talents inspire us out here who read your blogs and your books. You were born with a blessing to have such talent. We gals are all in this together….to love, to share, to care. Day by day we find our way with each other. Get rid of the clutter and start dreaming and planning. Life is too short to spend more time on dust than ourselves.

  51. Carol C says:

    The earlier post about is really one to investigate. I am now retired and have time to do all the things I love to do but I’d always say to myself that I’d do it just after I dusted, cleaned the bathroom, etc. I found Flylady and got going on the routines and now have plenty of time for the pleasures of life and a clean, organized house to boot. Currently I am being treated for two kinds of cancer and had hired a cleaning lady to help during these months of treatment . I had to stop having her come because it got too stressful to leave things for her to clean. The Flylady routines are so easy and untaxing that I can keep up with everything and still have the rest I need during the day, AND do the things I love (an important element in keeping a life affirming attitude)!

  52. Claudia says:

    I have a feeling you have answered an un-answered question for many of us. As a late-50’s woman who had the dream job of my life– the privilege of having a family and being able to make a lovely home for them for 32 years, I now face the crossroads of our youngest just graduating from home school high school and attending college full time. Our three were spread out age-wise due to our building our family through adoption. We now have two grandchildren to love as well.
    My husband needs an assistant in his business, and I am going to be working with him for three days each week. It is not my dream, but I hope that my new career will gradually unfold to me as I seek to uncover the un-exploited gifts and talents God gave me. For a few years I have had a feeling of expectation– like “when will I KNOW” this is IT? It is exciting and stressful at the same time–the sense of urgency to discover my next steps.
    So, thank you for your story, and the suggestions. What a great time of year to focus on finding the gifts God placed within our hearts to be opened at this time of our lives!
    I think I’m going to indulge myself in piecing a quilt tonight!

  53. Ginnie says:

    Oh my gosh, mind-mapping – I haven’t thought about that in a long time. It’s a technique I learned for project management while attending a seminar, and it’s really useful in groups to come up with ideas about how to deal with projects or certain aspects of a project. We even bought software to help create or document it! I remember one of the keys was to keep drawing a blank line to fill in, as that prompts our brain to keep thinking! Love the drawing you made and that you hung on to it.

  54. Priscilla from Florida says:

    How serendipitous to read this post on your blog! This is right where I’m at — and I’m 61 years young, so it’s never too late, right?! — I’m calling it my “Live Life with Purpose” 2012 dream/goal/kick. I’ve owned the “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” book since 1998 although this will be the first year that I actually use it. (I love buying books, and then forget to read them/use them.)

    Thank you for being in the World! You are always a wonderful inspiration. Happy New Year!

  55. Marie (from Virginia) says:

    Susan~I echo my girlfriends comments to this inspiritional post. Can’t wait to get the book in my hands. Love the reference to the word “bliss.” It’s one of my favorite words.

    Marie xo

  56. Several years ago I took a course in writing a biography, and we did some mind/memory mapping. It is an interesting way to get things down on paper. Hadn’t thought about that in years! Love the song by Jo Stafford! And, no I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up! Lol! I am 67!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Remember the “Where’s the Beef Lady?” — she found “her calling” at 80. And darling Ivy Bean who began twittering at 102, and had over 500,000 followers wrapped around her little finger two years later. And there are so many others, who don’t give up!

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Thanks for the reminder about Ivy Bean–she was an inspiration of the mindset to not let age hold you down or back! Just think about all of the people’s lives she touched!

        • sbranch says:

          And think of how, because of the internet, no one ever has to be lonely again. Normally at 102 you don’t have much of a life, everyone you love is gone, but she was known and loved all over the world, sought after and connected — I just love that.

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        Grandma Moses too! Love her!

    • Sandy Richmond says:

      Some friends and I were just discussing this at church. We are all 60ish, and none of us know what we want to be when we grow up! (we are all working women). I think once the kids have moved out, those thoughts come creeping back in. Life is funny, isn’t it? We are so lucky to live in a time and a country where there are so many possibilities… I feel after Susan’s blog, there are going to be a bunch of Grandma Moses bursting forth! SB is such an inspiration for all of us!

  57. Jamie V. says:

    Amen Susan!-
    After reading your blog on Mind Mapping it reinforced a promise that I made to myself just recently, to reclaim my gift of drawing and painting. Im happy to report that Im back into my “Zen Spot” and talk about endorphines!!! Oh joy of joys, this is definately my calling. It took me some years and too many losses to realize that if I didnt make time now, then when ? Life herself had to give me a swift kick in the pants, or what I call my “wake up call” when I lost too many beloved friends and family memebers in a very short time period. Unfortunately some of them never realize their full potential. Ive found new meaning to carpe diem, which definately has become my motto. So Ive dusted off my “do this someday list” and having the time of my life!
    To my way of thinking its in the doing that is its own reward and isnt the journey there the most exciting of all ?
    And thank you Susan for being you. You have a talent for reaching out to people through your happy soul.
    XXX000 Jamie 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I agree with you Jamie, the reward has to be in the doing, anything more than that is just gravy. 🙂

  58. Marisa leigh says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It is good to be reminded that we aren’t alone in our quest to find happiness, purpose and passion in life. Sometimes I look around and it seems everyone has it figured out but me. But of course that isn’t true.

    I am at a point in my life where I have also been checking out many books, trying to find that one bit of advice that will help me change the course of my life. Naturally I haven’t found it – so I struggle on looking for answers and guidance.

    It is frustrating as I feel very deeply inside of me something that wants to get out – the part of me that wants to give of myself and share my talents with the world. Trouble is that I don’t quite know what those talents are – or at the least I don’t know how to use them.

    I’ve already gone ahead and placed a request at my library for “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci.” Thank you for the recommendation. Maybe this will be the one to give me the push and the flash of insight that I so need!

    • sbranch says:

      I hope so Marisa — there was something else that changed things forever for me, I took a course and learned to meditate. It seems like everything was inside there just waiting for me to find it.

      • Marisa leigh says:

        Ahh – meditation. I have flirted with it – completely on my own with books and cds. But I’ve never gotten very far with it. I’ve heard tremendous things about the positive effects it can have on both the mind and the body. Maybe an actual course is the way to go. Sometimes you just really need a teacher – they make things so much more tangible and real I’ve found.

        • sbranch says:

          For me it was SO hard to get into it . . . but I took a course that came with tapes to help you block the brain chatter . . . it was 6 weeks of 20 min morning and evening. The first week was terrible, but after that I just did it, and at the end, I was hooked. It’s by far the most powerful thing I have ever learned. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and ahhhhhh.

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          Good luck to you! I meditate 10 minutes before I go to sleep & 10 minutes before rising…it has helped me alot!

  59. Cindy Garner says:

    OMgoodness….way too funny….I just googled “mind mapping”…there are over 10 pages of sites for Mind Mapping.
    I’ve never heard of it (although I am thinking my daughter did something similar in elementary school :0)….I love the idea, thank you for sharing….
    I was just last night, lying in bed thinking….”what now”….create what, and what for….well, tonight I will try a “mind mapping” exercise and see what happens. I love the idea of color and pictures and squiggles and such….♥

    p.s. As I saw the picture of the wonderful hotel, I thought to myself…”hmmmmm…that reminds me of a movie I saw, now what was that movie”…so glad you answered that for me….LOL

    Be Blessed,

  60. Gert says:

    Oh Susan…there are so much I’d love to try & learn… Like how to scrapbook better..& photography … For now I shall open a book and try to learn!

    Blessings & thank you…

  61. judyCinNC says:

    So much of who I am has been because of the path I have traveled and taking the time to listen and learn. My now husband is my forever love, but I had to find me before I found him. Your insights and discoveries are such an inspiration along my journey today – I always learn something new when I read your blog – not always about you but also about myself. Still defining my life at 70 – and the journey just gets more delightful with each day. Judy C sends best wishes for 2012 to all

    • sbranch says:

      Makes me think of the Anna Quindlen quote, “A finished life is a boring life” — no boring people around here!

  62. Jean G says:

    Susan, your post was so nice. Follow your bliss – that was the MUTTS comic on Dec. 30! So sweet. This post made me think back to an old home movie of me and my best friend Diane, back in the 50s on a beautiful Fall day. I am 5 years old; my parents took us to a local mini farm to buy pumpkins. My Dad captured it on film – I am dressed in a red hoodie (still love red hoodies and coats) and I’m excitedly running from pumpkin to pumpkin, chrysanthemum plant to chrysanthemum plant with Diane tagging along. Looking back – that was my bliss; that IS my bliss today! I still get excited over pumpkins; I still marvel at plants at the garden center (I don’t run of course, but maybe I could). Another home movie shows my brother and me, age 4, in the country catching butterflies (well, trying to) – I even remember the butterfly I saw that day, so small and pale periwinkle blue. THAT was, and is another bliss, and after raising 3 daughters I am following my bliss that was always there, by taking classes on gardening and butterflies; I was even privileged to teach a class on butterfly gardening at our local environmental center. Talk about being born with your bliss! I guess it’s true. Thinking back to the bliss of childhood can give us clues!

    Jean G.

  63. Sharon - Ohio says:

    Love your post today Susan. I retired from the flower business about 15 years ago and knew I needed something creative to do besides flowers. I took painting, sewing, jewelry making and have used all of these in the past years for enjoyment. I have now worked myself into a little upcycled fashion business selling in boutiques. It has been so rewarding. I always tried to visualize what would make me happy in retirement. If I ever feel like I’m getting burned out I will pull back and do something to recharge my battery and then go back in with something simple instead of trying to tackle something big. You are such a blessing and hugh ray of sunshine, Thank you, maggiemae

  64. Donna Bradley says:

    Dear Susan,
    Once again, thank you for inspiring and encouraging me to dream. You have helped me realize that even a small dream I have can become a reality in 2012. You’re the best!
    Lots of love from Texas,

  65. Lisa G. says:

    When they say that youth is wasted on the young, it’s true in a way, isn’t it? For some of us, it takes so long to find out who we are and what we really are about!

    I had that book for a long time, but wasn’t getting around to doing the exercises, so I finally let it go – needed to make room. I think I only did the first one – but I could see there was something very useful in Mr. Gelb’s technique. (I was very surprised to read about Leonardo’s catering disaster – didn’t know he ever goofed on anything!)

    • sbranch says:

      It seems there are more late bloomers than the other kind — but just think, everything good we’ve ever done didn’t happen overnight. I feel sorry for very young people who become instant “stars” in their 20’s but don’t yet have the tools to handle it.

  66. Connie B says:

    First of all your taste in music with Michael Buble is excellent. He has such a dreamy voice and I loved his Christmas CD. As for me I have always been a day dreamer which can take you anywhere you want. My biggest dream as a child was to be an artist. I read a quote from a famous artist that read ” I dream to paint and I paint my dreams.” I did inherit some talent from my ancestors so I am following my dreams and enjoying time spent with my paint brushes. I enjoyed your Gladys Tabor quote. I have enjoyed her writings for many years starting when I discovered her magazine column. I thought I was the only one who remembered her when I started receiving you calendars and found her writings here and there. Now I know you share the same love and appreciation for Gladys Tabor as I do. I have many of her books including cookbooks, a Cape Cod book, her writings about Amber the cat, Stillmeadow, and two old books– one about Stillmeadow and Sugarbridge (1953) and the other called Especially Father ( found at a church yard sale in Cundy’s Harbor, Maine). Gladys also had a dream which was about a Unicorn in her meadow. I have a total of 14 of her books which I never set out to collect but they came to me from the oddest places. Gladys also had a dream which was about a Unicorn in her meadow. Never stop your dreaming because all of us here enjoy your dreams to the fullest.

  67. Enikö says:

    So that’s where you’ve been hiding! Lovely post…love the mapping idea. Check your email…the Feast of the Three Kings is this Friday! xoxo

  68. Mary Ann says:

    Another book on the list! I learned mind mapping in the corporate world in the 90’s and still use it when thinking through a project. Now I’ll add it to MY creative planning too. Thanks once again Susan, you always bring us something to think about!

  69. Oh, this is such a great post. You realy spoke to my heart, because I feel like I’m still looking for “it”…whatever that is..that niche that is made just for me 🙂 🙂

    Oh, and I LOVE the movie “Somewhere In Time”…the hotel in that film is the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. They have a Facebook page, too 🙂 🙂 Someday I’m going to go visit that hotel. It’s been on my list for a few years now 🙂 🙂

    Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  70. I absolutely adore how much sharing you bring out of people Susan….such a gift. Something we all need to remember when thoughts of failure creep into the darkness of our minds…The Lord has your entire path planned out and it is up to you to either accept the right road or the detour (which isn’t always a bad thing because if you learn things while on the “wrong” road HE can always bring you back)….everyone has gifts; but, not everyone will become wealthy or famous. I pray daily that the Lord will use me to help someone in need; I am a people person and if I can bring a smile or give someone happiness then I am doing the Lords’ will. I think most of the girlfriends over the age of 50 especially if you raised children can’t help but feel they gave up the “pretty years” and we did….well worth the wrinkles/gray hairs. There is always time no matter how old you are to share your gifts with others not for awards or rewards; but, we have to stop feeling guilty for taking “me time”…if your happy and content the people around you will reap the best of you and that is a win/win and a gift worth receiving. Love yourselves, love your lives, every new day is a gift from God….open it and BELIEVE.

  71. Sara says:

    What a fabulous post! What is life without dreams? Susan I know you will do a wonderful job on your book! We will all LOVE it 🙂

    I love the idea of mapping out our thoughts and dreams. I am praying and hoping that mine will be more fullfilled in June. We are working hard at getting that place in the country for a better life for us and our children, a simpler life where we can raise our children without being so dependent on others.

    Here’s to dreams come true!

  72. Karen C says:

    Such great inspiration. And a great place to start. There is so much to ponder. Time now for some peppermint tea, and a little mind mapping. Thank you Susan!

  73. Janie Thompson says:

    Susan, sometimes I think that we are twins separated at birth! I do this kind of exercise all of the time, when I am problem solving or trying to create something. When I was reading your mind map, it looked almost identical to something I would have written. I love your blog… I check it every day. It always makes me feel happy and content. It is part of my de-stressing after a day of teaching second grade special ed. kids! Thanks so much for your lovely thoughts each day!

  74. Lee Ann G. says:

    Thank Y♥U Susan for sharing this special part of you in the post with us today. Sometimes I wander if I will ever know exactly what my total dream really is of becoming, even at age 56. Did you ever feel like you had parts of your dream in your mind, but not the total picture? (Possibly it’s the first-born, sometimes discouraged perfectionist in me that thinks I need to know the total picture before I can call it my dream or before I can give myself permission to claim it as mine) I think I am going to the library tomorrow and looking for this book. Sounds like a marvelous book! ..And a day at that hotel would be heavenly. It is beautiful…

    I still remember well your affirmation book mark you made and kept beside you at all times while creating your first cookbook to be published (from seeing it and reading the Stampington and Co. interview/article about you). Did that special creation come out of doing your mind mapping?

    ♥Lee Ann

    • sbranch says:

      Just stressing I’m not an expert and everyone has their own path, but for me it really was baby steps, and the mind map was one of them. Just one thing in a series of things I read and did and tried while looking for my way. I did this post not as an “answer” but as a possible help for people who might be searching as hard as I was. I think the word “try” is the best word, I love all of us who do. One of my favorite quotes is “Pray to God but Continue to Row Toward Shore.”

  75. Pigeon's Mom says:

    If I can dream it, then…I can create an enduring children’s book character who lives in an illustrated world that millions of kids and their reader-to-ers will want to live in for a few moments everyday; own and run New England’s most refreshing seaside bed and breakfast in a manner that looks (and feels) easy and serve the world’s most delicious scones (and coffee and tea!) to guests; install my aging parents and employ my special needs brother (who loves to work more than any of us, and so deserves it!) there; buy my husband a cruise through the Mediterranean and/or Caribbean (every year until at least one of us dies), raise a son who’ll help heal the world; and of course weigh about 125 pounds, tops. (haha on the last one; I don;t think I ever weighed only 125 pounds in my life!)

    I think I’m going to need to read that book. Does it cover how to deal with being someone who does a lot of things well but has never done anything great???

    :o) Thanks for the book idea!

    • sbranch says:

      One of the things I thought when I was younger is that prioritizing meant that you just get rid of the stuff you don’t want to do to have more time for the stuff you do want to do. I never thought I would have to give up something I LOVE to have something else I LOVE. Or stop doing something I love to do something else I love. That just doesn’t seem fair!

    • Jean G says:

      Dear Pigeon’s Mom,

      My husband and I had a discussion about that on New Year’s Eve, about doing a lot of things well but not just one thing great. A couple of days later a columnist for our local newspaper wrote her weekly article just about that! Her answer: “It doesn’t matter!” I think she is right!

      Jean G

  76. Linda says:

    Erma Bombeck wrote about the things she wished she had done differently as she lay dying of cancer. One of the things that really stuck with me is she said she wished she had cared less about having her house so clean–that she wished she had just let friends come over without thinking it had to be clean and not being spontaneous and let anyone come when they were able. I have found myself telling friends that they needed to give me a weeks’ notice before coming over so that everything in my home would be spotless. I try not to do that anymore and just enjoy the company. I think women put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect at all we do………thanks for your blogs.
    What is your book about? I hope this is not too ignorant of a question but am dying to know!

  77. Mary Weir says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your journey…this post means so much to me for so many reasons. You really reach a lot of us “out here” with what you have experienced and learned. I thought your lovely hotel WAS the Grand Hotel from Somewhere in Time and I was so excited to learn that you loved that movie too! I saw it with my high school boyfriend who was amazed at how much he liked it. It cemented my passion for time travel stories, especially romantic ones. I have never forgotten how transported I was by that film. I felt that way again tonight reading your thoughts. So glad you went your own right direction and it has brought you purpose and fulfillment.

    • sbranch says:

      I have tried SO HARD to go back in time. 🙂 No machines or anything, but I have concentrated really hard!! Weren’t you sick when you saw that modern coin? SO upsetting! 🙂

      • Mary Weir says:

        Oh — I just felt walloped and as heartbroken as Christopher Reeve! Way back when it wasn’t as expensive (and it was off season) we spent two nights at the Coronado Hotel for our honeymoon, and boy did I try to look out at the ocean from our room and reach back in time, but no luck:) Have you ever read Time and Again by Jack Finney? It’s one of my favorite time travel stories. It’s more a history story than a romance, but I love the businesslike approach to achieving time travel and hope someday I might be able to figure it out! Do you know where you would go if you could? Forward or backward in time? Have a lovely day and stay warm. It’s going to be 80 again in California today *sigh*. Not very seasonal to me!

        • sbranch says:

          Yes I read that and loved it too. I would go to Queen Victoria’s house, pack up a box of linens and hide it in the future 🙂

  78. Kirsten Wichert says:

    O.K.! That was alot to think about…….Thanks for showing us your mind map, it made sense to me. I think I always make things more complicated than necessary. I get so lost in trying to understand some things but you made it simple. I’ve been very ill since Christmas. My favorite day, Jammies Day, turned out to be a week and a half so far. So…….I cleared the rest of this week for me to take all the time I need to get well. I am having a very hard time breathing……..the very essense of life. I have had horrible asthma all my life but when I catch anything it always goes to my lungs. (Yes, I saw the doctor already). So for the duration I am going to relax, and be good to myself! Less complication………..more simplicity. Oh, and a cup of tea!

  79. Victoria says:

    Dear Susan,
    You are my inspiration! You live the kind of life that I have always wanted to live. While I’ve been dreaming about it and making lists, you are doing it! You and I have the same loves and interests. You are living proof that it can be done and it’s really possible to be who you are and do what you love and make a living doing it.
    My love has always been art but somehow I ran astray, allowing life to led me in other directions. I believed I had to make money to live and a job was the way, while art was only something fun to do. I have taken so many paths, all which seemed logical at the time, but left me longing to create. One little decision at a time I am freeing myself from all the distractions I’ve created to appease my yearnings.
    Thank you for reminding me about the mapping and Thank You for opening your heart and sharing, even the little things. There is no way that you could possibly know just what an amazing positive influence you are to me and so many!
    …and …Thank you Girlfriends! I can relate and I learn so much from you!

    • sbranch says:

      I feel the same way, if I can do it, others can do it, and I know what it’s like to be sitting on a dream!!! xoxo to you Victoria!

  80. Karen Saunders says:

    Hi. On cleaning house… my Grandparents lived with us until I left home. My Grandmother was what I classified as a ‘Master-Homemaker’. She did everything perfect. I would listen to people say what a good cook she was, and how well she sewed. I asked her to teach me how…..(I was an out-door kinda girl). She said she wasn’t patient enough and that I should take a Home Ec. course. Well too busy with fun stuff in school so finally when I went to OSU…I took a Home Ec class. Know what the teacher said to me??? In all my years I’ve either had girls who could cook and not pass the chemistry, or girls who could pass the chemistry but not cook…. but I’ve NEVER had anyone that doesn’t know either one… but you sure keep a shiny stove unit. She gave me a ‘D’ out of pity.
    I did learn how to cook after I got married….I do like a clean house, I think it gives you a sense of order and that someone cares. Do I always have it clean,,,uuuh, no. (but it does bother me.) Ermma was right tho…don’t let it get in the way of being spontaneous. Life is way too short.

  81. Tamsen says:

    Oh Susan, I can’t wait to map out something! I finally booked some vacation time in January to do things like this! In a similar note of finding what you like, I’d like to share this…..

    True story. Yesterday I decided it would be “John Denver” month in my minivan, meaning, I will listen to his music on the way to and from work. His songs evoke an uplifting feeling for me – not to mention the whole wintery Colorado, friends, and love vibe. (January is kind of long-ish for me and I need a way to get through it…)

    So, I was thinking about how I wish he was still here. Later, our little “bonus child”, age 7 yrs, had a project. She had to ask family members whether or not they would like to be an “eagle or a whale” for one day. I stopped in my tracks and felt like John Denver was somehow standing in my kitchen, smiling.

    I chose eagle. I want to soar.

    • sbranch says:

      What a great story! Love it. “You fill up my senses . . . “ — his music was so uplifting! You seem to be making it a wonderful January!

    • Margot says:

      I LOVE that story! I like the term bonus child. Lovely. Rocky Mtn. High Tamsen!!! Hiking, skiing, etc. Colorado has been on my bucket list since high school. I almost moved there two years ago.

  82. Kelly J. says:

    Here’s to living the dream, Susan! (Raising my coffee cup 🙂

  83. Just Tami says:

    Wow Susan, amazing what your post is today. My sister (who lives in CA) and I (who lives in NC) were on the phone over the last couple of days discussing this very matter. What on earth is it we should be doing and exactly how do we figure that out? We both have really been down in the dumps with where we are in life and exactly what we were put here for. Knowing it had to be more that what it has been thus far. So, just as you did, I spent yesterday with google after google searching for the perfect book to teach us how to find out what it is we should be doing with our lives…..only to come up with every self help borderline voodoo book out there. If we can’t even choose a book, imagine us trying to choose our life’s purpose! Maybe the answer was in your post today. Any other helpful hints?

    p.s. you are the best friend i have even though we’ve never met

    • sbranch says:

      🙂 My only advice is don’t give up!! You know how when we’re driving to a new place it seems to take forever, and coming home goes so fast? That’s because we are going into the unknown on our way there and the unknown is always HUGE. That’s how I think it is with finding your purpose — it’s the unknown so we think it has to be HUGE, which means we might miss the little beginnings that get us started. I was shocked when I realized that the way to write a book is to do the first page (and then the second, and so on and so on). Sounds easy, but if you’re expecting fireworks, you might miss that. I think if you can find the way to center in on yourself, your inner self, it might be smaller, much easier to manage, and totally doable.

  84. Susan says:

    Reach for the Stars, Susan! Keep working! I gotta go finish a quilt.

  85. What a fabulous post! I just love this, and feel we all have this creative spirit inside, it just needs to be nurtured and protected. I also think it’s especially difficult for women, because we’ve been conditioned to think of ourselves as caregivers to others first, often putting our own dreams on the back burner.

    But dreams have a way of surfacing, and if we listen to them, we just may find our bliss. I found mine many years ago in art, but there have certainly been times over the years when I set it aside to be wife and mother. In my early forties, with daughter off to college, I began to make it a priority again.

    Now, there are times when the house looks like an explosion (seriously – like a reporter should be here giving a damage assessment, lol), times when my husband asks “what’s for dinner?” and the answer is “whatever you feel like making”. Times when errands and household responsibilities slide…

    But I’m happy. I’m doing something I love, and that’s something. 🙂

    ♥ Carolee

  86. Susan in Texas says:

    Susan, can you have your dream and lose it????? What do we do then?

    • sbranch says:

      I lost a dream one time, which almost killed me. But then I saw the good reason for it later on. I wouldn’t want to see anyone go through that, but I needed it for my growth. I look at the thing that ruined that dream as my guardian angel now.

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Your reply, dear Susan, just gripped my heart. You worked through the pain, were brave, had faith, and made your dream come true! And look at you now! You’re so inspiring, encouraging, helpful, and we, your admirers and girlfriends, thank you. xo

  87. Barbara Stillman says:

    Just loved your post…and have read all of the comments, too. Your blog is the BEST! Happy New Year !!

  88. DonnaRay says:

    So much inspiration in this post, Susan, and from all the girlfriends. Love these gabfests! My dream has always been to be a homemaker. I spent hours as a child making environments for dolls and taking note of all my Mother did to make our day-to-day lives happy. I was so fortunate to be a full time homemaker while raising our children. Then, at age 40, I started a wonderful career as school counselor with Kdg and First Graders……in so many ways it was another version of making home for children. Now, after 25 years, I’ve just retired and am back to full time homemaking in my own home with my husband. Fewer things are more gratifying than serving good food, making others comfortable and adding just that little touch to a home, table, garden or gift to make others smile. You know this well, Susan, and have shown us in a zillion ways……that it’s the small, simple, from the heart things that are really the greatest satisfactions in life. I agree that trying, striving, improving, working toward……..all of those challenges and dreams are important in life, but I also think that contentment is an important foundation from which to launch out. Sometimes there’s a sadness/unrest/anxiety in the searching and dreaming if it isn’t grounded in appreciation of what is now. It’s all about balance, I guess, being blissful in each day as well as reaching for the stars. I’m loving all this company along the journey! As always, DonnaRay

  89. Anita says:

    I had dreams early-on, but life got in the way. Now, years later, I’ve realized that as time passed, I did not truly let go of those dreams, (they were just “on-hold”). I’m living them today,–not exactly the same as I had imagined in those early years, but recognizeable. I’ve discovered I’m still that young girl who had those dreams so many years ago, and to the extent that I’m able, I’m following my bliss. It’s never too late! Thank you for this post.-Anita.

  90. Margot says:

    I was just commenting to my husband over the weekend about the way art and science go well together, and I used Da Vinci as an example. The Grand Hotel is on my “Bucket List”. My in-laws went to the Island for their honeymoon, and all my life my mother talked about going there. No one has stayed in THE hotel though. They now charge a fee to sit on the porch and see the lobby. I have climbed Mt. Washington almost, (my son leaked out and ran back down when we reached Tuckerman’s Ravine) so I didn’t see the hotel yet. I love the Taber quote.
    To all the girlfriends who have dreams…Be bold and begin them. Inch by inch everything is a cinch.

  91. Marilyn says:

    This is such a thought provoking and interesting topic!

    I think one of the most important things in life, and the key to staying young, is to fully participate in it. There is a world of opportunity out there….seize it! 🙂

    What works for me is to continually challenge myself. Small challenges, such as learning to knit, or larger challenges, such as taking on additional, new-to-me responsibilities at my job. I think it keeps my mind sharp and my attitude, positive. Change is growth and growth is good! 🙂

    Also, I’m not afraid of failure because I put myself out there and tried! The only way to assure failure, 100% of the time, is to not try at all.

    Wishing everyone a year of positive growth and happiness in 2012!

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  92. Mary says:

    LOVE this post! Such sage advice!

  93. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Hello Sweet Sue…this is a Very Important Blog…Makes Us Think…Soul~Search…Inspire…whew….Dreams….Can & Do Come True….Life & The Journey….& The Wonderful People We Meet Along The Way…& I Too Know That There are Angels All Around Us….Amen! It’s a New Year…New Beginnings…New Dreams….Wishing All Us “Kindred~Spirits” a Safe… Fun~Filled… Peaceful…Joyful…New Year….Much Love & Always Friendship….( & a Bit of NewPixie~Dust!) Yay! xoxo Poof! 🙂 Thank~You Dear Sue!

  94. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    You are so not going to believe this….I was talking about mind mapping with a co-worker this morning. We were talking about our 2012 Mission Statements and I was explaining how I worked on mine and I told him about mind mapping. We had a blast with it. I used to teach it when I taught Time Management & Organizational Skills. It can help turn negative words/actions into something positive which is really helpful when you’re trying to make serious changes to your life. Thanks for the re-enforcement. I’ll be sure and print this out so he can see I didn’t make all of it up as I went along!!! Have a great Thursday – it’s bright and sunny here today but very cold. Talk to you all soon!!

  95. Jenny says:

    Just had to comment, what a wonderful post. I had the fortunate opportunity to work for 2 summers at the Grand. You won’t find a more special place in the entire world. The view from that front porch is breathtaking. I would leap at the chance to water the red geraniums every once in a while, just for that view. I never tired of the Island. You should visit the day after Labor Day, still plenty of sunshine and blue sky, but before the snow flies. However, I’m partial to June, when the lilacs are in full bloom. The whole place is so fragrant, and they have a horse drawn parade just for those lilacs. I sure hope you get to visit, you’ll love high tea in the parlor!
    Thank you for all your creativity and hard work you share with us!

  96. Karen Saunders says:

    That’s what gives me hope when I think years are
    going too fast….that little glimmer of her. Women are
    such great creations. The backbone of life. Here’s
    to us ladies. (clink) those are gingerale bubbles btw!

  97. Arlinda says:

    You are a Treasure Susan! With my eyes filling up with tears I write this. Just this morning I was thinking that I need to focus on so many things that need attention. The first thing will Me.

    I am grateful for your friendship, your words and the time you take to connect with us. Thank you. You have inspired me.

    God bless.

    Arlinda xoxo

  98. Jacqui G says:

    BRILLIANT as usual! I downloaded a copy of the workbook straight to my Kindle. I always have to be creative in my job (and life!) and this is just the boost I needed. Happy New Year to you! I love this blog it puts a song my heart ♪♫ xoxo Jacqui

  99. Karen P says:

    I am just loving all these comments that your great blogs inspire, Susan. Such an inspiration….such a support system….helps to knows others, too, are dreaming, struggling, surviving, thriving. Love you for what you’re bringing to our lives! xoxo…kp

  100. Marie (from Virginia) says:

    Kirsten~speedy recovery! While sipping your tea, read anything by our dear Susan. We all know how cozy & comfy that always makes us feel.

    Stay well, girlfriends!
    Marie xo

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