Wish Lists

At Christmas time, my sister and I would lie on the living room floor poring over the Sears and Penny’s catalogues, dreaming about toys. I always wanted dolls and everything related to them: the strollers, the clothes, the furniture. She liked craft supplies and books. We’d pick and choose our favorites, then write up a wish list for Santa that we’d hand off to our mom. The excitement and anticipation of what Santa would bring us was a big part of Christmas.

Wish lists still have a place in my life. Around the holidays or my birthday, it’s fun to put out a few requests or hints for a new pair of earrings or a CD or a book I’m interested in. But now I also use wish lists – of a different variety – year-round. These lists are addressed to my Highest Self, instead of to Santa. They use the act of wishing as the beginning point for creating intentions to change and improve my life.

Wishing is something we all experience, all the time. A wish is formed when we identify a yearning or desire for something, big or small, that we want or need. We find ourselves thinking, “I wish I could…” or “I’d like to…” or “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” It might be as simple a wish as, “I wish somebody else would cook dinner tonight” or as complex as, “I want a new career.” Whatever the wish, once the desire is clarified, we have taken the first step toward its manifestation.

Some wishes dissolve almost as soon as we think them; some have more staying power. I recently came across a list that I’d made years ago of things I desired, things I wanted to be different in my life. On the list was “Kitchen.” Kitchen had appeared many times on many lists. I’d wished for a new kitchen from the time we’d bought our house, over twenty years before. It took twenty-two years to manifest that wish, to actualize my intention to have a new kitchen! The end result was certainly, as the saying goes, worth waiting for, but why did it take so long to achieve this wish?

While I always desired a new kitchen, I had also said through the years that I couldn’t imagine either living through the disruption of a renovation or finding the money to pay for it. These two issues were certainly legitimate stumbling blocks, but notice the terminology I used – “I couldn’t imagine…” Telling words! The failure of imagining how I might cope with the chaos and financing of a renovation obviously helped keep it from happening. I wasn’t ready until some twenty years later, to take on those two significant challenges to my wish so that the renovation could be done.

Some of our wishes or intentions, though held for a long time, don’t work out. It sometimes takes a good dose of hindsight to appreciate why this is so. Hard to take in the moment, our disappointments can turn into feelings of relief when something that seemed so right at the time – a job we wanted, a relationship with the seemingly perfect person – doesn’t work out. Later, we find out that the job or Mr. Right were definitely not a good match for us, and we’re consoled.

But there can be a lot of pain when something we want doesn’t work out. There isn’t an easy answer for this. We need to be present to our situation and acknowledge that while things may shift, this is how they are, in this moment. Though hard to do, trying our best to hold ourselves and our situation with love and kindness, instead of with anger and resistance, can be helpful. When we can’t do this for ourselves, we can ask friends to hold positive energy for us. This can be a powerful force helping us return to a better state of well-being.

Wishing and setting intentions – and the results they bring – can be a funny process. Sometimes we get what we wished for, but what shows up isn’t exactly what we started out picturing. Sometimes it seems less desirable, sometimes what shows up transcends our intention and original wish. My long-awaited kitchen project, for example, expanded into a three room, kitchen-dining room-sun porch renovation that improved that whole quadrant of my home beyond anything I could have imagined. (There’s that imagination factor again!)

And, back in my childhood, it often happened that the doll from Santa was not exactly the one I’d picked out from the Sears catalogue. Close, but not precisely “it.” Initially a little sad, I ultimately fell in love with the new doll and all was well.

By the way, I learned later in life that there was a reason why the dolls weren’t always the ones I’d asked for. It turned out that, months before Christmas, my grandmother would ask my mother to buy my Christmas doll and give it to her early so she could design and sew the doll a wardrobe of clothes. Come Christmas morning, the doll arrived in one box from Santa, and an amazing array of outfits was in another box from my grandmother. “Magically,” these clothes perfectly fit the doll Santa had put under the tree.

While I still have many of my dolls from my childhood, what I treasure more than the dolls are the beautiful, hand-tailored clothes my grandmother sewed. They transcend the gift of the doll, my original vision and wish, and are a true family keepsake.

Sometimes, we get something better than what we wish for.

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