Little BIG Dream
By Mary Nelson
“Let me ask you this: What’s your dream?”
Like many businesses across Omaha, the Journal Broadcast Group has long encouraged employees to support United Way of the Midlands. Last fall, we tried something new: An auction with proceeds going to the cause. My colleagues and I bid on everything from jerseys to dance lessons to pianos! I bid on, and won, three items: A decades-old coffee table (which I’ve admired since I started working at KMTV nearly nine years ago), a baggie of dirt from the last College World Series game at Rosenblatt Stadium, and lunch with the boss!
The table lives in my basement. My husband was tickled with the dirt. And last week, I redeemed my certificate for lunch. At the table: JBG Omaha General Manager Chris Sehring, his wife, Alison, “Morning Blend” Executive Producer Kayla Thomas (who is also a dear friend), and me.
The first five minutes of our visit were consumed with talk about “The Bachelor.” Chris was starting to lose his mind! Then, quickly, Alison sat back in her seat and looked directly at Kayla and me ask you this: What’s your dream?”
My wheels started turning. I was sitting at a table with my boss’ boss, and wanted to answer correctly … if there was such a thing. What was my dream-dream? What were my professional aspirations? What is the dream I have for life in general?
Dreams are such powerful things. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are. It makes no difference whether you’re young or retired. Not even the savviest of thieves can touch your dream. Not the dream where you get a raise, not the three-car-garage-four-bedroom-house- kind-of-dream, and not even the dream where you find someone with whom you could spend the rest of your life.
I believe what Alison was asking about was the kind of dream, so bold, you were almost embarrassed to say you thought it was possible.
That dream for me began when I was in high school – researching clean water for a Kentucky Farm Bureau scholarship speech competition. It hadn’t occurred to me that other parts of the world struggled with water access and quality. All I knew: My family, and lots of others in eastern Kentucky, did.
We lived at the head of a dirt road, and far from city water lines. The solution was well water, which was saddled with iron. To keep my hair from turning orange, I filtered the water by wrapping washcloths around the faucet. You should have seen the pasta noodles after boiling in this stuff! And how we found the water in the first place is a great story. I remember my mother walking up and down the hills with a coat hanger half- straight, extended out in front of her. Somehow, the hanger would help detect water underground. I’m not convinced the method was more than an old wives’ tale. And don’t get me wrong, having cruddy water was better than having no water.
The dream, as I explained it to Alison: Im- prove access and water quality for families in Appalachia.
As a teen and young adult, I’d square up in a mirror – similar to Stuart Smalley. I’d fantasize about making it far enough in life, where I could do something about my dream. Would I need to run for office? Become an advocate? Well, I did neither. I earned a degree, started working, met a guy, bought a house and adopted a dog. I am so grateful for the blessings in my life, yet I’ve struggled to stop thinking about Alison’s question and my answer. I had this honorable dream – something I used to think about almost daily. And yet, I hadn’t thought about it in such a long time, I almost forgot what it was.
Don’t forget. Even if you’re not actively pursuing your dream, it still exists. You still own it. Alison did me the favor.
And so, let me ask you: What’s your dream?
Join Mary on Facebook at Mary Nelson The Morning Blend, and on Twitter at Mary Nelson Omaha. The Morning Blend is live, weekdays, 9-10 a.m. on KMTV. The show replays weekdays at noon on Live Well Network. www. omahamorningblend.com.