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A Dream with a Date

Building lives in the Herault

Tuesday 11 April 2006, by Juliette Lowe

What is a goal? It’s a dream with a date! I like this definition. Dreaming is easy, but the real work is making fantasy reality. I’d wager many of the people reading this article are on a date with their dream - living in France or perhaps planning to come and live here.

The trick is to have a dream and believe in it. The song says, ‘Nothing’s impossible if your heart is really in it’. I can’t say I totally agree with these words, but the longer I live, dream, and work towards making dreams real, the more I come to believe that almost everything is possible. On the other hand , I find I’m less and less convinced that everything is impossible.

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India to France

The older I get the more convinced I become on these issues. At times I work actively at gathering evidence, to show myself that things really aren’t as bad as they seem. I make lists of ten or twenty problems or anxieties in a ‘worry book’ when I feel afraid, overwhelmed or without faith, and examine them afterwards. A column to the right of each of the worries asks ‘So was it that bad? Did it work out OK?’ In almost all cases the worries are groundless, and life goes on.

Scott Peck, quoting Buddha, says in his book ‘The Road Less Travelled’ that Life is difficult. In reality we do suffer and we do struggle, but we also survive and, more than that, we should aim to thrive. I remember reading about a ‘bean’ experiment where some bean seeds were planted and left in an ‘ideal’ situation with appropriate soil, sun and moisture, while other beans were planted in exactly the same physical environment, but twice a day the gardener would come into the greenhouse and ‘slap them around a bit’, maybe even shout at them! The crop from the beans that had suffered ‘a difficult life’ was far greater than that from the placid little pulses that had nothing to worry about.

Anthony Storr, in his book, ‘Human Aggression’, gives this usually negative word a positive slant. He argues that aggression isn’t all about war and destruction, but an essential quality for progress and achievement, be it mathematical, scientific, mechanical, artistic, literary, sporty or humanitarian. We use aggressive language to support this view: ‘I’ll beat this problem if it kills me... I’ll wrestle with this until I understand it...if I get to grips with this I’ll have won...’ , etc. So, life slaps us about, so let’s get up and go, let’s get up and grow.

The ideal recipe for ‘right living’, for rich living, must surely be good health, good relationships, good work - paid or otherwise - and a deep sense of being fulfilled and ‘on the right path’. It takes both courage and luck to be on this path. Some of us are held in the past, like Lot’s wife, in a state of almost-paralysis, looking back at life and what it’s been...what it’s done to us. It’s hard to look forward if we’re compelled to look back. Some of us are held in the present by fear, self-doubt, or depression, and so we need someone to help us move forward. We need someone who can share and bear witness to the past and its effects on us, someone who can help us deal with, heal, a here-and-now that’s impeding our progress towards fulfilment. And we need someone who can encourage and help us to structure the journey towards our dream.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers to life’s problems, but I feel privileged to be a certain ‘someone’ who has more than twenty years’ experience in counselling and psychotherapy, coupled with two years’ voluntary experience teaching English in China, followed up by work with Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India.

I also recently trained as a life coach, and have worked in this field with a number of people in the Hérault area.

If you think I could help you, or if you’d like further information, please send me an e-mail at

PS Unlike the gardener who was tough on his beans, I promise to be gentle.

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