An epiphany at McDonalds

Last night I sat across from a really good friend in a booth at McDonalds. I didn't know one could have an epiphany at McDonalds, but I did. I'm still mulling it over in my mushy mom brain. Mom brains are the mushiest. 

We talked about the small stuff--the stuff that moms discuss just to get a hearty chuckle and remind themselves that motherhood really is the greatest because in the thick of things that fact is easily forgotten. But over a McFlurry and a shamrock shake, it's so easy to laugh at that tantrum or that blowout. Thank goodness for ice cream, or moms would never make it. ;)

While conversing about nothing really at all, my friend Ashley threw a curveball question at me, which unintentionally deepened our conversation. She asked, "Janine, what's your dream?" My reply: "Uh, uh, um, um. Well, I guess I'd like to write a novel someday." And I meant it, but in truth, that's my go-to answer when anyone asks me about life goals. I said it, and the words hung in space for a minute, and it was like we both knew I needed to have a cooler dream. 

I directed the question back at her and just like that she said something similar to my response, "Uh, uh, um, um....I'm not really sure." 

Here we were two educated women without a solid dream to help motivate us beyond motherhood. We talked about how we always use the kids as an excuse not to dream at the moment because who really has time to dream when we were constantly making meals, creating kid-friendly activities, playing make believe, completing chores, keeping romance alive, and so on and so on. People generally accept that excuse, pat our backs and say, "You'll do something for yourself when your kids are a bit older." And we smile and nod, but silently we wish we didn't have to wait so long because between the two of us, it's going to be several years before all of the kids are enrolled in school. 

The conversation went stagnant for a few minutes while we enjoyed our treats and pondered how we could motivate each other to have a reasonable dream right now. In those silent minutes, I thought of my most motivational friend, also appropriately named Ashley. You can find her here. At the end of my life, when I think back on all the people I've met in this life, I will always be grateful I met Ashley in freshman physical science. Ashley is a game changer--a life changer if you will. She is always creating new goals/dreams for herself, and unlike 75% of the population, she actually achieves them. 

Last year, Ashley posted a status update in Facebook about wanting to branch out and test new waters. She asked her friends to respond to her post by giving her suggestions on what areas to explore. She was delighted by the results and wrote each suggestion on a sticky note and stuck them to a wall near her bathroom. I witnessed the wall when I visited in November. I don't remember all of the notes, but some read interior design, fashion stylist, artist, finance. She read books on business. She read books on art. She already had a personal flare for design and fashion that no book could teach her. Once she felt comfortable in a few of the areas, she posted a new update asking for some volunteers that would allow her to test her knowledge and skills on them. People again responded positively to her request. After another month or so and a small portfolio, she created a website. She is living her dream. 

I quickly filled my friend in on Ashley's success, and I suggested that she too ask her friends and family for suggestions as to what she could do. I promised her she would be surprised by the response. Almost immediately as I told her to ask her circle of friends, I remembered something I had admired about her since the day I met her in the fall but hadn't told her--I really loved the way she decorated her house. I told her that she should try something with interior design because her style resonated with me. And within a minute, she had a budding dream. A dream I honestly believe she can achieve, even with 4 kids in tow. 

My epiphany came just minutes after I saw a flicker of hope in Ashley's eyes as she considered all we had been talking about. I sat there thinking about my unwritten novel. Knowing it would remain unwritten as long as I had spaghetti for brains, I knew I needed a fresh, tangible dream. 

I mentioned to Ashley how I loved to host and cook for people. I told her how I had always felt I had a specific talent of making people feel comfortable and that perhaps I could translate that into a dream of some sort. I told her of a woman in Texas who invites 500 people a year to dine at her table, and I thought I could do something like that. My goal would not be so lofty at first, but I bet I could get 50-100 people around my dinner table in a year. And why not try it in a new place if I am to move again? What better way is there to meet your neighbors? 

Ashley was the source of my epiphany--"Why don't you combine your dreams? Why don't you write about some of the guests at your dinner table?" Mind blown. I immediately began conjuring up book titles, chapters and ideas. Now I just need to figure out what we are doing with our lives so I can get the ball rolling. Want to be my dinner guest? 

Thank you Ashley for an inspiring girls' night. And thank you to my other dear Ashley who constantly motivates me. And thank you to McDonalds for giving us a quiet place to think and come up with personal epiphanies. 

What's your dream? I'm anxious to hear. If you don't have one and want me to suggest one for you (well, if I know you well enough), I'd be happy to do so. 


  1. Raddest post ever. YES!!!! And her house IS amazing! :)

  2. I remember last year when Steve and I were at a fancy restaurant celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary. We decided not to talk about kids, since that is pretty much all we talk about. We had some interesting conversions. One of the questions he asked was what were my dreams. It took me aback. That was when I decided I wanted to go back to school and now was the time.

    I always thought I would wait until kids were done with school, but then I thought, why not? Already I have grown and I am excited for all the new knowledge I have gained.

    You have a gift. Would you want to write my paper that's due next week? I love reading your work. Live the dream, Janine! Why wait? Just make sure you leave a chapter for your favorite dinner guest.:)

  3. I'd love to be your dinner guest! This was great, My Dear. I agree about Ashley's talent--her home is amazing. Don't get me started on the kitchen.

    I have dreams. Some obtainable, some not. Like somehow willing my boobs to not look like they've obviously breastfeed children for years and years. Maybe I'll work on focusing in on some of the obtainable dreams. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Can't wait to read your book (and share decorating ideas for your house). You have such a way with words, love all of this.


"Be kind and considerate with your criticism... It's just as hard to write a bad book as it is to write a good book." Malcolm Cowley