Leaps of Imagination and Olympic-sized Dreams

The Olympics–they bring to mind big dreams, athletes making history and well, spa treatments and fancy chocolates.

olympic chocolate_opt


At least it did this weekend.  My husband and I stayed at a hotel that offered that pretty chocolate platter and resort credit every time the U.S. won gold.  I was already having fun watching gymnastics, swimming and track and field, but eight gold medals during our stay equaled not only patriotic excitement but free stuff, like a spa pedicure:

olympic pedicure_opt

Thanks also to Missy Franklin and Katie Ladecky!


Spa services aside, I’ve always found the Olympics exciting, inspiring and highly motivating.  When I was a teenager, I wrote in my diary that I was going to find a way to participate in the 24th Olympiad after watching the Los Angeles games.

Synchronized swimming was going to be my sport.

Now I got an A in swimming during my freshman year of high school, but I’d never, ever tried synchronized swimming, let alone played any sport in tandem (except maybe some Marco Polo bobbing).  And while I loved gymnastics (and could rock the elementary round off dismount off the balance beam), I was not even remotely equipped for what was essentially a gymnastics floor program underwater.

I guess watching those Olympics, I found myself connected to that determination I saw in the athletes and I became motivated to do something.  I wanted to experience that sense of accomplishment too.

But instead of funneling that motivation into one of my own dreams (I was very specific about my writing dreams according to my diary), I picked something random to shoot for.

It was a misguided attempt.  One I’m not entirely sure about.  I don’t think it was due to fear (that would come later).  It was probably more about not knowing what to do about them (other than send out poetry to Seventeen magazine).   Or maybe my dreams were so embedded, so much a part of me, that I almost forgot about them as a goal to practice and plan for.


I’m sick of following my dreams. I’m just going to ask them where they’re going and hook up with them later.

~ Mitch Hedberg


So my writing dreams mostly faded into the background of high school and college–and if you believe my diary, BOYS.

Although it’s interesting to note now that I continued to fill journals and write stories (filing them away in a big Rubbermaid container).  I worked at libraries and I took writing classes in college, grad school and at night when my kids were younger.

Writing stayed close whether or not I acknowledged it.

Synchronized swimming on the other hand, became just an odd and out-of-place wish sitting in one of my diaries.

I did however win a gold (ish) medal in 2007.  Not exactly the Olympics–for these purposes, let’s call it the Royal Caribbean games.

I placed first in a ship wide dart competition.

 olympic dart gold_opt

No cool team uniforms.  I think it was against international maritime law or something.

For whatever reason, dreams fade or get pushed aside for other things.  Sometimes we pick something else because it’s expected, or it’s easier or maybe more acceptable.

But it’s important to remember that life happens whether or not you plan.

Planning helps, because motivation can fade.


People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
~Zig Ziglar


I love hearing stories about people realizing their dreams–or accomplishing another step toward them.  It’s exciting and inspiring, and everywhere, not only at the Olympics.  I’ve seen that excitement in my kids’ faces and heard it in my sister’s voice each time she moves closer to her nursing degree.  Finding inspiration, whatever gets you fired up, is a significant part of going for your own dreams.

It’s a reminder that if you put in A LOT of hard work toward a goal, accomplishment is not only possible, but EXHILARATING.

Of course, baby steps are fine.  Just be sure to name your goal and put on your work clothes.

“Motivation is when your dreams put on work clothes.”

~Benjamin Franklin

Then go after the dreams in your mind and your heart (fancy chocolates optional).


I’m going out there to try to accomplish the things that I have in my mind and in my heart.
~Michael Phelps


Do you have Olympic-sized dreams in your heart?  What training are you doing to get closer to them?

Let me know in the comments, I love it when you share!


Have a great week. 🙂




58 thoughts on “Leaps of Imagination and Olympic-sized Dreams

  1. I’ve just watched one of our (Irish) boxers, Katie Taylor, win her first fight in the Olympics. Womens Boxing is only an olympic sport because of Katie. This is the first year it is included in the Olympics. She is a great role model and has lifted the spirits of Ireland on the back of her dream of becoming an olympic athlete.

    ps. Love the shot of your feet at the pool. Bet Michael Phelps toes don’t look that good!!!!


  2. Fantastic post, Coleen. What a cool hotel stay you had! I love it when businesses use creativity to make their workplace more fun. (Believe it or not, my dentist is like that. ;))

    I’ve been dreaming big dreams since, well, forever probably. I’m grateful that my parents never told me they were foolish or rolled their eyes. Dreaming big isn’t just for kids. Growing up just means reaching out more seriously, IMO.

    PS LOVE that Steinem quote.


  3. I am loving the Olympics, too! It’s all so inspiring that I don’t want to miss a minute of it, but I’ve gone and filled up my DVR. How am I going to watch all of it? And what will my daughter say when she tries to record Falling Skies? Argh!

    The Olympic-sized dream in my heart is to have my picture books and novels published. I’m working at it!

    Thanks for another uplifting post, Coleen! =)


  4. Great post! My Olympic sized dream has nothing to do with sports (although I do find the Olympics very inspiring and always feel very motivated, while watching them from my couch,so go out and do something athletic :)) When I was a teenager, I wanted to be an Olympic level three-day rider, but although I stuck with it for a long time, in the end it wasn’t for me – I didn’t really have the guts for the big big-time. Now my Olympic sized dream is to sell another book someday… although it’s not looking too hopeful at the moment! But that’s why it’s an Olympic sized dream!


    1. I agree it’s so easy to start thinking sporty from the couch now isn’t it? 🙂 I am going to be on the lookout for some gold (ish) medal maybe in the form of chocolate–or donuts, so I can have it ready for when you sell your next book!


  5. Lovely uplifting post Coleen. I especially liked the Gloria Steinem quote the most. I listened once to a high-powered businessman who went into middle schools and asked kids if they had a dream. His goal was to get them to dream. He was sad to see a lot of kids, no matter the socio-economic background, didn’t have dreams. He said dreams were important to a fulfilling life. At several inner city schools he told any kid who graduated from high school, he would pay for their college. He helped them dream and he ended up paying for a lot of college educations.

    The Olympics are good for inspiring kids to dream. Enjoyed watching many of the events.


    1. I find myself surprised that kids would not have dreams. I always think of childhood as being filled with dreams–whether they are possible or not. It’s so great that this man saw this need and found a way to fulfill it. Great story! Thanks Patricia.


  6. Wow,

    The USA have done amazingly well as ever. BUT the British team if you consider the demographics and population numbers have done really well. Most of the money is lottery funded, so I don’t mind it.

    I think it’s great for kids to see people win who never thought they would because the big guns fell by the wayside. Our women rowers have been amazing and their shocked surprise has had us all crying in our tea. It’s inspiring so many women to get out there and try sports.

    Love it.


    1. It’s great how the Olympics can bring out patriotism and at the same time world unity. It’s been so cool to hear the extra loud cheers and support when a British athlete takes the stage. I love that!


  7. Beautiful, Coleen! You are always so inspirational. I’m sure we have all reached a few or more goals in our lifetime. That’s the thing about goals, we’re always adding more. Currently my goal is all about my writing. Hopefully publication will someday follow. I suspect you feel the same in that regard. To train – write, every day. And attend conference as well as take courses. Plus I have cool friends like you to keep me on the path.


    1. Thanks Debra. I so agree with you, especially about adding more goals–and being flexible about them. Life can be too random for me to be rigid about it.
      And I’m happy to have you as a cool, writer friend 🙂


  8. I want the name of that hotel! Think it’s too early to make reservations for summer 2016?

    Synchronized swimming, huh? I saw myself as an Olympic diver despite a history of belly flops.

    Even as a kid, though, the athletes’ stories were my favorite part of each evening’s broadcast.


  9. Great post, O Queen of Darts! LOL! That’s awesome. I think dreams change, and that’s okay…as long as they don’t change because we’ve given up on them. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’m too stubborn to give up on that 🙂 I can’t wait to see what kind of dreams my six year olds have. That’s just as exciting to me as my own.


  10. What an awesome hotel for being so fun and creative. I love that Michael Phelps got you a pedicure! Like you, I had many dreams that lived mostly in my journals, but now that I’m older I’ve realized that dreams take a little planning and action on my part. My dreams aren’t necessarily bigger, just more personal. Congrats on your amazing dart skills!


  11. This is a beautiful post 🙂 I wish someone would bring me chocolates every time the US won gold…even though I’m Canadian. (My husband is an American, so I think it should count anyway, right?)

    Following our dreams can be a scary thing. What I think most of us don’t realize going in is how long it will take to actually reach them, and that when we do reach them, it doesn’t mean we’re finished.


  12. What a fantastic place you were staying – sounds like a great vacation, made better by all the win goodies!

    Of course my dream is to sell enough books and make enough money to actually do something with – paying for my daughters college would be nice. The only thing I can do toward that is keep writing. Thanks for the reminder!


  13. I just love the Olympic spirit. Not only are the accomplishments huge, but even those who struggle and ultimately fail there are rewarded for giving everything they had to just get there.

    I was a swimmer in HS and a couple of years out of HS in AAU, so I really empathize most with them.

    Honestly, one of my goals would be to see my blog become something bigger that can help fledgling bloggers do more with their blogs, and their voice.


  14. So it looks like you and I have something very special and unique in common, Colleen. We both have “gold (ish) medals” from the “Royal Caribbean games.” I am a gold-medal shuffle board player and I’m proud of it. I husband would have taken home the silver, but only gold medals are awarded in the Royal Caribbean games. Yes, that’s right, I beat my husband! Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Welll, you know what I mean.

    I love watching the olympics. I’m only about 7 days behind in watching because I have them all recorded, but I’m going to get caught up one of these days when I’m not pursuing my own worthy goals.

    Thanks for the fun post!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt


  15. My Olympic gymnastics dream died when I tried to do the splits. Nope. Not happening. Ever.

    I also wanted to be a figure skater. Never mind that I lived in South Texas, and the nearest ice rink was five hours away.

    It’s a good thing that I had books and paper near, so I can realize the writing dream instead. It’s a much better fit for me anyway. And no leotard required.


    1. Thanks Louise!
      A business plan–that is definitely something I need to do too. There are so many decisions to be made regarding publication and I’ve got to organize all my info and finally decide something. 🙂


  16. Hi there Coleen…we all need a nudge now and then. I think you stayed more true to your writing dream than I have over the years.

    For a while I thought my goal was to make a ‘lifestyle living’ from writing. But then I realised behind the ‘money’ goal was a desire to make a difference. Still not sure what that means exactly, but blogging is the first real move I’ve made to take this dream seriously…Right now, that feels big enough 🙂


  17. Olympic sized dreams? WOW, I ran and swam when I was younger, but times change and I go to my strengths. Today, my Olympic sized dream now consists of getting into shape to go to Philmont in New Mexico with my son when he goes in 2014 (or plans\hopes to go)… i love the Olympics, they are amazing and I love the stories behind the athlete’s journeys. i’ll be sad when they end this weekend.


  18. That’s a great question, and I have an answer. My Olimpic size dream started many years ago. It was to move to the US and make a difference in other people’s lives. I have accomplished moving to this country, but first I’ve studied English in Copenhagen to be ready for my new American life. As for the second part of my dream – making a difference in others’ lives… I’ve followed my heart and started to write again. I’ve finished my first YA novel which is scheduled for publishing next month. I’m hoping that my books will be what “makes a difference” in other people’s lives 🙂


  19. This is wonderful and so timely! Well, maybe you can guess that my Olympic-sized dream is to be a novelist and part of my training is to wake up every morning at 4 to write for 2 hours. It’s the only time that works for me as a working mom. When I can, I will sneak in snatches of writing here and there, but rarely does it happen on a regular basis.

    One of my favorite quotes that goes along with staying motivated through the tough rejections and achingly slow progress is from Anne Lamotte (paraphrased because I can’t get a hold of my copy of Bird by Bird at the moment): “People who do too well too quickly are a Greek tragedy waiting to happen.”

    This helps me take a deep breath, regain my patience, and summon that determination to the surface again.


  20. I love watching the Olympics. It’s a great reminder that it takes hard work to achieve your goals (whether you win or not). Ah the spa treats sound fantastic. I really like that platter.


  21. I enjoyed my kids’ reaction to the Olympics (and the 5 year old prononciation: are you watchin’ the lympees?) because it brought back memories of how spell bound by them I was as a kid.

    I LOVE THE QUOTES!!!! Off to copy them.


  22. I’m jealous when you journaled as a teen you were dreaming of Olympic medals. I think I was dreaming of boys and pretending I was Anne of Green Gables. *sigh*

    But the Olympics were amazing to watch. How cool you won spa treatments for each gold medal; that’s my kind of hotel! Sadly, no massage bonus for me, although being on the road, we did watch all the games from our hotel room. Caught all the highlights and big moments and I loved the specials from past competitors like Olga Korbut, so inspiring!


    1. Jess, no need to be jealous, there’s plenty of bellyaching about boys in my diary. It’s pretty embarrassing. And I used to pretend I was Laura Ingalls Wilder–even transformed our outdoor shed once into a prairie home LOL :).
      I loved the past stories too, cried at the one (again) with Kerri Strug. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by Jess!


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