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A Midlife Woman’s Flashback To Childhood Dreams

Dreams from Diana

Your Third Act: Diana Dunbar Place

In midlife revisiting childhood dreams is a journey of rediscovery – providing clues and clarity to create a life you’ve dreamed of…. your third act.

60 years ago, the Beatles stepped out on the Ed Sullivan stage and changed music and our lives forever. A few months ago, I heard an NPR story about the Beetles’ “British invasion” while I was driving to the grocery store…

In an instant, I started tripping down memory lane.

One Powerful Memory:

One powerful memory popped up. I hadn’t remembered this moment for 60 years, and wow, was it fun to revisit! In this memory, I was swinging high on the swing-set, kicking out my legs, my head-thrown back, singing loudly, “I wanna hold your haaaand, I wanna hold your hand!” 

“These most memorable moments and childhood passions have stayed inside me all these years, peeking out a bit here and there.”

The beat, the energy and mostly, the words, peaked my curiosity and made me feel so happy, so alive. 

I was five. I now know that this song was my earliest glimpse into the notion of romantic love! Since then, I been taking time to reconnect with my five-year-old self — flashing back to five.

I am blown-away by how it feels and by the clarity I’ve experienced when I do. I’ve revealed so many aha’s, remembering all of the things that five year old Diana loved, believed, valued, and dreamed of. These most memorable moments and childhood passions have stayed inside me all these years, peeking out a bit here and there. 

Now, finally, they are have re-emerged and are front and center where they belong! It’s wonderful to know that my five year old self is still there!  The happy-go-lucky, butterfly-loving, tree-climbing, crawfish-catching, adventure-hungry tom girl is STILL there, inside me…

five year old dreams

(Me — note the broken arm from falling out of a tree —  handing over a bug or a salamander, the “currency of our childhood” to my bestie Frank.  My baby brother, Craig, is looking on from his stroller with my other bestie Paige by his side.)

Dreams And Passions:

Like most of us, I lost sight of her. Her dreams and passions were buried for many years.

 I loved adventure, but mostly, I plowed myself into my work.  I danced in and out of my passions. The dreams and passions of five year old Diana popped up now and then, but never took center stage.   It was a wild roller coaster ride.

Early school-related traumas, puberty, self-consciousness about feeling that I didn’t “fit in”, family tensions, along with the emergence of “productivity junkie Diana” in my 20’s buried my five-year old self’s dreams. I was almost blind to my dreams during those years. (I get what they mean when they say, “blind ambition.”)

Like many women in our generation, I chose a different path from my mother to explore and reinvent a new way of living.  

My twenties and thirties were all about proving something to myself and the world as I relentlessly pursued my career. Though I recognized and appreciated the possibilities that Gloria Steinem and the feminist movement had begun to open up for women, I felt lots of inner conflict as well.

I loved adventure, but mostly, I plowed myself into my work. Moreover, I danced in and out of my passions. The dreams and passions of five year old Diana popped up now and then, but never took center stage. It was a wild roller coaster ride.

Childhood Dreams:

My childhood dreams surfaced from time to time but, sadly, I allowed my career to take over my life; almost my whole life.

“Dare to unleash your dreams…the wildest ones!”

In addition, I almost missed my chance to be a mother as I focussed relentlessly, instead, on my work and some powerful desire to prove that this blonde girl with the southern accent, was smart and capable of success. A day doesn’t go by that I don’t feel deep gratitude for the blessing of becoming a mother at 41. I often call my daughter “my last and perfect egg.” I finally connected the dots. It took years for me to connect-the-dots and create a life that aligns my passions, my values and my dreams — what I call my “third act.”

For me at 64, gratefully approaching 65 in September, I have even more actively been processing my early and midlife years. I spend time thinking about why I did the things I did and why I didn’t do the things I didn’t do…

In our 50’s and 60’s, many of us do finally open up and take time to dig in to discover the thread of meaning that runs through our lives. 

After 50+ years on the planet, this is your time to think like a 5-year-old. Dare to unleash your dreams…the wildest ones!

So, take some time for yourself to tap into memories of your early years to unleash the dreams that got buried along the way. When you remember and reconnect with them, it will give you clarity and courage;  your“why!” This simple process can be just the fuel you need to make your dreams into your reality.

A Cup Of Tea:

Instead of stepping back from life as we grow older, we can step up to reconnect with who we truly are and live the life of our dreams.

Sit with a cup of tea, or glass of wine, close your eyes and reconnect with your four, five, six, or seven year old self. Leaf through an old photo album and find shots of you as a child or travel back in time. Think about the things that you loved and what you dreamed about. What brought you the most joy. The songs you sang, the friends you had. The things you experienced. Maybe even write a letter to yourself now, from your five-year-old self, with her sweet words of wisdom and truths about you.  

Don’t worry if memories don’t come back to you right away. Just keep thinking about things like: where you lived, who your friends were, what you loved to do, what your favorite color, animal, food, game, or gift was, what you recall doing or learning from your parents or your grandparents. The memories will start popping in!

Our “third act” can be the most exciting chapter in our life’s story.

Instead of stepping back from life as we grow older, we can step up to reconnect with who we truly are and live the life of our dreams.

Note: The featured image in this post is a special collage created by Diana with hints from her five-year-old self, symbolizing her life’s journey…. thus far.

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diana place color headshot

About the Author:

Diana Place, Founder/CEO of Third Act Quest, the 333 Collective and QUEST annual gatherings.

After dancing on the edges of her passions throughout her career,  the coincidence of three “lightning strike” experiences in 2018 – a cancer diagnosis, shutting down a business venture, and empty nesting as she turned 60, compelled her to focus on what she truly wanted to do with her “one wild & precious life.”  

Fostering connection and inspiring others have always been a personal passion. With Third Act Quest, and her community, the 333 Collective, this passion is now front and center.  Diana is working to reframe aging by connecting and inspiring women for their life’s most exciting chapter — their “third act.”

She can be found here: Website:  www.thirdactquest.com  and the 333 Collective.