Happy Meal

by Lindsay Gallagher on 01/23/2012


The other night I attended a ladies-night/40th birthday dinner at nearby Café Gratitude. Has a dorky name and it’s vegan. The dishes have names like I AM HUMBLE, I AM TRUTHFUL and I AM EXTRODINARY, which makes it pretty embarrassing to order. I am not a vegan. I had a burger the same day for lunch. But I like the birthday girl and salad and believe it or not, that was not my first time at Café Gratitude, so I wasn’t surprised when the crunchy waiter threw out the thought for the day:

“Name a dream of yours that has come true?”

Of course, my head first filled with the dreams that haven’t come true, but that wasn’t the question.  These folks wanted me to think positive thoughts; they wanted me to be “grateful.”  Fine, if I must.

“I have my babies,” I said, “I’m married and I have two kids.  That was a big dream of mine.”  Some might think that that isn’t such a special dream.  It’s hardly uncommon.  But it was a dream and it came true. (The fact that I’ve been married more than 13 years – a family milestone – was another facet of the dream that came true five years ago)

Most of the moms at that dinner agreed that this was a dream of theirs, too.

“I always dreamed of having a dog and now I have one,” the mom next to me said.  She had been whispering about meat and vodka throughout the meal.

“I also dreamed of having a dog,” I said.  Rescuing Marley, then Pepper and now Flowers deserves to be on the list.

I could dwell on the dreams that haven’t come true – Lord knows some days I do, but this was so much more fun.  Since then I have thought of many small dreams, everyday something new occurs to me and makes me smile.

1.  I fell in love with skiing and then snowboarding in my 20s.  I used to say to Joe, who like me, was an assistant cameraperson at the time, that I hoped we could still go to the mountains once we had kids, that we would have enough money to bring them along.  In the dream, I am a hugely successful screenwriter, earning enough to whisk us all off on fab vacays.  Obviously, it didn’t all come true – we use points for the hotel room instead of those buckets of cash I envisioned and save with a season pass – but every time I am on that hill with the kids – even when they are driving me nuts– I am living my dream.  (There was another part of that dream – windsurfing.  But since the kids were born, each of the four times I’ve windsurfed, I spent the entire session dreaming – praying really – that I would not drown, so I’m happy to let that one go)

2.  When we first moved to LA we fell in love with craftsman houses.  We bought a dumpy colonial revival fixer that had been stripped of whatever charm it might have once had.  Room by room, we redid that house over 4 1/2 years, adding built-ins and tile, trying to create a craftsman feel.  All the while I would walk around my neighborhood with Marley, then Ronan and Marley, then Tess, Ronan and Marley, admiring the craftsman houses and dreaming that one day we would live in one.  Then I ran into my realtor – one of those gems was for sale.

“The house on the corner of First?” I said, running to my car.  I had only seen it from the outside, but I could tell it was a treasure.

Honestly, the house has been a lot of work, and maybe now there are days that I long for a modern Dwell abode without dusty moldings or creaky floors, but I dreamed of a craftsman and a craftsman I have.

3.  Staying home with the kids.  Crazy one, I know, but true.  There are probably more days that I feel like a servant than a dreamer.  Maybe I should haul my kids over to Café Gratitude for an order I AM FULLFILLED.

4.  Last summer I finally got to see Sade live, in a theater packed with super-fans like I am, who knew all the words to every song.  Every minute of that night I acknowledged that it was a dream come true.  I bought my tickets the second they went on sale and it’s a good thing because they were sold out in under ten minutes.  I had to pinch myself as Sade belted out “Smooth Operator,” “Sweetest Taboo” and all her songs that have provided a large chunk of the soundtrack to my life.

5.  Since I was a sophomore in high school, I had wanted to go to Jamaica, so had Joe, but we had never gone and before we booked the trip, it felt like it was too late. I am so glad the opportunity arose and that we remembered how much it mattered to us and made it come true.  “We have to go – it’s Jamaica.”  Being there made me feel like I was 16 when I first dreamed of visiting the birthplace of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Steele Pulse…  It was sheer bliss.  Every day.  Every night.  I never stopped smiling once.  I caught myself skipping more than a few times.

I know these aren’t earth shattering or Nobel Prize winning, but apparently neither am I.  The food at Café Gratitude made me feel bloated and uncomfortably full, but that thought of the day has kept me counting my blessings, singing Sade and reggae, appreciating my family, my dogs (one just peed on the rug!) and my money-pit house.  That’s got to be a good thing.


There are 2 comments in this article:

  1. 01/23/2012Jesi B Davis says:

    Linz, this brought tears to my eyes. This is a wonderful exercise. I knew the son of one of the founders of Cafe Gratitude from a course at Landmark, and have known many people involved in it. Though it can seem hokey, I’ve done that dream exercise many times at Landmark and it never fails to change the tone of a conversation and lighten everyone’s spirits. It really lets you into people’s hearts and shows the best in everyone. Thank you so much for sharing this, I am genuinely moved and so full of love for you and so very happy for you with your beautiful home, your healthy kids and dogs, and your long lasting marriage. And all that skiing. Those are the kinds of things, I’m told, that really matter when we’re old and looking back on life. <3 Jes

  2. 01/23/2012Mikel says:

    Another great, thoughtful piece Lindsay. Really made me count my dreams that have come true (many tiny tiny but all true!) Thanks.

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