During my mother’s precious last nine months, as her health was slipping, I lingered with her shared memories, her parting thoughts. Like most elders, she had grown insightful, wise and reflective-expressing gratitude for her 83 years, for living to see her children grown, for a good life overall. The sadness she did feel, she said, was because she’d abandoned her own dreams. Babs spent her life helping my father build a business, his dream, and meeting the daily demands of caring for her family. Her own dreams she put off-forever.

Our dreams cannot thrive in nooks and crannies. Dreams require open air. Sunlight. That we breathe life into them. Attending to one piece of a dream at a time is the way we bring it into being.

As a young mother, I started a cosmetics company, after making a plan and putting it on a two-year time line. With my earnings stashed away, I began working the plan step-by-step. I investigated cosmetology schools, selected the most affordable one nearby, and enrolled. When I completed the course, I sold cosmetics at a department store to learn the retail end of the business. Then I struck out on my own. My company was doing well when I presented myself at Essence for the position of freelance beauty editor. But today, like Babs, I struggle to find the time, energy and courage to follow my dreams.

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This is true for many of us. But we cannot let the curtain close on this drama of our delay. Our doubts and fears must not win. Not now. Not when the life of our community hangs in the balance, when our rights and freedom are eroding, when no job is guaranteed. Not in an election year when we must bring America to its senses and war to its knees. This is no time to dream small.

God still wants plenty more from us, which is why we’re still here. Let’s use this September shift of season to create a vision statement that supports our dreams, then map them out and begin organizing each day’s priorities around our vision. The future is still ours to choose: Virtually everything we need as a people rests on our understanding and consciously exercising this power. Whatever we believe sends an order for action to our subconscious-the universal mind-that dutifully makes it manifest.

We can change the order. Declare: I am a child of God, wise, guided and loved. I choose health, wealth, happiness and sweet companionship. This is what we should see and say each day. Looking back, Mommy realized she could have asked the family for more help in running the household. Finally learning to love and be generous with herself, Babs said, was her greatest lesson-one she wished she’d learned early on. Today this is also our urgent need: to align self-love and care with our dreams and responsibilities. In the end, we will find that loving ourselves and pursuing our dreams are the same glorious effort.