When I first arrived at UCSF at age 28, I was surrounded by wise people who helped me learn. One was Marna Cohen, a social worker who told me that when interviewing parents, the most important assessment was whether or not they could make themselves happy!

This year, when I was feeling my age, after too many "all-nighters" of writing the stress overload and stress eating books, I was having lunch with my friend, Diana Dougherty, owner of the gorgeous Dougherty Ranch, and thinking about happiness. I told her that my dream was to have a horse. Part of me thought, "Let it go. You're too old."

A childhood dream

However, I shared that unrealized childhood dream with her. Diana smiled and said that she had an idea for me! It was a way to spend time with a beautiful but lonely mare, Isabella, whose owner, a dear friend, had passed away. Then a few months went by, and Walt and my two sons colluded with Diana, and the result . . . they surprised me with my birthday present: time with Isabella!

I was in awe! This wonderful woman, Diana, together with Walt and my two boys, had given me something I believed I would never have. What's more, this was not the first time that Diana had been a true angel to me.

A true friend

Thirty years before, as a single parent with three children and no funds for my daughter to have her dream come true (a horse), Diana did something spectacular. I was a stranger to her at the time, and together we watched my daughter with Muzzie, a prized Arabian, with her chestnut coat shining gold in the sunshine. Somehow Diana made it work! That launched my daughter's happiest adolescent years – riding in the beautiful hills of West Marin.

Here is Muzzie with her foal, Carwash

The magic of the emotional brain

How do we make magical things happen in our lives? We get to ONE! In that state, we can dream – and then feel secure enough to share that dream with others! As you go through your day, reach for the tools and get to ONE. It only takes about two minutes. Then remind yourself that the most important thing you can do is honor your need to be happy and bring to mind your dream.

Last, take effective actions to do your part to make that dream come true. Use the Take Action Tool. It might sound something like this: I expect myself to do my best to make my dreams come true. Positive, powerful thought? I can do that! The essential pain? Some people may reject me. It takes work. I am not in complete control, but the earned reward? I am not sure. What is yours? For me it was authenticity. I was NOT going to give up on my dreams. My dreams mattered!

The dream is what matters

So, do I go out to the ranch as much as I would like? Well, between blackouts and EBT and family, time is tight. Also, my hip is ready for surgery on January 2, and the pain is too much right now for me to ride a horse. However, I do go out to the ranch about once a week, and I can put Isabella on a lead and connect with her. I can feed her grain mix (special because she has Cushing's Syndrome), and brush her, too. Such bliss! Izzy is always with me in my mind, and just the thought of her sends me to ONE, with a warm glow in my body.

What did I learn from this? To honor my dreams, share them with people, and ask about their dreams. Perhaps that's what friendships are about – supporting one another's dreams coming true.

The trick is to get to ONE, then to dream, and finally, to open up and share your dreams with one other person. Sometimes, it just takes one person!