Rising Again When a Dream Fades

girl laying on her back with her left hand on her heart and her right hand holding the top of her head looking very pensive

Written by Melanie Burston

Melanie is co-founder of EMPOWERed 4 GROWth, a certified Planned Parent sexual health educator and mom of four adulting humans. On the blog, Melanie shares life stories from her 36 years of experience raising children. Raising independent, self-motivated, confident children and helping move them towards their life’s purpose is what drives her work. You can reach Melanie by email: melanie@empowered4growth.com.

August 4, 2020

I’m definitely what I call a “Dreamer” – I’ve spent a lifetime chasing my dreams. When I was a young parent, on an almost daily basis, my children would hear my next dream for THEM.

This is the story of how I started holding so tightly to my children’s dreams. You might see yourself in it too.

 

Little Girls have Big Dreams

It was 2013, a milestone year for me and I was completely discontented with my life.

I’d reached an age where I thought, “By now, as a 50 year old woman, I should really have a handle on my life’s purpose!” That term, life’s purpose, was gripping me. It had taken hold and made me feel inept, unaccomplished and completely down on myself. My confidence was low, my self-esteem crushed, my heart broken – once again, life seemed too challenging and overwhelming.

Let’s go back in time before we get to the details of the 2013 Milestone Year, to a little girl with BIG DREAMS. This little girl was 6 years old and already knew that becoming an Olympic diver was what she was going to do. She would go to great lengths trying to figure out how to begin this journey, this dream, of becoming an Olympian.

The dream was ignited in a small town with a community pool, where she spent countless hours watching diving. The pool was about a 1km walk from her house. As soon as she stepped up to the pool’s edge, she disappeared into thoughts of her Olympic dream. They played over and over in her head – the magic of their power was forceful.

The daydream played over and over in her head, a place where only one’s thoughts are present and the dream is so magical that you don’t want to wake up.

Thoughts of how it would feel to move her body, to twist and turn, and to dive deep into the quiet abyss.

Thoughts of, if she were to allow herself to wake from the dream, would it become her reality?

The ritual continued almost daily. It was her commitment to her practice. She’d walk to the pool to watch the diving team in action and study every intricate detail. Once the pool opened to the public, she would head to the diving board and mimic the choreography.

This practice of accountability every day to watch and test her own abilities and limits became all she could think about – chasing my dream! The thoughts consumed all her energy – her dream of becoming an Olympian.

 

Wait – was it real?

One day the little girl woke from her dream. It was mid-summer; a day when the sun was out and the air was warm. The little girl pinched herself to make sure that she wasn’t actually dreaming after all. The tall man that stood by the pool every day with the secrets to the magical dance had finally noticed the little girl on the other side of the fence.

The man was the coach of the diving team, the conductor of the dance. He approached and asked: “I see you watching every day, do you want to learn how to dive?”

The little girl was overwhelmed with excitement! She went home that day carrying a note in her hand. It said something to the effect that she wanted to learn how to dive, what the cost would be and practice times.

Fast forward, as a little girl I spent the better part of my childhood chasing my dream. With hard work, many hours, and a lot of determination, I qualified for the Nationals – one step away from the Olympics.

 

The Dream Fell Apart

It happened so fast. One day when the teenager was late for practice. She approached with an attitude so her coach barked orders to perform all the warm up exercises twice before stepping out onto the pool deck. With one missed step, the dream was killed – the tragedy shook her world!

A quick trip to Emergency made it clear that the injury was too severe to withstand the physical impact over time. It left her with no choice but to end her dream of being an Olympian.

 

What’s a dream killer thought?

  • low self-esteem – lack of confidence
  • self doubt – you aren’t good enough
  • inadequate – I can’t
  • it’s too difficult – overwhelm
  • people don’t believe in the dream – naysayers

Perhaps worst of all was the phrase, “Dreams are for the imagination they’re not real!” It was a recurring thought that played over and over in her head – negative self-talk crept in.

There was no one person that could understand how she was feeling. The dream and all the dreamers that had supported it were gone. The accident was tragic and left her devastated, spiralling into depression that led to the dream killer thoughts.

The days became dark, the clouds lasted for days, and soon the months turned into four years. The spiral was deep and real. How does one come back from such a tragedy? Four years is a long time in a teenager’s life not to feel alive and happy.

I’m sad to say, that’s not the only dream that would get taken away over 5 decades of reinventing my purpose.

“The accident” at the pool that day side-lined one dream, but night would come and another dream did surface. It just took time, perseverance and patience.

 

The 2013 Milestone Year

In my adult life, another dream was looming: walking the pilgrimage El Camino de Santiago in Spain for my milestone 50th birthday. A dream just for me, time to be with myself, connect with my inner soul, and figure out who Melanie was. Once again, I was filled with a dream, a dream that had been brewing for 10 years.

As my 50th birthday approached, anxious thoughts kept nagging at me. “You still haven’t made any arrangements to go on this pilgrimage.”

The dream was slipping away. I hadn’t put it out into the universe what chasing my dream looked like. Some effort was required to help manifest my desires, so my birthday came and went.

Again, those feelings of disappointment, self-doubt, and overwhelm arose. Thoughts of:

“I can’t do it.”

“Everyone will think I’m crazy.”

“It’s selfish to take 30 days for yourself.”

But the dream was stronger than the doubts. I woke up and had made a decision – the dream was still very much alive and I was going to make it happen no matter what!

I quickly went into action. It took no time at all to book a flight and buy some provisions: hiking books, a backpack, and a map would get me on my way. With the essentials in hand, I was off and the journey to another dream became real.

Thirty days of meditative walking unfolded and before me yet another dream beckoned. It was actually the dream to start this business; EMPOWERed 4 GROWth. Taking the time to dig back into my “life’s purpose” at 50 years old was what I needed to unlock this dream to help others navigate their dreams.

 

What does it take to make a dream come true?

Through my own experience as an adult, I learned that it takes a lot of self motivation to fulfill a dream. Chasing my dreams has been a lifelong journey.

I know what I needed as that disappointed teenager – people and pillars that supported and encouraged me. Parents are integral – teachers, guides, and mentors all support the complex challenges of launching a super human. Children need a support system, a circle of influencers. The circle needs to be broad and wide to help build their resiliency. Kids need cheerleaders to get through the tough times.

Be a dream champion, not a dream killer, for both yourself and your children. The chase is the fun part. It’s the journey of discovering the miracle of who you are.

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2 Comments

  1. John Scott

    Great message. So important to allow these big challenges of resilience to empower others, “if she could keep the dreaming live maybe I can too.”

    And it feels SO good to be connected to possibility and you are making your vision and passion, once a dream, unfold into reality! So great.

    And so troubling when something doesn’t work out. In my first attempt at swimming across Lake Ontario in record time, I swan into a big storm and had to get out. Back on shore, I cried at the failure after all the effort. A few days later, it occurred to me to reframe “failure” and physically, and certainly emotionally, I was uplifted by the shift in thinking. To not dream again, to not try again would aptly describe failure. But I decided to reframe the experience to have been successful in the effort to the point I got out and that I would try again, with a better team and more training. This refreshed intention created new energy that fueled the optimal training and a world record crossing.

    Thank you, Melanie and Lisa!

    Reply
    • Melanie Burston

      John, thank you so much for taking the time to write this heartfelt connection to feeling my pain and sadness for the loss of a dream. Also, for sharing your own resilience in a difficult situation.

      I feel the more we share our personal stories on life’s challenges, we’ll encourage others to push through difficult situations and continue to strive towards life’s intentions for each of us.

      Looking forward to sharing even more of our journey with you, thanks for walking our path with us.

      Melanie

      Reply

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