Living Your Dream Can Sometimes Feel Like a Nightmare, BUT…
Here’s the deal – I’m a firm believer that we do, for the most part, create our own reality. “For the most part” I say, because there are women who do not choose their fate, such as those being oppressed in places such as Afghanistan. This blog/my story, is not about their harsh reality rather it is about the tough reality faced by those of us who make the decision to “dream big,” “seize the moment,” “stretch our boundaries,” and “go all-in.”
My dream came to me in March 2011 while visiting Isla Mujeres, the Island of Women, Mexico. I was there spending time with my mother following the death of my father who had recently passed away from pancreatic cancer. She and I had developed a special bond while supporting him through this horrible disease, and being there with him in hospice when it took him. We were both struggling to move through the dark sadness that comes with the loss of our nearest and dearest.
My dream had been simmering in the recesses of my mind for some time, and I released it when I needed an uplifting image the most, one of doing something that mattered, something that would shift my spirit from one filled with sadness to one embracing hope. My dream was to host an International Women’s Day event on The Island of Women, Mexico. It was a BIG dream, but one that I felt was within reach, as my work in Canada involves presenting at conferences on topics of leadership and learning, and that was at the heart of the event: self-directed leadership and life-long learning. The event needed a name, and I called it ‘We Move Forward ~ Living with Passion & Purpose.”
We Move Forward (WMF) would be different from other women’s events. Each day would kick-off with inspirational speakers, but the speakers wouldn’t just give a canned talk and leave, they would participate in the full 3 days, meeting and making connections with the participants. Activities would have women gathering in circle and discussing the ways they could later shift inspiration into purposeful action. Mindful movement sessions of yoga, pilates, meditation and dance would be woven throughout. Local women would be sponsored to attend. Fun socials would be the conduit for lasting friendships. And, when the event was over, the momentum would carry on with women moving together in one direction – forward.
Believe and Create
I felt passionate about my vision, and set out to create it. I had a snazzy website developed, booked a conference space, and approached potential sponsors. I got on a bus in Mexico and visited international women’s clubs in Cancun and Merida, encouraging women to join me on ‘Isla’ in March 2012. I made my voice heard on television, radio and social media.
I had never taken on something so big and so full of promises – promises of inspirational speakers, promises to pay these speakers, and promises of an experience of a lifetime to registrants – that is, to the few who were registering.
You see, registrations didn’t take off as I had hoped. They trickled in. Consequently, some of the people who were eager at the beginning of the project began to lose interest, and many dropped off; fair enough, they had to make a living, and sadly, WMF was going to cost, not make money in its first year. I crawled forward.
It was early in January 2012 that I sat down with my calculator and registration sheet, which contained 21 names. I needed a total of 63 names to pay for my promises. If 45 women registered, I would lose money, but still be able to run the conference. But at 21, I was deep in the hole. Do I quit or do I go all-in, I asked myself?
I sat quietly, and reflected on why I wanted to see We Move Forward happen – to empower women to live with passion and purpose. If I were to quit now, I would never know if I were capable of living mine. I took some deep breaths and decided “I am all-in.” I took the practical steps of writing ‘to do’ lists each day, and took one step after another toward making my dream come true. And, on March 8, 2012, 81 women gathered on Isla Mujeres to celebrate International Women’s Day (note: some of these were helpers and 12 were sponsored women). The 3-day event surpassed everyone’s expectations with participants calling it “crazy amazing”, “life-changing”, and “a MUST for all women.”
I am thrilled to say that We Move Forward is heading into its 3rd year. The WMF community is steadily growing, with many women returning again and again. While the WMF experience continues to propel women in one direction – forward – the pathway does not promise to be one of smooth pavement but rather one littered with obstacles and peppered in potholes. Moving forward is hard work. Regardless of whether you are stepping up your game by leaving a dead-end job, taking on a new role, starting your own business, experiencing loss, or wanting to trust again, moving forward involves a lot of trial, error, and self-talk, especially on the hardest of days. But, each of us is capable of shifting that which feels like a nightmare, into our dream. Facing our fears head-on and walking through the muck is part of the journey. And, we needn’t walk alone. There are women out there who are supportive of one another’s dreams, that sit in each other’s cheering sections, and who will provide each other with a foot-hold up, over and around life’s challenges. I know this first-hand, because without them there would not be a We Move Forward. This blog is but one way of saying “Thank-you for helping make my dream come true.”
Janeen Halliwell is the Founder & Director of We Move Forward, and Principal, Consultant & Trainer with People Minded Business. She firmly believes that “We are all ordinary women that are capable of extraordinary things. Taking time out to get clear on our desired future brings us closer to experiencing it. Surrounding ourselves with like-minded & hearted women is the perfect environment to build our confidence to take our next step forward. Believe in yourself and pay attention to those who believe in you too.”
Website: www.wemovefoward.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/WeMoveForward Twitter: @janeenhalliwell
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