Dream Catching

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“Vocations which we wanted to pursue, but didn’t, bleed, like colors, on the whole of our existence.” -Honore De Balzac. French Novelist

I have been thinking of late about passion – passion with regards to my own life and passion for my students’ lives. In my late teens, as I made choices about university, “career” etc I was led by a sense of urgency, an inner well of motivation which urged me along a certain path. Even my choice of social anthropology, which seemed a little random, (the list of degrees was in alphabetical order in the prospectus and it was the first, of many, that sounded interesting!) was a subconscious desire to work in developing nations. I had a vision for my life – which of course has taken its own sweet direction on many occasions. I spent many years working in teams around the globe, in theory offering training, research and aid to various groups and individuals, in practice receiving a hundred fold more in return than I was ever capable of giving. There was no career ladder and I never counted work hours for there was no dichotomy between work and play. I was passionate about what I did and it all interwove into the urgency of the present and living for the beauty of that moment.

Many young people have no idea at 17/18 what they want to do with their lives and I understand this. They make wise choices in their pursuit of higher education and I support this. But it is always a thrill to have a student in my office brimming with enthusiasm about what he/she wants to study. Many of my students will end up as very successful entrepreneurs and managers. Along the way, I hope some will find the time to pursue their operatic passion or take a few years to make films, if that’s what animates them. I was thrilled this week to have a parent in my office eager to support his son’s singing talent and creative writing gift. In our competitive world these choices can be overwhelming for parents and children, but I certainly desire that my students have a sense of passion about what they do. Thoreau says that if you advance in the direction of your dreams, you’ll find uncommon success, and my involvement with young people has persuaded me that he is right. The ones who do what they love without a lot of regard for conventional success tend to turn out happy and strong.  We cannot, of course, dictate the timing of that vision in someone’s life, but I believe it is something we all can have.

I am preaching at myself here too. I realize that I had allowed some of my life’s passion and vision to slumber. Along with a reopening of my heart towards more spiritual things, I am truly finding energy in writing. It has been such a fulfilling discovery – or rediscovery really of writing. I realize this creative outlet is an unfulfilled dream, thus in pursuing it I am expressing more of myself to the world and am revitalized by it. Blogging and writing stories about those things I love such as: animal welfare, justice, literacy and intercultural awareness are really fulfilling. I want to make sure I am in a place where my dreams can be caught and stimulated. I don’t know where this dream will take me, but I am intent on following it. It is up to us make sure our lives and relationships are nurturing our dreams. Have you longed to become a yoga teacher? Has the stage been beckoning your talent for months? Do you dream of becoming a voluntary fire-flighter? Is setting up a Bed & Breakfast something you have been thinking about for years? Are there things you can be doing to bring you nearer to those dreams?

Don’t let anyone, even yourself, snatch away your dreams.









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7 Responses to Dream Catching

  1. Diane says:

    Oh my Joanna! I was left for a moment speachless by this amazing post. In the second half, I felt like you were reading my mind as I had earlier thought how amazing it was that I was slowly able to start making steps towards fufilling my dream. You are so right about it being up to us to make it happen, to be in the right place to make our dreams a reality. I envy you your passion and your alternative work choice you have made through the years. (At times I often wish I had had the courage that others had and blow caution to the wind as they say) It’s wonderful and I feel blessed that you have shared this with us, and by expressing yourself we come to know a little more of ‘Joanna’. I am also delighted that you have found blogging and writing so fulfilling and like others I will be there to cheer on your achievements.
    (from one who loves to dream)

    • Joanna says:

      Dear Dreamer,

      thanks for your lovely comments. My alternative work choice wasn’t hard to make at that dizzy time after university, as it just seemed like the next logical step for me at the time. I am so glad you feel like you are taking consequential steps towards your dream. Go girl!

  2. Diane says:

    Thankyou Joanna, This year already there are steps in both my work and writing that I would never have thought would happen are happening. I do need the encouragement and if thruthfull a little pushing to get me there. The Hub has helped my writing and my boss is at this moment helping me with my work choices…… Thanks again.

  3. Patricia Tilton says:


    The timing of your topic is very appropriate. A time to pause. I think each one of us in the Hub has experienced and continues to experience that voice deep within that nudges us to find that passion. Diane, Im’ also addressing your comments too. The question is do we listen?

    I just watched the movie “The Shift” with Wayne Dyer, over the weekend, and Joanna, you echoed many of his words about purpose, although stated in your own words. I feel for young students at ages 17/18. They have the world before them, but are many times clueless as to what they want to do with their lives. I wish that our schools made it mandatory for juniors/seniors to do a year of service, before they go to college or start a job. I find it interesting that you chose to do that following college, with rutsack on your back and little money. You were expressing more of your authentic self in your seeking. It was a time of preparation for you.

    I believe there are experiences we must go through in our lives. We go to school, college,get a first job, date, marrry, start a family and so on. Our first job is usually linked to survival. In the next phase we mature and enter the career phase. Then we enter our life work, which doesn’t necessarily mean it is something we get paid for. By the time we reach our 40s and 50s, we begin to question and many times pursue another path. The 50s are our most powerful years where we have experience and wisdom to follow that inner calling or passion. It is a time when we do our best work, whatever that may be. It may be just be “being” the most authentic person you can be.

    Joanna, I’m smiling at your comment about letting some of your passion and vision to slumber. It sounds like they have been fermenting, waiting for you to bring them to expression at a time you are most ready — which seems to be now.

    Diane, you have a lot of courage. You are the most generous person — I have experienced that. And, you are consciously pursuing your dreams. Can’t get better than that!

    And, just think, we have all met (Beth included) and are doing this together. How lucky are we!


    • Joanna says:

      Thank you, once again Pat, for responding and really adding to, my post. In the UK around50% of students take a Gap Year before going to university. They often gain some work experience, become involved in humanitarian work and/or travel. They all mature a lot during these 12 months and often consider degrees and direction they would not have before. Professors love these students, who are usually more mature and eager to learn. I am a great fan of gap years for many students. I took one before uni and worked for 9 months for Cambridge University Farm in potato research, then I did some voluntary work in Italy near Rome and went climbing in the Pyrenees. My 12 years in voluntary work/leadership were foundational years for me and I don’t regret them, but I think you are right, in my 40’s I feel like I am coming into my own more now.

      Are we lucky, or what? 🙂

  4. How lucky are we, indeed, Patricia!

    Joanna, this was a wonderful post! I envy you having had the courage to follow your passion right from the beginning. The way I’ve made my living over the years was never aligned with that which I’ve been most passionate about — now, in my 50s, I have the opportunity to follow my dreams, and they’re taking me to amazing places, and I’m doing things I couldn’t have imagined doing even just a few years ago!

    Thanks for such an inspiring post.

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