Dreams Do Come True If Only We Wish Hard Enough

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Catherine Hughes

Director of the 8 Women Dream Project at 8 Women Dream
Catherine’s dream is to make 8 Women Dream the premier online publication for women looking to pursue their dreams. She is a published author, a freelance writer, and a guide for those who want their dreams to come true online. Catherine would someday like to be invited to speak at TED about her observations about her 8WD project inviting women to take a chance on their dreams. Wine was required... Catherine posts on Sunday evenings and fills in dream stories as needed. If you aren't sure how to comment on this story, click here.

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By the time you read this my older brother Michael will be married for the second time of his life.  A do-over if you will.

Like me, my brother gave up on marrying the right person, or the idea of falling in love with a soul mate, back in 1978, when the father we loved and admired closed his eyes, inhaled deeply and left us to the great unknown.

I lost all faith in everything.

He shut down and threw himself into school.

Our father had so many big dreams for us:  my brother should go to college in San Francisco and become an attorney, because he could argue the bark off a tree; while I should go to college closer to home and get a degree in journalism, because a daughter should live closer to her parents where they can keep a watchful eye on her, and my father knew no one could be more annoying than me when I want answers, so I would make a perfect journalist.

Or so that was the original dream plan.

After our father died, my brother and I said a resounding fuck no to that.

I turned my attention to dating and always having a boyfriend – but not the right guy.

My brother went to work in construction to pay his way through college (which would have killed my father right there because he wanted my brother to work with is mind, not his back) and he stopped telling the girlfriend we adored, that he loved her. Needless to say, their relationship came to a sad end with my mother and I begging my brother to change his mind.

He wouldn’t.

You can really build a strong cement barricade against your dreams when in pain.

My brother and I went on to succeed and fail at college (he succeeded – I failed) and succeed and fail at relationships – then marriages. He stayed working in construction and buried the budding attorney inside him. I planned weddings for brides I wanted to slap silly, then migrated to working in banking, where every company I worked for died – just like my father.

I was like the kryptonite to banking.

We went on to have great kids, tutor homework, volunteer in our communities, stand witness to our mother’s 2nd marriage, go back to school, enjoy great friends, buy and sell homes, and raise all manner of pets – we were responsible adults going through life in a slumber – never awakening fully to our potential.

Never completely becoming the people our father knew we could be.

Growing up he was keenly aware of our natural abilities and who we were as budding adults in his home. He believed in our mother’s ability to raise Cain and let all Irish hell loose to push us to do well in school, and to encourage us in our passions of camping, boy scouts, hiking, ballet, singing, music, writing, reading and play.

Our parents were our dream warriors, our champion of childhood dreams. Although my father said it in more of a, “You are going to college young lady!” and “Son, just go to college dammit!” way.  We understood what he was really saying.

My parents would have worked themselves to death to ensure we went to college, married well, and lived our dreams.  In a way our father did, but we did not honor his dream crusade. We were so used to our parents unwavering belief in what we could become, that when everything changed on that day in 1978, we lost our way on the path to our dreams.

Until we came to that great fork in the dream trail: we found ourselves divorced in our 40s.

There is nothing like divorce to strip you of all your presumptions, slap you silly and send you a wake up call to change your life. Being of Irish decent, it seems that life lessons take us a bit longer to learn. We tend to be just a wee bit hard-headed and stubborn.  What dreams?  Did I have dreams?

In the end we lost 30 years of dream time.

30 Y E A R S.

If you won’t live the life of your dreams, the universe will move you along anyway, and before you know it you will wake up one day at the age of 50 wondering what the hell happened.

What happened is you stopped believing in your dream.

What happened is you stopped trying.

What happened is you stopped taking chances.

What happened is you went for the easy way out.

Do any of these ring true for you?

Don’t despair if you see yourself in the words written here.  My brother and I are living proof all is not lost.  If you open yourself to the idea you can resurrect a lost dream, then anything is possible. Life can be a do-over anytime. It doesn’t matter if you are age 28 or 68. You can begin the journey back to your right dream trail and continue down the path to where you were meant to be.

It’s never too late. It’s just a question of how badly you want it.

My brother found his great love in his mid 50s, something he hadn’t planned, but wanted. He took a chance on finding the right woman. He often tells me that she is the girl he should have met when he was 18. “She’s perfect for me,” he says. And if you know well-educated, conservative, male construction types (who should be lawyers) then you know that’s not an easy statement for him to make.

As I watched him promise the rest of his life to her, I suddenly noticed the boy who once had dreams.  I’d forgotten what Peter Pan looked like in my brother’s face, and tears began to flow down my cheeks.  It felt like we were coming home. “Wendy,’ Peter Pan continued in a voice that no woman has ever yet been able to resist, ‘Wendy, one girl is more use than twenty boys.”

As I went from table to table visiting with relatives, many were curious about all the writing I’ve been doing, “What is it you are doing again?  Our kids keep talking about you and your writing.  Didn’t you used to do this all the time as a kid?”

When I answered their questions they just nodded like they knew.

It’s like they too have been waiting for those Hughes children they loved, with the father who had big dreams for them, to come back from Never-Neverland and be who they were meant to be.

To dream is an awfully big adventure.

Are you coming?

Now where’s my pixie dust . . .


Catherine HughesCatherine’s dream is to be a motivator and published writer. She is testing her theories on motivation with this blog and the seven other women who have volunteered to be a part of her dream project. Catherine also writes about her life as a mom at the blog A Week In The Life Of A Redhead. She would also like to be invited to speak at TED as the next Erma Bombeck. Catherine posts on Monday mornings.

  • Laurie

    There’s nothing like a wedding to kick your dream ass into gear. When someone that you love takes a big step it stirs everything up. Life certainly puts our dreams on the back burner. Nice writing….made me a bit meloncholy for my Dad who’s been gone for 16 years. wow, time goes by. There’s always tomorrow which is comforting.
    Dream Big, Laurie

    • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

      lol is that what weddings do? Thank you for always being there for me!

  • @Cath, I LOVE THIS: “Life can be a do-over anytime. It doesn’t matter if you are age 28 or 68. You can begin the journey back to your right dream trail and continue down the path to where you were meant to be.”

    You already have the pixie dust :) and you’re sprinkling it all over us to help us live our dreams… and we are FOREVER grateful for it and for you, our inspiration!

    Here’s to living ALL our dreams together! And congrats to Michael!


    • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

      Lisa – thank you for always being our dream cheerleader. You always inspire us to give more than we think we are capable.


  • Brenda

    This is probably the most beautiful and amazing thing I’ve read in a long, long time. I’m sitting here at work reading this post and it’s taking everything I have not to lose it and start bawling my eyes out. I am so happy for Michael and his beautiful bride. And thank you for reminding me once again that there is hope for those of us who feel like we’ve maybe wasted too much time focused on the wrong things and sometimes feel like it’s too late for dreams and happiness.

    • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

      Oh Brenda – thank you so much for your kind words! You know how much I loved writing and remember Mr Schmidt who kicked our asses in his English class? I remember how mad I was when I got a B on my research paper and Bill Keys got an A.

      Then Mr. Schmidt came to our 1976 concert where he was moved to tears, and he walked up to us in our choir uniforms and said, “Oh my goodness you are both so talented. I had no idea!” I wanted to say, “Yeah, thus my report on Johann Strauss – can we revisit it – because I think it should be an A.” LOL.

      We sang for one of the top high school choirs in California thanks to Mr Wright, who for many years played trumpet in the Santa Rosa Symphony. Since his retirement he has been asked to start so many music school programs in California. When I have seen him at the Symphony I have always thanked him for saving me in high school.

      Singing was my salvation when I was suffering through my fathers illness and Terry and her friends were relentless in tormenting me in school. He would always wipe his eyes and say, “You are just so talented Catherine.” It’s been such a long time coming and I am thrilled you are here to share it with me. Thank you for your unwavering support.


      • Brenda

        Choir was awesome. I remember being terrified to audition and you kept telling me I could do it. Even back then you were quite the motivator because I believed you and I actually made the choir! I am still jealous that you got to sing standing among all the guys with your beautiful bass voice tho.

        Oh my gosh I forgot about Mr. Schmidt…lol! Ya, you got robbed of that A for sure. What was Mr. S thinking? Bill Keys got an A and you didn’t…yeesh.

        I think you have risen above your high school tormentors quite nicely. I’m having a ball watching your dreams unfold and I appreciate your kind words of encouragement. Keep dreaming!

        • Brenda

          I think I meant to say tenor voice, bot bass. Sorry girl!

  • Toni Schram

    A great reminder that dreams are right there on the shelf where you left them full of pixie dust. Dust that baby off and you’re good to go.

    What a beautiful love story of your brother Michael and his bride, your new sister-in-law!

    • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

      It was a great weekend!

  • Remy G

    Congrats to your brother and his wife, and for you – getting clear and strong about what you want for you, and not for anyone else. Great to see you yesterday!

    • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

      It was great fun – thanks!

  • Les

    Second to the right, and straight on till morning!

    Excellent story.

    • Catherine Hughes, Editor & Chief

      Damn straight!