Do You Have Good Advice For A Dreamer?

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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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Help with your dreams
This week we are featuring an email from one of our readers who requested assistance with her dream.

It has been our plan on 8 Women Dream to further involve our readers (and other dreamers) in this process – and in our website here.

I believe this email is a good place to start.

It is my hope that you will join us in giving this dreamer plenty of positive, constructive feedback on her dream situation.

Carol’s dream:


My name is Carol.

I’m 37 yrs old. In my early to late teens and into my 20’s I dreamed of singing professionally. I didn’t really know in what capacity — pop singer on MTV, Broadway star, gospel singer, etc. I even moved to Nashville TN in 1996 to become a country music singer. Unfortunately, life got in the way and I moved back home to PA.

Nearly 2 years ago I decided it was time to “grow up” and get a “real” career going, so I began going to school to study Interior Design. I have enjoyed it somewhat, but it’s not my heart.

Recently I was laid off from work. I was so upset. I began looking for other work, but I could never find anything I really wanted to do. A family member recently told me that it doesn’t matter if I don’t enjoy what I do…that I need to just accept it. But I can’t live that way. I never could.

So, recently I began reminiscing about my late teens, early 20’s, when I did a couple of local musicals. I realized how much I miss it. I began to think that it may be a blessing that I lost my job to encourage me to remember my true dream.

I thought to myself, “why don’t I audition for a local show?” And that’s just what I did the other night. It felt fabulous! I don’t know if I will be cast in the show, but just auditioning for it was such an awakening. My true dream?….to be on Broadway.

I am willing to work hard to fulfill my dream. However, there are so many roadblocks. I would love to go to school at the Philly University of the Arts to study Musical Theater. What a joy and challenge that would be!

Here are my roadblocks:

1. Money – I have been going to school for nearly 2 years on loans. How can I afford to begin a new school with new financial responsibilities that will lead me more into debt? While I would now qualify for a grant, I won’t once I begin working again.

2. I need to work to pay the bills. No problem. But I can’t work full time, go to school, and still have room for performing locally (rehearsals take lots of time).

3. To be able to get into the U of A, I need to pass an audition. I also need local experience under my belt. Hence, time for all of #2.

I could always go for a scholarship. But I would still need to work full time, of course. Plus find time for local performances and school. I’m partially willing to drop out of Interior Design studies so I have more time. I say partially because if I drop out that means I have to begin paying back my loans within 6 months of leaving the school.


I am willing to fight for my dream. I just don’t know how and where to begin. I am currently collecting unemployment which will run out in January. While I feel awful depending on it, it’s giving me time for possible performances. But after January the big challenges begin.

I would appreciate any advice.



P.S. What you all are doing is fabulous. You’ve really given this 37 year old aspiring Broadway star hope. Thank you.


No – thank you Carol for taking the time to connect with us and share your dream story. Now everyone, let’s help Carol with her dream by leaving comments and great advice!

And I’ll see you next week –



  • Carol

    Hello ladies!

    Sorry I’ve been MIA lately. I just wanted to write a little update. After all, you all had a huge hand in getting me started on the path toward my dreams. I owe a debt of gratitude.

    I recently finished the musical I was a part of. It was “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – The Musical”, and it was a huge success. Lots of sold out performances. I was able to make lots of new friends as well. I had so much fun, that I can’t wait for the next audition opportunity to come along.

    I began taking vocal lessons again, as I need all the help I can get while preparing for my audition to get into UArts in Philly. I found out that the soonest I can get into the musical theater program is Fall 2011, so I scheduled my audition for 1/22/11. It’s taking lots of preparation vocally, physically, mentally, financially, emotionally….all of the ‘allys’. Hehe. But, I’m excited to be going for it.

    As you all know, I had lots of concerns as to whether I could pull everything off financially and time wise. I’ve decided to just take everything one day at a time. If I spend too much time thinking about what I’m gonna do next month, or next year about this or that, I’ll go crazy. Baby steps I believe someone said in a previous post.

    I have a few things going on right now to keep me busy in the mean time. I’m doing an occasional cabaret/piano bar, a readers theater workshop, and an open mic night occasionally as well. Having lots of fun exploring the performer in me, and it’s fabulous.

    Thanks again, ladies. You’re always very much appreciated.


    • Remy G

      Carol! MIA for good reason. How fantastic for you – what an amazing story and an inspiration to anyone who wants to ‘start’ their dream life! Thanks for keeping all of us in the loop. xox Rem

    • We are so completely thrilled for you Carol and no matter what – I bet your life has some real excitement to it. I wish we were closer to come hear you perform!

      Hugs, Catherine

  • Hey all!

    Had rehearsal again last night for the musical I’m going to be in. It is always a challenge. It’s just that it’s been so long since I’ve done anything like this, and it can be a little discouraging. The majority of the people that are in the show are used to reading music to learn the musical material for the show. I haven’t had to read music in 20 years! So, I’m always afraid of singing the wrong notes! Plus, there are really only 2 of us altos, so I really can’t fake it and get away with it. Haha.

    Despite it being a challenge, I always say how I thrive on challenges. So, I’m trying to not let it discourage me too much. I just keep reminding myself that everything takes practice and patience, and soon I will be a pro like everyone else.

    I am also beginning voice lessons again next week. I haven’t taken voice lessons in about a year. I stopped because I couldn’t afford it anymore. I still don’t really have the money to spend, but I believe it a necessity to get the training I need to make it into the University by passing my audition. I’m so looking forward to lessons again. My teacher is incredible, and so very talented herself.

    Oh, I began a blog about my journey. If you’d like, you can visit it at It may be kinda boring, I don’t know. It’s not boring to me, because I’ve been so excited about the path I’m on. But….if others read it it may seem boring hearing me talk about my life. Heehee.

    Anyhoo, I’ll update later. Thanks ladies!

    • Catherine, Site Admin

      I will let everyone know about your blog and add it to our list Carol – congratulations!

      Just remember to be patient with yourself. It’s like exercising a muscle after not working it for a few years. It’s going to be awkward and painful until it adjusts – the same it true of your show.

      Just remember they picked you for a reason – maybe you can practice outside of rehearsal with some of the others in the show as you all begin to bond.

      And remember to breathe and enjoy EVERY single moment – even the hard parts!

      Hugs, Cath

  • Carol

    Hey all….

    No updates on the University thing. Just wanted to say that I went to a local Cabaret/Piano Bar last night. I sang “True Love” by Cole Porter from the musical “High Society”. It was so much fun! The talent was awesome, and it was great to sing in a venue other than karaoke. Haha. Karaoke is great for practice, but you all know I long for more. Last night just told me how much I long for the excitement the musical theater has to offer. I can’t wait for my audition for the University! Thanks for the support….


    • Catherine, Site Admin

      I wish we could hear you!

      It’s like your are high on life. Wonderful to be living on purpose. Carol, we are so honored and thrilled that you contacted as and we hope to be there to watch your amazing journey!

      Hugs, Cath

  • Carol

    Hello hello friends!

    The tour of the University was absolutely fabulous! I was able to tour the campus, which spans about 6 blocks of S Broad St in Philly. The tour group was led by a sudent, as are all the tours, so it was nice to be able to receive feedback from someone who was once in my shoes.

    The campus….it was so inspiring to be there to view the musical theater dept. buildings. Plus seeing the Merriam Theater which is part of the University was incredible. I tried to envision myself on the stage singing to the house.

    Next step? The application process. It’s too late for me to get in for the fall semester, so the app process for me will be in September. Then….the audition *dun dun dun*…. Hahaha.

    I have to say that visiting the campus put such a fire under me. I’m so exited to begin the process. After applying in September, the audition will take place sometime in November or December. I will have to sing 2 songs, read 2 monologues, and dance a choreographed dance with the group of other people auditioning.

    I had to laugh when I asked what the age range of the students was. She said she thinks the oldest right now is around 32! Lol. I’m hoping that my age of 37 will give me an advantage. Schools are always striving for diversity.

    I’m so grateful for everyone’s support here on “8 Women Dream”. I can see my dream more clearly than ever before. It’s very exciting. I’ll update soon…


    • Catherine, Site Admin

      Carol – look at you go girl! WOW! Congratulations!

      And you’ve found the secret to happiness – pursuing what you love. How exciting.

      Enjoy every single moment of it and don’t let anyone rain on your parade!

      Hugs, Cath

  • Remy, photographer/consultant

    Carol that is great! little baby steps – headed in the right direction! Please keep us in the loop. Rem

  • Carol

    Hello all!

    Just an update as to where I am. I sent a couple of emails to different folks at the Philly University of the Arts. When I hadn’t heard anything back I decided to call and schedule a visit/tour of the campus. That’s where I’ll be going tomorrow morning.

    I’m ultra excited. I’m in the process of reading the University’s website inside and out (it’s a huuge website), and preparing a list of questions to ask during my time there. I’m a little nervous, as the last time I went to a school open house (for my current school) I was asked if I was one of the parents! Haha!

    Oh, I also spoke to my Financial Aid Advisor at the Art Insititute I’m currently attending. I found out I can transfer my aid without penalty, which called for a very big *sigh* of relief. :)

    I’ll update after the tour tomorrow. Wish me luck!


    • Catherine, Site Admin

      Congratulations Carol – exciting, fun news! It seems like everything is lining up to support your dream.

      I am so proud of you for taking these steps for something you love!

      We will all be with you in spirit tomorrow.

      Enjoy every moment of it!

      Hugs, Cath

  • I was so impressed with your life story just thought I would add my thoughts. To think of the level of desire to manifest your move to Nashville in your 20’s is really quite extraordinary. Then to be business savvy enough to get a loan to reinvent yourself with Interior Design at 35 – you are a multi faceted, multi talented woman and that is what it takes I am sure to go to Broadway.

    Here are my thoughts on keeping positive. Enthusiasm is the most important so not to miss any opportunities. Even when it’s a frustrating day, ie: “not enough money to pay the bills etc etc”., if you stay enthusiastic you will be open to receiving a way to keep projecting your desire forward into the future.

    This should inspire you:
    “If you have a positive thought your body actually goes into a positive vibration. You actually attract everything that resonates with that vibration”.
    -John Assuraff
    “The Answer”

    I will add to that, if you have a thought that invites “Fear of Success” into your mind/subconscious just say “NO” and I mean out loud and replace it with your positive thought/image. You may find yourself saying “no” a lot when you first try this….
    but it is actually kind of fun because you start to see how you can empower yourself.

    Find something to laugh about every day, buy a joke book if necessary.

    Gosh at 37 your still a puppy, You haven’t even hit your stride yet, go run with the wind… filled with joy, you can do it.


    • Carol

      Hi Rena!

      Thanks so much for your encouragement. I love the quote by John Assuraff. How powerful.

      It’s hard to think of myself as still a “puppy” at 37 when I’m going to school surrounded by all these little young’uns! Haha! I have a feeling it’s going to be like that at the Phillly University of the Arts as well. But, it may actually work in my favor in that it would bring diversity into the environment. Haha!

      Thanks again…


  • Carol, I LOVE your courage, am so proud of you for audtioning (and making it! You go girl!).

    Oh how I resonate with this too!: “I had been thinking I was unusual in wanting to change paths completely at my age. I’m so used to thinking that we all need concrete plans for the rest of our lives right out of high school. That’s fine for some, but for others it just doesn’t happen that way, and I’m learning that that’s fine too.”

    AMEN! I always used to think there was something “wrong” with me because I didn’t have my career path all mapped out at 18… Didn’t have a clear sense of what I wanted. I did know that I wanted to write books someday (Finally doing it, thanks in part to the 8womendream team cheering me on!), and knew that I wanted to use my talents to make a difference in the world.

    That has mapped out in various ways – through writing and communication, through urban revitalization work, through work with government, and full circle again back to the writing.

    I also have managed to live out some of my other dreams of dancing professionally for a few years, and traveling around the world… But all of this has meant that my life has been incredibly inconventional.

    Still is, and I’m still figuring it all out as I go, and I still have my glory days and my days where I feel discouraged and *wish* I had it all mapped out!

    What I have learned over time, and am still learning, is to love the journey… That when we truly follow our deepest heart’s desires, and give it everything we’ve got, that no matter what the outcome is, it gives our lives meaning, depth and passion… And increases our happiness… And what else is life about???

    As we release our fears, we also give others permission to do the same, to paraphrase a Marianne Williamson quote… When we shine our light, we inspire others to do the same.

    I agree with the dreamer who said focus on the dream, not on the fear, and stay in action! Taking steps towards our dreams breeds more courage – we vanquish our fears when we move through them.

    There is ALWAYS a way to live our dreams… I truly believe that – and am here cheering you on as you do!

    You go girl!!!

    Lisa of 8womendream

    • Carol


      Thank you so, so much. I love when you say “What I have learned over time, and am still learning, is to love the journey… ” What a beautiful thought, and very true. I never quite thought of it in that way.

      I want so much to live a life of meaning. The thought of leaving this world without having done that scares me to pieces.

      I’m so glad I hopped upon this site. You all are fabulous, and I’m so grateful for the kind words and encouragement I’ve received. Thank you!

  • Rayne

    Carol, I have a friend with a theory about following dreams, especially these kind of “I’m changing my life completely” dreams. She swears by this. She studies her life. Studies it very closely and then she decides. She’ll give up one thing that doesn’t work for her anymore to make room for something new to at least get the foot in the door. For example, I spend at least 6 hours a week watching new movies. What if I swore off going to the movies, took that time, that money, that gas and devoted it to my new endeavor? What could I do with an “extra” 6 hours a week? And I’d have to schedule it. Schedule it. Stick to your plan. Explore. Oh, and take notes for us and report back, of course!

    • Carol

      Wow. Thank you Rayne! I love your idea of scheduling specific time to focus solely on your dream. One thing I struggle with is making good use of my time, so this will be good for me. It’s not hard for me to pick something I can do without. I’m a sleep-aholic, and not working has given me too much time to be lazy. You hit the nail right on the head when you mentioned the word “schedule”. That’s exactly what I need more of! Thank you! I’ll keep you posted!

  • Remy, the photographer

    Hi Carol – I’m glad Cath took the time to highlight each of the roadblocks and some suggestions…I just have more of a general response. I went to my 25th HS reunion this past weekend, which makes you a bit younger than me….but- getting caught up with others was incredibly inspiring…people starting new careers, transitioning, getting fired, starting their own businesses…with the common element of “this time I’m gonna do what I want to do, something that I’m passionate about ” – and that was so cool to hear! its easy to get caught up in roadblocks, but don’t give up. You are so young and so strong and have a great purpose! You’ll figure it out. Good luck to you! And let us know when we can come see you perform. xo Remy

    • Carol

      Remy, thank you so much for your encouragement. I had been thinking I was unusual in wanting to change paths completely at my age. I’m so used to thinking that we all need concrete plans for the rest of our lives right out of high school. That’s fine for some, but for others it just doesn’t happen that way, and I’m learning that that’s fine too. Thanks again, Remy.

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Hi Carol –

    I am going to look at each one of your roadblocks to start with –

    1. Money – I take it that your financial aid is course specific? Is any of what you have taken so far transferable to the Philly University of the Arts? I would contact Chris Pesotski, the director of the Office of Student Financial Services at the University – see here and tell him your dream and you situation and see what he says.

    2. See if you also can connect with a counselor from the Philly University and ask about their Federal Work Study, Non Federal or Institutional Work Study and Off Campus Community Service Work Study. In combination they provide students with the opportunity to earn a bi-weekly pay check which can assist in providing an income. I am sure there are others who have faced your same situation.

    3. How did you do on your audition in the local show? Have you heard anything yet? But keep in mind the University audition is given to measure knowledge and skills, and is used primarily for the purpose of placing students in appropriate class sections upon matriculation. Again, I’d chat on the phone with a counselor from the University so that they can address your fears.

    Once you have all the information from the University, then you can make a better assessment of what you need to do to make this dream happen.

    I should think your Interior Design skills could help with staging and set design in the productions. But first I think you should call the school and raise your concerns.

    I’d be interested in what they have to say.

    You are not crazy to want to gravitate towards something you love – it’s what we should be taught to do in school.

    I was ten times the college student when I moved my major to real estate after developing a passion for real estate and was working in the field. I loved my classes and hung on the teachers every word. (This passion was eventually beat out of me by the Real Estate industry, but I love what I do now).

    I am in my third career and I am 50. I started as a wedding consultant, then went into real estate and now work for a web & graphic design firm. This has allowed me to get in touch with my creative side return to writing – something I loved my whole life until my father died 30 years ago.

    Don’t do what I did by stop doing what you love. I should have stayed with the writing. It’s a part of who I am – like the freckles on my arms.

    I love the advice of Seth Godin and you should get the book “The Dip” because it really makes you address doing something 100% once you have made the decision to move forward.

    Then you need to be able to survive the Dip – the time between when you start on the path toward your dream and your dream comes true. Are you willing to stay with it if it takes years, and many disappointments? The Dip helps you look your dream square in the eye.


    There is also a movie I think you would love called, “Who Does She Think She Is” – their website is here: There is a young woman attempting what you dream with two kids and a husband. Her story is very telling – along with the stories of the other women artists.

    And if you need inspiration, read my post “Warning: You Are Never Too old To Dream” at

    Now – let me know what you find out!


    • Carol

      Hi Catherine! Thanks so much for all of your research into the Philly U Of the Arts, and for all of your advice. I am so very grateful. You’ve definitely made me more hopeful that this can really happen for me. Oh! I had my audition for the local musical, and I made it! I’m going to be a part of the ensemble. Very exciting.
      I will definitely make some phone calls to the University, and I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks again!

      • Catherine, Site Admin

        Well you passed that audition – so that should tell you something about your talent – congratulations! How does your heart feel right now? Did anything in interior design ever make you feel the same?

        • Carol

          Thanks Catherine! No, I can’t say anything in Interior Design ever made me feel the way I’m feeling about being cast in the show, and about my dream in general. It’s really a no-brainer.
          Tomorrow (Tues.) is gonna be my start. I’m first gonna speak to my financial aid counselor at my current school and talk about my current financial plan. Then I’m gonna call the contact you gave me at the university. Should be an eventful day! I’ll let you know how it goes!

          • Catherine, Site Admin

            I can’t wait to hear what you find out and then we can future address any perceived roadblock!

  • Mariska Smith

    It can seem difficult to follow our dreams, because they are always outside of our comfort zone. Pursuing your dream requires conscious effort, growth and change; this can feel somewhat uncomfortable in the beginning. Your fears and worries are completely normal.

    My advice: Do not focus on the fear, but focus on the dream. This way the dream becomes more important than the fear.

    • Carol

      Thank u Mariska! I don’t know why I’m just seeing your post now. For some reason I didn’t see it earlier. I appreciate your advice about focusing on the dream instead of the fear. It’s so easy to make it the other way around. I’m working hard at it, though!

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  • Catherine, Site Admin

    I have much to say on this to you Carol which I will add on Monday morning.