The Secret Titan Who Will Crush Your Dreams

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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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Triumph of Achilles out to crush your greatest dreams

There’s a war raging inside of me right now, sort of an Achilles wound lying dormant, only to rise up in battle when I push myself to grow in new ways toward my big dreams. It’s a battle between the whole, complete and competent parts of me against the scared, insecure child buried deep inside of me.

This latest battle commenced soon after I was accepted to be a presenter for the first Ignite event being held in Petaluma, California – a town just south of where I live. Ignite is a geek event (because I am one) that happens in over 100 cities worldwide. Ignite “presenters” share their personal and professional passions, using 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds for a total of just five minutes in front of a group of strangers.

At some point in the distant past, I completed an online form (at some website I don’t even remember) and submitted a topic idea, thus throwing my hat into the ring of presenter possibilities for this years Ignite. I tend to “just go for it” with the many ideas/opportunities that often pop into my life, which have played themselves out with both positive, and negative outcomes. Let’s not talk about who I’ve dated.

Just as fate would have it, a week before this big event (and me completely forgetting I entered), I receive an email congratulating me on being accepted as a presenter. I immediately let out a triumphant “Yippie!” only to hear my Achilles child inside me say, “Oh dear lord Catherine, what have you got us into this time?! You are really freaking me out!”


“And I don’t want to do that!”

“Please don’t make me do that!”

Here I am, the woman who hates to be photographed – planning on dawning a suit – memorizing a topic and speaking in front of 75 strangers – while Powerpoint slides moves behind me – while being filmed – to be shared on YouTube.

Maybe my inner Achilles-child is right: I am certifiably nuts!

What was I thinking?

These past few days my Achilles-inner-child and my Catherine-confident-outer-adult have raged a mighty mental battle with each other over this event. Achilles reminds me how much I’ve changed physically since being diagnosed with Hashimotos – don’t I get that the camera adds on 200 more pounds? She would rather I didn’t venture out into the world so publicly . . . so scarily. While the adult Catherine yells back at her to calm down and take a chill pill (which is really me meditating twice a day).

I should know better and just ignore Achilles, for she is the child who also urges me to eat bread because it will calm my nerves and make me sleepy, even though bread is the last thing I should ever have – just Google Hashimotos and gluten and you’ll see – bread to a Hashimotos patient is like sun bathing to a skin cancer patient.  It’s definitely not good for you.

She is also the one who will tell me that I can’t do certain things, or I shouldn’t do them, or will always be first to question changes that move me out of my comfort zone, stretching me to become more. Ignite is just the event to bring her out in full-on tantrum, as she quips Thursday night that I will never be able to find the right twenty slides to go with a speech.

I ignore her as best I can, until I was putting the finishing touches on my speech and matching it with my final engaging images, when she suddenly shouts, “I don’t think these are that funny . . . will they even understand the correlation? . . . you haven’t done anything like this in years . . . WHAT WERE YOU THINKING BY AGREEING TO DO THIS? ARE YOU MAD? . . . STOP! YOU ARE SCARING ME! STOP! EMAIL THEM AND CANCEL!”

Deep breathing ensued.

I managed to find final images in spite of her negativity, put together my 5 minute story, figure out the timing and email it to one of the event coordinators on time, all while she tried to convince me otherwise. However, it did take me four days to silence her in my head long enough to sit down and actually do it.

My Achilles child’s real name is F E A R.

Have you ever met her?

She is a bitch.

And she can really get in the way of your dreams if you let her. She will bring up any old insecurity she can get her little hands on and throw it up at you when you are at your weakest. It’s why we need support groups to help us with our dreams.

Even my ex husband could see it in my face Friday night and counseled, “Oh, you’ll be good at that, you are a natural story teller. Just be you – it will be fine. I’ll help you practice.” The Achilles child nodded inside me, but I’m not quite sure she believed him.

I can feel my nose burn with her presence as I type this.

We all have a little child inside of us who speaks out against change because she is tying to protect us from getting hurt. She’s worried about anything that seems too big, or too expansive, or too painful. Except her type of protection can get in the way of living a full, rich life. She can stop our dreams cold in their tracks. She can even be really bad for us. The only way to calm her and make her voice go away, is to do the thing you think you cannot do, for it is in the doing of the thing that we transcend into something more and she is silenced.

When you are done, she is usually the first voice in your head who’ll say, “Whew. That wasn’t so bad. I think I could do that again. See I told you it wouldn’t be so bad . . .why were you worried?”

Finding calm in the midst of battle . . .

While a battle raged in my head this week, I thought a lot about Frank Ferrante, the man featured in the movie May I Be Frank that some of us dreamers went to see a few weeks back. While watching his documentary, I was most impressed with his bravery in the face of public ridicule, how he put himself all out there (even naked on a toilet) and how the audience couldn’t get enough of his story. There was just something so deeply memorizing and brave about him taking on his demons and silencing them in front of the world.

His vulnerability made him soulful and wise beyond measure. I thought, if that man can go on camera and do all that, then I can do a simple little story – a speech that last 5 minutes with slides. So what if there are cameras. So what if there are 75 people. So what if I can’t have notes. So what if I mess up. The scared Achilles fear child inside of me is just going to have to deal.

At least I am not sitting on a toilet naked.

If I let her rule my life, I will never step out beyond this Hashimotos disease ( just look at how much Oprah handles in dealing with it) and I will lose the opportunity to change my stars. Achilles doesn’t quite understand yet, but I’ll get her there. Who knows, maybe I’ll become the spokesperson for this disease, instead of waiting for Oprah.

And inspire others to change their stars.

Just as watching Frank Ferrante helped me.

Then who will say that an Achilles child can’t heal?

I have to go read more cue cards now . . . she’s trying to tell me I don’t have enough time . . .

Hey – it’s a process.

Keep on dreaming in spite of the clash of your secret inner Titans –


  • Toni Schram

    Just pretend you’re addressing the 8womendreamteam. You’re always in command and able to make your salient points when we lead our meetings.

    Knock ’em dead kid!

    Love ya-


  • Whoda whoda what? LOl Thank you dear. Is Toni ready for Wednesday?

  • Remy, Photographer & CEO of Cornerstone Creative

    There are no accidents, no coincidences.

    The way I’ve tried to put fear aside lately is to think of the audience – Cath, You are out to change the Dreamer World. This group needs to hear your message. If you get out of your own way, and focus on who needs to hear your message, and do whatever it takes to make sure they hear it, maybe it will take the focus off of the stuff we all worry about –

    hairmakeupillfittingsuits”isthisgoingonutubebeforeiseeitfirstthecameraaddstenpounds” feelings.

    You are amazing. You are strong. You are vulnerable. You have what it takes to make it big. Now just go in there and do it!!!! We are right there behind ya! xox Rem

  • Mariska Smith

    Thanks for yet another thought provoking post! I have these voices going on in my head too and now I don’t feel so bad!! It’s super hard not to let fear get in the way of positive habits. It’s like exercise, I know I should do more of it but I talk myself out of it all the time!! Good luck with your presenting thing!!! -M