The Secrets of a Great Life

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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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Some weeks are crazy. That’s Life. Be careful what you wish for or you just might get it.

I was thinking these thoughts as Pot of goldmidnight rolled around.  I had just finished putting the final touches on the blogging guide for Heather’s 4th stream of income: Business Blogging 101.

My bedroom wall has a vision board with little images about writing and the life I see myself experiencing.  A few years ago I  prayed every day to land a writing job.  I was working a most dreaded job for the Symphony.  I wanted out.  I wanted to do something more creative – work with more creative people.

It was a job that was considered “safe” – you know – recession proof.  But for all its safety, everyone who worked there (except for maybe the conductor) was miserable and they took their job misery out on each other.

Obviously security wasn’t the answer.  I ran from that Symphony and its security as fast as I could into the creative world of Heather.

So tonight I sit here – red eyes burning – butt numb – coming off three weeks of doing nothing but writing.  I feel content.


Then it hit me.  I am getting paid for writing.

All those years of praying for a different life – suddenly mine is shifting right before me as my butt goes numb.  I just didn’t see it because it doesn’t look quite like those little images on the wall of my bedroom.  It’s important to recognize our dreams, even though they may not look like what we expect because they arrive in a slightly modified format.  I’ve been strangely content, but too tired to notice the reason why.

In Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind he believes that professional success and personal fulfillment (living a great life) depend on 6 essential aptitudes.  He offers ups these aptitudes as the reason I am probably feeling content – despite how the rest of my life may appear, they are –

  1. Design
  2. Story
  3. Symphony
  4. Empathy
  5. Play
  6. Meaning

He believes what really stirs creative types like myself, Heather and many of you are the intrinsic motivators — the freedom to work our own way, the opportunity to improve our abilities, and the desire to contribute to something larger than ourselves.

It’s true – at least with me.

I haven’t taken a “day off” in almost three weeks.  And In the middle of this craziness of writing manuals and working with Heather as she prepares for her training classes, I also prepared for an 8 Women Dream meeting.  I have been living Mr. Pinks idea of what makes a great life, which is where I wanted 8 Women Dream and working with Heather to take me, but have been too busy to realize what was happening to me.

Who knew?

In this video Daniel Pink discusses his recipe for living a great life by putting the 6 aptitudes to work by

  • Using your strengths
  • Understanding what it is you were put on earth to do
  • Understanding what it is that makes you unique
  • Doing what is the truest expression of who you are
  • Doing the above, persistently in the service of something larger than yourself

On Saturday I accompanied my mother to the Pacific ocean where she finally let go of the ashes of my step father. He died 11 years ago this month. I carried the bag with his remains to a spot at the ocean shore while holding what was left of the man who was my father almost as long as my own father. My own father died when I was 18.

As I tossed the ashes into the breaking waves, my mother and I talked about all the things he loved. He worked a job he loved for 30 years, he married a woman he loved, he fished regularly – his favorite hobby, he inherited a son and daughter in his 60s after thinking he would never have kids, and was the grandfather to my son – something he absolutely enjoyed with all his heart.

Some would say he had a great life.

Life is precious. Life passes quickly. So go out and live it people.

Put those 6 aptitudes to work.


And be sure to take time to notice when the little changes and contentment show up – even if you are too exhausted to celebrate.

Keep dreaming –


Catherine Hughes of 8 Women Dream(Catherine’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. Someday, she would also like to be invited to speak at TED.  Catherine usually writes the weekly motivation posts which are published late Sunday evenings for the following week)


  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Thank you Wendy and Kim. I couldn’t do it without you.

  • Kim, the traveler

    You’re doing such an awesome job with all your dreams. You’re an inspiration!

  • Wendy

    Thank you Catherine for your beautiful post. It is good to be reminded to step back and see how far we have traveled towards our dreams.

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Thank you Miss Leslie – it’s great to see your name here. I need to come by your house and catch up!

  • Leslie

    LOVE the website, Cath…. and I am so proud of you!

  • I think everyone who knows you in the entire state of California is glad you don’t work at the symphony job anymore. I’ll never forget how they had you in that box office alone at night with only one way in or out. Everyone prayed nothing would happen to you while working there and were thrilled to see you go be with Heather where your skills are appreciated.

  • Catherine

    Thank You Denise and lordy are we over-due for lunch. You are the queen of marketing and mortgages . . .

    Ms Laurie thank you so much for getting me to move through dance again. Your NIA classes are the best. Today my fingers are sore from those damn catching fly exercises!

    And JoAnne thank you for stopping by and saying hello from Hawaii – I feel like I haven’t seen you in ages. Brian is 14 and 5’8″. Pretty soon he will be driving. GULP

    Thanks again everyone for coming by.

  • JoAnne B.

    I’m always encouraged when people takes steps towards fulfilling their dreams. Looks like you’re doing that here. Dream big! There’s nothing to loose.


  • Laurie

    Oh Yeah! Years ago I was shootin’ the shit with some girlfriends and I mentioned that I would like to design shoes for kids that would light up when they walked. I said I would call them street lights and so it was! They are everywhere now….someone else picked up that universal vibe and did it. Remember to be tuned in to all moments of life and pay attention to little thoughts coming and going. Life as art is happening all the time. Dream Big Girls!

  • Laurie

    You rule. I love what you have to say and I love the Mr. Pink video. It is so interesting how we need to hear things over and over again until they sink in. I just returned from a Mama Gena reunion and the one thing she said that stuck with me was that we need to live by our own recipe, not our Mother’s or society’s etc.. And that my friend takes some BALLS!
    Big Hug, see you at Dance.
    Love, Laurie

  • Great concept! Someday we will see you on Oprah!
    It is so important that women have a support group beyond “wine and cheese on a Saturday night” that produces a constructive format to change themselves and the world in which they live in….Let me know if I can assist you in anyway!??

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Thank you Toni – I take that as a real compliment coming from you the screenwriter. I missed you at NIA last night. It feels so good to be dancing again. I need to invite you to guest post about the screenwriting process.


    PS Thank you for commenting!

  • Toni Schram

    A meaningful, inspiring and heartfelt piece. You’ve worked so hard for this and I love that you are doing
    what you were meant to.

  • Cath I LOVE THIS QUOTE: “He believes what really stirs creative types like myself, Heather and many of you are the intrinsic motivators – the freedom to work our own way, the opportunity to improve our abilities, and the desire to contribute to something larger than ourselves.”

    Definitely soooo true for me… all of this resonates!!! So proud of you for doing what you set out to do and getting paid for writing. I continue to look to create a life in which I am simply living my passions, 24/7. I am getting there. ;)

  • Catherine, Site Admin

    Thanks I had to do some editing this morning on the post because one things for sure writing posts at midnight after 14 hours of writing and working two weeks straight leads to some “What the hell was I trying to say?” moments in reading my post. But I know we all have those post days.

    Thanks Remy ;-)

  • Remy G

    The more I read from you, and learn about you, the more impressed and inspired I become. You have had an incredible life, and you are very resilient. “I am getting paid for writing” was a great aha! I guess in some ways, I’m getting paid for my photography…its not at income level, but hey, what I got last month at the Salon was enough to cover initial expenses and provide a little seed money for for the next round…Thanks for letting me be a part of the process! Rem