On Following Your Dreams: not everyone will understand and that’s OK




I’m always drawn to the articles in magazines that profile women who left their jobs to pursue their dreams of farming lavender in Provence or operating a cooking school in Tuscany.

The true-life tales of women who made a big career change when they realized their job no longer fulfilled them.

The ones who wanted to work for themselves, not someone else. To live or die by their own sword, so to speak.

One thing I have noticed though, is that many of these women had very well-paying jobs when they made the change.

Andie took the leap and left her position as a long-time corporate executive to pursue her dream of apprenticing with a cheese-maker in Sonoma.”

Wow, I bet that was risky.


What I want to hear are the stories about women like me, the ones who have dreamt for years of pursuing their calling and tried, maybe more than once, to make it happen. The ones who inch closer and closer to their dreams slowly.

The ones who eventually decide to put all their chips in – because if they don’t bet on themselves who will?

I’ve discovered something over the past couple of years…while most people believe it is a good thing to “follow your dreams” it can make people uncomfortable when you do.


I’ve seen the looks in my friends’ eyes when I tell them I am not taking a new job so that I can try to make something work with “the writing.”

It’s a look of concern that usually precedes “So, can you make money blogging?


How is the second book going?

I have had co-workers tell me how “brave” I am and that they can’t imagine doing what I’m doing.

Here’s the thing: you may not understand how I can quit a perfectly good job, with a decent salary and great retirement benefits to pursue my writing dreams.

But I can’t understand how you can go to a job you complain about every day; a job that seems to stress you out, where you feel overlooked and undervalued. Yet you stay because you have been there so long already, you’re five or ten years away from retirement, or what else would you do?

The truth is, sometimes I wonder what the heck I am doing too.


Those days can be tough. I feel like giving up, starting the search for a “day job” that will keep me interested, challenge me, allow me to be me and showcase my skills and talents while making a difference.

And then I come across something like this article in the February issue of Cosmopolitan (dirty secret #674 exposed: #yesireadcosmo) where author Deanna Pei shared her story of how having cancer changed her life. How she, after  many rounds of chemo, several surgeries, transfusions and more, realized how tenuous it all is.

Her article caught my eye because she decided to move to Paris – and I’m a sucker for a good “I moved to Paris story.” [#dreamsinfrench]

She wrote:

What scared me is how easy it is to die. You’re lucky if you get advance notice. I was 23, never sick (unless you counted hangovers), with big plans for a half marathon, for kids, for a house, for traveling. When you’re young and invincible and the world is your oyster and you’re finally getting your shit together, life seems deliciously long, like it’s the second day of vacay and you still have five days left on the beach. There’s time to spare, time to retire and do what you actually want, time to postpone the “one day” and the “someday.”

I realized while maybe dying that time is an excellent con artist. You can’t count on it. I’d been building my life around the assumption that I had time. But really, I’m just borrowing it on tenuous terms. Death is waiting to pull the rug out from under all of us. 


Sure, she’s young, and being diagnosed with cancer at age 23 is a shock.

But so is being diagnosed at 45 or 55. Or falling at 70 and realizing things have really changed for you, there is no denying it any more.


Wow, so here it is, another post about life and death. #debbiedowner

But the thing is – the acknowledgment of death should make us appreciate life even more.

Realizing that life as we know it is tenuous (just look at the state of the world today…things are changing in a big – often scary – way. No matter which side of the aisle you sit on) should make us want to slow down and fully savor our lives.

Our everyday, often boring, sometimes frustrating, lives.

Our sweet, fleeting lives.

The last line of Pei’s article reads, “When my luck runs dry and my time ticks down to the last seconds, at least I’ll know that I did it. I took matters into my own hands and made this a life worth saving.” 

Yes. Yes. Yes.

With all my chips in,


3 thoughts on “On Following Your Dreams: not everyone will understand and that’s OK

  1. I love this!! I hope after college that I’m not stuck in some dead end job complaining about how I hate going to work everyday. Go after your dreams 🙂 One day they’ll come true xoxo


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