A Warning and a Gift for Anyone Who Isn’t Pursuing Their Dreams

Reach for the Sky

“Letting go of the past means that you can enjoy the dream that is happening right now.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz

I grew up on a small cattle farm in the very small farming town of Savannah, Missouri with my grandfather and great grandparents.

My great grandmother used to sit outside on the back porch and string green beans or peel apples when the weather was mild, a worn dish towel over her knee and an ancient paring knife moving with practiced ease. As a very small child I would often sit with her, watching, and sometimes we would talk.

One evening we shared a conversation that would come to influence me for the rest of my life, though I didn’t realize it at the time.

I asked if she had ever had something that she always wanted to do; a dream? She smiled and set down her work, leaned back and looked off across the farm for a moment, lost in thought.

She said that she had always wanted to see the ocean, to visit Hawaii, and see the Eiffel Tower. She had only seen these things in pictures and on TV, and they were beautiful to her. But she was scolded by relatives and friends for having such ideas and encouraged to put away these things that would never happen.

So she did.

Instead she got married, raised two children, tended the farm alongside her husband, and prepared every meal without complaint. She packed my lunches, took me to school every single day, sewed my dresses and Halloween costumes from scratch, and made me cinnamon pies.

She paid all the bills on time, did the grocery shopping, helped her community in any way she could, and was a very good wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother.

At her funeral the church overflowed; every seat was taken by lives she had touched, more stood in the vestibule and were forced out onto the sidewalk. She gave so much in her life while asking for nothing in return. She was an amazing woman, but I knew she never forgot her dream.  

That one afternoon spent sitting with my great grandmother, watching her as she spoke with such warmth and sadness, stuck with me.

As I became older I turned the story over and over in my head like a coin because I instinctively knew its lesson had two sides, but I was only seeing one. After many years of inspection, I found the duality that her story contained: a warning and a gift.

The Warning: Make the choice to not let others dictate your dreams or goals.

Your dreams are yours, no matter how simple or small or large or complicated they may be, and you have a right to chase them at any point in your life, for any reason.

Do not give in to fear or uncertainty, do not doubt yourself, do not ask “Why? Why is this so important to me?” Your dreams are yours and yours alone, no one can take them from you and you should never give up on them.

The Gift: Make the choice to find happiness in your current path.

Sometimes, for some reason, we choose to walk away from what our heart wants. Maybe we make the choice out of necessity, maybe we do not really have a choice in the matter, maybe we did not realize what we wanted till it was too late, maybe we did not want to seem “weird” to our friends.

But life will always find a way to give you happiness, so be brave and keep yourself open to receive the joy that life is trying to give you.

My great grandmother never gave herself permission to go do what she had always wanted to do, even when she had the time and money to do so. But she decided to never be resentful of her choices, rather she chose to find new meaning and fulfillment in her situation. This gave her the ability to grow past her hurt and loss to become a truly fulfilled person.

Have the strength to attain dreams you think are out of your reach while allowing yourself to find peace when you do not follow your heart. Learn to succeed when others predict you will fail, and to laugh when you stumble or get lost.

Your dreams and your life are your own; never forget that.

Man reaching for the sky image via Shutterstock

About Cassandra Rounds

Cassandra is an engineer and artist living in the big city of Tempe, Arizona. She has seen that all people innately possess the ability to realize their own potential, so her mission is to be an element of positive change and empower people to take control of their lives by sharing stories from her life.

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  • Hi Cassandra
    Thanks for sharing this post and your beautiful story. I think there are a lot of people like your grandmother out there. Following our dreams is a topic about which I am very passionate. For the last few years, I have been living mine, which is freelance writing and traveling the world. I am writing this post from Fiji where my fiance and I were blessed with a housesitting job–four months rent-free in paradise!

    I write my own personal development blog and every post is designed to inspire people to consciously create their desired life–I want people to figure out what it is they want and go after it.

    It is so easy to get into the line of thinking that ‘great stuff’ is only reserved for a few while the rest of us are destined for nothing special. One of the things that has helped me most with this journey is realizing how fortunate I am to have been born into circumstances where I am easily able to focus on what I want and living up to my fullest potential because I am free of serious worries like trying to find enough food to eat, or living in a war-torn area. We have so many resources available to us to do and be better if we so choose.

    I really want people to remember that when they find themselves unhappy with their lives.

    Loved this article!

  • Lenne

    Thank you, Cassandra. Very timely article 🙂

  • Thanks Cassandra for sharing this post and your lovely story. I really had a great time reading it. I am a dreamer. I always work towards the fulfillment of my dreams. That makes me happy and motivated all the time. This is one thing that I tell to all my entrepreneurs clients. Keep sharing beautiful posts!

  • DB Hoster

    I loved the part about choosing peace during times when you’ve made the wrong choice, or walked away from your heart only to find out too late. That was a beautiful sentiment and I needed to hear it. It also helps to know others have done the same thing.

  • Peace Within

    Hi Cassandra! I agree with your interpretation of what your great grandmother shared with you as a warning and a gift. We have to follow our dreams, they are ours. Who really cares what other people think? Just a thought but maybe you can go to these places for her? Since she didn’t go and she shared with you! I don’t think people ever leave us all the way, just physically. They are always in our hearts. <3

  • Cassandra Rounds

    Thank you for the feedback and sharing your own insights. You are very self-aware to be thankful for the things you have. That’s a huge step that puts you well ahead of the curve. Keep sharing your positive viewpoint with others, they need it!

  • Cassandra Rounds

    I couldn’t agree more. And great minds think alike: I have seen the ocean and visited Hawaii, two things I did largely in her memory and to remind myself that anything is possible. Only Paris awaits!

  • Cassandra Rounds

    I’m glad this story helped you. Finding peace is one of the hardest things to do, but stick with it, it will come. <3

  • Cassandra Rounds

    You are very welcome, it’s good to know there are other dreamers out there. I’m glad you mix dreams with your business, we definitely need more of that. Keep it up!

  • Cassandra Rounds

    You’re welcome, I’m happy it came to you when you needed it! 🙂

  • Jaz

    Thank you for such a wonderful and poignant post. It brought tears to my eyes! I loved the message of both the warning & the gift. Awesome!

  • Peace Within

    Hope you get to go soon! =)

  • Keith

    A friend of mine passed this article along to me, and I wasn ‘t gonna read it at first, but ended up doing it anyway. I’ve been having trouble seeing the “gift” side of things lately, which wasn’t always the case. I couldn’t tell you why I decided to read this, by when I got to the end, I knew I had to respond. You see, I have a dream I’m trying to accomplish, too. I’m trying to move out of where I live in Michigan, but I keep hitting walls. I even know WHERE I want to move, though I couldn ‘t precisely tell you the “why” of that, either: Tempe, Arizona. Yeah, I know, weird, right? Mind you, I read all the way to the bottom before I saw that little detail, and I dunno what, if anythiing, it means. I’ve done some of my homework, and I know there are jobs out that way, so that’s not the problem ( I’m a CNA). It’s the getting there…

  • Daniels

    Great story, this is helpful.

  • Singing Bear

    “But life will always find a way to give you happiness.” ~ A beautiful statement. Thank you for sharing the insights you have learned. ♡

  • santhos kumar

    thank your for giving a good solution my happiness

  • Angie

    Beautiful story, beautifully told. What a great lesson and what a wonderful way to honor your grandmother. So happy you shared it. You’ll get to Paris too! 🙂

  • Dev Arbikshe

    You made me tear up I’:

  • Dev Arbikshe

    There’s only one thing I would like to say however. A lot of times people and family give you a hard time for living life your way. At others some people make you feel like your dream is not that”big”. Especially if you’re not running after power like others. Titles, comparison, judgement! It gets really hard. And then money! I get so lost in this labyrinth ! But few things yes I do know.

  • Don Dressel

    Thank you so much for your story! I really needed this right now! I am in a world of emotional pain right now as I found out my wife was having an emotional affair that turned out to be a scammer. There was a lot of sexting going on! I have been with her for over 23 years and I love her but I feel so empty inside! Anybody have any ideas?

  • Cozetta Lagemann

    So great that you were able to get both a warning and a gift. Your great grandmother sounds like she was an amazing lady, and was able to be so amazing without holding any resentment about her missed dreams. Very inspiring 🙂

  • Sue

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I have never thought of it that way. May Cassandra enjoy her trip to Paris!

  • Sue

    Cassandra, thank you for sharing this very inspiring story. I am just wondering whether you know what your great grandfather’s dreams were too. Being a current Gender Studies student, I am wondering if being female had an influence on the choices that your great grandmother made? Women of that generation had limited choices compared to the youth of today. Of course this does not mean that the present day young person has it easy, they just have a much better environment compared to yester year. Women of the past certainly made if possible for us to enjoy the concept of “freedom of choice.”