Saturday, August 24, 2013

Dream divas

My good friend and founder of Panama Kontacts, a facebook group in which Latin American expatriate women share information about life in Panama, invited me to speak at this month's "tertulia", or "discussion/chat". She told me my story inspired her. Wow. That was my first reaction. My next reaction was to get very excited about what I was going to say to a group of women who wanted to know how I fulfilled my dream of going to culinary school in Paris...and to facilitate a discussion about how to open your mind to the possibility of realizing your dreams.

What to say, what to a group of women who live in a country different from their own. Why are they in Panama? Housewives? Business executives transferred by their companies? Did they come seeking political asylum? Seeking a better life? Are they mothers? Are they wives? Are they single? What to say to them...what to say.

They turned out to be strong, interesting women with a lot to share. The setting was DGAG, a rockin' contemporary art gallery whose owner is a dynamic Venezuelan woman filled with creative energy. I decided to ask my audience of dream divas about their own dreams, and to keep those visions in their minds while I gave my presentation. I told them my story and talked about being positive, having a happy life, about building your life instead of just living it (see Ashton Kutcher's speech in reference to Steve Jobs' concepts of building your life). I said that fun marriages and relationships are all about adventures, and that if you support your significant other's dreams and they support yours, you will have many adventures. I told them that by realizing your dreams you would most likely enrich the lives of the people around you and some dreams would result in better communities, cities, countries, and a better world. 

I reminded them that if their children had visions of them as strong, determined women, they would inculcate the idea that you should never settle for mediocrity and that once you experience the feeling of achieving one extraordinary thing, you'll become addicted to being that way, and that you'll forever be motivated to do bigger and better things. We agreed, however, to always be thankful and feel humility by the thought that what you achieved, you did so with the help of others.

I gave them three tips: 1. every morning, when you wake up, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and envision your dream, and do it again before you go to sleep; 2. say "yes" more; and 3. once you achieve one dream, think of the next.

We identified the following characteristics of happy people (inspired by a Huffington Post article): they dream, visualize, and succeed, they tell their stories in order to share tools that are necessary to build, evolve, and persevere, and they turn gratitude into energy that helps them face challenges.

I received positive feedback from the audience about the conversation. But the most satisfying part of this experience was being in a female powerhouse, a room filled with women who created a new life for themselves in a new country, some for professional reasons, some for personal, some who had to leave their country of origin because the political situation became so bad that their dreams were being stifled. 

The human right to envision hopes and aspirations is a powerful and beautiful force to be reckoned with.