Dealing Hope

January 22, 2021

Encouragement to Keep Dreaming

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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I used to have dreams as a kid. Not the kind where you’re sleeping and your subconscious takes over. The kind where you dream (while fully awake) of what you want to do/become/feel… 

And somewhere along the way I stopped. I did what was expected of me not what I dreamt of. Somewhere along the way reality took over. Doubt took over. Dreams were no longer something I had.

Long ago my husband used to tell me it was ok to dream. I had no idea what that meant because it had been so long since I’d dreamt. Since I’d allowed myself to dream. With his encouragement, I slowly began to dream again. I had ideas and visions of how life could be. What I could become. What my family could be.  What my career could be. 

Then life began to fall apart in 2014. Things were not following my dreams. Nothing was following my vision. I crumbled in many ways. Work, family, friends – everything took a hit in some way or another.  

It took a couple years of things deteriorating before I hit rock bottom. I ceased to cope. I ceased to dream again. Someone told me I was Strong, Capable, and Resilient. I laughed at them through my tears and told them how wrong they were. My own personal hell descended. 

Panic attacks were rampant. Anxiety was crippling. Depression was deafening. There were days I didn’t get out of bed. There were days I appeared to be “normal”. There were days I hated life. There were days I had no idea how I’d survive. 

Recovering from the anxiety and depression that swept me away took another 3 years of hard work in therapy, personal reflection, and growth. It took countless professionals and support systems. 

Somewhere along the way I started listening and believing that I was in fact Strong, Capable, and Resilient. 

Dreams again began to form. Some of them were old dreams, finally dusted off and picked up again. Some dreams were no longer relevant. Many were replaced. I slowly rebuilt my life and my dreams. I rebuilt faith. Life had changed. I had changed. Things that were no longer important fell by the wayside and new priorities began to emerge. 

In 2019 I began to nurture myself.

I dug deeper into therapy and asked myself what I needed. I rebuilt myself step by step, and discovered I was Strong. The year culminated in a gradual return to work, and I rediscovered a passion for teaching. 

In 2020 I started writing. 

In 2020 COVID brought life as I knew it to a shuddering halt. Things that we took for granted suddenly were gone or changed. I tried to record moments of it in writing. Teaching and education stopped and changed. Returning to in person classes was a stretch, even though we did it for the final 4 months of the year.  I realized I am Capable. And always was. 

In 2021 I am beginning to understand encouragement. Encouragement is defined as “the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.” 

Many people have given me encouragement throughout the past 6 years. The support, confidence and hope has led me to dream again. And so 3 weeks into 2021 I remember that I am Resilient.

Strong, Capable, Resilient.

Encouragement brought my dreams back. I recently  dusted off an old dream.  One I thought was long gone, never to be achieved or revisited. Suddenly I realized it was within reach. I just needed to reach for it. So I did. I reflected and I searched and I considered. I did still want that dream. It is now in a much different shape than it used to be, but it is reachable and opportunity presented itself.

So I took a leap of faith.

And here I stand on the brink of a new journey, a new challenge, the fruition of an old dream that started sometime around 2005. It’s not at all what I imagined. It’s more beautiful and more challenging and full of more hope and life than I ever imagined. 

I’ve had time to consider and reconsider. I’m ready. And I’m excited.

And I write this knowing in the coming days, weeks, and months I will have days of self doubt. 

So I can look back and remind myself that I am strong, capable and resilient. That I am following my dreams. That I can handle this. That I have support and I am not alone. 

This is my encouragement to myself. Keep dreaming. 

Marilyn R.

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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