A Guest Post by Catherine Brunelle
I can still remember last year’s workshop. Oh my goodness, the possibilities were opening wide in front of me. My husband and I had just returned from a trip to Hungary, and we’d sailed back to North America on the Queen Mary 2 before grabbing a train back up to Canada. Zsolt was starting a new job with a new company, and I was happy, healthy and cancer-free.
The world was my oyster. And yet, I somehow felt lost and uncertain in a strange way. Maybe it was from having experienced cancer first-hand, or the fear of it coming back, maybe it was from feeling displaced, or from not keeping pace with my peers . . . all I knew back then, was that there was a feeling within me, and it kept asking: What comes next?
So stuck with this lack of direction, despite all doors being open, I signed up for my parent’s workshop. No joke, this was my first experience at being a participant. I had volunteered, watched from the sidelines, cheered them on as they prepped new events for another year – but I’d never actually experienced it for myself.
I think until you experience it for yourself, you don’t realize how much there is to learn about our goals and expectations. And this isn’t a post about that learning journey. Instead it’s about taking what that weekend gave me and making it a reality.
Right across from me – right now – is a poster on the wall from the workshop. It’s called a picture board, and on there you put your dreams and ambitions. So, on my picture board there’s a lot of storytelling and novel-selling references. There’s taglines like ‘leading ladies’ and ‘award winners’. Also, there’s a posse of friends. There’s dads carrying babies, there are thoughts on health, being a model for change, having a life full of love, and, in the corner, there’s an older lady with pink sunglasses eating ice cream.
Those were my ambitions back in 2012.
This past summer I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer, meaning the breast cancer has come back in tiny little spots and has been found on my lungs. That’s not cool. We had wanted to try for a baby (hence the dads on my picture board), but those plans are on the sidelines now. And my health – well, I need to push once again to regain that essential balance.
But you know what? I’ve won awards this year – one for my writing and one for my online community support for other women facing cancer. I’ve grown my group of girlfriends to incorporate some very cool people. I’ve written for magazines, blogs, and have felt that identity bloom. My husband and I have prioritized our dreams, and we’re working on that ‘live in both countries’ plan. And now, to top off this list of making-dreams-happen: I’m going turn myself into a published novelist.
I’m publishing my first novel this year. That is one of my biggest dreams I want to come true, and it was right there in front of me all along on my picture board, answering the question of “What do I do next?”
With this stage 4 cancer, and the upcoming 2013 workshop, I’m coming to realize that dreams are for making plans then taking action, asking for help and being willing to receive, committing out loud and shouting it even louder. Dreams are not about other people’s approval. If I want something, I need to make that something happen.
Kickstarter is coming to Canada on September 9th, and with that, a crowd-funding platform, I’ll be asking people to ‘pre-order’ my book and support the campaign. It’s a risky move, but it is going to happen: this is going to work. I have a beautiful story to share with my novel, The Adventures of Claire Never-Ending, and I think this is the time to get it into other people’s hands.
And then, once that succeeds: what next?
I’m going to take this upcoming workshop as a time to reflect. What has changed since we stepped off that boat and arrived back home? What’s been lost? What’s been gained? And where do I want to go next?
I don’t know exactly, but I have a feeling that by the end of that weekend it will all be there in front of me, on my picture board, telling a story I’ve yet to live.
Hardships happen and they change everything. But then, they also highlight everything. Looking at my poster board, I can see the dreams that have yet to happen, and the dreams that have come true. But when it comes to becoming a novelist, I have a choice in the matter, and I choose to succeed right now. What comes next? Whatever the heck I want to come next. Sometimes, it’s really as simple as that.
(And if you’d like to learn more about my novel please click here and sign up to learn about the crowd-funding campaign. It’d be an awesome help! One other thing I’ve been doing is learning how to ask for help, so if you are interested, I’d greatly appreciate your support in making this big dream come true.)
Thanks for listening to the ramble!
(Tony and Marcelle’s daughter)
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