The Joy in Letting Go (Reclaim Your Dream Part 2)

Passion. Heart. Faith. Joy. All these things mean nothing in isolation… at least not to me. I have spent most of my life as a tight clenched fist hoping for good to come into my life. But when you walk around uptight all the time, being a control freak and perfectionist, there is no room for the ease of good energy to flow. In the last few moments of 2013 I had an epiphany. The most joyful times of my life did not arise from perfectly executed plans; my most memorable moments have all been the result of letting go.

"I give myself permission to let go."—Louise Hay

“I give myself permission to let go.”—Louise Hay

A few months ago, I started a fundraising campaign to help me accomplish a previously aborted dream. In essence, I left school with a degree that was, in my opinion, less than the one I set out to attain. It’s haunted me for years and I decided it was time to go back and “reclaim my dream.” I did everything… well mostly everything… I could to make it happen. I was determined to return to school and get that degree, even though many of my mentors assured me that I did not need a second master’s to become a life coach. I still wanted it and still pursued it, aggressively. With all that work, I was not getting closer to my goal. I finally decided to step back and say, “Am I taking the long road to my dream? Do my mentors have a valid point? Why am I really pushing so hard to do this?” After some soul searching, I accepted that my plan was not working, but was too afraid of people’s opinions to abandon it. Many days I thought to myself, “What if I just go back later if necessary, but for now do a coaching training course? I’ll be so much closer to my goal and it will cost WAY LESS.” I went back and forth in my mind until, just days ago, I decided to drop that uphill plan that just wasn’t panning out. I came to realize that changing my route was not equivalent to giving up on my dream. 

It has been my desire since the days of Growing Pains to one day open a private counseling/coaching practice. I assumed the only way to do so legitimately was as a licensed therapist. I felt that I needed to have a degree in counseling in order to be “official.” This is where having good friends comes in. I mentioned that point to my dear friend, Danielle Navonne, and after allowing me to vent, she lovingly reminded me that I ALREADY HAVE A MASTER’S DEGREE IN COUNSELING. I was so committed to my plan to get my LCPC license that I was ignoring that I already have credentials. I also know firsthand that being a licensed counselor is not the only way to support, or produce lasting results, in the life of a client. I have a life coach who has transformed my life, and a dream coach who is responsible for me taking my life to the next level. Neither of them have degrees in counseling, They are however amazingly gifted and well-trained for what they do. So…. guess what? It’s time for me to drop the story that I’ve been telling myself about the one and only route to my dream.

Which way should I choose?

The amazing blessing of all this is that by changing paths I am so much closer to my dream. The process of attaining my license as a therapist was going to take me at least three years! Going through a life coaching training program will take me a few months and cost fraction of the price. Now, the money I have raised through my FundRazr, coupled with the money I have saved on my own, is nearly enough to pay for my coaching training! Doing it this way has been nagging at me for weeks, but I refused to let go of the story I was telling myself about how it must be done—that one and only route to my dream. I am now realizing that sometimes the plan we have doesn’t work out, or feels completely uphill, simply because there’s a much better way, possibly one that we’ve been ignoring.

“Do not confuse your route with your dream.”  

So what’s the point? 🙂 I’m writing today to tell you to be careful of mistaking the route for your dream. There may be numerous paths to get you to where you desire to be. Tony Robbins teaches a very successful strategy for accomplishing goals. One of the steps is simply, to look at the results you are getting, and if what you are doing is not working, try something else. Why continue on a path that’s not getting you closer to your goal? Let go of the story that there is only one way to accomplish it. Likely there are multiple routes. Don’t be too embarrassed to try something new for fear of what people will think. Anybody who supports you will want to see you succeed. If the new route will help you arrive at that success faster, why wouldn’t they support that? It’s just a matter of communicating the new plan, if necessary. (Some people do better with less information. Just show them the end result. 😉 )

If you’re on the wrong path, and you know it, it’s time to meditate, pray, get clear in some way on how to get on track. Do not confuse your route with your dream. Changing paths does not mean that you’ve given up on your destination. The blessing of our dreams is that there is often more than one way to get there—or at least that’s what I believe. If you’ve been following a path to your dream for a while now and it feels like you’re not really making progress, it may be wise to consider another route… or at least leave room for the possibility that there could be a better way. I feel such a relief for no longer ignoring all the signs that this route is not “it.” I am truly overjoyed at the thought that I am now closer to my goal because I simply let go of what I thought was the only way.


Posted by on January 3, 2014 in Uncategorized


From Me to You

More personal than usual. This is a letter from my future self to my present self, requesting insight on the rough journey… just in case one day I forget. Similar to K’Jon’s “On the Ocean,” a song that got me through many rough moments. I would pick up my baby and dance with her everytime it came on the radio, believing that one day my ship would come in, too. 

From me to you.

I will never fully remember your pain, the frustration, the lost sleep, the angry moments waiting for our ship to come in.

I will likely not believe the stories you’ll try to tell me of sleeping in cars, heating baby bottles in gas station microwaves, or of drinking 2% because WIC didn’t cover soy.

I will likely doubt the 8 hours sitting on the side of a Georgia road just shy of exit 333, the site of the Kroger that was home to you more nights than one.

I will likely forget the days of no diapers where onesies were cut along with receiving blankets into triangles to attempt to catch the moisture.

I will likely not remember the cold showers the first week because the homeowner forgot to pay the gas bill in that house with mansion sized rooms.

I will likely not remember the Cobb County library being our only entertainment next to the visiting the park down the street from the Dominoes Pizza we could never afford.

I will likely forget my “first born” sitting on my lap, curled up against my pregnant belly with my little one kicking her from inside, or the startled look of confusion on her face each time.

I likely will forget the meals of lentils, grits, and ramen that I made while 6 months pregnant that fed us, me sacrificing and giving away the greater portion, and saving some to feed my “first born” too.

I will likely forget the roaches that made life there damn near unbearable. That beautiful, spacious, Marietta apartment with the pool and exercise room that was damn near uninhabitable for me.

I will likely forget the day we knew we’d have somewhere to stay so we left only to have to return and find the door locked and our calls unanswered, too broke to go anywhere we slept in the driveway hoping someone would come home. They didn’t.

I will likely forget staying up late with my little one sleeping on my lap, working on my first book while everyone slept.

I will likely forget all these stories and that is why I am grateful to you for writing to me tonight. The rough moments will one day be faded memories that seem like myths and fables. This is our life. These things did happen. We will arrive. I promise you that. I promise you that.


Maybe you can relate, maybe you gave up on your dream. Please support me as I stand in courage reclaiming mine.

Maybe you can relate, maybe you gave up on your dream. Please support me as I stand in courage reclaiming mine.

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Posted by on November 17, 2013 in Inspirational


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Reclaim Your Dream

“Maintain your vision, no matter what it looks like.”

A few years ago, I gave up on my dream and it’s been haunting me ever since. Those words brought comfort to me this morning; they came to me in a dream. It’s scary to abandon reason and change paths when you realize the one you’re on is not taking you toward your goals. Now, as I embark on a new journey—a road I traveled before—I have a new determination. 

The short version of the long story is that in 2008, I graduated with a master’s degree in counseling ministries. It is a great degree if you plan to work in religious institutions and don’t want to open a private counseling practice. It is the degree I convinced myself was “good enough” after talking myself out of the degree I really wanted. Insecurity and one too many haters posing as supporters worked to rapidly erode that dream. I began to believe I just “didn’t have it in me.” I sat in my counseling classes thinking, “I’ll never have a private practice, where will I get clients? I’m terrible at marketing and direct selling; look at my Mary Kay business!” I constantly compared myself to my classmates who seemed to be ridiculously passionate and excited about finishing the program, while I was shaking in my boots! THEN, I met the man I knew I would marry. I had every reason to get the heck out with the quickness. With all those excuses constantly on my mind I rushed out of there in pursuit of my M-R-S (Mrs. if you missed that, lol) and left my MACP (Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology) behind. I convinced myself that my dream was too big for me, and not my dream at all. One of my “supporters” told me early on about the shorter degree program, and I decided that one was right for me. I couldn’t have been more wrong….

Well, now in hindsight I realize what a mistake that was. Through this blog, I’ve come to realize how much inspiring others drives me—how partnering with others toward discovering pursuing their passions energizes me. Through my children’s book, I have discovered my love for motivating through public speaking. The more I learn about myself the more I realize that a private practice is exactly what I want. My dream is resurrecting. I want to be a life coach. I’ve wanted to be one for years, and truth be told, if you know me at all, I’ve been doing it informally for years. 

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If you prematurely buried your dream, dig it up, and give it a chance to live.

Now, I’m strong enough now and clear enough about what drives me. I know that I cannot go another day without reclaiming my dream. So a few weeks ago, I decided I’m going back to school to get the degree I left behind! 😀 I’m so excited. I am choosing to do what I need to do for me regardless of anyone’s opinions about it. I know some people will say, “You already a master’s degree, why are you going back to school?” And others will say, “You have a young child. You are a single mom. Where are you gonna get that kind of money and how will you do it by yourself?” See, I’ve already thought about all that, and my mind is still made up. I trust God will provide for everything I need to make this happen because He inspired me to do it.

I didn’t go to school on a whim. I had an actual vision in 2005 that led me to school. I let insecurity cause me to forget that and abort the mission. But now I see, that a dream never really dies. You can try to “pull the plug” on it but it will keep fighting in the background, waiting for the moment you will believe again. It will keep resurfacing in various forms around you, nagging at you to give it a chance to live because our dreams are often a huge part of our purpose for being here. Just because others have let their dreams die doesn’t mean that you have to do the same, or worse, let them talk you out of pursuing yours! I finally accept that truth… that my time has not passed. I’m still here. I’m still moving, shaking, kicking. No reason for my dream to die while I’m still breathing. I’m determined to do it. And I won’t be going alone. I’m going to prove my strength and be an example to my daughter as she witnesses me going after my dream AND accomplishing it.

How can I tell my child, you can be anything if you’re willing to try, and walk away from my own dream due to… you pick the excuse? The blessing of all this is that I’m doing this for me. I’ve always put everyone else (even if it was just their opinions of me) ahead of myself. Now, I’m choosing me BUT everyone benefits! I’m choosing to be my best self and that will allow me to be a better mom, a better friend, a better speaker… and so on. This is not a selfish move, even though I’m doing it just for me. 

So, what’s your excuse? Your dream is still alive. Are you going to continue to throw dirt over it or dig it up? What if instead of listing all the reasons why it’s too late, you open yourself to the possibility that it’s not over, yet? IF it was possible to resurrect your un-dead dream, what would be your next step toward making it happen? I challenge you to take that next step. I mean, you have nothing to lose and all to gain.

Maybe you can relate, maybe you gave up on your dream. Please support me as I stand in courage reclaiming mine.

Maybe you can relate, maybe you gave up on your dream. Please support me as I stand in courage reclaiming mine.


Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Bounce Back

Let me say I never intended on being “one of those” parents. I had a plan. I was going to get married my junior year of college, be pregnant during my senior year, and give birth right after graduation. Or so said my seventeen year old self. What did she know?

Saw this inspiration on Facebook a while back.

Instead, my Bible beating self, went off to seminary, met the man of my dreams—well, not really, met the man I knew I was going to marry—fell in love, graduated with my master’s in counseling, moved in with him, got pregnant soon after and the rest, as they say, is history.

The greatest blessing of veering off the road of my life plan, was having my daughter. I think, at times, that it all happened—all the rough stuff, dark times, and detours—so I could be her mom. She is without question the greatest gift God has ever given me. Not only is she fun and funny, intelligent and beautiful, but she challenges me to be more of the real me, and always has.

I will never forget the day I saw her for the first time, on that ultrasound. As I sat waiting in the parking lot of the unemployment office later that day, I wrote her the most heartfelt and sincere letter. The part I remember the most is this, “I will overcome every fear, to ensure that you have none.” As I look back on those words, I realize  I have been on a journey toward fearlessness, or better yet, a journey to “feel the fear and do it anyway” ever since….

So without going into the details, I’ll just say, things didn’t work out between her dad and I. When our relationship ended, I was a stay-at-home mom, with no money of my own. And when I say “no money” I mean NO MONEY. All I had was her, the contents of our apartment, and my family so I gathered those resources, humbled myself and began to rebuild our life….

Most people (I think) would be shocked to know that all my products and my children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! were all created during my “bounce back” time. I opened the store with my first product designs two days before the end of my relationship (around this time in 2011). Since then I have designed nearly a hundred products in two online stores. I wrote, illustrated, and self-published my children’s book last year. And I say all this, not to pat myself on the back so much as to let you know that when life knocks you on your… patootie, you don’t have to give up! You make a choice, everyday. You can either lay on the couch depressed or you can choose to bounce back. You can let bitterness consume you, and allow anger to alter your spirit, or you can choose to bounce back. You can destroy your child’s spirit by constantly taking your frustrations out on them, or you can choose to bounce back. We make that choice EVERYDAY to either lay on the mat, or bounce back.

Through tears I sat at my computer night and day, often while she was sleeping on my lap, and created because I believe that this is not the end. I want a better life for my daughter. I want a better life for me. I refuse to allow pain to make this a permanent residence. I want more for us. That’s what drives me. What will drive you?

Find out more about Marlene Dillon by visiting her page, a listing of various ways to support this single mom in her journey to bounce back. 

If you would like to support via a monetary gift (which every single parent can use), please do so via FundRazr at

Check out my promo video for my children’s book below. Thank you for your support!


Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Inspirational, Just For Fun


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The Sweet Spot

Special thanks to Getty Images & awesome photographer Colin Cooke for use of this image.

I am the last person on earth who would ever do a post on watermelon. Honestly, the history alone makes it difficult for me to even eat it in public. However, it is the best fruit for describing what I am calling, “rinsing the sweetness out of life.”

A very dear loved one of mine has done this thing, that I personally think is really odd, but to each his/her/it’s own (whatever the phrase is, lol). I’ve known her since childhood and every single time she eats watermelon, she stands at the kitchen sink and holds each slice under the cold running water.  I have watched her standing there for what seemed to be at least a half hour, rinsing piece after piece before eating them. The whole time shaking my head, looking on with utter disbelief. In my opinion, watermelon’s sweetness is its gift, but for her, it’s just “too sweet.”

This morning, I had a huge epiphany. I’ve come to realize that in some aspects, particularly in regard to my career path, this is exactly what I’ve done with my life. I have been gifted with the most amazing creative abilities—most of which I don’t use because I’ve felt they are too sweet for me. I have watered myself down, with limiting beliefs like that’s something other people do. People who are more talented than me, more passionate than me, more confident than me, or simply born into a different environment than mine are the only ones who can pursue something like that. I could never be a fashion designer. I could never make and sell my own jewelry. Who would ever take me seriously as a songwriter? and so on.

You know, this morning I woke up early with a vision of the most outstanding shoe design. It was for a bridal shoe that has the most amazing button closures going down the back—a high stiletto that would make the average shoe fiend go bananas, and what was my first thought? You’re never gonna make that. What’s the point of getting up to sketch it. So many times—more than I could ever count—I have listened to that voice, which I call my inner critic. She has been standing at the “sink” probably all my life, trying to rinse all the sweetness out. Without even realizing it, I have been sitting by watching her do it. But now that I am aware of it, I won’t let any more sweetness go down the drain… 

So my question to you is, what is your sweet spot? What area of your life are you ignoring because it just doesn’t fit with who your sweet thief says you are? An ever better question is how long are you going to stand by and be robbed of your sweetness? Take a step today and share your hidden sweetness below. I’d love to hear about it. (Just FYI, I nearly didn’t get up to type this blog. The sweet thief strikes again.) 


Check out my promo video for my children’s book below. Thank you for your support!


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Scared Great

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have spent most of my life paralyzed by fear, making choices based on what others would think, what I felt I was expected to do, and what I believed I could do perfectly. I rarely challenged myself to go outside of my “box” for fear of failure, criticism, rejection, … you name it. Well, yesterday, as I read my Facebook friend’s status, I realized her month of gratitude had come to a close. For the entire month of November, she posted a status each day of something she was grateful for. I thought it was an awesome idea and a real challenge. I mean, it’s a lot easier to gripe via Facebook than to be positive and find thirty things that you’re happy about, much less to commit to doing it publicly. So I thought to myself, “Hmmm… I wonder what can I commit to for a month.” Then I heard, “do it afraid.” The words of my dear friend—and fellow blogger—Danielle Navonne, rushed back to me from our conversation earlier that night. We had talked about how fear was keeping me from making major advances regarding my new children’s book. So, I decided last night that I will commit to facing my fears every day for one month.

For the entire month of December, I will push myself to do one thing each day that freaks me out, totally terrifies me, and pushes me forward, exposing the greatness within me. I am going to “scare myself great!”

Why don’t you join me? For the entire month of December, do something each day that you’ve been putting off because of fear—something that you know you should be doing, or have wanted to do, that will push you forward (not backwards ;)). This month just started so just do two things today, that terrify you and you’ll be caught up. 😉 Whether it is to join a meetup group for songwriters, sign up for that half marathon, finally say “hi” to the cute chick in your building, or pass out flyers to strangers for your upcoming book signing, do it.

I learned yesterday, as I walked up on strangers handing them flyers, that the stories we tell ourselves about what is going to happen when we put ourselves “out there” are typically far worse than what actually happens. The gas station attendant didn’t yell, “GET OUT OF HERE! NO SOLICITING!” and throw my flyers on the ground. She actually said, “Good for you! I’m glad to help. Put your flyers here on the counter, where people can see them.” Surprisingly, most people were very happy for me. I’m glad I overcame myself and did it.

Publicly outing myself about this on my blog was my challenge for today, although, I may do a few more terrifying things before I go to bed. (It’s a little addictive once you get going.) I think this will be great for you as it is already paying off for me. So, what will be your terrifying thing, today? Tell me below, how will you scare yourself great?


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Just Do It!

Last month I challenged myself to spend all of December scaring myself into my greatness. In short, I made a conscious decision to do things that I normally would avoid because they were “too scary” or just “not me.” So last month I took my introverted self to a huge natural hair event (organized by Rachel O.), the following weekend I hosted my first book signing for my new children’s book (I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!™), and my scariest undertaking of all… drumroll please…. I registered for Fear Experiment 4!


What is Fear Experiment 4?

FE4 is an amazing opportunity for people like myself to face our fears in an environment of support and … mutual terror. I, for example, am completely terrified of doing anything that I am not great at. I’m a bit of a perfectionist. So every time I find a typo in my blog (I know you’ve already found some), I fight the urge to crawl under a rock and never blog again. I like to be prepared, rehearsed, and virtually incapable of failure at all times so what better class to sign up for than improv? Yeah, I signed up for IE3, which means that on Friday, April 5th, at 8pm, I will be on stage at the Park West intentionally making a fool of myself, in front of seven hundred plus people! I am so excited and completely terrified at the same time that I can hardly wait for Thursday’s rehearsal. I’m looking forward to sharing this awesome experience with 17 of the most amazing people who, like me, dared to scare themselves great.

Fear Experiment 4 - Improv

IE3 – 17 of the most courageous people on Earth!

So, enough about me. What are you going to do to scare yourself into your greatness? What decision will you make today that will push you a little bit closer to your goals? How can you challenge yourself to do the thing that you’ve been telling yourself for years is “too scary” or just not you? I had a dream the other day where I told someone “every decision you make either brings you closer to your dreams or farther away from them.” Stop wasting time thinking of every reason (or excuse) for not doing something challenging. Just do it. My thirty-day journey in December helped me realize that scaring myself great is the way I want to live my life. I decided a few weeks ago that I was going to guide my 2013 by Nike’s signature phrase, “Just do it.” Being afraid is not an excuse anymore. I hesitate each time I tell a new person about my children’s book, and quite frankly, I am terrified about getting up on that stage April 5th. But I am more afraid of living a life that is less than what I want for myself and my family. So the next time a great opportunity comes your way, don’t talk yourself out of it. If it’s going to move you forward, JUST DO IT!

If you’d like to come out and support us in April at the Park West in Chicago. Click the link below for more details! I’d love your support. Maybe it’ll inspire you.

*** TICKETS TO FEAR EXPERIMENT 4 ON SALE NOW! Click here for tickets and information.***

************* UPDATE *************

The show was beyond awesome! We received a standing ovation. The experience shook me so far out of my fears I can barely recognize the person I was before. It has been tremendous for me socially and in networking. Find away to shake off what’s inhibiting to you.

We now join the list of greats who've performed at the Park West!

We now join the list of greats who’ve performed at the Park West!

(Hint: if it doesn’t feel REALLY uncomfortable, it probably won’t do the trick.)

Oh, and we got a standing ovation. :)

Nothing like a standing ovation from 700 people.

Read my previous post “Scared Great” to hear the full story.


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