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Dreamboard: Be You, Be Brave. Check off that to-do list.

One of the very first steps towards fulfilling your dreams is to allow yourself to dream. One would think that was pretty easy, right? Eh — not so easy. Since our world hasn’t traditionally been very keen to providing women and girls (especially LGBTQ, poor/working class, non-traditional, disabled, women of color) support or resources to fulfill our dreams, it’s not that easy for us to feel free enough to create, defy boundaries, and DREAM up things that seem damn near impossible.

Instead, we’re often underestimated, undermined, and/or just simply undervalued.

Fortunately, it is possible to have the wherewithal not to give up-at least on my watch. Imagine for today that you have all of the resources at your disposal to dream big. Imagine for today (and afterwards) that you are fully resourced and have access to all the resources you will need to make your dreams come true. You are safe to dream.

You ready? Start by taking inventory of yourself as a resource. Yes, you. YOU ARE A HUGE RESOURCE.

Consider this: Past as resource. Present as resource. Future as to-do list.

PAST: Take inventory of who you were before this very moment. What experiences affected you? Friends? Family? List out the words that describe you.

I was the first one in my family to be born in the United States. My family didn’t have much. As an effect, I started off in the world pretty shy, nervous, and timid. Since I was the oldest child in my family, I had to learn how to be a leader. As a first generation Vietnamese girl, I was an interpreter for my parents and grandparents. As is the case for many children of immigrant parents, I learned how to be a translator and to be very resourceful. Remember, we didn’t have much. And with those leadership skills, I found myself a young advocate for immigrant rights and for women (there was more violence in my family and community than should have been — but that’s for another blog).

PRESENT: Fast forward today. What resources do you have now? What recent experiences have contributed to your resources? What jobs?

Through those previous experiences, I survived and am currently thriving. So if I can do it? You can believe I am know you are capable.

Back to my resources: I am still sometimes a bit unsure of myself, but that’s a work in progress. Today I can confidently say that I am a survivor. Not everyone can say that in addition to being the first person to go to college in my family, I’ve experienced violence and witnessed premature deaths (including that of my dad from cancer — but that’s another blog too). None of that was easy, but I did it and am living to blog about it. And not many can say that they survived not one, but TWO brain surgeries from a rare brain disease (I can’t make this stuff up). All of this health madness happened while I was in between finishing up a Master’s degree in Women Studies and getting a teacher credential. I worked really damn hard and with the help of very dear friends, I finished both. I was a sexual assault counselor and high school teacher. Which means, I am so very resourceful, dedicated to women’s issues, and am extremely grateful for my life and friends. Oh and I am kinda smart. (It’s taken a lot of self-work to admit this publicly, btw. Women are taught to be overhumble — whatever that means). So I used those skills and resources to get to where I am today. There’s lots of room for improvement, but I am proud of who I have become. It took A LOT OF WORK.

I believe in ambition and I believe that women can make profound differences so I followed the drive within me and used my resources to earn a PhD in Education from UC Berkeley (studying race, gender, and violence). Man, that wasn’t easy. I now run a research center that teaches women and girls how to do research across the country so that they can solve their own problems.

My previous experiences have brought me to this point. And I follow my passions, which has always been to be an advocate for women/girls and to work towards real change. Through all of this, I am fully aware that I need a team to make my dreams come true. And I believe in helping others to check off their dream list, so I am a teamplayer. Through this lifetime, I am fully aware that I am brave. I am brave b/c I have learned to not be afraid of myself, my experiences, of reaching out and using my resources to make my dreams reality. #teamworkmakesthedreamwork.

Future: And now here we are ready to make a list of dreams based upon our past and present selves. How can we draw from our experiences and our resources to help us determine where to go next? How else to dream? And to make those dreams a reality? What does your history, your responses to things, that intuition, that drive in you tell you to do? And it can be the most randomest thing in the world. The more random, probably the better.

My dream is to tell my story to others so that they are inspired to live, to thrive, to dream, and to use those dreams as a damn to-do list. I want to travel the world, to inspire women and girls to dream. And I think that maybe one day, I want to write a book to tell the world all the things that I just couldn’t make up (things that make me quite sure that I am pretty damn fortunate to be here- stay tuned). I want to inspire people, especially women and girls, to never give up. #wegotthis and if we don’t yet, we will figure out how to do it.

For now, I want us to know that we are safe to dream. Use yourself, your resources, your friends and their resources to dream. Be you. Be brave. Use your story to help you dream. Check off that to-do list of dreams.

And when you’re ready, you inspire others to do the same. #teamworkmakesthedreamwork

ou get to your dreams - to actually dreaming them and then fulfilling them through knowing yourself: your truths, your reality, your story — you.

Be creative with your dreams + make them your very own. Don’t apologize for your dreams, but do get them done. Remember: Your dreamboard is your to-do list.

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