@Inle Lake, Myanmar (Burma) after a 2 day trek in January, 2014

The past 4 days have been dreamy.

…Literally! Each day I’ve discussed dreams with people that have come to mean a lot to me. It went like this:

Friday afternoon – Defining and Manifesting Dreams
– Bending Reality internal talk by our CEO Vishen Lakhiani, my favorite talk during my 2 years at Mindvalley.

Friday night – Supporting Dreams
– Sorting 300 pieces of clothes donated by our colleagues to 2 of our Incitement Growth refugee schools

Saturday morning – Sharing Dreams
– Incitement Growth monthly session #3 for 12-15 year olds at a Burmese refugee school, topic – “Achieving Dreams” …with 4 big bags of donated clothes in tow :)
– My co-founder Yu Jin and I gave talks on where our dreams started, how they’ve evolved, how the students are a part of our dreams, and inspirations on nurturing dreams (all to be summarized in a later post)

Saturday lunch – Evolving Dreams
– Incitement Growth team chat on how we’ll integrate service into our travels and explore it in our careers

Saturday night – Contextualizing Dreams
– Incitement Growth ladies time – discussed our backgrounds, our challenges, and our journeys as volunteers

Sunday afternoon – Drawing Dreams
– Put crayon to paper to visualize and connect our visions of our ideal world in our friends’ new initiative, Rocking the World

Sunday night – Booking Dreams
– Booked 2 Mon-Fri trips in late April to dive one of the top dive spots in the world, Sipadan, Malaysia, & climb the limestone rocks of Halong Bay, Vietnam, hopefully deep water solo so I can let go and fall into the ocean!

Monday lunch – Working on Dreams
– Lovely zen lunch with a friend reflecting on the past year and pondering future plans

Monday dinner – Everything Happens for a Reason :)
– Catch up with a close friend after a week separate on our latest insights of ourselves, others, and our journeys

…All this with people from across the world and different walks of life! Plus 2 virtual catch up sessions with friends from home and discussing shenanigans with the roomie. It’s all been incredibly inspiring….

Among many reasons, I had started this blog a few weeks (finally!) ago to share how my travel dots connect.

For those that don’t know, my friends and I started an organization 1.5 years ago running programs with several refugee schools across Kuala Lumpur to inspire, empower, and equip teenagers with the skills and confidence to take an active role in their present and futures, using public speaking as a key tool to achieve this. 

This Saturday’s Incitement Growth “Achieving Dreams” session connected the dots that started from my first teaching experience once upon a summer in Morocco.

Back then, I taught my advanced English students about general profession names. I asked them to throw out what they knew. Baker! Bus driver! Cook! Teacher! Waiter! Taxi driver! Newspaper boy! …..to jog their active minds, I asked  questions like, “Who do you see if you are very sick?” Doctor! “And if you get in trouble with the law?” A lawyer? “And if you want to fly into the sky, or space?” That’s when I taught them the advanced word ‘astronaut’.

But teacher teacher! We can’t be any of these things…

“Oh? Why?”

We can’t… We must help our families….The government doesn’t want us to….

I was speechless. I was 19 – the same age as the oldest students. Having grown up in the US, sheltered but vaguely aware of the world, all I knew was a world where you could be anything you set your mind to if you worked hard for it. That you could start with no money and make a good, secure life for your family. It was the “American dream.” It’s why the US is so diverse. My parents did it. So theirs could do it too, right?

My students’ circumstances were so far from what I knew. They understood the limitations they saw and were told. They took them as their own. It was all they knew.

I didn’t know really what to reply except that I did believe each of them could achieve whatever they set their minds to, if they worked hard and never gave up. I repeated this several times, wondering if I was the first person to ever tell them this. The students nodded their heads with their usual happy and curious, slightly quizzical looks. I left that class torn and the lesson unfinished in my mind and heart…

…But this Saturday gave me another chance. What I didn’t say to my students in Morocco, what I didn’t yet know, I had the opportunity to share 7 years later and halfway across the world in our session to a group of Burmese refugee pre-teens in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Through the first 1.5 hours of our session, I gathered thoughts and came up with a list of something that can be for all of us:

10 Ways to Nurture Your Dreams

1) Don’t set limitations on your dreams.
Indeed, you can achieve your dreams. So define your dreams, but don’t hold to it so tightly that it cannot change shape as you grow. Refine and alter the shape of your vision and mission as needed, as you see best fits you.

2) Look to your surroundings and resources, to all that you have.
Focus your energy on everything you have – these are the resources that will help you make your dream a reality, not what you don’t have. Get perspective and seek alternate solutions with what you’re given. Resources and technology are exponentially more accessible and of quality. If you cannot learn something you desire in school, nor able to receive training, look online, to friends or your community.

(these next few came inspired by Vishen’s talk the day before)

3) Understand your dream and take action steps
Recognize what your dream is and take action. Baby steps are small wins that will take bigger strides with time, practice, and patience. Don’t forget to celebrate them! Nothing great went down in history without that first baby step. 

4) Start expecting dreams to happen
Expect your dreams to happen, act accordingly, and they will find a way to manifest itself. Think and work forward with the mindset that you’ve already achieved your dreams. How will you live your life when you’ve achieved your dreams? Your mindset will guide you to make the decisions to get there. Trust these decisions.

5) Appreciate your dream
Embrace your dreams with gratitude, appreciate them, and smile on their role in your life.

6) You can change, evolve, or add dreams as needed
Mary, a 12-year old Burmese girl I spoke with in our small group activity asked me, Teacher – if you change your dreams, then you don’t achieve any of your dreams!  That’s one way of looking at it, but your dreams will change or evolve for the best. Within your new dream lies your greatest contribution to yourself and the world.

Mary dreamed at first to be the president of Myanmar when she grew up (it’d be cool as a woman and I can make a change to my country!). But when she saw many people in her village dying of illnesses, when her older sister died because they waited, then couldn’t reach the closest hospital in time (2 days away), Mary decided she wanted to be a doctor. She wanted to protect the poor when they are sick. Her dream changed as her heart and mind did, and herself, her work, and the world will be better for it.

7) Don’t fret over the ‘how’
No need to stress about all the “how’s” of your dreams. People, new ideas, innovations, smarter technology… things will happen ‘organically’ with time that will help you achieve your dreams. So know what you have accessible, but don’t stress over how to design your path. The world is in it together. 

8) Ask ‘why’?
Find a dream’s essence. A young boy in our group, Mac – shared that he wanted to be a gospel singer. I asked why, and he replied he liked singing. After some more why’s, he realized that he wanted to give people the feeling of warmth, understanding, and empowerment that he feels deeply inside when he listens to and sings gospel music. Understand your bigger picture and higher purpose.

9) Share your dreams with others 
Share your dreams. We can support each others’. As Vishen says, “Feel free to add others’ dreams to your list. There is no monopoly on dreams.”

In my final English class in Morocco, I taught the class homonyms – two or more words that share sound or spelling but have different meanings, ie. I ‘read‘ a book’ and ‘that apple is ‘red‘. We spoke about dreams – daydreams, night dreams, our dreams. I asked my students what their dreams were. They replied to have a big family, take care of them, to be happy, and travel Morocco. They asked me, and I actually didn’t know really what to say. My first thoughts were to love and care for my family, to be happy, to travel, and to give back. …Teacher teacher! We all have the same dream!!!

You may find some dreams are universal and bind us all together.

10) Try your best for your dreams and take it easy.
I ended this list with what my mom tells me. Try your best for your dreams, but don’t forget to take it easy. Know how lucky you are and enjoy life. :)

 photo (16)

And the lucky part?

Dreams don’t discriminate against anyone in our world :)

 

Mary is second on the right!