Daring Women Dream
. . . plus, the big reveal of my next exciting (and scary) goal

Click below if you prefer to listen.

A few weeks ago, a woman asked me, “Tonya, what’s your BIG dream?

Y’all, this question brings tears to my eyes.

I feel like I’ve been growing into my dreams since I was a child.

When I was 12 years old, my big dream was to win The North Carolina Rhododendron Princess.

For three years in a row, I won second runner-up.

Always a trophy. Never a crown.

Next, I fantasized about having a home that didn’t have wheels.

Yes, I grew up in a trailer.

I’ll never forget my parents announcing that they were going to build a house.

Two story.

Fancy.

I was beyond excited.

In the evenings, I’d look at the plans drawn up by the architect and dream of sleepovers, walking down the stairs to the dinner table and all the other things I imagined happened in “real” houses.

One day, out of the blue, my mom came home and announced we were buying a double-wide.

I was devastated.

Dream. Poof.

At some point — between divorce, bills coming in faster than the money and everyone’s expectations, I stopped dreaming.

It was too painful and disappointing.

Plus, I was barely surviving.

Dreams were what happened in movies, not my life.

But, here’s the thing about dreams.

They nag at you.

You may try, but you can’t . . .

. . .eat them away.

. . . shop them away.

. . .work them away.

Trust me, I tried.

You’ll be reminded of what you once dreamed of. Whether it’s while reading a book, watching a movie, or seeing someone in the line at Starbucks, you’ll feel a nagging feeling in your soul asking you to listen.

Why we stop dreaming

As kids, we loved to dream.

Dreaming was natural and part of learning and growing.

We’d imagine becoming doctors and ballerinas.

It was fun because a part of us believed that our dreams could come true.

However, after disappointments and the flood of negative beliefs that enters our minds, dreaming becomes hard and painful.

You doubt that your dreams are possible.

You start to look for all the reasons it can’t happen.

It’s hard to want something that you think you can’t have. So, you begin to shrink into the background of your life.

And, this is where so many women I work with find themselves.

Be daring enough to dream

As I was preparing for this episode, I started to think about when I allowed myself to dream again.

I do recall when Sarah (my daughter) was a little girl watching her sleep and thinking, I want more for her than what I’m doing.

A wise woman once told me, “Don’t tell your kids how to live; show them.”

I was showing her how to live with fear, how to shrink and hide and how to put everyone else’s needs above my own.

Y’all, it’s painful being so brutally honest with yourself, but I didn’t like the life I was showing my daughter.

But, I didn’t know where to start, so I started small.

My dream was to get healthier.

Now, thinking back, this isn’t a small dream, especially when you’ve let yourself go. Not to mention, if you don’t have your health, nothing really matters.

But, I wasn’t dreaming of building a business or traveling around the world. That was too impossible at the time, so health it was.

I started taking walks every single day.

At first, I could barely walk a quarter of a mile without becoming winded, but I kept walking.

I started creating my health.

With every walk and decision that supported my health, I was becoming more confident, empowered and hopeful.

These seemingly little daily actions were creating momentum for more dreaming.

As I tell clients all the time:

The best part of reaching a goal is who you become in the process.

So, I kept dreaming and showing up.

I remember dreaming of being a food and wine writer.

It seemed so exotic and fun — traveling to food and wine festivals, sipping wine in cellars, being treated like royalty at restaurants.

So, first step was to go to sommelie school.

Did I mention that I am a country bumpkin at my core?

Seriously, y’all! The extent of my wine experience was Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill (I know some of you know exactly what I am talking about.).

As far as cheese go, the fanciest cheese I had ever tried was Sharp Cheddar (the Piggly Wiggly brand).

So, I had a big learning curve, but I kept following my dream.

Two years later, I was asked to be the food and wine writer for a regional magazine. It was not as romantic as I had imagined, but I checked off another dream, nevertheless.

Big Dreams come with Big Doubt

I wish someone had pulled us all aside in school and explained the nuts and bolts of dream making.

I believed that if a dream was possible, it would feel easy and you’d be 100% self-assured.

What I didn’t realize is that when you have a dream (something you want to create/experience/become) that doesn’t exist right now, it’s going to be super uncomfortable.

And, the bigger that dream, the bigger the doubt.

However, now I know: it’s supposed to be that way.

I believe dreams serve two purposes:

PURPOSE #1 = Dreams are the roadmap to your destiny.

I know. This is so cliche, but it’s true. Everyone wants something different, and that’s because everyone’s unique and has an original destiny. Knowing what you want is KEY to creating a life you love.

PURPOSE #2 = Dreams are an invitation to grow.

To create something you’ve never had, you must become someone you’ve never been. I’ve been thinking lately that, perhaps, this is the true purpose of our dreams: to help us evolve as humans.

So, of course, when you have a dream, you’re going to have all kinds of limiting beliefs come up.

I can’t do this.
I’m too old.
I don’t know how.
That’s not possible.
I may fail.
I’m not ready.

This is just the minds attempt to keep you where you are. The mind likes the familiar, the known and the predictable.

But, dear friend, everything you desire and don’t yet have is in that place of the unknown.

You must be willing to step into it, even if you’re shaking in your stilettos or sneakers.

Serious question:

Are you going to listen to your doubt or to your dream?

When you look back at your life, how do you want to feel about the risks you took, the dreams you went after and who you became in the process?

But, daring women dream.

Women try really hard to convince me that they don’t have dreams.

Some pretend to not know.

Others give me the “I’m content, so I’m not interested” speech.

Here’s what I know: every woman has a dream.

It may be to have the most fantastic garden in town or go back to school, but inside of you are dreams and desires:

What if you were willing to allow yourself to want what you want without apology?

What if you stopped listening to the doubt?

What if you really went for it?

What if you didn’t believe being content and dreaming had to be exclusive of one another?

What if you stopped being confused about what you want?

I want you to consider that life would become this thrilling playground full of possibility, opportunities and chances for you to grow as a human being.

Sure, it’s uncomfortable and scary, but . . .

You’re capable of feeling the price that comes with living a dream life.

Give yourself credit.

You’ve most likely already experienced hardship; why not feel discomfort on purpose and go after your dreams?

My daring new dream.

First, a little story.

Earlier this year, I had a layover in the Dallas Fort Worth airport.

And this seeming stranger approached me.

“Excuse me. Are you Tonya Leigh?”

“Yes, I am,” I replied a little shocked that a stranger knew me.

“I thought that was you. I’m Mary Beth. I’ve been following your work for years and I just wanted to tell you how you’ve really helped me.”

She went on to explain that her husband left and her mother died all within six months of each other.

Life had knocked her down and since that time, she had stopped dreaming of a better life.

She was stuck and afraid.

However, through reading my blog and listening to the podcast, she was starting to see a flicker of light.

I tell you this story because it has to do with my dream.

For so long, I was like Mary Beth.

I had lost my light.

I felt lost.

However, after years of practicing what I preach, my light is shining bright.

And, I want to share what I’ve learned with as many women as possible.

My big dream is to reach one million women in the next five years.

In an effort to give you a better idea of how far my team and I have to go, I have been doing this work in the world for close to 10 years and we currently have around 80,000 active email subscribers to French Kiss Life.

[note: If you’re not yet an FKL insider, go here to grab our manifesto and you won’t miss a thing.

So reaching 1,000,0000 women in 5 years is a pretty big goal.

Needless to say, just saying this dream out loud to you and the thousands of other readers and listeners, it is equally scary and exciting.

Of course, there’s that little voice in my head that says,

“Girl, who do you think you are?”
“You may fail in front of the entire world.”
“Don’t forget where you came from.”

But, I’m committed to feeding my dream, not my doubt.

I do not want to be that woman who gives up when her dream becomes too big or too hard.

I don’t want to let “impossible” stop me.

I do not want to be that woman who is sitting in her rocking chair at 90-years old wondering, “What if?”

I do not want to be that woman who told her daughter how to live but never really lived it herself.

I want to see what I’m capable of in this lifetime.

I want to be an example of what’s possible.

I want to see how much I can expand.

I want to see how much joy I can generate.

I want to see how many styles I can create.

I want to see what’s possible.

Call it stubborn. Call it insanity.

Or simply call it a woman with a dream.

So, yes, I want French Kiss Life to touch the lives of one million women in the next five years.

I’m clear.

I’m determined.

I’m passionate.

And, I’m committed.

In the next week, I’m going to unveil something that I’ve been working on behind the scenes that’s part of making this dream come true.

Here’s a hint: it’s been a long time coming and is much bigger than me.

As a member of French Kiss Life, I hope my dream inspires you to dream bigger.

Now, I must ask you:

Are you daring enough to dream?

Don’t be confused.

Don’t pretend to not know.

Don’t run from the doubt.

Tell me: What is your dream?

Share it in the comments below.

Heads up: We’ll be continuing this conversation over the next few weeks, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled on your inbox.

And, if you’re not already a French Kiss Life Insider, go here to join us so you don’t miss a thing.

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34 Responses to Daring Women Dream
. . . plus, the big reveal of my next exciting (and scary) goal

  1. Hi Tonya! Thanks for the reminder to “become someone you’ve never been.” I want to be a travel/memoir essayist…to travel and write. I want to visit NYC at least once a year and Paris and London…the list of places is long. I want to share these adventures with my husband and my children.

    I want to be a 58 year old fashionista and model for women who are pro-age.

    Those are my big dreams!

  2. You really got me when you said “don’t tell your kids how to live, show them.” You, and a family support group, have helped me to come a long way, but I’ve got a long way to go! My dream is to be a paid writer and speaker in the personal-growth industry and to mentor people who have gone through crises and want to rise above. Of course, travel is at the top of the list as well.

    • Hi Julie,

      What I know is that you can create it if you can imagine it.

      And, what I remind myself all the time is that the only length I have to go is the very next step.

      You’ve got this!

  3. Love you, Tonya. I think this is a wonderful dream (But I bet it will happen to you in 2 years!) I really hope I can go to Paris with you before you get so huge!

    My dream is to design a gorgeous home with a balcony library. I also want to have a flourishing career as a writer. When I write, the words and ideas flow. Millions of people read and love my books. I also write a show for television I have been dying to write.

    On the side, I want to create a business that connects women around the world through books, writing, and tea.

  4. This is beautiful, and brought tears to my eyes! And while I’m not quite ready to share my big dream (I’m not even sure I’m 100% clear about it 🙂 ), this post really resonates with me on so many levels. My journey started years ago when I picked up a little book called “The Dream Giver”. And even though I had no idea what I was going to encounter on the way to fulfilling my dream, that little book spoke to me in a huge way. I’m looking so forward to hanging out with your community Tonya and watching all this unfold – it’s very exciting! xoxo

    • Yes, challenges and obstacles are part of the dream journey, and unfortunately, no one really teaches us about the process, so I see so many women give up too soon and become discouraged. I’m SO excited for what’s next for you.

      I’m so grateful to have you in the community and as a part of my dream, Ginny.

  5. Tonya, I’m SO GLAD that woman came up to you in DFW with your message. You HAVE impacted so many of us for the better, so much gratitude for that! You continue to inspire me personally – you are one of the FEW self-improvement people I continue to follow, year after year just because of who you are & how you say it so authentically & approachably. Here’s to reaching those 1M women! The world will certainly be a better place as you move toward this big, hairy, audacious goal.

  6. Thank you Tonya. Very thought provoking words. I think I know what my dream life looks like, but it seems to keep changing. I cancelled my company yesterday and find trying to stay on my feet while directing a future an interesting challenge. Your posts give me hope to keep dreaming something and take the baby steps that make each day a part of my dream life no matter what.

    • Creating dreams is always an interesting challenge, and what no one tells us is how uncomfortable it is, but you’re doing it.

      Baby steps (and perhaps big leaps) all the way!

  7. “I want to be an example of what’s possible” This has been my dream for 7 years now, and I’m nearer to it than I was! Thanks for your continued inspiration!

  8. Tonya never fails to deliver!I truly enjoyed & connected with this. Thanks for all the work you’re doing, for keeping it ‘stylishly’ real & for showing the way.

  9. Wow! This one hit me hard. When I was younger I had SO many dreams and I’ve allowed life ( and relentless self-doubt ) to kick them to the curb. Thank you so much for these amazing words of encouragement. I know you’ll make your dream come true in no time. And now, time for me to start dusting off some dreams of my own.

    • Yes, dust off those dreams, Heidi!

      Stay tuned for the next podcast, as I’ll be addressing other things to consider when dreaming and scheming.

  10. It’s true…all true. I chose to “do the work” as Tonya says and amazing things continue to happen. Thank you, Tonya. Look forward to our next adventures together.

  11. I think you are just amazing and I admire you greatly. I have a lot of the “I can’t dos’. I am too old etc. {I am 74}. Right now my dream is to survive the break up of my marriage. Been married 52 years and my sister just stole my husband from me. She was my favorite sister and visited us a lot.

    • I’m so sorry for their betrayal. I pray you get over it soon and become happy again. I hope you follow your dreams. It’s never too late.

    • Thank you, Anne-Lisbeth!

      Listen: you’re never too old and you CAN create a life you love (no matter what’s happened in the past).

      I’m really sorry you have had to go through this.

      Please be gentle with your heart as processing grief takes time.

  12. I have pretty much been married my entire adult life (first marriage 7 years (no kids) second marriage 21 years 2 kids)
    … I have two AMAZING sons 12 and 14 years old.
    My spouse is pretty disconnected from m, and that part of my life is not really worth mentioning, I believe I am all wrong for him (however, I live an amazingly happy life with my kids)
    . But alas, my dream is to travel the world selling my exclusive, luxury, amazing one of a kind chocolates (from Beirut Lebanon) to luxury hotels and spas.. I’m on my way. perhaps I can send you some of my chocolates…..

    Thank you Tonya for all the encouragement that you give others. It’s amazing what a little encouragement and belief can do….

    Nancy Thomas

    • What an amazing dream to fulfill, Nancy!

      Not to mention, it includes one of my favorite things: chocolate!

      Thank you for sharing it with us!

      What’s the name of your brand (so I can keep my eyes on the lookout)?

  13. I am SO excited to see your plan to make your dream happen! A year ago I had goals and dreams for 2018. The first year of my 40’s was going to start with a BANG and I was so excited to pick the word “Strategy” as my word for this year. However, in April I lost my second brother in law in 6 months and grief and family derailed some of my plans…then, I soon became ill and a few months after turning 40 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The last six months My plans and goals and dreams have been about survival and nothing about what they were a year ago.

    Today, I finished chemo. In two weeks I meet with a surgeon (Merry Christmas to me, right?) and for my 41st I will celebrate with radiation. However, with the end of chemo I suddenly feel I am ending one season and going in to a new one. The side effects have been disasterous on me and I stopped dreaming because I couldn’t cope with anything else besides survival and being a wife and mother of 4. Even though it’s far from over, I’m ready to dream again, and dream about more than survival. My goals for this year was to begin my certification as a life coach but now I know that I have more to offer in that area with my new experience of my diagnosis and treatment. I’m ready for those dreams to not be out of reach, even if they have been out on pause for an indefinite amount of time.

    • Oh Sarah,

      I wish I could give you a BIG right now.

      I can’t remember who said it, but “The man with his health has 1,000 dreams; the man without it has one.” Life has a way of throwing us curveballs but you kept playing, which is why you’re still here. The same happened to me 2 years ago when my daughter suddenly became sick. I had BIG dreams but then my BIGGEST dream was to help her get well.

      No matter what we face, I hope we never give up and keep dreaming.

      I’m so excited for your next chapter and deep bow for getting through this one.

      You’re inspiring, my friend!

  14. I want to have the most enchanting home and gardens in my town and to entertain under the trees in the moonlight in the spring. And a fabulous vegetable garden aka potager and cutting garden. And to be really, really healthy and happy and in love with life. And to dress tres chic.

  15. Hi, Tonya, and thank you for your uplifting expressions of a fundamental aspect of our lives as women on Earth! I’m starting out with two very basic dreams – health (nutrition, strength) and to live independently in my own home (view, light). I feel encouraged by your statement: “the best part of reaching a goal is who you become in the process”. It resonates within.

  16. My big dream is to own a lifestyle brand and multiple businesses that bring in 7 figures + a year and travel the world. A quarter of my income will go to animal and environmental charities.

  17. My dream is to write, not novels but short, meaningful life lesson essays. Another is to photograph our changing world. There’s a bit of wanderlust in my heart and bones urging me to see as many fantastic places as possible.

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