By Andrea M. Winn, MEd
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Many of us have become jaded by the “realities” of life, and we have forgotten how to open our hearts and to dream. We have forgotten how to share the best of ourselves and perhaps most tragic, we have forgotten that we can make a positive difference in the lives of actual people.
I’m a dream whisperer, and my career as a dream whisperer began at Times Change Women’s Employment Service. Times Change offers career and educational counselling, a wide range of computer services and a comprehensive resource centre, all free of charge to women seeking employment. I’m going to share about how they gave me the gift of dreaming and how to operationalize my dream.
Before Times Change
I had a non-traditional upbringing in a Tibetan Buddhist community. The main value I was socialized with was to relieve suffering in the world.
When I was 21, I felt I needed to get serious and decide a career path. At the same time, I had just gone through some pretty traumatic life experiences. My parents divorced and I was raped by a stranger. These experiences were overwhelming, and I felt no space to dream or explore my special gifts. So I chose a safe career, which in the 1980’s was software development.
After completing a Masters of Computer Science, I easily got a job in IBM’s Toronto Software Development Lab as a Software Developer. I had a stellar first year at IBM and was nominated for Rookie of the Year.
However, after my first year, things began to unravel. I valued good communication and relieving suffering in the world, and this was a poor match for IBM’s strong corporate values. I grew unhappy and spiraled into a depression. My doctor took me off work and I went on long-term disability for a couple of years. During that time I participated in a lot of individual and group therapy, and I also took training in mediation and business.
Things were really tough during this period of time. I was psychologically fragmented and I had little money – at one point I couldn’t afford to buy food or pay my rent, and I had to move in with a friend.
Coming to Times Change
When I was starting to rise up out of the depression, the same friend I had moved in with suggested I go to Times Change Women’s Employment Service. Since they are funded, I was able to access their services at no charge.
Up until then I had been struggling deeply and I was alone in that struggle. Times Change was an island of sanity for me at a very, very challenging time. The culture there is kind, encouraging and supportive. I no longer felt alone, but rather a part of a caring, wise women’s community where I received a much-needed professional career service.
I enrolled in the Career Planning course and got individual employment counseling. The career planning course is a well-thought out course – the curriculum carefully supports a journey of self-discovery – specifically tailored to women. It gave me the space to look at what is important to me – my values – and what kind of employment would resonate with me.
Through the Career Planning course I uncovered hidden resources that went untapped in my career as a software developer. Two important resources were:
- I am a capable spiritual guide – I grew up in a Tibetan Buddhist community and have a lifetime of experience in advanced meditation practices.
- My passion to be a healer – having gone through my own healing journey, I have highly developed intuition and a powerful toolkit of healing strategies
After much research and wrestling in the Career Planning course, I decided to become a therapist. My friends immediately loved my decision and said it suited my personality so much better than working at IBM!
Where the Times Change program has led me…
I went on to do a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology at OISE/UT specializing in treating trauma. I have also done extensive business training.
I bring my healing and business expertise into my current work as a dream whisperer. I coach soul-inspired, heart-centered women who are struggling in unfulfilling work. I have developed a Dream Employment Discovery Method where I guide women through healing their hearts, identifying their career dreams and goals, and then creating a step-by-step plan for focused action to bring those career dreams and goals into reality.
Times Change was crucial to my journey. It was through their Career Planning course that I finally opened to becoming a healer and guide to relieve suffering in the world. This empowers people so they can be healthy contributing citizens. It obviously suits me and it is my biggest way of contributing to society.
In preparing this story I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t found Times Change, and I was a bit stumped. I think I would have continued making limited, safety-oriented career decisions that would have kept me in unfulfilling work and I never would have brought my unique gifts for helping people forward.
Thanks to Times Change, I was given the gift of creating my dream career, and now I make my livelihood helping others create their dream careers. To read more about Times Change and to donate to this important community organization, go to www.timeschange.org.