Episode 12:  

Learning to Dream Again & Reignite Your Passion & Find a New Community after Loss & Illness

What is holding you back from going after your dreams to start your business or to write a book or launch a podcast, to sell your art or clothing, or to start an online business or gain freedom of time or income or take that trip of a lifetime?  Kristin talks to Dawn Hanlon of Color Me Everything about stepping through the loss of her husband and learning to dream again, reignite her passion, and determine where she fits in the world after a big life transition.  Dawn talks about how gratitude, positivity and finding a new community helped her find her passion and hope again.  She talks about not allowing sorrow or physical deficits (such as Covid Long Haulers that she is recovering from) bring her down by focusing on a positive mindset.  And the role of creativity can help us see new possibilities and help us grow.  You are sure to be inspired by Dawn’s story as she walks through loss, becoming an empty nester, experiencing chronic illness to open a new chapter of her life to build a community around women going through big life transitions and loss through a new online community and podcast.

Let’s start taking action to create and monetize our creative ideas and passions and turn them into thriving businesses- let’s go after our dream work, make more money and spend more time with people we love living our best lives.  And learn how Curiosity, Creativity, Mindset, Communication, Play, and Faith play a role in improving our lives.

How to Connect with Dawn:

Instagram @DawnRanaeHanlon

Facebook Group: Women, Wisdom and Wine (or whatever)

Here is the full episode transcribed:

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Here’s what I want to ask you. What is holding you back? What is the thing that’s holding you back from going after your dreams and from finding meaningful work you love? Aren’t you ready to wake up to the possibilities that are in your life and go after the things you’ve dreamt up? It’s time for you to feel alive again lit up, and for you to know that you’re deserving, and you are worthy for the future that’s waiting for you. I want you to feel fulfilled and find abundance in your life. I think it’s time and I’m ready to help you get started. Now, I’m your host Kristen, of building a life you love. And each week on the show, we’re going to help you figure out how you do go after your dreams and find a work you love. Here we go. Let’s get started. On today’s episode, we’re going to talk to Don Hanlon, she is going to share with us how we still find our strength and our courage, how we have perseverance, and how we find that place in ourselves where we dream again. And we look for new goals when we’ve had a life transition in life challenges, or even health battles. So I think you’re really gonna love this episode, because so many of us can relate to the struggles and the loss that she’s walked through. So let’s listen in. Hi, I would like to welcome to the show today, Don Hanlon, She is the founder of color me everything where she was selling face masks with happy sayings and things to get people to start a conversation. And she is now creating a community in a podcast called beautifully broken, which is bringing people together and having conversations around things that have happened in our lives, life altering events, and how we figure out how to redefine ourselves. I’d like to welcome her to the show.

Unknown Speaker 1:45
Hello, how are you?

Unknown Speaker 1:46
I’m great, Don, I would love it. If you can share a little bit more with the listeners about your background, what you’ve done in sort of how you find yourself. And in this new, you know, moving into this new opportunity for 37 years,

Unknown Speaker 1:59
I’ve been a nurse, and I’ve been taking care of terminally ill patients for pediatric through adult wife, mother of six. And then three years ago, my husband died. And all my kids grew up and moved out of the house. And I found myself no longer wife, no longer mom that was caretaker and really big changes all at once. And it was a little bit daunting and kind of scary to try to figure out who I was or fit in the world and had to try to reinvent myself and wasn’t sure which way to go.

Unknown Speaker 2:33
Yeah. And I think you know, so many people find themselves there, whether it’s, you know, they’re widowed at some point, or many people become empty nesters, and many other things are in a career for a long time. And at some point you you look up and realize it might not be fulfilling you anymore, or I had other dreams how to 30 years past Do you have advice for people that find themselves having gone through a life altering event, and they’re trying to redefine themselves understand their identity in the world and how they can add to their identity or cheat, you know, move into a new identity? Did you have things in tools or mindset changes or work that helped you through that that

Unknown Speaker 3:10
first part of that actually, it started with just every day making a thankful list and three things I was thankful for. Because it was so easy to always get bogged down by the negative and all of the things that were no longer my life. So that thankful list grew every day. And it became easier and easier every day to see what there was to be thankful for. And then I started to see more positives around me. And I started reaching out to other people and looking for people that were like me to create new friendships and new bonds with like minded people. And that was very helpful and very supportive. Because even though we were in the same position now, our stories, our lives leading up to that point, were very different. So we had different perspectives, but didn’t matter how we got there. We were in the same place now which created a bond.

Unknown Speaker 4:06
Yeah, that’s good. I like that, you know, one, it’s, it really does. Everything really starts to shift in us with our mind read our thinking and our thoughts and what we allow in there. So I think that’s a good good advice. I like to say, you know, we kind of need a mind gatekeeper. If we’re thinking positive thoughts. That’s good, keep doing that. But if we find ourselves having negative, or thoughts that don’t serve us, we need to be able to catch that thought. Let me look at for what this really is. And can I make this better? So and then I love you’re thankful, you know, what am I thankful for list, obviously, you are in a major loss. That’s a hard thing to go through a lot of sorrow, but seeing the great things in your life and that you do have these six wonderful grown children. I can see how that battle starts to shift your mind. So I think that’s a lovely idea for people. Let me ask you, what about as you started to connect with people, right, you started reaching out to people you started being more thankful? How did you just Then to say, okay, you know, I want to try this, this business opportunity selling masks, and then now you’re taking a much bigger leap and working to build this community. And soon, I guess, in May launching a podcast called beautifully broken,

Unknown Speaker 5:14
what happened was people kept coming to me and asking me for advice, or your How do you stay so positive. And that’s where the masks came in. With everyone being socially distanced, I kept saying, that doesn’t mean we can’t be social. So having masks that, say, have a great day, or I’m smiling, are you to start conversations or just to have some sort of interaction, because what I was finding is that during the COVID, isolating time, people were very much like the widow community where they were finding themselves isolated, and not only interacting with a very small finite group of people, and you kind of lose your ability to interact and communicate, and you lose your empathy. And so I didn’t want that to be lost. And then that had evolved into my desire for the podcast, because people kept coming to me and asking, you know, how can you be this way, you’ve suffered so much. And I just kept saying, every day I choose to be happy every day, I choose to not let my physical or emotional deficits or sorrow, bring me down. And my thought was that if I could do the podcast, by doing that, I would be able to bring on people who have gone through similar things. And they can give, how they have evolved and what their journey was, because someone out there is feeling alone. And then they’ll know they’re not alone. And they’re not the only one that’s traveling this journey.

Unknown Speaker 6:55
Yeah, that’s great. And I think what you said too, about some of the physical or the emotional things that you mentioned. So did you want to mention that a bit about how that impacted your life?

Unknown Speaker 7:05
Yes, I was a homecare nurse, and I contracted COVID from one of my patients, and like everyone else that thought it’d be a couple weeks off work, I would be fine and go back to work. That was five months ago, I ended up with long term or long haulers, COVID, I have memory issues, I have a heart damage, I have a lot of physical ailments that have arisen from my body being in constant COVID fight mode, it’s like it went into fighting the disease and the disease is gone. But my body has not come out of fight mode. So exhaustion, chest pain, shortness of breath, low oxygen levels are what I deal with every day, a headache that started in November and never went away, a UPS truck running in my head constantly 24 seven. So these are tiring, exhausting things in themselves, then add the isolation of not and uncertainty of knowing whether I’ll be able to return to my job. And that brought me to the need to figure out who I am once again, where I belong, what my purpose is, and I have a compelling need to help others. That’s why I have a nurse, I’ve been a nurse for so long. And the podcast is to help me help others in a way that makes me feel like I’m doing something good, and that I’m truly fulfilling the purpose that I was given. I feel like I have a gift of healing and helping and that’s what I’m supposed to do. So this is the way that I can do it. But doesn’t isn’t dictated by my physical or my illness doesn’t make it impossible to do. It’s something I can do. Even if I don’t feel well, I can do it. Yeah. Well, I

Unknown Speaker 8:43
love that you shared that. And the reason is, is to your point is whether we have long term, physical or emotional things that we’re you know, whether it’s a disease or diagnosis, or like in your case, there’s plenty people with with COVID long haul or syndrome. But what I love about it is you still persevere, you still say I can still do stuff. But it just might mean that I have to take break or go rest or not today, right? But the point is, is you still have that passion, that fire and that desire in you. And I love that you shared that because I think we all even if it means we can only put something out into the world for an hour or serve someone else or have a conversation or start something right because now it’s so much easier to start any type of business, right a podcast, a shop online, which I know you’re gonna do that as well with some more products we’ll talk about later, but it’s just there’s so many options. And so I love that even with everything going on and even if you’ve had COVID and you find yourself in a situation, or like you said you’re stepping through sorrow or loneliness, there’s ways to connect with people online and there’s ways to actually serve those communities. So I think that’s fantastic that you shared that part of your journey. I know that you did the masks and you explain that one of the reasons was you wanted to kind of help people to be more social and to feel connection even When we were afraid to be around a lot of people or a lot of people were, and then we weren’t really being social. But then I think you’re transitioning those masks into offering inspirational quotes and prints and things you want to talk about maybe just that step you took to do that, or they were in process. Yes,

Unknown Speaker 10:18
part of the rehab for the memory problems and reading issues that I had with the COVID was, I began reading and so to work on that the speech was stuttering and having speech problems. So I had to read and write a lot. And I started looking at unusual words, words, I didn’t know so that I would have to learn how to say them and memorize the meanings. And I became quite enamored of these unusual words, words that are no longer used in our language, or words we’ve never heard of, but they have beautiful meanings, or the very inspirational and I started writing poetry, again, as part of this, like brain rehab. So I’ve begun taking photos that I’ve taken through the years and taking words that fit the photo. And I’m creating art prints and canvas prints, and then just unusual words, and putting them on T shirts or mugs. And we’ll be having them in my Shopify store, just as a way to help fund the membership program and the podcast and all of that.

Unknown Speaker 11:26
That’s fantastic. And two things that you sort of alluded to, in that what you just said, I just want to mention, one is how creativity can do so many things for us first, is it the creativity, right was what is part of your brain who you were using creativity to try to rehab yourself, right? Because I think you said you did painting too. And so you’re just trying to do new things, because it would help your brain rewire and then make new connections. So I think that’s really cool. And then the other thing is, creativity is the thing that lets us say, this thing could be possible, right? And you were willing to say, Okay, I made this thing as as a rehab practice as a creative practice. But then you realize, wait, this could be something that I offer into the world. And that takes some sort of creative process, right to go through that. So I think that’s really cool. And I think often and I mentioned this other times, we downplay the role of creativity in our lives and in our businesses. But I think it’s just so important. So I love that I’m glad you

Unknown Speaker 12:26
shared that art and music have been the things that have actually helped me to be able to get my brain working more consistently, like it used to, and the physical limitations that I was having the creativity, the crafting, even if it’s with my five year old granddaughter, the crafting has been good for me physically, but it’s also an emotional outlet. And that is very important. Yeah, I

Unknown Speaker 12:53
just had a conversation the other day with a creativity coach. And we basically talked about how creativity is so much, but it’s actually part of it is gives a connection to other people, but it’s also a connection to self, your self expression. I think that’s really wonderful. And I think more people should infuse creativity into their daily or weekly lives. What about any lessons you learned when you reassess your life or tools you use to try to make these new choices and go in a new direction? Was there were resources that you used?

Unknown Speaker 13:23
Well, there’s a lot of self introspection and reflection on what’s important. So you have to look at what are the things that you need in your life? And what are the things that you’d like to have. And when it comes right down to it, connection with other people is this important. So for me, trying to figure out where I fit in the world was my need to be with other people and my need to for my creative outlet, it wasn’t easy to try to figure this out and making connections online and joining Facebook groups and things like that. And then reading and I started with Chicken Soup for the Soul. And you know, I read that many times. And every time I read it, I get a different feeling or a different message, because I’m in a different place in my life. So you can read the same story over and over. But every time you read it, depending on where you are in your life, you get a different message. So I started with that book. And then I went to a woman in the blues and the women in the blues book talks about the things in our life that are hurtful and how we can overcome them. And it talks about all different types of events that happen in women’s lives. And it was hard to read at some times, but it made me stop and think about my life where I was and where I want to go. And that’s important. You have to figure out where you want to go and set a course and just every day remind yourself that you need to move forward. You have a goal. And then Kathy Heller had recommended this one women food and God and it’s about The relationship she had with food as an eating disorder. But when you look at it, it can apply to any type of unhealthy practice in your life and how to overcome it and how to reassess and see the damage being done and how you can overcome it. And again, it’s a different message for everyone because everyone’s in a different place. But it’s the message that you need, and you get that message. And it’s not easy, because it’s, sometimes we don’t want to, we don’t want to admit our truths. Sometimes the truth hurts. And sometimes it’s just painful. When you look at where you were, and what you thought you were going to be doing. And then you look at where you are, and all that you’re not able to do those dreams are different, and you have to make new dreams. And that’s really hard to come to terms with that. All the things you work for, for so many years are suddenly gone. And now you have to learn how to dream again. And that’s what happens when you suffer some sort of life altering events, it makes you stop dreaming, because you feel like everything’s lost. But it’s not. You just have to find the place in you that dreams, and reignite it and find a passion again. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 16:19
that’s so beautiful. There’s actually a book that I’ve picked up. And I haven’t read the whole thing through, but I’ve read parts of it. And it’s called wonder switch. The author’s here is the third. But he talks about how we all have, you know, this sense of wonder when we’re when we’re young. But over time, it’s just like the same thing with creativity, which is connected, but we start to lose create the our curiosity and our creativity. And like you said, We stopped dreaming, because as he says, The Wonder switch gets flipped off. And we have to figure out how to flip it back on. So that we can use our imagination and our creativity and our curiosity for, you know, creating things and dreaming and looking at, you know, new ideas. But if we don’t do that, then you know, I know there’s other things that say worry is a misuse of imagination. So we can either choose to, like I said live in the past, it doesn’t mean we don’t have to step through sorrow or hardship we do. And that’s not easy. But we have to get out to the other side where we see, wow, there’s possibilities out there for me. But I have to start spending time thinking about those possibilities, and then realize it might be scary, and it is unknown, it is different than maybe I imagined my life. But that happens to all of us in some way. Whatever it might be, it might not be through death, it might be through some other thing that’s happened to us. But I think it’s so important because to your point, we can get very stuck in our thinking. And we can get stuck in the same pattern behavior. But we have to be willing to put in that work to say Hold on, it’s my choice, I can choose my future, and then start taking that practice on even if it’s just for little bits, like maybe everyday just write down. What’s one thing this year you want to do, or one thing this week I’m going to do, right? So it can be small practices that build up over time to try to see this new vision. But I think that’s super helpful. And I think those books are great recommendations for people. And I think those can be really helpful for people going through transition or life altering, you know, circumstances. Wow, that’s really great. Is there anything else you would want to share with people that you think might be helpful for people that are kind of looking at, you know, defining life on their terms, whether that’s because they’ve gone through something very difficult, or what a life they were living, maybe it was just that they were in overwhelm, and they’re in a career that asked them to work 80 hours a week, and they’re not they’re not fulfilled? They’re not happy? Do you have any recommendations for people on how do you step into this new thing?

Unknown Speaker 18:39
Well, first, I would say that if you’re living a life, and you’re just content, you’re not feeling happy and fulfilled, then look at the things that you enjoy doing. Are there hobbies that you enjoy? Or do you like to ride a bike? Do you like to hike or kayak? Maybe you just like being out in nature, you know, find the things that make you feel happy and fulfilled, whether it’s a hobby, whether it’s, you know, another career, it’s never too late to stop and change careers. People are doing it every day, especially since COVID. With all the changes in the world, there are ways to find your happy place. And you know, I think people have been so afraid of change. And now in the last year, so many people have been forced to change and find new ways that it’s not as scary as it used to be, or it doesn’t have to be and the other thing is find people who are like you find a community of people. I started with finding online widow communities with other widows and widowers, men and women who had gone through similar experiences. I joined a group of people that liked to hike and we would go hiking before COVID we would go hiking once a month I joined these different groups. groups that did activities that I thought I might enjoy, so that I would get outside, interact with other people and start feeling like I was living again. And I think that when we get stuck in a place where everything is just, it’s a pattern, and we don’t break out of that pattern, then we lose sight of what’s really important and what really makes us happy. And that is what we need to do find that thing that gives us passion, and hope. And there’s so many outlets in so many ways, especially with so many things online, that you can find those connections, and you can find that passion. And don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. You know, there was a person that I had heard speak, and they said, Do it afraid. It’s okay to do it afraid and you don’t have to do it perfectly. But take that first step and see what wonderful things come next. And that’s what I would recommend people try. Even if it’s a baby step, at least, it’s a step toward being the you that you really want to be.

Unknown Speaker 21:08
Yeah, absolutely. That’s perfect. And I think a couple things you said there one is fear. I mean, you know, they say everything’s on the other side of fear with either opportunity or success, happiness. Every one of us feels uncertain or unsure of ourselves, we question worthiness we question like, I don’t know, this is my identity, I’m not sure I can do something else. But every one of us has those feelings and thoughts, every one of us feels afraid. But it’s just saying, I’m going to take small action every day. And you’ll be amazed at what happens in your life when you’re just willing to take those small actions and steps. The other thing you said, will you write part of living, what makes life so beautiful is the relationships we have and the community that we build around us. And if that changes, because of our transition in life, we do have to go seek out new friendships or new groups of people and like you said, that are trying new experiences. And I think that’s what keeps us young is and like you said, dreaming is we have to be curious, we have to try new things. We can’t just leave, you know, we don’t want to live around, you know, hog day life. Because that, to me, that’s just seems like such a waste of a lifetime. Do you know what I mean? So I, I love that. And I think that’s, that’s gonna help people for sure. So,

Unknown Speaker 22:22
man, I’ve

Unknown Speaker 22:23
loved our conversation today, Dawn, how can people find you online, if they’d like to learn more,

Unknown Speaker 22:29
they can go to my Facebook group called Women wisdom and wine or whatever. And that’s a free Facebook group, with women just supporting each other and trying to help each other through whatever it is they’re going through two nights a month, we do a Ladies Night and just kind of, you know, get your favorite beverage, iced tea, wine, whatever. And just spend some time with other women. And we’re all going through something. And you’d be surprised how many other women have been through it and may have learned some things that they can help you get through. So there’s that. And then I’m on Instagram at dawn Renee Hanlon. And that’s dawn da, w n, Renee, Ra N A. And then Hanlon, h n LLN. So that’s my Instagram.

Unknown Speaker 23:20
Perfect, and then coming up, they’ll be able to find you wherever podcasts are played at beautifully broken. So we’ll look forward to sharing that with our audience as well, when that comes out. Thank you so much for your time today, Don,

Unknown Speaker 23:31
thank you. It’s lovely to meet you.

Unknown Speaker 23:33
I hope the conversation today with dawn will encourage you to keep finding that place inside of yourself that you have dreams waiting to be revealed. And I hope that it will allow you to to be brave and try new things, even when things get hard, or you’ve experienced loss. Because we’ve always been made to be to reinvent ourselves, and to find something that lights us up in whatever season we’re in. And I would share these words from Elizabeth Gilbert with you in Big Magic. She says instead of taking out loans to go to a school for the arts, maybe try to push herself deeper into the world. To explore more bravely, or go more deeply and bravely inward. Take an honest inventory of the education you already have. The years you’ve lived, the trials you’ve endured, the skills you have learned along the way. If you’re a young person, open your eyes wide and let the world educate you to the fullest extent. ascend no longer from the textbook war and Walt Whitman. And I want it to There are many ways to learn that do not necessarily involve schoolrooms and feel free to start sharing your perspective through creativity. Even if you’re just a kid. If you were young, you see things differently than I do. And I want to know how you see things we all want to know. When we look at your work, whatever your work, may be. We will want to feel your youth that fresh sense of your recent arrival here. Be generous with us and let us feel it. After all for many of us. It has been so long Since we stood where you now stand, if you are older trust that the world has been educating you all along, you already know so much more than you think you know, you are not finished, you’re merely ready. After certain age. No matter how you’ve been spending your time, you are very likely earned a doctorate and living if you’re still here. If you have survived this long it is because you know things we need you to reveal to us what you know, what you have learned, what you have seen and felt. If you are older, chances are strong that you may already possess absolutely everything you need to possess in order to live a more creative life, except the confidence to actually do the do your work. But we need you to do your work. Whether you’re young or old, we need you your work in order to enrich and form our own lives, to take your insecurities and your fears and hold them upside down by their ankles and shake yourself free of all your cumbersome ideas about what you require, and how much you need to pay in order to become creatively legitimate because I’m telling you that you are already creatively legitimate by nature of your mere existence here among us. Just remember, you’re never too old to dream, a new dream, or to go after a new goal. Start a new hobby or make new friends. So let’s get going. The world needs your hope and your light and your love. And I think it’s time you started. And thanks again for listening in. And if you enjoyed the show, we’d love it if you’d subscribe and leave us a review and rating on Apple podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts. And you can check out freebies and resources we have for you at Kristin Fitch calm, and if you have ideas for the show or guests that you’d like to recommend. I’d love to hear from you. So DM me on Instagram at Kristin Fitch or you can email me from the website. Thanks so much. Until next time, have a great week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai