June 2, 2011

What would it take for you to share — and chase — your dreams? Three weeks ago, we started exploring that question with the launch of this blog’s Summer Dream Contest. Now I want to thank all of you who honored this blog by sharing your dreams with us. And of course, we’re here to announce the winner of that $300 American Express gift card.

As promised, I convened a distinguished panel of judges. It consisted of me and my two neighborhood girlfriends, Jan and Angela. They are my suburban partners in crime. What makes them such great judges? Beyond the fact that they are both stellar human beings, neither of them cares about blogging or social media. Since they’re relatively unplugged, sometimes I find them to be more sane, more real.  :-)

The three of us found it rather challenging to agree on just eight finalists but we did it! And then, just a few minutes ago, I wrote all the names down on little pieces of scrap paper and put them into a basket.

According to my contest rules, contestants had to be subscribers to this blog. For every contestant who also follows me on Twitter and/or my Facebook page, I threw in extra scraps of paper with their names on it.

Then I swished the entries around. And then, I started getting nervous about not having control of what would happen next. What will you all think about our choices and the winner? Well, there’s only one way to find out.


The winner is….

Stephanie Chen

My summer dream is to travel to the Middle East to meet with diplomats, soldiers, and everyday citizens to learn about the Israeli-Palestine conflict. I didn’t grow up in a very religious family and have not had many opportunities to learn about these ongoing conflicts. The Olive Tree Initiative is a group at my University bringing together Jewish, Muslim, and several other students from various religious backgrounds. Their goal is to bring about open discussion and spread knowledge on the both perspectives of the conflict. I would love to travel to the region, learn about the conflict first-hand, and help spread awareness, which will in turn spread tolerance and peace.


Stephanie, you have two days to claim your prize! I hope you’ll comment below by 11:30 p.m. EST. If we don’t hear from you, I will swish around the names in the basket again and pick another winner. (Updates on developments will be added at the end of this post.)

Now it’s time to meet the other seven finalists:


So, for this entry, my dream is personal. This summer I want to take my family to do a family camping weekend at the NY YMCA camp in upstate NY so we can commune with nature and try some new sports my 5 year old city-slicker son has become obsessed with on Wii like archery, kayaking and zipline-ing (is that what you’d call it?).


My dream is fairly simple. I got married 10+ years ago but had a civil service. I really want a church wedding with a choir, lots of flowers and yeah…I’ll be marrying the same person :)


Laura Madden

My dream is to have stable work as a photographer, writer and video/multimedia producer who gets to tell the stories that inspire me. The stories of everyday people who change the world one person at a time are my greatest inspiration. Those people who simply get up and go to work, but their work has an enormous impact on others, are so cool to me. Maybe their work is a drop in the bucket – like providing microfinance for beekeepers so they can harvest honey in a remote village of Pakistan. It’s not like that changes the whole world, but it certainly changes the world for some of those villagers. And I think that’s pretty friggin’ cool. My dream is that my life’s work would be to shine a spotlight on them.

Megan McGowan

My dream is to be brave enough to put love above everything else. My boyfriend and I are planning to get married (someday) and we are both facing opposition to the point of disownment by our families. He is Bengali and a Muslim and I’m Irish and Catholic. These things shouldnt be an issue in modern day America, but guess what; our families both feel like they’re still living in their old countries. We are trying so hard to make everyone happy that we are both bending under the stress of obligation. We are concocting elaborate schemes of illusion and this balancing act is starting to give me motion sickness. But, I can’t give up on who I love right?
My dream is to be with my boyfriend forever and to somehow convince both of our familes that it’s right. I don’t want this to end in some Romeo and Juilet type drama. I just want everyone to accept us and to get along with us. I don’t want a parade. I don’t want drama. I just want him and to keep my family too. My dream is for a happy life, and it has become clear that I can’t have that without him. Where can I draw the line? Where can he draw it? How could we function without the people who have raised us, the families that we love? Could our relationship withstand rejection and isolation from our families? Would we blame each other? I dream of harmony and acceptance and loyalty and love, not of isolation and shame, fear and abandonment. I dream that it is possible to have both- to have both families and your lover be yours.

Christina Lam

I dream of having a seaside cottage somewhere nice and warm. My house would have large bay windows that face the ocean and let in lots of light every morning. The front room would be nice and messy,( but not insane creative space ) with an easel and lots of supplies — paints, brushes, magazines, etc. And, of course, there would be books everywhere. I’d have lots of comfy reading chairs and blankies, and a fireplace. And, since this is my fantasy, all my favorite people would live within shouting distance where they could come for visits and hang out in our little sanctuary. There’d also be a gourmet kitchen with a large center island and awesome cooking utensils and Jack would suddenly develop a need to cook amazing things every day. :) heh. heh.

Alan Carter

My dream is a simple, albeit nerdy one. At this advanced age in life, and requiring not much (but maybe a new car, a man, wealth and better abs) I’d like to help others. Simple but hard at the same time. I’d like to help the hungry get food. I’d like to help the downtrodden get up. I’d like to make the angry happy. I’d like to educate the stupid and charm the charmless and maybe help Jason Bay learn to hit a curveball so that the METS might actually have a chance to have a winning season. Basically, I wanna be Oprah without the TV show.


When I was a young girl I didn’t think I was good enough to be a writer. So I never tried.
Now I’m sixty-four and I’m thinking about becoming a writer again. I have more confidence and a lot more to say! When I worked in community mental health I had my hands full writing one obligatory case study after another. Now I can just let the creative juices flow! I have my own practice where I see patients and I still have time and energy for writing. I’d put the money into organizing a retreat for writers. I would invite people to come for a few uninterrupted days to develop new or old pieces of work. In a peaceful country sanctuary you would have both quiet and companionship as you work on your project.

If you’d like to read more about each of these contestants or see the full range of entries, please visit the original contest blog post.

For those of you who didn’t win the $300 gift card, I hope you’re not mad at me. In fact, I’m actually wondering how you feel now. Did articulating your dream on this blog lead to anything?

Meanwhile, I’ve spent the last few weeks reflecting on my dreams that have come true and the ones that await me this summer. More on that another time. This post belongs to the winner, the finalists and to you.

Thanks so much for dreaming with me. Let’s do more of this. If you have ideas for other contests, let me know. Running this one was fun.