By Tamara Carrillo McLeod June 28, 2023

Before I share my story, PLEASE take a moment to ask yourself: What is one dream or goal you have always wanted to achieve but have not? Jot it down on a post-it note.

Now, let me tell you about my father….

My father was the epitome of hard work. He dedicated over four decades to the same company, rarely taking a vacation or even a day off. The concept of work-life balance eluded him. My sister and I often urged him to travel and enjoy life, but his response remained unchanged:

“I will retire soon and visit São Miguel.”

São Miguel, the Azores Island of our family heritage, held a special place in his heart. My father had spent his entire life dreaming of visiting his ancestral land. Finally, in 2008, he turned 60 and retired. But what should have been a joyous occasion turned into our worst nightmare—a Stage 4 Glioblastoma diagnosis. Yes, my father had brain cancer. 

For the next 18 months, our lives revolved around treatments, surgeries, and countless doctor visits. Then, on January 5th, 2010, my father took his last breath. It took nearly a year for me to gather the strength to sort through his belongings. In his closet was a massive safe and upon opening it for the first time I discovered three things:

  1. Cherished family photos and mementos
  2. Important paperwork
  3. An empty passport with research on São Miguel right next to it

That passport, devoid of stamps or destinations, struck me to the core. I realized my father had completely prepared to fulfill his dream. Overwhelmed with emotion, I made a promise to complete the journey for him. On June 9th, 2023, my birthday, my children and I boarded a plane to São Miguel to honor my father’s dream.

Words fail to capture the experience—the overwhelming emotions as my feet touched the soil of my ancestors for the first time, the constant presence of my father throughout the trip. The island’s beauty was indescribable. Yet, amidst the joy, a profound sadness lingered. I couldn’t shake the guilt of experiencing what my father had worked his whole life for—his unfulfilled dream. I questioned why he had waited in the first place.

This brings me back to the very question I started with. A question I now ask myself, my children, my clients, and you —  What are your dreams and what are you waiting for?

Take a moment to revisit that post-it note and ask yourself one last, simple question: WHY?

Take some time to really think about that WHY. Many times, the reasons holding us back from our dreams are likely the same saboteurs holding us back from all of our life goals. And may I leave you with one last request? Place that post-it note somewhere visible, vowing not to remove it until your dream is fulfilled. Let my father’s story, his empty passport, remind you to chase your dreams with unwavering determination. Remember, tomorrow is never promised.