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Dashed Dreams Can Create Beautiful Music

Dashed Dreams Can Create Beautiful Music


I was enjoying one of the many fantastic performers at the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest last week in downtown Fort Myers, and just about the time I was feeling envious of what seemed to be a songwriter’s life of creativity and joy, the artist delivered a reality check.

The singer was not only sharing her music but stopped from time to time between songs to give her audience a glimpse of the inspiration behind the lyrics.  This is one of the great features of the Songwriter Festival, put on every year by the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau to bring award-winning entertainment and increase off-season tourism to our region, the listener has the chance to connect with the performer.

All of her stories were interesting and funny, she spoke about her small town upbringing and her craft but at one point during her revelations I realized she was becoming emotional.  This talented woman opened up about a signed record deal that never materialized and the moment she found herself waiting tables and serving drinks to some of her former colleagues and peers in Nashville.    She had imagined herself under contract with a major label for years only to find herself on a much different path.  She didn’t pack up and go home, instead she kept writing and performing her music.

The song she wrote about the experience was the best performance of the night.  She took her pain from a dashed dream and created not just a song but a body of work that is incredible.

I see this same dynamic playing out every day in our community.  Maybe not with country music superstars but there are many occasions I meet a business owner, a philanthropist, a community leader or a volunteer that is working on plan b, c, d or e for their lives.   Something has not gone exactly as expected but they have turned it into something more beautiful.  Nonprofit leaders often share stories of their clients who create new lives from what may seem impossible situations.

Just this morning I spoke to an out of town acquaintance I hadn’t connected with in years who used to own a thriving PR company.  She brought on a partner who betrayed her and brought the company down.  The business closed and she had to regroup.  The call wasn’t to complain but rather to share what exciting doors were opening to her as a result of the dashed dreams with her business.  It had been an extremely painful experience but she found a way to create something unexpected.  She was singing a new song of her own.

Sometimes the hardest lessons come from dream dashing we have no control over.  In the songwriters’ story, the record label representatives assigned to her contract kept getting fired and she was lost in the shuffle, and my friend didn’t see the betrayal on the horizon.  It would be easy to pack up and go home or give up.  Resilience is a powerful force that can create a path to healing.

If you find yourself in a dream dashing moment, don’t lose hope.  You might not be a professional songwriter, but your plan B can create beautiful music in our world.

About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created over 400 philanthropic funds.  Thanks to them, last year the Foundation invested $5 million in grants and programs to the community.  With assets of $111 million, the Community Foundation has provided more than $69 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan.  Based in Fort Myers, the Foundation has satellite offices located in Sanibel Island, LaBelle (Hendry County), and downtown Fort Myers.  For more information, visit or call 239-274-5900.


Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More