Saturday, November 8, 2014


This dream story starts with a reminder:
Don't take dreams literally--look for the metaphor.

While we often have dreams reflecting some current, specific problem or challenge, sometimes a dream will communicate a more general message. I believe the following dream was just such a message.

To give you a little background: In most matters I like to handle everything myself. It is not easy for me to ask for help, preferring not to bother others over my responsibilities. And that is a good thing. However, there are times when it is all right to ask for help--even necessary that you ask for help. Here is how my dream reminded me:

I am in a hallway where a big, fat man is talking to me. Then suddenly he pushes me into a room and begins attacking me. His arms are white and flabby. I am not afraid of him. Then a knife appears in my hand and  I tell him just how I will stab him if he doesn't stop attacking me. He wrestles me into a lobby area where there is a bank of elevators. One of the doors opens and a couple of people get out. I call to them for help. As soon as I do that, he loses power over me.

The threatening man represents a lot of problems/challenges (note his girth). His arms are white and flabby (not so threatening), so I am not afraid of him and even boldly retaliate. However, because of his size, he overpowers me and wrestles me into the lobby.

Message: You have more power when you ask for help.

Picture by Walter Sanders
                 Elevator in a High-Rise Office Building.

Monday, September 22, 2014


There was a long period of time during which my family experienced such upheaval, that we were at a loss for how to handle it. So out of our experience, we struggled day-by-day to understand it all, and to cope with the ongoing fallout. Walking around as if wounded, we immediately assisted the "victims." To compound the matter, we also understood the plight of the "perpetrators," and wished them no harm.

Pulling me down, I fervently prayed for some resolution to the problems, but none came. Then one night I dreamed . . .

I am sitting on the north side (where I sleep) of the house watching up in the air where a large number of grosbeaks eat doughnuts. A person stands beside me, and though not specified, I know it is a family member. Now a blue jay or two join the grosbeaks, and I say, "Where are they all going?" Up near the gutters they flutter all around, holding up enormous amounts of doughnuts. As I continue to watch, more blue jays come--more than I ever expected. The addition of so many blue jays only adds to the pleasure of seeing the grosbeaks. They're all so beautiful.

A song had started while still dreaming, and as I got awake, playing in my head was the voice of  Vera Lynn singing, "The White Cliffs of Dover." Growing up in the 40's, this hopeful song, with Vera Lynn's strong and vibrant voice, reminded us that one day the war would be over and "There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover, tomorrow, just you wait and see."

On waking, there were tears on my face and I continued crying for a time. The tears were purely those of "thanks." From the dream, I knew there was hope for the future and it helped me carry on.

You'd wonder how such a seemingly funny dream could cause such emotion. It was the song that pointed to its deeper meaning, but so were the messengers. That the first messenger was a rose-breasted grosbeak, reminded me of my grandmother, Rose, blessed with a prominent nose, and who I've felt looks out for me. The addition of blue jays (my favorite sturdy bird), brought the beauty and message by song. Their being up by the gutter, was a clue of the low place where I was then. Doughnuts represented to me a treat, sweetness, but something of the sturdy variety--not fancy. And though they were right above us, the birds were still holding up enormous amounts of doughnuts.

I hoped that they might dispense a little soon.

Allposters: Birds and Trees, Discovery Park
                Kevin Cruff

Written in 1941 by Walter Kent with words by Nat Burton, the song was also among the most popular Second World War tunes. 

Monday, September 8, 2014


Each time I made overtures toward becoming self-employed, something came along to throw a monkey wrench into the works. On reflection, I knew that a lack of confidence in my abilities was driving my failures. I already demonstrated that I could work for somebody else, so I had that success and security. What I didn't know was if I could survive depending on my self-employment skills. I've always thought of others as possessing bona fide talent, while I felt more like a pretender!

See how the ambivalence of my predicament showed up one night:

I am at home. Julie, a principal in the company where I work, brings over a rabbit. It is very nice and tame. The fur is soft, dark brown. As I bend over to look at it, I notice it has no food or water. And I think, how like her not to give the rabbit food or water. So I go to get some. While doing this, I let the rabbit out of its crate. The crate is too small anyway. I say, "Don't we have something larger to keep the rabbit in?"

The rabbit is so happy that it goes racing around the house--but only briefly. Then it jumps back into the small crate.

Here is what the dream showed me:

Julie represented my work environment. In describing the rabbit: nice, tame, dark brown hair, I couldn't help but think how much I identified with it. That surely fit my description. Then, Julie's not providing food or water reminded me that the rabbit (me) wasn't getting what it needed. And last, when having an opportunity at freedom, did it want to stay free? Of course not, the timid creature jumped right back into the little box!

This dream helped me see the problem of my ambivalence as I wrestled over making a job change. The problem, identified, helped me. Future dreams pointed the way to progress.

Allposters - The Rabbit, Albrecht Durer

Friday, August 22, 2014

TO BE OF USE by Marge Piercy

Instead of the usual dream story, I'd like to share my favorite poem by Marge Piercy.


The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.

I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.

I want to be with people who submerge 
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


As with many other musings, adjusting to my older self stayed with me, regularly playing out in my dreams--in volumes.

This was the big adjustment: at 52, I decided to stop coloring my hair. After months of vacillating, I finally did it. Then, nearly every day forward, I'd change my mind and want to color it again. Even my 80-year-old father looked at me as if I'd lost my senses, chiding me for choosing to look old. (This is the same guy who, instead of showing his Medicare card to get a senior discount at an area golf course, elected to keep his age a secret and pay full-price.) And though insecure with my choice, contrariness won out and gray I stayed.

My father wasn't the only critic. Some, after surveying the top of my head, just didn't say anything. Others were not so circumspect and gave their opinions freely. During the transition from dark to gray, a non-descript color emerged, prompting a co-worker to exclaim, "Of all the colors to choose from, why pick ugly?" Because I was so unsure myself, my antennae continuously scanned, picking up all hair-related references. When in my "just color it" phase, I'd try to justify it to myself by pointing out that my hair, with its absence of pigment and texture, was now like cotton candy.

As I mourned my younger self, I cranked out copious dreams, like this one:

I am riding in a car with the actor, Paul Newman. We are approaching a bridge. As we drive, I look over at the handsome Newman and think, Oh, I look so old. Then as we get closer, the actress (they were called actresses then), Natalie Wood appears on the pedestrian walkway. My, she looks so lovely. Slim and curvaceous in a light-colored sheath dress, she waves to me. I say, "Oh, I think I'll color my hair," as if that will make me young again.

Well, there I was approaching the bridge taking me from younger to older. Riding along with two former paradigms of our youth-centered culture, I felt anxious after having chosen not to fight the inevitable. And, more importantly, I was adjusting to a new, older self. This accommodation would continue to play out in future dreams as I became more familiar with the changes of being older.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Everybody dreams, but how do you figure out what they're about? And not everyone has a dream therapist--including me. I'm just an average person who dreams. Simple curiosity compelled me to put some thought into dreams to try and figure out the meaning. I just knew dreams had a purpose. With one-third of our lives spent in sleep, just  think of all the dream time that encompasses. These nightly displays have to have a purpose. But what is that purpose? Exploring, I started with books that featured universal themes and symbols. These books, while interesting, did little to satisfy my curiosity or to convince me that themes were the same for all of us. What about cultural differences? I knew there had to be more to explore.

In Breakthrough Dreaming, Gayle Delaney explained that dreams, speaking in metaphor, reveal their messages. And rather than rushing to a dictionary of generic symbols, we must capture the essence of what dreams are communicating to us. Now this made made more sense--exploring dreams from our own frame-of-reference.

Sometimes, on waking, did you ever have a gut feeling about the meaning of your dream? I did, too, so I continued to explore. Then, operating solely from my own frame-of-reference, I started logging dreams, spending lots of time reading and rereading them until some recognition stood out. Sometimes there was recognition. Sometimes there wasn't. Then patterns developed, matching what was going on in my waking life. This helped me recognize what was challenging me and what I needed to understand so I could accommodate these challenges. Sometimes solutions presented themselves, all in metaphorical code language. With each new insight, my interest gained in intensity and dreams began to evolve. When logging a new series of dreams, I noted they all seemed connected somehow. Nearly one year later, one of the series turned out to be pre-cognitive dreams of prophesy.

Rather than dealing with world events, my dreams dealt with life, death, work, and healing--all personal. If I, an average dreamer, could enhance my experience by paying attention, couldn't most dreamers tap in to the positive purpose of dreams? But how?

I started by reading Gayle Delaney's books. Then I discovered, a global entity devoted to the study of dreams, whether you are serious or just curious.

If you're just beginning to be curious about your own dreams, my books engage the reader through candid anecdotal stories, showing by example how one average dreamer's life became enriched by paying attention to dreams. The books detail insights and healing (both emotional and physical) I received from dreams. Whether you're just curious or are serious about tapping in to this powerful nighttime helper, your life will become enhanced by exploring the gift we all have, yet often ignore.

Allposters: Woman Sleeping Below Large Window - Art Print

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Have dreams--the good ones--set you off on the right path in the morning? Me, too. And this is just one of the dreams that helped in not giving up on my storytelling dream project. Even during those periods when I worked diligently on my stories, every now and then I needed a boost. I needed a dream that offered encouragement to keep going. This is a dream that really inspired me:

I am working at a new place and am somewhat confounded about the nature of my work. The job is to write little snippets of information on pieces of paper. Then, I'm supposed to put these pieces of information in a designated place, so that people can come by and read them.

Marlon Brando is here. We both work at the same job. Going about doing my job, I seek to get some attention from him, so I wonder, harkening back to feminine wiles, does he notice my legs? The short skirt and high heels I wear show off my legs. And, surprisingly, I look thin, shapely, and my hair looks nice, and it isn't gray! But, alas, Marlon keeps his nose to the grindstone, though I know he's favorably aware of me. But it is clear from his actions that it is only in a work capacity.

I know I'm doing well at this job, even though I don't quite understand everything that I'm doing.

OK, let's look at the features: This wasn't a frivolous, glitzy movie star dream. Notice Marlon kept his nose to the grindstone and not only worked, but only observed my work ability. It's all about work. Marlon Brando, a famously huge talent, with an abundance of tangible evidence of success--and he's working with me? I got a lot of good vibes from this dream.

My take on all this? It represented a potent reminder to keep my nose to the grindstone and maybe, just maybe, I could derive something tangible from it. 

As an interesting aside: Upon waking, the song that kept repeating in my head was: Beyond the Blue Horizon (waits a beautiful day, goodbye to things that bore me, joy is waiting for me, etc.)*

To me, this was a welcome sign. Couldn't be better. Always pay attention to songs that are already stuck in your head upon waking. They are often harbingers that support your dream content.

*Beyond the Blue Horizon By Franke Harling, Richard A. Whiting. Lyrics by Leo Rubin, 1938.
Allposters: Marlon Brando poster.

Monday, July 7, 2014


Out on the lake, I steer a small boat toward the breakwall. The wall is higher than I imagined. The water, usually clean this far out--about a mile and a half from shore--appears particularly dirty with lots of foam surrounding the sturdy outboard.

Then I am on a rickety bridge where a man tears down the broken, rotted railings and fence and hauls it away. Fish, rising to the surface, are pale, weak and sickly.

A short distance away, a large yacht glides steadily toward us. People on shore  anxiously await the arrival of actor, Telly Savalas. Standing at the bow, on deck, he looks toward the throng.

Puzzled by the images in this dream, I tried to find some connection to real life. This is what stood out: In a sturdy little boat, I headed toward the breakwall that was higher than expected. I felt it referred to my fervent desire to "break" a cycle that impacted the family. The worries, like the wall, were much larger than I could handle alone. Anticipation was high for the arrival of Telly Savalas, and corresponded to hope in resolving our problems.  Having often felt surrounded by dirt from the source of our worries, we (the fish) became pale, weak, and even sickly. In the hopes of having better times, I welcomed the arrival of someone who could make things better--the man tearing down rotted boards and Telly Savalas, the hero of the retro TV drama, Kojac. Telly's image brought forth the ever-present sucker. Sucker, in this context, could have referred to those easily duped. In over our depth and needing help, Telly's arrival on the deck of a large, nifty ship was just what we needed. Ahoy, Telly.

Saturday, July 5, 2014


During a long period, when my father's health was in decline, there were good days and bad days. Switching back and forth presented few problems. On good days, I got a little breather and that made bad days more manageable. But sometimes crisis followed crisis with stress levels high. Unable to focus on few things other than the immediate needs, I often failed to consciously recognize the necessity for a break from the daily tasks. So when I ignored my needs for too long, they were often handled in dreams--our built-in helpers.

Of all the nighttime help I received during that time, this one best illustrated the need to get some relief from the weight of daily duties.

We are in the family room: Dad, my sister and I. We are all relaxing--looking kind of inert. I am sitting in the recliner. On TV, we watch a show that features plenty of drama. As we watch, I casually pick up the remote and switch to cartoons. Speaking in a calm, low-key manner, I say, "I'll only watch this for a little while, then I'll put the real show back on."

The dream, in very simple terms, provided clear, recognizable metaphors and was easy to understand. The built-in helper even relieved the dreamer of having to decipher a complex illustration! Could this have been more succinct?

When I awoke, I didn't even have to write it down. The images, not easily forgotten, stuck with me and in small ways, I figured out what I needed to do for myself. While we may not always be able to figure out what to do, our dreams will show the direction. If one dream doesn't work, another one will soon take its place until we pay attention and find a solution.

Allposters: Donald and Daisy Dancing, Walt Disney

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Some years ago, facing new and challenging times, anxiety over my circumstances left me exhausted. On my own now, with three children, I was always on the alert. Anticipating some calamity, I wanted to be prepared, but all I really did was "awfulize." Each fall brought the fear of our ancient furnace failing--a costly repair or replacement. And then there was hillbilly car. Only ten years old, it already sported saucer-sized rust patches along trim on both sides. Even the over-sized trunk's rubber molding was shot. On a rainy Sunday, my son, along with three teammates, loaded the trunk with all their athletic gear. Arriving at the playing field, they were shocked to find all their clothes and equipment soaked with rain. I couldn't even imagine having to get another car for a long time, and I didn't, but that's another story.

Then there were health concerns. Though my health was good, I worried about what would happen if it failed. Loaded down with all this stuff in my head, if I didn't calm down soon, I would break down.

Luck was with me and I became somewhat relieved of my habit of "awfulizing" when I had this dream:

I am riding a flimsy bike. And as I maneuver the shaky bike, I look over some of its features: wheels that are mismatched and small, long handlebars--out of proportion to the rest of the bike, and it looks too old to carry me very far. The path is an obstacle course, littered with common, everyday items strewn about. There are widely-spaced articles of clothing, small tools, old rags, and bits and pieces of spare parts from long-discarded appliances.

I successfully maneuver these small obstacles.

The important message communicated from this dream was: Even though riding a flimsy little bike, I was able to successfully maneuver these small things thrown in my path. The obstacles were not only small, but they were widely spaced--manageable. The small wheels referred to my resources, and I figured the extra-long handlebars meant I had lots to handle. Faced with these obstacles when viewed as a whole, appeared daunting. But when taken one at a time, it was not so intimidating. And, while the bike looked old, it carried me the distance. Grateful for understanding the dream message, and having successfully traversed around the surmountable obstacles took a lot of pressure off and calmed me down.

Our dreams, via metaphor, will help put things in perspective and show us how our nighttime helpers communicate.

Allposters: A Very Old Girls' Red Bike Rests . . . by Paul Damien

Monday, June 23, 2014


Old Woman Waving a Stick at a Boy, 1793 Giclee Print

In a slump, I was plagued over my inability to commit to and produce my dream stories. Even though I had hundreds of stories to choose from, I often had, and still have, problems choosing one to write about. As I searched through journals of dreams, I rejected one after the other as: inappropriate, redundant, uninteresting, not enough universal appeal, etc. Frustration over my storytelling produced this dream:

I receive a job assignment--stacks of papers, like surveys. I rebel against this assignment; it's too big, and I am concerned over my brief accomplishment. In addition, I am hampered by having to chase an elusive child. He won't come when I call and just keeps running away from me. Every time I get close to him, he throws up a barrier, like slamming a gate, just when I am closing in on him.

Not giving in to this rascal, I walk away and go into the bathroom and close the door. He knocks, but I don't answer--playing hard-to-get. Then he gets quiet, so I open the door. Off he goes again, and I cannot catch him.

The assignment, with its multiple pages, resembled my dream journal--a heading of dates followed by paragraphs. Concerned over my output or "brief accomplishment," I see the connection to the elusive child--my dream-story project. As I chased him and began closing in, he threw up barriers (i.e. inappropriate, redundant, uninteresting, etc.), just as I did sometimes when I found chores or other things to do instead of writing. Then, no longer running away after I retreated to the bathroom (a place where one could get relief), I got a knock (the nagging signal to get to work). Opening the door led me right back where I started. Back to the elusive child.

This is how it was as I procrastinated about getting down to work. Seeking relief by hiding in the bathroom brought only a brief respite from my nagging inner voice. I guess it was time to reign myself in and get back to my writing practice, while trying to tame the elusive child.

Allposters. Woman Waving a Stick at a Boy. Artist, George Morland

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Daydream Giclee Print

Recognizing our challenges, so that we may make life changes, surely doesn't happen overnight. It has been my experience that constant reminders are necessary. And even then, changes occur by small increments. Anyone who has tackled a life change will attest to that. Being so close to our own problems makes it more difficult to see ourselves objectively. That's where dreams come in. As you begin paying attention to your dreams, you will notice plots that seem to hang together with a lot of creative ways in presenting them--over and over--until you pay attention!

In handling my own ambivalence--fear of sticking my neck out--I was bombarded by stories like this one:

It is dusk in the city. I walk along a deserted sidewalk, peering into the windows of elegant shops. It reminds me of Fifth Avenue--without all the people. I'm there to buy a fancy dress, but all the stores seem dark. Thinking that shops wouldn't be open at this late hour, I half-heartedly try a door. Surprised that it opens, I imagine I won't find anything. I go in. Looking around, I can't believe there are so many beautiful dresses. Then I blurt out, "What size are they all--two?" Then I see the ONE--elegant, celery green, the fabric moving fluidly. In the fitting room, I try it on. The dress is perfection. Fitting perfectly, even the color enhances my appearance. But I reject it saying, "It has no turtleneck."

Wow, did you see all the metaphor? I was so scared (to change and stick my neck out) that I went out late expecting the stores to be closed. Opening the door half-heartedly, I was already giving up on the idea. At every turn there was some excuse. I expected that, "I probably won't find anything." Then I imagined they were all too small. As I continued to thwart my own plans, I found the perfect dress. Unsurprisingly, I rejected it. Still needing to retreat into my (turtle) shell, it looked like I'd need a lot more work before I was ready to move forward.

Picture from Allposters: Daydream by Vittorio Matteo Corcos

Sunday, June 8, 2014


Thinking that I'd stayed too long at my job, I was hypersensitive. Many positions were being filled by younger and younger employees. When I'd started there, I was everyone's contemporary, then I became everyone's mother. I needed to get out of there before I became everyone's grandma. 

Insecurities about having exhausted my contribution at work spawned this dream:

I am being harassed at work--by my supervisor. Cruelly interrogating me, he has even formed a committee to scrutinize all the correspondence I've produced over the years. Sitting around a large conference table, while building this case against me, one of my interrogators aggressively flips a document toward me. I'm to explain why I had X'd out some sentences and had substituted the handwritten word "hummingbird" in their place. As he discusses this, I give him "the look" and do eye-rolling. Then, still defending myself against these charges, I confess that once I even wrote "shit" on a paper. As they continue this witch hunt, I announce my intention to get a lawyer. But I know I'm really going to quit.

Socialized and hypersensitive about having reached retirement age, I put lots of pressure on myself to get the heck out, before they tossed me out. I'd seen others before me experience a lot of humiliation by being forced out, and I didn't want to be one of them. The pressure I created for myself was not necessarily a bad thing. It was a push in the right direction.

Deciphering the dream sequence taking place before the tribunal was easy. Having felt out-of-my-element, at times, in the business world, I did have to explain myself on occasion. My role in representing the employees' perspective often brought me into conflict with the principals of the company. Too often, I found business jargon dehumanizing. So substituting "hummingbird," for a paragraph's worth of words, surely resonated with me, preferring the elusive bird image over the usual "business speak."

And, I would probably have wanted to write "shit" a countless number of times.

Picture from Allposters: H. Daumier, Advocate, 1860

Sunday, May 4, 2014


In the little coal-mining town where my mother-in-law was born, life's hardships far exceeded luxuries, yet she produced beauty with a minimum of material, an abundance of toil and the talent of an engineer. Though long gone from her labors, her work stands in testament to her achievements.

High up on a shelf in my closet, tied with blue ribbon, is the pillowcase. I've retired it, so that it may be preserved.

It reminds me of her desire to create beauty from the commonest of materials. The original fabric was thick and sturdy, rough muslin. But years of use and washing took off the rough edges and gave it some softness. The fabric started out as a bag to hold 50-pounds of flour. When the bag was emptied, after scrupulous laundering, Anna used the fabric for covering the kitchen table when she baked weekly bread and holiday strudels and nut rolls. More laundering, and the fabric became softer still, but developed a nickel-sized hole. So she retired it from its primary function and with nearly invisible stitches and a patch, mended the hole. Unable to purchase new crochet thread, she gathered some remnants from past projects--pale green, soft pink, and cream. Devising a pattern from her own imagination, she created beautiful crocheted lace to form a lovely border. As I was just starting out, she knew I could use another pillow case, but apologized about its humble origins. She needn't have worried.

Anna lent her artistic skills to an abundance of creations, some of them so intricate, they belong in a museum. And while most crochet craftspeople used written patterns as their guidelines, hers were original--conjured up through imagination or in seeing a pattern somewhere.

In those days, no one considered this home art to have much value beyond the family, and certainly not on par with professional artists or engineers. I always believed her son, a mechanical engineer, got his talent from her. This modest woman would never have given herself the credit she deserved. What a blessing to have tangible evidence of her skills and talent and, above all, her generosity.

Picture by: Melica73, Allposters

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Chasing fame before accomplishment looks like the modern order of things. Rather than study or struggle through basic hard work and the skills acquired through experience, too often in today's world self-proclaimed trend setters seek to leap from embryonic stage directly to fame--no in between--the "in between" covering that area where the hard work begins. The place where you "humble yourself or life will do it for you." (Quote by Joubert Botha.) It is the place where you discover all the things you don't know. Where artifice is replaced by competence--results gained from toil and experience.

Who has not day-dreamed about the glory of fame sometimes? Daydreaming is OK. You can visit, you just don't want to live there or build upon a foundation fabricated by pure imagination. There are no shortcuts. Yet today we have seen those who embrace social media as the vehicle to instant fame, becoming dependent upon it for validation. Swearing allegiance to the screen, they shut themselves off from engagement in the greater world. And if their lean accomplishments appear wanting, falsehoods can always fill in the gaps--no real effort involved.

Instead of fame, then, maybe we should shoot for competence. Then, as our efforts bring about desired changes, we may still hold on to dreams, but be willing to put in the work required to realize our dreams.

Movie Star: Jess Aiken, Allposters
Music Collage: IrinaQQQ, Allposters