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