August 1, 2019 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I was putting things away in the basement of an apartment building. What they were I can’t remember, but getting them tidied up felt like something I needed to do.

Then it occurred to me that I had left my purse upstairs in a common area. I started to hurry back and get it before a thief noticed it was there.

“Wait a minute,” I thought, “this is just a dream. That means I can finish what I’m doing, and the purse won’t have gone anywhere.”

So I got everything put away neatly, in its proper place, before I went upstairs. Sure enough, the purse was exactly where I had left it.

Purse on a rug next to a white wall.

But as I got closer, I saw that the purse was open and my wallet was empty. A thief had gotten to it after all.

“It’s a dream,” I declared in exasperation, giving a nasty glare to what appeared to be nothing but a blank white wall. “When I look down again, that money had better show up back in my wallet where it belongs.”

I gave it a moment and then looked down. The small amount of money I’d had in my wallet was still gone—but instead, my purse now held a big wad of 50-dollar bills.

“Well, that’s more like it,” I said, as the dream faded.

Then I spent some time afterward sorting out the symbolism. An apartment building is a place where many people live. A basement is where old things are stored. So, perhaps the dream’s setting had to do with tidying up memories of past relationships and social interactions.

The forgotten purse likely represented anxiety about leaving behind something of value. Realizing that it was just a dream could have been my subconscious mind’s way of reassuring me that I am in control of my circumstances. Even when I feel vulnerable, I don’t need to worry about losing small stuff; instead, I can feel confident that there are better things coming my way in the not-so-distant future.

My subconscious mind has been in a cranky mood for the past few weeks.

It all started out innocently enough. I was going out to get my hair done, and then a peculiar thought popped up out of nowhere. Wouldn’t it be interesting to go back to college and study biochemistry?

Well, no, that actually made no practical sense whatsoever, given the fact that I do not have a science background and it is a very difficult and time-consuming course of study. If I wanted to change careers, plenty of other options would be a much better fit.

But it would be so fascinating, the little inner voice persisted. So many amazing things to learn and discover!

I left that odd thought to settle for a few days, and it quieted down. Meanwhile, I was still writing a daily “kindness journal” as described in my New Year’s resolution post, keeping track of ways in which others were kind to me. It was meant to be a reminder that the world is full of kindness.

When March came to an end I’d been keeping that journal for three full months. My subconscious mind made clear it wasn’t happy about that accomplishment, though, because when I picked up a pen to make an entry, it snapped at me like a bad-tempered badger.

Badger showing its teeth.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

“Quit! Right now!” it snarled. “This journal is just another chore draining your energy, and you’ve had too many of those already! You need to take better care of yourself and quit piling on random obligations.”

Well, okay. I hadn’t in fact done much over the winter, but it was true that I had been feeling low on energy, for whatever reason. So I decided to take my cranky inner badger’s advice and abandon the journal, which I figured had probably served its purpose well enough.

After two journal-less weeks, I had a dream that seemed like it was related in some way. In this dream, I asked my husband a question. Instead of answering it directly, he said “Remember,” in a tone that might have been used to lecture a forgetful child. Then he told me something tangential.

I felt annoyed for a moment, and then I started to wake up. As is the way of dreams, I promptly forgot whatever he had been telling me to remember. That seemed hilarious to my half-asleep brain, and I snickered, “Ha, guess what, I forgot already! Phooey to whatever you said!”

After that I woke up more fully and realized that I was being snarky and childish with someone who wasn’t even there. Still, it felt like there was some meaning to this nonexistent and totally silly conversation.

I gave it some thought for the next few days, along with the other weird messages I’d been getting from my subconscious recently, and decided that all of them had to do with saying “Phooey” to expectations. That is to say, I need to lighten up, be more flexible, and not let routines and assumptions get in the way of seeing the world’s possibilities.

I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night, perhaps because of the time change. Waking up at some dark hour, I tossed and turned for what seemed like a long time. Old fears, mainly about having no money and being powerless and pushed around, wandered out from dusty corners of my mind.

Then I fell halfway back to sleep, and it only got worse. Some kind of thick, heavy energy was sitting on my chest, directly above the solar plexus. When I tried to push it away, it solidified into an enormous boulder and squashed the middle of my body totally flat.

Boulder in a field on a cloudy day.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Despite my dream-body now being mostly separated into two pieces, I was somehow as much alive as ever, and I was angrily trying to shove that gigantic boulder away from me. Not surprisingly, it didn’t budge at all. I felt that nobody would help me with it because all the people who should have helped me in the past, but didn’t care enough to do much, were responsible for putting it there.

After a while I thought of someone who might want to make herself useful: Dame Shadow, an eccentric bodyguard of sorts who inhabits my subconscious as a self-appointed protector of the realm. When I last wrote about the Dame on this blog, she had given me a backache as a melodramatic way of prodding me to think about how much emotional weight I’d been carrying around.

I figured she owed me something after that annoying stunt, and I launched into an imaginary tirade. “Dame Shadow, I know you can hear me, and you’d better do something to get rid of this horrible boulder RIGHT NOW! You like to pretend you’re a superhero who can move mountains to save me, but where are you when I really need help?”

Another minute or so passed. Crickets chirped. Finally I heard light footsteps, and Dame Shadow walked around the boulder. She was dressed in a Wonder Woman outfit, complete with lasso.

“Okay, whatever,” I gave an exasperated sigh. “Just lasso this boulder already, and get it off me.”

The Dame replied, with an evil smirk, “Haven’t you learned yet that letting gravity work for you is much more efficient than brute force?”

She beckoned with her right hand, and several peasants promptly came forward and began digging along the downhill side of the boulder. They were dressed in muddy clothes and had bits of straw sticking to their boots. The shovels they were using looked (and smelled) as if they’d been mucking out the Dame’s stables very recently. Needless to say, the Dame had prudently positioned herself at a comfortable distance upwind.

Given the fact that my body had been effectively cut in half, I didn’t see myself as being in much of a position to complain. So I kept my dignity and pretended everything was fine while the peasants kept on digging. Eventually they undermined the boulder enough so that it rolled a short way down the hill. My midsection started inflating at a steady rate, as if by means of an air pump, until everything was back to normal.

Dame Shadow smiled again, this time with what looked like genuine friendliness. “You see, there are always plenty of sensible solutions to be found, but first you have to take the time to reflect on them.”

February 12, 2019 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

Last night I dreamed that I was a refugee trying to get away from a war zone, sometime long ago. I was helping a young woman who just had a baby. Although that made it much harder both to travel and to hide from the soldiers, it seemed the decent thing to do. Our dinner was rat and weeds soup. Rather than thinking about how yucky that was, though, I felt lucky that I had found an old pot to cook it over a fire.

Old pot hanging on a hook.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

After I woke up, that dream certainly had put all of my trifling modern-day gripes into better perspective. People typically judge their circumstances by comparison to what they see around them, which is why surveys asking about happiness levels generally tend not to show any increase as populations become wealthier. We don’t often compare our lives to what’s in the history books.

Indeed, unless we regularly work to cultivate the habit, we don’t often reflect on our own personal history and all the ways we are doing better than in the past. Small annoyances get our attention instead. Given the fact that we have so many comforts in the here and now, we shouldn’t take them so much for granted.

January 31, 2019 · 6 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I had a really weird dream last night. I was some kind of ancient prophet, and God spoke through me in my dreams while a group of disciples carefully wrote down the words. Every morning I would wake up to see a new parchment scroll beautifully illustrated and full of divine wisdom.

Ancient parchment prayer scroll with illustrations.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

When I woke up this morning (for real), I decided that my subconscious mind most likely was telling me to pay more attention to the wisdom in my dreams. Even if they’re not divinely inspired, my dreams may have useful insights and be worth taking the time to write them down.

So, I put this one into my blog, which seemed as good a place as any. Maybe it’s too weird to inspire anyone, but it might at least have some entertainment value on this cold winter day.

After spending so much time this year rowing with my husband and traveling to regattas, it feels sad to look outside and see frost on the grass in the morning, while the boats sit empty until warmer weather returns. But, on the other hand, it’s not realistic to be on the go forever. Although it would be nice to have unlimited energy for fun activities, sometimes what’s needed is to relax and not be in a rush.

My subconscious mind drove home that message on Monday morning with no subtlety whatsoever, before I fully woke up. An unexpected thought came into my head without any filtering. “Thank God it’s Monday,” my half-asleep brain informed me. “It’s just an ordinary workday, and there’s no need to go anywhere.”

That left me considering how I might do a better job of balancing travel and adventures against the need to rest and replenish my energy. Even though this wasn’t something that happened long ago, I decided on Tuesday evening that a make-believe conversation in one of the tiny houses of Channelwood, the imaginary village where I send my stressed-out past selves for a restful vacation, could give me some insight.

I pictured my half-asleep Monday morning self sitting on the bed next to me. The scenario reminded me of a dorm room because the only other place to sit was a desk chair. Outside a narrow window, a cliff fell sharply away to the ocean, and I heard the surf and seagulls clearly.

Cliff with trees and shrubs dropping away to the ocean.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)


I couldn’t manage to compose any useful dialogue, though. Monday-Morning-Before-Coffee-Me was not lucid enough to put more than a few words together, and just looked like she wanted to go back to sleep. And to be honest, I didn’t think of any good questions to ask her before I was dozing off too.

It wasn’t a completely wasted exercise in imagination, though, because the idea of a dorm room left me dreaming that I was back in college. I wanted to eat a leisurely pancake breakfast in the cafeteria, but my husband (who was, of course, my boyfriend then) was telling me to hurry up and grab something quick.

In real life, he generally doesn’t try to rush me when I am eating breakfast because he knows I hate that. So I interpreted the dream-image as referring not to him in particular, but to whatever might put me in a rush.

As for the pancake breakfast in the cafeteria, I decided that was my subconscious mind’s advice for enjoying a more restful life; and I made banana pancakes with real maple syrup. Yum, that left me feeling better!

August 7, 2018 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags: ,

Last night I dreamed that I was a trucker (in real life, I’ve never driven a truck) and I had a white goat named Wilhelmina, who rode in the passenger seat of the cab, happily looking out the window and watching the world go by. I took her for a walk at a truck stop like a dog.

White goat standing on grass.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

I’ve never owned a goat in real life either, but I’ll guess that the meaning of this dream had to do with being adventurous—getting out and seeing more of the world. Long-haul truckers drive to new places every day. Dogs and other pets that enjoy riding in vehicles are always excited about the adventure.

Why a goat rather than a dog? Maybe just to put more emphasis on the idea of doing something unusual. I’m not sure where the name Wilhelmina came from, as I’ve never known anyone by that name. It sounds like a German queen, though, so it does add to the travel motif. Anyway, this dream gave me a bit of fun trying to figure it all out!

I didn’t sleep well on Sunday night. Although I went to bed at a reasonable hour, it seemed like I had already been lying awake for a very long time when a parade of my younger selves began showing up, one after another. They were all very distressed, crying about how unfairly they’d been treated on some long-ago occasion, even though they had done all that reasonably could be expected.

For a while, I did my best to comfort them with imaginary hugs, reassure them it wasn’t their fault, and sing them to sleep; but they just kept on coming. I tossed and turned, now completely miserable myself. I felt like I would never get any sleep no matter what I did, and then I’d have to drag myself out of bed for work.

Long after midnight, I got up to drink some water. I felt parched, like there wasn’t enough water in the world, even though in fact I’d had plenty to drink on Sunday. After lying back down, I couldn’t get comfortable because however I turned, my body seemed full of aches and pains, battered and worn down by many years of stress. Then the younger selves started in again with their litany of woes. It was all so unfair. I felt responsible for comforting them, almost like I was their mom; but who was going to comfort me?

This was definitely not just an ordinary night of “the blues.” There were so many layers of blues piling on top of each other, it felt like I was lost and doomed to wander forever in a deep blue wilderness.

Blue night clouds in Oregon wilderness.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

Then I saw daylight behind my closed eyes. My first thought was that I must have gotten at least an hour of sleep. I carefully got out of bed, anticipating that something would hurt; but there was no pain anywhere. I felt healthy, refreshed, and full of energy. How could that be?

I got a cupful of water, picked up my mobile phone, and opened the Fitbit app in which I log my daily water intake. One feature of the Fitbit wristband is that it senses when the wearer is sleeping. The app showed that I had slept for a normal eight hours, with only a few minutes awake when I got up in the night for water.

Only then did I realize that I had just been dreaming. The achy, sleepless “me” who had become old, tired, resentful, and worn down from many years of taking on too much responsibility and complaining about life’s unfairness was not really me at all. Rather, she was a very literal manifestation of a wake-up call from Spirit, showing the natural consequences of such feelings.

I went into Monday morning with much gratitude, as if I had reached the end of my life and then, through miraculous grace, had been given a chance to start over.

May 6, 2018 · Write a comment · Categories: Musings · Tags:

I had a curious dream last night in which I was traveling. I stayed at a house that was supposed to have a magical Fountain of Youth nearby. Although I heard water splashing and birds chirping, I couldn’t seem to find my way out of the house to discover the fountain.

Fountain in a garden pond.

(Creative Commons image via flickr)

The house was big and untidy, with pet food spilled on a tile floor. After I saw that mess, I felt that I needed to take a bath; but when I found the bathtub it was dirty, with random junk all around it. I started cleaning the tub and was still scrubbing busily away when I woke up.

Perhaps not by coincidence, I’d had plenty of sleep for the past three nights. When I got out of bed and saw my face in the mirror, I looked young and refreshed. The physical function of sleep is, of course, to clean up the “junk” that accumulates in the brain and body while awake.

So I believe it would be fair to interpret the dream as a gentle reminder from my subconscious about the importance of getting enough sleep. Being well rested may not literally be a magical Fountain of Youth, but it does go a long way toward feeling healthier!

April 10, 2018 · 4 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

When I went to bed on Sunday night, I was feeling very drained of energy after having had a cold for a week; and no matter what I did, it seemed like I just couldn’t break out of that run-down feeling. I decided to give my subconscious mind a little prod to shift gears by way of dreaming, so I asked myself what needed to happen for me to feel healthier and happier in general.

Asking myself a question just before falling asleep has resulted in some interesting dream-answers on occasion. I wasn’t expecting the weirdness that showed up this time, though. I dreamed that my husband (who, in real life, is a software developer in Ohio) was a real estate mogul in New York making a deal that involved a penthouse party, a hot tub, and several women in very skimpy bikinis. I felt uneasy, but my husband told me not to worry because negotiating was the easiest money to make.

When I woke up, all I could do was shake my head and say “Seriously?” to my subconscious mind. That was also how I felt when I looked out the window at the backyard and saw that there had been snow overnight—again.

Snow on my deck in April, with trees still bare.

As wacky as that dream was, though, it did feel like there was something it wanted to tell me. The scenario, while it was ridiculously exaggerated in soap-opera fashion, clearly had to do with cultural notions of being successful and confident. So I decided that the message was pretty close to what I was actually told in the dream—there’s no reason to worry, life is easy.

I’ve been slowly getting back my energy since then, while looking forward to warm weather finally showing up. And if I start feeling blah again, I’ll just imagine myself in a hot tub at a New York penthouse party and have a good laugh!