Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dream interpretation - Do it like Joan Baez did

Famous people who appear in our dreams may represent an ideal that we aspire to in our waking lives.  Look for the salient qualities of that celebrity with an understanding that those may be what you strive for in yourself.  This can open a window into your dream’s meaning.  Today’s dreamer offers an example in which an icon seems to be taunting her about the strength of her convictions.

Dear Carolyn,

Years ago I took a lot of flak for some statements I made at work.  My ideas were out of the mainstream and challenged the comfort of those (including my superiors) who followed the time worn traditions there.  Ultimately, I lost my job over it.  I went on to publish a book that included my controversial views.  It was well-received in my arena and important people told me to speak out to a wider audience, but the exigencies of life and the sting of being ‘let go’ held me back.

I associate that time in my life with Joan Baez and her music.  I always admired her for the strength of her voice, her integrity and her bravery in the causes she supported. 

Now I have been thinking about publishing again.  I still have passion behind my views, but I find that I am considering material that might be less controversial. 

So my last dream of the morning has me buying a book from Joan Baez.  She asks to see some of my writing.  After seeing several samples, she says I am not a threat to her, so I should go ahead and publish my work. It felt odd.

I woke up thinking, hmmm.  Not sure if this is a sign to publish again or not.


Fan of Joan Baez

Dear Fan,

You say that you admire Joan Baez for her voice, her integrity and her bravery.  For you, she represents that part of yourself that will speak her truth without fear of the controversy it might cause. 

In your dream, when she – that brave part of yourself – looks over the material you are thinking of publishing, she almost scoffs at it by saying, “This is no threat to me; go ahead and publish.”  You are essentially dismissed, free to publish the less controversial material without taking on her role of outspoken advocate.

In effect, she tells you that you will be safe and protected from the sting of your last experience of speaking out.  But will a watered-down version of your vision satisfy your need to speak the truth as she did?  After all, her strong voice is one of the things you hold in high regard.

There is no shame in taking the safer route, Dear Dreamer.  However, you must weigh the consequences to your own integrity.  If you publish a meeker version of your truth, what is the effect on you?  Will you be satisfied with a book that shrinks from its mission and challenges no one?

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Problem solving is a dream

Dearest Dreamers,

In our waking lives, we sometimes find ourselves slogging away, working through the ups, downs and often tricky ground of personalities, politics and problems.  We may feel as though we are making headway, only to discover that we’ve worked our way around a circle and made no progress at all.

Our Dreaming Selves offer us a higher perspective, almost as though that part of ourselves sees the lay of the land around us from a helicopter’s vantage point.  Using the beautiful language of metaphor, our dreams sum up confounding situations and direct us to openings and inroads we simply cannot see from ground level.

People from all walks of life have relied upon their dreams when in need of inspiration for solving problems with inventions, innovations or when in need of creative impetus.  Movie makers, songwriters, visual artists and scientists are among the most notable:

John Lennon and Paul McCartney attribute some of their iconic music and song lyrics to the stuff of their dreams.  These include McCartney’s “Yesterday,” the most covered song in music history and Lennon’s “#9 Dream.”  Keith Richards tells of dreaming the riff to the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

Surrealist painter Salvador Dali called many of his works "hand-painted dream photographs." With images of melting clocks in his "Persistence of Memory," Dali illustrates his idea that our concept of time becomes arbitrary when we're in a dream state.

Movie maker Richard Linklater of “Boyhood” fame credits his dreams for a previous, well-received animated feature “Waking Life.”  And Director Christopher Nolan took the inspiration for his 2010 psychological thriller “Inception” from his own lucid dreams.  

Some of our most famous and acclaimed authors, including Maurice Sendak, perhaps best known for his children’s book Where the Wild Things Are and SueGrafton of the alphabet mystery series A Is for Alibi, B Is for Burglar, C Is for Corpse…H Is for Homicide speak about their dreams’ influence on their work.

Nobel laureate James Watson reported stumbling upon the double helix image for the DNA chain through his dream of a spiral staircase.

Our dreams are not only beautiful and lyrical, but their practical use for problem solving and creative generation of solutions ranges across art, science and literature.  It doesn’t take a giant leap of faith to know that productive and accomplished people across all endeavors can and do employ their dreams, tapping depths of creativity and insight into their work.

Why not you, Dear Dreamer?  No doubt you have faced or are facing a challenge in your life.  Consider that your Dreaming Self can be helpful in giving you perspective on the problem.  As Stephen King says, a dream may offer an angle on the issue that you just cannot see without it!

If these talented and noteworthy persons rely on their dreams for insights and assistance, we too can add them to our toolbox of methods for working resourcefully on the perplexing problems of our daily lives.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Frequently the characters in our dreams will represent parts of ourselves that we do not recognize in waking life.  Sometimes this will point out bad habits to which we are blind.  Or, as in the case today, that other person shows the Dreamer her strong dependable self whom she forgets she knows.

Dear Carolyn,

Let’s say my name is Nancy.  I happen to have a good friend whose name is also Nancy.  She is someone I admire for her intelligence and calm balanced approach to life.

In my dream I am with Nancy.  We are on ramp – a long slanting stone path that leads into the ocean.  We are seated with our legs extended and arms propped up like beach chairs.  We look towards the ocean and the sunset and wait for a giant wave to crash over us.  It is scary.

A wave comes, but by the time it reaches us it is diminished.  It washes up harmlessly.  We are wet but unhurt and unmoved.  I tell Nancy that I was afraid I would be washed out into the ocean.  We can see that some people were carried away.  They're trailing out towards the sun but seem to be unharmed.

Nancy tells me she wasn't afraid.  She would've enjoyed being washed to sea!  We turn and face the water again and another wave comes just like the last one.  But then a big wave comes.  But we are not washed away even though the wave is much bigger and covers us.

There are natives on the beach performing an ancient ritual for the waves and the sun.  They stand in rows facing the sun and the water with arms extended, covered with feathers, headdresses and face paint.

I can see that they are unafraid and accept what comes.  They will deal with whatever comes and life will go on.  A woman there, a tourist, seems to treat the display as though it is apart from her or not real.  I know she is wrong.  Their ritual is meaningful.  It is part of life.


Scared of the Waves

Dear Scared,

You do not offer background or waking life details, but your dream suggests that you are anticipating troubles.  Perhaps because you and Nancy, the other you, are looking toward the sunset, the things you worry about or dread are related to the sunset of your life.  In any case, your dream offers repeated assurances that you have the wherewithal to deal with whatever is coming your way.

Those qualities you admire in your friend – no coincidence your dreaming self chose her – are within you and will sustain you.  Many times, like the diminished waves, what comes will be less threatening than you expected.  

You’re not a tourist in this territory, Dear Dreamer.  Even those other, bigger waves, powerful life events, leave you safe on land.  Like the natives in their ritual acknowledgement of the cycles of life, you must only accept what comes and with the strength of Nancy, you will survive.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Dream Interpretation - It's not about Joe; It's about you

Most dreams have layers of meaning.  Sometimes we seize on the literal or superficial elements of our dreams, avoiding the implications for ourselves.  Today’s dreamer offers an example of a dream that presents insights into a friend which are also applicable in his own life.

Dear Carolyn,

I dreamed about “Joe,” an older man I’ve been friends with since I was a teenager.  Joe has lived his life full of regret.  He is always telling me about things he wished he’d done or had not done.  
Sometimes it’s tiring and I ask myself why I have stayed friends with such a negative person all these years because I have no regrets.  Well, to be totally honest, I guess you could say I am disappointed or frustrated with myself.  I often think about what I should be doing or accomplishing.  But only in my head.  I don’t go around whining out loud!

In this dream I see Joe.  He has dyed his hair blonde as it used to be when he was young.  He looks younger and alert and healthy and frisky.  He has been called to testify in a trial or hearing of some sort.  The parties involved found him via a different name ~ Sammy Jankis ~ the name of a character in “Memento,” a weird movie about short-term memory loss.  Joe had forgotten that this was his name.  Because of this new information from the trial, Joe will inherit a large sum of money. 

When I wake I have the thought that he spent a long time in his life not appreciating the inheritance he already had, the one that was coming to him.


No Regrets

Dear Regrets,

Your dream has not come to tell you what you already know about Joe.  Rather it uses Joe as an example for you.  You say you are not like him, but if your internal dialogue is one of constantly reviewing your disappointments and frustrations, that is a form of regret.  You are more like Joe than you realize. 

The trial in your dream denotes a formal review and this is called for in your case.  Take a hard look and you likely will discover that you also have short-term memory loss!  Are there recent achievements or contributions you’ve made for which you give yourself no credit?

Your dream comes as a reminder that like Joe, you have forgotten your earlier self.  When you were younger, most likely you had an optimistic and forward thinking outlook, rather than the unhappy and judgmental one that dominates your self-talk.

Like Joe, you have left behind the inheritance that has been yours all along, a happier outlook with brighter prospects.  Consider focusing some time recognizing those things you have accomplished over the years at work and at home.  Start a gratitude journal to keep yourself mindful of the many positive aspects of your life.

Check yourself, Dear Dreamer!  You may be the one bringing yourself down!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Sing along for harmony in the workplace

Some dreamers report music as a primary component of their dreams.  This can be soothing, uplifting, even educational.  Today’s dreamer provides a lovely example.

Dear Carolyn,

I work with a several people who are antagonistictoward each other at almost every turn.  I abhor  their jealousies and pettiness, and to my dismay, I sometimes find myself joining in.  We do get the work done, but it always feels like a struggle.  I could not see all the people in this dream, but I’m pretty sure my colleagues were there with my friends and some family members:

I dreamed we were in a small outdoor area formed by cut rocks.  We sat in three sections on stone benches.  Overhead were white trellises with green vines hanging down.

Someone was trying to organize us and was frustrated.  I call out, "What about singing a round?  Acoustics in this place would be amazing."

Then everyone looks to me to organize the group’s singing.  I ask if anyone knows ‘kumbaya.’  The remainder of the dream has me organizing the group into three sections according to the natural divisions in our setting. 

Then I teach the song.  Verse one – Am I praying Lord?  Verse two – Am I singing Lord?  Verse three – Am I laughing Lord?  In teaching, I sing each verse and the group sings it over and over.  The harmony and the resonance are beautiful.

Toward the end I realize the lyrics should not be questions: not – Am I praying Lord, but – I am praying Lord, and so on.


Wishful Dreaming

Dear Wishful,

The setting of your dream depicts the hard and entrenched positions of those you deal with at work and perhaps even among some of your friends and family members.  What could be more unmoving than cut rocks and stone benches?  The trellises overhead with the vines denoting connectedness allude to the higher mind needed to overcome the ingrained attitudes around you.

Your dream places you in the role of peace keeper,or perhaps more accurately, peace maker.  When others are frustrated at trying to organize the discordant groups, you know just what to do and how to do it.  While some are now cynical about the naively optimistic views of the world evoked by the song, the fact that all three factions in your dream chime in to make harmony in such a beautiful resonant way speaks to the possibilities for common ground among them.

You say that in spite of yourself, you sometimes give in to the negative spirit surrounding you.  This likely comes at the times when, like the part of you in the dream that is frustrated, you give up.  Since you can’t beat ‘em, you join ‘em.

If things are to improve, you must be a leader in this regard.  Take the higher ground, Dear Dreamer.  Show your co-workers how it’s done, through gratitude, laughter and even song.  Soon you and those around you will no longer question but affirm their blessings.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Fairy tales can come true

Some of us cannot accept our own good fortune.  No matter the face value of those people and circumstances of our lives, we continue to question, unable to enjoy our own happy luck.  In cases like these, our dreams will sometimes help us pinch ourselves and realize that our waking life prosperity is real.  Today’s dreamer receives a beautiful wake up call. 

Dear Carolyn,

I am almost 40 years old and sometimes I feel as if I have spent my whole life looking for a perfection that does not exist.  In retrospect, I see that I may have passed up opportunities and relationships that might have been wonderful.  But based on my pride and high standards, I wouldn’t “settle.”  I guess I believed the fairy tales! 

I’m sure I offended people who cared for me and wasted more than one chance for happiness.  Even now, I find myself on the verge of pushing away a man who seems lovely, but I am distrustful.  It is hard for me to relax and accept him.  He seems to have a lot going for him and he is pursuing me.  But what if he is not what he seems to be?  The risk of pain scares me!  Then I had this dream:

The cottage is perfect!  It has everything I’ve been looking for -- late thirties storybook charm with built-in cabinets, inlaid wooden floor in the living room, a funky chandelier in the dining room, a kitchen window overlooking a heavenly garden, two bedrooms for me and the cat.  And -- it’s affordable!  The deal is sealed and the landlady departs.  I gingerly creep around, visualizing where I will put my furniture and artwork, scarcely believing my good fortune.  Surely she will come back and say it was all a mistake, but she doesn’t!  Then I notice another door.  I cautiously open it, expecting some Twilight Zone horror, but it’s a delightful third bedroom.  I’m overwhelmed with happiness.


Always Skeptical

Dear Skeptical,

It is no coincidence that the beautiful new home you have found in your dream is a “late thirties” charmer.  That most likely is a reference to the new man you are considering, assuming that he, like you, is nearly 40 years old.  Like him, the cottage has everything you have been looking for “built in” and “inlaid.”  Maybe that funky chandelier in the dining room refers to a lovable quirk you have observed in him – perhaps his outlook on life – the way he sheds light on things. 

However, your old doubtful self just cannot believe that you could actually “settle” into such perfect surroundings.  You have to creep around gingerly, expecting to find a horror behind the next door. 

But guess what, Dear Dreamer?  It’s all good!  Your dream assures you that this time, there are no unpleasant surprises.  Do not spoil a good thing with your negative expectations.  This just might be your storybook relationship.  Try to relax and enjoy it!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Not all babies are the same

Today, two versions of dreams including images of infants offer insights into this powerful metaphor.  Note the similarities between them as the babies evoke inspiration and creation of something fresh and new.  Also note how each dreamer’s interaction with the infant in her dreams illustrates markedly different meanings.

Dear Carolyn,

I always dream of a beautiful baby girl, like an infant.  I like to have the baby laughing and I carry her.  This baby appears in my dreams from the beginning of this year.  Sometimes I am pregnant; then I dreamed again it was born, a baby, an infant.  Then last night I dreamed again of a baby.  Maybe she’s growing because she’s beautiful.  Last night she was 4 months old.

Hope you can tell me what’s the meaning of that. 

Signed, Loving Babies

Dear Carolyn,

I dreamed that a neighbor entrusted me to look after her baby for the afternoon.  I’m holding the infant in my arms as we make our way down a crowded urban sidewalk, possibly New York City.  There’s so much noisy commotion and bustling activity that I get distracted and lose my focus now and then.  I look down and there’s no baby.  I panic.  Oh, I left it on the ledge over there.  We’re okay now.  I walk along and then remember to check on the baby and discover it’s a cat instead.  I’m shaken, but think -- my memory isn’t so great; I guess the cat’s welfare is my job now.  On we go, lost in the chaotic city scene for a few minutes.  I look and it’s a baby again.  Is the baby okay?  How will I find my way back to the mother?  Then I realize -- all that remains in my hand is a small speck of flesh!  Unspeakable shame and guilt engulf me.


Bad Babysitter

Dear Loving Babies and Bad Babysitter,

Babies in our dreams often signify new beginnings, anew life or a fresh start of some sort.  In both your cases this is most likely the case.  For Loving Babies, the dream seems to suggest that you are carrying a secret, a happy sense of anticipation of something new and wonderful.  Perhaps you have been nurturing a new idea that is progressing within you as your dream suggests by the stages of growth of your ‘brainchild.’ 

You don’t offer details from your waking life, but perhaps now is the time to unveil your ideas and bring them to fruition.  Glad tidings for you, Dear Dreamer!

In contrast, Bad Babysitter, you appear to have taken on someone else’s concept and agreed to carry it through distracting and hectic circumstances.  Your lack of commitment to the obligation shows as you misplace the baby and at times even fail to recognize it.  In the end, when there is barely a speck remaining of the original thought, the guilt and shame that engulf you must be endured.  Confess to your true lack of interest in what was not your ‘baby’ from the start.

Sweet Dreams to You Both!