Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Dream interpretation - Get some relief!

Dreams fraught with bodily sensation and/or focus on the body may be speaking directly to a physical necessity to which the Dreamer must attend.  But even these dreams most likely have another layer (at least!) of meaning that will direct the Dreamer toward personal growth.

Dear Carolyn,

Sometimes a “soccer mom’s” life can be hectic.  My dream reminds me of the frantic quality of my “typical” days.  I sacrifice for my family because I know the kids will be grown and gone in the blink of an eye.  It is a little embarrassing to write about, but here’s my dream:

OMG!  If I don’t find a bathroom quick my bladder will burst, right here in a huge department store!  I pass through the jewelry, cosmetics and sportswear departments, looking frantically for a restroom sign.  Of course I don’t think to ask a clerk; I just keep lurching through throngs of shoppers, wild-eyed with mounting misery.  Off in the distance I spy “Women’s Room” and make a beeline.  I dash in and yes, there are plenty of available stalls, but -- no doors!  I can’t stay, I must find privacy!  I hurtle in agony through menswear, appliances and shoes and there it is – at last!  A lone toilet, all for me!  But wait, it’s right in the middle of the store!  I can’t do it.

What in the world is this about?!


Frantic for the Loo

Dear Frantic,

Any time we dream that our physical bodies need attention; it is advisable to pay them that attention.  Now that doesn’t mean you should just get up and go to the bathroom and dismiss this dream with a flush.  However, there could well be that literal component to your dream. 

While you are doing your best for your family and clearly have placed duty above self, on the metaphorical level, you dream suggests that you are desperate for some relief.  That play on words contrasts the idea of relieving one’s self in the rest room with the anxiety you may be feeling not so far below the surface.  Your dream suggests you need some relief, some privacy, s “Women’s Room,” but it’s off in the distance, probably when your children become independent.

You say that “of course” you do not think to ask for help, but just continue to lurch “through throngs of shoppers, wild-eyed with mounting misery.”  Your dream suggests that none of the “departments” you search through so frantically seem to offer the kind of support you need.  But “of course” without asking your family members, other soccer moms, or community organizations for help, how can you know for sure?

It seems then that your sense of duty and sacrifice has left you without any privacy or a moment’s relief.  Do you thrive on projecting the image of a devoted and harried parent?  Take care of yourself too Dear Dreamer, so you do not burn out before your kids are grown and gone.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Polish your diamonds

Dreams of loss are common.  Often the key to such a dream’s meaning lies in the symbolism of what is lost.  For today’s dreamer, the loss of diamonds from her engagement ring is frightening, but less so when the metaphor of “engagement” is understood.

Dear Carolyn,

I have a normal life.  My husband and I are happy and our kids are fine.  Work is always a struggle but after months of turmoil there, it's back to normal.  Not fixed, but back to normal. 

I think I get tired of the routine.  I feel I spend a lot of time just going through the motions.  I go and go.  In the middle of all this, I had a dream that I am having problems processing.  The dream was very business-like, matter of fact:

I lost all the diamonds in my engagement ring.  They just cascaded out, but I was able to pick them up and place them back in. 

I felt that picking up the diamonds was just something that had to be done.  Everything has its place – that sort of thing.  So, there was no panic when they fell out.  I really didn’t even seem worried about gathering them up and putting them back in place.  But I woke up feeling a little sad.


Diamonds - Lost and Found

Dear Diamonds,

Dreams like this can be distressing, can't they?  We attach so much meaning to our wedding/engagement rings!  It’s natural to jump to a conclusion that your marriage is in trouble.  But in this case, your dream may speak less about your marriage than it does about your detachment from your “normal” life. 

It might be helpful to think of the play on words with "engagement."  This is likely a reference to another kind of engagement.  Have you observed yourself to be not unhappy, but "disengaged" from your involvement in the aspects of your waking life?  Work, husband, kids' school or activities? 

The tone of your description suggests that this is true.  You tell us how you “go and go,” how you’ve tired of your routine and how you merely go through the motions of your life. 

Your dream reflects this sort of resignation by showing you have lost the "diamonds" of engagement which are, of course, caring, passion, enthusiasm, curiosity, interest and joy.  They are all within reach, but no extra concern or effort is expended on your part.  Just as you describe your work as “not fixed, but back to normal,” that is how you proceed – returning to a “normal” routine that is uninspiring. 

Your dream comes to you in the interest of your health and wellness, Dear Dreamer.  It suggests that you take a more careful look at each diamond in your life rather than putting them back into place with a “ho hum.”  Polish each one with some enthusiasm.  You have much for which to be thankful.  Express your gratitude for the sparkling gifts that make up your days.

 Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Go ahead and cross that bridge

Watch your dreams for bridges and overpasses.  These will often signal a transition point in your waking life.  Thus, if the bridge from here to there – from the old to the new, or the familiar to the unknown – is fraught with fear, just know that staying where you are in life, i.e. avoiding the transition, may be safer, but it may be stifling as well.

Dear Carolyn,

I dreamed (again!) that I’m in San Francisco and it’s time to go home.  Sometimes in this dream I live down the Peninsula in Redwood City or Palo Alto, so the route is over land; other times my home is in the East Bay and I will have to cross a bridge to get there.  

I’m in my car pondering which direction to take.  I’m morbidly aware of my longstanding bouts with panic attacks while driving over bridges and overpasses, so the decision is critical.  It is of the utmost importance that I steer clear of the terror I’ve experienced so many times in the past.  I must stay level-headed and plot a route free of bridges and from the nightmarish anxiety I so desperately want to avoid even if it means a 25 mile detour.  Aha, I see the best way just ahead.  

I summon my courage and start driving.  But within seconds I realize the error of my ways.  Looming in front of me is a towering overpass leading to a bridge with no way out.  The tension wakes me up in a shivering sweat.



Dear G,

Gephyrophobia – the fear of bridges or of crossing them – can be debilitating, especially if you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a place with an impressive array of long, tall, daunting bridges.  Some bridges in the United States are so notorious for striking fear in motorists that local governments have arranged driving assistance programs for drivers who ask to be chauffeured across.  

Some people use distractions such as reading license plates backward or listening for words on the radio starting with the letter ‘A,’ for example, to engage their brains in other activities as they coax themselves across an intimidating overpass.

Regarding your dream, while it may reflect your literal fears, it likely also reflects a similarly paralyzing state of mind that prevents you from transitioning from your well-worn and limiting routine into a newer, fresher way of life. 

Make a note of when this dream recurs and you will soon see that it pops up when you are going to great lengths – taking a 25 mile detour – to avoid a task to which you have assigned immense stature.  You would rather do almost anything than cross that bridge when you come to it.  Your dream suggests you have assigned so much power and importance to the change that it terrifies you.  A more rational approach is called for.

Better to break that transition into baby steps that you can take to build your confidence, Dear Dreamer.  Otherwise, you’ll do a lot of driving and but get nowhere.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Dream Interpretation - It's your rat race

Recurring dreams may seem pesky, but they can be a most valuable source of insight for a dreamer’s forward progress.  A key to zeroing in on the meaning is to note when the dream recurs.  What’s going on in your waking life when a repeating dream pops up?

Dear Carolyn,

I know I’m in a rut, but do my dreams have to be in a rut too?  It would be helpful if they were more inspiring instead of just repeating the same old thing over and over!  Here’s the background:

Jim and I were married for nearly five lackluster years.  He epitomized the term Type A.  When he got home from work he would glance nervously at the ceiling in search of new leaks; then his gaze would turn to the stack of newspapers to recycle making sure they were neatly aligned.  A typical evening with him might include a dinner comprised of oatmeal topped with wheat germ and some serious shoe-polishing, followed by tallying up the monthly receipts to determine how much I owed him!  

If anyone needed to drink, it was Mike, but unfortunately, he gave it up years before we met.  His hobbies were dieting, flossing, and hypochondria.  

After I announced to him and the counselor that the marriage was over, I couldn’t stop smiling to myself all the way home – it was the best decision I ever made.

So why on earth does he appear time after time in dreams to reunite with me?  The scene always unfolds on the grounds of a vast condominium complex, not unlike where we lived.  I am delirious with joy knowing he’ll arrive soon and we’ll be blissfully together again, ‘til death do us part.


Been There, Done That

Dear Been There,

You mention that you are in a rut.  Chances are, your dream of Jim and all his foibles recurs when you, yourself are repeating self-defeating, or as you say, lackluster behaviors that keep you mired in the repetitive, the negative or the unnecessary.  Per your description, Jim was too focused on the minutia to experience the greater possibilities aroundhim.  Could it be that you let yourself do the same?

One way to know for sure what your dream insists on telling you is to make a note of what is happening in your waking life when it recurs.  Does it come at a time when you are denying yourself more enriching activities because of your own versions of flossing, shoe shining or hypochondria – things that could be relegated to a smaller corner of your consciousness and a smaller percentage of your time?

Take a hard look at yourself, Dear Dreamer.  This dream does not recur simply to leave you puzzled as to your past relationship.  More likely, it’s pointing out that you hold yourself back with a similarly narrow view of what your life is and what it can be.  Remember, when you broke away from that pattern before, it was the best decision of your life.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Paris is all around you

Our dreams do not come to torment us with past failures or to revive regret.  Our dreams come in service of our health and well-being.  Today’s recurring dream will repeat itself until our dreamer takes action toward thriving in her remaining years.

Dear Carolyn,

The dream I am sending you has happened quite a few times.  I think the urgency is there because I'm old (66) and time is running out and Paris is symbolic.  Until I was 61 I was fairly impoverished, trying to make a living as an artist and never linking up with a patron who had any money.  Then I received a modest inheritance which allowed me to relax a little and not worry constantly.  The Paris dream mainly occurred before I got the money, but still happens now and then to remind me that I never made it as an artist and haven't seen much of the world.  

The small hotel room is dark and nondescript.  I have a sense I’ve arrived in Paris but can’t be sure.  Looking out the window, I see no Eiffel Tower, but then I know -- it really is Paris, my dream come true!  The winter gloom tells me I only have an hour or two to explore before nightfall; and my plane leaves first thing in the morning.  So little time to see so much!  I glance around frantically for my purse but I haven’t brought one.  No luggage, passport, or money either.  Anxiety rises but I know I must get out of there now and grab what I can before it’s too late.  I’ll never have another chance.


Yearning for Paris

Dear Yearning,

You have a good start on the meaning of your dream, and the background you have provided helps us put the dream in context.  It does have a sense of urgency built in by way of the darkening sky of the ‘winter gloom,’ a metaphor for the winter of your life.  

Added to that are the facts that you have only an hour or two to do and see so much; and your plane is leaving first thing the very next morning.  These are common thoughts and anxieties for people entering into the ‘winter of their years.’  It’s natural to make a life review and think to yourself, “I’d better hurry and do as much as I can before I depart!”

When you look around, you don’t see the Eiffel Tower or any other landmark that says you’ve made it to Paris, the artists’ mecca that you aspired to.  But your dream makes it clear that you are in a place worthy of exploration and appreciation. 

Like all of us as we age, Dear Dreamer, you don’t want to spend time regretting what you have not yetdone or achieved.  Your dream has not come to taunt you.  It has come to exhort you:  Get out the door and live the life you have remaining!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dream Interpretation - No worries with this snake

Dreamers from all around the world report images of snakes.  Myths and norms of a society help determine a symbol’s meaning.  In our American culture, we have an almost universally negative reaction to snakes.  Perhaps only herpetologists feel kindly toward this primordial creature!  Today’s dreamer has her own guess as to a snake’s implication in her dream:

Dear Carolyn,

I don’t remember if you’ve ever written about snakes in dreams.  Over my life, I’ve had a few dreams, or maybe even more than a few, that included snakes.  I’m sure they are extremely Freudian! 

Here’s the latest one.  It’s really just a piece of the dream.  I’m sure there was more to it, so do what you can with it, please:

I seemed to be walking along a narrow dirt path in a rural area.  Reminds me of the fields near where I grew up in rural California.  Not much around except grass on both sides.  A snake on the left side of the path startled me and stopped me in my tracks.  It actually looked more like a tree branch, gray and weathered.  Somehow, it was dead and alive at the same time.  Its head almost looked like a piranha’s head.  Its mouth was open and it had long teeth.  For a moment I was afraid when a voice in my head said, “Let it bite you.  It won’t hurt!”  I did.  I let it bite me and the voice was right – it didn’t hurt!


Snake Bit

Dear Snake Bit,

A dream of moving along a path might signify a milestone, updating you on your progress at this point in your life.

The setting of your dream also offers a clue as to a possible meaning for you:  The narrow path reminds you of the fields where you spent your childhood.  Perhaps there is something in your consciousness now that harkens back to those days.  Whatever it is, it has stopped you in your tracks – kept you from making forward progress.  Perhaps it has restricted you from moving more freely in the scope and direction you desire.

This snake in the grass – note the play on words implying something sinister – is in poor condition, indicating it is essentially dead.  Even so, you have kept it alive; in your words it is dead, but alive.  But take note:  It is gray and weathered like the lifeless tree branch it is.  Is there a branch in your family tree or event(s) from that time in your life that have withered – “weathered” – and died?  Thank goodness!  Their ‘bite’can no longer harm you!   

Just as your inner voice tells you, no matter how scary or dangerous the events of that era were to you then, there is no need for you to be concerned now, Dear Dreamer!  You can move past this point in your history.  Let it go.  Your way need not be so narrow.  Expand your horizons and leave your old demons behind!

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dreams about cars are pervasive in our society.  Such dreams have the potential for meaning on several levels.  Today’s dreamer brings an opportunity to explore the possibilities.

Dear Carolyn,

I just turned 70 and I am amazed at life and a little baffled by what lies ahead.  I have been reading your column for a while now, so I know you say that cars might stand for our bodies.  That’s one of the reasons this dream bothers me.  I’m worried that it is telling me that something’s wrong with me health-wise:  

I’m driving along in an older car that I don’t recognize.  It’s red, but the paint is oxidized and the car needs to be washed and vacuumed.  It’s dark outside and I’m on a road I don’t recognize either.  I come to a stop sign and try to start the car even though it is already running.  This makes it stall and I can’t get it to start up again.  

Next, there’s a sharp shooter in the area.  I fall to the ground to protect myself, but I get hit by a grazing bullet.  It scrapes some skin off my spine and somehow lodges under the skin in my thigh.


Worried About Myself

Dear Worried,

Thanks for reading the column!

In our American culture, cars appear in many dreams.  Depending on the dreamer and the circumstances, a car may be just a car.  So, if you dream that your car won’t start, it could be time to check the starter or the battery.  Some dreams are as straightforward as that!

As you mentioned, a car in your dream can be an effective metaphor for health issues, too.  In that case, a dream of an overheated car that blows a fuse could be cautioning the dreamer to slow down and manage her temper.

Your dream has clues to another interpretation of a car – as the method, or state of mind by which you maneuver your way through life.  Perhaps you find your circumstances and feelings unrecognizable, Dear Dreamer:  Are you feeling older and a little worse for the wear – needing to be spruced up?  You find yourself in the dark and on a road that is unfamiliar like the phase of life you are entering.  It is unknown to you and daunting, no doubt.

The car may not look as good as it once did, but it is already running.  It could be that by trying to start it anyway, you are trying to get yourself motivated to move along the road ahead and enjoy this sometimes mysterious and often dreaded phase of life. 

Is that sharp shooter an astute observer in your life whose remarks were aimed to take your down?  The good news is, you dodged the bullet.  It does only minor damage to you – taking only a little skin off your back – notice the play on words?  And another one – it just got under your skin.  Maybe you are cursing the inevitable, Dear Dreamer, but you’re not dead yet!

Sweet Dreams to You!