Monday, November 23, 2015

Dream interpretation - Everything new is old again

Transitional phases of life bring dreams which reflect our changing patterns of thinking.  These can be confusing in waking life and our dreams come to help us sort out the changes.  Today’s dreamer has recently closed down a long-standing private practice and is, in her words, “trying to find [her] way” in retirement.

Dear Carolyn,

Retirement is exciting and scary at the same time.  For me, the timing was perfect – I was ready to close my business and shift into a more free-flowing style of life.  Or at least I think I am – the transition is not as simple as I thought:  I was extremely disciplined for many years!  I feel pretty sure this dream is about my “new life” but don’t know why it made me so mad! 

In the dream I am teaching a yoga class in a large barn-like studio.  The class is very full.  I start with leg lifts to connect core with breath.  I often do this, but the class members act like it’s weird and dumb.  I go to help Diane – an emotional and needy student – and as I do the class gets very chatty and I lose their attention.  They are not following my directions and I am frustrated by this. 

Then, out of nowhere, three women waltz across the floor, right through the middle of the class!  They are in loose flowing gowns, beautiful and spirit-like, but they are not appropriate for my yoga class.  I yell.  I get mean.  But nothing changes.  There is a file cabinet with envelops that have teachers’ names on them, but I don’t have one.  What am I supposed to do?  Make one?

Students are walking out and I hear them say, “I thought she was supposed to be such a good teacher.”


At Loose Ends

Dear Loose Ends,

Having spent the bulk of your working life in a self-controlled and systematic atmosphere, it is understandable that you are looking forward to a change of attitude and structure.  Your dreaming self presents you with the metaphor of teaching the discipline of yoga to the part of you that no longer wants to pay attention to such things.  Your newly retired, freer self is easily distracted and even disrespectful of the restrained practice that was once so central to your way of being.  You no longer have the credentials to operate in that arena – no name on the envelop.

But when the looser, more free-flowing part of you waltzes through the middle of the scene, you are taken aback.  Your former mode of operating – the more rigid disciplinarian – may yell and be mean, trying to deny access to the free spirit, but it is unfazed.  Let yourself unwind a bit, Dear Dreamer.  Relax into your new world.  Or – recreate a retirement duplicate of your working life.

Sweet Dreams to You!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Let the baby swim!

Babies in our dreams often signify new beginnings and creative impulses.  Today’s dreamer finds that his concerns for a swimming infant are unwarranted and even detrimental.

Dear Carolyn,

I worked for nearly 30 years in a business I built up on my own.  If I do say so myself, I was very good at what I did and my business was professional and successful.  Many clients were with me from the beginning and said they hated to see me close down – but I was ready.  I wanted to retire before the business became too difficult and wasn’t fun.  Anyway, I’m retired six months now and casting about for what to do with my considerableremaining energy and creative ambitions.  What worries me is that I seem to be easily distractible.  I move toward an exciting project only to be pulled in another direction and then find myself distracted again.

With all this troubling me, I dreamed that I am in a wooded picnic area with a swimming pool.  A baby, about 3-6 months old, is swimming in the pool.  He seems to be OK, but I’m a little worried.  I jump in the water to protect him and then he doesn’t swim as well!  When I get out, the baby swims fine again, going under and coming back up, pushing off the side of the pool and having a good time.  My friends are there – Jim the artist and John the writer.  We seem to be looking at MapQuest when I wake up feeling anxious.


Worried About the Baby

Dear Worried,

Your post-retirement dream offers insights and encouragement as you find your way in this newest phase of your life.

First, the setting is appropriate as it places you in a recreational arena, as retirement does.  Your energetic, creative self – the baby born when you retired 6 months ago – enjoys himself, swimming playfully, exploring his abilities effortlessly.  

Even though you see that he – that fresh, new part of yourself– is doing fine, you worry.  And, your worry hinders the baby’s play.  When you begin to hover and needlessly protect, he does less well.  This is your Dreaming Self reminding you that play is play and now is the time in your life to trust it and let it happen.  It’s OK to explore and change directions.  If you “go under,” you will come back to the surface without injury.

You find yourself with your friends Jim and John, those creative parts of yourself, studying MapQuest, trying to find your way, or perhaps looking for a prescribed route to take.  Maybe you have set them up as models for how you think you should be.  There is no harm in admiring their achievements of course, but again Dear Dreamer, your dream suggests that you trust a bit more rather than trying to force the issue of your personal creative outlet.  When you do that, it manifests in the kind of second-guessing and indecision you are experiencing in your waking life.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dream interpretation - Neglected house – neglected health

 Often we will have someone in our dreams whom we don’t recognize – a person in the shadows – someone we can’t quite see.  Most likely, that person represents our “shadow self,” a part of ourselves that we don’t see or don’t recognize – a blind spot in our self-assessment.  Our dreams point out that that part of ourselves needs attention.  Today’s dreamer has turned her focus to the part of herself she neglected for many years.

Dear Carolyn,

I will be 80 years old soon.  Being this old can be a shock!  There are some good things about it, but health can be a problem, especially since I smoked cigarettes for almost 50 years!  Stupid, I know.  I quit more than 10 years ago, but I’m still paying for that horrible addiction.  I am doing what I can to live a more healthy life now even though it is late in the game! 

I dreamed that I was in the home of a dark-skinned woman.  She was always off to the side in the shadows, just out of my sight.  Anyway, her house was a mess and I couldn’t believe how difficult her life is.  Everything she tried to do was a difficult chore.  If she wanted to get ready to go out, it was hard.  If she wanted to have a meal, it was hard.  Her house was dark and the floor was sticky.  I looked up and saw that the tar from her roof had seeped into the house and gummed up everything.

I decided to take her over to my house to spend the weekend so she could have a nicer life, even if it was only for a little while.  Then I woke up.


Good Samaritan

Dear Samaritan,

Houses in our dreams may be representative or our bodies.  And the person in the shadows may be that part of you that you have not paid attention to until recently.  She now lives in the house that 50 years of smoking built.  Because of her advanced age and the tar that has dripped onto everything, her life is dark and difficult. 

You mention that in your waking life you are making changes to improve your lifestyle.  Your dream reflects this as you invite your shadow self to move to a place where life is not so difficult.  The fact that she’ll visit only for the weekend may reflect your current timeline. 

You spent half a century smoking, damaging your body, the house you live in.  Now many things are even more difficult that you might expect at your current age.  As you say, Dear Dreamer, even though it’s late in the game, you may be able to enjoy your remaining time by inviting your struggling self to live in a healthier environment.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Dream offers progress report

At pivotal moments in our waking lives, our dreams will present us with a review of where we’ve been and where we are now.  Such dreams highlight what might have been along with newly formed strengths and go on to point out where we can go next.  This is the case with today’s dreamer.

Dear Carolyn,

Recently I decided to coordinate a group effort with my dysfunctional siblings.  At my urging we got together for the purpose of helping our father financially.  That may have triggered old feelings.  Also – FYI - The silent distant daughter is part of my waking life – there is a long-term painful rift between my daughter and me.  And, the idea of being the victim of theft and the missing baby are familiar recurrent themes in my dreams.  

In my waking life I would never be violent!  I hardly ever confront people verbally.  This time, however, I took things into my own hands more than ever before in the dream world.

So, last night I had a nightmare in which I walked with my silent adult daughter but she would not say why she shunned me.  In the dream there was a missing baby and my car, money, and my clothing had been stolen.  Oh, and the clothes were stolen in the dream just as I was waiting to try them on--another woman got them away somehow.  Inside a house a loud laughing family --mostly men --gathered around a dining table.  I lunged, tore, and scratched one of the men until he agreed to tell me what was going on.  Later I peered over the dressing room door for a glimpse of where the woman had hidden other things and who was she?


Victim No More

Dear Victim No More,

You offer a complex set of long-standing circumstances, mindsets, and emotional turmoil as a backdrop for your dream. 

Several elements of your dream are important in seeing it as a ‘progress report.’  It begins with a recap of several important themes in your life – most notably the missing child that hampered your means and ability (the car and money) to navigate through your days.

It seems in organizing a family meeting, and perhaps in other ways, you have begun to take on a new, more assertive persona – represented by the clothes you were just about to try on.  And, your demands to understand the inappropriate laughter may have seemed violent as compared to your prior passive way of acting on or accepting your life’s circumstance.  The burst of anger and frustration reflects your pent up emotions exploding to the surface. 

Even though the vestiges of your new self are purloined, Dear Dreamer, you pursue them with vigor.  You peek over the dressing room wall to see who that new woman – the new you – might be.  Your dream suggests you’ve left the victim mentality behind and are on the path of a new, stronger you.  

Sweet Dreams to You!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dream interpretation - Learn to love that cobra!

One of the most powerful strategies when working with a scary dream is to confront the monster in it.  Today’s dreamer does so and gets dramatic results, even if she doesn’t recognize them at first.

Dear Carolyn,

By way of background I’ll tell you that I just attended a workshop in which we took personality assessments to learn aboutourselves.  I tested as a sort of unassuming, unassertive type who prefers to make herself invisible.  It’s true.  I keep the real me a secret, rarely sharing or letting people get to know me.  I have always told myself that I don’t matter, at least not as much as other people.  That’s how I usually think, but I’m working on it, trying to value myself more.  

After the workshop I had this dream:  I had a cobra in a small white bucket with a lid on it.  I decided to give it some water and when I did, it began to grow, fast!  It became giant instantly!  It was huge, a monster!  It began to chase me and was determined to get me. 

I was afraid, terrified, and so began to climb a tree to get away from it; but I knew I could never be high enough to elude it.  Sure enough, it rose up next to me in the top of the tree.  I began to plead with it, “Please don’t eat me!”  It shrank back down into the bucket.  Then I felt bad that it was there in such an unhealthy place, so tightly contained.  I knew I couldn’t give it to anyone else since it was so dangerous.  I felt responsible for making it more comfortable and I thought maybe a larger container would be a good idea.


Chased by a Cobra

Dear Chased,

As indicated by the background you provided, your dream likely is characterizing a part of you identified at the workshop you attended.  The quiet, unassuming part of you countered by a cobra in a bucket.  With only a small encouragement – the water you offer – that part of you rises up and takes on the quality of a monster unleashed.  Your terror and flight suggest that you are afraid of your own power.  You beg it not to consume you.  This most likely addresses your waking fear that if you assert yourself, you might be taken over by a dangerous, angry, powerful part of yourself that you don’t know how to control.

An important take-away from your dream is that when you speak to the snake, it responds immediately.  It tames itself and returns to the confines of its bucket.  You are in control, Dear Dreamer, even when exploring unfamiliar aspects of your personality.  

As your dream ends, you begin thinking of how you can make that cobra, that powerful, assertive part of yourself, more comfortable.  Give it some more room.  Allow it to expand into a larger, healthier container – one you can grow into and be comfortable with.
Sweet Dreams to You!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Teacher fails himself

When a dreamer must pass a test, or endure a review of his performance, his own harsh attitude toward himself comes through.  He seems to believe that he has done nothing that he should have.  But, his dream directs him to ‘write a page from his favorite book.’  That would be an excellent ‘take away’ from today’s dream about a life review.

Dear Carolyn,

I have begun to accept that I am now in the lastphase of my life.  I was forced out of a career I loved – teaching – by budget cuts in my school district and “early retirement.”  It has taken me quite a long time, several years, to come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t really ready to leave.  I felt rejected and angry.  But now, I’m over it and trying to look forward.  I am sending you the anxious dream I just had this morning.  It brings back bad memories.

I’m a teacher and it’s the last day of school.  I am totally unprepared!  The report cards are sitting on my desk, not even started on.  I have barely taught them any math at all!  I wonder if they even know the times tables and wonder if I can teach them basic skills and even double-digit multiplication quickly.  I decide  to do a spelling lesson on “ou” – though, thought, through etc.  I tell the kids that they will have to write a page about their favorite book.  I am embarrassed because next year’s teacher will know immediately that I haven’t taught them anything.


Old Teacher

Dear Teacher,

Your dream is set perfectly since you were a teacher – one who evaluates others’ progress.  And, you are now at the moment in life where it is natural to look back and assess yourself – write your own report card.

Somehow, though, you find yourself “totally unprepared” to complete your own report card.  Perhaps this moment has come on you suddenly, even though you have had several years to prepare yourself.  Your anger may have delayed a normal reflection on a phase of life that has ended.  Your anxious dream suggests that you may not have thought through to the point where you now find yourself, and beyond.  It finds you a bit frantically casting about for what you have accomplished.

You are quite hard on yourself, Dear Dreamer, based on what you assume others will think of you – that you haven’t taught – or learned – anything.  This simply isn’t so.  Take a tip from your own directions to your dream students:  Write a page about your favorite memories.  That is to say, begin to make notes of your best times in the classroom, your most rewarding moments with students, your favorite recollections from the rewarding career that you loved.  Then tuck them away on a bookshelf as you look ahead to the rest of your life.  If you regress to your bitter feelings, pull out that book and read it again.

Sweet Dreams to You!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dream Interpretation - Keep the faith!

Most dreams depict the dreamer’s personal circumstances metaphorically.  But sometimes, they just tell it like it is.  Today’s dreamer is presented with a pretty direct likeness of how he’s feeling along with a take-away message that is right on point.  He needs only to recognize his strengths.

Dear Carolyn,

I am a young writer, trying to get a break into the successful, published world.  I know I’m good, but it’s very hard to make any headway.  I’ve had a few things accepted and published – some wins – which is encouraging, but I also feel discouraged a lot of the time.  It seems like there is too much to do that doesn’t have anything to do with writing.  I don’t even know some of the stuff I should be doing!  And I don’t have a lot of money and I’m not sure who to trust.

In my dream, it’s two of my idols (I’m also a boxing fan):  Sugar Ray Leonard challenges Evander Holyfield to a fight.  Holyfield doesn’t want to fight him, but Leonard keeps on taunting him.  They are in the ring.  Maybe I am Sugar Ray Leonard – I am seeing all this from the corner of the ring behind SRL – like him, I’m small and out of my weight class, but feisty and determined to have a fight. 

Finally, Holyfield says OK, and hits Leonard in the face.  It is immediately clear that I am out of my weight class and over my head.  Holyfield hits Leonard a second and third time.  Leonard is helpless, beaten, pulverized in moments.  But he does not give up.  He will not give up.

Is this dream telling me to hang up my writing gloves?


Sugar Ray

Dear Sugar Ray,

You might think that your dream shows you out of your weight class and picking a fight you can only lose.  But look again at these two fighters whom you idolize – both are winners and both represent parts of you. 

You first take the role of Sugar Ray Leonard who was noteworthy at least in part because he did keep fighting.  Remember, he retired more than once and came back to fight and win again and again.  He fought in multiple weight classes and was successful.  He fought when others thought he should not.  You mentioned you don’t know who to trust – Sugar Ray trusted his instincts and persisted even when the going was rough.  Tap into this determination in yourself!

Your dream choses Evander Holyfield to represent your other positive traits.  You are aware that he was nicknamed “The Real Deal” because of his multiple talents in the ring and solid character, just like you in the writing arena.

As you know, these two never actually fought each other.  In your dream, they represent two parts of yourself.  You win either way!  Have faith in your strong suits, Dear Dreamer, and keep writing.  Now is not the time to hang up your gloves.

Sweet Dreams to You!