Dream musings #dreams #symbolism

Image by Comfreak from Pixabay

There are dreams that you wish you never woke from and those that leave you grateful for the exit from a nightmarish realm. I’m not sure one is more valuable than the other if you seek to learn from their teachings.

Our hidden, or not so hidden, terrors often take the form of nightmares. They can adopt fantastical and gruesome visages, leaving us breathless for want of air when we wake. Sometimes our voices scream us out of their grasp, and sometimes our words strangle our voice into silence. The voice, then, becomes our key to opening their mysteries.

Although it can be equally terrifying to journey through the dream realm, as it is to unravel its symbolism, it’s well-worth the effort. Even the seemingly nonsensical dreams can make sense if we are willing to look into why our minds chose to play their forms.

If you don’t tend to remember your dreams, there are techniques you can use to train your brain to recover them. One of which is simply telling yourself before you wander into sleep to remember what you have dreamt. When you do this, you may find you start to wake up after each dream. I tend to do that a lot, which can be both an inconvenience and a blessing.

Instead of transcribing my dreams after I wake from them, I’ll often spend some time mulling over a dream I have woken from before my mind succumbs to a new one. Although perhaps not has valuable in some ways as having a written log of the dream, this allows me to observe patterns, themes and symbols, as well as gage my emotional response.

Symbols in our dreams often reoccur over and over again. For example I quite often dream about water and stones, both of which hold a lot of interest for me in the literal sense, but also quite often teach me about where I am residing on an emotional level. I also dream quite often about bathrooms, and going to the bathroom, which inevitably leads me down the exploration of what I am holding onto or seeking to release, as well as personal struggles with exposure and privacy.

Themes, patterns, and symbols in dreams are important to notice if you want to learn from them. Equally important, I believe, is how you feel during and after you wake from your dreams. As well as how you felt before you fell into the dream. For example, I can go to bed feeling pretty good about the day I have experienced, only to find myself falling into a fitful dream world. When I wake, I feel significantly more unsettled than when I fell asleep. Unpleasant, yet revealing. When I examine the dream I find the clues to why. Although I had thought I was feeling emotionally balanced, there was a hidden aspect of my self that was calling to be revealed. What our dreams unearth for us are often opportunities for self-examination that can lead to both healing and release of the emotion tucked away inside of us.

Some people believe we can dream other people’s dreams and travel to other dimensions and realms. I tend to agree with these theories based upon my own experiences. If this is the case, and we feel we have dreamt a dream that is a bit “outside” of us, what does it mean? Perhaps we have traveled into a past of future life memory to retrieve valuable insight. Perhaps we have dreamt another person’s dream because our energies are too intimately intertwined. Or, perhaps we have traveled to another realm to learn something about “Life” on a larger scale.

Entire books, poems, inventions, and scientific discoveries have been gleamed from the realm of dreams. I find it nothing short of remarkable how our minds can form such complex and vivid scenes in the dream world which always, I believe, point to a deeper truth that begs to be explored.

Each dream, when examined, becomes a puzzle of the hidden, or not so hidden, self. Some, I admit, are so crazy at first glance that I cast them aside for later, hoping that their cryptic nature will reveal themselves overtime. For those of us who enjoy a good mystery, there’s no better place to explore than the world of our dreams.

At the moment, I’m still mulling over last night’s dreams, and dreams that I dreamt many nights ago. Through them I thread the lines that join symbols and take note of the patterns that are formed from them. Sometimes I chuckle at themes captured from TV shows or lines I have recently read, wondering why until the emotional symbolism is revealed. I marvel at fantastic forms and how far the mind can stretch reality until I realize that the limits are always self-imposed. Anything, absolutely anything, is possible in our dreams.

Running Alone in the Fields of Heaven #dreams

Photo by Belvair Nash from Prexels

It was pure euphoria. I can only liken it to the ideal of heaven. In the dream I was in England, running in a field of white flowers. They were puffed out like dandelions gone to seed, each step lifted their tufted wishes into the wind. It felt like freedom, unbounded. The wild, untethered soul roaming in the landscape of home.

There were other dreams nestled around it. Equally vivd, and all weaving together in the complex mysterious way that dreams do. The crowded bus with black seats and no bathroom. “Wilder’s Barn” beside an earthen mound filled with rubble. The black bride in the white wedding dress who wove in and out of each scene. A perfect marriage of yin and yang without a groom. And there was me, again, now flying over Earth’s power lines. The return of euphoria as I followed the dragon of stones in my helicopter. Strange vivid dreams that seem in many ways impossible to decipher, but their imprint strikingly clear.

I imagine there are as many definitions of “heaven” as there are people, and I have no doubt I found mine in this network of dreams. When I left the field and the dragon lines, I lost it. The mundane and all its clutter surrounded me with its burden of worry and obligation. Other’s needs to be met and mine left not quite filled or released.

But, this is life, isn’t it? One can hardly escape the realm of “needs and obligations.” “Wilder’s Barn” is never quite open to the magic of the wild soul. It may open briefly, but the doors eventually close around us and we must, inevitably, return to the mundane.

It is said that true freedom in an inside job, but how many of us can say we really live inside of it? To be unaffected by life is not the norm. We may feel love and experience, in moments, euphoric joy, but we also feel fear, pain, suffering, angst and the entire spectrum of human emotions. That’s part of being human.

Yet what a gift it was to run in that simple field of flowers, alone and unencumbered by life. How exhilerating it was to fly above the land and trace the pattern of Earth’s power lines through the body of rocks. To be reminded that magic is always there, waiting to be felt, waiting to be freed. Waiting to be born. Even if just in the land of dreams.

My Feathered Seer is Apparently Asleep in my Playroom #dreams

Photo Credit: Pixabay

It was dark in the room, as it often is during the daytime. My children, lapsed back into younger years, opened the seldom used front door to let the wild bird inside. It flew, or rather seemed to stumble, bumping along the floor for awhile until it settled under the couch into sleep. There it stayed for quite some time. I can’t tell you exactly how long, as dream time stretches and bends in funny ways. And soon enough the dream shifted, and my feathered seer disappeared.

I left the pileated woodpecker behind in the room we once referred to as our children’s playroom, but is now a library/game room, and found myself inside a museum. Well, that’s not entirely correct. If memory serves me, I was first outside. Once again, the light was muted as you often see in movies to build dramatic effect. Here the old blended with the new, again, and I found my eyes pulled to the stones. No surprise, really. That’s where the seer resides and reads the secrets held within.

I was excited. Sure that there had once been a circle in a place now built up by more modern hands. “See that one,” I pointed, “and that one!” The position, size, and alignment could not be accidental. And then it all began to fall apart. Suddenly I was inside the museum in need of a restroom. Here I found myself literally exposed. The bathroom was more an office than a cell, open to windowed rooms with people inside, and a wide open door where others walked by. And there I sat in the center with my pants down, exposed and worried about what others were seeing and perceiving. My sight pulled in angst to the world constructed around me while the inner spirit struggled to break free and wander back outside with the stones.

I am not surprised by the dream. When one ignores the first sign, another one will inevitably appear. About a week ago, I dreamt of another “play room.” This one was hidden inside my sister’s house. When I stepped inside this unexpected wonder, a child’s dream unfolded. Gradually I was draw to the vast windows where I stood in awe peering into the vast wilderness beyond. As in the dream last night, there were feathered beings. More than one. Young and downy, their colors muted into balls of fluff. Fledglings impossibly large, and birthed forth in autumn instead of spring. No, I thought, it could not be. They were so healthy and vibrant. Filled with the promise of life.

Before I woke completely into morning, I had another dream experience that has lingered with me. It is a brief recall. This time I found myself inside a vehicle with the radio turned on against my will, playing a recording of my voice. The first sounds were those of coughing, as though I was clearing my lungs of congestion. Then the coughing turned into a humming of sorts. “No,” I said embarrassed, “Don’t listen to that.” My voice on display, to my ears, echoed back to me dissonance as I resisted. Then strength grew into a sound that sung of freedom. It felt powerful and clear, now that all the gunk had cleared. “Take care,” the voice urged before it stopped. “Take care of you.”

I find myself now wondering, in the sometimes harsh light of day, how many of us are feeling the same way. This long year that has held fear and constriction for so many of us has, no doubt, left imprints on us. Perhaps, like me, you have used the pandemic and political turmoil as an excuse not to wander outside the confines of containment, and by containment I don’t mean those imposed to preserve health. Rather, I am referring to the free spirit that is a winged thing always yearning to fly. Always yearning to sing to the tune of inner truth. I must remind myself to play. To wander into magic, even if it involves outer restrictions. To let the feathered seer awaken once again and commune with the mysteries of life that return the wonder of the inner child.

Neglecting the soul is never a good thing, as I was reminded before I woke to this day. If we ignore its yearnings, a restlessness sets in. And sometimes, that restless turns to malaise.

I Dream of Laundry, Resisting Letting Go #dreams #denial #death

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Another night passes fitfully, laden with soiled laundry, much of which is not my own. Each night I slip into uneasy sleep only to find myself sorting soiled clothes of family and sometimes strangers in homes that I once lived in. Washing. Ever-washing to try to get them clean of the stains left behind.

There are always machines waiting to spin the soiled garments clean. Sometimes too many to the point of the absurd. Homes becoming laundromats to cleanse the filth of the outer layers worn to shield the inner. The symbolism does not escape me, yet the dreams continue and I must ask myself why I turn backwards, again, to release the stains of the past.

If you study the mysteries, you may be familiar with the symbolism of robes/clothing worn to cover up, or mask, the true self. We often hide what we don’t want others to see, but most importantly, what we don’t want to see ourselves. Yet what resides inside the layers needs no washing.

Stripping ourselves naked requires trust and vulnerability. And it requires faith and letting go.

Each night as I pour through the soiled garments, a stack of towels waits for me. Their surfaces colored with floral blooms, drawing my eyes to their tall stacks. Yet the towels will do nothing for the garments, and I have yet to strip bare and immerse myself in a body of water to find my own cleansing. To release and rebirth.

Instead, I travel back through past homes, even though they are no longer mine. Seeking belonging, no doubt, but also approval. Acceptance. Healing. “Heal me,” my mother begs, showing me a leg riddled with arthritis, her face grotesquely distorted, too big for life and thrust too close for comfort against mine. How can I say no? She is my mother after all. The one who birthed me in this lifetime.

Sometimes life seems more cruel than kind to the human mind that tries to find reason and logic. If I could collapse time it would be by thousands of years and not a mere lifetime of long months. I would go to the place of heather and stone and find the one who wears the feathered cloak and embrace home.

I know why I am sorting through these endless garments soiled by life each night, yet I cannot quite let go of them. “It’s time,” they tell me, and I want to shout back, “I am not ready to let go of her, though.”

“You will and you must. Just like the bird trapped inside your porch, you will release this tie to life. Just as you must release the others that hold you back.”

The wren appears in uncanny ways, surprising me with her visits in the daytime. “I will never be truly gone,” she reminds me, but I want to hold her. To cup her feathered body against my heart. Just once, before I let her go.

Ghost Stories

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My daughter at the helm learning to drive with her dad in the background

We sat in plastic chairs huddled around the flames my daughter had brought to life and talked about ghosts.

“What’s the scariest thing that has ever happened to you?”

I had four teenagers spellbound. Aware with each word I chose I could either feed their fear or help abate it. And what of my own?

Should I really tell them about ghosts? 

The thought came and went. And came and went some more as I began the story about the woman in the two-hundred year-old dress seated at the piano with her daughter playing the keys of a past she could not let go of. But that was cheating, in a way. I had not seen her, only heard about her. So I told them how, before I knew better, I had evoked the spirit of another lost soul who wandered the hallways of my haunted school. Learning, in the process that he was a specter not to be feared, but to be pitied.

In turn they told me about their friends playing around with online videos to conjure spirits and enter into past lives.

“Didn’t you have an Ouija board,” my daughter asked as the mom inside of me came out to lecture about using care and caution, and how some things are better left alone and that’s why there are professionals…before I was cut off again.

But what’s the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

I wasn’t willing to go as far as the demons I had battled while my body slept…so I told them about the hair puller yanking me awake in the middle of the night.

“Oh my god, I would have lost it!”

I watched my daughter’s best friend nervously scroll the phone in her hand.

Had I said too much?

I knew she was afraid. And, she knew she could tell me to stop talking, or walk away. Beside her bed back home I could see the half-empty bottle of “Ghost Be Gone” spray I had filled several times for her. You need to learn how to do this yourself…I had told her more than once, but she had wanted just the crutch of the spray.

Without fear can we learn empowerment?

While I told some of my ghost stories, I thought about my four-year-old son calling me awake in the voice of terror, shaking me from sleep in the middle of the night. My husband, telling me to let him learn courage as I held his trembling body in my arms. I thought about my son, a little older saying, “I see strange colors in my room at night,” when I was just learning how to process the truth of his words.

Now fifteen, he sat beside me, slightly removed from my daughter’s friends, but not unwelcome tucked into the shadows of our circle. “Can you feel them?” he asked before he told us the story of being alone in the house with the dog barking at nothing. The cat staring at the unseen. His body knowing what his eyes no longer see.

How could I not seize each moment with care, handling it as best I knew how to, knowing that I was once that child in the dark?

My daughter’s best friend dropped her phone on her lap. “My grandma is always with me, but I don’t like it.”

I weighed each word on my scale of truth, aware that my scale of truth was not the same as others. I was raised on the belief that there was no soul beyond the body, but I knew enough from her stories and her mother’s, that she was not.

What would you have wanted to know? The inner voice kept urging guidance. So I told her about the grandmother who sent me the scent of roses to remind me of the love she struggled to show me when I could see her with my eyes.

“Have you seen The Conjuring?” she asked me, tipping the scales back towards fear.

I wasn’t even sure I knew what the movie was about, but I could guess from the title, as I told her I avoided all movies and books that sensationally evoked the darkest side of humanity. I see no point to them, although I’m sure others will vehemently argue their value. I’ve never seen much value in glorifying violence and we all know the adage, “What we feed grows.” I made a vow to myself long ago to grow empowerment over fear in each child, teen, or adult who came to me for guidance.

“How many dead people have you talked to?” another friend asked.

I don’t keep track of numbers like this, and after I reminded them that I wasn’t a medium by profession, I decided to tell them about the visit from the desperate mother. She had been dead only a week or so, but she was already worried about the adult daughters she had left behind. Her human brain, I would later learn, had long lost the ability to coherently remind them of her love, so she had chose to visit me, a somewhat forgotten friend from her daughter’s childhood, before I feel into sleep, to relay what she hadn’t been able to say before she had passed. The story also had an element of mystery. A ring lost to her years of hoarding, stuffed away in a buried box, she needed them to find. Which they did.

“Wow! Really?”

While the teenagers wrapped themselves in the intrigue of the story’s mystery, I hoped the were also thinking about how ghosts need not be feared like the ones in their movies.

“I couldn’t live in a house that someone had died in,” someone eventually shared.

So I told them about the man who had died in my children’s first home, before me moved in. Perhaps they were expecting to hear a tale of fright, but instead they heard another tale of love.

“You have complete power over what you let in,” I told them as I started to come to the thesis of my narratives.

They didn’t believe me. At first. But I persisted, even though I could tell I was starting to lose their attention. They were here for ghost stories, after all, and my nudging daughter knew I had an abundance of them.

Instead, we talked about shields of energy and intention, followed by more examples than they cared to hear of how empowered they each were before we finally crawled into our respective beds well past midnight.

I had a feeling they’d sleep well, even though we had spent the night sharing ghost stories.

It was 10am before I heard the first stirrings of movement from the bedrooms downstairs. The cinnamon rolls on the stove had already cooled to room temperature. I lit the flame under the frying pan and began to crack eggs into a bowl to whip them into a scramble.

“Oh that smells good.”

“I’m so hungry.”

“I slept awesome!”

“Me too! Even though I dreamed about ghosts.”

“Yeah so did I! I can’t believe how well I slept.”

Inside I sighed relief. I knew the outcome could have been different, but I was also careful with the scale I had been balancing with each word I let forth from my mouth. There could have been angry texts from parents of scared kids, and any number of unhappy outcomes, but instead I had around me five hungry teenagers eager to go about their day empowered from their night of ghosts.

I had taken a risk when I chose to face fear instead of shoving it back into the darkness.  Usually I play the quiet role of the host-mom, choosing to stay in the background, careful not to hover or impose. That night, though, I had been invited to enter the circle around the campfire to play the role of storyteller and I chose to take it. There’s something about campfires. Being out in the night air where the darkness is cut by the flame in the center evokes the desire to tell stories. But not just ordinary stories. The embers stir that which is hidden, calling it to come out and be seen. Heard.

As those five teenagers faced their ghostly fears of the ephemeral world that no longer scared me, my own fears had played through me. My children are at the age of transitioning away from the protection of the hearth fire and the maternal chords are frequently tugged inside of me. Earlier that day, before we gathered around the fire, I had watched from the shore as my daughter and my son struggled to start our boat. Part of me was hoping they wouldn’t be successful, but persistence on their part paid off as they slowly pulled away with friends on board to tube and ski for their first time without an adult on board.

“Stop taking pictures and help me in!” My brave, determined 16-yr-old daughter, who had learned to drive the boat this summer, six months after she got her license to drive a car, was showing me her anxiety about safely docking to unload. And she was showing me she still needed me, albeit with the  irritation of a teenager, and so I put the camera down and caught the rope to pull her in.

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Lavender Dream #Dream #Writephoto #poetry

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Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

Once again Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt photo has mirrored my dreams. It’s been a challenging two weeks. My computer died, again, and the resuscitation of  it was more laborious and disruptive than I had hoped it would be. Breathing into the letting go, what may be lost, what may take monumental efforts to fully restore, has been a call to open the heart. 

Lavender Dream

I dreamt of the self starved

my body yielding to others, breathing

out instead of in. I will be there

for you, she knows the whisper as rote

memory so deep the threads bind her own

love. You can see it in her narrowed hips

breasts, almost pre-pubescent. As though

the body learned before it could fully grow

to turn inward upon itself. Preservation

in the outer yielding. I will be there for you

too, her voice echoes outside its walls

He brought the amethyst cracked open. Primal

rocks forged by the Mother’s fire

bumpy and dulled gray on the outside

Broken by will. He placed them around my neck

A lei of love. Her lavender heart

revealed itself in a field of green

 Love

returned

to love

 

Why is it so Difficult to “Let it Go?”

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Oh my god,” I thought. “She’s singing it again. Why does she need to keep practicing that song?!”

I was dreaming I was back at school, which is no surprise. This time I was inside a dorm room with some of my high school classmates. They, and my adolescent angst, had followed me to college. I’ve had these dreams before, and just in case I didn’t know why, that famous song from the movie “Frozen” was being belted through the hallways by one of my dorm-mates. “Let it go! Let it go!”

“Oh my god,” I thought. “When will it be over? When will she be done singing that annoying son?!”

When the message sinks in, I realized once I woke beside the satisfied dog who had snuck her way upstairs and onto my bed after my husband had disappeared into the shower.

Least we think it is easy to let go of our stories, we need only look into the mirror to be reminded. If a mirror is not available, or we cannot read the lines our stories imprint for us, we can settle into the weight of our bodies and listen to their moans and groans. Although our cells divide continuously, the new cells are encoded with the memories of the old ones. Sometimes this encoding is a choice.

Before I want to sleep last night, I found myself thinking about how I can hardly remember the two years I struggled with severe IBS more than a decade ago. Those restless nights when I woke to the body’s attempts to expel its painful memories. My digestive system had felt like literal bowels of hell. Bloated with sulfuric gas and knotted in pain. Yet, I can hardly remember those years. I marvel now at the will to hold onto what I no longer wanted. It’s illogical on so many levels, but our cells carry our truths even when we don’t want to hear, see, or feel them. They are the story of us until we rewrite the narrative.

I marveled, also, last night, at how in one night the unconscious aligned with the conscious on a quantum level in its decision to heal and release, finally, what I had struggled to keep. Yet, although my IBS may have vanished in one night, I was reminded once again by my dreams that there are still stories trapped and waiting to be “let go.”

Particularly in my throat. The seat of the voice and our expression of our truths.

I have been struggling these last several days since I watched the choking out of George’s Flyod’s life filmed by helpless bystanders. I have been struggling with irony and injustice, as well as a pervasive feeling of helplessness. I have been struggling with the collective unwillingness to see, hear, and feel truth as I try to come to terms with this unwillingness to “let go” the individual and collective stories to explore beauty and truth beyond the surface.

When I drive to the lake, a place where peace usually washes over me with ease, I find myself troubled by the signs. Passing through rural towns filled with residents struggling to hold onto the middle class sense of security, my eye is drawn too many times to the symbol of irony. Moving through the discomfort of despair, I will my mind to imagine the life inside those doors and why the individuals who reside there are holding onto the notion that the POTUS is their savior.

It took me days, instead of minutes, to remember why my own body struggled for breath when I watched George Flyod’s being extinguished. To remember the white man who used to squeeze the words back into my throat with his hand at the dinner table. It took me nearly two weeks to realize that we all hold the stories of oppression. Even if we are a rare and lucky few to never have experienced the suppression of our own truths, and our voices, our ancestors have. Oppression is so deeply embedded into our collective history that there is no way any of us have escaped its encoding in our cells.

No wonder we are struggling to let go. No wonder we struggle to hold onto what we are used to. The bully reigns upon his mighty throne because we have placed him there. And the bully reigns within because we let him hold the history of our narratives.  We have all heard the term “healing begins within,” yet how many of us refuse to look inside and examine the narratives of the self? We may not like what we read inside. We may have the impulse to bring our hand to our ears and shout, “No more! Stop singing that awful song over and over again,” but the narrative repeats until we change it.

The power is not in the holding on, but the letting go. Freedom is the opposite of repression, and ultimately the letting go must begin within.

In my dreams last night, I replayed the narrative of acceptance in the form of my friendships. I was reminded of how much I still struggle, at times, to honor my own boundaries and truths when friends approach me with their own needs. I was reminded that I still carry the narrative of rejection and the fear of being left “friendless,” rejected, and alone.

I find it interesting, or perhaps perfectly fitting, that this dream came to me after a day spent mostly in a state of peace. My body must have remembered lying prone on the ground and feeling the ever-present security of Mother Earth below me. The smell of dirt and crumpled grasses mixing the interconnectedness of all life for me to both witness and be a part of. Yet disbelief must still linger inside the narratives of my cells.

How can it not? We’ve held it so tight for so long. We weave the narrative of oppression and rejection over and over again on large screens that form plays for our eyes, and inside the type-faced print of pages of books, magazines, and newspapers. We’ve read it and watched it so many times and in so many ways inside a world that holds the narrative as truth. Who are we to release it?

Who are we not to?

We must, at some point, let it go and right a new narrative.

The Red Beetle and the Painted Room #Painted #WritePhoto

It was a strange morning, but that is not too unusual. There was a deal with the garden fairies before sleep and then a dream of a curious beetle before waking. The dream so vivid and Alice and Wonderland-like I knew it could not be ignored. I told myself, as I made breakfast, that if Sue posted a photo that somehow related to the dream, it would be another sign I needed to write its story. The room was indeed painted red and so was the beetle…

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Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Lenora who lived inside a house with many rooms. Lenora was very spoiled.  In her bedroom, Lenora had not one bed, but two, both  doubled in size. One for her and one for whomever she chose to be her best friend, which changed often for Lenora was fickle.

Lenora’s bedroom was very large, and its walls were covered in wood like a cabin. It made Lenora feel cozy and secure. Attached to her bedroom, was Lenora’s own private bathroom so that she need not walk far to wash her beautiful hair and paint her nails and eyelids her favorite color of the day.

Inside Lenora’s room there was a staircase, but Lenora had long ago grown tired of climbing it to explore the magical room of her loft. Instead, she gave it over to her younger sister, Sarabell. Sarabell loved the Lenora’s loft where she spent many happy hours playing with all of its wondrous treasures in the companionship of her magical friends. Most of the time, Lenora didn’t even know she was there.

Lenora, you see, was too busy with growing up. She loved telling her maids what to cook her for lunch and what clothes to set out for her days. She loved pretending that she was a grand lady that everyone must obey. No demand was ever too large for Lenora. If she wanted something, she must have it.

One late summer morning, Lenora awoke in her big fluffy bed feeling horrible. Her body didn’t feel ill, but Lenora’s mind was filled with grumpy thoughts. To make it worse, Lenora couldn’t figure out why she was so unhappy. She searched back through her memories and found nothing that could have brought on her sudden gloom, so Lenora rolled herself out of bed and shouted at her maids to leave her be.

Lenora went into her bathroom, and pushed around her lovely powders and brushes, but their lifeless forms on her counter just annoyed her.

“I’ll go for a walk!” Lenora declared as she bounded out of her room.

Still in her nightgown, with feet bare like the day she was born, Lenora walked down the many stairs of her house and out the back door and into the woods.

Lenora walked and walked. As she walked, Lenora didn’t think about where she was going, or notice that her tender feet were stumbling over rocks and tree roots, stubbing her pink toes and chipping the purple polish off her manicured nails. Deeper and deeper into the forest walked Lenora as morning turned to afternoon and dusk began to take over the light of day.

“Stop!”

Lenora stopped. She shook her head clear of thoughts. She looked around her, searching for the source of the voice that had ceased her footsteps. Her breath caught in her throat until it gasped for release. Surrounding her was a scene more beautiful than any painting that hung inside of her room. But there was something wrong with the painting, something horribly wrong. It was as though someone had taken a knife and stabbed the very center of it. At least that’s what it felt like to Lenora, who stood holding her hands against her heart as she began to sob.

At her feet, stretching like a bridge across the forest, was the trunk of a tree. Its width held the secrets of its long life, cut to a sudden end by the blade of a saw.  Lenora could see, far far down the tree’s length, the full spread of its green leaves newly woven into the forest’s tapestry.  Her feet stood at its base above roots that spread deep into the ground where Lenora’s eyes could not see.

Upon its stump was a beetle as red as blood. It was the size of perhaps two quarters, stacked side by side, not small, and longer than it was wide. The back of the beetle glistened in the sunlight, and as Lenora peered at its magnificence she saw that its armor-like back was not simply red, but inside the red were all colors, shimmering in the sun’s light. Never before had Lenora seen a creature more beautiful. And, as looked at it, the beetle seemed to stare back at her.

“You have lost your home, haven’t you,” Lenora sighed as her tears darkened the rings of the stump upon which it rested. “I will make you a new home.”

Once again, Lenora looked around her. She began to study the ground in a way she had never studied her books for school. She surveyed the trees that still stood and the one now fallen. Nearby, she noticed the brown husk of a seed pod, broken open into halves. Beside it, a seedling had rooted into the soil, its etiolated leaflets just beginning to open into a pale green.

Lenora took the beetle into her hands and cradled it in her palms as a mother would a newborn child. The heat of life spread its river through her veins and once again Lenora’s breath caught momentarily inside of her throat.

She didn’t know how she knew the way back, but as Lenora walked, cradling the red beetle in the open husk of the seedpod in one hand, and the tenderly released seedling in the other, Lenore began to find her way home. When she arrived at the door to her house, Lenora smiled at the maid that opened it, brushing aside her puzzled look as she made her way up the stairs and into her room.

“How long have I been gone?” Lenora exclaimed as she peered through the doorway into a room vastly different from the one she had left. The wooden walls suntanned yellow were now a deep crimson. She stepped inside and felt her feet sink into moss  instead of carpet. Her double beds still stood, side-by-side, waiting for slumbering occupants, but their covers had faded into the tones of earth.

“It’s perfect, isn’t it?” Lenora sighed with joy as she lowered the beetle inside of its brown boat onto the moss. Digging into the pliable floor, Lenora planted the seedling beside the beetle and sat down beside it.

“I’ll never leave you,” Lenora whispered to the beetle as it turned on its back and crossed two of its legs over its abdomen and two behind its head. Beside it, the seedling grew and grew and Lenora closed her eyes in contentment.

 

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt #painted.

 

The Victim V. the Hero of Our Story and Who Really is the Villain?

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

We all know the definitions and the way stories portray them. Often there is a villain who spurs the hero into action, saving the victim from an evil fate. The hero becomes the embodiment of the light, the villain of darkness, while the victim hangs somewhere in between, like fulcrum, deciding how the scales will be tipped.  Who, then, has the true power?

I have been thinking a lot these days about how and why we choose to be either the victim or the hero in our individual stories and how this reflects upon our collective story of human existence. I have also been thinking about how we define and cast the role of villain in our stories. For some, a villain who fulfills the classic definition of villain-hood is actually lauded as a hero. This casted role depends upon our subjective nature, including how we cast ourselves in our play that is life.

And, must the hero be always wounded first? Would there be a hero without first enduring the wounds? I’m not sure it is possible. We must feel the pain to know it. And would there be a victim without the hero, and a villain without the victim? And, can they all be, in essence, one and the same?

When I think of my own story, I see all the times I tried to become the hero of my own story only to fall back into the role of victimhood. I realize how much my cells have programed the codes of my ancestors. I see how often I have cast people into roles and how these roles have defined them for me. The victim for me was a hero for another. The villain, the victim, and so the cycles goes in an endless round.

So who am I? Last night I found myself inside two vivid dreams. Although they were different scenes, with different players, I found myself embodying a similar role. In one dream, I found myself trapped on an electrified strip of metal while trains raced beside me. One going in each direction, while I scrambled in the middle for a hold. Trying not to get zapped.

In the other dream, I was outside, gazing up into endless blue as I followed the skyline of the buildings beside me. I lay on my back in the middle of a highway, unfazed until I realized where I was. Unfazed until I allowed the program of fear to grip my heart into the belief that I might become a victim if I made a wrong move.

Are we all, in fact playing a game of chess in our lives? Or do we just think we are? One wrong move and we will be obliterated. By what? Fear of the unknown paralyzes our actions as does fear of repeating something from our past. It is hard to reprogram the cells. It is even harder to step into the belief that we can.

Fear is an uncomfortable bedfellow, and yet if we are willing to examine it, to hold it in front of us and look it in the face, it becomes comedic. Its hideous face squishes easy into new forms if we poke and prod it. It’s malleable, because it isn’t really real. It’s simply a shadow of the true self.

Yet how we hold it aloft, knighting it with the mark of hero! So often, we do this, it is impossible to keep track. We need only look at how we hold aloft our leaders. Few are true heroes. Many are villains, and most, if not all, are victims of their own stories, and our collective one. The true hero may be there, but it is deeply cloaked under fear.

Sadly, we are living in a time when true heroism is often overlooked, or even worse, slayed by the villain we like to think is a hero because if we don’t, we worry we too will be slayed. It seems insane, when you examine the play in all its facades, and yet here we are, collectively. Even the darkness resides in those we may think are filled only with light. Should we then be ignoring this complicated, yet simple truth that each role resides in each of us? Should we not acknowledge this truth and work towards compassion for the self and the “other” as we examine how we play each role and how the roles become us?

I think we have no choice but to do so, or the cycle will repeat endlessly in different forms. Otherwise, the victim will never be released from its shackles, forever forced to decide how to tip the scales. The cycle continuing until the victim realizes it is up to her, or him, to remove the chains and realized the hold was self-imposed all along.

At some point we must come to the realization that we are each the villain, the victim, and the hero of our own story. Perhaps we cannot have one without the others, but we can choose which one we will embrace. We  can choose what story to write into our cells. And, that story can have a different narrative than the one we wrote yesterday. It’s our story to write. It’s our story to live. It’s our story of life.

 

Dream School Continues with a Puzzling Visit from a Wooden Dragon and a Red Panda

 

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It was yet another fitful night in the realm of dreams. Back to school I went. This time to a peculiar college with a new roommate/dream guide. She sat before me, on the opposite bed, after I had tried to parcel out the pieces of her enormous puzzle into boxes on the floor below. Each one containing a jigsaw assortment that somehow went with the one beside it. Three, I believe in total, of interconnected scenes.

She seemed amused by my earnestness. Although she wore the face of teenager, large brown eyes framed by blond tresses, she was clearly wise beyond the years she showed me. Around her neck wrapped a red panda. Her pet? I wasn’t entirely sure how it had gotten into our room and why it was around my roommate’s shoulders like a living scarf, but I was fascinated. It was as though an old friend had come to visit me.

Let me return, for a moment, to the realm of daytime, and set the clock back about four decades. Imagine a little girl with blue eyes and dirty blond hair staring up at a caged enclosure where two red pandas are on display in their zoo-home. The little girl is about seven years old and she has declared those two curious looking pandas her absolute favorite animals in the entire zoo. This zoo that she visits often each summer because her father works there as a landscaper.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

The red panda on the upper branch stares back at her, its brown eyes soft with understanding. The little girl is sure the animal can read her mind. She is sure a connection has been formed. Her love for the creature is sealed inside her heart. They share something beyond words. This soft, gentle being who looks more like a tiny bear crossed with a fox has become the girl’s chosen totem, at least for awhile.

The little girl never forgets her love for the red panda, but she moves onto other loves, and other beings fill her heart as she grows. The more visits she makes to the zoo over the summers she flies west to see her father, the more secrets she traps inside of her throat, which becomes wrapped in her growing confusion of truth.

Let’s leap ahead to last night and the return of my quiet and almost forgotten friend who is  wrapped around my roommate’s neck. Before I can inquire why it is there, the red panda is suddenly around my own neck. I unwind it carefully, and hold it before me in my hands where I start to examine its soft body. Although the soft animal appeared well and healthy before, it now seems ill. In particular, it’s throat. As I hold it, the red panda coughs and I can see the damage incurred to its throat.

What have I done? Has my own, damaged throat, somehow damaged my beloved childhood totem? 

I am filled with despair and worry, but before I try to solve this puzzle, let’s explore the nature of the red panda:

Red pandas are native to Asian countries such as Nepal and China. They make their home in high altitude forests where they are endangered due to human encroachment from deforestation and poaching. Quiet creatures by nature, red pandas are “soft spoken” and introverted creatures. They are closer to the size of a large cat than they are to a panda bear. Like their namesake, though, they depend upon bamboo for their survival. Red pandas are solitary creatures who are most active in the between times of dawn and dusk. They are, I am realizing, an awful lot like me.

Which brings me to the curious puzzle that was now before me on the floor of my dream. Where’s my water dragon? I wonder as I gaze at the head of the wooden dragon held together like a puzzle with interlocking pieces.

I am a water child born under an Earth sign. These two elements drive my nature, but as in all forms, they seek to be balanced. Wood is one of my weaker elements, so perhaps my dream self should not have been baffled by the head of the wooden dragon that now lay at my feet.

Often when we wake from the realm of dreams we must knit together the pieces of our night travels as best we can to make sense of the strange landscape of night. Before I fell into slumber last night, I had been thinking about Elan (often knows as Elan of the Leys or  Keeper of the Dragon Lines as she seems to have appeared for my story) and how she made her appearance on the pages of my book, but had left me hanging for weeks as to where she was going to lead me and my characters. As I

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Photo Credit: Pexels

drifted into sleep she came to me, finally stepping out of the shadows of the trees to stretch her antlers to the stars. She was showing me the way, if I chose to follow the path beyond the foothold of Earth…