What Dreams May Come
“People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.” ~~Author Neil Gaiman
I have a dream to share with you. Thank goodness I analyze dreams and have studied dreams for many years, even writing a book on the subject. I say, thank goodness, because this was a really strange one.
In this dream I am in a house that is new. It is clear from the surrounding boxes that I have moved. There is a door, reminiscent of a hobbit house door in a beautiful green color. As I am unpacking and thinking about where to put everything, I see a limo turn into my driveway and pull up to the house. A smartly-tailored chauffeur gets out and comes and knocks on the front door.
I open the door and he hands me a metal case and says, "Mr. Trump is returning your papers to you." I take the case and then I see the back door of the limo open and out steps Mr. Trump (yes, that Mr. Trump). The limo driver says he wants to apologize to you personally. In the dream, I do not want him in my new house but up he comes to the door looking frazzled, and says he meant to give me back my papers and hopes I can use them now. He keeps trying to come in and I keep blocking the door and say, "no need - thanks." And I shut the door in his face.
I woke up at that point and laughed out loud.
So what does the dream mean?
I have been journaling recently about a transition I am in. A transition from being in a leadership and administrative role over many years, in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors, to that of living a creative life. This transition is bringing up all sorts of insecurities (remember my column on inertia a few weeks ago?), fears and hopes. This dream was letting me know where I am in that process of transition.
When you dream about a house, the house represents your life at the moment. So, I am in a new house - not quite settled but at the task of unpacking. The door (that hobbit house door) is green, the color of the heart chakra. So, my dream right away is telling me that I am in a new part of my life that is heart-centered and somewhat fantastical (that creative license).
Now, come my visitors. Vehicles in dreams represent your journey. Because I wasn't in the car, that told me this represented a journey in my past, one in which I played leadership and administrative roles. It seems my subconscious wanted me to know that there were parts of myself that needed to join me in my new role of a creative writer, hence the metal case with papers that are mine from that part of my life.
And, yes, all the news about Trump and the National Archives and papers allowed my subconscious to call him up as a metaphor for that now-closed part of my life. In the dream I won't let that in the door of my new life. The dream very effectively told me there is no going back. Those roles of the past are done but there are gifts I can take with me into my new life. And there are metaphors around abundance. My corporate life was financially abundant (limo, chauffeur, Mr. Trump - all aspects of wealth). Will my new life be financially successful?
Cool, isn't it? All that packed into just a couple of minutes of a dream.
I invite you to consider your own dreaming mind. It is filled with vital information about how you truly feel and what you truly need. As for me, I have to stop watching the news late at night. LOL.
thoughts on transitions
“Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.”~~ Teresa Tsalaky, writer and journalist
Do you remember how it felt when you left high school or college and headed off to your first job?
I definitely remember that feeling of excitement for what was ahead and trepidation at not knowing what might be expected of me and if I was going to be able to make my way in the adult world.
It was a time of transition, one of many that I've experienced over the years.
I am again going through transition. I am stepping down from my role of leading a nonprofit Board of amazing women writers and through a portal to living a truly creative life. As I do so, I am prioritizing and honoring the creative impulse and letting the administrative and leadership skills that have served me so well all my life be in service to my own expression through the written word.
As with all transitions, I am having moments of anxiety, excitement, anticipation, sadness and exhaustion! I have found it is about being comfortable in the energy of where I was and not yet feeling settled in the energy of where I am headed; and realizing that it is up to me to set the energy of the new life I hope to lead.
I am reminded of the story of the Lotus. Transitions require the discomfort of the muddy water, of dealing with the muck just under the surface before exploding into full bloom.
My muddy water is where I find long-standing patterns that can throw me off course. Challenging patterns of thinking and behaving is always an uncomfortable process. But I know it is the only way I can emerge through the muck into the sunlight waiting above.
I invite you to think about the transitions in your own life. Maybe, like me, you are finding your way through the muddy waters. If so, remember that light surrounds every transition, heralding a new beginning as Teresa Tsalaky writes. It's a beautiful and hopeful sentiment that the light, glimpsed through the portal, awaits.
With love and continuing prayers for Ukraine and all who suffer,
Thoughts on freedom
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will.” ~~ Charlotte Bronte
Lots of discussions going on right now about freedom, especially personal freedom. No one likes to be constrained. As the goldfish in this image evidences, the desire to swim free in an endless ocean is preferable, even with its risks, to spending life safe behind walls of glass.
As I think about freedom, I think about it on several levels - internal and external. Internally, expectations form personal blocks to freedom. I have expectations. I have expectations of myself. I have expectations of others. I have expectations of how society should function, and even expectations of what it means to be a spiritually aware person in a not-so-spiritual world. It's a wonder I can get out of bed in the morning, so weighted down am I by expectations!
And yet, I know that the fewer expectations I have, the better able I am to live in the moment and to live in balance. Expectations take me out of the present and into the past and future.
Into the past because many of my expectations formed in childhood in my original family and through the authority figures that influenced my perceptions and understanding of how I "should" be.
Into the future because expectations can paralyze me from moving forward if I am unsure of what it requires for me to be successful - in my creative writing, in love, in my friendships, and even in staying healthy. And it isn't just my creativity that suffers under the weight of my expectations. My authentic soul-self does as well.
I notice my expectations in the oddest of places and at the oddest of times. I'll be standing in the supermarket line and a flotilla of thoughts are running through my mind about how fast (or slow) the cashier is ringing up the items for the customer in front of me. Really? Is that a good use of my mind?
The mind, I have discovered, is a bit like one of those haunted mansions you walk through on Halloween. In this room, is the nun who told me I'd never be as smart as my sister. In that room, is my first boss, who told me that he couldn't give me the raise I deserved because I would probably be getting married and leaving to have a baby. In another room, is an ex-boyfriend, who told me I should let him win at chess because he didn't like being with a woman who was so much smarter than he was (his words). And, yes, I was smart enough to hightail it out of that relationship.
Lately, what's going on in the world has me thinking about freedom on the macro level as well. To understand the deep human desire and need for freedom, we have only to look at the courage of Ukrainian citizens determined to write the script for their own destiny and that of their country. What freedom means on the larger scale is best said, I think, by this quote from Epictetus, former slave and Greek philosopher:
"Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish? Nothing else."
I have to agree. The right to love as we wish. The right to worship as we wish, or not. The right to plan our families as we wish. The right to be paid for the work we do equitably. The right to affordable healthcare. The right to dream big dreams. The right to jump into the sea of infinite possibilities and find the path that is expressly ours.
I invite you to think about freedom - about expectations, about the rights you hold dear. Perhaps the most important definition of freedom is the freedom to be who you truly are and to share that with the world without fear.
With love and continuing prayers for Ukraine and all who suffer,
Healing The Past
“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” ~~ author, Robert Brault
I get inspiration for my weekly newsletters at the oddest of times and in the oddest of places. While I was driving yesterday, I started thinking about how different the view through the windshield was from the view through the rear view mirror.
The thought occurred to me that you do need to glance in that rear view mirror frequently to make sure nothing is coming up on you that might cause harm, but you spend most of the time driving with your focus on the road ahead. As a metaphor for life, that got me thinking about whether I spend too much time staring into the rear view mirror and not enough keeping my vision on my present and future.
For me, what's in the rear view mirror are past hurts, wrongs, mistakes, failures and losses. I expect that is true for most of you. And, I know from my own experience, that it can be hard to move forward while looking backward.
So, how does one truly heal the past?
I think it's not a simple process but it's one of acknowledging the past, accepting what you cannot change and then learning from the experience. I find there is always something for me to learn, so I look at the past, however difficult, as time in the playground of life. Sometimes you fall off the swing. Sometimes the other kids don't play fair. Sometimes you have to try something again and again until you conquer it (monkey bars for me). But in each situation, you are growing and learning about yourself, about life and about how to keep your heart open. And this is the very definition of healing.
Healing is such an important part of life regardless of how your life has been. If you are growing and learning, then you are also healing and your growth and self-healing helps many others.
"True healing is the willingness to treat yourself and others better than the past ever did." ~~~Matt Kahn, TrueDivineNature.com
I love this quote. Often, we carry the past around including messages of self-criticism. But if we keep treating ourselves as that person that others felt unworthy or of little value, then we allow the past to truly define the future.
For me the essence of healing the past is the process of coming back into balance and being-ness with what there is about me that is incomparable, unique and eternal. Healing is about love - love of self, love of the Divine, love of others and love of life.
I invite you to take a break on self-improvement and settle into a love affair with you. See what happens and find out what heals when you shift into seeing what has always been true about you - that you are the pure emanation of Divine love and light.
Treat yourself better than your past ever did. I am going to do that each day and remind myself that the past might deserve that glance but it doesn't deserve the direction in which I am going.
With love and continuing prayers for Ukraine and all who suffer,
Where Things Are
I have been cleaning up my office and looking for important pieces of paper that I'll need to file my 2020 taxes. I have an aversion to filing that comes from my orientation as a visual person. Once I file something, it literally ceases to exist for me.
You can see my problem.
A few years ago, with the help of a professional organizer, I set up a visual system to manage my files and never-ending explosion of paper. It works . . . up to a point. I have a large cabinet in my office area with open cubicles, some of them labeled, where I toss my important papers. Then I rummage through the cubicles when I need to find one of those papers. What I'm looking for often ends up not in the cubicle labeled for that exact item. My system works . . . up to a point.
And that is just with physical files - digital files are another story entirely. Digitally I am more organized with many digital folders and lists that keep my online world functioning.
But my digital system has its own Achilles heel.
The digital world expands as much as I need it to. So where I de-clutter in my physical world, my digital world just keeps getting bigger and I never seem to go back and delete the files and folders no longer needed. I only add to what is already there and I am rapidly reaching my point of overwhelm when I have to do endless scrolling just to get to a folder I need.
De-cluttering your physical and digital worlds is an important part of becoming clear and of being able to focus on what is truly important to you. It is part of the spiritual process of manifestation. You clear space to let in something new. And that is true whether what is cluttering your life is in your closet, your office, or in your computer. And to clear space you have to know where things are.
When I used to travel for long periods of time in my corporate job, I would take my few pieces of good jewelry and hide them somewhere in my apartment, just in case someone broke in while I was away. Usually it would take me a few weeks once I returned home to find where I hid my stuff. It turns out I was great at hiding my stuff from myself. I'm sure burglars would have found my stuff in no time.
Hence the need for knowing where things are. I have to acknowledge and thank my cousin Helene for the inspiration and title of this week's newsletter. Like me, Helene is a visually oriented person. In her attempts to organize her physical space, she created a digital folder titled WHERE THINGS ARE.
A great idea! Finally, a place to put a list of all the stuff that you are trying to keep track of that you might not be able to find. Unfortunately, for Helene, when she went to look in her WHERE THINGS ARE folder to find something important, it was empty. For Helene, and clearly for me as well, where things are remains a mystery.
This week I received a shipment of little tags that you can put on your keys, your glasses or anything that you have a tendency to put down and lose. With these magical little tags, I can track them with my phone. If only I knew where my phone was right now. This is the reason I keep my landline - so I can call my cell phone when it wanders away.
Spring is almost upon us - the perfect time to solve the mystery of where things are and to make space for more things just waiting to arrive. I'd love to hear some of your stories and any fabulous ideas to help me better organize my space. Remember . . .
“You don’t have to face every skeleton in your closet before you can make some room in there!” ~~Carmen Klassen, Love Your Clutter Away
Click on COMMENTS at the top of this piece and give me your best! If you email them to me . . . well, I think we all know what their fate will be.
Setting Yourself Free
Peace dwells within when the mind and heart are free of expectations.
You know you have expectations. You have expectations of yourself and who you need to be; expectations of others and how they need to behave; expectations of how society should function; expectations of what it means to be a spiritually aware person in a not-so-spiritual world.
However, the fewer expectations you have, the greater the possibility to live in the moment and to live in balance. Is it truly possible to let go of expectations? It may not be easy, but it is worth it.
Expectations take you out of the present and into the past and future. Into the past because your expectations formed in childhood in your original family and through the authority figures that influenced your perceptions and understanding of how you "should" be.
Into the future because expectations can paralyze you from moving forward if you are unsure of what it requires for you to be successful - in love, in work, even in learning how to meditate.
Notice the expectations that you carry with you throughout the day. You'll have plenty of opportunities to do so. You'll notice these expectations standing in the supermarket, waiting for your spouse to take out the trash, waiting for appreciation for all that you do and even when you are trying to quiet your mind and someone (who is that anyway?) keeps running a list of "shoulds" and "have to's" through your mental space.
“Live your life, sing your song. Not full of expectations. Not for the ovations. But for the joy of it.” ~~~Author, Rasheed Ogunlaru
I am a creative person, yet I could not write a word if I had expectations of how my writing would be received. I wouldn't be able to be in the joy of the creative moment.
And it isn't just creativity that suffers under the weight of expectations. Your authentic soul-self does as well. If you must expect something, expect that you are an inherently fallible being here to learn and experience all that life offers. And that this is a beautiful thing.
I invite you to set yourself free and let go of expectations. Let all that you are be enough.
"Nothing can dim the light that shines from within. " ~~Maya Angelou
I took the photo shown here on a Sunday night. After a cold day of steadily falling snow, a magnificent sunset ended the day in beauty, light and warmth.
Quantum Physics tells us that we are made of the same stuff as the stars - and that light infuses and connects all in the universe. But what does it mean to be the light?
For me, there are two aspects, one inward and one outward.
Within is what might be called lightness of being - this is what happens when you live in alignment with your values - when your heart is open to love and compassion. In that state, the density of the physical body shifts and energy and vitality emerge.
The other aspect is outward - the ability to send light out into the world. With the mind and heart you can send light to every aspect of creation - to the plant world, to the earth, to the animal kingdom, and to the human family. Every time you show kindness, you are sending out the light. Every time you express gratitude, you are sending out the light. Every time you listen to another with love and compassion, you are sending out the light.
Of course, the two aspects are interconnected. First you must embody the light, be loving of who you are, grateful for the blessings and challenges you face, open and honest in sharing your gifts and talents. Lightness of being happens through open-hearted self-acceptance. And when you embody that state of being, the light within becomes visible to all.
It is as Mahatma Ghandi said, "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do."
I invite you to join me in focusing on the light within. Together we can hold a vision of a world where the light truly illuminates the darkness. Like millions of stars in the night sky, the human family can use light to transform our collective experience.
Using Writing to Heal
"Through writing, we walk out of the darkness into the light together, one small step at a time." ~~C. J. Heck, poet and writer
Writing is a wonderful medium available to anyone interested in exploring the world within and without. And it is especially effective as a tool to uncover beliefs, fears and behaviors that may be preventing you from breaking through to the fullest expression of your gifts and talents. Writing can also help heal.
Writing can help heal not only you, the individual, but also the larger human family of which you are a part. There is something about the connection of brain to hand to heart that makes tangible what otherwise might stay hidden.
The human experience comes with doubts, fears, anxieties, past experiences, future dreams, complicated relationships and whatever internal dialogue you have - positive or negative.
I know friends who started writing poetry during the imposed quarantine of the pandemic. Others are writing now after the events following the murder of George Floyd. Whether you are writing for yourself or others, you are using a method that makes seen what might have previously been unseen, and that opportunity for self-expression shines light into the dark corners of your being.
Writing has the power to transport you to other worlds - within and without. Journaling or writing through meditative practice opens doors to the psyche and the connection to that which is the higher mind. Writing can change your perspective, help you make sense of the senseless, deal with fear of the unknown and re-discover who you truly are.
I'm inviting you this week to do some writing - write a letter to an old friend, write a list of things you want to do when you can freely move about in society again, write the changes you would like to see in our society that could bring peace and justice and explore how that could happen.
If you are struggling with a particular emotion, write about it. If you are upset with someone in your life, write a dialogue with them so you can briefly stand in the other person's shoes and gain perspective. If you are feeling lonely, write yourself a love letter - shower yourself with all the blessings you would bestow on the most cherished of friends.
Sometimes there is not a lot you can do to change a situation, but you can get in touch with your own heart and share your words. Writing, like all art forms, brings you into presence, and from that place of presence, healing happens.
Stay well. Stay safe.
Change is Coming
"Love is an expression of power. We can use it to transform our world."
~~~ Ericka Huggins, Activist and Educator
These last two weeks have been reminders about what it means to be human; what it means to witness the highest expression of love, connection and compassion, and the lowest of violence, hate and fear.
Together we witnessed unfathomable cruelty in the murder of George Floyd, resulting in an explosion of grief and rage that swept through our hearts, our communities, our cities, our country and the world. And, yet, today as I write, I have hope. I see change coming. And that is a good thing.
For too long we have lived with an illusion that we are all separate. Then, along came a pandemic, bringing us back into the reality that we are one human family and that what happens to one of us ripples around the globe. And now that same human family is poised to move together on a long-delayed path of social justice and change.
Such change can only happen when the people are ready to move; when the people, not any one government, have decided the time for change is now; when the people want the country to reflect who they truly are, and remember the power there is in shared ideals, the power there is in truly caring for one another with compassion and kindness.
We can't escape the ripples over time of wrongs of the past. At some point those ripples reach critical mass and a wave begins. At some point the waves reach unprecedented heights and a new path is carved upon the earth. This is where we are now - standing at the edge of a new path - one we may not walk down but our children will, and our children's children.
So, yes, I have hope. And I invite you to look into your heart and decide how you best want to use your energy during this time. If you are called to protest, then protest. If you are called to write or make art, then write and make art. Whatever you are called to do, I invite you to do so with compassion and love.
Stay well. Stay safe.
"It is exhausting, all this opening up."
~~~ Nitya Prakash, author and film maker.
I know just how he feels. There's a lot of talk today about opening up as communities, towns and cities begin to emerge from the quarantine of COVID-19.
And, of course that gets me thinking about what opening up means in the larger, personal sense. As I emerge into a world where I'm still six-feet apart from you behind a mask, will I be able to open my heart? Does the physical distance create an emotional one?
I don't have the answers but I know that in order to open up - to be vulnerable - you, and I, need to let go of past experiences of hurt, grief, loss and fear. And right now, those experiences are not in the distant past, but in the recent present. Right now, you might be worrying about an uncertain future, about how you will support yourself financially, about whether or not you will be safe and well.
This week, in this time of opening up, I invite you to step into your power - to love and accept all of you - your impatience, your anger, your sadness and your fears. This week work with what you have to make the best of the moments ahead.
You may feel space opening up inside that you hadn't even realized was tight and constrained. Your power (your empowerment) is in the choices you make each day: in the thoughts you give energy to, in the emotions you focus on, in the actions you take.
Opening up requires gentleness. Be gentle with yourself and others this week as you navigate your next steps. Find what is true for you and let that be your guide.
Stay well. Stay safe.
Cathleen O' Connor
Writer, speaker, teacher, coach and intuitive.