Ghostly Dreams And Bad Fashion Choices

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had vivid dreams. I’ve been able to do a bit of lucid dreaming and once in a great while I’m able to fly. While I don’t remember every part of my dreams, I can usually recall a fair amount of them when I wake.

Sometimes someone will show up in my dreams who I know is dead. I know you’re probably thinking, “ Dead people, really Elizabeth, hasn’t that been done, “ but it’s true.

I always look forward to those and they don’t happen enough to suit me.

I can’t remember ever having more than one family member or friend show up at a time, but last night was a party. It’s too bad I didn’t know any of the ghosts … oops,  I mean guests.

In my dream, I was looking at my reflection in a large waist-high mirror in the corner of a big room that was fairly dark in the beginning except for the lighting in this one area. I was wearing a dress that appeared to be vintage and I was thinking this was a look I needed to always wear as design suited me so well.

Suddenly, I saw the reflection of a middle-aged woman who was older looking than I am now and she was standing behind me with hair and clothing that looked as if it was from the forties.

Peach was the prominent color. I was wearing it which is something I would never do and she had on a belted peach-colored day dress with tiny flowers on it. She was nodding her head like she was agreeing me about my dress choice and when I turned around she wasn’t there. When I turned back to the mirror she was visible to me again, smiling and nodding like we were old friends.

I had no idea who this woman was in the dream. Normally, I’m calm when ghosts show up in my sleep, but having a stranger made it seem a bit scary and all of sudden I found myself unable to speak and everything I said came out garbled. I felt a bit like Whoopi Goldberg’s character in ‘Ghosts’ when she first hears Sam talking to her and realizes that she’s really hearing from someone dead after years of faking it.

It took me a few minutes to find my voice in my dream and after that it was like ghosts on parade. It was almost as if I had stumbled into a ballroom-sized old garage of some kind where they popped in and out like they were visiting old friends. Sometimes they spoke to me and sometimes they just clustered around each other.

After watching them move a few vintage cars in an unusual way, I found I had the ability to levitate a few myself. Having done that trick, I wondered if I could move myself in a similar way and as quickly as I had the thought, I floated up and across the room as gently as if I was floating on my back in pool of water.

One of the best parts of the dream had to be the dogs. Some of the ghosts had their dogs with them and when I asked, they said they found each other after death.

I wasn’t scared at all after the first sighting and no one seemed bothered by me. My level of comfort did make me consider if I might have been one of them in the dream.

You know, as in dead.

This thought came to me as I was writing this morning and I can say without hesitation that I would not like to spend eternity in a peach-colored party dress in a garage full of cars, dogs, and people I don’t know.

I might could handle jeans and wellies, but that party dress has got to go.

Trusting What You Know

I’ve struggled with a couple of decisions lately that might take away from the time and creative energy I give to my writing.

I’ve tried mind-mapping, the Ben Franklin approach, and lots of conversations with people I trust. The decision can only come from me and it’s more complicated than just yes or no.

Normally the first two methods work for me, but if I’m still iffy I like to talk with people who know me well enough to keep me honest. This time I reached out a bit farther offering up a prayer of sorts before I went to sleep a few nights ago.

In the remnants of a dream I remembered this image as I woke. It was so clear I knew it immediately that it was from a photograph I took in 2004. It’s been so long since I’ve seen it that I had to do a serious search of my external hard drive to share it with you.

Although the spider in the center is ever so slightly soft in its focus, the message is not lost on me. That the focus is off feels like part of the message, and the spider in the photo, it’s known as a writing spider.

I have a few more people I want to talk with, but I think I’ve found the answer.

What do you think?

Finding Funds When Your Money Tree Has Been Cut Down

In the US, you can sometimes overhear parents telling their children that ” Money doesn’t grow on trees ” so imagine my surprise when I noticed a money tree that had been cut down and left along a walking path here in the UK.

Never having seen one before, I decided that I must have just grown up in the wrong part of the world for money trees. Judging by what you can see below, I’ll agree that it might take a while to accumulate enough for a major purchase seeing how most of the money looks like pocket change.

I’m usually just fine these days with what I have in life and grateful for the things I own. I feel fortunate on many levels, but sometimes I must admit to coveting the occasional ” want ” or some item that not really a need.

Recently I woke from a dream with a clear memory of a bicycle. It was red and retro with a perfect little basket and even in my sleep I wanted it.

Yesterday, John and I walked into a store near where we live and there it was, the bike in my dream!  Okay, it was missing the basket, but I have one already that’s been waiting for the right bike.

Given the price, it’s going to take me some time to save up my money because I have other places I need to spend it now. Plus, it’s not really a need and I’m not going to die if I don’t get it, but like a child whining for candy in the checkout line,

I waaaant it!

 

Hmm … I wonder if I can remember where we saw that money tree.

 

Dreams So Real You Want To Shout At Your Sleeping Spouse

My poor husband John has no idea how close I was this morning to giving an indignant shout of,  ‘ How could you ‘ when I was waking this morning with one foot still firmly in the tight grip of a vivid dream of betrayal. Even though my dream husband was not John and in fact no one I even recognize, the fury and shock I felt in my sleepy state made me pull away from the dear man sleeping next to me.

Being a vivid dreamer is a bonus for writers and I frequently make notes after a busy night especially if it feels like my subconscious has presented me with a little gift of insight or some seed of a story and I searched for the details as I was waking up trying as best I could to commit them to memory.

Last nights journey down the path of marital infidelity seemed like a bit of both insight and story on reflection this morning. Stay with me while I try to explain. Over the last few days, I have been working on a short story that I originally wrote in the third person which according to more than a few folks I’ve read, is not the best way to write one if you hope to have it published.

I do understand the concept of how writing in the first person is designed to be more immediate putting you directly in the middle of things in a way that writing in the third person cannot and why it works well when telling a tale with less words, but I think I usually prefer the options that third person point of view offers. I have seen it done successfully with both the novels and short stories of writers who have managed to publish, but they are all pretty recognizable names and I have to wonder what happens to the rest of us (the unpublished) who may choose another way.

As I have struggled to shift the point of view in my short story rewrite, I have been challenged in a way that I think has provided a good mental exercise regardless of which version I send out the door. In a world where many of us can get bogged down in one-way, right way, my way or the highway kind of thinking, changing my story has begun a subtle shift in my characters as well.

For example, when I woke from my dream and began going over the details imagining how my character (who looked just like me only with a bad eighties hairstyle) might have responded had I not cut the storyline short by waking up, I found myself shifting the dream reaction into a much more interesting and creative outcome.

Granted the point of view was not affected, but in much the same way that I am giving myself the freedom to play with point of view in my current work, it seems to be having a positive effect on my creative process providing me with more options than the typical ones we think of when faced with an all too familiar plot of infidelity and betrayal.

Additionally, while I learned a few more things about staying open to the different perspectives possible for my characters, it was also interesting to note that when my waking body language tried to pull away this morning, I woke to find John’s hand wrapped gently around my wrist as if even in sleep he was saying, ‘ Don’t go.’

Baby Steps

 

John Walking With Mom

John Walking With Mom

Sometimes all we need is a little support when we’re learning how to do things we’ve never done before. In the picture above, John is wearing something they call a walking harness and reins here in England. It’s designed to increase stability and confidence when young ones are learning to walk. Parents can hold onto the reins giving the illusion of total independence, while keeping the child a bit safer and somewhat close at hand.  You still see them in use here as I saw recently when we were out one day. 

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There are times lately when I feel like I could use a guiding hand at the end of a set of reins. The work I’m doing these days is multi-layered and requires a good bit of  juggling.  I’m teaching myself how to do things I’ve never done before and it’s just plain hard at times. I see other people doing the very things I want to do with such ease and I forget that it often looks easy because they’ve been doing it a while. I try to remind myself of this when I feel frustrated that I haven’t moved as quickly in the creative directions I have mapped out in my mind and on paper.  On days when my frustrations threaten a total boycott of creative focus, I find myself saying, ” Baby steps, Elizabeth…walk first.” Being a runner in real life, my daily internal dialogue can mirror what goes on in my head during a race and suddenly the creative process gets bogged with chatter that sounds a bit like , “where’s the finish line, how much time do I have left to get there, who’s in front, and can I push through this pain…”  

I’ve rewritten a last paragraph five different ways and still don’t like the look it so..I’m going to finish with these last words and get back to work… remembering as I go, that baby steps are just first steps and they’ll get bigger as I grow.

What’s Behind Door Number One, Two, Three…

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.

- Julia Cameron

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Sometimes, it’s difficult to choose which direction is right. It’s fine to say follow your dreams and the money will follow, but for most of us who have in the past or who may be currently struggling with how to pay for basics such food and shelter…dream seeking may seem like a luxury right now.

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Others, may find themselves financially able to seek, but they find they’re not sure where to look.

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Some of us may find ourselves standing in front of doors we never thought would be before us.

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These days are perfect in some ways for leaping off into directions we might have been afraid to venture until recently. With the economic downturn, some people have no choice. We are reminded every day now that nothing is secure. Many people I know have been laid off from companies that they gave almost all of their time and energy to…often missing important times with family and friends or working themselves sick. They traded moments they can never get back. I’ve done that myself and no award or salary increase can alter the regret I feel for the times I missed. I have to say it wasn’t ego that drove me, but fear. Like most people, I worried about keeping my job so I could pay my bills and take care of my daughter. I wish I’d worked as hard achieving my own goals as I did for the different companies who bought my time, but wanted my whole life.

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dsc_0295In early 1982, I was scheduled to complete my military tour of duty and begin to work on a University degree. It was a terrible time to be leaving the security of a military paycheck during peace time. After getting out, I was so worried about finding a job that I almost reenlisted. The economy was much like it is today in terms of unemployment with 7.4 % of the nation out of work in November of 1982. Still I managed, I rented a room in the home of a local teacher for $25 a week. I had kitchen privileges and I shared a bathroom down the hall with two other people in the house. It wasn’t a perfect situation, but one I could afford.

Enrolling at S.U.N.Y. Oswego in upstate New York, I declared a major and managed to get a job on campus in the Sweet Shop, one of several jobs I would have during my time there. I eventually shifted south to the University of Georgia where I changed my major and graduated with a Theatre degree in 1987. By the time I graduated in June, I was married and six months pregnant with my only child.

Now, 27 years after I left the army, my daughter has entered the workforce in a similar economic situation. Actually, I think it’s much worse. As stressful as these times are for her, I wish it were possible for her to see something that took me years to really believe…that real happiness and security will not be found in the job that pays the most money or wields the most power, but in finding and doing the work she was meant to do. That’s a lot to ask of a 21 year old. I’ve not alway lived fearlessly in the ways I wish she could and I’m 27 years older. There are so many doors out there…so many choices. I wish she would take a little time to see what’s behind as many as possible so she can build a life with few regrets when looking back in 27 years.