What Are You Trying to Tell Me?

I recently woke up from a dream that was so different, so excitingly new that instead of sighing peacefully and going back to sleep hoping I’d remember it in the morning, I jumped out of bed to jot down my impressions to insure it’s survival.

My journal was on my desk, not beside my bed, so I slipped out of bed and quietly padded to my office. I flipped on the light and sat down at my desk to write. As I opened my book and picked up my pen my phone dinged. A message at this hour. Everyone knows I’m sound asleep and I haven’t touched anything to alert the all-seeing social media of my activity.

“Are you sleeping?”

A message from an online friend.

“No! I just woke up from an amazing dream and came to write it down. And here you are!”

“About what?”

The conversation went on for half an hour. I dreamed that I was talking with an old comedienne that looked a lot like my Grandma Shirley. She told me that I was really funny, hilarious, and that I should try stand up comedy, try acting. I told her I had acted in the past but was never very good at it. She begged to differ and told me she knew talent when she saw it. She took me to a party with her and there were other famous people there, actors, directors and such. She introduced me and they all confirmed that I had something. And then I woke up. I wasn’t startled awake, I was laying there content. I felt accepted, proud, self-confident. I wanted to remember that feeling. That’s why I got up to write it down.

Telling my friend about it, he suggested that I do what my dream suggested. I’ll admit that I’ve thought about it before. When I was teenager, I took plenty of acting classes and was in several high school shows, but I was too self-conscious to do it well. Acting takes complete self abandonment; going up there as if you are the center of the universe, with no thought to whether or not anyone will like it. Talent or not, you can’t see it unless you throw the robes off and stand there naked before the whole audience. I could not do it. I hid myself.

These days I wonder, would I be able to do it now? Am I self-confident enough to let go? There is a small community theater here. I could go down and audition. I went back to bed with these thoughts on my mind.

When I woke up in the morning, I was still thinking about it. I’d slept soundly knowing the dream was safe in my journal and the idea tucked away in my messages. I started my morning routine thinking I’d go back in a few hours and rethink it all. Nestled down in my spot on the couch, book in hand, I relaxed into my morning.

After a bit, I mentioned the dream to my husband who listened attentively, but as I told it something started to swirl around in my head. This dream wasn’t about acting. It’s about self-confidence. I got another cup of coffee and picked up my journal.

As the morning progressed, more ideas started to fall into place. I accosted my teenage sons as they stumbled sleepily into the livingroom. I had to talk more of this idea out and they just happened across my path as it was coming together. I don’t know what I’ll do when they move out and I lose my captive audience. Pity my poor husband!

I’ve always been a dreamer, not the pie in the sky, big ideas kind of dreamer, but I almost always dream when I sleep. I dream vivid and realistic dreams generally every night, especially when my anxiety is high. While most of the time my dreams are varied and colorful, there are a few that are recurring. They revolve around being left behind, trying to be understood, or being without help in a crisis. This dream was different and that’s what got me so excited.

This dream was encouraging and left me feeling supported and loved, pushed from beyond. And it wasn’t about acting at all. It only took that form because that was my past experience. Like I told my sons, I know not everyone believes in spiritual dream stuff and, to be honest, I don’t either, but I do believe in subconscious work. I’ve been working on some big things the past couple of years. For the past few months I’ve felt stuck and unsure how or if to proceed. This dream shook something loose in me.

A side note, but related, I haven’t thought much about my Aunt or Grandmother since they passed away years ago, but over the last couple of weeks they have come up several times. I reconnected with my Uncle and cousin, I randomly met someone he knows, my cousin posted about his mother, and then this dream with the face of my Grandma. Those two women were a big part of my life growing up, but I lost them in my early thirties. I hadn’t thought I had lost much until now. What could they teach me now about being in my forties? Those were strong, bold beautiful women. I’m feeling a need for their confidence and support. This dream is a piece of that, another reason I believe in an afterlife that touches this one.

What in the world am I talking about? I’ve been rambling on for pages! Writing! I can’t say I’ve always wanted to write or that I’ve been writing since I could read. I can’t say that I have several stories, books, or poems stored up just waiting for the right publisher to come along. I can say that I have always had something to say.

I feel like I’ve had something hidden away from me for years. Like those stories you hear about a princess raised by farmers and finds out who she really is. I’ve never felt like I fit in with the women in my mother’s family and when the women in my father’s family were alive I was too afraid of them to really embrace them. I feel like a combination of both, not quite as crazy and wild (the slightly self destructive that I thought they were) and not as timid and reserved as my mother’s family. I need to tap into the “training” of my mother and her mom; the quiet, calm, and respectable side; AND the wild, free-ranging, self-assuredness of my dad’s sister and mother.

I wrote these words a couple of days ago and closed my notebook thinking it all seemed like it was an idea going nowhere, just like the thousand other times I’ve felt like I had something solid in my hands but when I looked directly at it, it turned to air.

Today, I’m in a RV park in Montpelier, Idaho, reading it over again and seeing something else. That’s a realization in and of itself. I’m reminded of a story somewhere when someone is blindfolded and writes in a trance, then goes back to read what is on the page and finds someone else’s words. It does make sense. There is a message there. And if the message is there for me, the odds are that someone else might need to hear it as well, so I keep writing.

Where am I going? That’s probably what you’re asking, and exactly what I’m asking myself. I think the point my subconscious is trying to make is that “fortune favors the bold.” I’ve never been one to self-promote. “I’m shy.” I tell people, but not in an introverted way. I’m not happier when I’m alone. While I do enjoy the pleasure of my own company, while I do love making time to sit quietly alone with my thoughts so better to write them down, I am not fueled by that. I crave regular interaction with people, as if fueled by the energy of our connections. But I am so self-conscious, worried about doing the wrong thing, offending someone with my words, not fitting in with others, that it sometimes stops me from doing the things I want to do. That’s something I am working to change and my next step is here.

I’ve been plagued with a few thoughts since I finished the big project of writing my first story. The first of which is, now that the story is down on paper, what should I do next? It’s memoir and very personal to me. I’m terrified of promoting it and then having to defend it. As I’m writing these words something just dawned on me. Maybe that story shouldn’t be the first thing I promote. I have so much more I could be writing and promoting.

I recently came across a Tim Hawkins sticker that struck me as perfect for what I really want to do here.

“Live Life. Take Notes. Tell Strangers.”

He was talking about comedy, but I think it’s so much bigger. Maybe comedy isn’t just an entertainment, maybe it’s philosophy for the light hearted. Which connects me to my dream again. I’ve always been someone who notices things. It’s probably one of the reasons I’ve always carried so much anxiety. I love to read. I love to watch, to experience. I love being among people, maybe not in front of, or leading, but quietly among them, soaking up their energy.

Throughout my life I’ve taken notes; journals and notebooks full of my thoughts and ideas, questions, and observances. When I write I rarely know where it will go, what will be the outcome of my tapping at the screen. The connections come to me while I write the same way they come to me during a conversation, spontaneously and not always fully formed. The more I write, the more I think, the more the idea takes a stronger form.

In the past, my blog posts are written on the spot. I have an idea, or want to review a book I just read, so I sit down and tap out the first words that come to mind. I immediately look back through it and post it that same hour. I’d like to change that.

As I spend my first two week vacation alone with my husband since we had kids, I’m spending a lot of time walking, driving, thinking, and talking. With no kids to care for, and an introverted husband that thoroughly enjoys his quiet time, I have had plenty of time to think, write, and rewrite. I have been using this time as a writing retreat and my intention is to build up a few articles, like this one and others, so that I can begin posting something more complete several days a week while I work on new observations to post later.

I’ve had a terrible time putting that into coherent words!

What will I write? Observations. I’ve struggled with that for a long time and with Tim Hawkin’s bumper sticker, it finally dawned on me. It’s perfectly acceptable to live life, take notes, and tell strangers. It is simple philosophy and something I enjoy and feel confident doing. Hopefully, someone out there will find my observations interesting or helpful!

It’s Friday Again!

I’m back! Did you miss me?

I hadn’t planned on writing today, but since we decided to come home early so that he’d have a few days of rest before he went back to work on Monday, I’ve had a day to rest and catch up on things myself. So here I am!

Happy Friday to you!

Thing I learned: Just before I left for our first vacation without kids, I was asking myself “Where do you go when you aren’t trying to show the world to your kids? What places do you visit when you only have the two of you chiming in with preferences?” Since my husband came with a daughter, we’ve always had kids around. Want to know the answer? The same things we’ve always done but without little people dragging along behind!

We were walking along a trail at a state park, stopping to look at animal tracks and wondering about how a fence was constructed, when it dawned on me. We are still doing the same things we did when we had kids, and probably the same things we did before we had kids, before we even met each other. We are explorers! The end of parenting is not the end of our marriage. Kids are not all we have in common!

Thing I’m reading: I started reading “Paul Simon: the life” by Robert Hilburn while we were out on the road. I haven’t always been a fan of his music. I mean, everyone knows the songs he has on the radio, but I didn’t have any albums. My sons introduced me to him, and they always marveled at the poetry in his music. I’m loving the biography because reading it makes me think he, as a person, is similar to his music; down to earth, a bit deep, quiet, and relevant to all times, not just the ones he wrote in.

This quote from him resonated with me.

“I think she understood that the one who are looking out the window are sometimes your best students, not the ones who always raise their hand and want attention,” Paul said. “I always thought that was embarrassing. I wanted attention, too, but I didn’t want to be seen as wanting it. I wanted it to come naturally, by doing something that warranted it, rather than me manipulating people to look at me.”

I can understand that! The book is really speaking to me as a writer. An artist is an artist. We want to be noticed for creating something people want to see, not because we read an article or hired someone that knows about social media ads and manipulating Amazon “best seller” subjects. It has inspired me to keep writing exactly what is on my heart and not worry so much about getting seen. I’ll be visible soon enough. I don’t need to sit in the front row jumping out of my seat with my hand up.

Thing I heard: “Live Life. Take Notes. Tell Strangers.” A couple of years ago, I saw this magnet on the fridge at the pregnancy clinic where I volunteer. Funny thing is that  I took a picture of it, posted it, and then forgot all about it until I was scrolling through my Facebook Memories. This time it struck home. This is exactly what I do on my blog!

I loved it so much that I immediately made it my blog’s profile picture on Facebook. Then I searched the internet for its source. It turns out that it’s from Tim Hawkins! He was asked what the secret to writing comedy was and this was his answer and I couldn’t agree more. I hope he doesn’t mind that I borrowed it for a bit of inspiration! I bought my own fridge magnet and a notebook! Want one? Click here!

Thing I want to do: Change the production schedule of this blog! The last couple of weeks have illuminated something important to me. I cannot produce publishable output every single day, not yet anyway. I need more time. From now on the schedule will go like this:

Every Monday and Wednesday I will put up a finished piece. They will typically be observation articles, things I’m thinking about or have noticed and want to expand on. You know…philosophical stuff.

Friday will always have a “It’s Friday, my Friends!” post like this one.

As they come up, I’ll post my book reviews here as well, but they aren’t scheduled. They’ll just be up as I finish a book and get the chance to write my thoughts about it. I’ll post those to my Goodreads account too!

Tuesday, Thursday, and some Saturdays and Sundays, will be my simply writing days. Every day I’ll schedule a couple of hours to sit at my computer and think, but I’ll only post the output three days a week. I think this time frame is feasible for me right now, but I may just drop to two days a week if it overwhelms me again.

The overwhelm comes, not from the writing itself, but from having to post it. What I’ve been doing is sitting down at my computer, thinking of something to write about, tapping it out, reading it over, and then immediately posting it. It’s not very conducive to coherent writing. It puts too much pressure on me, and I make a lot of mistakes! If I have only two or three days a week to post, the rest of the daily writing time can be better spent writing and then actually editing that writing before I give it to the world. We’ll see how it goes!

Picture of the week:

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It’s me, hiking with my husband this past week. He turned around and took it as I was walking behind him. I’ve always struggled with body image. Even when I was a kid, young and skinny, I thought I was chubby and not that attractive. My husband begs to differ and thinking back, I’ve never lacked for male attention, so doesn’t that mean I am attractive?

So…here I am, boldly making the statement. I like this picture of me. Yes, I’m chubby! But I’m fun. And I love life! My hair is going grey, my skin is starting to show its age, but I’m healthy, strong, and happy. This is what joy looks like in real life!