Two nights ago I had a dream about a bald eagle hatching. Most animal dreams are significant and I try to pay attention when they happen. This one, in particular, jumped out at me as containing a relevant message, particularly because eagles are such a powerful animal and have represented major spiritual concepts to many cultures throughout history. Powerful medicine.
I’m lucky enough to know a man who does shamanic work here in Madison (and around the world, as well.) When I told him I was planning to do a little research to find out what this dream’s meaning was, he said he believed it was that a deep dream of mine was “hatching” or about to be realized. Sweet!
Then I got to thinking…What are my dreams these days? I am so intimately absorbed in the day to day life with my kids and husband, do I even have dreams that go beyond getting a full night’s sleep, going to Target by myself, and getting in a good workout a couple times a week? That feels so lame, somehow, but is really indicative of this time of my life. Family life, man, I’m deep in it.
But to honor the parts of me that might be holding steady to some of my other dreams I may have lost sight of, I sometimes revisit questions to bring those dreams back into my awareness. To find my location and spiritual coordinates on my life map. I encourage you to answer some of them for yourself. It’s often surprising what you don’t know about yourself. Here are a few….
What makes you laugh?
What scares you?
Where do you most want to travel to alone?
Where do you most want to travel to with your family?
What is your favorite color?
What are three things you would like to spend more time doing?
What are three things you would like to stop doing?
What are three life goals you have already achieved?
What are three life goals you look forward to achieving?
What is a goal you have that you don’t think you can achieve? What if you could?
What do you love about your home?
What do you not like about your home?
What do you love about your town?
What do you not like about your town?
What makes you feel happy?
What makes you feel lonely?
What is your favorite song?
What is some new activity you’d like to try?
Where do you see yourself in five years? Does it make you smile?
What is your favorite piece of clothing?
Who is a good friend to you?
Whose friendship are you letting go of?
What do you feel guilty about?
How can you celebrate who you are today?
“Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth well as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout your life so far, I recommend that you learn to think positively about your body.”
“If I could tell you what it meant, there would be no point in dancing it.”
– Isadora Duncan
Art is critical to human evolution, survival, well-being, tolerance, awareness, and connection. It is not something we do, it is something we are. We are the music, the dance, the masterpieces. Our lives are compositions. Language is vastly limited in what it can do to express the nuances, subtleties, and galactic power of our emotions, our sensory input, and our depth. This is something I’ve learned as I’ve waded through grief over my dad for the last two years. Some things just can’t be explained with words. To be fully realized, we need to create and express artistically. We need to move our distinct selves in rhythm with the sensations and vibrations we feel, and let meanings fall away, as we spring into a state of observation. Art is immediate. Creating it and being witness to it drops us into the present moment.
I love this quote because Ms. Duncan is saying how dance can express something without defining it. That is something that we are designed to do- bypass our need to analyze and understand- and just embody our experiences. Dance them. Paint them. Sculpt them. There is a part of us that is always centered in the geyser of creative force. Where we don’t need to understand or analyze. Our mental selves jump out of the equation and we are left with ourselves- and the power we have in expressing things that words never could contain.
“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come.”
– Victor Hugo
OK, so he is talking about an idea for nations, for the world at large, I’m sure. But I like to take this quote to a more personal level. Recently for our family, that idea whose time has come is night weaning. But it’s true for any brilliant new thing that you are just ready for. The trick, as always, is getting out of your own way to let the idea take its rightful place at the center of your attention.
“since the thing perhaps is to eat flowers and not to be afraid.”
e.e. cummings changed my life. Poetry had always seemed like a rigid form of writing to me. At least, the poetry that I was introduced to in high school, and asked to write followed very definite guidelines. But after college, I was introduced to a different kind of poetry where rules were made to be rewritten, broken, and just ignored altogether. This not only made me a better writer, but a better human. Richer, fuller, and more willing to turn my inner volume way, way up until it blasted out my pen, and out my mouth in spoken word events. I love e.e. cummings. He tromped on all kinds of rules while zinging right to the heart. This might not be his greatest quote, but it’s the one I always think of when I realize how powerful writing can be. It can change lives.
“No, no, no, no and no. Also, no, no and no.” – my son Braden, age 3
Calm delivery. He thought he was being reasonable and making a good argument. He used the “also” just to add the special emphasis he needed. As I recall, I was asking him to do some menial task like wash his hands or head to his room for quiet time. One of the things I love about him is that he talks like a grown up but expresses kid thoughts. Perfect.
“And then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will yes.” -James Joyce
Is it hot in here? ‘Cause I’m getting a little bothered. Sooooo romantic. A few years back when I was performing songs out, my fellow songwriters and I were discussing the magic of soulful male songwriters. Put a poetic, soulful female songwriter on stage and the audience is like, “Show me something I don’t know already.” Put a poetic, soulful male songwriter up on stage and the audience is captivated. Initiate swooning. This quote has that swoon-worthy quality. It’s all wrapped up in itself and in the momentum of the rich moment.
“my feet will want to walk to where you are sleeping but
I shall go on living.”
Neruda. He said pretty much everything better than anyone of us could. I’m posting this quote as a tip of the hat to those we’ve lost. Blessings to those who are grieving. I never really knew grief until my dad died two years ago. Now I know as much as two years as taught me. “Grief” is one of those words that does close to nothing in explaining what it is supposed to represent. Like “love” or “birth.” It is a scrap of blanket covering miles of geography. It does nothing to cover the different terrains and seasons. I love this quote because I’ve found that even though my mind has moved on from my dad’s death, my body absolutely remembers. During the time of year that he died, I find myself sad, tired, angry, desperate. It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten therapy and have worked on forgiveness, moving on and all the stuff you’re supposed to do. My body is still acclimating. I still go to his speed-dial number, think about what I’m going to get him for Christmas, and get a choke in my throat when I think of him not being around to see my kids as they grow. But I shall go on living.
“When setting out on a journey, never consult someone who has never left home.”- Rumi
Rumi is one of my favorite poets. Yes, he was a mystical bloke and quite a romantic. He wasn’t afraid to let his freak flag fly and also wasn’t afraid to share the wisdom of his heart. I long to see these qualities in my daily life. Honesty, truth in feeling, openness.
This quote, in particular, is one of my favorites because it reminds me of the traveling I did in my twenties. Where I grew up, I didn’t have any examples of women traveling by themselves around the country. It wasn’t until I moved out to Colorado and started meeting people who were avid travelers that I realized that anyone could plot a course and follow through. It’s a good reminder to seek out people who have taken chances and broken down barriers. Not only are these kinds of people exciting and fascinating, but they are also inspiring. They make you believe in yourself as a trailblazer and someone who can fulfill not just one dream, but many dreams. The way you were meant to.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
Science! Optimism! Perseverance! I love this quote because it snaps me out of self-reproach at not being successful enough, not accomplishing what I want quickly enough. (Whatever.) Edison had the focus to carry on toward his goals despite concrete evidence that what he’d done so far hadn’t worked. To remain undaunted attempt after attempt after attempt….that is inspiring. And honestly, anyone who has ever achieved a goal they’ve never reached before must go through some form of this self-encouragement. But to not waste energy shouting and wailing about what failures we are as we make our way to our goals- that is genius.