Emotional Baggage Claim

I used to think that the only reason I am not in jail or on the street is because I have always had a strong support group. Not everyone is so lucky to have been raised and cared for by incredible humans. Even to this day, I know I have more than a handful of people I can call and count on to be where I need them to be, when I need them to be there. Considering the multiple issues literally plaguing the world right now, I feel… how should I put this?

blessed.

It should also be said that these supportive people have taught me valuable lessons that have led me to believe that, in addition to their loyalty, I can finally give my self credit for my small successes in various areas in my life. It took years of hard work, courage, strength, perseverance, humility, trial and error, learning, growth, and trust- or rather, the ability to allow yourself to make decisions for yourself, or ask others for help or advice in time of need- to become what I consider to be a person I can be proud of.

While I have experienced multiple life-changing in-an-instant scenarios and traumas, I have also experienced positive rewards that stemmed from these experiences. The trick was, and continues to be, releasing negativity so that it doesn’t remain housed in some nook or cranny of my subconscious. Many people practice Reiki, or pray, or use Tarot cards, or other things to practice releasing these negative emotions associated with actual experiences that remain ever present in our subconscious- whether we fully comprehend, acknowledge, or engage with them or not.

As I have written in an earlier post, I am dreaming of interacting with someone very close to me, someone who I have had to draw a line with in my waking hours so as to not continue experiencing negative consequences in my own life and that of my child’s. But my subconscious chooses the easy, positive emotions I once felt in this person’s presence (and long to feel again in relation to this individual who so powerfully influenced my life), and if these are reflections of my true intentions and feelings for this person, I’m good with it. My discipline in maintaining my boundary while awake, however, remains indefinitely because it is ultimately up to this individual to make healthier choices that will positively influence her life and the relationships of those closest to her. When she is ready, she, too, will feel the need to release the negative emotions associated with her own traumas, and perhaps then will make the decisions which are necessary to either take action- or steps- towards healing herself, or allow (trust) someone who is qualified to assist her in this process. I root for her both subconsciously and consciously, and I feel confident that one day, she, too, will do what is necessary to live the life she was intended to live, cultivating healthy relationships that are meaningful and beneficial to her.

We have all had experiences that scar us, or leave us wrecked. We all have people in our lives who have failed to meet our expectations and needs. Cue Let Down by Radiohead. Perhaps we have all experienced abandonment at some point. Maybe the relationships that we just couldn’t quite figure out or weren’t serving us in any uplifting way have instead left us feeling confused, vulnerable, bitter, non-trusting, insecure and, well, unattractive.

How unappealing can someone be? I think surely, by now, we all must know.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way forever. As my favorite heartbroken comedian of all time- born an abandoned orphan, died forever loved by millions- wrote: …if you just smile

Side note: my grandfather played this song on his steel guitar and it is something I revisit from time to time. I found out years later that he did so at my uncle’s request. Another side note: sometimes, it’s the little things that get us through the big things.

I used to be friends with a guy my own age who possessed some supernatural ability to read me very easily- something I had heard from countless others was “very hard” to do. I can be aloof, distant, mysterious more often than not when engaged in social situations. I am the butterfly, fluttering from one person to the next, always eager to make contact but becoming (not necessarily bored, but) genuinely interested in everything and everyone else around me as well. I have been told “I’ve never met a stranger”, which is very commonplace being that I have lived in Alabama the better majority of my life. People say “it’s a Southern thing”, which I find is mostly true. Our culture is entrenched with hospitality and community and serving others (which is partly why those who work doing the direct opposite around here truly bother me).

But this guy told me something when we were probably 22 years old that I had never heard anyone say about me before, and the revelation sort of stuck.

“You’re bitter.”

Denial was the initial response. “No I am not! How am I bitter?” I would dismissively argue. How can someone who is bitter be the funny, always smiling, just wanna have a good ole time girl? Well, easily… as I learned years and years (and many, many years) later. In fact, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense that I opted for goofy behaviors because that was my defense mechanism- my distraction- from all the bullshit that has happened throughout my personal life. I’m certainly not the first human who has adapted to life this way. (Again, Charlie Chaplin comes to mind.)

‘Claiming your emotional baggage’ is something I feel like I naturally came up with but am certain has been previously spoken by any ole mental health practitioner or written in any ole self-help book. “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” “The first obstacle to overcome is denial.” Blah blah blah. I like ‘claiming my emotional baggage’ because I have leisurely strolled to baggage claim numerous times over the years in airports, and the main reason I have been to airports was to visit my mother (who I have a complex relationship with and much of my baggage is related to this). It allows me to relate these terms to actual experiences, which in turn helps me claim this emotional baggage using powerfully vivid and meaningful visualization.

Because I have intentionally or unintentionally run from that baggage for years, it helps me to visualize myself walking up the down escalator, year after year, to avoid a) the crowd/mainstream traffic, b) the baggage itself, and c) confronting situations- and people- I need to confront. This visualization is an easy replication of what I have been doing subconsciously since I was a child- running away from any and all problems that have struck my family and I to this murky, subterranean level, where anything and everything has been ruined, for seemingly as long as my brain has had the ability to store memory. Likewise, I have stored these mildewed emotions relating to these memories- and, boy, what disastrous memories I have! It’s like tending to a pile of broken down vehicles in my front yard that for seemingly no reason at all, I’ve kept guarded from outsiders for years! LOL!!!

After the denial and the stress that comes from realizing you have a) been bitter, b) been in denial for years, and c) have tedious work to do in dealing with thirty plus years of your shit subsides- now you can let go. Just… be still. Let the escalator carry you to the basement level, that flood of emotions you need to cautiously wade through to in order to realize, recover, and handle your distorted and perhaps unrecognizable baggage.

This meticulous- and not overnight process- will most likely open up a big ass can of worms. When you’re down in your yuck stuff that you’ve avoided almost your entire life, you can react in all sorts of unfun ways. It may cause your depression or anxiety to flare up. In my case, it may lead to spontaneous purchases that cause temporary illusions of joy, which may affect your finances and end up only causing more long term grief. This process may even affect you physically- an example would be more intense back and neck pain due to tension or worry (almost my case). These emotions you begin to unlock will undoubtedly intrude some areas of your life- sleep, work, play, whatever, and where ever, and at any given moment, which in turn could create more negative situations you have to ultimately deal with. Buuuuuuuuuuuut! Working through this process is a better alternative to continuing to bottle your negative emotions that stem from these terrible tragedies in your life that will most certainly- and perhaps literally- cripple you eventually if left unchecked and lurking below the surface. They may be lurking in your subconscious files, but they still absolutely exist and they will undoubtedly affect you. Do not run from your problems. Meet and greet them, and then kindly kick their ass.

Many times, I face problems alone. At least, I think I do. It isn’t that I deny I have problems now, it’s that I prefer not to ask for help most of the time. Shame, fear, regret- all of those (stupid, but valid) emotions are the raging rivers we cross. I don’t want people I love to continuously feel that I need rescued yet again. Rather than locking arms with people to safely get across, I pack my board and paddle and maneuver through the thrashing waves- fearlessly solo, without a life jacket. Stupid? Definitely! But my philosophy has always been it’s my life (as sung in TLC’s My Life which I felt was my personal anthem in my early teenage years.)

The truth and reality is, what we do- and often worse, do not do- affects others, especially those who love us and those whom we love. And that, in turn, also affects our own lives. So while we think we are handling our own, we are instead sabotaging our own- even if we can’t see immediate effects presently, eventually we see the effects manifesting in our future own. Which, sadly, can result in more challenging- even impossible- issues to deal with when cognitive functioning declines in old age. Hello, Dementia- you horrible bitch.

Reaching out for another human hand is nothing to be afraid of. If your parents are part of your issue, you can find hands elsewhere. We can look for answers and assistance along many alternate avenues. You don’t necessarily have to call your mother every single time you’re in an emotional crisis, or your father every single time you’re in physical pain- these are just totally random examples and definitely do not apply to me personally. Still to this day, I tend to retreat within in order to defend myself, and while I do seek answers from many, various sources, much of my strength is what I feel I have cultivated from within.

One of the results of adapting this independent self healer method for years is that I have very thick skin. I can handle many crisis situations that arise rather easily, which has allowed me to extend help to others who find themselves in need of a hand. This, I have learned, is only another defense mechanism. When you focus on other people’s problems and attempt to help those in need, you tend to focus less on your own damn self. Many people in my family are like this. I have paramedics, trauma nurses, mental health nurses, engineers, military leaders, and so forth in my family whose jobs revolve around problem solving and helping those either in crises or life threatening situations. I have been there, done that, as they say, and while it definitely has its immediate advantages, it also has long-term drawbacks.

One of those other results is that I find myself receiving less and less invitations to do fun stuff that even in my mid-thirties, I still crave. While this gradually (and probably naturally) occurs with age, in my case, it also has to do with my financial situation. Being a single mother with plenty of bills has been challenging, and expecting anyone to pay for dinner and a movie is completely out of the question for me. I don’t look favorably to favors. In fact, I consider them to be burdensome. And so, I have rejected multiple invitations that have been extended to me through the years, either because I didn’t have time, I was working or had other responsible adult commitments, or because I couldn’t afford whatever experience was being offered. This creates another bag that I am working to claim even now- the bitterness of growing old and isolated, while my friends either move away for better opportunity or stop inviting me to go out because they now assume I don’t have the time or money for it. (And they aren’t wrong.)

Claiming your emotional baggage is a job in of itself. It takes all of the things I mentioned in the second paragraph above, but sometimes, it takes something other worldly to permit you to light the contents on fire. You don’t need no man. Let it go, darling. You’re seeing black smoke now and unsure what the next step might be. “Okay Teacher, I’ve handled my baggage. I’ve set my basement on fire and now I can’t see and I’m beginning to inhale toxins. Now what?” What happens when you’re dealing with these things on your own and you think you know thyself, but you quickly determine you actually do not? I imagine Atreyu at the Sphinx Gates he must cross to meet the Southern Oracle. Be confident!

Confidence is a very complicated issue. Lack of confidence is also a weighted load. Lack of confidence can be something that inconveniences your entire adult life. For example, my grandmother refuses to drive. She drove a dune buggy in the sand (not joking) and got out of the vehicle, mortified and trembling. Has refused to drive ever since. It can also be something simple, but kinda hilarious. My grandmother also absolutely detests the way a peach feels to the touch. I was always curious about this. Still to this day, she will scream if you hold a peach near her. I stopped doing this when I was probably twelve or so. (Imagine that any time a Presidents of the United States of America song comes on the radio, you think about calling your grandma.)

When you ask yourself questions, think what the answer might be if you were to ask, say… a grandma, an Oracle, a Pastor, a Spirit, God Almighty Himself. Convince yourself that the answers come from a place of light and love, that there are people and powers that do exist that want to unify and glorify us and life. Convince yourself that beauty is everywhere, and that we deserve something beautiful. Simply allowing yourself to be open to asking a question to someone- or something- who/that possesses power greater than your own might help frame a window you didn’t notice before. This window could very well become your escape route once you have spent enough time digging around in the basement. This window will help guide you to the sunshine, and release you from that pain you endured for years.

Maybe in dealing with old traumas, you have also discovered some rather meaningful snippets of time, or things that remind you of good times that you had forgotten. Maybe now you feel gratitude for what you discovered in the basement- perhaps about yourself and others that you couldn’t quite recognize before. You can obtain peace in this letting smoke out and letting light in through the window process.

You can let go of something that traumatized you to the point you once physically shook. You can work past feelings that left you convinced you were unwanted, and work towards feelings that leave you annoyed because you are wanted too much. (Ha.) But in all seriousness, claiming your emotional baggage is the best thing you can do for yourself. While you can– and definitely should– get assistance, it is ultimately your choice and your efforts that determine how you approach and navigate the process- and eventually, produce the fruits of your labor.

Speaking of fruit, while I am still working through my traumas and past, I no longer feel so bitter. Life is sweet, like a peach. And yes, I’m going to call my grandma…

Mercy Mercy Me

Marvin Gaye wrote a song called Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) and in an interview with Rolling Stone, said- “I began to reevaluate my whole concept of what I wanted my music to say. I realized that I had to put my own fantasies behind me if I wanted to write songs that would reach the souls of people. I wanted them to take a look at what was happening in the world.” I painted a picture of Marvin Gaye when I was around 23 or 24 years old. Big fan. Not only do I love his music, his life- and death- in general is very interesting to me. Anything that takes me deeper… anything honest to soothe my soul.

I am currently reading Just Mercy, a #1 NY Times Bestseller by Alabama Attorney Bryan Stevenson. It is a powerful true story about the Equal Justice Initiative, the people the EJI represent, and the importance of confronting injustice. The contents are so gripping that the book couldn’t help but gain momentum and become adapted into a film, and a lot of important people are talking about it.

The book is infuriating to me for numerous reasons. For one, it is very personal. I know there are issues still to this day that make all of the contents in the book totally unsurprising, to say the least. I know the locations detailed in the book and I know that while, yes, there are so many people- including white people (like myself)- working to make Alabama better, there are also hoards of people doing the direct opposite. For reasons like personal gain and profit.

If you’ve been keeping up with this meek blog of mine, you may already know that I live in Alabama. I was born in Mobile in 1986 and have family along the Gulf Coast. Some have even served (and some currently serving) in Law Enforcement. I was raised in an overwhelmingly white, rural community that I refuse to name here because I have readers from around the globe and the name isn’t what is important. (I really don’t want a target on my backyard). As such, I can confidently attest that this book details problems that have been prevalent in this state from the beginning of its formation, and the problems have only gotten worse. One of the problems is that because there are so many distractions, people seem to only give a shit about money and possessions, so that our criminal justice system and Alabama Department of Corrections are topics that NOBODY wants to discuss. People actively avoid the subject altogether (but just love small talk and gossip and rumors), therefore there is no real demand for action or change. Since I am not people, it is a subject that I became immersed in at the height of Trump’s four year term. I could see with my own eyes what was happening because (as you may have read in a post I wrote several years ago), I have been able to harness my addiction to distraction and have no desire for money. Stupid me? Okay, I respond forever.

I stay focused on the things I deem important. One of those things at the top of my list involve my faith- and being that I was raised in a Church of Christ, I know the four gospels like the back of my hand. The text in red has been embedded deeply in my psyche and forgive me, but Jesus would have thrown tables across the room by now.

My family settled here five generations ago when my grandfather spotted this land marching on his way with fellow Union soldiers to battle in Atlanta. The story of my family’s journey from the north was detailed in our local paper and it is both legitimately interesting and inspiring. Once settled, they farmed and produced great crops- and people- and I am just one of hundreds of their descendants. Individually, I am nothing special, but the story and history means something to me because it gives me a root to blame for my urge to know and live in truth. And so now, let’s take a look at what is happening not just in the world… but right here, where I was born, raised and currently make my humble living, in the great state of Alabama.

Alabama is notoriously racist. One of the present day issues I have had to speak against is the lack of acknowledgment from my white counterparts that racism exists. Not only that, but that racism is (still) a problem here. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard folks saying bullshit like “I don’t think we have a racism issue, or even a homophobia issue, I think we just have a people issue.” My reaction was (lol) “Do what?!” I would assume the person never goes outside of their workplace or home if they truly believe this. And if that is the case, I would assume the person is a closet racist or homophobe themselves. Sigh. I have also heard people quickly defend their own families by saying things like “My daddy was dirt poor and would have given the shirt off his back for anybody in need”, to which I immediately respond in my head, thinking- “Okay, but what does this have to do with the fact that there was a group of white men screaming ‘White power!’ outside of the most popular barbecue joint the other night?” or the fact that there was a group of grown men in pick up trucks parked in front of a public park to intimidate SCHOOL CHILDREN who were so bold to proclaim that “Black Lives Matter”? (And while our community was mourning the losses of numerous children of color who had all passed suddenly). Why did local law enforcement feel the need to show up and were quoted to say they did so because of “the possibility of a potential clash”? I stare, blinking, silence deafening my ears, and move on, backing away slowly with my hands in the air… retreating from the clueless.

People are so quick to use phrases like “Be kind” or words like “Forgiveness” but that simply isn’t enough. Sorry. If you disagree, forgive me. But I’m right. Kindness does not fix the broken criminal justice system in Alabama, the beautiful, which is affecting not only those who are incarcerated and their loved ones, but each and every single damned one of us. What we need is competence and people to know and care about the truth. Unfortunately, competence in these parts is few and far between, and people fail to know and care about the truth when it makes them look like they associate with very bad people who do very bad things. Yeah, I know your dad would have given his right arm if it meant helping someone in need, but that doesn’t mean his golf buddy isn’t capable of sentencing a man to life in prison because his skin is darker than his own. It seems like a true David and Goliath story when you take into account that the overwhelming majority of folks around here fail to see this as an issue at all and the white sounding names they have elected are actively working to shut down any and all means of educating the public on these very real problems that only seem to grow more intrusive as we do see more color in our population.

One of my best friends whom I met while working in screen printing is what they call a Dreamer. She came here from Mexico when she was fifteen years old. Probably the nicest, most giving and loyal person I have ever known. Been through literal hell. She makes her home here and while raising sons and in the year 2021, encounters people in public who are vocally racist. I could tell story after story after story of her crying and telling me of an ordeal and me becoming enraged and defensive. This is nothing new. This is the same old song and dance since I was fifteen years old myself. And as Bryan Stevenson detailed in his amazing book, the same has been true for decades. I also could tell you story after story of my white friends hearing me bitch and respond only with- “It’s everywhere”.

Yeah, I know. But it feels like it is especially here.

For months, I would do nothing but work, take care of my general responsibilities, and read. I would read and read and read. Then I began to dig and dig and dig. Just call me Trixie Belden. I befriended several Alabama journalists, one of whom encouraged me to keep writing. “Keep writing, you’re obviously good at it.” Imagine my ego after reading this, the idea that this seasoned and prolific journalist whom I considered to be a hero, tapping the keys to make this remark to me– an absolute nobody! I considered what it must feel like to be an inmate, sweating in a heat box down in Tuscaloosa, receiving a letter of encouragement from someone- anyone– from the outside.

John Archibald is one notable, long time journalist from Alabama who was born of a minister and also knows The Bible well enough to feel the duty to correct the oppressors. He, too, wrote a book (I have not yet read, but it’s on my list) called Shaking the Gates of Hell. I can already imagine the contents and know what it is generally about, which is why I have put off reading it- for the sake of my sanity. But this man engaged with me a few times on social media and was incredibly thoughtful and I feel lucky that he spent any time at all reading and responding to any small thing I had to say. Another journalist I admire greatly, perhaps most of all, is a heart attack survivor, dog mom, and general badass. She spends almost all her waking hours engaging with prisoners in Alabama, working to shed light on their cases, including those who have committed suicide or had been murdered or died in such harsh conditions, and writing publications that not only beg the question: “What the hell is going on?” (she actually published this), but literally demand answers. The question has been sung before- “What’s going on?” in more polite terms by you know who.

Other groups, like Reckon South and Southern Poverty Law Center, are also among the fleet, comprised of tender hearted but bold and courageous people, working for real change. I want anyone who reads this to know that, yes- we have a problem. And yes- there is a reason for anonymity. The problem is old. The problem has roots. The roots are deep.

Hence, the deep south. And yeah, it’s hot as hell- and getting hotter. Marvin Gaye would be writing up a storm, I assure you.

I don’t know what the answers are. But I at least have a good idea of what the questions should be. I will continue asking questions until I am satisfied, though I fear that day will not come in my lifetime. I applaud writers who put their name on their work, though. I applaud Marvin Gaye and Bryan Stevenson and John Archibald and my journalist friends and anyone else who works hard in our communities to make them more inclusive, and safer- for all. I see you, too. This is what reaffirms my faith- the angels.

But damn, the demons are running amok.

I am not afraid. If you, too, find yourself seeking truth to reach your soul, do not be afraid. You are not alone.

The Unconscious State and the Mysteries that Haunt Me

There is a fantastic book written by notable Neurologist, Guy Leschziner, that gave me an even deeper appreciation for what we know and don’t know about the human mind, called The Nocturnal Brain: Tales of Nightmares and Neuroscience. It has been almost a year since I have closed the covers, so I sadly cannot recount many details, but one particular section hit me a little heavier than others: Circadian Rhythm. This subject revealed to me the revelation that opened a new door to my understanding of my own nocturnal mind- my circadian rhythm was attuned to a different universe from the time I reached puberty to well into my late twenties.

During that extremely complex period of my life, my body naturally wanted sleep from FOUR AM to NOON. But school, the workplace, church, and the world in general is not built for this particular time slot. One cannot be expected to live the average life of a single parent, being responsible daily as the hardworking adult you are, when you run on those fumes from a natural occurring alignment of your natural sleeping rhythm which is comparable to, say, that of an owl’s. Rather than researching this topic and learning ways to make adjustments and cope, I instead would slightly alter the pattern, usually falling asleep around 2 a.m. and getting up around 7 but still snoozing until 7:15 and then waking up in a panic to unrealistically rush through the preparation of my day, which includes taking my daughter to school. Rather than being a normal, alert- “Oh everything is just great, yes! I have already had my cup of coffee!” type of successful person, I was groggy, unhappy (I hate rushing and feeling late/unprepared), and working on my coffee while doing five things at once in order to leave the house with just enough time to speed across town and barely make it to work on time. Not the best way to engage in a delightful, encouraging, pre-activity filled day pep talk with your elementary school aged child. Sorry, child. (This is something we have both actively worked on and majorly improved upon since, so… hooray.)

The problem is, we spent years like this. I would say I suffered greatly in high school because of this. I slept on my desk through many classes when I had grown up being a model student. To everyone else, people assumed a lot of this had to do with my depression. On one hand, this is exactly correct. But even the big bad wolf that is depression was not actually the underlying cause. This issue affected job performance in my twenties as well. I always work giving an insane percentage. I have a very hard work ethic and because I feel things intensely, customer service can sometimes be a very daunting task. Sensitivity to tone is something that, with a lot of practice for a long period of time, you can manage to cope with and even deflect using your skills. Until you reach that level of ability, however, managing your emotions (especially when tired), can be extremely challenging. I have worked customer service jobs that awarded me with outstanding praise and titles and two years later find myself at the point where I just can’t take anymore. While, yes, part of it is the collective assholes’ fault, the major part of it is how I manage my OWN DAMN SELF.

AAAAASHLEEEEEEY!!! BED TIIIIIIIIIIME!!!

Being empathic and autistic and experiencing multiple body traumas means that when my brain decides I’m tired, sleep comes incredibly fast, and I welcome this sleep thing with arms wide open. Naps are extremely rare for me, and I have things to do which occupy my time, but it is still important for me to participate in some kind of wind down ritual. This typically includes getting clean using very hot water, some aromatherapy, music, and reading until my brain hints that it is time to shut her down. I sleep very consistently the entire night through without any (known to me) interruptions. I really, really hate waking up to an alarm. I prefer waking early these days in order to better prepare my day and be fully alert by the time I clock in, but I would love to just naturally wake with the sun without the catastrophic interruption that is necessary to push my brain’s power button.

I feel like Ren when Stimpy is so tempted to push the shiny, candy-like red buttom and the cartoon chihuahua screams “DON’T TOUCH IT!”

I do NOT enjoy exiting hard left from the insanely vivid dream worlds I have worked so hard to engineer. I have become conscious from a dream so vivid that I immediately began crying upon waking. Like I was generally devastated to miss out on whatever insanely awesome thing was next. Or I had lost that person who I had made contact with in my dream (an example would be my deceased grandmother).

When I was a youngin’, my mom would loudly yell “Aaaashleeeyyyy!!! Naaaaap tiiiiime!” or, even better, “Aaaaaaashleeeeeyyy!!! Bed tiiiiiiime!” and I would stop playing with whatever toy or video game that had all of my intense attention, grab my baby blanket, and crawl into my small bed without one single objection. This type of thing would also apply to days of my youth when friends and I would be playing in the neighborhood creek and my mom would yell from the porch, “Aaaaaaashleeeeey!!! Supper tiiiiiiime”, and the whole gang of neighborhood hoodlums I called friends would retreat to their own hiding spaces until the following morn.

As a kid, I remember my mom (also a young mother) being rushed every single morning. She would top the seventy mile per hour rate, weaving in and out of unsuspecting traffic to barely make the bell. And she was usually substitute teaching or volunteering in the lunch room on any given day. Looking back, she would have been in the same age range as I was while my rhythm was set to another world’s standards. It wasn’t until many years later when this was no longer an issue for her, either. And in retrospect, I can see the mistakes she made and view them from my own, imperfect perspective, so I can now say with absolute certainty that I am happy it eventually worked to her favor. I find myself in the sluggish transitional phase as I type this.

There are so many examples of vivid dreams in my catalog but it becomes increasingly difficult to recount them, including the central themes or plots. So while my mind is still sharp enough to say anything that could be somewhat valuable to recount some day, I thought I’d spell it out.

Some dreams of mine have been etched into my “forever root”- this generous bean that allows me to tap into a time in history that everything still contained magic to me. My dreams were usually pleasant. I have had vivid nightmares many times, and the scariest dreams I’ve ever had involve saving people I love who are heavily distressed. This type of sleep and dreaming is something I prefer not experience, but the fact I can dream anything makes me feel lucky- though these nightmares do not usually allow for that feeling of total refreshment to shape the following morning upon awakening.

One interesting thing about some dreams I have experienced remain an enigma as they involve predicting future events. An example of this occurred the week of my birthday, April 21, in the year 2011. The night after I had turned a quarter century old, I had one of the most vivid dreams of my life. I was on this cliff overlooking the ocean, the sky was clear and sunny and there was a gentle breeze. My daughter was standing in a glass house several yards away. Seemingly in an instant, the winds picked up and the sky became dark and overcast- a chill surrounding me. I looked back to the house to see my child when I spotted a black tornado hurling towards us. I ran towards the house to fetch my child and we barely escaped as the tornado crashed the house of glass and pressed on towards the sea. We curled up together behind some great boulders while shards of glass danced all around us. I was cut severely but she was safe inside of my arms, and I looked up after the winds died down and watched the tail of the tornado dissipating over a raging but quickly, calming stone gray sea.

One week later, on a day that I would eventually come to know as my boyfriend’s birthday, I was chasing a tornado with my camera, documenting the horrifying damage that had restructured my hometown. I was working for our local paper and was on an assignment to photo document damage done the night before to the neighboring town, and as I was exiting my home, I spotted the F-4 tornado coming right towards my neighborhood. I spent the better majority of the following week taking photographs and interviewing and writing. My daughter was with her dad at the time in an area that had also received tornadic activity and damage. I had not been able to make contact with any of them for at least a couple of extremely uncertain, tense hours. But somehow, the dream reassured me she was safe and okay. And in that department, all was right as… a light rain.

Another example that is burned into my memory bank is the dream about my ‘first son’. I was attending The Art Institute in Ft. Lauderdale, and had a dream that I had just given birth to a beautiful, dark haired, dark eyed, and olive skinned son soon after starting my new school. I was so proud of this perfect boy and brought him to class to introduce him to my classmates. Everyone looked on adoringly. He was so peaceful and angelic and soft. Then I woke up and mourned the loss of what felt like an actual, real child. I had not yet become pregnant or had even met my child’s father. I was just starting school (just as I had dreamed), but was not even involved with anyone at that time and had no intentions to be. In my mind, I was on my way to study photography and become a photographer for National Geographic to make a name for myself like Paul Nicklen. This of course was not to be my fate, and two and a half years later, I was giving birth to my beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed, light skinned daughter. It was shocking to even her paternal side of the family that she was born with these features since they were most rare on either side of her bloodline. How bizarre is real life?

Another interesting concept to think about involving the predictive dream world incorporates sequence dreaming. I have never in my life experienced the raw wonders of Egypt first hand, but Egypt is and always has been super fascinating to me. I remember being extremely excited to see The Mummy in theaters. (Of all the other examples, this is what I choose. Classic.) Anyway, my sequence dreams feel like lifelike experiences. I feel as though after those dreams, the dreams that took place in Egypt- I was actually there. The scene was futuristic, but not too far off into the future. The first dream was simple and lasted ages. I was staring at this crisp, totally magnetic night sky, star gazing. I spotted some stars moving slightly. I then noticed these stars were forming shapes and patterns- very similar to a type of alphabet my daughter came up with to send me notes. I have no idea what the messages were- this was encrypted and I had no key. I unfortuntely have yet to find it, but I did later experience four more dreams, each one similar and becoming more elaborate with more details, revealing and building a story, picking right back up where my brain had once logged off.

The dreams included the night sky, stars, Egypt, the pyramids, an entrance, a chosen population, a line of those people, the pyramids levitating and staying suspended in the night sky, meteors appearing, and my poor ass, still looking up to the fiery night sky… feet planted on the earth. I remember thinking, “Why wasn’t I chosen?” I also remember more, but I have a private diary and some things are probably best kept that way.

So, things around us are mysterious. And things inside of us are even more mysterious. Dreams are a way of us working some things out, or a way of showing us some things we may need revealed, or a way of reminding us we have work to do.

I know I do.

My latest series involves a very close loved one. This person and I are so close that if I detail any specifics, people who know me personally will know who I am referring to immediately. This person, like all of us at some point, is facing a number of challenges that are so gut wrenching, I had to back away in order to preserve the little sanity and shred of dignity I might still possess. Even so, it kills me and it has been an ongoing issue that I simply could not provide any more energy towards and had no choice but to do what every mental health provider I personally know would suggest: set your boundary.

It took years, but I finally did and firstly, this isn’t an easy task to initiate, and it is even more difficult to maintain- especially when you want nothing more than to see this person who you love with all your being to become that success story you literally pray about.

I had to type the words: “Starve your distraction, feed your focus” on to a piece of paper, cut it out, tape it to the top of my work desktop monitor, just above eye level, and look at it every so often to help remind myself to focus on the task at hand rather than attempting to fix all the other things that were out of my hands. This helps while I am awake, and I am actually proud of myself for the level of self control I’ve been able to maintain even though I have resorted to taking extra measures. I have more energy during the day and this has definitely helped me personally.

But I’m fucking dreaming about this person I have pushed from my conscious space. I am forgiving, hugging, re-engaging, fully supporting, and laughing with this special person in my life while I am unconscious. Thank you, dream world, for reminding me of what HEAVEN ON EARTH could actually look like as opposed to the SHIT REALITY THAT I BRACE FOR UPON WAKING EVERY MORNING.

Which reminds me, one day I will write a post solely dedicated to my long history of loving a good cup of the best part of waking up…

coffee.

“I love you, sweet dreams, good night.”