April 17th – “Nothing frightens you right now, that’s why the next few days present a great time to start on an intimidating project.”

As a child, I had nightmares every night. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal until I was in my teens. Most of my friends rarely had nightmares, and when they did, it didn’t involve people chasing them with knives trying to kill them. One of the reasons for the repeated horror scenes I saw in my dreams were all the slasher films I watched in the 80s. Nightmare on Elm Street films were my favorite and Child’s Play movies are a close second. Who doesn’t love an evil doll?! There was no censorship at my home. I never understood why the kids in my first grade class thought The Wizard of Oz was scary.

I had nightmares so often that I became conscious my dreams when I was in them. I didn’t like the nightmares, so I trained myself to stop them. The easiest thing to do was to close my eyes in my dream. When I opened them again, the scenes disappeared or changed into something else. When I got better at this, I was able to make myself wake up.

I no longer have nightmares on a regular basis. It’s usually triggered because I’m sick or when my energy is low. That’s when I know that it’s time to slow down and take better care of myself.

When I do have nightmares, it rarely involves anyone chasing me up and down the hills of San Francisco trying to stab me in the stomach with a giant machete. In high school, nightmares involved unfinished essay assignments or having to take math tests I didn’t study for. In my 20s, I had work nightmares where I was making a million mistakes and customers were yelling at me. Nowadays, I have nightmares about people I don’t like (i.e. family members, ex-lovers/friends). I no longer try to manipulate these dreams and let them play out. These nightmares are more annoying than scary. I can deal with annoying.

If my nightmares don’t scare me, what’s there to be afraid of?!

I haven’t thought about nightmares in a long time, and it’s probably in my consciousness today because of a book I just read. My friend gave me an American horror story by Shirley Jackson called We Have Always Lived in a Castle. Since I’m such an expert on nightmares, perhaps I should try writing horror!

January 14th – “Someone who you thought you would never see again will pop back onto the scene today, although probably not in person.”

People have told me that they rarely dream, and when they do, they do not remember their dreams. I have never been one of those people. I dream almost every night and remember most of them vividly the next morning. Sometimes they’re prophetic, sometimes there are those repressed thoughts that Freud theorized. When my health is declining, nightmares are of abundance. For the last two nights, an old friend popped up in my dreams and nightmares.

I’ve been fighting a minor cold, so it’s no surprise that I’m having nightmares. What is strange is that this old friend (who I am no longer friends with) is floating around in my unconscious. I am grateful that we no longer have a relationship because I can clearly see now that we were codependent.

In the first dream, my friend and I were taking the train in the city. On the ride, there was a group of young college kids wearing tuxedos. Naturally, I was curious so I started talking to them and found out they had just come from a ballet in which their friend was dancing in. We had a great time getting to know these folks.

In the second dream, we were having a party. This became a nightmare because everything went wrong. Guests were arriving and there was no food, not enough seating, and my friend kept inviting more people! I was overwhelmed and trying to pick up the pieces for her as usual.

What was my unconscious trying to tell me?

I have been thinking a lot about the city because it’s the subject of a few projects I’m working on. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been back to my old haunts and I have been feeling very nostalgic. The trouble with nostalgia is that we like to see what we want to see. We like to remember the past as something magical, perfect, and positive. We like to forget all the bad stuff and pretend that it never happened.

When I think of my best memories of the city, my former friend is in many of these images. We had a lot of fun, good times, and unique moments that I shared with no one else. With that, there were also awful moments that I do not want to experience again.

As much as I would like to see the city in a certain way, perhaps my dreams are a word of caution: beware of romanticizing the past or you’ll risk becoming a preservationist! Okay, maybe it’s not so dramatic, but it would be a good idea to take another look at my map if I see myself on the path to nostalgia.

January 4th – “Fitting in is important, but your dreams are much more important than that.”

Fitting in has rarely been my priority. In the few moments of my life when I did try to fit in it didn’t work out anyway. Fitting in means not being creative, not thinking for yourself, and not trying anything new. If we all fit in, the world would be devoid of cronuts, cruffins, and kouign-ammans! Do you want to live in a world like that?!  It also meant that I had to bite my tongue and not speak up about things I disagreed with. That was not okay with me!

My dreams have definitely been much more important than running with the pack. Had I followed the pack, I think I might be a dentist or be some sort of analyst. Oh, the horror! I can’t even envision myself in that type of scenario!

It’s not that I have a naturally rebellious spirit or a strong desire to be different/unique/special. A teacher once told me that I was “special” and I wanted to throw up. At that moment, I realized that there was so much she didn’t understand me and that our mentor-mentee relationship was doomed. In fact, there have been many days when I wished that I was just like everybody else. I could go to work, take home my paycheck, and call it a day. No worries whatsoever. Every day is the same. That sounds really nice and simple.

But no, I’m wired a little differently than some others. I’ve never really fit in and trying to wouldn’t feel right. It would probably suffocate me.

Not caring about what other people think and doing my own thing has helped me come a long way. In all of the decisions I’ve made by disregarding how others would perceive me, I have not had a single regret.

I’m thankful for the reminder from my horoscope today because it’s just the pep talk I needed. I’ve been doing too much research on fiction writing and need to stick to my guns. I have faith that my novel will work itself out even if I don’t know the plots for ANY of the characters of the stories yet. If I did know, it’s probably not a book worth writing!

October 6th – “Sometimes the unconscious mind and the conscious mind aren’t on the same page.”

I consider myself to be someone who has self-awareness. The trouble is that even though I am aware of many of my own thoughts, actions, and feelings, there are still more aspects of my unconscious that I am unaware of. That’s part of the process of awareness – to be able to admit to ourselves that we do not know everything! The unconscious is tricky because it’s different for everyone and there are so many schools of thought.

I thought it might be useful to do a quick Google search to see what else I can learn about the unconscious. I found an article on Psychology Today  that was pretty interesting, particularly this section:

Does not process negatives: The unconscious absorbs pictures rather than words. So if you say, “I don’t want to procrastinate,” the unconscious generates a picture of you procrastinating. Switching that picture from the negative to the positive takes an extra step. Better to tell your unconscious, “Let’s get to work!”

I knew about negatives, but I didn’t really think about how the unconscious really only “sees” things. That makes sense because the unconscious is related to dreams. In my dreams I definitely say things and have conversations, but the recollections are really just images. The words that are in my dreams become part of the visual landscape, and do not stand alone as an aural memory.

From now on, I will try harder to use positives when I want to give instructions to my unconscious. Tomorrow, I’ll tell myself:

  1. Let’s wake up early!
  2. Let’s go on a wonderful run!
  3. Let’s do an awesome ab work out!
  4. Let’s get to work on that amazing article!
  5. Let’s finish those pretty paintings!

The exclamation marks make it extra motivating!