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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Kara's LiveJournal:

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Sunday, June 29th, 2014
10:32 pm
Let's Talk About Yoga Pants (Is It Her, or Is It You?)
People have been hating on yoga pants lately, saying they are too immodest (or too trendy, or whatever). This yoga pant debate is just one in a series of discussions surfacing these days surrounding female immodesty and garb. We all seem to be asking ourselves, is a woman responsible for other people's passing thoughts/feelings when they encounter her wearing her favorite clothing? Some would say that yes, she is responsible, and to them I say this:

It's quite possible that you are way too hard on yourself. Maybe you are ashamed of your own lustful feelings, or maybe you make too many sacrifices so that you can feel modest or good about yourself. Maybe it's something else entirely. Either way, you push yourself to be something you're not, partially because you have a very loud inner critic, and this is uncomfortable, to say the least. Sometimes, you may try to protect yourself from your inner critic by deflecting your self-loathing outwards, issuing blame on others and becoming increasingly critical of their actions.

Let me tell you this: If, despite the limitations of your environment, you always try try try to be the best person you can be, then there is no cause for shame. No one is perfect, but at least you try. This bundle of mixed up thoughts and feelings is what comes with being human. It is our design, and it is partly that striving for betterness in defiance of our weaknesses that makes us so beautiful. If you can get to a place where you appreciate this design and acknowledge how your beauty is interwoven with your flaws, you will also begin to love others for who they are and focus on their beauty. That angry, critical voice within you will subside. The more you love yourself and others, the more your life will naturally fall in alignment with divine wisdom.

The divine way is not about rules, nor is it about judgments or restrictions. It's about love. Let's not forget it!
Thursday, June 26th, 2014
9:45 am
I know I've done it myself many a time, but now that I am pregnant, I find it oddly amusing how most people feel the need to comment on how great I look. Every time I want to say something like:

"Oh, please. We all know I don't look that good. In fact, I probably look the worst I ever have. But you know what? That's okay. My body served me loyally for thirty years, and when asked, it devoted itself to conceiving, nurturing, and sheltering a precious, new spark of life. What could be more humbling than the enormity of the divine task set before it? What could inspire more awe or confidence than the sight of its unqualified success? So please, don't feel like you need to lie to me. I don't need your pity, and I don't need an ego-boost. My body is awesome, just as it is. I am a F-ing goddess!"

But, of course, people are just trying to be polite, so I hold my tongue, smile, and say simply, "Thank you."
Thursday, March 13th, 2014
4:42 pm
The Difference Between the True Friend and the Honest Friend
For the purpose of this discussion, I'm going to draw a distinction between behaving in a manner which is True and behaving in manner that is Honest.

The friend who is always Honest says plainly the things they think or feel in a given moment.
The friend who is always True bases what they communicate not solely on their present thoughts or feelings, but also on their underlying, unchanging feelings and thoughts surrounding the other person.

At this time I'd like to make a case in defense of being True, as I fear it is often dismissed in favor of the simpler policy of Honesty. I would like to pose the idea that the True friend is not dishonest, but rather is a person who always communicates the message that best aligns with their core intent: to nurture and care for the other and help them along their way to being their best and happiest selves.

Whereas the Honest friend might say, "I don't think this idea is one of your best. It's a bit cliche compared to some of the other ideas you've had in the past" ... the True friend would say, "You have some good ideas, here. Where do you ultimately want to take it? I get the sense it's not quite in its final form, yet."

Is the True response dishonest? I would argue that, in fact, the True friend is responding in a manner that is truer to their love for their friend by encouraging them to keep working on their idea. The Honest friend is being true to their opinion in that given moment, but they are not acting in alignment with their own underlying good will toward their friend. In fact, they are unnecessarily damaging the trust and confidence of their friend, either because they haven't considered the impact of their words or because they want to be able to tell themselves that they are a person of "integrity."

I admire honesty and integrity. In an ideal world, we could at all times be both Honest and True, but often these two are at odds. I guess, when I must err, I often choose to err on the side of love, and I have no regrets about this decision. Though we may love and respect them for who they are, Honest friends will always be the ones who leave us with silent tears and invisible scars.
Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
10:12 am
I am not good at being vulnerable. When I encounter a difficulty that leaves me feeling sad, exhausted, sick, or lonesome, I usually only talk about it if I can counterbalance it with a touch of hope or humor.

For example, my Facebook post when I came down with Pink Eye....

    'Pink Eye, madam?'
     'Why, yes. Two scoops, please.'

... or when I had flight trouble:

    Stranded in the Chicago airport overnight. On the upside, the chocolate milk here is amazing!

Sometimes I really struggle to find the silver lining:

   Kara: "It was probably the worst headache I've ever had."
     Chiropractor: "I'm sorry to hear that."
     Kara: "Oh, it's okay. That's life. Life's about new experiences. Why not pain?!" *Laughs at absurdity of statement*

I practically resent people who can go onto Facebook and post about how miserable they are. This approach to getting support strikes me as too manipulative; it involves pulling at people's heart strings, making them feel sad, worried, guilty, or anxious, to trigger the desired response. I resent it when people do this and get the support they want because I often ache for sympathy and support, but I can't quite bring myself to ask for it. Not like that.

What do I do instead? I aim to create the impression of a strong person who weathers all problems with a weary smile on her face. That said, I want others to detect the call for help behind my facade of strength, and I want be loved for trying to seem optimistic and strong. I want them to understand that I refrain from complaining because I don't want to drag other people down, and I want them to appreciate that I do this even when I feel distressed and vulnerable.

And then I want them to go behind the scenes to give me the support I need, privately.

In a nutshell, instead of asking for love when I need it, I simply try harder to be worthy of it. But when no one sees through the facade, I end up feeling more alone, because no one knows how fragile I can feel. Except for Scott.
Friday, August 23rd, 2013
10:18 am
Human Moments
I rarely feel actively excited about something, but when I do, the feeling is all-consuming. I spend all day researching. I wake up in the night thinking about it. I stay sane by sharing my ideas with my confidants -- until they get tired of hearing about it. In response to their annoyance, I try to bottle it up. I try to work solo and, whenever possible, work around the roadblocks that require me to collaborate with others. But sometimes there are roadblocks that I can't work around. My fervor transforms into a sickness that plagues me and makes me want to burst with frustration.

Over time I feel I will explode, so I try to bring the subject up again. My confidants immediately shoot me down. They leave without hugging me goodbye, and, left with no other outlet, I collapse into tears.

Is there anything more cruel than to ask a person who is obsessing to repress, dampen, or kill their enthusiasm?

Things eventually run their course, and the obsession will wane. I always try to be considerate and hold my tongue, but I wish people understood how hard that is to do when I'm going through this. The kindest thing anyone could do is offer patience and understanding along the way, but many fail to respond in this fashion, probably because they don't recognize my attempts to be considerate, nor do they empathize with my plight.
Thursday, July 25th, 2013
10:50 am
No one wants the love of their parents or children. We need their love, and that's what makes the parent-child bond so unique. Granted, without their love our lives may be perfectly functional and even happy, but still, we will always nurse an inner ache over the loss.

We also feel a very strong ache when friends or romantic partners leave our sides, but over the years this ache usually subsides. Usually romantic/friendly love is the love we want, not the love we need.

But then, on occasion, we need love from people besides immediate family. The idea that these people may have forgotten you or stopped caring about you would permanently crush a piece of your soul, even if you only ever saw them on rare occasions. Similarly devastating is the thought that they don't know how much you care or how intensely you need their love.

I wrote once, "Funny, how a love feared unreturned can steal your adulthood from you." Our fragility makes us feel like children, almost as if the parent-child bond has been recreated. Everyone says dependency is unhealthy, but, as human beings, a certain degree of dependency is natural and inevitable. What's unhealthy is when you lack the inner strength required to avoid imposing your needs on the other. It is risky to invest all of your love in one place, and unethical to make another person feel solely responsible for your happiness.

But back to that special connection -- my question is, what's behind it? Sometimes it seems totally random, the people whom my heart chooses to love unconditionally. People chalk it up to "chemistry," but what does that even mean?

As for me, I like to imagine that I knew these people in past lives, or that we know each other in alternate dimensions. I like to imagine that our souls are bound by undying love and, from now until the end of time, we will always flirt and entangle in the dance of life. And I hope, somewhere deep in their hearts, they sense this, as well.... but I'm generally too afraid to ask.
Thursday, June 13th, 2013
1:14 pm
Back in Vermont
Sometimes it feels like you're fighting against the flow of life to make things happen; every objective is met with an obstacle. Sometimes it's just the opposite; your desires are met with minimal effort.

When I moved to Seattle from Burlington, it felt like everything landed perfectly in my lap. When we moved to San Francisco, things weren't so easy. Scott had to take a severe pay cut in order to attain his dream job. We couldn't find the right neighborhood or apartment to settle in. No matter where we looked, it seemed like Scott's commute would be horrendous. We finally settled for a place in a neighborhood that was less than ideal, only to have to move to a new neighborhood a year later (my nerves were shot!).

Our move to Vermont has -- in some respects -- been just as effortless as my move to Seattle. In a place with few rental vacancies and a lot of competition for apartments, we landed the first and only place we visited. Our new place is not only adorable, but it's in a lovely neighborhood within walking distance of Church Street Market, the Lake Champlain bike path, and the hiking trails in the Centennial Woods. It's also within walking distance of Scott's new workplace, which has made a great impression on us and has an excellent reputation in Burlington. We lucked out; Scott had two workplaces vying for him simultaneously, and this helped him negotiate for a higher wage and relocation compensation.

Honestly, it smacks a bit of regression, to end up exactly where I began, but I know that the experience will be so different this time around.

I have a hard time believing that it's finally over, though. Scott and I had a heck of a time deciding where we should end up. I love Seattle and I love Vermont for different reasons, and I missed the people in both places. Today, my happiness is bittersweet. I'm sad to be setting aside the dream of living in Seattle again, but it will be so nice to be near old friends and family again. I tell myself that we will make an effort to visit Seattle regularly. It is my home away from home.

I hope our friends from out West will think to come visit us from time to time, as well. Come in the summer, and we'll take you to the Ben & Jerry's Factory, where you can sample ice creams and visit the ice cream graveyard. Come in the fall, and we'll take you out for cider donuts and hikes along rivers that trail through forests of golden hue. Come in the winter, and together we'll hit the slopes and then curl up for hot cocoa and good conversation. Come in the spring, and we'll take you out for amazing sandwiches at Red Onion, then go biking with you along Lake Champlain, where you'll see a magical snowfall of cottonwood seeds floating through the air and collecting on the ground.

Other things to do in Vermont:
Go out for Maple Creemees (soft ice cream, Vermont style)
Catch a sunset as you hike along the beautiful waterline at Red Rocks Park
Ski, snowboard, or sled on my dad's mini ski slope -- it has a rope tow, and it's free!
Have a beachfront BBQ at North Beach
Go camping, canoeing, and swimming at Lake Groton
Get cocoa and sweets at the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory
Visit the Echo Aquarium
Have a picnic in the handicapped-accessible tree house at Oakledge Park
Stop for tea at the atmospheric, Eastern-influenced Dobra Tea House in Burlington

... And there's more where that came from. Vermont is lovely, and though our new place is small, there's always room for friends and family to crash, so come see us often!!
Monday, May 6th, 2013
8:58 am
In a video I just watched, Penn Jillette argued that it is dangerous to justify feeling-based beliefs you can't prove, because in so doing, you endorse people who do violent, wrongful deeds because of a feeling they hold in their heart. He further argues that tolerance is condescending.

A smart man with an interesting perspective with which I disagree wholeheartedly. I'd love to have a chat with him one day.

From the video, it seems to me that 1) he believes in his heart that reality is real and we're not in the matrix, and this is a belief he admits he can't prove, 2) beliefs you hold in your heart but know can't be proven are FINE, so long as everyone agrees these beliefs should not dictate your actions, especially violent ones... His belief in the reality of the world is a perfect example of a harmless belief.

As for me, time and experience has taught me that 1) people don't want to change their views, especially when you tell them outright that they're WRONG, 2) there's no compelling reason I should force people to change their views if their views make them happy and cause no harm, and 3) trying to force people to change their views makes me frustrated and miserable, because it never seems to work out. People won't change their opinions until they are ready to change their opinions, and there is very little I can do to prepare them for that moment except expose them to different viewpoints without pressure to change and offer them a space of love and acceptance where they feel safe to grow.

So that's what I intend to do from here on out. If others want to interpret my avoidance of conflict and personal misery as condescending, so be it.

Honestly, sometimes it's accurate to describe tolerance as condescending, but I still take issue with it being labeled as such because people seem to use this as an excuse to debate without regard for other people's feelings. They don't bother to soften the blows of their words. They say things like, "You are WRONG." They put one another on the defensive, and when people are defensive, they aren't receptive to opinions that differ from our own. Respect and humbleness are key to making progress in any discussion. I've learned this the hard way.
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
11:21 am
Earlier this year, I created a list of everyday activities that bring me subtle anxiety. Now I'd like to habitually add to a very different sort of list -- one of everyday activities that inspire JOY in me! Here's the start:

  • Removing lint from the dryer
  • Smelling humidity in the air
  • Holding a warm candle in my hands
  • Making a table setting
  • Sharing a quiet space with other quiet people
  • Rubbing a worry stone in my pocket while I walk
  • Coming up with a new system of doing things
  • Using up an ingredient in the fridge
  • Establishing traditions
  • Crawling into a freshly made bed with tightly tucked sheets
  • Placing a healthy, home-cooked meal before my loved ones
  • Picking up the phone to call home
  • Playing my hand-cranked music box
  • Getting a photo printed
  • Riding the J past Mission-Dolores Park
  • Dropping a package off in the mailbox
  • Crossing paths with dogs that carry their own leashes
  • Doing something independently that I might normally have done with others
  • Piecing together the perfect outfit for the day
  • Opening my Farm Fresh To You shipment
  • Hearing the wind chimes in our backyard
  • Stopping for drive-in fast food while on a long road trip
  • Exposing my skin to sunlight on a cool day and getting goosebumps from the warmth
  • Eating meals I didn't have to prepare
  • Inhaling the scent of a hot iron
  • Upgrading from an object that is defunct/unhealthy/artificial to something functional/healthy/natural

  • This is an ongoing, growing list!
Tuesday, April 16th, 2013
12:16 pm
Today I updated my userpic for the first time since I've started this journal. It's still an image of Tiwaz, but with bolder brush strokes that better communicate the strength that this rune represents to me.

Tiwaz, the symbol of Tyr, has always spoken to me. At first, I found it odd that it should, as it is the rune of the warrior, and I am something of a pacifist. I was surprised when a new friend gave me a Tiwaz rune pendant. "The rune made me think of you, for some reason," he'd said. (No surprise, many years later we are still close friends.) By another person, I was given a Gebo pendant, representative of love and forgiveness. When I wore these two runes together, I had a sense that the message was complete.

I am a warrior, but I am a warrior of love and sacrifice. I am ready and waiting for the opportunity to defend the vulnerable. I've done it in the past -- sometimes to my own detriment -- and I will rise for the occasion again.

I am a hero in waiting, but I am not alone. I know this when I hear of those people who ran to help yesterday's Boston bombing victims. The fact is, we are all heroes in the making, and we must never forget it, so we are ready when our moment arrives.
Monday, March 4th, 2013
1:11 pm
I have come to realize that it is generally a bad idea to read through old journal entries, especially those that took place during the darker stages of my life. Despite this fact, I recently decided to do some reflecting after listening to a book on tape that pointed out how able and eager we are to judge others while being so hesitant/unable to judge ourselves. I wanted to look back and reflect on some criticisms made of me back in the day.

One dark day, I was told that I was:
1) passive aggressive
2) unwilling to take criticism seriously
3) overly sensitive to criticism and too easily hurt
4) overly sensitive to the feelings of others, avoiding confrontation to a degree that is condescending, secretive, and damaging to friendships
5) contrary

To this day, I'm not sure how I gave off the impression of being "passive aggressive." It's true that when I am really angry at someone, I will express less sympathy and empathy toward them when they complain. Also, when I'm annoyed, I might need to vent to a friend about someone/something. Everyone does that; I think that's pretty natural, and I never resort to name-calling.

I can see how I might be perceived as contrary, as I do enjoy a good, respectful debate. I don't feel particularly apologetic about that one. For me, debate is a light-hearted way to explore ideas, and frankly, I don't want to be around people who would be offended by me challenging their assertions.

As for numbers 3 and 4. Yep, entirely true. I don't like hearing criticism, and I don't like giving it. I'm not one of those people who can let criticism slide off their backs. I take it too much to heart (unless it's about something stupid, like what I'm wearing). Despite this fact, I usually don't lash out or withdraw when faced with criticism, which I think is a step in the right direction. I simply ruminate on it on my own until I am quite unhappy.

Because I know how sensitive I am to criticism, I don't think #2 (unwilling to take criticism seriously) is a fair assessment of my character. I can see how someone might get that impression of me. Because I don't lash out or withdraw when faced with criticism, it's hard to tell how seriously I take people's words. I sometimes appear stubbornly unswayable when, in fact, inside I am shaking. In the end, happiness wins out over self-doubt because I am able to acknowledge my flaws and ultimately forgive myself for them, just as I acknowledge and forgive the flaws of my loved ones.

I wish I feared confrontation less. If I did, I could be more open with the people around me, but I have a terror of confrontation that I now realize is linked to a lack of trust. Whether or not there's lack of trust has to do with my beliefs about the person I'm talking to. At this time, are they capable of receiving criticism without withdrawing or lashing out? If I think the answer might be no, then chances are I'm not going to risk it. So, ironically, anyone who criticizes me for #4 (not being open enough), just may fit the description of #3 (being very sensitive to criticism). I need to trust that people won't abandon me if I hurt their feelings, but if I don't have that trust, I'm not sure how to attain it....

On the plus side, I am completely open with my husband about what he does that I love and what he does that bothers me, and I believe he does the same for me. We are able to be this open with one another because we trust the other person to always be gentle, considerate, and open-minded. He brings out the best in me.

In the past, present, and future, there will always be people who don't always bring out the best in me; while this isn't their fault, it isn't all my fault either. We are simply imperfect beings, reacting to one another, sometimes pushing one another in the right direction and sometimes in less positive directions. With patience, love, and acceptance, all grow wiser over time.
Friday, December 21st, 2012
2:24 pm
Notes from "Quiet," by Susan Cain
Mark Snyder argues that there are two types of people: HSMs (High Self Monitors) and LSMs (Low Self Monitors).

To high self-monitors, low self-monitors seem rigid and socially awkward, but LSM would argue that they are always true to themselves and their feelings. To low self-monitors, high self-monitors can come across as conformist and deceptive -- "more pragmatic than principled," but in some cases, one might argue that high self monitoring is an act of modesty. It's about accommodating oneself to situational norms, rather than "grinding down everything to one's own needs and concerns." A more introverted version of HSM may be less concerned with spotlight seeking and more with the avoidance of social faux pas.

I am a HSM introvert.
9:39 am

Everyday activities that arouse a subtle but detectable wave of anxiety in me:

  • Getting off the bus: Does the bus driver REALLY want me to get off at the back? That takes more time. If so, should I try to thank the driver loudly so they can hear, or is that disruptive?
  • Getting fabric cut at the fabric store
  • Asking for help at grocery store: What if they don't know where the item is? Will they be made uncomfortable?
  • Stopping to ask for directions: What if I don't understand what the person is saying and then feel like I have to pretend that I do understand because I feel stupid?
  • Crossing the street without a walk signal: I'm inconveniencing the driver. Will they be annoyed?
  • Looking at wares in small shops & booths: They might pressure me to buy, and I will feel bad turning them down.
  • Phone calls when talking to someone I don't know well: what if they get the wrong impression of me?
  • Driving on a one-lane road: I worry I drive too slowly and irritate the drivers trapped behind me.
  • Parking when others are watching or waiting: they might judge me a poor driver.
  • Being an authority figure: I could drudge up resentment if I demand too much, and I could be judged as incompetent if I demand too little
  • Idle conversation or flirtation from strangers while flying, riding a taxi, or using public transit
  • Crossing paths with someone I vaguely know (or someone I haven't seen for a long time) and having to make conversation.
  • Having to greet people at church
  • Opening presents in front of others, especially the giver
  • Encountering beggars or people who are seeking charitable donations: I have to say no, but I'm afraid they'll think I'm heartless.

I am a fully functional human being. People might even guess I'm an extrovert. But these anxieties do add up, and they hold me back from making more friends and volunteering for good causes. If I had less anxiety, I would be a more powerful force in the world because my drive to do good is very strong.

I am willing to bend over backwards, swallowing my own hurt and irritation, to keep friends happy. That's not really fair to them or myself, but when someone is angry at me, I feel it in a visceral way. My teeth literally start chattering. Most of the time, it just doesn't seem worth it to rock the boat.

I'm proud of being a nice person, but does being nice require being so sensitive? How to I stop living in fear of other people's dark emotions, but still feel like I am a good, thoughtful person?

The Mayan calendar comes to an end. Perhaps this is a time for rebirth.

Monday, December 10th, 2012
1:38 pm
A couple of Jehovah's Witnesses keep dropping by. They're lovely people, though I fear I encourage them by being friendly and seeming open to discussion. Finally, today, I mentioned to them that I am Unitarian Universalist, and explained the UU philosophy. I think they'll continue to visit, though, as I admitted that I find spiritual questions interesting, important, and worth pondering.

But I can't really talk to these people. They think questions are opportunities to provide answers, but I know them for what they are: tools to destroy answers. If faith is a palace, my questions are the termites that eat away at the beams and weaken their foundations. I have a billion questions for every answer. They should avoid me, lest I infect them.

I may be only 29, but I feel old. Very, very old.... (My youthful appearance is a cosmic joke!)

This may sound arrogant, but people without questions are innocent children to me: sweet and delicate. Their happiness is precariously balanced, but it is worth protecting. I will do them no harm, but they will make no progress here.
Wednesday, October 31st, 2012
10:11 am
Last night I listened to a fascinating TEDtalks discussion wherein the effects of the molecule oxytocin were explored. One naturally experiences oxytocin boosts when nursing, hugging, having sex, social networking, etc, but apparently, oxytocin's effect on the body is to increase empathy, and it does so even when administered artificially (nasal sprays). Studies suggest that increased empathy, in turn, encourages moral behavior.

Certainly oxytocin is not solely responsible for moral behavior. I suspect morality is a lot more complicated than just the presence of one molecule. Still... fascinating implications!

Also interesting is the effect that testosterone has on oxytocin and moral behavior. The presence of testosterone reduces oxytocin, leading to more selfish behaviors. But on top of that more self-serving impulse, those with more testosterone are more likely to desire justice, and to punish others whom they perceive as acting selfishly.

Certain patriarchal values have never made sense to me. Specifically, I have always had a hard time discerning the difference between desire for justice and desire for revenge. I'm not surprised to learn that those who want "justice" are likely experiencing a boost in testosterone which reduces their oxytocin levels and inhibits their capacity for empathy and, yes, their moral sensibilities. Thank goodness our juries are designed to be impartial (though, sadly, complete impartiality is impossible to accomplish, and there's still great bias evident within our judicial system).

A side thought: while I see the need for a justice system in this world, where 5% of our population does not experience natural boosts in oxytocin, mostly due to poor upbringing, I've never understood why it was necessary in any non-corporal existence where a benevolent god reigns supreme and has the ability to endow his children with the eye-opening powers of empathy. Just sayin'....

A hypothetical scenario: what would happen if we prescribed oxytocin nasal sprays to individuals who were shown to be oxytocin-deficient. Would their empathy increase and would crime rates go down? Would these people's lives significantly improve? (Because oxytocin is also linked to happiness!) There are lots of possibilities here, but we should definitely research more and tread lightly!
Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
8:05 pm
Your philosophy rests on the false assumption
that we're entitled to the money that's in our possession.
But I'm here to tell you the truth: we aren't.
We get life, liberty, the joys of the heart,
but we don't "deserve" more. The truth rubs us raw:
What you got in this life was the luck of the draw.
Liberty's the grounds of your philosophy,
but hoarding up money's not a right; that's fallacy.

The real question here, is "Should the law fashion
a political policy that offers compassion?"
And I'm telling you now, while the topic is hot,
I don't want to live in a world where it does not
because, like you've said, mankind is self-serving,
all caught up in numbers and delusions of deserving,
and we need something bigger to counteract
(it can't just be religion, I'm certain of that),
else we're left with a world where the rich just get richer
and the unfortunate fall into the deepening fissure.
Give me a world where we care for our brothers,
where we nurse to health neighbors and strangers and others.
It's the basic tenant of democracy.
It's called checks and balances. Now please, leave me be.
Monday, October 8th, 2012
10:06 am
A Dream of Three Giants
Last night's long and involved dream ended with three giants that stood tall and stiff like mummies. At first I worried that they might be violent, but then I investigated one closer, and it turned out to be much like a Russian nesting doll (those sets of wooden dolls of decreasing size, placed one inside the other), but made out of fabric. I kept unzipping the fabric layers, until I got to a onesie that would fit a baby. I carried the onesie around with me and wished it were a baby. Meanwhile, I searched for some physical items -- hinted at in a riddle -- that were supposed to allow me to destroy the giants somehow... I think. I was rummaging in the dark for the items... one was an ax, I believe. It felt hopeless. The items were no where to be found.

Three: Body-Mind-Spirit balance. Dream has a spiritual message.
Giant: Fears or self-doubt blown out of proportion
Mummy: Wrapped up in old behaviors and attitudes
Absent Baby: The lack of rebirth. The root of the fears and doubt.
Ax: Tool for expressing power, creatively or destructively; such as, cutting away the old no longer needed.
Dark: Walking through a situation with low energy and little clarity.

Before this scene, I was getting criticized for having my hair brushed and cut on a train, then traveling through war scenes featuring tiny bows and arrows made of plastic....

Taking care of hair: organizing energy, nurturing oneself.
Critic: Self-discipline; can sometimes block achievement of highest good for fear of censure.
Train: You are carrying many people, pulling them along, which may be an unnecessary weight. Choosing to follow others' ideas and directions instead of your own; not taking responsibility for determining own life path.
War: Fighting within self; rejecting parts of self. Need for balance, integration.
Plastic: Artificial, insensitive
Dart: Pointed harmful thoughts and words; stinging remarks. Also, aiming for a target or goal.

I burden myself with the needs others, and let their wants direct my actions. I criticize the part of me that wants to nurture myself and put me first, saying I'm being selfish. I'm trapped in some old cycles of thinking. I want a spiritual rebirth, freedom from the overblown fears and self-doubt that haunt me. I want to cut away the old and embrace the new, but I lack the clarity I need to do so.
Friday, August 10th, 2012
8:29 am
Last night's dream was long and full of sorrow.

The oxygen of the Earth was, for some reason, in short supply. We were running out, and in twelve hours all of Earth's life forms would suffocate and perish. There was no way around it. The next morning, we were all going to die.

What was running through my head?

Fear. Death is scary in itself, and suffocation sounds like a slow and unpleasant way to go.

Feelings of Loss. It pained me that I would never again experience another sunset, that these were my last tastes of life, which I cherish so dearly. It pained me to tears that I would never get to experience the joy of having children.

Sorrow. Sadness on behalf of the Mother Earth, who, after this, would become just another lifeless rock floating in space. My only hope was that aliens were somehow involved in Earth's cultivation of life, and that they would some day return to discover her barren and "try again."

In my dream, everyone around me was sad, but they did not go into a frenzy. They threw dances. They abandoned their classes to go swimming. They dined, they partied, they supported one another... But it was all so sad.

I don't really know what to take from this dream, except to acknowledge how much I love life, love the Earth, and am grateful for my existence. I am grateful for the present illusion that the Earth will always go on and for the far-fetched hope that somehow humanity will always find a way to survive. I don't want to live every moment as if it were my last, because that is a life lived in the shadow of fear, but I do want to immerse myself in all of this world's delights. I want to really taste the sweetness of a strawberry, to really listen to the wind when it blows, to dig my toes into warm sand and sit in quiet delight as I watch the ocean. I want to abandon worry and stress without deserting my ambitions (if I could only figure out how), and I want to be without wondering how I should be.

And underneath all that is the acknowledgment that nothing in my life will change after this dream. I'm living it the best way I know how, given my projected lifespan and responsibilities. Then what was the point of this dream? I don't know, but I'll keep my eyes open.
Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
12:11 pm
Dream Interpretation #2
Last night I dreamed that I wanted to buy a cat that looked very much like Tonka. It lived in a restaurant with several other young cats, and it was curled up on a shelf that was built into the wall and had a cat bed nestled into it.

My sister came along and said she would like the cat. I told her that I really wanted it, but that I knew that we couldn't have it so long as we had Tonka, as she can't live with other cats. I hesitantly told her that if she owned the cat, I could at least visit it, but then she realized that she could not keep the cat, and maybe her guy friend could take it.

Later I returned home to discover that Scott and Mom had put clips on Tonka's forepaws such that she would be in pain and move slowly, thus making her easier to pick up and manipulate. I was very angry at them, particularly Scott, for doing this to Tonka. I removed the clips.

Later in the dream I was back with the other cat again. I was trying to convince Erin that I had loved the new cat for a long time, that I had even named it, though to my frustration I could not remember the name. Scott reminded me that I had named it something like "Kotu." Supposedly the name had a special meaning to me, but I thought to myself that the name sounded dumb and I should find a better name for the cat. Erin asked me how this cat and Tonka were different. This is when I realized that they looked very much the same, except that the new cat did not have subtle stripes like Tonka does.

The dream changed. For a school assignment, Scott and I had to put on a skit, and for the skit I had to write a song. I had written the song, but Scott informed me that he thought the second half needed to be redone to match the quality of the first half. I was frustrated by this, and I told him the second half was the best part of the song and that you could tell because you could hear the crowds cheering in the recording. (I think this section of the dream was partly inspired by my frustrations about having to redo our taxes after encountering bugs on Turbo Tax.)

Then to the school skit, which was being put on outdoors. In the play I was a hippie/gypsy, and I wore a hippie skirt and shirt that I used to wear as a child in waking life. At the end of the play my character had to die to enable her son to go off with some man who would become his mentor and guide him to becoming a historical figure of great magnitude.

Later on, my playmates and I decided that the play would have been better finished with a creepier ending, with some malignant person watching over it all, their face reflected in the rear-view mirror of a car as they bided their time before making their move against the young boy.

In the next scene that I remember clearly, I was climbing into a car with Alex and several other people. I had to share the backseat with Alex. We were going to some sort of event where he would meet people. He was hoping that there he could find someone who would offer up their home to him and allow him to stay while he pieced his life together. In order to get to this event, we drove to a lake, which was hidden behind a giant curtain... (surreal and hard to describe). The dream ended about here.

If I had to interpret this dream, I would say it's about me finding a new goal that, in some ways, resembles an old goal. The two goals are similar in that they both give me great joy and are about self-expression, but right now it seems difficult to maintain both goals simultaneously. I feel I must defend the new goal to my inner critic, arguing that this is something I have always wanted. Despite how much I long for the new goal and think it could nurture me, I worry that ultimately it may be shelved because of my alliance to the old goal. 

That said, the old goal's wings are clipped. Though this thought upsets me, it is the conclusion that both my male logic and female intuition came to. The old goal is probably music composition, as suggested by the following dream, wherein my male/logical side argues that while some of the music is good, a song of mine isn't likely to be successful, despite the adoration of fans.

In the public scene, I sacrifice my free/feminine/creative self -- the person I naturally was as a child -- in order to nurture a strong masculine persona that can offer up many accomplishments. Privately, however, I feel that this is a self-betrayal, and I fear that in the future, when I reflect back on my life, I will regret making this sacrifice.

I am in transition. Though I still don't feel I am in the driver's seat of my life, I am getting back to my emotions and my free/feminine/creative side, which have been hiding behind the curtains. I hope that once I reunite with that aspect of me and embrace my full self, I can start piecing together a life that feels right for me.
Monday, March 26th, 2012
3:14 pm
Insight Into An Eight-Year-Old's Nightmare
As entertainment, I've been listening to a podcast hosted by a dream interpreter while I work. It has caused me to reflect more on my dreams, and I have gleaned some very interesting insights.

Over the past few days I've been wrestling with a particular nightmare I had when I was around eight years old. Despite sounding relatively innocuous on the surface, it left me with such a strong impression of fear and horror that I remember it to this day and deemed it important to interpret.

At the start of the dream I was sword-fighting a dragon. Somewhere in the midst of battle, I discovered that the dragon was in fact my father, at which point I lowered my sword. I jumped upon the dragon's back, and we leapt into the sky. As soon as we were over the treetops, however, I realized that the lion Aslan's castle was in danger. I yelled at the dragon to fly faster, but as we approached the castle, the building started to crumble.  Among the first things to collapse was the bell tower. The giant bell fell, banging against the castle walls during its long, drawn-out descent. I jerked awake, filled with terror. The sound of the bell was so distinct, I could not stop it from ringing in my ears, and I laid there in fear for what felt like hours before I could get back to sleep.

So what did it mean?

When I was brought home from the hospital after being born, my dad erected a bell on a poll, which my sister rang in celebration. Because of this, I would wager that my childhood self would have associated the bell with my birth and life. This caused me to first wonder if this dream arose as a consequence of me contemplating my own mortality. This may be true, but then I realized that this interpretation alone ignores the significance of Aslan and the dragon.

Aslan clearly represented goodness, imagination, courage, nobility, and strength. His castle, crowned by the bell, represented the part of me that embodies all of these qualities, that part of me with which I identify.

The meaning of the dragon I had a harder time putting into words: I knew it was dangerous, and that it was somehow associated with a part of me that I regarded as masculine. Today I finally thought to google "dragon dream interpretation" and one of the interpretations struck home; the dragon represented a fiery temper.

Suddenly it was clear to me what this dream was about: fear of anger, and, more specifically, the consequences of letting it take control. In the dream I explore the idea of embracing my anger and riding it out instead of resisting it, but when I do so, I witness as everything in me that I regard as good, strong, and noble starts to crumble.

My father and sister often got into power struggles when I was young, and so I knew firsthand how the happiness of a home can be threatened by anger. Other attempts in my life to get "my way" had also backfired, and I wonder if this all led me down the path of consistently setting my wants/needs/desires aside in order to keep the peace and preserve my positive self-image. As long as the fortress stood tall, I could pretend the dragons didn't even exist.

I'm in a better place now. I've grown enough to know that anger can and must be worked through while still maintaining integrity. I didn't always understand that this was possible, though, and I couldn't help but shed a little tear for my eight-year-old self upon realizing what this dream was saying about her mental and emotional space that night.
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