Veronica's Garden

I originally started this blog to promote my novel, Post Rock Limestone Caryatids. Now I write essays and poetry about everything, including the Flint Hills, healing, parenting, etc. WARNING: emotional content, sometimes intense. Read at own risk of feeling.

Tag: dream

NaPoWriMo Day 9: Clock Dream

A white clock. Ticking,
which was a bad sign.
I didn’t know that it was a bomb,
but I didn’t know it wasn’t.
Probably it was.

I took it up to my dorm room,
past the annoying frat guys.
What to do, what to do.

I wrestled open a window.
There was a river outside.
If I could throw the clock far enough,
over all those people,
the water might be the safest place
for the bomb to explode.
Not great, even so.

I visualize the successful throw.
When I do it, the clock lands in the water,
but in shallows near the edge,
where a man is standing with a boy.
He moves toward the object, now in flames.

Oh no.

NaPoWriMo Day 7: Found Key


Mid-century modern design is trendy again.

She found a key in the bottom of her purse.
It must have been there for ages. It came from a motel,
with an old plastic fob the color of metallic gold.
She had to think for a while to guess
that the strange word printed on the fob
was a motel where she’d stayed the last time
she’d been out to the west coast.
The kids were small then, it was so long ago,
and it was embarrassing to have kept the key.
Nonetheless, the proper thing to do would be
to mail it back. They’d have changed the lock
by now, maybe installed a card key system.
Maybe it wasn’t a motel anymore. Maybe
the building had been converted to apartments
or storage units. A flea market, an artist retreat center,
band practice spaces, a produce market, or offices.
It couldn’t be possible that they’d been renting out
that room for ten years, missing a key.
No one there would still remember her,
or that she had failed to return the key.
They definitely did not want this key back.
It would be sensible to toss it in the trash.
But there would be some miniscule satisfaction
in returning it: in a decade of lost keys,
forgotten promises, blown deadlines, delayed
decisions, and work left undone,
there could be one thing
she would finish.


NaPoWriMo Day 4



I open my eyes in the darkness
and look at the clock. 2:19. The very minute!
THIS IS THE TIME! The special magical moment
when I don’t know what but
they will tell me if I wake them up.
“It’s 2:19,” I say loud enough
in the quiet night to startle even myself.

Silence, but for the shhhh of all my
family breathing in their sleep.

Must wake them before it’s too late.
The plans are set, everyone has a part
to play. I have no idea what I’m
supposed to do, but “It’s 2:19!”
This time louder.

One of the kids stirs
in her sleep in the next room.

But they aren’t the ones. The ones who
made the plan, who will swoop into
action at the precise moment.
But who? Who told me this urgent thing?
Where are they? And what was it, that so
had to happen at exactly 2:19?
I can’t remember. There’s darkness,
movement among shadows, no faces,
no substance, like a dream forgotten.
Whoever they were, they’re not here now,
while my family still sleeps, in spite
of my shouting. It’s starting to look like,
if I did manage to wake them, they would
think I’d dreamed it all. Now the minute
has passed, and whatever event
isn’t going to take place, not tonight,
just like last time I had that dream.

It was a different minute that time,
though I don’t remember which, or when.
Three something, I think.

I close my eyes and fall back
into sleep, not waiting for it to dissipate,
that vague sense of something
terribly important

The Impossible Stairs

NaPoWriMo Day 1.

The Impossible Stairs

Going to work, driving in traffic,
the brakes give out. And I keep forgetting
this new car doesn’t have a clutch. And
I can’t find the way, and sometimes it’s easier
to fold up the car and carry it like a purse through
the tight spaces, though my legs are heavy,
I’m heavy, moving in a body is a lot of work.
That’s my work, with bodies, and I’m pleased
that my client today is someone
I haven’t met but whose work I admire.
He’s creative and independent
and successful. He’s waiting on the table
but I have to take the kids somewhere,
I’ll hurry, I want them to get on the tour,
the truck is full but they could have front
row seats in the trailer. Oh but
money. The man sneers when I say I left
my purse upstairs, he thinks he knows
better, that I’m lying. I’ll prove him
wrong . . . but I can’t get back to the
office, the stairs don’t go there, they’re
not properly constructed. There’s no
foothold and the way is blocked.
Between the landings, I can see, there’s
my room, there’s the cardboard I
taped over the gap in the walls. And I guess
that says about all I need to tell myself
about this fiasco, because then I wake up.
And that’s the end of my brush with
Mr. Creative and Successful, never gave
him a massage, never even really met him,
only dreamt of the possibility.

Solstice Dream

“. . . the Cancer Solstice pulls us within to explore the deepest desires of our heart, while also calling us to express our feelings and visions in our wider community, finding appropriate forms and mediums through which to communicate our message.”Gray Crawford, astrologer

I was going back to school, my alma mater, Knox College. But I was going into a graduate level program in some kind of health field, something that would lead to a professional career that would build on the healing work I’ve done as a massage therapist for the last twenty years.

I met another student with whom I would be working frequently. She was young, just out of undergraduate study, and she was enthusiastic and energetic and made friends with me immediately. “So, what number would you call me?” she asked. I didn’t understand. She explained to me that it had always been her fond wish that someone would give her a numerical nickname. “So what number am I?”

How on earth could I give somebody a number? Numbers are so impersonal. “Well, what’s your favorite number?” I asked, but she was gone, leaving me puzzled and amused at the idea that somebody would actually want to be known as a number.

Looking over the curriculum, I read that some students in this program still had their Hematology textbooks, which would come in handy. Hematology? I know nothing about that. I knew many of the students in this program had come from the nursing field, but I hadn’t thought it was a requirement. I must be in way over my head. Maybe I should drop the whole thing now, before it went any farther.

But, the school had accepted me to the program. They knew my history, and clearly believed I could succeed. If they believed in me, why shouldn’t I? It would certainly be a big challenge, but I could tackle it, with determination and my natural ability to learn. I could get through this education, and graduate, and go into a serious professional job, with responsibilities and a salary, more money than I’d ever made. I could support my family.

And it would be a full time job, and I would not have time to write anymore. I would never write again. The pain was visceral, wrenching my gut, the realization that I would never be a writer again. How could I possibly have chosen this? How could I live with this choice?

Journal 2

When Dreams Change

The Palermo house is being auctioned today. It might even be over by now. I’d love to see who gets it, and I’d love even more to see what they do with it.

This spectacular house stands out in Cottonwood Falls as one of the grandest residences. Maybe too grand for modest Chase Countians, because sometime in its past, it was broken up into twelve apartments. In the 1970s, the Palermos bought the house and began restoring it to its former beauty. They knocked out twenty walls. They gutted rooms and replastered the curving walls. They removed excess plumbing. They lived in the house while they worked on it, and continued to live there after reclusive Kain Palermo fell ill, and restoration was halted. It remains unfinished.

I’d always wanted to see the inside of this house, and I’d sometimes fantasized about owning it. Living in it. I’d pass occasionally and gaze at the ornate urn in front of the porch, at the wide screened sleeping porch upstairs, the round attic window. Overgrown hedges and trees looming close to the house gave it a secretive, haunted feel. It’s a house I might well find myself inhabiting in a dream, one of so many, in which I walk the rooms, imagining what I’ll do in each, feeling the satisfaction of calling this place my own.

Hundreds of people came to the pre-auction open house. I imagine that they, like myself, had been under the spell of the Palermo house.

As I walked through the expansive, empty rooms, the parquet floors gray with wear, the spell broke. It’s a glorious wreck with immense potential. Contrary to the many dreams I’ve had of possessing a place like this, I find at this time in my life I have not the slightest shred of desire to own this house in the waking world. Let someone have it who has the skills, ambition, and resources to resurrect this grand old dame into the spectacular home she was meant to be.

Practical Conscious Dreaming

Someone asked on Twitter what writers do for inspiration, and I mentioned that I had recently dreamt an idea for a novel. “Lucky duck!” she replied, which slightly surprised me. Lucky to have dreams? Like saying someone’s lucky for having two eyes. Well, yes, I am, but most of us do, and you probably do, too.

I wasn’t consciously looking for inspiration that day (or night, rather), but if I had been, dreamwork might well be a method I would turn to. I wrote previously about how I’ve cultivated my dreaming over the years. If you feel a lack in your dreaming, I’d encourage you to try it. You might be surprised what you can discover in dreams.

If you do remember dreams, here’s an exercise you can try tonight. Deep winter is a good time for dreaming, though you can do it any time of year. Prepare yourself to sleep in your usual ways —put on pajamas, brush your teeth, whatever you always do before going to bed. I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it. Take your journal to bed with you. Clear your mind of extranea (that sounds like a real word, don’t you think?). Keep only the question you want to ask. Write it in your journal, as clearly and specifically as you can. Then set the journal near enough to reach when you wake up. Turn out the light and let the question float around in your mind as you fall asleep. As soon as you wake, write everything you can remember.

Sometimes when I do this practice, I get amazing insight into my question. Once, Kirstie Alley appeared and gave me some sound advice. Other times I don’t find anything I can make sense of regarding the question or any dreams I might have had. Sometimes I have a strong feeling that a dream is meaningful, but I can’t find a way to relate the dream to the question I asked. In those cases I suspect that the question wasn’t really right to lead me to a useful answer.

Whatever happens, I love dreaming and dreamwork. If I can’t apply a dream to a particular problem, it could well be fertile material for some other project, such as a poem or a story. I hope later this month to release a collection of surrealist short stories based on a series of dreams I had years ago, when I first started writing fiction.

What do you dream? How do you inspire yourself to dream? How are you using your dreams in your waking life?

Cultivating the Dreaming

I dreamt our family was set to go on a trip, but when the time came to get on the bus, I wasn’t packed. I couldn’t even get to my room against the crowds of people all going someplace. There were lots of stairs, there was a hotel room with piles of clothes and other junk that I had to clear out. The bus left without us.

I woke up pretty glum and related my dream in a post on facebook. My friend Kay Shandler replied, “You have the neatest dreams. I rarely dream!” This surprised me because Kay is a skilled energy healer, and I would assume that intuitive healing would require substantial capacity for imagination. Imagination, intuition, and dreaming are all related, and maybe sometime I’ll write a detailed post about that.

But it led me to think about my dream history, because it isn’t an accident that I dream vividly and remember my dreams. I’ve cultivated my dreaming intentionally over many years.

As a child, I never remembered dreams. My sister sometimes talked about her exciting, vivid dreams, and I think everyone in my family related dreams upon occasion, but I never remembered them. It felt like a wonderful and mysterious experience that I was missing out on.

Eventually I learned techniques for enhancing dream recall. I read books about dream interpretation. I kept a journal by my bed, ready to receive any dream that might come. I though about dreaming before I went to sleep. It took time because I had chronic insomnia, but by high school I was recording dreams frequently, sometimes three or four times in a night. I still have my dream journals from that period, and they are filled with page after page of terrible nightmares. Someone tried to kill me, someone chased me, someone shot me point blank in the face and I died. Or I was the aggressor, on a shooting spree in a shopping mall, before that was a trendy thing for crazy people to do. Or there was a nuclear holocaust or an alien invasion and everyone was lost in the dark.

I somehow knew that these nightmares had some kind of message in them, but I had no tools for interpreting them. All I knew to do was diligently record every dream, so that’s what I did, like an illiterate person painstakingly copying letters line by line, messages for an unknown person who might find a way to decipher them in the future.

In college I learned a little about reading symbolism and understanding archetypes. I continued to journal my dreams, and used them as source material for surrealist poetry, which seemed kind of like cheating. But the dream images were more compelling than the ones that arose from my conscious mind.

In my twenties, I learned to dream lucidly. If a series of unbelievably improbable, terrifying events happened, I could recognize that I was having a nightmare. It didn’t necessarily end it, but I knew it wasn’t real. Then I discovered flying. I’m dreaming? Great, that means I can fly!

I was in my thirties when I took a class in past-life regression, which included basic training in hypnosis. I adapted self-hypnosis techniques to return to my dreams in a waking trance state, so that I could dialog with the aggressors in my nightmares. I’ve written about this technique previously.

Also at the past-life regression class, I met Henry Reed, a pioneer dreamwork researcher. One practice Henry uses is conscious dreaming for a person or problem. One way I use dreamwork is to ask for a dream about a question that is on my mind. I write it in my journal, think about the question as I fall asleep, and record what I remember when I wake up. This can be a tool to access information which the conscious mind doesn’t know exists.

When I look at all this history, I’m surprised to realize how constantly important dreaming has been for me, for as long as I can remember. Fortunately, I rarely have violent dreams anymore, and even the unhappy ones don’t have the nightmarish intensity they used to. My dreams are rich and varied. Where will my dreaming go next? I have no idea.

What about you? What do you dream, and what relationship do you have with your dreams?


Dream Gifts

Fifteen or twenty years ago I had a dream in which a man broke into my house, through the basement. I don’t remember now what I did -probably fought him, but when I awoke, I wanted to know more about him, and why he was trying to get into my home.

Later I used hypnotherapy to revisit the dream. Using a standard induction, I went to a room which is kind of my home base in self-hypnosis; from there, I visualized a door, with a sign saying Dream Recall. I opened the door into the dream I’d had earlier, and the man came in, just as he had in the original dream. This time, instead of fighting him, I bypassed my fear and asked him, “What do you want?” He reached out his hand, and in it he held an object which was disc-shaped, made of glass or similar hard, clear material. I thought, ashtray, then saw that it wasn’t an ashtray, but resembled an actual object that one of my housemates had, which she used as an ashtray. I took it in my hand, looked at it briefly, and saw myself hold it to my chest, where it was absorbed into my body. The man had broken into my basement (subconscious) to bring me a gift, which was a shield to protect my heart.

Then the dream dissipated. He didn’t stay to tell me who he was or why he wanted to give me this gift.

It was a relief not to have to be afraid of the intruder after that. I’ve had other intruder dreams over the years, but, for various reasons, have had mixed results with revisiting other dreams. I was only passingly curious why I would need such protection, when I was in a stable relationship, which I’m still in to this day.

I hadn’t thought about that dream for a long time until I had a healing session with my friend Kay Shandler. After the session, Kay told me, “You have a shield on your heart.” It was one piece of information among many she gave me that day, so it wasn’t until a few days later that I realized I’d already known I had this metaphysical object. It was still there, after so many years. When I asked her about it, she didn’t know anything more than that. It was just something she noticed, while looking at my energy field.

Maybe next time I’m on Kay’s table, I’ll ask her to look for more information. Maybe it doesn’t matter. I think there are two elements of this story which are important:

The intruder wasn’t there to hurt me; he was there to bring a gift. I was so fearful and defensive of any kind of help that the only way he could reach me was by sneaking in through the basement. He didn’t threaten me in any way; I acted on fear and fought him before he had a chance to do anything.

I was able to revisit the dream at will. The technique is simple. When you have a dream, it remains in your mind, even if you forget it so completely that it seems hopelessly gone. You only need to know how to access it. If you want to change a dream, you can. Self-hypnosis can be an effective  method of retrieving information that you might not otherwise be able to access. For the basics of self-hypnosis, the late Henry Leo Bolduc put some of his books online for free download.

What gifts are your dreams waiting to give you?

Maybe you'll receive a gift via a train rumbling out of the sunset.

Maybe you’ll receive a gift via a train rumbling out of the sunset.

Collectively Dreaming the Witch

What dark eyes haunt your dreams?

What dark eyes haunt your dreams?

Several months ago, the post “Dreams of Lots of Rooms” was getting hits. People were searching for just that, apparently. It came up on this blog’s list of search terms that brought people to Veronica’s Garden several times per week.

Lately it hasn’t, but now just as often people are searching for dreams of being chased by a witch, which I wrote about previously. In my dream, the witch who pursued me was a dark little girl, whom I recognized upon awaking as myself. Who is chasing you in your dreams? What wisdom is to be gleaned from this collective desperate evasion? What nightmare are we struggling to wake from, those of us anonymously searching the world brain for clues that might liberate our unconscious?

Let us speak our secret dreams. Let it begin here.

%d bloggers like this: