Posts tagged ‘dreams’

November 14, 2012

Dream or Reality?

Have you ever stopped to think, what makes something a dream versus a reality?  What if our dreams and reality are intertwined?  Where is the line?

But before I go any further, let me first say, “No, I’m not under the influence of anything other than a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee.”

And now to my story.  A couple of months ago I started reading the book, “Start Where You Are – A Guide to Compassionate Living” by Pema Chödrön.  I picked-up the book, read a little and thought a lot.  Then I got sidetracked.  I started reading other things simultaneously and dust started to collect on her book.  This morning I dusted it off, looked at my bookmark and realized that I have no recollection of much of anything past chapter one, so I backed-up, way-up, to chapter two.  That’s where the concept of dream vs reality came into my mind.

In this chapter, Pema is setting the stage for meditation.  She describes bodhichitta (our awakened heart) and explains how to not take ourselves so seriously.  (Something I’m guilty of quite frequently.)

“Regard all dharmas as dreams.”  More simply, regard everything as a dream.  Life is a dream.  Death is also a dream, for that matter; waking is a dream and sleeping is a dream.  Another way to put this is, “Every situation is a passing memory.”

Wait, what?  That’s a lot to think about.  My initial reaction was that it’s not possible.  Thankfully, Pema gives a lot of examples to strengthen this concept:

We went for a walk this morning, but now it is a memory.  Every situation is a passing memory.  As we live our lives, there is a lot of repetition – so many mornings greeted, so many meals eaten, so many drives to work and drives home, so many times spent with our friends and family, again and again, over and over.  All of these situations bring up irritation, lust, anger, sadness, all kinds of things about people with whom we work or live or stand in line or fight traffic.  It’s all an excellent opportunity to connect with this sense of each situation being like a memory.

Just a few moments ago, you were standing in the hall, and now it is a memory.  But then it was so real.  Now I’m talking, and what I have just said has already passed.

Huh…  Most of us wouldn’t argue that something that happened in the past is now a memory.  But to think of things as they are happening as a future memory, as a dream, is a little tougher to grasp, at least for me.  I love the concept though.  Just think of the stress that could be eliminated if we could all pause and think that whatever good, bad or ugly thing is taking place right here, right now, will be a memory in just a few minutes.

If I could do this it sure would be an easy way to let things go.  But that’s where I struggle.  I want to hang onto some things.  I want to hang onto the good times, don’t I?  I want to feel those times, experience them over and over, right?  But I have this nagging feeling, knowing that I can’t, or shouldn’t.  If I’m hanging onto one moment, then I’m not experiencing the next one.  Whew, this is tough.  I don’t want to think of the good times as dreams or memories.  I want them to be a “reality”.   I just want the bad stuff to go away, to become a memory, can I do that?

At the same time, it seems that this concept of thinking of every situation as a passing memory, is an incredible way to connect with those who have died because it would allow us to experience memories of years gone past just as we do the memories of this morning, yesterday or last week.  And when we dream of a person, whether it is a friend or a loved one, that dream could have the same presence in our life, in our heart, as the memories of what we actually experienced.

My Grandfather passed away when I was in fourth grade.  I adored my Grandpa.  Quite honestly I can’t even tell you exactly why.  He and I just connected.  There was something in his eyes that sparkled, a life beyond what he lived everyday.  I loved spending time with my Grandpa.  I could run errands with him, be his shadow while he was working on something, it really didn’t matter what we did, I just enjoyed the time we had together.  When he died, I was devastated.  It was the first time in my life that I felt pain in my heart. And his death changed everything.  I used to go to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house after school.  After Grandpa died that stopped.  Grandma moved away and my Mom and Dad and I cleaned out my grandparents house.  My routine changed.  My Grandma changed.  My life changed.  No more afternoons running errands, no more trips to Sears and stopping off at their candy counter for Swedish Fish.  No more projects, no more sparkle in his eyes.

But then, I started dreaming.  I dreamt of my Grandpa.  I was elated!  He would talk to me.  His voice was so clear.  I couldn’t see him, but I could hear him.  And in my dreams he was so real I could almost touch him.  In my dreams he taught me to float.  Not in the water, but on air.  He taught me to lean back and relax, to trust.  I could feel his hands beneath my back supporting me.  Then, much like being in water, I would lift my feet off the ground and float.  We would float along the side of my house and around to the front yard.  We could go fast and I would giggle or go slow and I would just soak up the opportunity to hear his voice and be with him again.  These dreams, these moments of being with my Grandpa happened more than once.  I couldn’t make them happen, but when they did they were the happiest nights.  It was so great to have him back!  Sadly, I would wake up the next morning to find that Grandpa was still gone.  And even though that hurt, I found comfort in knowing that occasionally I would still get to be with him in my dreams.

As I got older those dreams stopped happening at night but the feeling, the connection, still stayed.  After reading this part of “Start Where You Are”, I felt extreme comfort in the concept of regarding everything as a dream.  I realized that while it may make some of the things we think of as reality now, seem more distant, it can also make the distant memories of loved ones who have died, or just happy moments gone by, closer to us.

Pema explains that it is with our minds that we make a big deal out of ourselves, our problems and our pain, but if we were to regard everything as a dream, it would help us all to lighten up.  I think she might be onto something.

Kate

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September 18, 2012

Facing Our Fears

A couple of years ago I wasn’t afraid to write.  At that point in time I didn’t think of myself as a writer.  A year and a half ago I started this blog on a whim and quickly fell deeply in love with writing.   To my amazement others started to give me feedback about my writing, complimenting me and encouraging me to write more.  My subject matter has changed over the past year and a half.  My goal was to write about everything pertaining to living a healthy, mindful and sustainable life.  The beginning was in the woods, then it went to the garden and all things related to gardening, then some food, and most recently, life.  More specifically, mindful living.

I realize to some of you when I say “mindful living” you might not know what I really mean by that, or maybe it makes you shift a little in your chair or makes your stomach tighten because it makes you uncomfortable.  It was like that for me at the beginning as well.  I wasn’t really sure what it meant, but the little I did know, I knew I wanted to know more.  With the current (mindful living) journey I’m on, I realize every day that there’s less and less that I know and more and more that I want to know.

It’s kind of like this, you’re having a conversation with a friend, catching up, and they bring up a subject that you don’t know anything about.  You ask a few questions, learn a little and become intrigued.  You go home, pull out your trusty laptop, log onto the world-wide web and start searching.  With each search you learn a little more and at the same time, it opens a door to even more information, more levels, more layers, more to learn.  Well, my current mindful living journey has been much the same.  I’m trying to be aware and present with everything I do and what I’ve found is that once you’re aware, you become even more aware of other things that you could be aware of.

This morning I went for a walk, just like I have nearly every morning since I started the new challenge.  The first few days out I was just glad to start a new, healthy habit.  I was looking around at my surroundings, trying to be present on my walk.  After a couple of days I realized I wasn’t paying attention to my breathing. I took note to be more mindful of my breathing on my next walk.  I focused on my breath, taking deeper breaths, filling my lungs instead of short shallow breaths.  I tried to pay attention to how it feels when I do that.  Then I realized I wasn’t paying attention to my body.  How was my form?  Were my shoulders tense?  Was I really using my muscles while I walked?  Could I feel my feet hit the earth? So the next walk I tried to pay better attention to that.  And so it has gone, with pretty much everything throughout the day.  Each day I open my eyes to something new.  Some new observation.  Some new way of being mindful.

So what does all of this have to do with facing our fears?  Well, as you may or may not have noticed, there was a considerable gap between this post and the last.  Somehow, receiving the nomination for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award made me paranoid, self-conscious and afraid to write.  I tagged it “writers block”.  I started a few posts along the way, thought they were crap and trashed them.  It’s funny isn’t it?  I received recognition for what I was doing and it made me afraid to continue.  The more posts I write, the more readers I have following, the more concerned I get that “they” (you) won’t like what I have to say.  It’s easy to write when nobody is watching, but much like when I was in dance when I was younger, the bigger the audience, the more nervous I was to perform.  I had to live by the “Dance like nobody is watching” mindset.

As part of this mindful living journey I’ve also become more in tune with my inner voice, higher self, authentic self.  I’ve been trying to listen to it and let it guide me.  This voice has been telling me to continue to write.  I kept telling it, “I can’t.”   It in turn told me, “Yes, you can.”  So I ignored it.  Ignore it and it will go away, right?  But it doesn’t work that way.  If you ignore the signs, the signs get bigger.  Just before eating lunch today I read a blog post titled Outside the Door: Indulging Creativity on the blog We Bare All.  I love reading about creativity, creative things to do, so I started reading.  Before I got very far I realized… Crap.  It found me.  A whole post by another blogger, a writing teacher, telling me to write.  I’d been had.  I’d been duped.  But in the back of my mind I knew she was right.  It’s time.  Time to get out there.  Go out on the stage.  “You never know how many will hear you, how many you may touch, but if you don’t write, if you don’t do what you were called here to do, you will never know.”  So here I am, writing.

Whether you’re a writer, an actor, a performer, a teacher, a tutor, a mother, a friend, or a mentor, do what you were called here to do.  Listen to the voice inside your head trying ever so hard to guide you to be who you were brought here to be.

Fear holds us back, prevents us from achieving our authentic selves.  Even when we’re scared, especially when we’re scared, we need to listen, let go and face our fears head on, because chances are, “the worst thing that could happen” in our mind, won’t.  But if we don’t listen we’re cheating ourselves out of becoming who we are meant to be.  And if we take those risks, we just never know where they might lead us.

Wishing you peace and courage to follow your dreams.

Kate

March 2, 2012

The Journey Continues

March 26th will be the first anniversary of the beginning of the Walnuts and Pears blog and the first step for me in pursuing my dreams, my passion in life without fear.  The past year has brought a lot of changes.  It’s brought happiness as well as some tears, but I wouldn’t change any of it because it’s brought me to where I am today.

When I started Walnuts and Pears, my goal was to build the foundation for a future physical space for people to go to learn about all things related to living a centered, healthy, fulfilling life.  That first block in the foundation was to be the Walnuts and Pears blog: a virtual place to share thoughts, observations and tidbits of information on landscaping, gardening, harvesting, cooking, eating, preserving, and healthy, mindful living.  A place with purpose, passion, caring, love and respect for self, others and Mother Nature.

Over the past year, I’ve been reading other blogs and comparing what they are doing to what I’m doing.  Most of the blogs I follow have very specific topics.  I had originally set goals of sharing more tips and observations about gardening, landscaping, cooking, eating, preserving, harvesting and living a healthy, mindful life with the thought that all of these things tie together and in essence feed each other.  Reflecting on the past year, I feel that I’ve shared more personal stuff than I had intended, but then things don’t always go as we plan.  When things happen in life we need to adjust our sails, tack, drop anchor for a while or just lean back, let the wind blow through our hair and enjoy the ride.  When I’ve shared personal stuff, the stuff that’s gone on in my life, I’ve tried to make the posts have some value to others, whether it’s acknowledging feelings, fears and failures, celebrating the successes or anything in between.

At Christmas time I was given the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho by a friend and co-worker.  While I was excited to read it and kept it on my nightstand, I didn’t actually crack the cover until I started the 8 Weeks to a Better You! mini-challenge (4 Weeks to a Better You!).  I decided that this would be a perfect time to read it because as part of the challenge I am supposed to read at least 15 minutes of uplifting reading or scripture each day.  I couldn’t be more grateful for choosing to read The Alchemist.  It’s really been perfect for me because while it’s not scripture, per se, it has helped make sense out of a lot of things in my life, particularly over the past year.  In the story “the boy” is on a journey, following the path to his Personal Legend (his dreams).  Throughout the story he is told to listen to his heart and follow the path to his dreams.  Sounds simple doesn’t it?  But is it?  How many of us have really done that?  It’s not that easy, or at least that what we tell ourselves.  Have you ever noticed that if you really listen to your heart and do what you follow what you think you are meant to do without holding back, without fearing loss, that it feels right?  It feels good.  It’s like your heart, your head, God and the Universe all know you’re on the right path and reward you for it.  But if we don’t listen to our heart, don’t follow our dreams, we can pretend to be happy, or be happy for a while and then start to question “What if I had done…?”.  Following the path to our dreams doesn’t mean we won’t have challenges along the way. We will. But those challenges are there to help us gauge how committed we are to following the path to our Personal Legend.  The challenges are tests and the only way we can fail these tests is to give up, give into fear or surrender our dreams to something that seems more achievable that’s right in front of us instead of pushing forward.

I can say that in the last year I’ve definitely had challenges.  Some of them were really tough, heart wrenching, but I’ve gotten through them and looking back I can see that I was being tested.  And during some of these tests I made decisions that I have no other way to explain why I did what I did than to say “it just felt right”. Something told me it was the right thing to do.  So I’m learning that when I start to doubt where I’m headed or doubt the decisions I’ve made or get scared about my future, I now know that is just my heart fearing pain or failure or even fear of success.  But if I trust in myself, my God and the Universe and keep my eyes forward I’ll be okay.  I love what I’ve been doing.  I love expressing myself through writing, art,  and cooking.  I love that I’ve been able to put new focus on my health and have had the strength to clear out old things in my life to make room for new possibilities.  I love that I have been given this time in my life to follow the stars and trust in myself.  I know that with each challenge I get through it makes me stronger and reinforces my commitment to my dreams.

So as I head into my second year of blogging, I look forward to continuing to share info on gardening and landscaping, and add more info on harvesting, cooking and preserving, and more info health and well-being and sustainable living and continue to share about my journey.  Because, to me, that’s what life is about, sharing the good stuff as well as the challenges, about being authentic.  And that’s what Walnuts and Pears is about, because we’re all on this journey together.

Until next time, I wish you peace, happiness and success in your pursuit of your Personal Legend.

Kate