Dream a Little Dream

I’m taking a course right now where one of my assignments is to keep a Dream journal for a week and then write about it. I’m on Morning 3. So far, I have had two dreams that I remembered enough to have something to write about. Night one and three, I know I dreamed, but I remember nothing! Night two was the most productive when it came to dreaming and remembering. For most, this may be fairly common but I am a vivid dreamer, always have been, so to be having a dream “dry spell” is a little unnerving. I suppose the lack of remembrance of my dreams says as much about what is happening in my mind as having every little detail does, right? But, what is it?

The first dream from Night 2 was all about my daughter and being over-scheduled for social engagements with her friends. In the dream, we were in a large room with floor to ceiling shelves filled with books and a loft area with stairs that seemed to go nowhere. My daughter’s friend and her mother showed up to pick her up but I was trying to track down my daughter in this vast space and find out why the friend was there already. I was moving around in this room with the feeling that I was unable to get anywhere. I kept saying, “This isn’t right. She shouldn’t be here yet. It’s only Friday and she’s not supposed to be here until tomorrow. Why is she here? The plans are for tomorrow.” My daughter couldn’t explain what was going on and I couldn’t get any answers from anyone else. And, I ended up apologizing to the mother for not knowing what was happening and for my daughter not being ready to go.

I’m sure this dream has all kinds of meanings and that we could pick it apart and figure out every single symbol. But, when I took some time to meditate on it, the most simple explanation that came to me was this: I have a lot going on right now that I am juggling and I feel overwhelmed by it all. And it’s true, I do. I work a part-time job where I have many responsibilities. I am creating this new website here with a blog, which I’ve never done before. I am taking an online correspondence course to deepen some of my skills for healing. I am in massage school and the new semester starts on Monday. I have two kids, a partner, and a household to keep running. I am trying to build my therapy business. It’s a lot but it’s not the first time that I have had to juggle so much at once so I know it can be done and I know I will get to the other side of it relatively unscathed (and so will my family).

The key to getting on the other side relatively unscathed is to make plenty of time for self-care. Generally speaking, I am pretty good at self-care. I have learned over the last 20 years that I absolutely will not be good at taking care of everyone and everything else if I am depleted. I am an introvert and know I need lots of quiet and alone time to re-charge so I make sure to build this into each day. I also make sure to build in time to participate in the hobbies that I enjoy. Walking at the park, through the woods; listening to a good audiobook; binge-watching a good Netflix show; sitting with my feet in the grass, listening to my favorite music, while my kids play. This last week, however, I have failed on the self-care front because I have been overly busy, hence the crazy dream. I will need to do a better job taking care of myself this weekend in preparation for the new school semester which starts on Monday. I see lots of quiet meditation and communing with Mother Earth on schedule for the next 3 days.

How do you make time for self-care? Do you dream? If so, do you try to interpret them?

Creating Calm during COVID

We are in the middle of a pandemic. Are you tired of hearing this yet? I know I am. I am tired of hearing about it on the news. I am tired of hearing about it on social media. I am tired of talking about it all the time. I am tired of hearing about it all the time. Sure, it is a part of the life we are living right now, but does it really need to consume us? I don’t think it does. I think it is important to find activities that bring you joy and calm and provide you with a break from the constant stress of being in the middle of a pandemic.

Here is a list of the top 5 activities which create calm in my life right now:

  1. Take a NEWS fast – I decided at the beginning of Ohio’s quarantine (March) to stop reading/watching the news. There is so much misinformation in the news and because the media needs drama to hook viewers, it seems like we are on the brink of disaster every single time a news anchor comes on the screen or an article gets published on your favorite news app. It was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. I immediately noticed that my stress level decreased because there was nothing to get worked up about. Decreasing stress helped normalize my sleep, allowing me to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. And, without the news creating fear and anxiety, I am able to research COVID on my own and come to my own conclusions about my relative risk and how to proceed for myself and for my family.
  2. Listen to books – I began reading when I was 4 and was reading chapter books by age 5. I devoured books. However, when I finished my Master’s Degree 14 years ago, I stopped reading for pleasure. I needed a break from reading because my brain felt like it was on overload from all of the books I had to read for my thesis. And then I had a baby and my life was consumed with reading children’s books and listening to nursery rhymes. Nothing like a quarantine to find the time to get back into hobbies that we have previously put away! I quickly grew bored of streaming the same old shows and movies, so I turned to my audiobook app and fell back in love with “reading”. I know listening to books is not exactly the same, but research has shown that it does activate the same area of the brain AND it is an activity that I can do while I complete household tasks, sit outside while my kids play, go for a walk in the park, or while I lay in bed just before turning out the lights. It is amazing what a good story can do, the escape it can provide. I have found that it also helps in decreasing my stress levels.
  3. Connect with Mother Earth – Nothing like being quarantined to make you realize just how small your house is, right?! Luckily, we have a large yard so whenever our house starts to close in on us, we go outside to play and sit in the grass. I also make it a point to walk at the park every morning so that I can be surrounded by trees, fresh air, and the sights and sounds of nature. Whenever I am outside, I take off my shoes and put my bare feet into the grass so that I can reconnect with Mother Earth. This is called Earthing. I have found that when I “go” Earthing, I have a much more positive outlook on life and I feel more grounded and present in my body. I recommend getting outside and putting your bare feet in the grass daily and for as long as you can. I bet it won’t take long for you to enjoy it as much as I do!
  4. Spend time with my children – What better way to decrease stress and remember all of the good in the world than by spending time watching your children explore and discover and love and play? Children are filled with wonder and watching them reminds us of what it was like to also be a child, filled with that wonder. As I type this, I am watching my son play with his grapes. Of course, I could tell him to stop doing that because of the mess he might make if he squashes them. Instead, I am giggling because he is pretending that those grapes are rocket ships flying off into space, crashing into one another, escaping from his dinosaurs, and playing a chasing game through the gummy worm field on the table. He is lost in his own little world, completely unaware of what is going on out in the big, bad world, and he is completely content. Wouldn’t we all benefit just a little bit if we spent more time observing our kids and re-discovering the world through their eyes and less time worrying about what is happening with all of the things that are beyond our control?
  5. Make Self-care a priority – In tough times, we are always so busy taking care of our children, our partners, our homes, our work, our friends, and we end up forgetting to take care of our selves. However, we can not be effective at taking care of everything and everyone else if we are completely depleted. This is why self-care is so important. You have to fill up your cup in order to fill up the cups of others. For me, self-care includes the other 4 items on this list. It includes setting healthy boundaries around requests for my time/energy and learning when to say “No” to those requests. And, it also includes receiving therapy, bodywork, massage, energy work, chiropractic, or whatever other rejuvenating activities that I feel drawn to at any given time. In the last several weeks, I have been receiving Shamanic sessions. These have been extremely useful for clearing away clutter, gaining clarity, and refocusing my energy. It is easy to get caught up in all of the fear, anxiety, and negativity out in the world, so I have been using these sessions to neutralize all of that and expand the positive energy and healing that I want to contribute to the collective consciousness.

Of course, there are other activities that I have been doing to fill my time, to escape from reality, to keep my sanity through quarantine, but these 5 things have been my best strategies. How are you taking care of yourself through all of the COVID craziness?