3 new paintings in my brand new studio
I have completed the book I began last spring—a collection of poetry and paintings—called “A Secret Brightening”. The book is softbound, in an 8 x 8 format, using a high quality paper, that includes 33 paintings and 30 poems.
The surprise in my book is that for each poem a QR code has been generated that is printed in the book at the side of each poem. By downloading a free app—a qr code reader to a smart phone, you can access the Soundcloud recordings of my voice reading the poems, very easily, one at a time or listen to the book in its entirety.
I have chosen a printer from Canada that my friend, Hank Brusselback (Bufflecake.com) recommended to me—The Art Bookbindery in Winnepeg, Manitoba. They are pros at reproducing artwork and I am very excited to be working with them.
The printer has the files and my book is in the beginning stages of being proofed. I am taking this time to make signed copies of my book available for pre-order —the cost is $24.95 and at this time I am also offering free shipping.
If you would like to secure your copy of“A Secret Brightening” you may do it in two ways:
by sending a personal check to me (I will email you my mailing address if you don’t already have it)
or by making a payment on my website using paypal. www.wakinglifestudio.com.
Also on my website under the poetry heading you will see a blurb about the coming book and the images and poems that will be included in the publication.
I have been assured by the printer that once the proofs have been approved the book is only 2 weeks away. The proofs are on their way to me now.
In great appreciation,joyful anticipation and love, Patti
I think that all of our lives we are asking ourselves or the universe or both who am I, why am I here and what am I capable of? When we are young we ask it often through our outward accomplishments, through our interests and our careers, through our hopes and our dreams, through the people we are drawn to, whom we admire and hang out with. But as we age, if we have a deep inner life we begin to become curious about other aspects of our self, our Higher Self, not just these cells but pure consciousness and our connection to higher Reality. How this Reality can show up through us as human beings, how we may have made it small, restricted it, how we may have contained it and made rules about its limits. And what is really ready to reveal itself or happen that has been knocking on our door all along?
And then every now and then something happens in a dream or in waking life that tells us we do not really have any idea who and what we are. It sends us back to our humility and our sincere curiosity about why we came here and what we may be here to do. What are the seeds to our learning? How have we stopped sowing those seeds? Do we need to sow new seeds based on unknown but compelling possibilities?
Dreams often put their fingers on our true fears that during waking life we do not express. Fears about meeting face to face our true selves, facing the Reality we all carry within us without the conditioning of polite smallness. Our dreams bring us close to parts of ourselves we would do anything to ignore or run from.
The following dream points to something that I felt embarassed to say aloud because at the time of the dream 6 years ago it seemed shameful to me— that I would run from Christ Consciousness. But if I see it as the cosmic powerful force that it is I can understand my human form trembling in its sight. And I can also see the dream as an invitation to look within, with wonder and awe. Mysteries inspire us with awe and sometimes fear that they will destroy us. And it is true that often they destroy the controlled sense we have or think we need of Reality. But if we look at Mystery not as a problem meant to be solved but a boundless territory meant to be explored, we come into relationship with what we fear or don’t understand, and that relationship can fill us with joy, respectful awe and reverence.
February 7, 2010
I dream I am working on the side for someone, a man. There is something about him that frightens me. So I never want to meet him face to face. I have been doing some work outside and have sneaked in and out of his building. He knows I am there and is trying to find me. I get into the building by a high door that I reach by building scaffolding to it. He hears me and knows I am getting in and wants to see me. He is calling my name and shouting for me. I flee. Hurriedly I get down off the platform and jump into the car and take off. I have not been paid for the last few weeks but I decide I will forfeit the pay. As I am taking off I decide to go to a building where his paintings hang, for he is a great artist. I want to see them one more time. The building is dark and lit by candlelight. It has a church-like feel to it. I hardly see the painting that is before me on the wall and then I focus on what looks like a gold image where a signature might be. It is an unusual image—as I look at it I see it is the head of Christ with a paintbrush coming out of the bottom of the head. I wake up.
As I wake up I feel confounded and shaken to the core.
Recently I found this dream recorded April 13, 1997,in a letter I had written the day after the dream to my friend, F. The letter that I do not recall writing lay in a file and it was quite by surprise I happened upon it last week.
Dream: I was in my workshop, my woodworking shop at the time in real life. I had a can of acid or lacquer thinner in my hands. It broke in two and the acid spilled over my hands and down the front of me and onto my dog Jack who was with me onto his head and back. I did not act quickly but sort of in a sleep walk state—I went to the sink and filled a bucket with water and soap. It was the kind of automatic calm that can overtake you in an emergency. There was a rag with a lot of soap powder on it. I was holding Jack in a tight embrace, washing his head and back with the soapy rag. This part of the dream was so visual—there were already big scabs formed on his head and I remember thinking how I must have waited a long time to wash him and the acid must have really burned his head and back to already have formed scabs. It must have laid on him full strength a long time. The water bucket fell over a couple of times while I was washing him and I had to stop to right it. The water went everywhere and under things and I kept wondering if anything had gotten ruined from it, but I felt out of control to attend to everything and I felt myself unable to do anything about so many things, like the situation was bigger than me and the only tangible thing was this dog and myself. Perhaps I had been cleaning myself off during this time but I don’t remember. At this point in the dream my friend, F’s voice came in as an overlay like a radio broadcast. She was telling me a story she had heard on NPR about a man who had been whipped by his commanding officer for some failure on his part, and then ordered to whip the men under his command. And that while the whipped officer was whipping his own men, as he perspired, the wounds from his own flogging stung and glistened with sweat and heat. I woke up with my arms tightly wound over my chest still holding Jack to soothe him. Jack allowed this tight enclosure around himself so sweetly as if he had abandoned himself to me completely.
The soul is a strange doctor. It reads you your cure in reading you your turmoil and anguish. It slows the meter down and drip-by-drip you see the eventuality of your spirit. Your body and mind and feelings in a pile-up on the expressway, but the beauty of its telling is its fondness for you, the tightest embrace, utterly human in dimension.
It is nineteen years since the dream occurred. A big cycle of completion. And nineteen years later I see more clearly that Life is largely holding paradoxes in our hands. Things break. Containers of love break. Love contains darkness and light. It contains pain and joy, despair and hope, it contains vulnerability, it contains sweetness and surrender. Love contains everything. And when its container breaks in our hands, for no apparent reason or perhaps we are holding it too tightly, perhaps we are not paying attention— who knows but it breaks, the paradoxes of love and life spill over us, we get burned AND we are held tightly in that wounding AND we heal. In the dream I feel surprise that the burns Jack has experienced have already begun to scab over. Jack surrenders completely to being washed and held. He is my model and guide. I feel overwhelmed and only able to attend to the burns and the washing. I feel that no matter what else has happened this is my task. The soap powder is mysteriously already on the rag. The water spills over and over in the dream soaking everything running everywhere. Life’s essence the souls essence is uncontainable; it is what cleans us washes us heals us.
The man who is whipped because of a personal failure is ordered to whip his own men and while he is carrying out his orders he feels his own wounds smarting, glistening in the heat and sweat. He does not protest, but he feels this pain in his own awareness and the pain has made him conscious; through his pain he is learning about his own humanity, his failings and his anguish. A thoroughly human being and a true warrior.
Dreams give us images and information from the unconscious meant to help us. The messages are unique to each person and represent a kind of inner guidance system – if we only know how to use it.
Dream worker Patti Tronolone says that in the dominant culture of our country, we generally ignore dreams, not understanding their rich resources for providing information we need to heal and realize our potential. She says that everyone dreams, but without the intention to remember the dreams and ponder their meaning, we give up an important connection to our inner lives and wisdom.
As people begin to understand the symbols of their dreams, it can have a profound effect on their lives. “When people realize that they are providing their own guidance, not a book or an outside source of wisdom, they see themselves as the incredible beings they are; that is such medicine for most people,” says Tronolone. “What I love the most about dreams is that they come through the person – their own guidance system.”
Her role is to help the person understand what the dream may be saying. Tronolone sees herself as an energetic bridge between the conscious and unconscious. When people see the information available in their dreams, they are usually receptive to understanding the messages.
“People often feel badly about what is happening for them. They are usually so relieved to hear there is a conversation going on that they can be part of,” she says.
We may feel guilty about our dreams or think they are unflattering or represent a dark part of ourselves we don’t like. In looking at our dreams, we may be able to glimpse a shadow side of ourselves and understand and accept it.
Tronolone says, “All the characters in our dreams are aspects of ourselves. When we understand this, we can see aspects that we have pushed away and have a better chance to retrieve them.”
She says that one of her clients dreamed of a very pushy colleague at work and judged this person harshly. As Tronolone and her client talked, it became clear that the client had disowned the part of herself that was ambitious. She thought she shouldn’t have ambitions and had pushed that side of herself away and censored herself.
“The world of dreams is not moral; it is clean of judgement,” says Tronolone. This world provides us with the opportunity to see situations clearly and ask ourselves questions, such as, “What is it my soul really wants to know here?” The images are highly symbolic and act like mirrors showing us what needs to be changed.
Some common symbols include driving, which can be a reference to the outward parts of our lives that we are manifesting in the world. Another frequent image is that of water, which may represent our essence. “When you are in the water, pay attention,” says Tronolone. She may ask the dreamer questions about the experience, such as, “How did the water feel? Was it light or dark?”
She cautions against jumping to conclusions about the meaning of the symbols in dreams or relying too much on dream dictionaries that give a narrow interpretation of the symbol. Instead, she recommends that people look up symbols online and see what resonates for them.
For example, she dreamed of pomegranates and found out they can stand for the divine feminine, which made sense in the context of the dream and her life. She says you can also ask for a follow-up dream or put yourself back in the dream in a semi-lucid state to further explore the world of the dream.
Tronolone acknowledges that dreams can be emotional and that the dream world can be a scary place. She says that understanding our dreams can allow us to see what part of ourselves is under pressure: “That is what creates the little monsters and causes us to feel shame and judge ourselves.” She points out that dreams can reveal the conflict of who we are conditioned to be and what the soul really wants. As we gain insights and grow, a shift can make itself known by what we are able to do in the world.
For Tronolone, dreams are like the nightly news, and she delights in helping the dreamer understand the true meaning of their messages. In a related part of her work, Tronolone helps her clients process what they learn through dreams or deal with emotional trauma through the use of energy work, known as Reiki. She says that grief and betrayal are the emotions that bring people to see her most often.
Tronolone found out about Reiki when she hit a rough patch in her own life. She spoke to a friend, who was a Catholic priest in New York, about her troubles. He sent Reiki long distance to her in Baltimore. She says, “I had a powerful experience and became totally clear on the issue that had been troubling me.”
This event woke up an immediate desire in her to do this kind of work. She studied Reiki further and became a Reiki Master. She began using Reiki with her children, but waited until later in her life to work with other people. She says, “Something told me that I needed to become a clearer channel.”
With greater life experience and lots of Reiki practice behind her, she has been focusing on offering Reiki to others in the last six years.
Reiki is a Japanese method of relaxation and moving life force energy through the body to help clear blockages in the energy system, known as chakras. There are seven main chakra centers and thousands of smaller ones.
Tronolone says the idea is that these centers are supposed to be turning. There is a blockage if they are not turning. If those blockages are removed using energy work, there can be a dramatic opening of the system.
“The body reveals everything it is holding,” says Tronolone. She is highly sensitivity to the movement of energy in body, where it is stuck, fluid, or wanting to say something. She can feel pain in her own body when she has her hands on someone.
“I get a physical signal. If an area has been jammed up, it will start releasing and a lot of heat will come off the body through my body and out the top of my head – like a chimney. It is a really good sign something that has been stuck is on the move,” she says.
During a Reiki session, one of her clients felt his heart open in a major way for the first time in his life, causing him to cry. Another client felt the top of his head, the location of the crown chakra, open up – like a “lid coming off.” It was a huge shakeup for him and showed him a whole beautiful world that he had not known existed.
Tronolone says, “We rely on the energy of the cosmos to flow through us; that is what makes us healthy. When opening of blockages occur, all of the sudden we have 100 watts instead of 10. Energy gives you power and increases your connection to everything that is alive.”
Tronolone came to Taos in 2004 to meet her daughter’s fiancé in Lama. She bought a piece of land and was living here a year later. She says the vast openness of Taos makes it a good place to do the work of self-exploration and healing.
“There is not interference here; everything is open. People wake up here,” she says.
Dream work and Reiki can function well together. Some people come in after an emotional dream to understand it better. Tronolone says, “The dream can shake us up until we take in the messages of the dream.” After we understand the message, energy work can help us integrate it and heal.
“If you see an aspect of yourself in a dream that you don’t like, rather than have that eat away at you, energy work can open the system up to have that be OK; to see and accept it as an aspect of the self,” she notes.
With dream and energy work, we can learn about our inner wisdom and release blockages.
Insights may reveal themselves over time – but there will always be mystery.
Some of this mystery is reflected in Tronolone’s art. Her paintings have a dreamy quality and, in fact, she often paints images that come from dreams. Recently, a recurring dream involved three people in a pool – and that is what she has been painting.
According to Tronolone, “Everything in our lives is conspiring to heal us: the reactions we get from people, our dreams, what is going on in our bank account or happening in relationships. All of our fears are there, so we have a bigger clue as to what is trying to change. So we will question information – why is this happening? If our lenses start to change focus, we can feel like we are part of a loving cosmos trying to open us up. It may look like a door getting slammed, but it is just information. For me, this is the biggest insight in my life over the last few years. There are no special areas. Our whole life is an arena for healing.”
Many thanks to Joan Livingston, editor for the Taos News for suggesting the article, to Cindy Brown, freelance writer for the Taos News whose interview and article captured the essence of my work, and to Katherine Egli for her photography.
In real life when this dream came I was in a difficult situation with a person to whom I was very attached. My feelings were not being reciprocated and I asked for a dream to show me the face of love so that I could better embody it.
I am a witness in this dream but I respond at times with my voice as if I am part of the audience.
In the dream a young eastern European guy is a performer, one of many who has a performance act — his is with a unique bicycle that he has built. 2 American friends, a man and a woman the same age, without explanation ask the eastern Euro guy what colors does he like and see himself in, in a potential outfit to perform in. They want to help him make his performance the best it can be but they want it to be out of his energy, his preferences. It takes s a while for him to understand the question. The American guy keeps asking the question and refining it until the Euro guy says "Feather Pink, and Dusty Denim blue." The American guy poofs away instantly and comes back to the room of the American girl. The American girl is dressed beautifully in black and white, very clean lines. She has bought a can of white paint and poured it in her chair and sat down in it without getting it anywhere on her front. The American guy has come in to show her the outfit he has made for the Euro guy—it includes a hat with streamers in pink blue and white, dusty denim pants and a Feather pink shirt. I hear myself exclaim from the audience in the dream—"that is great, that is great!" I feel as if I am in the arena of a big top seeing all these scenes from there. In minutes there will be the performance. I wake up.
The dream shows the face of human love. To me, it shows that we are here in the world to reflect our fellow companions their own true faces. And from our own creativity to gift these reflections in a selfless way for the sake of each others 'performances'. Euro man is from 'some place else'. He has the rudimentary ingredients for a great and brilliant performance but his outer appearance is lacking in color. In the dream he is dressed all in grayish green and his bike is also the same gray green. But despite this his American friends can see his brilliance and his gifts. Their contribution is to ask how he would like to to dress if he could—the colors he sees himself in, and he responds eventually in a very feminine, receptive and surprising way. The American man friend goes immediately to his task of creating an outfit for him from Euro man's colors. It is a selfless and unpretentious act. The American woman seems to be waiting in her tent. She is dressed very concisely and elegantly in Black and White. Her pants are black. She stands up and pours white paint into her chair and very delicately sits down in it. What came to me from this step in the dream was that she was introducing light into her lower chakras. And that was an important cue for me. The lower chakras comprise our first and second chakras. The root chakra—how we come in, our family of origin, the way we relate to the world from our upbringing, including our core wounds. Our second chakra is our relationship chakra. To bring light into a chakra is to begin seeing through our highest self, our light instead of through our needs, wants and wounds. There is nothing wrong with needs want or wounds but when we see through them we see through a filter of often what has been difficult or lacking in ourlives. How one does this is to explore the needs, wants and wounds that have influenced the way we relate in love and family. This was my work. The work did not change the outside response to me but it significantly showed me what I was actually made of. I felt the constructs of all the needs I carried around reciprocated love move aside and I felt shooting up and out of me -- real love. This was a life changer. It was not something I had really thought about previously and when it came up I felt very attached to my right to be loved in the way I wanted to be loved. It was only in attending the origin of those attachments that I saw the attachment move aside on its own and felt the reality of being a loving human being come through me in a new way.
There is a labyrinth within the soul. —John O'Donohue
In November of this past fall I was taking some training that was a very different approach for me and at times even during it was questioning its validity and rightness for me. On a night when I was about to complete the training and was still in the throes of self doubt, I had a trio of dream vignettes that told me to see what I was doing in an utterly modern way. Modern in the finest sense of the word, letting go of the way I had been viewing myself and my creativity up until now.
I and another man live in a convent. The nuns of the convent have been caring for and housing the paint rags of the great masters. The man has somehow removed the paint from the paint rags of these masters that the nuns have been caring for, so that the paint can be reused and put into a modern printing press. I am staring into the drawer that now hold the "cleaned rags"-they are white linen-you can see flecks of the presence of the old paint but they are pristine and folded in the drawer. The man is worried that the nuns will be angry with him for taking this paint out of the rags. I think he has done an amazing thing and I tell him it is very possible the nuns will be impressed and glad. This makes the man very happy.
Snippet two: I have or own a huge vehicle like a utility truck as big as a Hummer, that is made of solid god. It seems that it is in the process being melted down and turned into something else, like a printing press.
Snippet three: I am replacing the inks in our color copier. The inks are arranged like a large paint set. I am removing the foil from the new ink paints—a gigantic tray of perhaps a hundred colors in their little pans. The colors are so clear, saturated and vibrant and there are so many of them. It is a very powerful feeling to open this brand new paint palette. It is a moment in time.
End of dreams
This dream helped me to get current with myself and to see creativity not in terms of what it looks like-modern or ancient, but how it is being be used to create something new. The man in the first dream had the same anxieties many of us have when trying to do something totally out of our comfort zone--we are afraid we are making a mistake or doing something wrong. Afraid we are going against the way it has always been. The removal of the paint from the ancient masters' rags to be put into a printing press seems almost sacrilegious. But the rags are no longer in use, they are being cared for by the Feminine spiritual guardians in the dream. The interesting part for my own character in the dream was one of admiration and awe, that this man had taken the primary ingredients of the Great ones and alchemically transformed them into raw materials for modern times, and in so doing—imbuing the modern vehicle with the sacred, without destroying the original materials.
The second dream snippet continues with the theme of alchemy and this time even uses the material of gold—a large utility vehicle of solid gold is being melted down and remade into a printing press. The snippet suggests that something valuable that was used in an utilitarian way is now being made into something that will be a form of communication, a new creative possibility for the gold.
The final snippet celebrates the feeling of power and awe that opening a brand new box of paints can inspire. The feeling state of the dream is one of being fully present in 'this moment in time'. It is like an announcement on a loud speaker—"look at this, feel this, these are your new materials—feel their power and potential."
In working with the dream material I saw that I had been protecting an old view of myself, but that no matter how sacred I felt it to be, life was bringing me a totally new way of presenting myself. Not only as a painter of images but as a painter of words. Whose golden value was to be a new way (for me) to communicate to others, and that I could celebrate this transformation asone of many creative opportunities and shifts that will occur during one's lifetime; not to be afraid of change but to realize that we are a labyrinth and a mystery and there is good reason to feel joy and awe in the infinitely complex, and altogether unknown aspects of who we are.
I had the following dream on February 2nd, when it seemed like the transition from 2015 to 2016 was still in effect in my life and on the rest of the planet according to the astrology pundits. And that despite the calendar moving us into a new year, the transition point was holding all the intensity of the things that were still incomplete from the past until we truly met them. I don't remember a more intense transition into a New Year.
I dream I am with my partner and we are traveling with a man who is cherished by all who meet him. He has JOY and love for life. And he has complete commitment to all the things he does.
He is at his desk and I pass through his room and am trying to close the door quietly behind me that I am going through. But there is a wind that kicks in and it slams each time. The man is calling me back and telling me how important it is to close the door quietly and to work with the wind and to match its pressure in order to meet it and neutralize it. So I agree to work in this way. It takes a bit of time. And the feeling in the dream is very visceral--I can feel the tension of holding against an unpredictable wind. I find the door has come off its hinges and so it is even a bit more challenging. But I continue with it and eventually I am able to meet the wind pressure and close the door quietly.
When there is a drastic change in one's life or when you come through a very difficult time and see the new day just within reach I think there is a tendency to thrust the past behind you in a sense to say — "I'm out of here!" Let the chips fall and rush toward the 'new'.
But what this dream shows is how you leave one room is how you enter another. How you meet the elemental forces that inhabit our world with us, the alignment of the stars, the influence of planets and friends, all these forces which push in at us— how we meet them is how we hold all the parts of our life. And they are all of equal importance.
This man was impressive because he was with everything in the same way and it was the way he was with everything that seemed to BE his joy. His joy did not come from other things--it was the creative attention he seemed able to give everythingand every part of his life. When we are making our passage through a particularly difficult corridor and we want more than anything to be on the other side of this difficulty we can get fooled into thinking the next place we land will be happy and without relationship to what we have just gone through. The man in this dream says it is in these times especially that we take extra time to close the door to the last phase quietly and with great attention, to use every last minute of it meeting the elemental forces with everything we have, even if it feels like what we are saying goodbye to is completely unhinged at that point— that we do it anyway. That we leave with dignity so we can enter the next room withdignity.
Up until I had this dream I never saw that I might be capable of finding importance or value in meeting such an unpredictable wind in that way. Up until then I hadn't seen its true value. And that the very attention I gave to it might turn into a joyousness, that I would inhabit a moment so completely, giving myself over to doing something that seemed like nothing, and that doing it would bring me into alignment with the very origin of Joy and so with my whole life.
I am happy to have come through the birth agonies and joy of recreating Waking Life Studio on a brand new platform. It was touch and go there for a while but the vehicle is back on track, a new track by the grace ofGod-dess!
I was reading this morning in John O'Donohue's book, Anam Cara, where he talks about the human body as being our home on earth. He described our body as being the 'Shepherd of clay', and that as humans, our body of clay has the unique privilege of ascending and expressing itself in the world of light. And he goes on to describe that as that uniqueness, we represent an unknown world that begs us to bring it to voice. The artistic tension between our clay and our mind is only in conversation through our imagination.
The imagination is in love with the symbol because it sees that the symbol is the most reverent form to express our divinity. The symbol resides at the threshold of darkness and light as an invitation to converse; to perfectly and eloquently mirror the inner world.
And so too our dreams abound with symbol, not to deceive us or confuse us but to draw us closer to that threshold of darkness and light where our imagination can illuminate our deepest, most unique: the great mystery of our innermost self.
In mid May I traveled to Ireland, Sligo County, town of Raghly, on the Northern West Coast of Ireland, with dear friend and fellow painter, Freya Grand. 8 days of sitting atop blustery bluffs painting and drawing the granite cliffs, the wild sea, the silent harbor and the mysterious mountain of Benbulbin / Benwiskin. Here are my take-aways so far from this trip. New paintings are still forthcoming.
A recent commission by a dear Washington, DC couple to design and fabricate trivets for their new dining table inspired these land and seascapes in Walnut and Cherry woods. Their bottoms are covered in wool felt to protect the table surface.
8 new oil paintings form the series: On Any Given Day... Girls of Baltimore to show together in December: featuring myself, Patti Tronolone, Joyce Scott, Oletha Devane, Linda De Palma, and Ellen Burchenal. Leslie King-Hammond, curates for Art Basel at the Betsy Hotel in Miami, Florida. Opening date December 6th. Show dates to be announced shortly. To be included:
This is the subject and script of a talk I gave at Unity of Taos on the cusp of the new year, January 3rd, 2016. I offer it here as a segue and blessing into the powerful new year of 2016.
~ THERE IS ONLY ENOUGH ROOM
There is only enough room at the prow of the ship for one heart.
It is meant to be a tight spot
In that crease where the two sides meet
No crowds can gather.
Looking out from that place
From that place into the growing dark
It is always night there
Nothing can be seen.
But if you close your eyes and lean in far enough
If you really lean deep into your own darkness
You begin to feel the future
Making itself in front of you.
At first it will be the senses
Telling you about the weather
The wind and the salt spray
And you could almost leave it all there.
But if you stay on after your wits die down
You move into that other dominion
Where the eyes live somewhere outside of you
There hanging on the air
Hovering on vibration
Waiting for a moment in the world
And all the while still a child
Singing the quiet praises
Perhaps something breaks.
Perhaps something is taken from you.
Perhaps a season has simply come to an end.
It is at these threshold moments where everything is asked of you;
that it matters the most
to pilot your own crossings
to Love yourself,
And to stay present right here
in the gap.
For here is the passage.
Here is the transformation.
Here is the leap and
Here is your evolution.
The Oxford dictionary says: a threshold is a point of entry or beginning
The poet John O’Donohue takes it further. He says,
A threshold is not a simple boundary; it is a frontier that divides two different territories, rhythms, and atmospheres... a real frontier that cannot be crossed without the heart being passionately engaged and woken up…where a great complexity of emotion comes alive: confusion, fear, excitement, sadness, hope.
There is often a pause at the doorway when we are simply standing in a sense between two worlds—all that has gone before and what has yet to come and can still be shaped by our awareness. So we often relive events from the past so we can understand fully what we have learned and in doing so move forward aware. The desire on new years to complete the unresolved things from our life and to set new visions for our accomplishment, requires a threshold. We cannot set our new vision until we have rewalked the territory of what has passed.
It is an eternal experience that often feels disorienting because it does not inhabit time in the same way, they are energy fields on the verge of becoming something else, something new. And even tho this is always true, there is something unique to a threshold that crosses a significant boundary in ones life.
As human beings we have the right and the power to bless.
To make sacred, to name holy something or someone.
Blessing difficult endings, especially in relationship can actually be the healing force that allows us to move forward. This past year I had a relationship of 10 years come to an end. No matter how much I tried to repair it, it remained broken. Once I finally accepted that this was meant to be, I blessed it, I blessed both what had been a meaningful friendship and I blessed its ending. And in blessing it I said, I cannot change what has happened but I can acknowledge its change and how I am holding it, and in doing so was able to leave all bitterness and struggle behind.
I am not a Buddhist scholar but long ago I heard a story of when the Buddha was visited by Mara, a great force of distraction and distortion. Much like Jesus’s tempatation by a dark force in the desert, Mara was offering some power that was in conflict with integrity to the Buddha. In response the Buddha pressed his finger to the earth, and in doing so he called forth the presence of all the witnesses to his evolution from all lifetimes, to stand beside him to face this destructive force.
In times of trial, we too can put our fingers to the earth and call upon all the forces of Good that have seen us through our own many lifetimes, invoke our highest Self to face these times of peril.
A blessing is a protective circle of light.
Blessing difficulties acknowledges that one has or is stepping through a difficult passage that has gripped the heart and calling upon one's inner priest/priestess to bless the ordeal and the moments of tenacity of purpose.
The transformative power of challenges is no small thing. It was said by Paul Valery, the French poet, essayist and philosopher,
"That a difficulty is a light; an insurmountable difficulty is a Sun."
Sometimes it is the image of our task that we carry that makes a task difficult.
If we change the image of how we perceive it, the task itself will unfold more smoothly.
Ask yourself now, with the tasks you have in front of you, what image are you holding of your tasks? When you can name the way something is being held often you can walk thru it more easily.
The New Year is a time of looking back and seeing the blessedness and blessings of our lives and the Goodness that has been with us and followed us and guided us and continues to.
Where do we bless from? We drop into the vastness where we are one with everything and everyone and from there call for a blessing, and like the Buddha,invoking the vast to be with you.
Whenever one person takes another into the custody of their heart, they have the authority to bless. When we love someone we turn toward them with our Divinity and the Spirit itself is the wellspring of blessing.
Acts of kindness carry their own luminosity and in themselves become beacons of light that bless.
Seeing and acknowledging someone, raising them up in your seeing these are ways in which our blessing holds great power for the transformation of another.
Recently I left to take a long trip overseas. I went to see my landlady before I left. She is an elderly woman. She looked straight into my eyes and said to me, "Always remember where you are and may God go with you." I felt the sweetness and the realness of her blessing and I thanked her.
A blessing is to call some quality of wholeness upon a person to make whole a loss, to make good a journey, to raise a life.
We do not bless by ourselves but we invoke the power of the universe in the name of love.
You will never know the true potential of blessing, the forms it can take, the ways it can alter one's life and the lives of others.
It is a private act, a sacred act of great power and humility. It says, I cannot change the past but I can bless it and say "so be it" and move forward.
There are places that are containers of blessedness. Places in nature, places such as these– of devotion and respect. The ancients knew this, we still know this. It is here right now.
How do they come?
Thresholds arrive in all shapes and manners.
Perhaps We have come slowly to realize that what we have been doing or what we have taken ourselves to be are no longer alive in us, we can look at it differently instead of resenting it we can see that this loss of aliveness is actually an opportunity, which will require some growth for a necessary change to occur.
So in this way, the challenges of change can be reframed as a portal to an entirely new sense of aliveness, life and possibility. What if we looked upon everything that occurred to us in our lives as an entry point to the new. Would we ever think or say the word calamity again? If our life is made up of a myriad of entry points what benevolent conspiracy is this thing called life? And how close to us is our soul?
John O'Donohue, in his book Anam Cara, writes:
"Behind the facade of the familiar, strange things await us."
Their beauty and mystery is that they come often when we need them most or when we are not the least bit aware that they are going to arrive. They are always a challenge; a challenge that demands great courage from us, especially when one opens up for which you are not prepared. This could be illness, suffering, or loss. It could be a great and unexpected surprise or invitation.
Some Years ago I was living on the Cape in Massachusetts and my partner at the time was out of town when a hurricane blew up. His sailboat was in the water and I took it upon myself to save it from being blown away. In the midst of it I misjudged the depth of the water and I began to drown. I was so surprised by this I heard myself say out loud—now, now I am going to die now? If it be Thy will I give myself to You but if it is not Your will, I Choose Life. In an instant a great wave rolled over me and washed me up onto the beach. Over the next days and weeks, I wept. I realized that I had always felt a bit ambivalent about being here. The tears came because I saw that I had just been given the opportunity to say out loud, "I Want To Be Here". This was a threshold moment. They are not always like this but sometimes they are. The important part, in my experience, is to accept them and learn to look at them with great respect because they are being offered from our souls.
What do they serve?
Thresholds serve the destiny of our individual souls. They form us and draw color and the unusual into our lives. The things that happen to us tell us a little more about who we are. What aspect of our nature is trying to evolve and strengthen, what gifts are hidden in these life events, gifts that we will come to share and teach to others.
The script of each person's destiny is a secret, we never know who we are actually looking at when we face another human being. And so we do not often even know ourselves.
That we are even here is a huge confirmation that somehow life needed us here and wanted us to exist. To really take this in can open a large well of self-acceptance and self-love in the heart.
A threshold need not be a threat-instead it can be a call, an incitement to promise. We can trust that if it has come we are somehow completely ready for it.
How can we serve them?
We can learn how to rein back on the innate drive for accomplishment. And to really listen in the stillness of these transitions.
To recognize when we are somewhere in the corridor of a life transition and to accept that it has its own timing, divine timing. We cannot rush them. It doesn’t mean it is easy.
So too when a threshold is a great loss, the loss of the familiar has a grief period. Loss of the familiar can be devastating. But it can also reveal the hidden resources we did not even know we had. Often we are numbed by what we are used to and we stop knowing ourselves as the creative gifts that we are. We stop seeing the ones we love, the place we live, we are not guffawed by beauty. This is the hidden gift of change- it shakes us awake to what is happening all around us, to what has been happening. Transitions are crossings. They are full of potential as well as challenge.
Loss of the familiar has available within it great creative forces if we can learn to listen and appreciate the aspects of ourselves that don’t get seen when we are driving our ambitions, or making each moment part of an agenda. All that we have taken for granted gets eclipsed by a threshold.
Because in the loss of the familiar we cannot see ourselves in the same way we become privy to our essential self in a new way and we can ask new questions:
- Who and what am I,
- What is this container – the human being and what powers does it hide?
We can learn to see all the varieties of presence available; listen inward with complete attention until we hear the inner voice calling us forward that The time has come to cross.
And then one day, the way in which spring secretly overtakes winter, barely discernible, we pass thru the doorway, sometimes in a sweeping motion, sometimes in a gradual dissipation of small moments and sometimes both. We wake suddenly or gradually to a new present. And we are aware we have changed.
As we sit here together, or at any time you can ask yourself:
At what threshold am I now standing,
At this time in my life what am I leaving?
Where am I about to enter and
What is preventing me from crossing my next threshold?
What gift would enable me to do it?
Who would I be if I were to make this crossing?
What would my life be like if I were to gather myself
Trust that all that I need is within me?
To say to life to the cosmos to God
Here I am
I am ready.
I choose life.
I would like to end this talk with a blessing by John O'Donohue called:
Blessing for a New Beginning
In out of the way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you
Noticing how you willed your self on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back; learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
Reflected Love One of the most heartbreaking realities in our culture is the fact that all of us have grown up with and been taught to see our worth and our essence through the reflections back from family, lovers, institutions, job performance, career success or failure, how we look, to name a few.
And from these erroneous assessments we go on to believe that we are something inferior; not the beautiful Beings of light that we are, but somehow always on the outside of a perfection that we perceive to be in others or in the future but not now, not in ourselves. We go on to attack ourselves in this way, continually trying to fix ourselves, to fit in with others, social situations, public institutions, in order to feel that we are okay.
As women growing up in this culture the reflection often is fused with how one looks, or acts or if we are acceptable in the roles we have taken on. And so even our sexuality becomes a torment of trying to be something for others and in doing so we subjugate ourselves to something we perceive as a measuring tool for our goodness.
I went to hear Robert Waterman speak, an original founder of Southwestern College in Santa Fe, NM last year. The title and prologue of his talk, drew me in a powerful way:
The Good That is Seeking You from Within
"The fear began when, in our curiosity, we stepped away from ourselves. The sensation of separation, while initially exciting, settled in as fear. From then on, we interpreted love through its reflections. Reflected love is a contrary and perverse partner. Love itself continued below the surface, growing in stature, yet undetected by fear. Our addiction and defense of fear masquerade as a dark lover. All this time, and we are ancient, while we fought the dragon, love continued to mature within us. On the surface we have come to believe we are experts, which effectively hides from our awareness the true mastery by which we guide our lives. When we discover how we actually make our lives, living from love is easy and powerful." —ROBERT WATERMAN
I was personally and deeply touched by Waterman’s workshop that day. He is a calm very humble man whose presence is an abiding loving one.
Linley Solari of Taos, also attended this workshop and wrote a clear summary of the day’s offering by Waterman, which I include here in part:
“…And then he[Waterman] began, in earnest, by saying that our discomfort, our pain, our fear, our anger, our confusion is NEVER about what is actually happening but lies solely with our relationship to what is happening. “The difficulty is never the issue; it’s our relationship to the issue.”
“EVERYTHING is a reflection back to us, “he said. “It is not something to be judged or fixed or defended or protected. You are not something trying to find God…that is the reflection. You are already God trying to find itself in this world.”
What Waterman was addressing is the basic and fundamental split in our psyche between what we hold ourselves to be and what we actually are. We have all been hypnotized through thousands of years of imprinting into believing we are something separate from the foundational intelligence of the universe. We have all come to believe in the innate limitation and inadequacy of the individuatedself. And so we seek…we seek to find “something” in the “outside” world that will make us feel adequate: love, sex, money, family, knowledge, status, religion, accomplishment, power. We are seeking to somehow complete what we feel is incomplete: our very selves. “We interpret Love through its reflections.”—End of Solari’s summary.
Here is the dream I wish to end this year with…it is a celebration of human existence as learned from the woman in this dream. I pass it along to you.
2013 The Woman Who Is A Complete Human Being
I dream I am at a sitting with M and 3 other people, another woman and two men. M is sitting facing us and we are sitting 4 square facing him. The room is without light, it seems to be twilight. There is a knocking sound against the building. The woman behind me thinks there may be someone at the door. I know it is a tree branch but I cannot control my body from responding. My body crawls down to the floor and out of the room. When I cross the threshold I am facing an open door and it is broad daylight. I am in a beach town and the air and light have that quality and color to it. I walk out the door turning right without any idea where I am going. I wonder how or if I will remember how to get back here. I meet a child and she takes me to a house of an older woman. I met these woman years ago-she remembers what I wore, a silk shirt that she admired. The woman is lying on her back. A man friend is there who is my age, and she is showing him her chest, that is bleeding below where her left breast has been removed. Both her breasts are completely gone. The scars are there and her chest looks like a battleground-it is purpled with bruises and blood is seeping from below her breast scar. I am reminded of the portraits of Jesus on the cross. I don’t know if she has an infection or the wound is still healing. She shows this to him without any self-pity. To simply reveal herself. Then she is standing up and she has with her in her hands two of her favorite objects, which she seems to be gifting to him. One is a silver pen that she holds in her left hand. The pen looks like nothing I have seen before. It is about an inch and half wide, it is tapered at each end, it bulges a bit in the center. The ends that are tapered look a bit like the feather but it is symmetrical and very unusual. In her other hand she is holding a piece of silk, a small square of it about a foot square or a little smaller. The silk is gold but luminous gold, luminous from within the weave of the material. I love the realness of this person, and she strikes me as a complete and total human being, not simply a woman although she is certainly that. I find I love her relationship to the man, the child and to life. It imprints me. I go to leave and as I walk out I think I am going back the way I came but I gradually see that the numbers are getting larger in the addresses and I see that I will not be going back the way I came. I feel at peace to be somewhere so foreign.
This dream in a way speaks for itself. I still see and feel the woman’s chest, my chest. I feel as if she lives inside of me and as if this potential is the most human and most awakened part of me. All that it means to be a real human being. The wounds, the pen, and the silk. Our human journey including our injuries, our creative ability to express ourselves and the essential fabric of our existence—the golden and luminous truth of who and what we are.
We can relearn our understanding of ourselves, our real selves, and begin to see that in others, honoring the truth of our realities to one another and to our children.
I wish you a very peaceful holiday full of joy and promise and renewal.
And I have felt A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit,
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
—WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, Lines Composed A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey (excerpt)
I would like to write about two topics over the next couple of weeks – one on the subject of persona and the other on the subject of reflected love.
We live our lives as if totally convinced of our stories of others and ourselves until we have an experience of another reality, a hidden reality. Then the basis for all our beliefs wobbles and we see we have not been scraping the surface of bedrock, but the pillowed existence we have built on top of it.
Through this discussion my intent is not to bash the personality. It is with us as long as we are in human skin. It is shaped by all our life experiences and is part of the way we relate and make our lives work, pursue careers and have families. It is a necessary aspect of our lives.
My intent here is to give it its place. And to raise the question about who and what we actually are, and what is keeping us in hiding.
In this first dream, a decision is made to face myself completely, not realizing what that might mean.
October 12, 2011
Papji, a 20th century Indian sage, once commented that the presence of a lion in a dream was a sign of the Higher Self in pursuit of you.
I am both in the dream and witness to the dream.
There is a lion, so small and harmless. I have it in a bowl of peanut butter. I am looking at it thinking if I let this cat out I will prove I am ready to face myself completely, knowing it will be life size if I do. With that thought the lion is out of the bowl, life size, in the room, my bedroom. It is very frisky and is nipping at me like a dog but it is a bit stronger. I look up and now there are TWO wild cats in the room. I watch my character get up on the bed with my back to the headboard, as far back as I can get. One of the lions jumps up onto the bed and with one stroke tears off my face. I hear myself saying, “Well there goes my face.” I am thinking, “I wonder what it will be like to live without a face.” Scene shift. I am with the lions again; we are in my living room. They are very lively and moving around. “It is Sunday,” I say, “and I can finally get to really look at the details.” End of dream.
Initially in the dream I am looking at a tiny lion in a bowl of peanut butter. The lion is like a childhood toy in a bowl of childhood food. When I see it there I am aware I am living behind the façade of being a helpless child, playing at consciousness, and that if I really wanted to know what and who I am I would only have to say it and the lion would be life size. And with this thought—poof! The lion is full-grown, there in my bedroom – the place of intimacy. The lion is frisky, not calm or serene, nipping me – making full contact with its mouth and teeth. And then there are TWO lions…and I feel their intent and pursuit of me. (When TWO shows up in this context I am reminded of the two headed snake, the two headed elephant, the Adam and Eve myth, the Shiva/Shakti story—the duality speaks to the masculine and feminine aspects but also to the sense that the Infinite embodies wholeness and is not in short supply. They come perhaps to represent the creative force of the universe-the ever-generative power of creation from which we are born.) I climb up onto the bed and press myself back into the headboard. I know the inevitable is coming and in the dream I want to feel the solidness of something behind me, bracing me for when it comes. With one stroke the lion tears off my face; there is no pain. Only a true wondering: “What it will be like to live without a face, what it will be like to be seen by others without a face?” And then there is a scene shift – and I am in my ‘living’ room (I have brought this shift into my real life). The lions are there, very lively moving around. And almost in answer to my query of What will it be like, I say aloud, “It is Sunday—(Sunday- the day dedicated to the sacred-the sun, the source of light), and I can finally get to really look at the details—(I can finally look without a mask at all there is to see.)
My intent is not to bash the personality. It is with us as long as we are in human skin. It is shaped by all our life experiences and is part of the way we relate and make our lives work, pursue careers and have families.
My intent is to raise the question about whether we actually have any idea who we are. And if we don't, what is keeping us in hiding.
“The ancient Greeks, in their renowned comedies and tragedies, had their actors portray their characters by holding up masks in front of their faces. The masks were known as “personas”. And so it is. We have come to identify with our “personas” rather than realizing that we are each but mere characters in a divine play. We get to explore life as our character and engage in the game of hide and seek wherein we seek and find the divine in each other and in all things. [But] More often we hide our divinity and hide the divinity of others and all things.”
So to ask the question is to begin to lower the mask, to admit that we don’t actually know what and who we are. And perhaps opens the way for the God within us to reveal a glimpse of our true wealth.
Friend, this is the only way to learn the secret way:
Ignore the paths of others,
Even the saints' steep trails.
Don't journey at all.
Rip the veil from your face.
—SACHAL SARMAST, Translation by Ivan. M. Granger
If you accept the nature of dreams as being from one's Higher Self then it changes the way you view your life and the lives of others. In a sense we lead a double life – Earth and Star – and there is no getting around it. But how we treat ourselves, how we address our missteps – this we have control over. The following dream illuminated how I was seeing myself by giving me the contrast from the 'other side'.
I dream I am a soul named Lawrence. I am looking back at my life, which I am still living but from which I am taking a time-out to look at certain events. In my living I have been somewhat hard on myself and impatient with the parts of my life that are filled with unawareness. When I am on my time-out, however, my view of myself is softer, because I am in a place of Light, and I simply look at the events from my life, saying aloud, "Oh I am in unawareness here, and oh there, and there too." But there is no harshness or despair, simply seeing things for what they are – more or less conscious. Then the scene shifts to me as Patti on Earth and I still remember Lawrence. I understand I have been feeling rough around the edges as I tackle some core issues especially when I look at myself through the bright searchlights of self-criticism as opposed to through the non-judgmental love of my inner light. I get to see—"ah just unawareness here in these areas." I get to see what Lawrence sees. The weight of measurement and self condemnation lifts off my shoulders and heart. It is a relief.
I share the dreams on this blog to illustrate the instructive potential of the realm in dreams. I invite anyone who would like to work with their dreams to submit a dream and I am happy to look at it and see what I can see, of course anonymously.
I wish you a Blessed and belated Thanksgiving holiday.
Taking one’s place, the place that belongs to you. Our dreams tell us exactly where we are in our lives — where we are shy or hesitating or playing small. And they give us exemplars that are not. In the following two dreams which came within 10 days of one another the subject of taking one’s seat or place in life, in the world, came into play.
January 15, 2013 looking for my place
I dream I was teaching in a school-it was a large institute or college. Something has occurred in the school or in the world that was being evaluated at a forum. I was entering the school through a large underground passageway or viaduct. Several students are straggling; other teachers and myself are ushering them along because of the event outside and in. I was going up into stadium-like seating. I see the rows for faculty. I am going to be speaking and I am telling myself that I don’t necessarily need to sit down. I see there are one or two ‘aliens’ in the faculty row. Two large elephant-headed men. They are giving one of the faculty, a man, a hard time for some way he has handled something. They are sitting to either side of the man. There are a number of empty seats around them. I walk toward the aisle not sure if I should sit down, or stay standing. I can see and sense that the conversation with the elephant heads and the other faculty member is very intense and I am not feeling at ease standing near them. I wake up.
In this first dream I am in a teaching position at a secondary institute and there is a forum to address something that has happened in the world or in the school. There is a sense of urgency in the dream to pay attention to something, something that has happened, is happening, of importance. I am in a teaching role with students, ushering students to 'take their seats' for this discussion. So the dream is saying something about taking a seat and addressing something of importance through all these cues right at the beginning of the dream. I am also going to be one of the staff that is speaking. Inside I am feeling very indecisive about what and where and if to sit down. As I am combing the seats for a space I see two elephant-headed men I believe are ‘aliens’ sitting among the faculty. They are sitting to either side of another faculty member, a man, and are in the process of grilling him about the way he has handled something. Elephant-headed, for me, is symbolic for wise beings. The intensity with which they are pressing him is very uncomfortable to watch, mostly because I experience it as if it were happening to me and for this reason would like to keep my distance. So I am stalling sitting down as one of them and stand in the aisle waiting to know what I should do.
Waiting to know what one should do can be a place of power and it can also be a place of non-acknowledgement of what you are already doing. I am already a part of the faculty of this institution and yet I feel uncertain about actually sitting among the faculty. And then on top of it I see that one of my colleagues is being pressed by two very large wise beings to be more masterful in his way of handling things. So I see that it is not enough for me to acknowledge what I am already in the role of doing but I must find my mastery in it and apply it to each and every thing that comes my way. So taking my place is not only partly about assuming my position but involves what kind of commitment I will bring to that position. We are all perpetual learners — students — no matter what else we are doing. And if it happens that you answer your calling with your whole heart you will in effect teach others something of value...taking it to heart what you are learning is the what that you are already teaching. Then one's own teacher becomes internalized and we hear what we need to learn through the wisdom of our own hearts; a wisdom that can be relentless and inescapable, a wisdom that presses in on you from all directions. It is a choice to step into this and embrace it this way and it is also a game changer. To accept that you are in charge and responsible for your own mastery and by your example are teaching others. The man in between the two elephant-headed men is my exemplar. He was not a super savvy bright slick star. He is a hard working ordinary-from-the-outside human being who was being called out for something he had handled unmasterfully. The most important thing about him is that he accepted it. He did not run away or change his seat. He took it. Sometimes this is the most we can do when we are facing a difficult learning.
January 25, 2013
An image of a lion, male, walking out onto a playing field in the bright light of day. The playing field is lush green; you step down onto it from steps off the sidewalk. The playing field is in its own plane. I have never seen it like this in this country, perhaps in Europe. Behind the lion came a dog and perhaps another animals or 2 dogs. Could be a dog and a lamb. It was a level playing field but somehow elevated so you could see the whole area from here where I am standing.
Scene shifts and I am on a train in Europe. There is a banquet taking place in another city that I am going to attend. I am near the passenger seats. There is an elegant woman with an enigmatic smile (reminds me of L) sitting next to the window facing the direction of the movement of the train. There is a ‘gentleman outlaw’ sitting next to L. They are not acquainted. The outlaw says to me about L, “I knew she must be an American because she sat down exactly where she wanted. I always sit in that exact seat. She didn’t even wait to see where I was going to sit, she simply sat where she wanted.” L continued her smile.
Later I am in the banquet room and I have become L’s character. I am a little late to dinner but not really, as it seems to be an ‘eternal buffet’. I am putting a white piece of cake into a glass — I don’t see the plates, and I am taking it to the place I am sitting. I am sure others will want what I am eating. I’ll take the first bites and give the rest to them.
This dream is rich in positive images. A lion steps out onto a level playing field and it is completely in view. The lion is often a symbol for the higher self and is considered auspicious in a dream. A level playing field signals that there is complete equality and equanimity in the situation, nothing is biased against anyone. Everything is possible.
Then the scene shifts and I am on a train going to a destination in another city in Europe where I will be attending a banquet. Another rich image-the banquet- the feast. On the train there is an older woman who reminds me of a friend, L, who has an enigmatic smile. A smile of mystery. The Mona Lisa smile. She says nothing. She doesn’t have to speak; she acts with complete authority without pushing, without self-righteousness. She boldly sits down decidedly in the seat she wants. A “Gentleman Outlaw”, a man who also lives by his own rules but without offensiveness is in the perfect position in a way to comment on L because he is like her. But he is mystified nonetheless. He sees that she is Free. His words are a book in themselves as he comments that she ‘did not wait to see where anyone else wanted to sit’, she simply sat down in the seat she wanted, by the window, the place with the most access to a view and facing in the direction of the movement of the train. What an invitation for a way in which to live one’s life.
The scene shifts again as I arrive in the city where the banquet is being held. Now I have shifted into being the woman character, L. This dream, which is one big summons from start to finish, has imprinted me and I have embraced a new potential embodied by the enigmatic L. I arrive a little late but see it is no problem because this is an ‘eternal buffet’, a dinner, not only where you can serve yourself as much as you want of anything, but a dinner that never ends. As I embrace my new dream character I am also embracing eternity and my own eternal and lawless nature. Again the sense that one could not do anything wrong here in this place as this potential. I help myself to a piece of cake and take it back to where I am sitting so I can offer it to others after taking a few bites. Because I am sure they will all want what I am having.
This is a dream that tells it all. It says, "If you want to know how to live, experience the inner reality of these folks." And I was so imprinted inside the dream itself that I did just that. So that when I woke up I still had the sensation of living in that kind of freedom. This is the magic of a dream.
Dreams often come to us using a metaphorical set of images to get across to us a message or potential trying to manifest in our lives. One such metaphor that has repeated itself in several of my own dreams is ‘getting fitted for new glasses’. There are many ways of ‘looking’ at this metaphor. One way is just acknowledgement that we are seeing on a new level and we need the glasses that go with the depth with which we are seeing. Another way to look at it is there is a growth edge manifesting and we are being asked to ‘step up’ as it were to stay on line with our new potential.
Here are two dreams that came this past spring and summer having to do with getting new glasses. With each one of them there is a sense of self-consciousness, indecision, even irritability and fear showing me that I was not completely comfortable with the new requirements for growth.
April 20, 2015
I dream I am being fitted for a new kind of glasses. Each eye has its own lens and frame—each is very big and independent from the other— they look like camera lenses. Each one fits into the eye. If it fits well it stays in place. A man and a woman are helping me and fitting the new glasses. At times it feels like the experience of trying on shoes. At last we find the right fit and I pay for the glasses. They are somewhat expensive. As I am leaving the store I see myself in the mirror— it is the first time since I got the glasses fitted that I see myself and I am surprised that I have bought these glasses. They are huge and no one else has glasses like these. I look to another woman sitting there-she is very pretty and has these demure looking petit glasses on. I say to the man maybe I would do better with those kinds of glasses. He said you already had those and they weren’t right for you before and that is why you came for these. I say I don’t suppose you return money for glasses you have made just for me. He says no and waves his hand. So I leave with my new glasses. No one seems to notice them but I feel as if people will know that I can really ‘see’ them and they will hate me for it.
This is one of those dreams where you can feel yourself swallow hard when you go to work with it. While it is all fine and good to think you can see things that are going on in life and you can really see people in their innocence and appreciate them. It is quite another to have on a set of glasses that announces to others that you see everything, you see what others don’t want you to see, and that is a game changer. Because it takes a lot of courage to keep these glasses on and to know what and how and if to relay what it is you are seeing. It is a new potential that has a built in responsibility that you know right off the bat that you are not always going to understand how to use. The kind of responsibility that requires a lot of love to go along with it. There are always immediate tests for these kinds of potentials, and in real life they came almost within 24 hours. I was able to feel the strength along with the vulnerability. It is a difficult edge to get past-whether you care more about if people like you OR whether you care about being true to your self and to want to respond to that trueness in integrity and kindness.
In the next dream I am being taken to the ensuing stage of owning these new ways of seeing.
July 15, 2015
I dream I am being fitted for new glasses. My grown children are with me. When the fitting is finished I take the glasses off and they get all out of whack. And the glasses have to be adjusted again. Every time I take the glasses off they get wonky and must be realigned. I am complaining loudly to the man who runs the shop. He is a very elegant man, older, perhaps French. He tsks tsks me and says no, this is the way the glasses are. I begin to cry and say I want to return the glasses and the man says his store never takes glasses back. I am in an overly sensitive state –I have just heard that my former partner is remarrying his first wife. Though I think this makes total sense I still feel very ‘sensitive’ about it. My kids are being themselves with out any reactions. There is a woman, a by-stander, who is saying a word that seems to mean 'transient' or 'impermanent' or 'fugitive'. I wake up.
So in this dream I can see that I am feeling very sorry for myself, and I am resisting a growth edge and complaining loudly and dramatically about it. It is being exacerbated in my mind by another growth edge that I understand and which makes sense to me but which my little self ‘doesn’t like ’— that my former partner is remarrying his first wife. There are many things being modeled to me in this dream. The backdrop, which I say has made me feel emotional and sensitive, is the remarriage of my former partner to his first wife, which hints at a realignment with original Love, in a public and committed way. And then there are the conditions of having these ‘sensitive’ new glasses — that if you take them off they will need to be adjusted before you can wear them again. I am rejecting this idea because it means that I will need to keep the glasses on. I will need to continually see in a new way and that will take a level of maturity I am not accustomed to and have not been stepping up to. My grown children and the shop owner assume I can take this in stride and have no reaction at all to the conditions of the glasses or their sensitivity to being handled. The shop owner admonishes me not for taking the glasses off but for crying about the conditions I have to take into account and he tsks-tsks me like a little child, which is what I am acting like. I am the only one in the dream who seems to be having a problem and because of this when I wake up I see –oh I am being asked to grow up here. The way that I understood the insertion of the word being spoken by the by-standing woman meaning transient and fugitive is that I am in a state of transition from one way of being to another and that this too shall pass.
Although sometimes dreams have a shameless way of presenting things to us we are embarrassed to admit, the truly miraculous aspect is that once we do admit to our own foibles and where we are getting in our own way, there is a shift in us that leads to another level from which to live. Because growth is not accidental, it is part of who we are and why we are here.
In a dream as in real life it is known that we must pay attention when we hear our name called, see our name written, or have the option to sign our name. Something important is taking place that requires our signature. In indigenous and ancient cultures, to know the name of a thing or a person gives you power over it. In other rites of passage, for example, in the sacrament of Confirmation in the Catholic tradition, we choose a new name to represent the most Real part of us. In native traditions the elders or tribe members come to name a person for the attributes that mark them in the most real way.
Thus names have significance.
May 26, 2008 Awakened at 3:33am
I dream I am invited to go on this canoe trip on the Florida coast or some similar coast by these two guys, whom I did a shorter trip with once before. They have emailed me and sent maps. One of the guys is Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee, a Sufi sheik whose writing and presence have a deep affect on me in real life. I stop by to say I am interested. They are talking it up and asking me if I am truly interested. The more they talk about it the more interested I become. I ask them how much it will cost and they tell me about 3800 dollars. I groan and realize I am doing something right before this that will cost about 1000 dollars and realize this is all of my money and I then realize I will probably be moving my home around the same time. But I still want to do it and I wonder what life will do to help with the money and then realize “I have all the money I need for the trip.” That somewhat amuses me in the dream because I hear the words "I have everything I need." They are like a soothing balm. In the emails from the men there are maps and I think I get 4 urgent emails one right after another, the last one is asking me the spelling of my name. I laugh because he, LVL, has already written my name our on the first email which I scroll up to look at and it is spelled perfectly. PATTI TRONOLONE— it is written in capital letters and centered at the top of the page. When I am there with LVL and the other man and we are talking in person, I am envisioning the trip so vividly I even see myself getting my hair cut at one of the coastal stops. Then I realize this is going to be longer than 2 weeks. I am so interested and I realize I have never given myself to anything like this before. It is a mystery and the maps are full color outlining the beautiful fractal edges of the coastline up and down and on all sides of this place. I feel ready to say yes to them and then I wake up.
Seeing one’s name written in a dream has a very interesting and powerful effect. In a way, unlike other dream experiences, you know that something in this dream is coming so particularly for you, it is an indescribable closeness and the feeling of attention rises without having to do anything consciously about it. The dream is focused on my interest and commitment to pay everything that I currently have in order to take this trip. It is a dream asking me for a commitment, not out of extra resources which could be seen as an amusement, but from my only resources. It doesn’t hide the fact that I will be giving everything over in order to take this trip. And then I “see” the trip as if it has already taken place, as if it is a completion of a prior knowledge. I see my hair being cut, often symbolic of the personality getting shorn, and I see the beauty and intricacy of the shoreline, as I canoe around every inch of its fractal edge. I am being shown that I will consent to be on a voyage that takes into account every nuance of the life journey and be made conscious of it.
January 16, 2009
I dream I am in a prison with many people, men and women. It is known that some of us are going to be freed soon. Perhaps in the next day. There is a woman who had a child secretly while she was there and she is trying to conceal the baby during her release. And there is a sort of distancing from her like we are stepping back from our attachment to her, except for this guy. He doesn’t seem to know or he is acting as if he doesn’t, meaning he has not withheld any loving attention from her. Everyone else seems to know that she will be found out and that she and the baby will have to disappear, as we recall another woman in the past had done. The guy seems to be very fond of her-they are both from Brazil and are planning to meet up afterward. The woman is very loving and singing to her baby. The man is passing around a paper to those of us that are leaving to put our contact info on it. I think to myself that he will be sad if the woman and child disappear, as he is clearly so fond of them. On the sheet where I am to sign there is just a P with a check sign next to it. I sign my name and when I get to the last 3 letters I write the wrong letters and I have to correct it with quotation marks like this:
Patti Tronoldhe“one”. On seeing the word “One” as part of my name, I wake up.
It is our mind in our lives, which imprisons most of us— how we see ourselves, how we see others and the world. This dream involves seeing that one’s time in prison is coming to an end. In this particular prison a woman has had a baby. So we see that even in prison or perhaps especially in prison the generative and life giving forces are still at work! And she is a very loving and generous mother. The group-thinking in the prison, according to my dream character, is that this makes her dangerous, even though she has kept the object of her love a secret. And everyone, except for the man who truly loves her, creates a little distance from her. "We" have seen at least one other like her and she has disappeared. In dream language this is the preview of awakening being painted for you. A woman, who has given birth to love within and despite the confines of a prison existence becomes free. And she is loved beyond any binding of fear or attempts to distance from her.
And then my dream character is required within the dream to sign her own name, before she, too, is freed, because it is desired for continual contact. Initially, my dream character signs her name incorrectly, she does not see the correct ending to her name, in a sense from not paying attention, but in reality she does not know who and what she is. So in fact she she gets to see that she has misnamed herself and the dream allows her cross out the misspelling and sign again. And then she sees the word “one” that is the true ending of her own name and upon seeing it she wakes up.
When we find out who and what we really are and that we are truly part of something that binds all of us together as one fabric, and that one fabric is made from the energy and cosmic force of Love, we wake up from our prison of isolation and we are freed.
I would like to present two dreams. Both dreams employ a kind of foretelling quality. These dreams stop the mind from its usual ability to make sense of things and grounds one in the immediacy of another reality. Because in order to get a sense of the dreams you must inhabit a greater presence. The point is not always to understand some literal explanation of a dream but to embody the reality that is offered in the dream, to value it enough to try it on. The first dream came shortly after I moved back to Taos New Mexico in 2007. The dream arrived in the night of Christmas Eve, an auspicious time for such a startling dream.
December 24, 2007 Facing the impossible
I dream I am with an older woman and man who are a couple and a young child. We are out in nature having a good time together. Then we come back to the home of this family. The young girl and I are playing in her room. She lays down on top of me naked face to face. I can feel all my sexual energy arise thru my body. It is incredibly delicate, sensual and sweet. And very subtle. She and I kiss and stay in that position. Then I prepare to leave and the mother and the father bring me home in their car.
At home I am in my house. This house was new from the one I previously lived in . And with me in the house lives a young boy – an adolescent. He is using the dryer and that annoys me and I think it is because I have a lot of laundry to do as well, but in reality I carry a burden. In the dream I know that I am going to have to deal with an enormous task—one I have done before, and I am facing this task with much dread. There is a sense that because I did it once before, I know all the aspects of it and the fact of these aspects is weighing heavily on me.
My horse, which is in the house, downstairs, is going to die and I have to skin the horse and remove the head by myself and carry it upstairs. The older couple has told me it will be all okay but I am feeling overwhelmed by the task and feel strongly that I need help to do it. The young man in the house –they have told me to get his help and I say, “He is useless.” I am left alone to my task. I wake up.
This dream filled me with a sense of foreboding because there is no getting around the fact of the enormous task. A task that filled me with a kind of horror that such a thing would be my responsibility. So all sorts of bells went off upon waking--outrage, disbelief and fear. That a reality like this was on my plate. What did it mean and why had it shown up now? There is no explanation in the dream to make the task understandable and that adds to its sense of magnitude.
Interestingly the dream starts out with an encounter, a transmission so to speak, with Innocence, Eros and Guidance. We often assign innocence to childhood and forget about it as we grow older. But I have come to see innocence as a quality of the soul--the original and indelible condition of being a human being. The qualities of the soul are interwoven, one cannot take away one without ripping in half another. Eros is the generative life force in a human being’s existence. John O'Donohue has written beautifully and profoundly in his book, "Anam Cara", about the sacred nature of Eros. He says, "that the body is the Angel of the soul, that the body is our only true home on earth." He goes on to say, "that the senses are the thresholds of the soul—to be sensual or sensuous is to be in the presence of your own soul." He quotes Wordsworth who wrote in his respect for the senses, "Pleasure is the tribute we owe to our dignity as human beings."
These are the gifts silently acknowledged by my dream character as the unusual and touching experiences they were. These gifts from the child became conscious through my experience of her and thus became part of the tool kit with which I was to face the task I was going home to do. And the fact is that I had somehow done it all before. And in that way my dream character is free of illusion. But she is focused on the difficulty she knows is ahead of her. In the greater Reality, the home of the unconscious, there is no time. Everything we have done and will do in our lives already exists there. It is the occupying of time that makes things arduous. So in a way when we pierce time and draw from the realm of complete Possibility we gather ourselves anew. This dream was in a way a heralding and a summoning of strength for a task that was about to begin—an undertaking both sobering and daunting but ultimately liberating.
The hidden character is the horse. He is dying. It seems that he must. When I think of a horse I think of power. So for the sake of the dream I can say that the vehicle of my power that I have known up until now is dying…and in the ritual of its dying I have to cut off its head, the egoic center, and skin it, making it completely vulnerable to life and carry it up from downstairs. There is a sense of the “descent” necessary to do this task and a bringing it up into the light of day to complete it.
The character of the young boy, the adolescent, in whom I place not a shred of appreciation, is in fact the unknown gem the older couple advises me to obtain help from. When you consider an adolescent and what they are capable of it is surprising that our culture does not find more ways to include their contributions to our society. They have no ambition outside of being alive; they are honest, completely self-involved and available to the new. They are strong, and somewhat fearless, and are willing in most regards to try most anything. In working with this dream I saw that I needed to locate these characteristics within myself, to rally in myself Innocence, Eros and adolescent fearlessness and strength. To find my inner resourcefulness and hutzpah to undertake this next chapter in my life. The dream alerted me to be ready for the impossible.
In reality this chapter of my life has been an 8-year passage into my unconscious. Once again I quote John O'Donohue: "The unconscious is a powerful and continuous presence. Every life lives out of and struggles with this inner night, which casts its challenging and fecund shadow over everything we do and think and feel...This work of freedom is slow ad unpredictable; yet it is precisely at this threshold that each individual is the custodian and subject of their own transfiguration."
It was and has been indeed a formidable but very worthwhile undertaking. It has changed me; it has changed my life from the inside out.
This next dream seems to occupy the complete other end of the spectrum.
July 31, 2010 Eating Elephant
In my dream I am in a beautiful city park somewhere. Apparently, at this time, it is known by everyone that the world has run out of food and water and we are being asked to eat elephant. I feel no surprise in the dream at this and in fact I am laughing and joking with someone and saying, "I cannot possibly eat another plate of elephant”. There were all these tubs of elephant meat lying around the park. I didn’t feel hungry. The groundskeeper was a very matter-of-fact guy –he just did his work and didn’t seem affected by anything outside himself. I enjoyed his way of being and I trusted him. I am traveling via an electric pushcart that is attached to the back of me. It can go in all directions including up and down stairs. End of dream.
Here in this dream we are presented with what should have been the worst of all possible scenarios... something has happened to make it possible we no longer eat food and drink water as we have in our known histories. It has the feel of the future in the dream. A potential is making itself known. We are being nourished by elephant. Once again we have an animal coming that’s uniquely symbolic. When I think about the elephant I am first struck by its size, its power and its intelligence. The elephant is the most powerful animal in the world, it communicates over long distances, it is aware of its family and tribe and uses its memory to lead its own and other animal species along pathways to hidden water supplies. In Hindu astrology he is Ganesh, a Divine being capable of removing any obstacle, a Being of great wisdom.
In this dream the elephant has become the sole source of nourishment for the world. As I step into these qualities the elephant has brought up in me I have to ask myself the question– how would it be to live my life this way, and for this to be the sole way in which I draw nourishment and what would it look like for the world to do this, what things would change?
The park groundskeeper is my model of how to work with such an extreme change. He does not make a big deal out of anything. He goes about his work, he is pleasant and uncomplaining and not affected by outside circumstances. In the dream I travel easily in all directions aided by an electric cart attached to my back, my hands are free. It is a dream of great mystery, it leaves a scent in the air of jewels to mine.
Like the first dream, this dream holds these mysterious elements – the tools I need to embody, to nourish myself in these times of great change. Power, wisdom, strength, remembering, compassion for all the species of Earth, making clear the path, flexibility, and the ability to move creatively in any direction.
This dream encouraged me to read a book called "Elephantoms" by distinguished biologist and naturalist, Lyall Watson. His autobiographical book followed his life long passion for elephants, his first original unexplainable encounter with one, their own fate in his native land of South Africa, and what he came to learn from them. There is an amazing scene at the end of this book where he witnesses one of the last known elephants of his region in a cordoned off reserve park in South Africa communicating with a whale.
“Do everything from love, especially the things you are afraid of.”