Monthly Archives

October 2015

conversations on letting go
Blog Dreamsharing October 27, 2015

Conversations on letting go. Yes, it’s time for those difficult conversations. But first, I’ve been away and I apologize for that. My mother has been diagnosed with a form of dementia and that is a huge transition for her and for me. If you are only interested in dreams and dreaming, then you will find tons of posts on that topic that will find helpful and interesting, but if I’m going to be honest in my blogging, I have to admit my head is in a different space right now….though this post does touch on my dreams. I hope you will hang in there with me to the end…….

If you read my September 20, 2015 post on death entitled “In Which Patti Learns Her Dream Job, you will know that I am dipping my toes in the waters of grief and bereavement professionally. Not a moment too soon. My mother isn’t actively dying yet (let’s face it, we are all one step closer to death every day), but I feel like I’m watching her die in slow motion. She doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia that many are unfortunately familiar with, but she likely has vascular dementia, or “vascular cognitive impairment [VCI]”. I say likely because the psychiatrist that diagnosed her didn’t bother to go into those details and is more interested in the cocktail of drugs that will hold down her paranoid delusions and keep her behaviour stable. She still reads, remembers details and knows who we are but her lucidity is interrupted by agitation, delusions and difficulty finding the right words or confusion that the doctors say will increase over time. The mother I know is disappearing. And this is sad beyond words.


Not that my mother is perfect but she’s the only mother I have in this life and I do love her, difficult personality and all. So I find I’m grieving the loss of who she was as well as the loss of the perfect mother I wanted. Have you been there? If you are reading this (I still wonder who reads these blog posts or if they are wandering in cyberspace, only to be read by some aliens, 2000 light years in my future.) feel free to share your experiences with losing a parent to dementia in the comments below.

As all this was unfolding over the summer-  though for a few years, really- I dreamt that,

I am teaching or leading a group and many of the Dream Association members are there. My mother calls on the phone and without pausing to say “hello” she launches into a long story about her latest problem. I finally succeed in interrupting her and tell her that, “I can’t talk now. I have a group.” She doesn’t stop talking and I ask, “What happened to my real mother?” I mention that in the past, my mother would have said, “Ok, call me when you’re done and then hang up.” EOD [End of Dream]

And another dream fragment,

I dream that mom is able to walk [which she cannot do in waking life] but is a very small version of herself, maybe 4′ tall. [EOD]

There have been other dreams which I believe are helping me process the changes. Even when my mother doesn’t appear in my dreams, the issues do. In my dreams I am making decisions, choosing between this or that. I have my typical anxiety dreams, where I’m not ready for whatever the dream action presents. In another dream, I am attacked by a doctor’s son. I fight tooth and nail but no one comes to my aid. I think that about says it all.

In our death-phobic society, no one really wants to talk about death, but even more shocking is that no one wants to talk about grief and letting go. What I’m experiencing is “anticipatory grief” and very few people want to talk about that except for professionals in that field! “At least your mom is still with you.” “At least she still knows who you are.” There are often a lot of unhelpful platitudes offered family members going through this.  Short of support groups, who are doing great work by the way, I would love to start an on-going conversation in the general population about grief, loss and letting go. After all, we ALL will experience loss. And loss can be about things other than death. The loss of a job, loss of a relationship or friendship, the loss of health, and even the loss of hopes and dreams are all losses! Admittedly there are a few organizations who are helping people talk about loss, but let’s move the conversations on letting go and loss out into those crazy “interwebs”…where you found this post!


Inspirational Dreamers
Blog Inspirational Dreamers October 16, 2015

Jenny Alexander

Jenny Alexander is a true Inspirational Dreamer- a prolific author and creative tutor who uses dreams in her writing practice and teaches creative dream-working for writers as well as more mainstream workshops on the art and craft of writing. Her first book was published in 1994 and since then she has written scores of fiction and non-fiction books for children and several for adults. Her adult books include two practical handbooks for writers, Writing in the House of Dreams and When a Writer Isn’t Writing: How to Beat Your Blocks, Be Published and Find Your Flow.

Do you remember any childhood dreams? If so, what’s the earliest?

When I was about five years old, I dreamt I was riding along my road on a horse-and-cart, on a sunny summer day. The horse was trotting happily, and the cart was full-to-overflowing with gold coins that jumped and jingled and sparkled in the sun. Everyone came out of their houses to wave as I went by. I liked that dream so much that I used to deliberately go back into it every night, as soon as I closed my eyes. It made me fall asleep with a smile on my face.

When did you first get interested in understanding your dreams? How did that unfold for you?

When I was in my second year of university I started having nightmares about killing myself, waking up at the point when I was about to put my finger in the light socket, or turn on the gas, or jump off a high building. One night I woke to find that I had indeed climbed out of my third-floor window in my sleep and was, as I’d been dreaming, standing on the ledge outside. I thought my dreams were trying to kill me. It didn’t occur to me that I could try to understand them until I went into therapy after my sister’s suicide, a few years later. I told the psychiatrist about the terrifying dreams I’d had and was still having, and he encouraged me to record them and bring them to our sessions.

How did dreams play a role in your life, whether in decision making or in healing?

Dreams have always played a huge role in my life. They provide depth and context for my waking experience, but I only interpret my dreams if the interpretation is obvious, and then it doesn’t feel like a process of interpretation so much as a conversation between close friends. Just as important to me is the opportunity dreams offer to go beyond waking life into a completely different and unrelated world, which can only happen when we let go of the idea of interpreting and treat them as experiences for the self, in exactly the same way as we treat the experiences of waking life.

If you could give one piece of advice to those who are just starting to listen to their dreams, what would it be?

Simply that. Listen. Be receptive. Observe. Don’t demand explanations and try to manipulate meanings. Be patient. Meaning will emerge naturally over time, as you begin to see how and where your dreams resonate with your waking experiences, as well as how and where they don’t.

Anything else you’d like to share about dreams?

Dreams are pure imaginative substance; if you can let go of looking for psychological explanations they can be an endless, vibrant source of inspiration and ideas for creative work.


You can reach Jenny through her website: or her blog:

Inspirational Dreamers
Inspirational Dreamers October 2, 2015

Gayle Delaney

Do you remember any childhood dreams? If so, what’s the earliest?

I know I had some, but I thought nothing of them. I thought dreams were nothing particularly of interest. I didn’t think evil of them, I just didn’t hear about dreams from anyone.

When did you first get interested in understanding your dreams? How did that unfold for you?

I was living in France and when visiting home, my boyfriend gave me Edgar Cayce’s book, The Sleeping Prophet. It wasn’t something I wanted to read but if you ask for a recommendation, you owe it to that person to read it. I read it and had a knockout dream that ended all my existential angst. I woke up from that and was no longer anxious about the meaning of life, social or spiritual enlightenment. I got enough to know that life is just fine and my job is to bring cheer in life. And that underlying the real pain and disgusting wretchedness of life is joy and beauty and it’s my job to work at that….I was convinced and liberated from worrying about the meaning of life. That was 1970. It was a very liberating dream! That dream was extraordinary. I had rosy cheeks for 3 weeks and that wasn’t typical for me! That’s what turned me on to dreams. After that dream, which needed no interpretation, I wondered how come our educational system doesn’t teach this? I knew nothing about it [dreams] and only read silly things about dreams.

How did dreams play a role in your life, whether in decision-making or in healing?

Yes, in every aspect of life! Career choice for one. I was going to go back to Princeton in fund-raising (I thought I should make a living). I had dream after dream telling me, “No, don’t do it!” When I said yes to the radio job (the first satellite radio show in Seattle) I had a dream that basically congratulated me for my decision.

In my relationships… Dreams helped me divorce. Dreams helped me get over my guilt at leaving a good man.

Dreams to help me [ice] skate better. On buying houses….not psychic dreams, but dreams that help me think better. My dreams have never given me a bum steer and I’ve used them tons in my life. But I only use them when it makes sense to me in waking. I have ignored dreams that said, “Absolutely don’t be in a relationship with this guy.” A wonderful man….But I decided on my own, in my own time…but the dream was right! And eventually they helped me through it.

They have helped me with diet, health, exercise…. My dreams have given me “B12 shots” Metaphorical energy –accelerating my perception of beauty and love.

If you could give one piece of advice to those who are just starting to listen to their dreams, what would it be?

Don’t let anyone tell you what your dream means. Don’t become a follower. Figure it out for yourself. (There are ways to do that.) Don’t follow other people’s (or other systems’ and theories’) interpretations. Find a way to know what it means that holds true in all your dreams and your waking consciousness. Learn to understand metaphor.

Dr. Delaney can be reached at