One of my favorite things to do during my stay at the ashram was to wander through the forests.
On one of my adventures I came across an unusual looking butterfly. It had a decent wingspan of about 3 inches dark brown with yellow edges. There were big blue dots lining the outer expanse of the wings.
What stood out for me was the body. I took a photo and then brought the image up on the camera. I am always looking for faces or character images in things. This butterfly didn’t disappoint. It reminded me of a shaman surrounded by a cloak. His head was bent in prayer or sadness. The image is pretty clear on the face and body.
I have done some digital graphics with the photos I took that day and played around with the butterflies artistic potential. I was drawn to its vibe of reserve.
I came across an article on the Mourning Cloak and could understand a bit more why it caught my interest.
The butterfly, itself, lives longer than most butterflies. It can live up to 12 months, coming out of aestivation in summer and then hibernating again in the winter until early spring. When the weather turns cold it replaces some of the water stored in its body to anti-freeze-like chemicals such as glycols. It then rests under a cavity or tree camouflage until spring.
The name, Mourning Cloak Butterfly, is thought to symbolize someone who wears a cloak of mourning a loved one. The native symbolism believes that the dark colored wings represent death while the white spots on the tips of the wings represent hope and new beginnings. The Mourning Cloak is considered a spiritual creature who can guide you to safety or direct you home if you become lost. As a totem it is believed to teach you about the importance of griefing and recognition of loss.
On further exploration, I came across some information tied to the celtic goddess Brighid. She is the goddess of fire, healing and inspiration. It is believed that Brighid brings new life and hope and is often seen as the Mourning Cloak butterfly. I like that.
My name, Vanessa, means “a group of butterflies”. I am drawn often to insects as I hike or travel. The amazing designs of nature alway make for a fascinating muse.
Do you remember watching “The Jetsons” as a kid? They were the complete opposite of “The Flintstones”. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, “The Jetsons” was a cartoon about a futuristic world where we’d all have robot servants and transport ourselves via individual spaceships rather than cars.
I’ve been thinking about that show quite a lot lately.
I remember 25 years ago when I was starting my career as an instructional designer. Getting my first Palm Pilot made me feel like I was “with the times”. You’d have to be close to my age to remember these, but these devices were able to track contacts, notes, to-dos, AND sync it to a desktop computer! Whoa! It did away with paper DayTimers. It was revolutionary.
Fast forward 25 years. The phone I carry in my pocket has more computing power than my first desktop computer (probably, several of my first desktop computers). I can run my entire business from it. If I didn’t fear repetitive strain injury for my thumbs, I could write my storyboards, communicate with clients, do my banking, stay in touch with friends, take photos, create videos, and so much more (because I know I’m not using my phone to its full capabilities) with something I carry – In. My. Pocket.
We’re in an age where self-driving cars are becoming a reality. We can watch air traffic with an app (which is how I found out Martin’s flight home last week was re-directed to Edmonton after circling around Calgary for 40 minutes). I can pay bills, visit with friends, and buy groceries without leaving my house.
I remember when getting a cordless phone was a big thing. My first cell phone was the size of a brick and carried in a bag. For years, I was adamant I only wanted a mobile phone for emergency purposes. Now, I base my upgrade decisions on the camera capabilities because I dislike dragging my DSLR on vacations.
Given how much technology has advanced in the past 25 years, it makes me wonder – what will it look like 25 years from now?
I’d really like those individual flying machines to get around, but I’m not so sure I want robots living with me (no, I don’t own a Roomba).
Dreams are a mysterious and fascinating aspect of human experience. I’ve been intrigued by Vanessa’s accounts of dream yoga.
When we sleep, our brains create vivid and often bizarre scenarios that can feel just as real as waking life. Have you ever had dreams where you are in a familiar place, yet it’s not one you recognize, with people from different times in your life? I often wake up thinking, “What was going on in my head last night?”
There are several types of dreams, including lucid dream and prophetic dreams. Lucid dreams are those in which the dreamer is aware that they are dreaming and can often control the dream’s narrative. I’ve had lucid dreams, but I’ve never been able to control the dream’s narrative. It’s as though I’m in the dream and watching it at the same time.
Prophetic dreams are those that seem to predict the future. I’ve had a few experiences where, after dreaming something three times, it has come true. The one that stands out the most that showed me my dog was going to win the Canadian Flat-Coated Retriever Nationals. I dreamt that I was at a teacher conference and my dog was with his handler. I recall walking down a flight of stairs and having people congratulate me on Riker’s win. This was the third time I’d dreamt of him winning. The other occasions must not have been as significant as I can’t recall them.
There are several theories of dream interpretation, including Freudian theory, Jungian theory, and cognitive theory. According to Freudian theory, dreams are expressions of unconscious desires and conflicts. Jungian theory posits that dreams are a way to connect with the collective unconscious. Cognitive theory suggests that dreams are a way to process and consolidate memories.
If I had to choose, I lean towards the cognitive theory. I think dreams are a way of processing and consolidating information in our minds. I also think it’s a way for the mind to figure out what it wants to store and toss out the rest.
Whenever I’m under stress, I have dreams of being a student and having to write an exam for which I’m not prepared. Or, I have dreams that feel as though I’m in a movie and being chased. I’m sure Freud and Jung could have a field day with those. For me, they’re a reminder that I need to take a step back and look at changes needed to live a more balanced life.
What dreams do you recall? Have you had a prophetic dream? I’d love to hear about it.
I awoke yesterday morning to the doorbell ringing on the side door. I did come out of my coma in enough time to realize that someone was at my door. I sleep with earplugs that work exceptionally well and it takes me a bit of time to come fully awake.
I jumped out of bed, quickly put some clothes on and head to the door only to see a policeman walking away. I catch up with him as he comes around the block again.
The neighbour’s car has been stolen out of their backyard while they left it running to heat up for a few minutes. The police wonder if I noticed anything. I was oblivious unfortunately as I slept soundly.
As the day progresses I have the opportunity to speak with the neighbors and take a walk around my yard. I notice footprints to my front door, carport door, sidegate, garage and shed. There are more footprints by each of the vehicles parked outside our home.
It’s becoming very clear that someone wanted to pay me a visit as I slept. When this was unsuccessful they went to the neighbors house. The neighbors said that a woman came to their house in the early hours of the morning. They tried to gain access through their patio door in the back. The neighbor just happened to be up and asked them what they wanted. Boldly the woman said she had left her backpack in their basement and wanted to retrieve it. He didn’t let her inside. He noticed that she had a cab waiting in the front of his house. A cab? She had taken a cab to his house to try and rob him. The cab took off and left her there. She panicked and took off on foot. The neighbor thought that was the end of it and went back to bed.
Later, that morning, as they were getting ready for work the lady came back. She got in the vehicle that had been left running and attempted to drive away. She backed up into the alley and hit another neighbor’s cement block fence. She was able to drive away but one of the kids from the home got in his car and pursued her. He didn’t find her. After driving around a bit they did eventually find the stolen vehicle and reported its whereabouts to the police.
Why tell you all of this?
I have two more sessions of the Dream Yoga series left to attend. In the practice there is a method you can use that involves working with a “Waking Dream”. A Waking Dream is one that occurs live and in living color. An event that happens while you are fully conscious that you wish to explore for any insights it might have for you.
The first thing I noticed was the fact that I slept through the entire ordeal. The car crashing into the concrete fence happened less than 30 feet from my bedroom window. I heard nothing through my earplugs.
Someone was trying to get into my house throughout the night and morning. They were attempting to access my “safe space” when I was most vulnerable.
In my Dream Yoga session last night, I looked for parallel symbols between my Concrete Dream and the Waking Dream.
In the Concrete Dream, the little girl had told me that I didn’t know the dangers here.
Do you need to know all of the possible dangers in your environment?
When does fear of the unknown become overwhelming?
I have lived at this address for almost 40 years. We have seen many changes to the neighbourhood. My kids grew up here and I felt safe enough in the 1990’s to let them walk to school and play unattended. I never, until recently, felt fearful of hanging in my yard. When outside I am always aware of who is around. This is something I would not have considered twenty years ago. I can stay in my house and worry about who might be lurking around the corner of the garage or I can live my life.
I choose to live my life and use my yoga practices to calm any anxiety that might arise. It helps.
Every night before I go to sleep I repeat the Divine Light Mantra.
I am created by divine light
I am surrounded by divine light
I am protected by divine light
I am sustained by divine light
I am ever growing into divine light
It helps me to go to sleep.
The city of Lethbridge has grown and the population has diversified. There are good things coming to fruition and plenty of bad things going on like any other urban community. The homeless numbers have intensified and they seem to have become bolder. Across the street from my house many have hung out in the past and did drugs right out in the open with little consequence. Phoning the police usually doesn’t amount to anything. You have a drug service come and pick them up but they just come back.
Breaking through the concrete…
Concrete gives you a sense of solid security against danger. In the Concrete Dream, the little girl trusts her carefully crafted cement steps. She doesn’t have to guess where they lead because she already has explored the path many times. It’s a practical existence that is perceived as being safe and secure but with enough force, the mixture can crumble or crack and the sense of safety collapses.
Outside forces want in. They will try as many access points to gain entry as is needed.
What are you going to do about it?
We will beef up our security systems for sure but one thing I refuse to do is live in fear or move away from the home that my husband and I have created here. To sustain a healthy mind and spirit, you have to manage fear. It’s important to be aware of danger to a certain point but letting it control your life can become crippling.
The neighbor said later that day that the lady who stole the car was let go immediately with a notice to appear in court on a certain day. There really wasn’t any consequence to what had happened. That is another discussion that I am not going to embellish here.
It was Sharon’s birthday yesterday. Happy belated birthday my friend!
As I reflect on Sharon, I am drawn to her strength and bravado. She has had a lot to deal with over the years that I have known her. Instead of falling apart she stood her ground, defending her position and marched forward. Her head was held high and she moved with grace and determination like no one I have ever been friends with. We have both been through heartache, death, trying to raise balanced human beings and navigate all sorts of relationships with family, partners, work and friendships.
What has stayed firm is our friendship and I am grateful for that. I am a firm believer that people are placed in your life for a reason. You need only pay attention to reap the benefits of the interactions. I had no notion of Sharon when we first started working together. I knew nothing about her or her life. We seemed to be like Ying & Yang and yet through our differences we were curious about what made each who we are.
I am a couple of years older than Sharon but not by much! The more we explore our lives the abundance of nuggets meld into our pot of golden thoughts and threads.
As readers I recommend going back on some of the older blogs to get to know Sharon more if you haven’t already. She is candid and unfiltered in the story of her life so far. We have both decided that transparency is the best way to operate within this blog world.
Women supporting each other and listening with open hearts and minds.j
So here’s to you Sharon! Happy belated birthday and a heartfelt toast to your future and our continuing friendship.
There is something about a winter storm brewing outside that makes you want to snuggle up with a good read, a hot beverage and a warm blanket. It’s volunteer day for me at the food bank and I am contemplating how to get out of it. There is over a foot of fresh snow on the ground and the sidewalk has not been shovelled out yet. My car is buried in the white stuff and I haven’t been feeling very well.
Then it hits me. I think about the “NFA’s” (the food bank personnel call those with Not Fixed Address this acronym). It was a long weekend and it might be busy and part of me is curious as to who will show up today. My FOMO rears its head and I get my but outside to dig out my car.
It’s interesting to observe the NFA clientele. A guy came in with shorts and crocs today. On his way out he took off his shoes and walked out into the snow barefoot. You can tell that many are suffering from frostbite with their fingers all taped up or parts of their extremities purple or deep red. I help some of them open the plastic bags as they are impossible to get the two sides to separate. I am surprised at how many have reusable bags they carry with them.
Their modes of transportation vary and some of them are very inventive as to how they carry their things around with them. The hampers are presented in boxes but many take the food staples out of the boxes and stuff their backpacks, wagons, and collapsible containers to overflowing.
One of the men was greeted with big smiles as it was mentioned that they hadn’t seen him for over 3 months and was concerned that he wasn’t ok.
There was a dismal selection of extra staple items this week. The choices vary from day to day and you never know what shows up mid shift. You have to think all your selections through carefully when you don’t have access to things like a stove or even a can opener.
You would have to have a very strong desire to survive in my opinion if you lived on the streets in a place where it can drop to minus 35 in a single day.
The more hours I spend helping these souls pick what’s for dinner tonight the more curious I become about their stories.
Dream Yoga conclusion. A conversation with the little girl
Conclusion to Concrete Dream Series…for now
I enjoy reading fellow bloggers’ thoughts. I came across a sentence that mentioned that doing things out of obligation or guilt can not be sustained. When you act out of love it’s repeatable.
Love is a renewable resource.
I have done many things in my life out of a sense of duty.
How wonderful it is to change the way I think about what I chose to do in service of others.
This week, in the Dream Yoga class (hosted by Yasodhara Ashram), I committed to explore further the people in my Concrete Dream. I decided to zoom in on a conversation I had in the dream with the little white haired girl when I first approached her on the stairwell in the stadium.
“ I ask the little girl if she is lost?”
She replies “you don’t know the dangers here”. She says she can’t trust me.
I am stunned and quick to negate her.
I feel that I missed out on being curious about what she meant by “the dangers” and why she couldn’t trust me. My dream self didn’t give her a chance to explain before rushing in with a response.
There is a practice that I can do that enables me to speak with the child through asking questions and then recording the response through journaling. Since both characters in the dream are representative of my personality traits I can both ask and answer the queries until I come to a point that I feel is conclusive.
I decided to take my van out for a drive, park in the coulees close to my home and lit some incense I had brought back from Bali. Breathing in the aromatic air I quickly sunk into a comfortable space.
Pen in hand with plenty of paper to gather my responses I decided on my first question.
What dangers are here that I don’t know about?
If I put myself out there and deviate from the safe and comfortable stairwell I am on I will get stuck again. I will become anxious and want to retreat. I will find myself back in the stairwell moving through life compelled by guilt and a sense of duty. You do your best work when it’s focused on someone else’s needs instead of ours.
How can I become aware and change my thoughts and behaviors to mitigate getting stuck?
I am quick to act impulsively. It’s my life that is being affected so what’s the rush?
Is this impulsive behavior what I meant by not being able to trust?
Yes, in part. The intuitive better response is there and I do come to understand it eventually. Often though, it’s after I have acted upon something and not before.
How long do I have to wait?
Patience is a suit that I could wear more often.
In the red tube in the dream, I get stuck and retreat. If I led with my heart open would I have made it to the blue seats?
There are many ways to get to the “blue seats”. They are not the destinations per say but places to rest along the way. Treat them like markers in the journey. When I need a moment to regroup or a reminder to rely on my practices or tools I should think of them.
My questions and responses continue for a while until I am satisfied with a “concrete” understanding of the missed opportunity in my dream conversation with the little girl.
I can imagine her smiling at me. She is feeling heard and understood. I am even beginning to think that she trusts me just a bit more than she did before.
Love is a renewable resource. Loving myself enough to seek out awareness of why I do the things I do, feel the way I feel and say the things I say is a gift of compassion to me.
I hope you have enjoyed this dream series. I find the practices extremely helpful to unlocking the inner guru.
Martin is home tonight and has three weeks of vacation. Since we aren’t going anywhere this year, I thought I’d ask ChatGPT for some date night ideas.
Have a picnic: Pack a basket of your favorite foods and head to a nearby park or beach for a romantic picnic.
It’s winter in Alberta. No picnics for us for a few months.
Cook together: Spend the evening cooking your favorite meal together. Choose a recipe you both love or try something new.
Cooking is Martin’s thing. He likes to do it alone. I can choose the recipe and go shopping with him, but he insists the kitchen is his domain.
Go for a hike: Find a scenic hiking trail and spend the day exploring the outdoors together.
Yes, we do this on mild days. However, our definition of “mild” differs.
Have a game night: Stay in and have a game night. Play board games, card games, or video games together.
This is something we often do. We love playing chess, Monopoly, cards, and Wii games.
Take a dance class: Sign up for a dance class together and learn a new style of dance. It’s a fun way to get active and spend quality time together.
Hell will freeze over before Martin ever agrees to a dance lesson! It works in my favour. He wants to go ice-skating on the lake. I’ve skated as a kid and I don’t like it. I told him I’ll skate when he dances.
Have a movie night: Rent a movie or stream one on your favorite platform and cozy up on the couch together.
We do this. The trick is finding a movie he won’t fall asleep to while watching it.
Try a new restaurant: Go out to a new restaurant and try something different. This is a great opportunity to try new foods and explore new places.
We don’t go to new restaurants often. We have a couple of places where live music is played and we like to go there.
Go stargazing: Find a spot away from city lights and spend the evening stargazing together.
We did this when we were in Mexico and Hawaii last year. We don’t do it much at home.
Have a spa night: Pamper yourselves with a spa night at home. Give each other massages, put on face masks, and enjoy a relaxing evening together.
Funny thing – Martin likes giving me massages but he’s not a fan of them for himself. I’ll see if I can talk him into a face mask.
Take a mini-vacation: Take a weekend trip to a nearby city or town and explore a new place together. This is a great opportunity to create new memories and have an adventure together.
We did this two years ago and we’re doing it again in a couple of weeks. We also like to take day-long road trips to explore the small towns around us.
I’m taking some time today to explore ChatGPT and what it has to offer. I’m always looking for new things I can incorporate into my work.
I decided to ask it for advice on elder care. This is the response. I have to say – it is ‘spot on’ from my experience. I like how the last three points are for the caregiver and not solely the elder.
Caring for an elderly loved one can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Here are some tips for elder care:
Get organized: Create a care plan and schedule to help you manage your loved one’s needs, appointments, and medications. This will help you stay on top of things and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Communicate: Communicate openly and regularly with your loved one about their needs, concerns, and wishes. This will help you provide better care and avoid misunderstandings.
Practice patience and compassion: Caring for an elderly loved one can be frustrating and stressful at times. It’s important to practice patience and compassion and take the time to listen to and understand their needs.
Prioritize safety: Safety should always be a top priority when caring for an elderly loved one. Make sure their living environment is safe and secure and that they have the necessary equipment and support to prevent falls and accidents.
Provide emotional support: Elderly loved ones often feel isolated and lonely, especially if they are unable to leave their home or care facility. Provide emotional support by spending time with them, engaging in activities they enjoy, and staying connected with family and friends.
Seek professional help: Don’t hesitate to seek professional help when needed. There are many resources available, including home health care services, support groups, and counseling services.
Take care of yourself: Caring for an elderly loved one can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and engaging in regular exercise and self-care activities.
Know when to ask for help: If you are feeling overwhelmed or unable to provide the level of care your loved one needs, don’t be afraid to ask for help. This could mean reaching out to family and friends or hiring a professional caregiver. It’s important to prioritize your own well-being and the well-being of your loved one
Let me tell you, elder care is not for the feint of heart. My parents moved in with me 5 years ago. I had this romantic view of what it’d be like – my mom and I would go shopping; Dad and I would go fishing. They’d be able to go to all of my son’s basketball and football games. Dad would have a place to garden again; Mom would have space to read and do her puzzles. It seemed perfect.
I had no idea it would be so much work. My dad had cataract surgery shortly after moving in with me. A few months later, a heart attack. Mom was also dealing with severe depression and anxiety. She was convinced Dad was getting Alzheimer’s. I cannot tell you the number of medical appointments we went to in a month. There were at least two or three a week between the two of them. It wasn’t short-term, either. The medical appointments were constant. They always wanted me to attend as they didn’t trust themselves to remember everything they were told.
It didn’t stop after Mom died and Dad went into assisted living. There are fewer medical appointments since a nurse and doctor are on-site, but there are specialist appointments. It’s never just one. One appointment leads to another…and another. Dad is now completely blind. He doesn’t move as well as he used to. A 20-minute appointment is now a 3 to 4 hour excursion. By the time I get to his home, get him in the car, to the appointment, and back to his room, half a day is gone.
Hearing aids never stop working at the same time. I take one in and a week or two later the other needs to be fixed. There’s always something Dad needs me to get for him.
Martin is experiencing this now that we’ve moved his dad to be closer to us. It’s never-ending. With both of the dads, we ask if they need anything. “No, no, I’m good.” A few hours later or the next day…”I need…”.
It’s a tough situation. We want to be there for our parents. We also need to live our own lives. From an observer’s standpoint, it’s fascinating to watch. The older they get, the more toddler-like they become. They can’t walk as well. They are fussy eaters. They need help doing almost everything. They can only focus on what what is an immediate thought or need.
I try to frame my mindset to “I get to …” rather than “I have to …”. I’m fortunate to still have my dad. I know that. I know how much he and Mom did for me as a child. Still, when I’m tired, part of me thinks, “They chose to have children; I didn’t choose this.”
It’s normal to have these feelings. I still have an young adult at home. I work more than full-time hours every week. Getting enough exercise is important to me. There are all the ‘adulting’ things that need to be done. Sometimes, Dad feels like one more obligation. There’s a reason respite is offered to caregivers.
My dad lost his wife of 53 years and his vision within two years of each other. He can’t do any of things he loves to do. Yet, his attitude is still one of, “Well, it could be worse” or “Well, what can you do?” He loves his family. He’s so very proud of the adults his grandchildren are becoming. He stays in touch with his extended family. If I ever need anything, Dad is there.
As exhausting and frustrating as it can be, being able to look after my dad is a gift. He will be 85 in April. He’s already outlived everyone in his family. He won’t be here forever. I’m fortunate we are still able to create memories.