Loving Yourself Through the Seasons of Your Life


balloonrideApril 3, 2013. Dream #4422. Fear of Heights.
I’m in a vehicle traveling up a steep mountain on a narrow road. The mountain is on my right, a sheer drop-off is to my left.  I don’t want to look down or feel anxious so I close my eyes. When I open them the right side of my vision is filled with mountain; the left, with sky.
As we round a curve I see a light brown cigar box-shaped object with a half-open lid that seems to float in the sky. I think it must be anchored to the top of the mountain like a billboard supported by slender poles. I wonder what it is. A viewing facility? An art object? Maybe I’ll find out when we arrive at our destination.
The vehicle stops. To our left a wooden deck is connected to the mountain by a narrow walkway. People are out there preparing a balloon for flight. Someone opens the vehicle door and a small, gray curly-haired dog hops out and trots fearlessly down the walkway. A fluffy white cat is perched regally on the front seat. I understand we’re to take a balloon ride and look forward to it. But I’m worried about the narrow walkway and the cat. I wish it wasn’t with us. It’s my responsibility to hold it and I tell the others, “I’m afraid the cat will leap out of my arms!” It’s not really the height I’m afraid of; it’s the precariousness of this situation, the cat’s vulnerability, and my ability to restrain it. I don’t want this concern to spoil the pleasure of our ride.
I’m writing this three days before the Wilbur Award banquet. The heights could be a metaphor for receiving this award, and Dream Mother could be showing me some anxiety I have about this event. So why the anxiety? I couldn’t figure it out so I called my best friend Ann, a Jungian therapist. When she asked what I’ve been worrying about, I was embarrassed to tell her I’ve been stressing over how I’ll look at the awards ceremony! Am I too fat for my dress?  I hate my hair! Should I wear it up or down? Do I have the right shoes? Makeup? Jewelry?
The odd object in the sky is an important clue to the meaning of this dream. It looked exactly like one of those Hav-a-Tampa cigar boxes I grew up with in the Cigar City. As a teenager I put my jewelry in one. Why was it in the sky? Well, when I lived in Tampa an iconic image on its skyline was a bottle-shaped water tower advertising whisky. It was supported by slender poles. To me, these macho images of a mid-century southern town suggest an issue that originated there in my formative years, an era when Miss America pageants ruled, southern girls dominated them, and masculine values ran the whole show!
cigarboxFor half my life I’ve struggled to break free of gender stereotypes; travel comfortably in my own space between mountain and air, matter and spirit; and write about my journey to heal my sacred divides. And now that I’m about to receive a wonderful acknowledgement of my life’s work, I’m possessed by a teen-aged girl whose trepidations about the prom are conjuring up a scenario of potential disaster! Seriously?
My instinctual masculine side (dog) is full of confidence and ready to go. My instinctual feminine side (cat) is, in typical cat fashion, serenely above it all. But my ego has been beset by a stubborn “woman-as-beautiful-object” stereotype that refuses to die a peaceful death.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look attractive, but there is something wrong when it impairs your ability to love yourself gracefully through the seasons of your life regardless of gender, looks or age!  With Ann’s help, this issue already feels less problematic. My talk with her left me laughing at myself, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be smiling all the way to Indianapolis this Saturday and soaring home on Sunday.

See the water tower in the upper left corner?
See the water tower in the upper left corner?

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13 Responses

  1. Jeannie,
    I am so proud of you. The picture of the water tower and what it represents just cracks me up.
    I appreciate your Blog. I am hungry for knowledge and when I do not take the time to read the stacks of books I have, being able to contemplate something you have expressed gives me sustenance
    Congratulations my friend.
    Cindy X-mas

    1. Thank you, Cindy. The images in this dream really are funny, aren’t they? It always amazes me how Dream Mother can come up with symbols that wouldn’t mean a thing to anyone but the dreamer, and how one or two pictures can so perfectly encapsulate a mood, era, or way of thinking that speaks for itself without words. I’m so glad my posts are filling your hunger and adding to your store of knowledge! I couldn’t ask for anything more with this blog!
      Much love, Jeanie

  2. Vulnerability is best served straight up, like a glass of cold, clean water. Jean, I’m giggling along with your teenage spirit. When I attempted a few years ago to re-enter the 9-to-5 workplace (short experiment) the “what to wear” issue was the hardest part of it! And I remember thinking – hey! Haven’t you outgrown this shallow image nonsense? But knowing I was entering a den of 20-something divas and darlings, I felt/imagined a cultural pressure to conform. Yet when I catch myself admiring a stranger, it’s always because I am feeling a particular authentic energy that is impossible to “put on”. Being true to yourself when getting dressed in the morning is a challenge, and a lovely, silly thing to fuss about. Shave my head? In theory, yes, love the idea, why not? It breaks no rules, is easy to care for, harms no one. In reality… oh my, what will people think? Great post, thanks for sharing and CONGRATULATIONS on the award.

    1. “Vulnerability is best served straight up, like a glass of cold, clean water.” I love this! Yes, that teenaged cat (the one in my dreams was no longer a kitten!) in me still feels vulnerable sometimes, and when she insists on getting my attention my ego starts feeling vulnerable too. As Ann said, “There’s no point trying to deny it, just face it and deal with it!” Or as you suggest, “Drink it in and allow it to refresh you.” Sharing this dream was a great way to do that.
      Once in a while I’m tempted to cut all my hair an inch long and dye it red, then remember my gray/white roots will start showing in a week. What will people think? So I give up and deal with what I have. Which I actually love most of the time. Anyway, thanks for this very feel-good comment!

  3. Jeannie,
    Chuckle…Love your post…I can so identify with it! And I like your sharing your dreams best of all! They shed a bit of light on my own! Thank you! bett

  4. I enjoy reading your blog posts after stumbling upon your blog and subscribing to it about a couple of months ago. I am refreshed reading this blog post, and I think it is wise of you to share about your stress with your best friend because I am learning from Jung psychology that by making the unconscious conscious, it will render the underlying fears and anxieties powerless to hurt or haunt us as much as before. It is also courageous of you to share this experience with us, so that we may be encouraged to know we are not alone in experiencing our own fears and anxieties, and we can learn to face them in our own ways.
    Peace and blessings

    1. Hi, Jimmy! I’m so glad to know that my posts are a source of enjoyment and pleasure for you!! We are in absolute agreement about the value of making the unconscious conscious. Just the act of writing this post was enormously freeing. There was a time when I was unable to admit to such vulnerabilities, but entering the human race instead of trying to rise above it no longer takes much courage!! Now it’s second nature to remember that we all share the same insecurities and benefit from the encouragement to face them. Thanks for your affirming comment and blessings to you on your journey to self-discovery. Jeanie

  5. I am way behind on reading your blogs and haven’t gotten to the tour. Congratulations for that. What a good idea. But here, a week or so back, thanks for bringing up this perennial feminine problem. I’m 67 and feeling, ever so slowly, a loosening of this concern. But it shows up when I have to stand in front of others or now be part of my son’s wedding. My goal is to look healthy and vital–and keep talking to my Jungian therapist when the complex arises. You set such a great example in feminine wisdom, power, and beauty. Thank you for writing what you write and sharing yourself with the world.

    1. Thank you, Elaine. And congratulations on your excellent radio interview. Tish Pearlman’s book sounds fascinating and very helpful.
      Working on this dream helped enormously. Seeing my worries made me stop and reflect on them. This lessened them considerably by putting them in perspective and helping me remember to balance them with my strengths. As a result, I fully enjoyed myself before, during, and after the awards banquet.

      1. Elaine, have I thanked you for the beautiful review you recently wrote about Healing the Sacred Divine for Amazon? I just love it, and am so very grateful to you for taking the time to do this. I can’t wait for your book to come out so I can do the same for you. Thank you, my friend.

      2. I’m so glad, Jeanie. You’re doing so many interesting things and receiving recognition for your good work. I’m watching and admiring. And Wonder Woman that you are, you even have a minute in this busy week of writing to respond to comments. Wow! No need to respond to this one. Sending love.

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