A Grand Adventure


Globe fire pit:  The fire's in South America
Globe fire pit: The fire’s in South America

It’s been over five weeks since I decided to step back from my twice-weekly blog posting to just let life happen without an agenda. I’ve been surprised to find that with only one exception (my post about Grandmother Spider) I haven’t missed writing.  Until today. Why now? Lots of things I guess:  a note from a friend who’s missing my regular updates and musings;  a lull in the activity going on around here (my three grandsons have left to visit their other grandparents for a week and my daughter’s family is off zip-lining today).  And also, perhaps, because I think best by writing and I have much to think about.
Apparently my new freedom from stressing over self-imposed writing deadlines has snuck into other areas of my personality. The other day my husband and one of our grandsons spent a lot of time setting out cushions and hauling wood and laying a fire in our new globe fire pit in the terrace garden by the creek.  Out-of-town friends were dropping by for a glass of wine and we were going to sit out there.
Just before they arrived the skies darkened and thunder rolled and a few fat droplets splashed on the deck.  I casually said to my daughter, “Let it rain. The wood will dry, the cushions won’t be ruined, and they’ll see it another time.”  With a deadpan look she said, “Well that was very un-compulsive of you!”  I’m still chuckling.  I loved it that my stress switch didn’t automatically flip on and highjack my equanimity as it has done so often in the past! I don’t know if it’s increasing age or increasing consciousness, but either way, it’s real progress!
Last week my five grandchildren were here for some much anticipated fun at Camp MaBoppa with, you guessed it, Ma and Boppa. After several days of spending most of our time indoors because of non-stop rain, one night around midnight I was in their bunk room trying for the zillionth time to settle them down and get them to go to sleep. The first few nights of this it hadn’t been an issue. The excitement of being with each other was catching and I figured it wouldn’t do any harm to let them enjoy the novelty for the few days they’d all be together.
But by this night my HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) personality trait had been pushed to the max by not enough sleep, too little solitude, and too much intense stimulation. Tired, frustrated, and cranky, I was preparing to leave when one child started laughing and another started crying and I felt a crack in my normally patient, composed persona, and then it exploded into a million pieces. I felt it coming like you do when someone lights the fuse of a giant mamajama Roman Candle on the 4th of July, and then I let it fly with a few angry, totally appropriate, well-chosen words!
Absolute silence! In bed a moment later, a twinge of guilt and a bit of fear that they’d stop loving me were soon swept away by a wave of joy and “You go, girl!” pride.  I did it! I was proud of myself! It was the right thing to do and I knew it! For someone who hates conflict so much that sometimes she doesn’t set clear boundaries, this was an important achievement.
That night I dreamed I was looking at a map of the Western Hemisphere and tracing a route that started in North America, passed through Central America, and ended at a special village in the center of South America. Part of the route was a watery passage dotted with islands. I imagined I’d need a canoe for that. I’d been asked by a regal-looking woman wearing a long, neutral colored dress to accompany her and her photographer on this trip. I was to help him articulate the essence and meanings of the images he’d be making of our grand adventure. The dream ended with someone giving me a packet of folded up paper. When I opened it, precious gems tumbled out and I searched for the diamond I knew was in there for me.
The next day we were having lunch when one of my grandsons said, “Do you remember what you said last night?”
“Yup,” I said.  “I sure do.  And there’s more where that came from if I need it.”
“I’ve never seen you that way,” he said with a touch of awe. “Me neither,” said the little one, equally solemn and wide-eyed.  Then we all smiled at each other and ate our sandwiches.
This summer is turning out to be a grand adventure.
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10 Responses

  1. That’s such a familiar scenario for me. Well done for handling it so well.
    I find if I do a long trip, say a 5 day one for work, by the return journey my patience is wearing thin and when I get home, I want to be alone for days.
    I liked the diamond gift at the end of the dream.

    1. Thanks, Viv. There just are times when it’s appropriate to be angry and let others know it. Sort of a self-preservation thing! 🙂 I loved the diamond gift too. xoxo

  2. I love it, Jeanie, and give you a high-five. I get pushed over the edge by my mother-in-law. My husband didn’t ask me to watch over her after his death, but I couldn’t abandon her after her only chlld’s death, could I? Guess what? She takes her resentment out on me. It’s hard to talk back to a 97 year old woman, but when her negativity gets extreme, I tell her I can’t handle it and walk out the door. She pouts and fumes, but eventually calls with a request for me to bring my dog over. “I miss Willow,” she says. Still, even though she focuses on the dog and not me, I notice she’s gaining a tiny touch of respect for the woman who stands by her and listens to her complaints, the dutiful daughter-in-law who will hold her hand in her death. Sometimes there is a need to answer fire with fire.

    1. Oh yes, to “Sometimes there is a need to answer fire with fire.” My mother rarely said an angry or negative word to me so I had no education in conflict until I married, and it’s taken years to learn this basic truth! I feel for you and admire you for handling your mother-in-law as well as you are. High-five back at you! The elderly can be incredibly tough to deal with sometimes. I pray that if I live that long I’ll have acquired enough mindfulness to know when my attitudes and behaviors are making life difficult for my caregivers. I have no doubt your mother-in-law respects and maybe even likes you deep down; maybe it’s just that she has a lifetime of bitterness to overcome and she’s just not up to working that hard any more?

  3. It’s been years since I’ve raised my step daughter with her many sleep overs; so I can say that you reacted like any normal person would. You did nothing wrong, and I’m sure the children have the utmost respect for you. You go girl!

  4. Thank you Jean for your blog. I am a new follower of your blogs, having just recently stumbled across one of your entries, thanks to the wonders of the Internet. I’m not new to your work however – I was introduced to your thought about 12 years ago when someone led a dream workshop I attended using your book ” Dream theatres of the soul.” Your book opened up a whole world for me, an inner world. So thank you for that too.
    Your insight from this blog that resonated with me has to do with thinking through writing. I so often put off writing, trying to get my thoughts in order before putting pen to paper, only to then discover a stillness in the writing process which then facilitates their further unfolding. Perhaps I need to trust the process.
    I have 2 children aged 12 and 8, so am in another life phase but can quite empathize with the HSP traits you speak of. No one hands out a manual on parenting, or grand parenting, and add to that the complications of one child with Asperger’s. I find accessing one’s inner wisdom and strong voice a daily challenge. I liked your reminder too that HSP people require regular doses of solitude. How to arrange life though to make sure one’s resource tank is full requires consistant commitment. Is writing an act of solitude that can refuel one in such a way? I’m trying to write my masters thesis and yet with all the daily distractions with my kids, my inner resources are stretched rather thin. I admire you for adopting a writing life, my eventual goal, but wonder how you juggle it all?
    One last query pertaining to South America. What would you say is the general symbolism of South or Latin America? I have dreamt of going to Latin America, obviously a place of internal significance. Perhaps, as your title suggests, it’s a place of passion, of fire, the place inside where one accesses one’s hidden energy? (I live in South Africa).
    I look forward to your next reflection. Thank you for making the time to put pen, and thought, to paper.
    Cheryl de Beer

    1. Hi Cheryl, welcome to my blog! I’m delighted that you found it, and glad to hear that Dream Theatres opened up another world to you. There is another world, and it’s in us, and it’s real, and I hope you’re learning that exploring it is the adventure of a lifetime!
      Yes, there is a stillness in the writing process that you can and should trust. “Is writing an act of solitude that can refuel” HSP people? Absolutely!! I’m sure that’s one reason why I love it so. As to how do I juggle it all, when I was writing my doctoral thesis my kids were 11 and 9. I worked out a deal with myself that I would write five pages a day on weekdays, and give the weekends fully to my family. During week days I might get 2 or 3 pages done while the kids were at school, then I spent all afternoon and evening with them, and when they went to bed I’d go back to work. I’ve always been a night owl anyway, so sometimes I’d work ’til 3 or 4 in the morning. My husband got up with the kids in the mornings and got them off to school so that helped enormously. I also taught one college class a week.
      As I thought about my associations with South America in the context of this dream, it seemed to me that the map on the piece of paper in front of me was a metaphor for my psyche. Living in North America as I do, it seems to me that it represents my conscious self, Central America my personal unconscious, and South America the collective unconscious. The watery passage also suggests making one’s way through the unconscious. The fact that the village was located in the central part of South America suggested the Self to me. Another symbol that made me think of the Self was the gems and my search for the diamond. The Diamond Body is another ancient name for the Self. So in other words, to me the dream says I’m taking a journey to the Self and I’m meant to help interpret the images of that journey, which, of course, I already do in my books and blog. Since you live in South Africa, your associations could be different, of course.
      And yes, I would also see South America as a place of passion, of fire, the place of hidden energy, and the Self is the source of the creative fire of the libido. So getting in touch with it through my dreams and writing has been a life-changing, rejuvenating, and constantly renewing experience for me. I think this dream was one of those affirming dreams in which Dream Mother is saying “Yes! You’re on the right path, doing what you’re meant to be doing and experiencing the rewards (gems) of finding and living your passion.”
      Hang in there. Discovering yourself, finding your passion, and living your truths is a long, tough journey but it’s so worth it. I wish you the best of luck with it.

      1. Thank you Jeanie for your thoughtful and encouraging response to my questions. I really appreciate the time you took. I must say I am in awe of this technology (blogging) which enables two people who have never met, and who live a world away from each other, but who share the same language, to connect.
        Take care

  5. It’s an amazing time we live in, and I love the unprecedented accessibility we have to others. I’m so grateful to meet another soul with whom to connect, on whatever level. And I appreciate your writing to let me know you hear what I’m saying. Jeanie

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