Saturday, May 30, 2009

He Wanted Attention, He Knew How to Get It

By Camincha

The man stunk.
His clothes, a crusty second skin
on his emaciated body.

He wanted attention.
He knew how to get it.
He must have been a long time
in the streets, she thought when
he materialized by her side at the bus
stop at 5th and Market, the 27 bus line.
He had tried it before. He knew
exactly what to do to make
the women jerk in fright.
Alerted by the stink he projected,
they would jump a foot away from him
as soon as their sideways glances
brought him into view.

He wanted attention.
He knew how to get it.
He provoked these reactions
on purpose. He would materialize
next to the woman and then move
sideways closer, closer. A woman
jumped, turned but could move
only half a foot away from him.
The woman scooped up her child and held
him to her bosom all in one movement.
The girl reflected his blank stare when she
lifted her eyes to his, then she shuddered.
A woman kept staring ahead hard, stone-like
in her effort not to acknowledge his presence.

He wanted attention.
He knew how to get it ...

Camincha is a pen name for a Calfornia-based poet.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Discovering the World of Dreams

By Connie Caldes

I do not know how to distinguish between our waking life and a dream. Are we not always living the life we imagine we are? –- Henry David Thoreau

The shamans of indigenous cultures consciously traveled the dreamworld to heal individuals and ensure the survival of their communities. Resurgence of interest in this ancient wisdom indicates that our culture is opening to the gifts of dreaming and the many benefits of listening to dream wisdom. Personally, working with my dreams has taught me much about my inner being and the need to listen to my heart.

For many years, I have known that dreams were guiding me in making choices. Dreams of long-lost friends prompted me to look them up. Terrifying dreams demanded that I make major changes in my life. Dreams of deceased loved ones eased my pain during difficult periods. Pre-cognitive dreams surprised me. And, mystical dreams left me in awe.

I thought that everyone dreamed this way, with deep emotion, vivid color and powerful content. I think everyone does. Some do not remember. Some do not want to remember because they don’t like the messages contained in the dreams. Others have been told that dreams are nothing more than random nerve firing and consequently, they discard them as useless. But many believe that there is much more!

We are a confused culture when it comes to understanding the purpose and meaning of dreams. Are dreams communications from our soul? Is it possible to extract guidance and wisdom from our dreams? Can we find creative solutions to complicated problems (including those that are technically challenging) in our dreams? Albert Einstein spoke of his dreams guiding him in his work on relativity. Do we work out our everyday issues in the following night’s spontaneous dreams?

If you have come to believe that you might be more than your physical body, I invite you to consider working with your dreams as a means of exploring your spirit. There are many ways to do this, but it is best to begin by keeping a journal. And, if you don’t remember your dreams, state an affirmation just before going to sleep and write down something when you wake, even if it is a feeling or thought. Begin to send a signal to your deeper self that you wish to lift the veil between your conscious and sub-conscious. In recording my own dreams, I’ve found that I have many types, a few of which I will share here.

A profoundly healing dream came to me in 1999 in which I perceived myself to be outside of my body:

Child in the River

I wake up to find that I am floating above my bed and facing upward. A card comes through the ceiling with a light blue angel inscribed on it. I realize that I am free of my body and wish to stand on the floor. I am transported to the desired position with sensations that are somehow familiar to me. I pass my hand through the curtains and confirm my ghostly status. A river forms in the floor of my bedroom, under my favorite window. As I look into the river, I am surprised and somewhat fearful because I see a little girl struggling in the current. I realize that she is me. Birds appear in the window behind the river.

This dream has had life-changing consequences for me. First, the sensations of being outside the body during a dream were beyond exhilarating. For me, they confirmed that we are so much more than our physical selves. Next, I did everything within my power to further explore my childhood and the meaning of this image. This process has been deeply healing and has guided me in discovering gifts that I might bring to my friends and community. And finally, the dream compelled me to learn about shamanic healing, which has led me to many enriching life experiences and even new work.

I have had many lucid dreams in the recent years and find them to be exciting. A lucid dream is when we wake up in the dream and realize that we are dreaming. Here is an example of such a dream:

T-Rex Attack

I am running from a T-Rex. Suddenly, I become fully aware that I am dreaming, feel fear flow out of my body and turn to face the T-Rex. I punch his snout repeatedly until he turns into a non-functioning blob. Then, he re-emerges from the blob and goes after me again. I attack him again and he is reduced to another blob. This time it is really over. I am very pleased with my power and that I did not give in to fear.

When I woke from this dream, I was acutely aware that the attack was an illusion. I strive to reconnect to that deep knowing when other fearful situations arise. Also, I felt sad when I thought about this dream and wondered if the T-Rex might have had a message for me. When I used a technique to go back inside a dream to search for more information, I heard the T-Rex say “Slow Down!” My immediate thought was that this was a commentary on my life-style, but soon after, I received a speeding ticket. In looking back in my dream journal, this was the second time that I received a speeding ticket right after dreaming of the T-Rex. The T-Rex might be more than a metaphor for a police officer with a radar detector, but I will be checking my speed whenever the T-Rex shows up. And, as usual, synchronicity was about to strike. A few months later, I was driving down a road and noticed a large green construction vehicle. The side indicated the brand as TeRex. My foot went for the break pedal immediately as I assumed that I was getting a warning. Just one mile later, on what was a very rural road sat a police officer pulling over unsuspecting drivers.

We can dream of departed loved ones. In the late 1980s, I had a series of dreams about the wishes of my grandfather who had died in 1975. These dreams centered on my father and his love of baseball. I felt profoundly guided and supported by my grandfather in these dreams. Many months later, I found myself sitting in the movie “Field of Dreams.” I was blown away by the strong connection between the story in this film, my family history and the dreams of my grandfather. At that time, I could not make any sense of how I could have dreamed the themes in this film prior to its release. These things still surprise me when they pop up, but I don’t try to understand. Rather, I know that it is confirmation from the otherworld that our waking reality is limited, and that we are not limited to it!

I wake up in a state of awe when I dream of reading poems or hearing music. This dream was one of my favorites:

African Chorus

A friend and I take a ride to the ocean. A group of people, African except one Asian male, in gorgeous colorful gowns, walk toward me on the shore, singing a beautiful African song. I hear sophisticated harmonies in a foreign language. They pass me, turn and face me and sing more. An African man in his fifties leads this group.

The vivid sights and intricate sounds in this dream mystified me. I felt honored by the chorus of beautiful people. A little more than a year later, I found myself working with Malidoma Some, author of The Healing Wisdom of Africa. It did not surprise Malidoma or me that he looked very much like the man that led the chorus in my dream.

I sometimes see beautiful ethereal visions in my dreams. They have an otherworldly feel to them. One showed up at a time when my x-husband had partial hearing loss and was being tested for a brain tumor:

Eagle Totem

I “wake” to a beautiful sight in my room. Near my husband’s tall chest of drawers is something that looks like a totem pole, except it is ethereal, appearing to be made of a lightweight tissue paper-like substance with all sorts of filigree patterns cut out all over. On top, sits a beautiful pure white bird. In front of this totem-bird image is a swirl of energy and light rotating in a clockwise direction, like a spiral towards its own center. This image appears to be riding on the end of a light beam that is pouring in the window.

When I woke from this dream, my memory of the breath-taking image in front of my x-husband’s dresser convinced me that he was not in medical danger. This feeling was soon confirmed when the MRI came back negative and his hearing returned. This dream is still my lifetime favorite!

I’ve learned from Sandra Ingerman, faculty member for The Foundation for Shamanic Studies and author of Soul Retrieval and Medicine for the Earth that from a shamanic point of view, power animals empower, protect and guide human beings. I dream of many species each month and notice certain animal images showing up repeatedly. As an example, I often dream of bears. Amongst Native Americans, Bear is the Great American Medicine Animal. For others, Bear is the Great Mother. When the Bear shows up in my dream, I honor the dream by working with it extensively, searching for messages of protection and healing.

Dreams of death are often frightening. We think they mean that we are going to die soon when they might be pointing to part of us that needs to die to open to a deeper life. This is not to say that death dreams are never about physical death, but I’ve had two dreams of my own death, both of which directed me to terminate an unhealthy relationship in order to resurrect myself.

Synchronicity in many forms is a natural by-product of dreamwork. You will see the images, people, animals, symbols and more from your dreams show up in waking life in the most unusual of ways. You will know when it happens. And those that believe in the magic of the universe will be receptive to your stories. Your relationships will be more exciting if you share your dreams and synchronicities.

There are many gifts of the dreaming. Dreams can help you recover lost aspects of yourself, find your soul friends, discover your life’s work, deepen healthy connections, find the courage to end destructive relationships, write with greater creativity and be in touch with your inner guidance. The gifts are endless. Set intentions when you go to sleep. Ask questions. Look for answers. Your life will change! May you find your own majesty! And may you have wonderful dreams!

This post represents Chapter One of "Dream Stories: Recovering the Inner Mystic," a book by Connie Caldes and Kellie Meisl, both of whom live and work in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Portions of this writing originally were published in Dream Network Journal, at

Monday, May 18, 2009

What is it about dirt?

OK, so why does it feel so good to dig in the dirt?

It must be a primal thing.  The touch of warm soil. The feel of sun on your face. The delight of flowers growing before your eyes.

Hours pass in the garden and I hardly know I'm there.  I fall into a kind of trance. 

Ah gee, I love dirt. I love it so much that I volunteered to dig up the garden at a health clinic near my apartment in DC. People keep coming by, and they eye me with the shovel, and some of them smile.  Some of them nod and say, in Spanish or English, how pretty it is.  Some of them take their children by the hand and point to the flowers.

Some people, I'm sure, like some of you, probably think I'm crazy. Who in their right mind would want to break her back on somebody else's garden?

But take a look at this, and tell me I'm crazy.

OK. I'm crazy.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How she feels it

By Camincha

She feels it in her bones. No, not only in her bones.

She feels it in her skin. She feels it in her eyes.

The years that have passed by.

She hears her father's pride in his voice when he said: You

don't need glasses like your brother, do you?

What good eyesight you have. She was thirteen.

Just a little girl. So little then. In so many ways, naive, cocky.

She knew it all. She knew then that she knew it all.

Just like she knows now she doesn't know anything.

Yes, her eyes don't see as well as they used to.

They hurt when she strains them in the late

hours of the day before turning on the lights.

And her hands 'cause they hurt when she tries to get it

perfect: the needle work, the crochet, the poem.

She feels it in her hair. Not as dark anymore. And remembers the

neighbor down the street and her grey hair. Had her daughters pull

them one by one paying them a penny for each one they pulled.

And remembers she smiled. She's so glad didn't pass judgement.

She just smiled. ‘Cause as she likes to say, she has them now,

grey hairs. And doesn't want them pulled. But,

she wants them dyed. And she can laugh at herself for that.

She wants them dyed. For she feels, she feels the years

that have passed by. She feels them in the way her neck

creaks and cracks. Just like this house. When she’s lying quietly,

she can hear the house creak and crack, and almost


Camincha is a pen name for a writer living in the Bay Area of California.

Monday, May 04, 2009

It Can't Be, Can it?

The news this morning shouldn't come as a shock, or even a surprise.

And it shouldn't bring tears to my eyes, or a funny tight feeling to my chest.

But it does.

The New York Times Co. said this morning that if it doesn't get more concessions from labor unions, it will close The Boston Globe. The New York Times Co. bought the Globe in 1993, and there are those who say it hasn't treated New England's newspaper very well.

Newspapers have been dropping faster than flies. But this loss, if it happens, hits particularly hard. A major city like Boston without a good newspaper?

Hard to fathom.

What are we coming to in this society if we cannot sustain a newspaper? How does democracy work when the fourth estate goes missing? So now, without a newspaper, without reporters to write about police brutality, crime, corruption, city waste and mismanagement, how do people find out what they need to know?

So maybe this is just the Times' putting the squeeze on the labor unions (apparently the negotiations with the unions stalled after the Times realized it had made a $4 million accounting error, and wanted more sacrifices from employees.)

But we can't let it happen, not in Boston, the site of so much of our early history, where the seeds of the Revolutionary War took sprout.

We've got to figure out a way to keep journalism alive, if not in ink and paper, then on-line. Because the job of newspapers is still critical. It matters.

Except maybe not to the New York Times Co.