Posted in Writing

I Dream of Dancing

photo of shadows dancingA post about my strange dream to do with work, dancing and self-knowledge

What a funny dream I had the other night! No, don’t click away yet, this is interesting, honestly…

My Strange Dream

I dreamed I was in my kitchen doing chores, and as I was pottering about I noticed my reflection in the window, doing, not surprisingly, the same thing that I was.

Then I realised that a couple of feet away there was another reflection of me, but this one was having a good time, dancing about, waving her arms in the air, completely absorbed in having fun.

My Initial Interpretation

photo of little girl walking down a long path into the distance
Just following my dreams

On waking, my immediate thought was “Pah! I’m so transparent! My subconscious is obviously trying to tell me to stop doing so much work and to have more fun.” I know I have a bad midnight oil habit, and being self-employed and freelance, I have the worst boss when it comes to productivity demands.

To start my morning sociably, I shared this thought with my friends on Facebook, where I’m always happy to make a joke at my own expense. “I’m such a simpleton!” I concluded.

Then I attacked my to-do list, suppressing the thought that actually I’d been really looking forward to starting back to work this week after the school holidays. Surely I couldn’t be that jaded already?

The Truth Outs

Only later, when my friend the author Nancy Freund stopped by to comment, did I realise how foolish I had been. Her view:

I think it means your work IS your fun. I imagine you’re dancing most of the time.”

RapeseedNancy is an insightful writer, possibly as a by-product of her synesthesia, and as soon as I read her comment, I had to bow to her wisdom. Yes, my work is indeed my fun – my writing and editing and publishing projects, and all the social networking (both online and in real life) that go with it are so enjoyable. Having spent nearly 30 years as an office-based wage-slave before going solo, there are days when I cannot believe my good fortune.

I may not be a bestseller (yet), but today and every day, I have plenty of reasons to do a happy dance. Thank you, Nancy, for making me realise I’m not such a simpleton after all.

If you’d like to experience more of Nancy’s insights, check out her novels – I reviewed Rapeseed, which features a synesthete, here). 

Posted in Family

The Interpretation of a Mother’s Dream

Dancing daughter poses for cameraLast night I dreamed I was taking my eight-year-old daughter to perform in a half-term dance show. Along the way,  I became increasingly weighed down with an unlikely assortment of baggage.

The show was to be staged in some nameless English high street, dotted with charity shops and tea rooms. While Laura was changing for the show, I popped into one of these shops and bumped into several fellow villagers with whom I’ve just been planning our Royal Diamond Jubilee celebrations. (I’ve been put in charge of the giant cake: good choice!)

These ladies showed me some items to be put on stalls there, including knitted children’s garments. (Fellow villagers need not panic: this is definitely NOT part of the plan in real life!) They gave me some knitting wool and patterns to take away. (Note to self: once awake, I must finish those bootees for Laura’s dance teacher’s baby, due very soon.) We talked about catering plans, tasted a few dishes, and I came away with some soup in a  plastic carrier bag.

The Gruffalo

A leaking bag of soup is not an easy thing to carry when you already have under one arm two large rag dolls and a giant Gruffalo toy.  Product placement in dreams? How does that happen? I realised later that the Gruffalo must represent my part-time job at the children’s charity Readathon.

On my way out of the charity shop, I bought an assortment of children’s party bag items.  Even though Laura’s birthday is not until May, my subconscious is already planning her party. But then I took a wrong turning and stumbled into a hotel bar, where a christening party was in full swing. (A handy reminder that my cousin’s baby’s christening in coming up soon – what to buy her?)

As I tried various doors and stairways to escape, I bumped into my friend Louise and her husband in fancy dress. Louise is fundraising for the Emmaus homeless charity by spending a night in the village bus shelter. It was at the back of my mind that I haven’t sponsored her yet.

The soup was continuing to drip but the hotelier  blocked my exit, hoping I’d buy a drink at the bar. To my credit, I didn’t – I was determined to get out of this muddle without resort to stimulants.

Finally, somehow, I made it back to the dance hall, just in time to watch my daughter’s show.  There was applause as I gathered up my bags to take them home.

Portrait of Sigmund Freud
What would Freud make of it all?

My conclusion on waking? Well, perhaps it should have been to take note that I’m making more commitments than I can cope with and to reduce  my responsibilities. But my overriding emotion was anxiety that I couldn’t remember which dance my daughter had done.

Oh – and a firm resolve to give up alcohol.  I’m blaming my restless night on the Valentine’s Day champagne!



If you enjoyed this post that touches on my village life, you might also like:

The Centre of the World     East, West, Our Village Show’s Best

Posted in Personal life

Under the Apple Tree

Driving to Chalford this morning, listening to Start the Week on BBC Radio 4, I am intrigued by a concept in a book of short stories neuroscientist David Eagleman. In Sum, one of forty possibilities that he suggests for the afterlife is that when you die, you may choose your favourite experience from your life, and this becomes your experience in perpetuity – a kind of Groundhog Day of your choosing.

What would mine be? It’s a case of being careful what you wish for. The day my daughter was born might seem an obvious candidate, but it involved major surgery, and once was more than enough. The following night might be a contender: I lay awake all night long, gazing with wonder through the clear plastic sides of her hospital cot, transfixed by the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. But the perpetual crying of other babies dotted about the ward might get me down after the first decade or two.

Other achievements that gave me great pleasure, though in a different league, include producing the village youth group’s fashion show, years ago, and later their talent show, including what I thought was a sublime sketch, penned by me, called “The Simpsons Go to the Hawkesbury Show”. The children’s acting was fabulous and the costumes priceless – who’d have thought a blue plastic carrier bag could be so cleverly transformed into Marge Simpson’s big hair? Being on stage myself, in amateur dramatic shows, was great too – but even the best shows would pall after endless repeats.

But for an experience that could be perpetually rerun , I’d be tempted to go for the “happy place” that I go to in my head whenever I can’t sleep at night: lying under the apple tree in my back garden, with early summer sunshine filtering through the blossom. It’s my favourite place in the world (and I’m pretty well travelled). Birds always sing in the surrounding mass of trees; there’s the occasional gentle buzz of light aircraft, sometimes doing aerobatics; floral scents waft by on the warm breeze – musky lavender, sweet lilac, rosy apple blossom, heady crab apple, and later in the season, intoxicating nicotiana and night-scented stock. It’s a spot I’d never tire of.

Later, on the way home, I plan how best to use the brief window of time between arriving home and collecting my daughter from After-School Club. I need to make the most of it. Actually, there is no decision to be made. I head for my apple tree. The hammock is still in place from my daughter’s birthday party yesterday afternoon, as are the old curtains that we’d suspended from strategic branches to shield us from the intense sun of the current heatwave. I arm myself with a few books and magazines, but soon I am dozing in the afternoon sunshine, swinging very gently in the hammock. Occasionally a petal or two drifts down from the apple tree and lands on my face. I pick one up to examine in, and discover it is already tinged with brown at the edge. Eternity this isn’t. Better seize the day.