When you dream about your pets

My kids with our yellow lab Angus. We adopted Angus from Guide Dogs when he was seven months old and wasn’t making the cut in the program. He was ours for 15 years.

Have you ever had a dream where your deceased pet is alive? I had one last night. I was on vacation and my golden retriever Pepi was with me. She looked so happy, healthy and her fur was so soft.

I told someone in my dream, “Doesn’t Pepi look good? Can you believe she was born in 1970?”

Next in my dream, I was frantically looking for Natasha, our rottie who died in the late 1990s. I sometimes have dreams with both Natasha and Pepi together. They usually are running and playing in fields ahead of me.

I feel so comforted when I have dreams with my pets, whether it’s Natasha, Pepi or Angus. They are my three dogs who crossed the rainbow bridge. It’s like a gift that I get to spend a little more time with them.

Pepi was in a litter of ten born to our golden retriever Kim — on my birthday — when I was in kindergarten. My dad sold all the puppies but Pepi, who was my childhood dog until she got hit chasing a car while I was away in college.

I found an article called Stories of Visitation Dreams of Deceased Pets: Loving, healing, and uplifting experiences from readers’ dreams on Psychology Today by Preston Ni M.S.B.A.

It offers five characteristics that people report about their dreams of pets. The dreams attest to the animal human connection we share. Here’s the one characteristic that rings true in my dreams:

The deceased pet often appeared young and healthy.

“My girl came to me full of life, love and happiness.”

―Anonymous

“(My dog) was completely healed.”

―Anonymous

In many visitation dreams, the deceased pets appeared not in their afflicted or stricken states toward the end of their lives. Instead, they are young, energetic, and healthy. The pets would play and interact with their owners in the dream.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/communication-success/202010/stories-visitation-dreams-deceased-pets

Do you have dreams that include your pets? Are the pets in your dreams ones you lost years ago? How do you feel when you experience one of these dreams?

Two choices: quit or keep trying

swimmers in a pool
My kids learned perseverance and to never give up from swimming.

Recently I lost an entire manuscript that I failed to back up. I was devastated. My computer was randomly deleting files and the automatic backup I thought was going on — wasn’t.

It’s been a longtime goal of mine to have a book published. I’ve written several manuscripts, but so far the goal has been elusive. When my latest attempt disappeared I was tempted to quit altogether. I’m not getting any younger and maybe I’m wasting my time.

But I got over myself and I am enjoying writing the manuscript with a fresh perspective and new POV.

This incident reminded me of a post I wrote several years ago when I was disappointed and almost quit. Here’s a bit of it:

I got an unfortunate email yesterday. It was from an agent, who was reviewing my mid-grade novel I’ve been working on for years. Long story short, it was a no.

This is a big goal of mine, to get this book published. Finding an agent is one step along the way, and I had glimmers of hope when a couple agents were truly interested and one in particular, wanted eight weeks to take a deep dive.

When my husband consoled me I said, “I have two choices. I can quit or keep going.”

Four times since that email, I ran into messages like someone was placing a big neon sign in front of me with specific directions.

 

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Dad fishing at Big Bear.

One

Dad shared that he spent almost three hours fishing yesterday. He was ready to give up, but decided to cast one more time in the last few minutes before he was due to return the boat. Yes, he caught a fish!

Two

I was looking at FB and a writer friend posted how lucky she was to find several four-leaf clovers yesterday after hours of looking. She said to never give up. Never!

Three

On Twitter, I saw from bestselling author Brad Thor a book recommendation for #Grit, a book about passion and perseverance. Yes, I’ll order it from Amazon today.

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Four

On SwimSwam.com, an article jumped before my eyes: “6 TIPS TO KEEP YOU CHASING YOUR SWIMMING GOALS WHEN YOU FEEL LIKE GIVING UP,” by Olivier Poirier-Leroy, who writes really good stuff for swimmers that can be used in all aspects of life.

Here was part of his advice to get in touch with your feelings when you started on the journey:

“What are the reasons that I want to achieve this goal? List 2-3 reasons for why this goal is important to you. This is the simplest way to get in touch with your original set of motivations.

How will you feel when you push past the resistance you are feeling now? Think back to the last time you kicked down the wall of resistance that was in front of you. Yeah, that time. How did you feel afterwards? Proud? Like a certified O.G.?

Will you regret giving up a year from now? Imagine yourself a year from now. A year smarter, a year older, and hopefully a year further along. Is “Future You” going to be pumped about you having quit today?”

I got the message loud and clear. I’m not giving up on my goals or dreams. This is all part of the process, and yes there will be some ups and downs. It’s so cliched, but it’s also true.

Update:

I decided to put away the mid-grade novel after I submitted it to an editor who was a speaker for a webinar. For a fee you could get a critique. He gave me the snottiest, most hurtful critique. I’ll admit my feelings were hurt. Perhaps it was more of a reflection of his personality than my writing. I’ve started other projects including the manuscript I’m working on now. In the future I may get the mid-grade novel out and take a fresh look.

Yes, getting a rejection letter and a nasty critique are not great. Quitting on a dream would be worse.

How do you handle disappointment? What goals have your given up on? What goals are you still pursuing?

Stress that’s entering my dreams

Carefree Christmas tree
The Christmas tree in our town circle.

The past few nights, I’ve had trouble sleeping. I wake up frequently in the night, tossing and turning and not being able to fall back to sleep for at least an hour.

Then I have stress dreams. I realized that’s what they were when in one dream my best friend showed me a beautiful ring that she had been given by her husband. She showed me the price tag of $4,000. I set it carefully back on her desk — and then it disappeared! I kept looking under the desk, through the desk drawers, all through the room, on the carpet. I kept going back to her with new ideas of where to look. Finally, I forced myself to wake up and realized it was a dream.

I have similar dreams where I can’t find something. In one I had two nights in a row, I was looking for a friend chicken place but couldn’t remember the name. I typed in In-N-Out on google maps to get directions to the chicken place. Only in a dream right? It had me driving for hours trying to find the restaurant.

I think it’s the pressure of Christmas vacation coming up including the nine-hour drive we’ll take this week. I absolutely hate driving and I have high anxiety over long car rides. Then there’s the worry that our family will all make it to the house we rented where we’re going to spend the week. The kids and girlfriend’s family are all driving from the Bay Area to Santa Barbara.

Then I worry about getting into the Airbnb house and also worry that the owner ripped us off and I’ve got 12 people to house for Christmas.

Once we make the drive and get settled, I’m sure this anxiety will leave. It helps a bit to write about it, too. The absurdity of my worries and dreams are exposed.

For example, my son’s car is in the shop and I worried about how he and his girlfriend would make it for Christmas. I started googling everything from Amtrak, flights and Greyhound.

I asked my daughter how they were getting down to Santa Barbara. She said “We had a group chat last night and the nine of us have it all figured out.” Of course. They are all adults. They don’t need mommy to fix it. One worry off my list.

Do you think stress is common over the holidays? Or is it a result of being isolated for so long that makes it more stressful this year to gather — and the news of COVID spiking?

Do your ever dream about pets?

Angus and Sherman visit me in my dreams. Angus lived until 15 and Sherman was 18, RIP.

This might seem weird. But from time to time my RIP pets enter my dreams. I’m so happy to be reunited with them. This happened to me last night. My childhood dog Pepi was there. She was so happy, waving her tail and playing with a ball. I watched her romp around. Pepi was born on my six birthday, one of a litter of 10 golden retriever pups that arrived on my special day.

In my dream, I couldn’t believe how good Pepi looked. I was telling a friend that she was born when I was six. I was trying to figure out how old that would make her, but got stymied after I hit 50 years old. That couldn’t be! Even in my dream, I knew that was way too old for a golden.

Often when my pets visit me in my dreams, I see them from afar, running through a field. I sometimes get to pet them, but mostly they are out of reach.

I wonder what it means when our pets are in our dreams? I googled pets in dreams and one thing stood out to me. Several websites said that dreaming of our own pets means that we are preparing to take care of someone. Interesting, since I’m going to be flying to the Bay Area to take care of my son after his surgery.

kids playing with a Rottie
My kids celebrating Natasha’s birthday. Natasha also appears in my dreams. We had her for 10 years.

What are your thoughts about pets in dreams? Do you ever dream of a pet that’s passed away, or do you dream about a pet that you have now?

4 Ways to Make Your Dreams Come True

IMG_8956Do you have a secret dream that you’ve been working towards for years? Or, maybe a dream you once had, but never reached? What’s holding you back? Why aren’t you moving forward? Do you feel stuck in your daily grind, with no time to finish that project, or follow your dream?

I’m reading a book that provides a strategy to make dreams come true.

It’s called “From Chump to Champ: How Individuals Go From Good to Great” by David Benzel. He’s an author, athlete and sports family coach. I discovered him on the USA Swimming website. He offers monthly webinars and has written books that are inspirational and helpful.

The Belmont Pool, where many dreams came true.

The Belmont Pool, where many dreams came true.

What I’ve discovered and learned so far from reading this book are the following four tips:

  1. Dream—Be specific about your dream. Like going to Olympic Trials. Please take note as a new Masters swimmer in my 50s, this is not my dream. It’s someone else’s dream, but a good one to use as an example.
  2. Goals—Set steps that you need to take to reach your goal. Say, if you’re a swimmer, and your dream is Olympic Trials, then you have a specific time goal. If you need to drop a second to get your cut, what daily things are you going to do to get there? Cut out junk food? Work on underwaters? Those would be specific goals to reach your dreams.
  3. Visualize—Use the theater of your mind to picture what it will be like getting your Olympic Trials cut. Make a movie in your head and replay it over and over all the way through.
  4. Belief—This is the hardest one for me. Get rid of that pesky voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough, or your dream is just a dream. “I’m not talented enough to make it to Olympic Trials. Other swimmers are stronger and taller than me.” Change the self-talk to positive. “I’ve worked hard my entire life for this. Nobody works harder than I do.” Reflect on all your accomplishments and the hard work you’ve put in. How you’re setting yourself up for success.

Step #4 is the one that 80 percent of us need to work on. It’s the last stumbling block we need to overcome before realizing our dreams.

Sunset at the beach.

Sunset at the beach.

Can you imagine what it would be like to face life fearlessly every day? Excited to reach your dreams? Carpe Diem! Let’s go for it!

Carpe diem.

Carpe diem. Photo by Debbie Gardiner

3 Things I learned from graduates — back in the day when we had graduations

I wrote this post six years ago, back when kids got to graduate. I feel so sorry for the class of seniors this year. They don’t get to experience all the milestones that mark the end of school and the beginning of a new chapter in their lives. I wonder if they will feel cheated? I know the parents will. Perhaps a lot of the graduation festivities and traditions are as much for the parents as for the kids. Here’s a look back to three high school graduates I learned from in 2014.
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Yesterday I interviewed three graduating seniors in Desert Hot Springs for a small scholarship fund I’m involved with. 

Each girl was a joy and their spirit of kindness was refreshing. Our scholarship fund requires recipients to have high academic achievement, leadership, and a commitment to their community.

The high school we visited yesterday is poor compared to the one my daughter attends, although it’s only 10 miles away.

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All three girls had one thing in common — they are the first in their family to be attending college.

One girl was the fifth child in her family. The parents never went beyond 8th grade in their education. She loves her parents, but she has seen how hard life can be without an education. This is what spurred her to take AP and Honors classes to get on track for college. She volunteers while following a path that no one else in her family has attempted.

The second was the salutatorian. Not only did her parents not attend college, but she has an older brother in his 20s that is mentally disabled. I could tell that she was equally as proud of his accomplishments as her own. On weekends, this bright, confident girl, travels 30 minutes to volunteer with animals at the zoo.  Her goal is to be a veterinarian. I have no doubt she will achieve her dreams.

The third girl was very soft spoken and shy, but she had a warmth and grace about her. She has volunteered for four years at a local hospital and said she loves working in the surgery center. “The patients are cranky and I like to do everything I can to make them more comfortable.” Her mother is a single mom that makes $22,000 per year. 

imgres-6I’m proud and honored to meet these three girls. They have given me hope, especially after being around kids in my daughter’s world who are given everything they ask for, want everything and need nothing, have supportive parents, yet still act as though the world owes them something. 

What are the parents of these so called “underprivileged” kids doing that we are not? Perhaps they’ve let their kids fail and learn from their mistakes. Or, they don’t believe their kids are perfect and never make mistakes. They didn’t spend their parenting years fighting every battle for them. These three beautiful girls had to make it all on their own. 

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My scholarship committee after interviewing the three girls.

What are your thoughts about the class of 2020 and graduation ceremonies that won’t happen?

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Waffles in his graduation garb.

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

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Where I spend my days writing.

I get overwhelmed with big projects and that leads me to procrastinate. Whether it’s cleaning out a room, closet, or working on a book proposal, I also have a tendency to overestimate how quickly I can complete a project. I’ve been reading lots of interesting books lately and I’m seeing the same advice over and over. For example, in Finding Water: The Art of PerseveranceJulia Cameron talks about her goal of writing a few pages each day. She doesn’t say she’s going to write a chapter, or tens of pages. Her goal is three. Her consistency of writing each day adds up to complete books and screenplays.

The most important thing is to keep working small and steady. If you break down a project into small daily tasks and don’t overwhelm yourself, you’ll have less drama in your life and be able to finish the job. The biggest bit of advice is to start. That’s right, don’t wait for things to be perfect or your muse to appear, like Nike says, “Just do it.”

I found an article on Inc. called, “Use These 6 Little Steps to Make Really Big Things Happen” by Chris Winfield. “This simple system will help you start (and finish!) any big project, achieve huge goals, and make each day ‘your masterpiece’.”

Here are the basics of his six tips. (If you want more details, read the article linked above):

Step #1: NAME Your Goal

This one is pretty easy because all you have to do is think about a big project or big idea that’s looming in your mind.

Step #2: SET a Reasonable Deadline

I underlined reasonable because many times, especially when we’re feeling really motivated and inspired (think New Year’s resolutions), we can be a little over zealous with our deadlines.

Step #3: BREAK It Down (Work Backwards)

For this step, you’re going to work backward in time.

Break your goal down by weeks, months, quarters…whatever timeframes are necessary based on the goal itself and the deadline you’ve set…from the deadline backward until today.

Step #4: ANSWER the “When?” and “What?”

Once you have your goal broken down from the deadline to today, the next step entails deciding the “When?” and the “What?”

Step #5: START

The fifth step is simply to start putting your plan (your when and what) into action.

Step #6: BRING IT to the Present

The next and final thing you want to do is maintain that action, that motion, that momentum.

“How do you eat an elephant?” my husband asked me. “One bite at a time.”

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Where I think and clear my head.

What’s advice do you have for reaching your goals and dreams?