Edinburgh Memories

Edinburgh
The Adventure Begins!

A year ago I drafted this post — the intent being to journal during my 10-day trip to Scotland and England, a trip made to attend TEDSummit Edinburgh.  I had intended to add more photos, and in the end I got so busy I never wrote another blog post after the first day, and never posted the one below. Even though it’s now a year old and I won’t be doing any traveling anytime soon, I thought I’d post it now. It’s nice in this time of self-quarantine to remember the lovely trips I have made over the years, and when my biggest travel worry was whether or not my flight would make it off before a rainstorm.

A gamble — re-route, or risk it?

An email from Delta arrived the night before our departure, advising that weather may play havoc with our flight and offering to waive fees if we wanted to re-route or cancel our flight to JFK.  It was the night before a long-planned trip to Scotland, when all airports on the Eastern seaboard were light up red, so re-routing didn’t seem like a promising option, and cancelling was not in the cards.  We risked it, our flight took off amid lightening just in front of the worst of the thunderstorm, and seven hours and one Ambien later we arrived in rain-soaked, historic Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Power of Facebook
Fancy Meeting You Here!

You Never Know Who You’ll Find!

Just before take-off, browsing Facebook one more time before I lost my connection, I saw that Kim, a woman I’d worked with two years ago and hadn’t seen since, was in Edinburgh as well. One text exchange later, we shook off our jet lag long enough to meet up with her family just a few blocks from our Airbnb. We hadn’t seen each other in San Diego for years, yet through the magic of Facebook posts we managed to reconnect while both of us were passing through Scotland, and I met her (wonderful) family for the first time.

Our Airbnb Entrance
Welcome Home!

A short walk along a cobblestone lane led to our Airbnb for the week, a one-bedroom unit in a Georgian townhome in New Town that is perfect. It’s quiet yet a 5-minute walk from a variety of restaurants, a grocery store, a pharmacy, pubs, whiskey bars, the Leith Walk, the Convention Center and more! Our living room is fit for a Queen, and it will be a shame if we leave before having some new-found friends over for a drink and conversation around the fireplace.

Living Room in our Airbnb
Our Living Room for the Week

We quickly unpacked and settled into our comfy bed and settled in for a well-deserved sleep before the Pre-TED event hosted by Virgin Money scheduled for the next day.

Pre-TEDSummit Gathering, aka “Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You”

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Richard organized us for a pre-TEDSummit gathering to get to know one another before the huge group arrives later in the week, and we spent the morning introducing ourselves and bonding and preparing for the week ahead. Thank you Virgin Money for sponsoring and Richard for organizing! I snuck out for a Book Lover’s Tour over lunch, and only after we started walking to our first stop did I realize that I’d done this very same tour four years earlier. Oh well! I know should be very well-versed in the locations associated with Conan Doyle and Robert Louis Stevenson, and the cafe where J.K. Rowling sat to write. After the walk I toured the Writers’ Museum with its exhibits on the aforementioned Robert Louis Stevenson as well as Walter Scott and Robert Burns. Inspired, I made a pit stop at Waterstone’s Book Shop and then met my husband for dinner at Makar’s – The Gourmet Mash Bar Company. They have a full menu of mashed potatoes, a great selection of beers, and won UK TripAdvisor Best Everyday Restaurant 2018. Go in and check it out!


Do I Have Something to Say?

I learned to speak when I was very young. And I also learned there were rules on what I could and could not say, if I wanted to be good, if I did not want to get in trouble. I learned I was not to brag, or “back-talk” (otherwise known as saying what I felt if it differed from what I was supposed to feel or what my parents wanted to hear).

That still, small voice within is stuffed so far down — covered up with so many layers of protective coatings reapplied day after day and year after year that it’s hard even now, after a decade spent seeking my own truth, to hear my truest self.

Even when I want so badly to live authentically, to speak my truth, to give wings to my soul’s desires, to live boldly and bravely and honestly, to be raw and vulnerable and simply me, freed of a lifetime’s worth of society’s coatings, I find I don’t know how. I read a poem, do a meditation, hear an inspirational speaker, see an Instagram quote that speaks to me and truly believe that this is it — that now I understand, that now, finally, I will get started on living my best life. That I will use my time efficiently, that I will spend my days “in the flow.” That I will stop endlessly scrolling through twitter or keeping up with email or wondering where the time has gone when I look up and see my well-planned morning is now afternoon. But the next day ends up the same. I still feel the spark of that latest motivation taunting me — “see,” it says, “you’re still the same. You still haven’t figured out how to do life differently, more expansively, more truthfully. You’re still wasting your one wild and precious life.”

What DO I want to say? Is there really some voice inside that I’ve never been free or brave enough to let loose? No bullet journal or Todoist or other tool has so far managed to get me on track. Perhaps by rambling and searching and putting out into the universe what comes into my head in this blog I will find my way. I’d love to have you along for the ride.


Zero to Sixty

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’m 59 and 11 months today.  Next October 25, I want to know I’ve created my best pathway to sixty, and have blogged along the way to keep myself accountable.

First step along that path is to Train My Mind For Happiness, and step one in that endeavor is to be alert and mindful of toxic patterns of thought.

There are so many books on Happiness and Mindfulness, and courses aplenty as well.  First up for me is UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Foundation Science of Happiness Class.  There, they teach that each of us can create new roads through the superhighway of our brain — that we really can teach an old dog new tricks.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I need some.  New pathways, that is.  I have well-worn groves along the toxic thoughts highway, starting with that capital “P” Perfectionism.   But believing that I can always be perfect … that when I fall short of perfect I am not enough, I am not worthy, I am a failure … shocking as it may seem, that belief does not lead to happiness.  Not even close.  And it keeps me from taking risks, it encourages me to hold on to (supposed) control, its makes me fearful of vulnerability.  It keeps me constrained in a very small box.

While there are pitstops for moments of pleasure along the Perfection Superhighway — a refueling when I get that fleeting feeling of satisfaction for a job well done, the beauty of the perfect roundness of those zeros in a “100” atop the graded paper — the stop is always too short.  Too soon, I’m back on the road, the short-lived joy of accomplishing something perfectly already forgotten while I search frantically for how to do the next thing just right.

While refueling stations are few and far between, however, there is an over-abundance of other things along that well-worn Highway of Perfect.  Anxiety, Alienation, Knowing I Am Not Enough — those are the oxygen I breath along that drive.  Well, f*ck that.  I’m tossing out the well-worn roadmap of my life and taking Exit 59A.  What’s that sign say?  This Way to Average?  Average????  Yikes!!!  OK, I’m in!  What the hell, it might be fun.   I’m going to do my best to start believing that doing good enough is good enough.  I’m exiting the well-worn highway of striving for perfection, and I’m going to start being happy for putting in the effort, taking the chances, going for it, even if I fall short.  I’m heading to It’s OK to Just Be Me, which is much more accepted, I hear, in Averageville.

highway exittCome and meet me there!

 


Forgiveness

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Photo by burak kostak on Pexels.com

Forgiveness isn’t about condoning what harm was done to you, or forgetting it, but is a deep work of your heart, that honors the betrayal of yourself, the grief, anger, hurt and fear.  It can be a long, hard process.  And it may tear your heart apart, but that vulnerability becomes a place our heart depends on for staying open and alive.  We are biologically wired for revenge, but we are equally biologically wired for forgiveness.

Here’s a test to help you discover your forgiveness style.


Park City Adventures

“Hey Graham, big problem,” my husband texts his Park City, Utah friend during last July’s visit to the mountains. “I need a good burger, but it has to have a gluten-free bun. It’s an emergency … please help!”

“Ha! Forget the gluten-free,” Graham’s replied. ” Go to Road Island Diner in Oakley.  Worth the drive and in addition to the best burger around, you get an awesome shake.”

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And We Are Off!

And with that we were off, on a 27-minute scenic drive from Park City to Oakley, Utah for dinner at the diner.  It was a gorgeous drive and at the end of it a gem of a restaurant.  Not only did we enjoy juicy diner burgers with hand-cut fries, but the gluten-free was not forgotten.  In fact, it was a gluten-free heaven, the menu filled with gluten-free options, from Mac & Cheese to meatloaf, and more.

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A Burger & Fries with a Side of History

You didn’t have to be avoiding wheat to enjoy the dinner, especially if you enjoy a side of nostalgia with your food.  Because the restaurant is the beautifully renovated diner #1107, which rolled off the assembly line of the leading diner manufacturer in 1939, complete with green Italian marble countertops, Tiffany glass clerestory windows and hand laid quarry tiled flooring.  It was so special, in fact, that the diner was showcased in the 1939 World’s Fair.

After serving diners in Fall River, Mass. for 14 years, the diner traveled to Middletown, R.I. and was rebranded as “Tommy’s Deluxe Diner.”  During that phase of its life the diner was featured on Charles Osgood’s CBS Sunday Morning show, along with many other appearances on TV.

Finally, in 2007, they transported the diner across the country to Oakley, Utah, and its new owners carefully renovated it back to its original condition with love and lots of money.  The only modern additions are flat TVs, air conditioning, and tabletop remote jukeboxes.  And who doesn’t like TV, A/C and table-side song selections?

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You can read all about the history, the menu and operating hours here: https://roadislanddiner.com. As an added bonus the people who work at the diner are  friendly and welcoming, and the food is delicious.  And my husband did not forget the milkshake — giving it a 5 star review.

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Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

With the pandemic, it may be closed at the moment, so please call ahead.

Summer in the City … Park City

And do head for a visit… not only to the Road Island Diner but also to Park City, Utah.  Because the diner is only one of many treasures to enjoy in the area all year long.  For years we made the mistake of visiting only in the winter, spending our trip entirely on the mountain.  Skiing is a blast, don’t get me wrong, but coming only for ski season meant I was missing out on so much else.  I’ve met many people here who came to Park City to ski, but that it was a visit during the summer or fall that caused them to fall in love with the area and decide to make it their home.  It is definitely a four-season wonderland — so plan your next trip, for this fall!


We Chose Joy

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A little more than an hour’s winding, curvy drive from the San Diego Airport to the border town of Tecate, Mexico, we arrived at the Ranch on the last Saturday of March for the first-ever Gathering of Joy.  The goal?  To create connections and dive into discussions of how perspective, humility, humor, acceptance, forgiveness, gratitude, compassion and generosity can help us cultivate a life of Joy, no matter the circumstances.  Happiness is a great feeling — who doesn’t want to feel happy?  But it’s fleeting as well. This week was about not just being happy, or about how to remove all sorrow from your life, but about how you can have a deep abiding sense of Joy regardless of the circumstances.  A happiness that lasts, and that shines from within.

The Book of Joy

The Ranch offered us a beautiful setting in which to learn, blessing us with everything from sacred Mount Kuchumaa to abundant wildflowers blooming along the winding paths, creating a sense of peace that created an ideal environment in which to connect, build relationships, and learn.

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Magic was in the impromptu and unexpected moments sprinkled throughout the week, from being treated to an original Maya Fiennes song after hearing her story…

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to sharing a delicious dinner in a six-acre organic garden under the stars, with surprise performances from Opera Ambulante, inspiration through poetic entertainment from Gill Sotu, and music from Jake Shimabukuro…

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to being part of Damien’s once-in-a-lifetime experience courtesy of a man whose heart is at least as big as his incredible talent, at Jake’s Thursday night concert.

 

We made friends.  We ate a lot of vegetables.  We laughed and we cried.  We hiked and meditated and listened and learned.  We are eternally grateful to each of you for taking this week out of your busy lives to gather together to cultivate joy.

As Doug Abrams says in the close to the book our week was centered around:

“…we would be missing the main message of the Dalai Lama’s and the Archbishop’s teachings if we did not emphasize that the source of true joy, as evidenced all week long and in their lives, is in our relationships with other people. … Ultimately, joy is not something to learn, it is something to live.  And our greatest joy is lived in deep, loving, and generous relationships with others.”

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We’ll be premiering a video featuring some of the highlights of the week at a soon-to-be-, and you are all invited to attend.  Details are forthcoming.  If you are not able to make the meal, we’ll be adding the video to our website the next day, for all to enjoy.  And, as our plans evolve over the next few months for our next Gathering event,  we will be sure to share all of the details with you in hopes that we can continue learning to live our best lives, in relationship and with deep and profound JOY.


My Butt is Sitting, But Will I Write?

To be a writer, write.  Butt in chair.  Shitty first drafts. (Thank you Anne Lamott.)  I’ve heard or read all the advice and yet, though I spend much of my day with my butt in my chair, what writing I do ends up as a tweet or an email, not paragraphs and pages toward my dreamed-of creative pursuit.

“How’s your writing coming?” is the oft-asked question by well-meaning acquaintances who I now deeply regret telling of my hope to tell a story of a kick-ass woman from medieval times.  And, though I love research, I can’t even blame my lack of progress on too much of that.  No, I let time escape by other means, despite purchasing a variety of planners all promising to help me manage that elusive construct humans have created to give a pretense of structure to our lives.

Yesterday it was the holiday cards I had to get ordered if they were to arrive before the holiday was over.  And it’s true, I did need to get them ordered if I was to send my usual multi-photo, narrated card.  And the website I used last year used up way too much time by creating seemingly limitless obstacles to what should be a simple task of uploading the photos I’d already placed in a Christmas card album on iPhoto.  It should have been easy, but the website kept reloading and my slowly loaded photos somehow kept disappearing and I was determined not to give up because it was the only site that I could find that allowed Christmas card booklets — yes, booklets — to give me room for all 50 of my must-have 2017 photos with plenty of space for sharing the story of our year.

Alas, and kudos to me for finally admitting defeat (admittedly difficult for me) and going to another, Wirecutter-recommended site for a 12-photo card that, praise the Lord, uploaded my edited list of photos quickly and without technical difficulties.  (SimplytoImpress online holiday card site).  And even though it also was intuitive in loading my Word address list from last year, I needlessly complicated matters by an inefficient method of attempting to confirm addresses that wasted at least another hour.  Finally, my cards were complete and off to the printer, but my day was also near its end, without one word of writing on my much-discussed novel being written yet again.  I had Christmas cards, and two trips to the grocery story completed and my dog walked multiple times and a delicious home-made roasted tomato soup made, and I could give up-to-the-minute updates on the spread of the Lilac fire in North County even though for the first time since I’ve lived in San Diego the fire posed no threat to my house or home, but another day ended without writing more than the paragraph on the back of my Christmas card.

And yet I could justify my day.  After all, it’s nice to keep in touch with folks via holiday cards and I have four children whose photos need to appear equally in the end product and way too many photos — most dimly lit or unflattering or in need of cropping or other adjustments — to comb through to find just the right ones to tell the story of 2017 at our home, and I needed to ensure the addresses were correct, didn’t I?  And homemade soup is good for me, as are long walks with my dog.  But none of that is getting any of my writing done, and therein lies the problem.  Whether of not the way I spent my time can be justified, it is without question that I did not prioritize my writing so that it, too, got done.

So today I will at least write on this long-ignored blog a post that helps me try to make sense of how it is that I am not pursuing what I believe is my passion.  Why I am choosing to waste precious time despite knowing how valuable it is and how quickly it passes.  How it is that I can keep buying planners and even sometimes writing my goals and “to do” lists in them and yet not doing what I’ve listed to do, ignoring the goals I set for myself, disappointing myself over and over and over again.  Maybe putting it out there will help me come to grips with whatever it is that ails me, that keeps me from fulfilling my commitments.

I want to live audaciously, bravely, big.  Yet I’m constrained by the rules that no longer serve me, by the good girl perfectionist I taught myself to be so long ago that it’s all my cells remember, it’s all my brain can recall.  It’s a prison I created to give myself worth and it’s damn hard to knock down.  Especially when it’s hard to argue with being good being a good thing.  Being nice seems, well, nice.  And there is nothing wrong with being good or nice but I sense that I need to be more than that to reach into my creative soul that I’ve constrained for so long and free it to be more than the small person afraid to take up space I’ve occupied for so long that it’s become me and I don’t know how to be the person I long to be.  Another day has been given to me, and it’s not yet over, so let’s see how this one ends.  One thing for sure, I’ve done SOME writing, and that’s a start at least!

 


Rediscovering Park City … in the Summer

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Those runs you careen down on your skis or snowboard during Park City and Deer Valley winters?  They are just as fun in the summer, whether on a mountain bike (a little fast for me) or on your own two feet.  We’re spending three weeks in July getting a taste of all the area has to offer in the summer, and having a blast.

In fact, biking and hiking are only two ways of getting down the trails at Park City — ziplines, an Alpine coaster and an Alpine slide are options as well.  Purchase tickets for single rides (which are pricey) or buy an all-day Alpine pass and take advantage of not only those but many other activities for families, including minature golf.  Purchase your all-day Alpine Pass online by 10 p.m. the night before for a 10% discount.  For shorter lines try going early, or midweek.

The ride to the top for the Alpine slide is leisurely  … but that leaves plenty of time to soak in the scenery.  And get your Go Pro ready to record the action as you prepare to zoom your way downhill.  Or clip your phone to your shirt and record a video to make sure your downhill slide is recorded to show off to your friends later.  Kids and adults alike love the ride, and one good and somewhat unique feature is that each cart is individually controlled by you, the rider.  So push the lever back to brake if you feel you’re going too fast, or forward to enjoy the full experience … you have complete control over the speed.  I recommend that you go for it — the  carts will stay on the track so let go and have a great trip down.

After you tire of the slide make your way a few yards over to the Alpine Coaster, also at the Park City base and included in the all-day pass or as a single-ticket ride.  We have to return to try the coaster, as despite clear blue skies the ride was halted for a 30-minute wait because of a lightning strike within 10 miles.  And then 29 minutes into our wait what occurred but a second lightning strike — thus re-setting the clock for another 30-minute wait.  Not wanting to spend any more of our afternoon in line, we headed downhill for dinner.  Fortunately, even though they didn’t have to, the resort refunded the cost of the all-day pass and charged us only for what we actually had been able to ride, and the restaurant gave us a discount as well, to ensure everyone left feeling good about the experience.  We did!  Below is a photo of some people who were able to enjoy the Alpine coaster, which we look forward to enjoying next week.

alpine coasterThe next day, as we headed out on another adventure we couldn’t help but notice a large Farmers Market in the Cabriolet parking lot.  Despite having a full refrigerator back at our townhouse, I couldn’t resist stopping by.  And I’m so glad we did.  We picked up onions too beautiful to resist, and corn that cooked on the grill that night per a Bobby Flay recipe (10 minute salt water soak) was the most delicious corn on the cob I have ever had.  We rounded out the veggies with some garlic scape pesto, grass-fed beef, beefsteak tomatoes and lemon pepper seasoning, all of which I can highly recommend.

The Park City Farmer’s Market takes place at Park City Resort Canyons (Off Highway 224) every Wednesday from 12-6 pm, starting the first Wednesday of June until the last Wednesday of October each year. Each week you’ll find a huge assortment of fresh local goods from Utah Farmers and vendors, usually organic.  It’s a don’t miss!

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Thursday we headed out for some easy hikes (or walks, which is more my speed).  Using our Alpine Pass a few days earlier we had riden the Gondola at Canyons Village up to a few trails, but this time we were looking for walks that did not require riding a lift (or a very long and steep climb uphill).  In the Bear Claw area we found Rob’s Trail, which was a great choice with moderate incline and plenty of shade.  We stopped after a mile but there are many options for longer hikes through a variety of connected trails, with good maps located at trailhead to point you in the right direction.

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Sunday morning was dedicated to “white water rafting” — although “white water” is somewhat of a misnomer — on the Weber River.  It’s Class II, mainly, so no wild rides, but very fun for everyone and a great way to spend a few hours in nature.  We went with All Seasons Adventures and they did a great job of ensuring everyone stayed safe while having a great time.  Sunday afternoon the Weber River fills with tubers, which makes maneuvering a raft quite the challenge, so we recommend the morning trip or going on another day.  The guides played Tuber Bingo, looking for the predictable “Rafter Walking Back” after someone tries to ride an inflated porpoise or swan down the Class II drop and ends up with mouths full of water (in addition to the porpoise and swan we saw a giant inflated duck that the man was somehow admirably managing to stay upright on).

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Of course, our favorite way to start and end every Park City day is sitting on our deck, enjoying the sounds of the creek while we barbecue some fish or burgers (and Farmers Market corn!) and wind down with a glass of wine.   And then a stint in the jacuzzi on the deck, watching the squirrels and counting the stars and our blessings each night.

We hope you’ll make plans to visit the Park City area this summer or next.  And if you do, you’ll find either of our two townhouses comfortable, welcoming, and conveniently located to every place you want to go.


Lightness of Being, Simplified

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It’s so easy to over-complicate, well, everything.  See something you like, and buy it.  Hate to say “no” to good causes or good friends or, well, just about anyone or anything?  Easier to say “yes” and figure out later how to deal with it.  Want those around you to be happy?  Go along with what they would like rather than disappoint them.  Step by step, day by day, each purchase, each “yes,” each twisting yourself every which way so that you can please those around you creates a maze of complications, of stuff, of weight on your shoulders that presses you down, that depresses you.  Resentment builds and you snap over the simplest of things, when all you were trying was to do was to be good, to do good.  And what you end up with is complications, stresses, stuff cluttering your days and your life.

It feels so good to clean out your closets, to leave some white space on your calendar, to simplify.  It leaves space to take a breath, to take a nap, to soak up the beauty of this moment before you, without worrying about what’s behind or ahead.  I constantly strive toward a goal of creating more light, both in the sense of brightness and in the sense of weightlessness.  One path of achieving that goal is to remember that it’s the simple things in life that are often the tastiest, the most nourishing, the most satisfying.

My intention for the day – to Simplify.  Check in tomorrow to see how I do!

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Escaping into Dreams

Why is it that my dreams are so vivid, so imaginative, but during the day when I sit down to write I too often struggle with attempting to create the right character arc, or enough drama and tension, or an interesting dialogue.  Why does my mind have no problem telling an intriguing story when left to its own devices?  In my dreams I discover all these rooms I had no idea existed in the very house in which I’d lived for years.  I fly.  I seem to frequent elevators that fail to stop at the appointed floor and instead zoom up into space, sailing over the city until I land, somehow uninjured, in a field.  The ordinary humdrum of life is filtered out, leaving more excitement that I can conjure up when my eyes are open and my body upright.

Speaking of dreams, I had dinner in Bali last month with a man who told me he writes down his dreams every morning, and he has more than 1,500 dreams recorded, which he assured me was “more than any other man on earth.”  I myself haven’t had the discipline to write my dreams each night for 1,500 nights in a row, but I’m not so sure that my dining companion is the only man on earth who has done so.  And he takes his dreams to heart.  God told him in his dreams that he was the King that will bring back an ancient Kingdom for the Indonesian people.  And that he is from the moon.  And all sorts of other quite unusual things that made for a most interesting dinner.

Dreams are a mystery, a way to connect to ourselves at a deeper level, thought-provoking, so scary at times that they haunt us even after we awake.  Dreams are our imagination soaring large, uninhibited by the constraints society and family and responsibility and fear have placed on our consciousness, free to be who we are or who we want to be.

All this writing of dreaming has me thinking of bed, so I think I’ll sign off and snuggle under the covers and await what movie my mind has in store for me tonight!