Connie's Blog

gathering17 300Thinking about summer? Dreaming about being in a peaceful setting with like-minded people? Join a small group of women for the Gathering the Soul in the Wilderness retreat, August 6-12 at the Diamond J Ranch, Ennis, MT.

Come to explore your dreams, horseback ride through spectacular terrain, journey to meet your power animal, find and claim your unique gift. A deeply transformative experience!

Please go to my website, www.gatheringthesoul.com, for details.

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Here's an excerpt from my new novel, Willow's Gift, that you might enjoy!

A few nights later as Willow was going to bed, still upset with herself about Shadow's broken leg, she remembered her dream of the lovely white raven and its mysterious invitation to take her dream traveling. She snuggled under her light blanket, closed her eyes, and imagined the beautiful bird coming to her when she was asleep. "You are so pure and white, I'm going to call you Lily. Lily, Lily, where are you? Come visit me." And with that, she dozed off, wishing the white raven would come flying into her room.

She awakened abruptly in the middle of the night from a vivid, astonishing dream. In her dream, the white raven had come to her and perched on the footboard of her bed. She fanned her feathered wings and spoke to Willow in words that Willow understood.

"Willow, come fly with me," she beckoned, turning toward a nearby window.

Willow felt her heart leap with excited anticipation. Then she was lightly, magically floating through the screened window behind the raven, leaving her physical body lying in bed. There was an abundance of light coming from an unknown source, and she could see with both eyes, which seemed miraculous even in her dream. She spread her arms as though they were wings and easily ascended above her house and the forest . . .

So many books, so little time! I try to keep my commitment to sit down in a comfortable chair for at least an hour a day with a good book in hand and a cup of steaming, honeyed herbal tea within easy reach. But between professional and volunteer responsibilities, relationship tending, necessary mundane chores, and tempting distractions, that commitment is often hard to keep.
And yet, when I look back over the past year, I realize I’ve read and enjoyed a number of wonderful books, some of them extraordinary.  The best ones have kept me reading way longer than an hour at a time, lost in a compelling plot, fascinating characters, or an astounding evocation of place. I am also fortunate to belong to a Wilderness Book Club, and in the books we’ve read I’ve been transported imaginally to amazing settings across the globe: mountain, ocean, desert, flora and fauna, have all come vividly to life in those books.
What a treat it is to put aside nagging concerns, “to do” lists, politics, the computer and TV . . . and just curl up with a book. There are few things in life I find more pleasurable.
Here is the list of books, in no particular order, that I most enjoyed in 2015:

    •    H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald
    •    Beyond Words, Carl Safina
    •    All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
    •    The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah
    •    Sidewalk Oracles, Robert Moss
    •    The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen
    •    Forty Rules of Love, Elif Shafak
    •    The Old Ways, Robert MacFarlane
    •    Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
    •    Being Mortal, Atul Gawande
    •    Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver
    •    Pigs in Heaven, Barbara Kingsolver
    •    Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand
    •    Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer
    •    The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan

Robert Moss (www.mossdreams.com) is a shamanic dreamwork explorer, teacher, writer, and worldwide workshop leader.  Though I've had a lot of Jungian dreamwork training and have been working with dreams - mine, and many others in my thirty year psychotherapy practice, I have enjoyed learning and practicing Robert's techniques in his Dream Teacher Training. Dream re-entry, Dream Theatre, Shamanic Journeying to find power animals and guides, and Creative Expression are among the tools he uses to help people heal through dreamwork.  Drumming is integral to his work, as its steady rhythm enables dreamers to relax and open up to their imagination and to other realms. This is a different experience from dream analysis and can richly enhance the more traditional ways of exploring dreams.

One of the basic tools Robert teaches is the Lightning Dreamwork Process.  It is quick and effective! Naturally, because I am a psychotherapist, in my practice I expand the process to include more of the dreamer's history, current life situation, etc.  But anyone - telling a dream to a friend, for example- can benefit from the Lightning Dreamwork Process.  It is worth knowing. Here are the steps to follow, assuming you are the listener:
     Ask the dreamer to:
          -  Tell the dream, as if it is happening in the present.
          -  Give the dream a title.  This will bring more focus to what follows.
          -  Tell you how he/she felt when she woke from the dream. This is crucial to understanding.
     Then ask:
          - "What in your real life - past, present, or possibly future - might correspond to the images in
            the dream?" Give the dreamer time to think about this, and ask questions about the images
            in the dream, e.g., if there's a bear encounter in the dream, "How do you feel about bears in
            general?" "Have you read or seen anything about bear encounters in the past few days?"
          - "What do you want to know about this dream?"
     Then say (because you have been picking up clues from what the dreamer has told you):
          - "If it were my dream, I'd wonder about..." and say what it is you're curious about, i.e, "I'd
            wonder if this bear came to tell me something I need to know", or, "I wonder if there's a bear
            part of me that I'm unaware of and need to make more conscious."  This helps the dreamer
            expand his/her perspective on the dream and go more deeply into the possible meaning of the
           dream. Remember also that because dreams can be both literal and symbolic, the dream can have
           more than one meaning.
     Then say: "What would you like to do with this dream?"  There are several possibilities.  The
          dreamer could re-enter the dream to dialogue with the bear; re-enter the dream and let his/her
          imagination go beyond the ending of the dream to see what happens next; sketch the dream;
          write dream poetry; make a bumper sticker based on an "AHA" about the dream's meaning;
          or do dream theatre with a friend or friends.

         Next time:  Nightmares!

Carl Jung coined the word synchronicity and defined it as “meaningful coincidence”. He paid close attention to synchronous events in his life and in the lives of the patients with whom he worked. In his writings - including a long essay called Synchronicity  (Jung: Synchronicity- an Acausal Connecting Principle, 1955:144-5)- he explored how meaningful coincidence occurs and why paying attention to these occurrences yields extraordinarily valuable results.

Synchronous events are apparently acausal – in other words, something happens that goes beyond the usual explanation of why things happen, the cause and effect theory. Without venturing into the physics which can explain how synchronicities occur, let me attempt a simple explanation.  Each of us has an energy field around us and within us.  There is also a large energy field outside of us, sometimes called the universal energy field, or unity of existence.  Our thoughts create energy forms (like the balloons over people’s heads in cartoons), and the more focused we are on a particular thought, the more energy is concentrated in that thought form.  When you experience meaningful coincidence it is because your thought has found resonance in the universal energy field and created (or drawn to you), a physical manifestation of that thought in the outer world. Our thoughts are much more powerful that we know.

Recently I had two powerful experiences of synchronicity.  The first occurred in August at the Blacktail Ranch in Montana, where I was leading a Gathering the Soul in the Wilderness Retreat. The week before the retreat I had spent many hours researching wolverines because there is a wolverine in a new novel I’m writing.  Wolverines were very much on my mind, though I’d never seen one and didn’t expect to. They are very rare and generally live in high mountain country.

It was the last day of the retreat and a wrangler, several women, and I were riding back to the ranch lodge from a sacred Native American cave where I had led a shamanic journey for each woman to find her unique gift.  It was early evening, and still light.  One woman suddenly stopped her horse and pointed to the moving bushes on the other side of a stream about twenty feet from us.  Out of the bushes came - A WOLVERINE!  It ran a few feet up a steep hill, then turned around and stared at us.  We stared back, awestruck, taking in the beautiful coat, gold in front and mahogany toward the back, the short legs, the badger-like snout.  A chill ran up my spine, the hair on my arms stood on end, and tears spilled from my eyes.  A few seconds later the wolverine turned around, raced up the hill, and disappeared.

When we returned to the lodge we excitedly told the ranch owners, Tag and Sandra, what we had seen, knowing how unusual a sighting it was.  Tag was born and raised on the ranch, had lived there many years, and had never seen a wolverine!

To me, this was an extraordinary example of synchronicity.

The second experience I had was also related to my new novel.  I had been researching wildfire, and I was sitting in my living room reading Norman MacLean’s Young Men and Fire, about a catastrophic fire in Montana many years ago.  MacLean’s description of the flames and destruction was vivid and disturbing.  I glanced up and out the large living room window that frames expansive wheat fields and a mountain range beyond.  Fire raged in the foothills just across the fields!  Flames shot up twenty or thirty feet, and the fire looked like it was out of control, spreading fast.  Alarmed, I called the sheriff to report it and was thankful to learn that it was actually a controlled burn of felled beetle-killed pine trees.  Again, a powerful experience of synchronicity.

Many people dream of a friend or relative they haven’t connected with in years, only to receive an e-mail or phone call the next day from the person, or see that person unexpectedly in an airport or on the street. One might imagine the perfect job, a seemingly impossible job to find, only to hear by “chance” that such a job exists and is open.  Synchronicities occur frequently, but in order to benefit from them we need to pay attention, to be alert to the meaning of what we usually refer to as coincidence.

There is a connection between our thoughts, and our dreams, and what happens externally. In the higher states of consciousness we are much more in tune with the flow of universal energy, deeply aware of the oneness of creation. The more awakened we are – the more conscious and enlightened – the more the inner and outer of our lives will be in synch.