Bedtime Story: Dreaming

I dream every night. They say dreams are the windows to the soul. If they are, I think I’ve replaced the windows several times. I’m not sure why I dream every night. I also don’t sleep well. I wake up, almost every two hours. Exactly. And every two hours when I awake I awake from a different dream.

My dreams vary greatly. Many I don’t remember. Sometimes when I wake up I feel angry, lonely, sad. Perhaps my soul is bringing forth a cleansing. A cleansing because my body has exhaled agony which has been held for many years. Sadness that was unresolved. Loneliness that was denied. This dreaming and waking up many times during the night has been going on for over six months. I don’t know why it started and I have no idea if and when it will end. Last year was a “tough” year for me, relatively speaking. Amongst health issues and relationship woes and a few other things, the majority of last year was spent in a rather deep level of depression and anxiety. I didn’t start feeling better until late summer. I was starting to feel like myself enjoying brunch with friends, renewed energy at work and becoming more active. And then the dreams started.

I don’t fear going to sleep. The dreams aren’t violent nor bothersome. I’ve come to the conclusion that the depths of my being, the memories – good, bad and otherwise – are coming to the surface and working themselves out. I’ve spent way too much time rewinding the tapes of a neglected childhood, a failed marriage and choices I made that led to not so great consequences. In a way, I feel my body, through my nightly regime of dreams, is forgiving myself. Releasing all negative energy, poor memories and bringing forth the opportunity to begin anew. Like spring, my dreams are allowing me to begin again, reset the clock, stop the tapes, muffle the voices. Perhaps when spring arrives, my dreams will subside. Perhaps I will sleep more soundly. I can only dream that will come true.

Do you dream? Do you remember your dreams? What do they mean to you?

“I’ve dreamed a lot. I’m tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming. No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake. In dreams I have achieved everything.”
— Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

 

 
 

Is Change the New Normal?

I’ve written numerous times about change. If anything, change is constant. The onslaught of technology with new applications, software and hardware has made everything, it seems, move faster.

Last week my boss called and said we needed to meet. This RARELY happens. She telecommutes and I work from home a couple of days per week. We see each other maybe 2-3 times per month. It’s not that we don’t talk; it’s mostly on scheduled calls. I wondered why she had such urgency in her voice.

As I followed her back to a meeting room she seemed happy. Maybe it was good news. She quickly informed me our team was being reorganized under a different leader.

I’m fine with the re-org as this was not the first time. Oh no, I’ve been re-org’d two times prior. This was the third time in 18 months. Change.

Change

I work for a large company and in 18 months have had:

  • 3 phone number changes

  • 4 office building changes

  • 2 email changes

  • 4 title changes

Do I have a business card? Heck no. A nameplate? Not even (we work in a “mobile” environment and are not assigned to any offices/desks/cubes). Job title? Nope. My job roles and responsibilities change faster than the seasons. Change.

And it’s not just my professional life that seems always in a constant wave of change. My personal life does as well. Sometimes by choice. Change always, for various reasons, occurs. Change seems to be moving faster as I get older. Earlier this month I started taking a class from the University of California, worked on rebranding vevelicious and getting back on social media, began working with a personal trainer and joined a gym. All in all, a pretty successful month…with lots of change. Good change. My new normal – for today.

I don’t know what tomorrow, next week, next month or next year brings but I know change will be a component. Good, bad or otherwise, change is constant and it is the new normal.

What I'm Thankful For

Tis the time for giv­ing thanks, think­ing about what we’re thank­ful for and hope­fully, let­ting those in our lives know we’re thank­ful for their friend­ship, com­pan­ion­ship, and love. Tis also the sea­son of mate­r­ial abun­dance — gifts we buy for oth­ers, and our­selves. As I con­tem­plate all that I’m thank­ful for in my life, there’s much. True, I’ve had my dark days (months and even years per­haps), but though I may sit on my “pitty-potty” once in awhile, I do real­ize there are many oth­ers in this vast world of ours that strug­gle daily for basic needs — food, shel­ter, med­ical care. It’s when I think of oth­ers less for­tu­nate that I know that no mat­ter how bad a day I’m hav­ing or my cur­rent strug­gles, my life is blessed. And for this I’m ever thankful.

Con­tem­plat­ing what I’m most thank­ful for this year, I’ve come up with the following:

MUSIC - oh how I love music. I’m most thank­ful for hav­ing seen my favorite singer/songwriter, Brandi Carlile, per­form 6 times live.

BOOKS - and I love to read. Every­thing. I’m thank­ful for the elo­quent, lyri­cal writ­ings of my favorite poet, Paul Lau­rence Dun­bar.

ART — I adore art, espe­cially paint­ings. I’m thank­ful for the cre­ative abil­ity I have to paint

PRIVATE TIME — this is some­thing I crave. I’m thank­ful for the quiet, pri­vate time I have — even if it’s in small amounts.

LEARNING/TEACHING — I have a great time teach­ing and am a life­long learner. For this, I’m ever grateful.

LIPSTICK — funny, I know. But this girl loves loves her lip­stick and espe­cially of the red vari­ety. Thank you, Sephora - love, one of your VIBs.

GIRLFRIENDS — my life wouldn’t be com­plete with­out the tremen­dous group of girl­friends I have in my life — oh.so.thankful.

And YOU. Yes, you — our deli­cious, veve­li­cious read­ers. I thank you for pro­vid­ing me the oppor­tu­nity to express myself and those of our won­der­ful team of blog­gers. I’m espe­cially thank­ful for the veve­li­cious team who’ve joined me on this fun and fab­u­lous jour­ney into blog­land. Merci beau­coup!

What are you thank­ful for this hol­i­day season?

Writ­ten by Ms. Renee Vevea, liv­ing each day with grat­i­tude.


The Anti Aging Diet

Ah December…holiday time which means lots of out­ings — office par­ties, fam­ily get togeth­ers and cock­tail hours with friends. Decem­ber is like the appe­tizer for Jan­u­ary - the month when ads for every kind of diet and exer­cise equip­ment ever made are adver­tised to us 24/7 and many of us make that all too com­mon res­o­lu­tion to diet.

This week I went out after work for a cock­tail (for me = diet coke) with a new friend from work. As we were sit­ting across from one another in the dimly lit lounge of a restau­rant, she asked how old I was. Never embar­rassed or both­ered by my age, I quickly answered, “51”. “No way” she said, “I don’t believe you”. Well, at the age of 51 why oh why would I lie? Her eyes opened widely as she told me she needed proof, of which I quickly offered up my driver’s license (birth year: 1962). I’ve never been too hung up on age — there are peo­ple who are 18 and act like they’re 30; and peo­ple who are 30 who act like they’re 18 (and this goes for their looks as well!). My friend is 31; she thought I was 37. LOVE the com­pli­ment.

Most peo­ple who try to guess my age usu­ally place me in the early 40s. Pretty cool for a mother of a 24-year old. 

I thank genet­ics, decent liv­ing and my per­sonal “anti-aging diet” for keep­ing me look­ing younger than my 51 years. I’m lucky to have two grand­moth­ers who, with their lumi­nous skin and min­i­mal lines looked awe­some as they aged. My mother, though she died at the too young age of 52, always looked beau­ti­ful and to me, glam­orous (a for­mer beauty queen!). Mom would step out of the house with a brush of mas­cara and a stroke of lip­stick on her lips and look like a mil­lion bucks.

I don’t smoke, drink min­i­mal alco­hol and askew the sun (though I was a “sun bunny” in my teens.…which I have paid for with a his­tory of skin can­cer). I owe my skin tone, lack of vis­i­ble wrin­kles, full lips and cheeks to the “anti-aging diet”. Any­one who knows me knows that for most of my life I’ve strug­gled with my weight — up and down, down and up…and at this point, I think if I do lose those pounds that I prob­a­bly should, the fat would leave my face, the wrin­kles and lines would slowly start to appear…and BAM!.….I will look ‘my age’…51. The “anti-aging diet” (read: no dieting…don’t lose weight…stay pleas­antly plump) keeps my wrin­kles and lines at bay…and to think I don’t need to use $100 skin creams!

I will admit that a pos­i­tive and happy out­look on life shared with lov­ing friends and fam­ily and self-acceptance also help in keep­ing me look ‘not my age’ (or at least I think so). Maybe that is the key to the ‘anti-aging diet’ — self-acceptance. Now there’s a res­o­lu­tion I can live with.

Writ­ten By Ms. Renee Vevea, always try­ing to act and look younger than she truly is.

For Connie

For those of you who are for­tu­nate to have a best friend — one you can con­fide in, tell your deep­est secrets, fears and wants, one who is always lov­ingly hon­est and sup­port­ive, keep them close. I’m lucky — and very thank­ful — to say that I have many friends. And I would say that some are my “best” friends. But the one who is clos­est to my heart and has known me the longest (over 25 years!) and has been with me thru the ups, downs, good and bad, is Con­nie.

Con­nie and I met at a small com­pany we worked at in Rapid City, South Dakota (Mt. Rush­more any­one?). Now, she and her won­der­ful hus­band Jeff live in Texas and I’m in Min­nesota. We talk and text reg­u­larly and see each other at least once a year. I recently made the trip to Texas (why would I have her come here when it was still snow­ing and in the 80s there?). I always look for­ward to spend­ing time with her — we play scrab­ble and domi­nos, drink cof­fee until mid­night (and can still get to sleep!), we shop, find quaint restau­rants to try out, go for dri­ves and BBQ at home (Con­nie is a fab­u­lous cook!). She always bakes a cake for me because she owned a bak­ery back in South Dakota (she never let me frost or dec­o­rate a cake but I did make frost­ing once until I lifted the beat­ers with­out turn­ing the mixer off and the ceil­ing got “frosted”.….she sim­ply walked away and left me in frost­ing hell look­ing like a snowman). 

And…we laugh. I’m talk­ing about the kind of laughs that bring tears to your eyes. Laughs from our guts. That’s one of the things I love about Con­nie — she makes me laugh. I enjoyed four days of con­stant laugh­ter in Texas.

Admit­tedly, we both had a hard win­ter this year. Me strug­gling with what seemed like 8 months of snow, dark days and nights and extreme cold in Min­nesota and her recu­per­at­ing from a head on motor­cy­cle acci­dent (she’s recov­er­ing beau­ti­fully). Since I’ve returned from Texas and her feed­ing me one to two sal­ads a day (my body went into a sort of veg­etable shock), she made a deal with me, which I’ve kept. Con­nie would read veve­li­cious every day and I would accept her “chal­lenge” (Sun­days excluded). So far, so good.

This past week’s chal­lenges have been rather easy: eat a salad for lunch, eat a salad with no cheese and use low fat dress­ing (I dreaded this one but did it), and drink no pop (I’m a diet Dr. Pep­per fan). I get it and know what she’s doing. If I start mak­ing changes they become habits. And I’m the first in the room to raise my hand and say “Yes, I need to change some of my behav­iors”. This past week I had a salad every day for lunch — and did switch to no cheese and low fat dress­ing. Pop? Well, not totally given up but cut back.

But here’s the chal­lenge pre­sented to me that took a bit of thinking:

On sep­a­rate pieces of paper:

1. Write down five things about me that I feel are my strengths

2. Write down two things about me that I feel are my weak­nesses; then tear the piece of paper and throw it away

Tape the first piece of paper (#1) to my refrig­er­a­tor or bath­room mir­ror and read it every­day. And then,

3. Text Con­nie the list of my “fab­u­lous 5 strengths”. I did.

This wasn’t a dif­fi­cult chal­lenge per se, but the ‘tear­ing up’ of my so-called weak­nesses was dif­fi­cult. In a way, it was lib­er­at­ing. Con­nie is more than a best friend, we call each other ‘sis’, and my sis knows me bet­ter some­times than I know myself.

In the years I’ve come to know and love Con­nie she has taught me many things sim­ply by her actions. She has the patience of a saint. Really. Where I would have told some­one to screw off (or worse), she sim­ply smiles and walks away. Con­nie has more love in her than any­one I’ve ever met and isn’t afraid to show it — or tell you. She’s a lov­ing mother, wife, sis­ter, and daugh­ter. Con­nie is the epit­ome of what a best friend is and I’m so thank­ful I call her my best friend. I love you, sis.

Writ­ten by Ms. Renee Vevea, thank­ful for all the friends in her life.

Find the Holy

I woke up early this morn­ing — a wet, gray, cloudy sum­mer morn­ing. I like rain. For me, rain is a cleans­ing of sorts — I feel bap­tized in a sense. Rain cleans the air, cleanses the streets, and clears the clouds that occupy the sky and some­times too often occupy my mind. After quickly dress­ing, I left the warm con­fines of my apart­ment and headed out­side to a small restau­rant and slid into a booth; ordered a glo­ri­ous pot of hot tea and a warm scone and read the daily paper. And I actu­ally READ the paper; not skimmed the head­lines which is my usual modus operandi hav­ing lit­tle time to absorb all the infor­ma­tion placed on the pages. A head­line quickly caught my eyes - “‘Holy’ moments sur­round us” by Dean Nel­son (USA TODAY).

My spir­i­tual life, is, to say the least, in tran­si­tion. Or rather in con­tem­pla­tionI’m a Bene­dic­tine oblate for a monastery. An oblate is one who forms a com­mit­ment to Bene­dic­tine spir­i­tu­al­ity that is given uncon­di­tion­ally from the heart, that needs to be cul­ti­vated in “good and bad” days. I admit to being much more dili­gent in my role (or respon­si­bil­ity) as an oblate years back, but in recent years have struggled.

There are seven ancient sacra­ments that orga­nized Chris­tian­ity has rec­og­nized for thou­sands of years: Bap­tism, Holy Orders, Con­fes­sion, Con­fir­ma­tion, Mar­riage, Extreme Unc­tion, and Eucharist. Grow­ing up Catholic, I have expe­ri­enced 5 of the 7. The point of Nelson’s arti­cle is that one doesn’t have to expe­ri­ence the sacra­ments in a church or in front of a priest (or clergy); but rather in those moments when we share our­selves with oth­ers. Nel­son asks “haven’t we all been part of con­ver­sa­tions where they some­how take on a deeper dimen­sion, even though it’s just two peo­ple talking?”.

For 5 years I went to a spir­i­tual direc­tor (a Bene­dic­tine nun) at the monastery. A lov­ing, gra­cious, knowl­edgable nun who reminds me of my pater­nal grand­mother; Sr. Mary awoke in me the spir­i­tual, the holy. Before I started spir­i­tual direc­tion I was an empty, lonely ves­sel. It’s often said that those going through spir­i­tual direc­tion should be pre­pared for your life to take a 360 degree turn. Mine did; rad­i­cally. My life did a com­plete turn­around. Rela­tion­ships changed, some died, some grew. I changed.

I no longer attend church or go to any reli­gious cel­e­bra­tions. I do pray every­day — and share my feel­ings and thoughts with those peo­ple clos­est in my life. These are my holy moments. I rel­ish the time I spend with fam­ily and friends shar­ing my feel­ings, lis­ten­ing to theirs. It never occurred to me that these are holy moments. Per­haps my spir­i­tual life is in tran­si­tion but is mov­ing towards what it was always meant to be — in the holy of now.

Writ­ten by Ms. Renee Vevea, always seek­ing, search­ing and learning.