I dreamed about shoes recently, twice. According to on-line dream interpreters, I may have some rethinking to do about my writing career.
When I was a teenager, I loved shoes. My first job other than babysitting was at Woolworth’s at the Big Town Mall in Mesquite, Texas. Every week when I got my pay envelope, I went straight to the shoe store and bought a pair of shoes. I wasn’t quite on a par with Imelda Marcos, but I had shoes to match most of my outfits. I loved spike heels, how they made my legs look, the attention I got when I walked in them. The love affair with footwear continued into my adulthood, but it began to cool with the popularity of platforms and chunky heels. Then I developed back problems, and my orthopedist and my physical therapist ganged up on me and nixed the high heels. I had to admit that the lower heels were much more comfortable, and since the latest shoes styles didn’t really appeal to me, I gave in and lowered my sights, so to speak.
Over the next decade or so, as my back recovered, my heel height crept back up a bit but never to the towering heights of the past. Then I met David. David’s idea of dressing up is black jeans and a polo shirt, and when we went out, I usually wore motorcycle boots. In 2005 we moved to Florida, and I started working out of my home office. The dress code was flip flops or no shoes at all, so my collection sat in the closet gathering dust.
Last year, when we moved back to Texas, decisions had to be made. We have much more land here, but the house and the closet space are much smaller. I looked at all those dusty shoes and gave most of them to the Salvation Army. David thinks I still have more shoes than I need; I think I have enough to get by – for now.
I may be feeling some withdrawal at a subconscious level. Maybe that’s the source of my nighttime misadventures. In the first dream I met a friend at her apartment before going out to dinner. When I got there, I realized I had on mismatched shoes, so I asked to borrow a pair of hers (as if I could get my size 8s into her size 6s). She was glad to oblige, but the pair she gave me was also mismatched. A few days later, I dreamed I was back in school, about fifth grade, and I was spending the night with my cousin. It was a school night, and the next morning as we got dressed, I discovered that I had forgotten to pack my school shoes. My cousin lent me a pair of hers, but they were mismatched.
I don’t usually put much stock in dream interpretation, but since these dreams were so similar and since I remembered them so vividly, I googled. The on-line gurus had somewhat similar ideas. Shoes in dreams can represent your approach to life and your beliefs; mismatched shoes might mean that your actions are at odds with what you believe. Shoes can mean that you’re well-grounded, but inappropriate shoes can mean that you’re ill-prepared for your path in life. Shoes can symbolize who you are, but inappropriate shoes may indicate that you’re heading in the wrong direction. One interpretation ended with a couple of questions, and dreams or not, they’re questions worth considering.
The first question is, does your current way of life fit you? My answer is unequivocally yes. After spending 40 years chasing the brass ring in corporate America, being a researcher and grant writer at home in front of my laptop fits much better. After spending 23 years trying to keep up with a driven, adrenaline junkie, being married to a laid-back motorcycle rider is a much better match. After spending several decades trying to keep up with the Joneses, living in a small home in the country, watching Bambi, Thumper, and Flower play with the squirrels and birds in the back yard makes me much happier. I’m easy going, somewhat introverted, a little on the lazy side, and being a country girl fits me just fine.
The second question is, what is making you uncomfortable? I think it’s fear: fear of success. When I started writing, I didn’t think anything would come of it. I didn’t even know if I’d let anybody read what I wrote. Now, five years later, I have a blog with almost a thousand hits and growing. Yesterday I got a subscription from someone I didn’t even know. Burnside Writers Collective has accepted one of my articles for publication, and my agent thinks my book is really good. When she talks about the things I might be able to do if I work hard enough, I start to hyperventilate. I was talking to my son Christian about all of this recently, and he tried to be encouraging.
“You’re doing great. Just keep at it, one step at a time. I try to think of it in terms of zeroes. First you find ways to reach tens of readers, then hundreds, then thousands. That’s how I started ten years ago, and look what’s happening now.”
“Ten year!” I said. “I’m getting Medicare next year. Do you know how old I’ll be in ten years?”
“Yes,” he said. “But you’ll be the same age in ten years whether you go for it or not.”
I hate it when he’s right. After that conversation, I went back and read the first chapter of my book. Here’s one of the questions I asked:
How can we live in such a way that we don’t come to the end of life only to find that we’ve missed it? Most of my working life I settled for a job rather than looking for something I was passionate about, but I want to spend my retirement years living instead of dying.
I was talking about life during caregiving when I wrote that, but it applies to my life in general. Now that I’ve finished that task, I’ve found something I’m passionate about. I’m constantly thinking about my next post, writing it in my head. Sometimes I have to get up in the middle of the night to get an idea into the computer before I can sleep.
I don’t want to stop writing, and it’s a lot more fun and fulfilling when people read what I’ve written and are encouraged by it. I guess I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and see where it leads. And maybe I’ll go shopping and buy a pair of shoes that match.