I woke up feeling confident. Sure, the nerves were there, but after four days of being around some of the nicest people one could ever meet, I had a feeling the audience for my speech would be supportive.
Although I'd considered having my morning free, I decided instead to attend Michelle Mangini's art workshop. I am delighted that I did. When I arrived, Michelle was just setting up, and we shared our presenting jitters with one another. It felt great to have an ally. After speaking briefly about her connection to art and the Earth, and reminding us that the Earth dreams through us, Michelle set us loose. She'd brought a wealth of art supplies, including rocks and sticks and other natural materials from her home.
I loved what Michelle said: "It's about creating myself more than the final product." It was a new spin on the old idea that it's about the journey, not the destination. With that in mind, I set out to create to calm and center myself rather than focusing on what the final piece would become.
It turns out, what I created had a lot of meaning for me. I titled it "Puma Thistle," and you can see it above. I'd had a dream the night before in which a fox, mountain lion, and two wolves visited me. I knew when I awoke that the animals came to me to give me strength for the day ahead. When I shared the dream with Michelle, she revealed that she often dreamed of being a puma. I knew I would find a way to honor our dreams, and the mountain lion, when Michelle told me that.
I took my creation with me to my presentation and had it sitting with me, along with a special quartz stone from Jordan and a beach rock from Michelle's neighborhood. These gave me strength from the puma and the Earth, and I have to say, my talk went really well. I spoke about my experiences with animal visitations in dreams and waking life. Along with the puma, I could feel the energy of owl, hawk, and cat with me as well.
My fellow presenter, Bob Van de Castle, of all people, said I was "cool as a cucumber" and he appreciated how I set the tone for the end of the panel. The audience appeared quite interested in what I had to say, which felt great. And at the end, Marcia Emery, whose workshop I had attended the first day, stood up and said she was struck by how these dreams had signaled an awakening of my intuition. I had never thought of that before, and I was grateful to her for pointing it out.
At the end of the day, many of us gathered for the dream ball. Above, you see me with Victoria and Rita. Everyone is encouraged to dress up like a dream character and share the dream that inspired the costume. Rita is dressed as Scarlett Johansson, and I am dressed as the snowy owl, wearing the cape I made in Kaleo Ching's class last winter.
It was intriguing, and often entertaining to see everyone's costumes. At the end of the dream sharing, awards are given for the best costumes/dreams. And then the dancing begins.
I'm not much of a dancer, so instead, I found the people I'd met and got pictures with them. Above are Freya, on the left, and Terry, in the middle, women who I will remember fondly. At the end of the night, I met up with Sue again, the woman from Minnesota whom I shared the shuttle with on the first day. I felt like I had come full circle.
If I try to sum up how I feel about the dream conference, I'm afraid I'll only have trite phrases that fail to capture just how special this experience was for me. I will say this: it helped me find myself again. It helped me see that it is imperative for me to be my true self. It allowed me to meet people who I already consider my friends. And it solidified for me that dreams are vital and beautiful portraits of our souls. I look forward to next year's conference!