Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Part 2 - Indigenous Dreamer

Twenty years ago I met this great lady who was a Jewish psychologist in the Montreal area. Her 50 year old career took her all over the World where she gave talks and workshops on the importance of self-discovery. She was definitely a pioneer in her field especially when it came to women psychologists; and talked about Freud, Jung and other psychoanalysts as if they were her peers. She was in her 80’s when I first met her and wasn’t even thinking about retirement. She told great stories about her spiritual journey the kind that would inspire.

I remember being really nervous and shy the first time I met her. She asked to meet with me through a friend, after hearing me talk on the Medicine Wheel. She was extremely persistent. I was incredibly nervous and shy at the prospect of spending a few hours with the lady. I was told she was brutally honest and incredibly intimidating. I couldn’t possibly understand why she wanted to spend time with me. It took a while before I mustered the nerve to invite her over for tea. She must have known I wasn’t totally comfortable with the idea because she didn’t argue with the time and date. I’m sure her schedule was a lot fuller than mine at the time…

We finally met on the pavement at the edge of our front yard. Before she even stepped into the house she was already getting to the point and telling me why she had asked to meet with me. The friend who accompanied her tried twice to get her to relax and wait until we all sat down; but each time the old woman shot her down and said: “If you were my age you’d know that waiting is not a luxury I have.” I liked the woman because she was strong, straightforward, aggressively truthful and incredibly intelligent (or wise). I knew after a few minutes that we would get along. I wouldn’t need to entertain this woman she would poke at me and challenge me. I seemed always more at ease with these types of people. The kind of people who motivated me to be more than what I assumed to be.

She felt I had a promising career ahead of me; but didn’t think I could step into this opportunity with the title of “indigenous dreamer.” She disliked the word “dreamer” because it carried too many social, negative connotations. Considering she had more experience than I did, I couldn’t argue with the woman. She seemed to think that I needed some expert guidance from a business or marketing point of view. She pushed the idea of “popularity and fame” because she felt “it was the only way to reach a bigger range of population.” A lot about the message she was trying to convey focused on “becoming a role model and having an influence on the world around me.” And yet, at the time all I cared about was “to learn how to be the best Dreamer I could be.” Luckily, we ended up staying in touch and even developing a friendship. She was no doubt my number one fan until she passed away.

I loved having her around because she validated that “I wasn’t insane.” At least that’s what I felt at the time… She believed in my experiences; but most of all she repeated over and over again “your biggest asset are the skills you developed in order to reach beyond you and see objectively what lies there…” Since I was in my mid-twenties busy with two children (and husband) studying in University and searching for direction, I didn’t quite grasp the meaning of her words until more than a decade later.

I even recall her saying: “Don’t worry Lisa, you’ll put it all together in retrospect. And that’s the way it should always be.”

This woman was the first person in my life that asked the questions:

• “What does it mean to be a Dreamer?”
• “How is the life of a Dreamer different then the life of others?”
• “Walk me through a day in your life?”

She felt the answers to these questions would open me up to my basic, natural essence and bring me to walk a vocational path; which no doubt – it did! Again, she truly believed I was meant to be extraordinary. She hoped I would touch the heart of millions…


As a Dreamer, she represents a character in my dreaming world. One of the reasons why I teach the Medicine Wheel in relationship to indigenous dreaming, is because it allows people to understand what it means to have “a dreaming world” and what it may look like. Our traditional Medicine Wheel (east of America) is made of 36 stones. Other Wheels on the Planet can vary between 16 to 200 stones. No matter the Sacred Circle – it basically expresses that our inner community, inner reality or inner, dream world is made of different fragments.

When I listen to people’s stories or even explore my own, I always take note of the characters, the plot of the story, and what I’m experiencing in order to have some idea of what I’m meant to learn or to heal. The beauty about “indigenous dreaming” is that whatever we are living / dreaming is connected to natural and cosmological reality; or what I like the call “orbiting realities.” Each of us go through reoccurring themes (lessons) in our lives. Some can actually be calculated with the help of the Medicine Wheel to exactly when they will be spiraling back to us.

I’ve met successful, old women in their 80’s often in my life. Each time they delivered the same kind of message. They hoped I would have an impact on our World. It’s a pretty basic message: One that is liberally given when an elder admires someone and is somewhat proud of his or her achievements. Yet, what makes this story somewhat unique when it comes to me is how it appears in my life every 8 years and in each case the elder woman stays completely present to me and committed for exactly 2 years. During the course of the friendship, I’m always showered with an abundance of stories almost as if I’m chosen to inherit them; and the heart connection always transforms into a phenomenal almost psychic, spirit awareness. Suddenly it’s as if we remember each other through many, many life times and know of the purpose we carry for one another.

Also, each of these elder women although unique in their own ways share similar life events and similar personality traits. This is one reason why I call them “characters.” They could easily be perceived as one and the same person. They even all look alike physically. These ladies were ladies: Well spoken, well mannered and well educated. They dressed lady-like: Skirts or dresses, rarely in pants. Always in matching colors with a scarf around the neck. Even after out living their spouses, these women still wore their wedding ring. Each one was thin with natural, white hair; lots of facial wrinkles; and bony, arthritic hands. Beautiful and distinguished despite old age. Most of all, these women were impressively physically and emotionally healthy and lucid until their last breath.

What are the odds that each one went to school beyond the 8th grade of their era?

This character was always great with plants and disliked animals (cats and dogs). She didn’t get along with her daughters; but connected to one grand-daughter, usually a young woman who reminded her of herself.

When you are a dreamer, the characters are as important as the story lines within the dream. Many times, the characters lead the way. I’ve found the more you devote to building strong relationships in waking reality and in dreams, the better you are in dreams (waking or sleeping). When people discover you are an expert dreamer they are quick to sharing their dreams with you. They figure you can tell them what the dreams mean. In many ways it’s true; but it doesn’t take a master dreamer to interpret dreams. It takes a master dreamer to help you explore, experience and integrate the lessons and messages left behind in dreams. The dream itself is just the surface of what dreaming means or dreaming is…

It’s not easy feat to explain what an Indigenous Dreamer experiences day in and day out and does with it. Plus many dreams are explored, experienced and integrated over a lifetime. I can give you an example of the way I tic …. Or the way I tic as an Indigenous Dreamer!

Last week, I was in the hospital for my ankle. So far every time I’ve had to go back for a check up, I’ve waited maybe an hour to be seen; but this time I literally spent the whole day there. I wasn’t upset because I expected it or dream it - so to speak. The day before G and I were out all day on errands we hadn’t planned. Between the physiotherapy visit, the dog’s baths and a few errands we ended up unexpectedly coming back home around 4pm. As we were driving back to the house, I dozed off for a few minutes. I woke up at a red light and told G: “We’ll be at the Hospital until 4:00pm tomorrow.”

Around 3:00pm at the Hospital, in the orthopedic clinic’s waiting room I sat besides a young man. Some people read books or magazines while others played games on their phones. It was pretty silent. People basically waited to be seen by their doctor. Most of them were impatient because their appointments were scheduled for early morning. After close to 5 hours of waiting – people get frustrated and a bit angry. In situations like this G and I often take out our journals and jot down some observations. It keeps us clued to the dreaming. In this case, I didn’t even have to take out my journal I already noticed I was picking up something special off the young man sitting besides me.

So I turned around and said: “Can I ask you a question? What is your story? Why are you here?”

I don’t know too many people who don’t appreciate having the opportunity to share their story. Definitely, this man was trilled with my questions. Soon the whole waiting room was listening to his story. He was telling me how he got stung by a Stingray, in Panama.

“In Panama,” he said “they give you 3 months of free medical care if you’re visiting.”

Then, he continued his story telling us how basically the medical experts looked at his foot, gave him some antibiotic ointment and a shot of rum. It’s only when he got home a week later that he noticed his foot was getting worst. The skin around where he had been stung was suddenly black. It was also painful to the touch. He decided to consult the emergency room at the hospital. The microbiologist who was called in to see him admitted him right away and explained that he needed surgery. They had to dig a hole in his foot and remove all of the dead tissue.

A Stingray supposedly releases a poison through its dart. This poison destroys and contaminates tissue. If it’s not removed it will literally kill all of the live tissue.

I loved the way this young man told his story. He was funny and impressively entertaining. He was also knowledgeable. It wasn’t like he was a victim or tourist who was totally oblivious to potential dangers in foreign waters. He even informed everyone that at certain times during the year, the Stingray does hide in the sand. It’s a typical behavior.

“You shouldn’t book your trip at that time of year,” he repeated with a grin, “especially if you’re expecting to walk on the beach or swim in the water. During our trip a Stingray stung 5 people, when the pamphlets say: “such incidents are incredibly rare.”

In the span of an hour, the young man told us everything about his trip, his accident, his medical care and how he was dealing with the experience. It was quite fascinating. He even expressed how lucky he was to have survived this ordeal.

“Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter wasn’t as lucky,” he told me, “it all depends on where you are stung.”

According to this young man, if he would have been stung in the heart or on the neck – he wouldn’t have lived to tell story. Soon after announcing how blessed he was, the young man was called in to see his doctor. G and I were left alone in the waiting room to pick out the messages and lessons within this dream.

We knew without a shred of a doubt why the Dream Time had kept us in the Hospital until 4pm. We also knew that as soon as the young man would leave – we would be called in. It’s exactly what happened…

Both G and I found it incredible how the Stingray left a part of its essence to be explored in the dreaming of this young man. To be chosen by a totem is an incredibly precious moment. Where some people would have reacted in fear, this young man reacted in awe. It felt great to connect to a perfect stranger during a random, mundane occasion and manage to still share a shamanic story. It was well worth the 6 hour wait…

As an Indigenous Dreamer, I know that when I dream I’m a character within the dreaming. For example, I believe that if the story of the Stingray came to me, it is because I am a character within this dream. I just need to uncover what is my role and what am I doing? Am I active or simply a witness?

Yesterday, I got a call from my daughter who is in LasVegas for the week. She said her foot was swollen, red and painful. She mentioned that after a few hours, the pain moved up her calf towards her knee. Right away, I thought of the Stingray story. The young man had described his symptoms similarly. No sooner had I thought about the Stingray, my daughter mentioned possibly having been stung by a spider or some other insect.

Characters and events within dreams will shift forms until they’ve accomplished a full cycle. An Indigenous Dreamer is a character within a dream; hence he or she will spiral through the loops of consciousness and “surf” so to speak the wave created within a dream. The idea is to come up with the lessons, the learning or healing experiences or messages that are being conveyed. Remember how I said that OLD LADY didn't like the word Dreamer and wanted me to find a better way to describe ME and my skills? Well, lately this lesson came back up again. This time it was a new character who spoke: A marketing expert. Again, it was suggested that we drop the word dreamer for the word: Life Coach. Yet, again I seem to be asked to explore the power within words and the role I hold as a character within this dream.

What’s a day in the life of a Dreamer?

It’s a roller coaster ride. It’s about being attentive to details. Most of all it’s about loving stories and characters. Where most people react emotionally to life an Indigenous Dreamer will strategically witness and play with details – to see how they can impact and reveal. For example, I know now when the “old lady character” pops up in my life it’s because I’m exploring the Moons of Self-Value, Omnipotence and Territory (crucial moons in my life). It’s a topic or story to share in more details, in another blog… I have a few dozen characters such as this one that repeats in my life and brings forth many different angles of the same themes and teachings.

There are small details like moccasins, streetlights, and pearls for example; which carry incredible significance in my life beyond their simple definitions. If they somehow pop up randomly in my day – I know “something or someone beyond ordinary reality wants me to pay attention to very particular messages.” Basically, an Indigenous Dreamer is a “scientist” – someone who keeps track of details and their significance; who remembers stories and pays attention to the different lessons and messages hidden behind the obvious.

There’s so much more to say on the topic; but I’m running out of time here… I’ll be back sooner or later.

P.S. The picture at the top is meant to express CARIBOU DREAMING -- which is about following the way of the ancestors. It represents the Way of the Indigenous Dreamer.


Michelle said...

These two blogs were AWESOME!!!! I am learning to pick up on the clues in the waking but never thought to see the people around me as clues to deeper messages...definitely opens up a new realm of dreaming reality. I find it hard to step out of the emotions definitely somthing to strive to instead of reacting observe and listen to the story...reading this one again and again...thanks Lisa its a gift!

Rose said...

I would not want to see you drop the title Dreamer, i think it is important and it describes what you are. If the world at large is ignorant of what that means then they need to learn. Maybe Indigenous Dreamer and Shamanic Life Coach, Lisa F Tardiff..... I think they talk about Unique Selling Points in marketing and that there are lots of Life Coaches but there is only one you....

Thank you for this post, it was wonderful... I just always want to read more.... And much thank you's for the Caribou gifts. I love how something circles around and gathers layers of meaning.

Anonymous said...

Lisa, I've been feeling drawn to caribou lately. I would like to do some work for woodland caribou populations. What do you know of caribou?

Definitely keep Dreamer.

Lisa F. Tardiff said...

You can get amazing information on the Woodland Caribou through searching the internet. There are quite a few associations who are looking for people like you, like “us” – to help in helping the Woodland Caribou. The Alberta Wilderness Association, World Wildlife Fund of Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation and others are definitely advertizing right now – to get support. You could also check out www.aforcefornature.ca who are trying to “buy as much land across Canada as they can possibly afford” to assure a strong habitat for many of the species who are on the extinct list. The Woodland Caribou is one of their concerns. I certainly sent in my donation… What is threatening the Caribou right now – is our dominance over their land. If we can at least protect their habitat – the rest they can manage on their own. We need to stop being so overbearing. Humans can be pests!