The Leap

lion on fireToday I’m thinking about that space in between. The space between what you have and what you want. I’m thinking about the effort and trust required to go from solid ground into thin air, with the belief that your leap will be met with footing that is not apparent until you step into nothingness.

The idea of nothingness lands heavy, like breath stuck in your chest, inviting fears that have been  neatly tucked away to reveal their shadowed face. A visit that leaves brief paralysis.

But that is not who you are and you know it, so you gather yourself, breathe, and call on the light. “Yes, you can do this,” it encourages. “You can be terrified, unsure and resistant, and still step away.”  And you can trust. Not from blind faith, but from something older and wiser that oversees such things, something that knows that the death of the old can be endured, and even celebrated given time.

But these fears  don’t go away with good thoughts and pretty words, because you are opening and vulnerable. In this place you deny, reach for food, entertainment, drugs or anything that will numb the knowledge of what you must do.

Your dreams encourage you to jump, painting radiant pictures of a future self, while a frightened part believes that it cannot, and will not rise to the task.   “Retreat,” it cries,  “into places where growth is not required.  No, no, not today please, maybe tomorrow.”

And so, night after night,  you go to bed with the dark privacy of your deepest fears, wishing things could magically change, or that someone else could save your life. But there is no one else.  When morning comes, you wake raw and exposed, knowing you can no longer live with the pain of staying still and small, because something inside has shifted, something you can no longer deny, numb or turn away.  And so you prepare, asking what must be taken and what must be left, but not with words, because the answer lives in the language of feelings and instinct.

You know that the only way out is through, but even as you prepare to leap, the dying self clings, screaming excuses in your ears. “Stay small, stay safe!” But your listening is all used up. So on that terrifying and celebrated day, you close your eyes, call on whatever forces may guide and protect you, and finally, both with and without courage, you step away from what was. And that very act, that willingness and broadness of heart, opens and delivers you.

Dreams – Mine and yours

It was late, almost midnight. Mark and I had performed two evening shows and neglected to book a hotel room. “Don’t worry,” a young patron said. “Here is a key to my place. Save your money and stay there. I’ll be gone a few days, so slip the key under the mat when you leave.” We’d been touring for a year and I was delighted by the idea of staying in a home instead of a hotel. But my visions of warmth and welcome quickly faded when his key opened into a bachelor pad full of clutter, dirty dishes, soiled rugs and a hungry neglected cat. The bedroom was dark and fearful. “What shall we do?” I asked. “It’s too late to find another place.” Mark shook his head, “Nothing to do but crash here.”   

To say that I am sensitive to space and energy is a monumental understatement, so this was like dropping into the jaws of hell. I went to the van, found a packing blanket and placed it in the center of the living room, then sliced lilacs branches from a bush near the entry, making a circular mound around the blanket. With resignation and anger, I lowered myself onto the hard surface, willing nature and beauty to transport me into protected sleep. The scent and sight of the flowers helped but could not prevent absorption of the indwelling essence of the owner. 

That was an extreme case but unfortunately not unusual, since staying overnight anywhere other than home, can have dire consequences. A year of hotels and restaurant food left me ill and unable to continue. I had too many evenings sleeping in my car like a pretzel, rather than submerged in the unwelcome energies left in hotel rooms, where sheets are changed and tended but rooms are seldom aired or cleared. I have only to touch the bed spread or walk on the rug in bare feet to feel the energy of all who have passed before. Such heavily used rooms are an energetic Chernobyl for an empath or energetically sensitive person. 

The Oceanside Inn has been my only vacation place for decades, because the owner leaves the windows open between renters, allowing strong ocean air to whirl and spin-clean the space to pristine levels of purity. When forced to stay in difficult lodging, I have tried sage and candles, chanting and intention, which all help but can not rid the space of left over dreams. When I am in these environments, I slip into another’s dream field and wake unrested and worn down. Being in someone else’s dream field is like sleeping in a scratchy shirt, while experiencing the heaviness of their emotions, hopes and unfelt pain. It is tolerable with a life partner, but extremely unsettling with an absent stranger. 

The only time this trait has been remotely useful was when I accompanied my partner Thom to a therapy session and he could not remember the content of his last dream, so I did it for him. It took no effort to recall the whole thing, since I had been in his dream field. In this way my retelling helped him remember and gain understanding from the content. In case you hadn’t already guessed, having a live in partner can be difficult for an empathic person. For example, when Thom got a toothache, I was taking aspirin for the pain without understanding the pain was his. 

Today I’m traveling again so the awareness of this problem has returned, otherwise, I conveniently forget. My room at the Land of Medicine Buddha Retreat Center was clean and lovingly tended so the unseen effects were minimal, but still there was disrupted sleep and little rest. The lingering dream voice that remained in my room had a loud masculine quality, not at all like my own. This voice was bold and without refinement, as if stomping through a meadow in uncaring boots.

Pondering this puzzle makes me think of Collette, a student I met teaching an Intuitive Wisdom class at Marylhurt University.  “You know, Karen,” she said, “when I first had a session with you I thought it would be so wonderful to be as open and knowing as you are. I wanted to have the skills you had, but now that we have finished the class, I am grateful that I do not, because I see and understand that yours in not an easy road and that every gift comes with a price.”


How to Remember Your Dreams

lake boat

(From the Reader’s Choice blog  
Come by. Ask a question or join the discussion. We’d love to hear from you.)
Dear Karen,

Do you have any recommendations regarding some ways to help remember dreams? I am trying to keep a dream journal but I can’t hold on to them long enough to write them down.

Thanks so much! Summer

I think it’s amazing how we shift realities every night and everyone just takes it for granted. We dress for it, and buy comfortable beds to lie on, so our spirits can leave our bodies to dump out the old, learn new things, rest, recover and regenerate. If we don’t do it – we die. Think about it! That’s amazing. You’re saying, I want to remember where I go and what I do. I want to receive guidance from that place so I can have conscious contact, well good for you! If you are longing for it, my guess is that your spirit wants to be more awake in both places. Dreaming is the veil between realities. If you are strongly focused and centered in this one, dreams seem more distant and a little harder to catch.

First, make a decision to remember. Tell yourself when you close your eyes, that you want to remember your dreams, but don’t say it to your head. Breathe into your center and leave your request in your heart. Then have paper and pen by your bed, have them open and ready, so you can begin to write as soon as you feel yourself in the territory between sleep and waking. Write anything you have in your mind, write before you are fully awake, catch a feeling, a color or a vague scene. Don’t judge or censor anything, just spill it out. If you can begin to pull through small pieces, more will follow. It’s like fishing; you get a few nibbles and write those down, then one morning the whole fish shows up.

I’ve read that getting to bed late and being sleep deprived can interfere. I also think alcohol in the evenings can get in the way of remembering. However, I believe that if your spirit wants to speak with you and that’s an acceptable way for you to listen, that it will find a way to be heard – no matter what.

I used to fast every January with the intention of inviting the dream spirits, as a kind of vision quest. They will always come when you make that kind of offering. Fasting will take you into that realm rapidly and you’ll have vivid dreams that are full of guidance within days. Happy Fishing!

Making Sense of it


I never thought much about my ability to see into the lives of other people until I entered graduate school. I always had a sense of the layered qualities and patterns others carried, and was routinely advised and guided by dreams, but it was not until I did a practicum at Clackamas County Mental Health Center that my abilities were brought fully home.

Rich was the psychiatrist in residence, as well as my teacher and supervisor. He and I were running an evening therapy group when the subject of dreams came up. After group ended, he took me aside, Karen, write down a dream of your own, and bring it to our next supervision session. That will be an excellent way to explore.

I went to our session expecting to understand dream symbols, projection and relationship. What happened instead surprised me. The dream I brought was long, detailed and all about Rich. When I read it, he withdrew. His color blanched.  Nobody should know those things about me, he said, there is no way for anyone to know what you  just told me.  He became quiet, going deep inside his private world. His puzzled silence letting me know our meeting was finished.

My session with Rich made me aware that whatever was happening in my world was different than those around me. It made me question my career. I enjoyed learning to help and heal, but the methods seemed inadequate. I sat in a tiny consulting room and saw one person after the next. There was no magic answer for their pain, just a learned ability to listen, and to empower by providing feedback. But what empowerment could there be, when the person’s consciousness and view of reality stayed as small as the room we sat in? They needed a larger, more holistic vision.

I was too confused in those early years to follow my wisdom. I only knew the limits of what I was learning, and that it was wrong for me. I already had stomach ulcers from stress, so I dropped the program. Instead, I joined a theater company to travel, sing, dance and wash the sorrow from my bones. There was a woman in the company who read tarot cards. When she read mine, I was both amazed and hooked. Here was a language of symbols and images which spoke volumes without the written word. Looking at the cards gave me an ancient sense of homecoming.  Here, at last was a way for the voices that spoke through my dreams to be direct, immediate and available. I closed myself from the outside world, and spent days being pulled into their complex framework, a framework that beautifully described the human condition. 

I lived in a converted mansion with a sweeping central staircase, occupied solely by artists. The tenants were poets, musicians, painters, sculptors, designers and theater people. When I announced what I was doing, nearly everyone in the building came for a reading. I gave generously, eager to test my wings.feathers1

I was surprised to learn that some people were afraid of the cards, because they had been hurt by words from unloving hearts. They had been told cruel and unjust things by fortune tellers and gypsies, who placed cards on the table between them, as they delivered fear-based messages. I was also surprised that people came back wanting more and more. But I just gave you a reading. I just told you that.

It took a long time to make the soup that became my healing practice. I drew on many varied ingredients, but always used the first session to gain trust. I’d quiet myself and merge with my clients to understand the blueprint of their lives; what gifts they had, what troubles, patterns and hurts. I gave this knowing back with a spiritual perspective, so they had a new understanding and foundation to stand on. We did whatever healing was needed to shine light into the shadows that kept them trapped and unfulfilled.

People ask how I developed my skills and inquire about my teachers, but developing my sensitivity has never been the focus. The focus has been learning to live with and manage it. I do not seek books, classes or teachers. I  seek to escape them. For years I could not go into crowds, ride a train, or go to a department store, because my body became overloaded. Feeling and seeing so much overwhelmed me and made me ill. I have learned to focus down and make boundaries, but it does not happen easily. My husband goes to parties alone.

One of my students left an intuitive training class saying, When I came to class, I thought I would give anything to have the skills you have, to see what you see, and be able to do what you do, but now that I understand what it takes, I am very grateful that I am not you!  


Your life is moving toward you

Your dreams are opening like little parachutes in a spring sky

Open your hands

Embrace what comes

Bring it into your body

Breathe it  ~ Own it

Why not?

You’ve waited long enough

Believing is the key that opens the door

To believe allows you to stand in the center of yourself

To burn at the core

To doubt is to create division

To stand next to yourself

To become weak with the energy it takes to move back and forth between separate minds




Be of one mind

Welcome yourself home and celebrate your arrival.

written March 12, 2008