Conversations with God - A Review of the first 2 books

Last week, I read through both of the first two Conversations with God books. There are 4 in total, but after book 2, I'm not going to read any further. In this review, I'll explain why.

I am a voracious reader, and consider myself pretty in tune with my spiritual side. I like to read other people's spiritual experiences - both to compare with my own and to learn from them.

So when I came across Conversations with God (CWG from here on out) in a forum, I decided to check it out. I read through the first book with some enthusiasm - but kept a notebook with me to write down inconsistencies and concerns.

I did the same with the second book. Here are my thoughts on the book:

1. Most of the things mentioned in CWG -1 are consistent with my own spiritual experiences. Most of CWG-2 is divisive and not consistent with history or my own experiences.

2. Some of the things mentioned are consistent with ancient teachings and conventional/nonconventional Eastern spiritual teachings. I later found out that the author spent many years studying religions/spirituality so it is not unreasonable that he would have known/thought/included these in his book.

3. There are MAJOR inconsistencies/errors/issues in the books - especially CWG-2.

  • "God" claims to be unconcerned with results - there is no right/wrong - but in the same book appears to be very political - and even anti-male/anti-America/pro-leader (pro-Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and George Bush for examples from the book) and a bit racist.
  • "God" claims that eating animals/fat is unhealthy for us and also advocates for Universal healthcare (we all know from our current experience that this has only enriched the big corporations and resulted in worse/more expensive care for the rest of us), getting regular doctor exams and taking medicines as prescribed. This is all from a "God" that created us with minds to think for ourselves, set up a world system where we have to eat to live (and require k2 and b12 from animal products!) and in the first book declared that we can heal ourselves. 
  • Historical inaccuracies - there are references to laws (Sunshine law) and events of WWII that are not consistent with history - they are consistent with conventional wisdom (go figure!) but not with reality. In this case, we have the benefit of almost 20 years of hindsight! A real "God" would have known all sides to the story and wouldn't just spit the same-old-same-old responses.
  • "God" advocates for an increase in the United Nations (even though it is corrupt and inefficient in its current form....)
  • "God" is forgetful and "gets off track" during the conversations. Really? I have no problem with "God" making jokes and/or being crass - but losing track is unacceptable. 
  • "God" claims that survival is a "basic human right." Good luck with that. Has "God" ever looked at nature? There is no right to survive. It is a dog eat dog world - for every being. We are very pampered in this century and we have systems (human created systems) that help people survive when they refuse/can't work. But survival requires work - and is not GUARANTEED. At it's basic level it requires hunting/foraging/shelter/getting water/staying clean. Those things don't "just happen" and are not guaranteed in the world. Are food/water/sunshine/shelter supplies available? Yes. Are they available with enough for all? Yes. But they still have to be gathered/obtained. 
There is a bunch of stuff like that. My radar was going off throughout all of CWG-2. 

The first book is filled with a few universal truths and some good ideas. Most of the ideas can be found in other books/experiences, but its a decent synopsis of many ancient teachings done in a conversational format - so its easy and quick to read. I would not take it as "the word of God." But it's a good jumping off spot to get you thinking about what we are really doing here. It's pretty close to what I would say is "truth" but it is not complete and it is not "from God."  

About that.... Can God actually communicate with humans? Sure..why not? But, in my experience he doesn't do it often and not in complete conversations. He also doesn't give direct answers - it's more cryptic (at least in my experience - it's usually tidbits, one sentence, a word, a flash of an image - then you have to figure it out on your own.) 

Why would that be? I am guessing its because we are supposed to stay focused on living now - not worrying about what happens next (after death). We are supposed to "stay in character" and when you know all that there is, you might be tempted to forget about the game. But beyond that, there is so much that we can't even begin to understand. Can you really comprehend an all powerful creator and how/why/what is going on here? Can you comprehend where that creator came from?  Its literally turtles all the way down....

God also doesn't set appointments for months later to sit down and do it again. He also doesn't outlay when he will lay down future books - "there will be 3 books" (and then he came out with 4! LOL) The author also makes mention 2 or 3 times of "making it up" in his own mind - but since he is God (and we all are...) its the same as talking to the real God - source. Umm.....No. 

I would not recommend reading any of the books in this series - except possibly CWG-1 (and only to open your mind to different ways of thinking.) 

There are 4 books - the first deals with the basics of what/who we are, the second deals with human systems and politics, the third and fourth have to deal with aliens. I will save you the trouble - human greed/fear is the main culprit to human political/economic/ disaster, aliens might exist - but whether they do/don't is out of your control and so not worth worrying about.

Best of luck on your search for the truth - but also be aware that you are here for a reason - LIVE YOUR LIFE. Worry less about the future. It is out of your control. 

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Clean up your Water - Zero Water Review

Ever wonder about what's in your tap water? It's scary to think about - but the answers are quick to find. Almost every major municipality keeps their records open to the public and are just a quick google search away.

If you have a well, then it's a good idea to buy an inexpensive water testing kit and have a look.

We happen to have both scenarios. We live in the suburbs with a municipal tap (loaded with chlorine and fluoride, but low on contaminants) and we own a farm with well water.

The well is pretty clean, but does have higher than wanted levels of nitrates. That happens in farming communities. Even still, I am not one to want to drink any contaminants - in trace or large quantities, so I was more than happy to test out the Zero Water pitcher. It's a pour through pitcher that filters tap water directly. We are using this in our farm cabin. It takes a while for the water to filter - no big deal if you fill it up and walk away, but a bit irritating when you want a drink instantly. Just be prepared and you'll be happy with it.

The filters change to pinkish when they are filled up. I found that extremely useful for knowing when to actually change the filter. I've never been "sure" with other filtration systems.

The capacity was good, but I think I might look at one of the larger capacity Zero Water pitchers to have enough water on hand for the whole family.

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How to Sell your Clothes at Clothes Mentor and Platos Closet - Plus, Never waste money buying the wrong thing again!

Last month, I went from store to store - selling my unwanted clothes. I went to Clothes Mentor, Plato's Closet, Style Encore, Once upon a Child, and two local resale boutiques. My experience was eye-opening!

I was cleaning out my closets and pulling things for my sister to look through while she was visiting. She wanted a few things, but by the time we went through it all, I realized I had a whole bunch of stuff I didn't want. I wasn't motivated to put it back in the closet, so I thought I'd give re-sale a try.

I loaded 3 extra large laundry baskets with clothes. I folded them all up and carried them off to the stores. Because I had never sold at any of the resale shops before, I decided to bring only my "best" stuff. More than half of the stuff still had tags, and all of them were brands like Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, Calvin Klein, Lucky, Guess, Bebe, LL Bean, Gap, Abercrombie, Talbots, DKNY, Kenneth Cole, Banana Republic, etc. Nothing from Target in this batch! 

The results were astounding. 

The first stop was Clothes Mentor. They bought about 8 of my things - paying between $3-$8 per piece. I lugged in 3 huge (super heavy!!!) laundry baskets. I was not happy, but I pressed onward. I took the exact same 3 baskets to all of the resale stores in our town. We are located in a major suburb, so they are all pretty close to each other.  Each store bought 1-8 things. Then I took a small basket of kids clothes to Once Upon a Child. They bought 3 things. About a $3-$6 range there. 

I ended up with about $120 from the whole day. It kind of sucked. But I noticed a few trends:

1. No matter what I brought in, they always told me one of a few things:
  • The condition doesn't meet our standards (even when all of the clothes were new with tags!)
  • These are brands we don't buy  - even if the brands were listed on their website, brochure, and found in their stores
  • The clothes are more than 2 years old. Sure thing - Of course, you know how many years ago things were sold. 
2. Every store uses the same "too old, not good enough condition, wrong brands" lines. They just need an excuse to tell you they can't buy all your stuff.

3. The merchandise in the stores is pretty poor. The quality is okay for the most part, but not a lot is new. They also stock really poor brands and some outrageously hideous items. 

4. What gets purchased is very highly dependent on the person working the counter. If they like it, they buy it. If they don't, they don't.

5. None of the stores bought jeans from me. All of the jeans were brand names, no holes, no wear to the legs, perfect. But they never bought any.

After my first run through the stores, I kept the laundry baskets in my car. I brought the same baskets back to the stores a few days later (in the exact same order as before) and they bought a few more pieces. It worked both ways. 

Things that were passed over as being "not good enough" the first time were selected. And there was a dress that Style Encore offered to buy the first time for $8. It was new with tags, originally $160. I refused to sell it, assuming I "might" still wear it some day. Well, the next time I went back I decided to put the dress back in the mix - realizing I'm never really going to wear it. This time, 3 days later - they didn't buy it.

After running my baskets through twice, I had about $200 and had cleared some of the clothes from my closet, but I then decided to go back with my "no thank yous." These are clothes that I am so ashamed to own and am barely willing to donate. 

I took a basket of these unmentionable tops and jeans to resale shops. Again - same order. Clothes mentor, Platos closet, style encore, then the two boutiques. Surprise, surprise! I got the same line about age, wear, brands. This time though, I only had crappy brands like Maurices, Target/Walmart/Kohls stuff, aeropostale, etc. 

They bought the same percentage of the stuff - and to my shock and horror - they bought my worst items. I'm talking - stuff I wore way too many times and things that never fit well. Some of it may have been my own personal bias -  some of the things fit like crap and I assumed they would look bad on everyone. I secretly hated them for wasting space in my closet for years and was glad to see them go. 

Here are my tricks for selling at these resale shops:

1. Keep bringing your stuff back. Different workers will select different things.
2. Don't take their comments personally. They will give you the same line whether your stuff is brand new or full of stains. They have to give you a non-confrontational dismissal. Their stores are so full of stuff - they have to say no to a lot.
3. Clothes Mentor pays the biggest amount for items. They have a thing for Chicos brand (which I think is mostly garbage but they bought every chicos item I brought in)
4. Plato's closet has a thing for gothy/trash clothes. They bought mostly Maurices and Kohls/Target type clothes. They paid the least.
5. Style encore paid pretty poorly and took the least number of things - but I always went to them last, so it may have effected their choices.
6. If you are tempted to shop there - sign up for their text alerts. I have been texted by them multiple times to alert me of $1 sales - whole racks where everything is a dollar. Yep. Maybe don't shop there except on $1 days.
7. Bring anything you don't want - that is in good shape. They say they only buy certain brands, but it varies so much and you never know what they might want. 
8. Expect to get very little for each time. 

Now - the most important advice - How to stop wasting money on clothes!
All my life, I have been on the hunt for clothes that look/feel good. It's been a life long struggle. It's stupid, really. But I finally figured out a system that works so that I only have clothes that look good and fit well. I am no longer wasting money.

1. Only buy clothes that fit you. Period!!! If you try something on and it's cute, but.... PUT IT BACK. Unless it's just a little big and you are good at sewing, put it back! 
2. Only buy clothes that look good on you. This is a little trickier. I am trying to find links to a fantastic blog about fashion - of course I didn't save it and can't remember the title!! She goes over all the rules. Until I can find her blog, google "dressing according to body ratios" "dressing golden ratio" "dressing by body type" "necklace placement according to body ratios." Her necklace advice was spot on and also helps choose the right type of tops for your body type. Damn - I am so mad I can't find her blog. 

Bottom line - you must dress for your body type. Once I stopped buying double breasted jackets, short shirts/jackets, and bought tops with more top detail, I look a million times better! My body is such that my waist is practically at my bra line - attractive, I know! To look good in clothes, my jackets/shirts must end around my hip line. Who knew?  Not me, and all my clothes looked horrid on me for years.  I also have a small top compared to my bottom and need details up top to make my body look balanced - the necklace info helps you know which necklines are best for your body and of course what length necklaces look best on you. It's pretty awesome body science and it changed my closet forever - and for the better. 

3. Stop buying clothes at Target, Walmart, Kohls, etc. They only sell crap. Crap, crap, crap!! It's all garbage. Maybe it looks good for a few days, but it will pill, wear out, get grungy super fast. It's garbage. If you want to buy undergarments, tank tops, socks, at Walmart/Target - fine, but not real clothes. No!!

4. Buy quality items and learn to layer appropriately. This is important for temperature control, sweat mitigation, clothing longevity, style, and modesty. Do some internet searching for ideas and then practice. How do know if something is quality? If you've been shopping at Target, then it's going to be an eye opener for you. Trust me, I bought all my stuff on Target clearance racks for years and I looked like garbage. All of my twenties were wasted looking like ass, when I was in the best shape of my life. There's no going back - only forward.

  • Clothes should fit well
  • Clothes should hold up to washing
  • Jackets, skirts and pants should be lined!
  • Fabrics like merino wool, cashmere, leather, fur and silk belong in your wardrobe - but not cheap crappy blends. Get real stuff or quality blends. 
  • Fabrics should not snag, tear, or pill easily
  • Don't buy saggy, draggy clothes or clothes with no shape
  • Limit the amount of polyester you buy (unless it is blended with spandex for workout gear/base layers). It just gets saggy and stinky.
5. If you accidentally buy something that fails within the first few washings, bring it back. This is unacceptable. 

6. It's okay to buy your clothes used! I buy ALL of my clothes (minus the undergarments and socks) used. ALL! There is no money in clothing resale (for the individual person,) so major name brands can be had for pennies on the dollar. Thrift stores, garage sales in upscale neighborhoods and even ebay (which I personally hate, but still...)

7. Buy classic pieces that go with many options. It broadens your choices tremendously. Capsule wardrobes do a good job of this - look at a few capsule options to get an idea of the basic pieces that work the best. Then add your fun pieces around that.

8. Dress for your age. You can interpret this however you want. If you're 60, you don't have to be a frump, but you probably won't look the best in whatever the "teens" are wearing.

All of the above applies for coats/jackets too. Buy a good quality coat and keep it in good condition. Buy one that is warm enough and large enough to be comfortable without looking like a box. Buying an expensive coat - goose down or multi layered ski jacket will probably be worth every cent in the long run. It can/should last for years. Same with boots. Don't even get me started on boots....

Best of luck!

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Healthy Eating - the Power of Food

The food we eat, more often than not, has an impact on the health of our bodies. This is why we should be proactive about what we eat and how we prepare our foods. Luckily, there are many things we can do to take an active stance in promoting better health through nutrition.

Bake, Grill, or Broil Meats
One of the best things that you can do to improve your nutritional health is to avoid eating a lot of fried foods. There are alternatives. You can broil or bake fish and chicken. If you'd like to spice things up, you can grill your meats as well. The way you cook foods can either deduct from the nutritional benefits of the food or increase the nutritional value.

Reduce Excess Fats
Pay attention to the oils that you cook with. It's also a good idea to read labels on the food packaging. There are many things you can do to be proactive in this area. Keep in mind that your fat intake includes butter, sour cream, and even salad dressings. Many people overlook these areas. Instead, opt for healthier fats in your diet and use them sparingly. We do need fat in our diet but we should try to get our fat from healthy sources, like olive oil.

Add Fruits and Vegetables to Meals and Snacks
Don't underestimate the power of pairing fruits and vegetables with your meals and snacks. Fruits and vegetables should be treated as a necessary staple in your diet. Get in the habit of using these healthy foods as snacks too. If you have children, you might want to have fun with fruits and vegetables by pairing them with other healthy snack foods. Consider pairing whole wheat crackers with grapes and raisins or nuts with cranberries and apples. You can be as creative as you want to. It's up to you.

The Power of Food
Beleive it or not, the food you eat can predispose you to illness. This is a testament to how powerful the effects of food can be on the body, both positively and negatively. An unhealthy diet can create health problems that require medical procedures like endoscopy to understand what's happening inside the body. This type of medical equipment must be maintained by endoscope repair companies because these tools allow doctors to take an internal view of what's going on inside the body.

Improving your diet has an impact on your overall health. This is one of the reasons why it's so important to eat a healthy nutritionally balanced diet. Practicing habits like these ensure that you're taking proper care of your dietary health. The food you eat serves as fuel for your body. If you're not eating enough of the right foods it's hard for your body to perform optimally. Good nutrition is equal to good health. Nourishing your body with the right foods can do wonders for increasing your overall health.
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The Self Sufficiency Handbook - Review

Opening up the first page of the The Self-Sufficiency Handbook, I felt as though the authors were kindred spirits. As many of you know, we bought a farm last year and have been diligently working to get it to a sustainable point. It's been hours and hours of dirty, hot, sweaty work.

If you've never lived off the grid, I suggest you give it a shot for a few weeks. It's hard!! We have dug wells, configured solar power, froze without heat, planted trees, killed gophers, argued with neighbors....

It's a process. So I appreciate the wisdom found in this handbook. It is more of an "idea starter" than a "how-to" book. All topics are overviews and there is no - "this is how you do it."  I would suggest it for dreamers or people just getting started. Once you are homesteading or living off the grid, you need more practical how-to type advice - and so you need more specific books or information sources.

The advice given - especially about trying out the Off-grid life before you set your mind to it are great! Also, the spirit is good. Their reasons for being self-sufficiently are honorable and just. Personally, I do not need an overview handbook, but I would have loved to read about their experiences. What they did, how they succeeded/failed, what they learned, what they would do differently, what they wish they would have known from the beginning, the best thing that ever happened, etc.

Another note - the book inside is beautiful. It has great photos and the cover is sophisticated. It would make a great coffee table book - and a great conversation starter.

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Balloon Flowers - Great for Bees, Great for Beauty, Great for #easy #gardening

Once upon a time, our lawn had a kidney shaped island with no plants. I tried a few annuals in the space, but really tired of having them die each fall and require replanting. Then on a random trip to the nursery, I found some badly dehydrated clearance priced perennial flowers. Balloon Flowers!

They were planted right before winter, and by the next spring I was sure I had made a mistake. Balloon flowers take their time starting up each spring, and they start out so little. I was wrong (thankfully!) and they took off in no time. By mid summer they look like the photo above.

They do produce seeds that will drop and make little seedlings. Again...little. They are easy to pull out or relocate. The flowers are so fun - they start out as puffy little balloons and open into adorable stars. Bumblebees seem to prefer them compared to honeybees but I have seen both bee types on these flowers. They have a very light pleasant scent and the petals are edible. They taste like nothing - rose petals maybe.

The plant does exude a glue colored latex. If you want them for cut flowers, you have to sear/burn the edges before bringing them in the house. I have found that if you chop off all the old flower heads, (they will be ball shaped) new flowers will grow and it will flower until the first frost. At frost, the leaves turn a burnt red - almost as red as a blueberry shrub.

They are gorgeous and I have since divided these to bring to our farm. They do not divide easily - they are really a mess of tangled roots underneath - but I have read that they will regrow from root sections so I buried one division and a bunch of roots. We will see!

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How to make your UGLY evergreen trees look GREAT!

Ten years ago, we planted 6 Colorado Blue Spruce trees in our yard. They were the runts of the bunch, so we got them at a discount. Just in case you ever find yourself in this situation, I do not recommend buying sick/diseased/weak trees. They are usually cheap - sometimes free - but they very rarely make it.

And even when they do survive, they often look horribly ugly. I am trying to dig up a photo of the trees from the beginning, but haven't had any luck yet.

The bottom line - they were short (4 feet maybe?) missing needles, one was twisted, one was almost entirely needleless, and 2 turned out to be black hill spruce. So we had a hodgepodge of ugly trees.

I watered them every spring and fall for the first 2 years. They grew a little but still looked terrible. I splinted two of the trees (The twister and one where the top started bending over). I shaved up one of the trees that was really asymmetrical (not generally okay to do with evergreens but in moderation it can really help - just be sure to leave a lot of uncut branches on the cut side so it can continue to put on new growth.)

Around year 5 - the trees all got infected with a needlecast fungus. They started dropping all their lower needles and the insides were dying.

So stressful! I bought an anti-fungal spray and went to town spraying them. To spray 6 trees took 5 bottles! And I didn't even cover them all the way. I don't know that it really helped, but it did lead to better  research about tree health.

It turns out - just like us - if the trees have everything it needs nutritionally it is less likely to get sick.

We have hard yellow clay in our backyard, so the trees were probably not having the best time. This is when I started the following regimen (Year 5).

It turned out to be super easy. Every spring (whenever it's just gotten warmer and is really raining - for us that's April) I give each tree two fertilizer spikes. I just hammer them into the ground within the drip line but NOT right up next to the tree.

Then in the fall, I empty our rain barrels to the trees with a slow soaker hose so they are watered in nice and deep for the cold windy winters.

The results:

All the trees are symmetrical, healthy, and actively growing. They are over 13 feet tall and have really bounced back from the first 5 years of misery.

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Halloween Candy - The good, the bad, and the ugly

Halloween has always meant one thing to me....candy. We went out in the 1980-90s blizzards, slogging through knee deep snow, freezing in homemade costumes, spurred on by a burning desire for bags of candy!

It seems most of my childhood was motivated by candy. I am drawn to it, and I still really like it.

But that begs the question....why do we like it? And who does it benefit? In the pre-industrial years, poor people would spend any discretionary income on candy and sweets, forgoing more healthy fare. Why? Because it gives a quick dopamine rush, and to people that have very little pleasure in their lives, just a bit is enough and it calls to them. And big food knows it. They use it against us to drive their profit margins!

Think about it - every holiday involves sweets, candies, treats. All require shopping and spending money.

Is eating candy inherently bad? No. But it's not good either. It is devoid of nutrients, save for calories. Calories are important and necessary, but calories without vitamins/minerals that displace those vital ingredients cause disease. Calories outside of meals, interrupt a proper meal timing and cause a cascade of hormonal destruction. And besides, many candies aren't "just sugar." JUST SUGAR is probably okay in moderation. Hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes and colors, and who knows what else lurk in so many candies.

What can we do? Be selective when eating candy. Only eat the candy that's really good. For example, I will not eat most candies. I realize they taste bland, gross, or just not right. I do, however, have a soft spot for Mike & Ike, sour patch kids, Baby Ruth, Turtles and Butterfingers. So I will eat them or save them to relish later. M&Ms can suck it. Gross gum can forget about it. Chocolate that tastes like wax (I'm looking at you Hersheys!!) is a no go. Twizzlers - YUK-O-RAMA. And I will NOT be found eating a tootsie roll. Good candy or no candy.

And here's a hint for Halloween. Since the kids are going to want to go out and collect it, and you will most likely need to hand it out - buy it the day before the holiday starts. I know that sounds stressful and last minute, but it will save you from wanting to eat the candy beforehand.

You could also buy all the candy you hate, but I personally find that distasteful for the following reasons: why should I want/expect other people to eat things I find unpalatable AND I don't feel like financially incentivizing those companies that make gross candy.

See if you can make the candy haul last all year long. Space out the treats and reserve them for right after dinner and see how long you can make it. Any other ideas? Add them in the comments below.

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My 2nd Lucid Dream - What I've learned, How to do it, and What it means....

It was almost one year ago that I had my first lucid dream. Thankfully, I blogged about it, so I have a preserved record of what happened and when. I can cross check my memory and have the truth.

It turns out, my memory of the event is exactly as I wrote. I have not embellished or changed details in my mind. Perhaps because it was such a striking and unusual experience - or because only a year as passed. I was so afraid to go to sleep after that experience. The unknowns. The possibilities. The spirit world.  All of it made the idea so terrifying. But then nothing happened. I dreamed like normal and never went lucid again.

Until the other night, I had my second lucid experience. It was very similar but very different. Having just checked the date of my first lucid dream, I'm starting to wonder about both happening mid-late October and hope it's not annual event. After my second lucid dream, I am no longer afraid and I would like to continue.

Here are the details:

I went to bed between 10-11pm and fell asleep quickly. Around 2:20 my husband went to bed and engaged me in conversation. I hate when he does this. He gives no thought to my need for sleep. He talks to me about things that get me riled and awake. We have a lively conversation until around 3:30am. I realize I am not going to get back to sleep after this. I am fully awake. I start thinking about emails I need to send and around 4am decide to just get up and write them. But then I realize it might people their phones and wake other people up at such a horrific hour. So I lay there for a bit and decide to see if I could lucid dream again.

These events - getting woken into full awareness and going to be productive are similar to the first experience. I am doing nothing else, so I think "what the hay." I lie there and attempt to meditate. I always say "attempt" because I am so very distractable that I have never successfully meditated. I hear my husband snoring and get mad.

He rolls over and I can focus a bit. I start seeing images as my body relaxes. Not the fast moving ones, but random images, some bright with tunnels and doors but I can't get them to stay in focus. Eventually I am out.

The dream begins with me walking barefoot, carrying my shoes and trying to put them into my neighbor's house. I look at my shoes and realize this is so stupid. Why would I be putting my shoes in someone else's house so I turn around and start walking home. I hear my husband calling my name. I am surprised he is here. We meet at the cherry tree in our front yard and I realize it is bent over to the ground. He had hung a baseball mitt in the tree and it bent the tree over. I am mad. But I am also in shock that the tree is bent in a "bendy" way. Smooth and stretched like taffy. That just doesn't make sense but I am so concerned about saving the tree that I ignore it.

We work to lift the tree up and it snaps in half. Dead. I'm not happy. Then I realize there are apples growing on the top of the tree. How are apples growing on my cherry tree. This should have snapped me into reality, but instead I decide I have to try to graft it and replicate it instead. Such a rare cherry/apple tree. They are not even in the same class of plant, so this is unheard of. I must graft as many of the limbs as possible to save this rare tree.

While I am trying to figure out what to do, I notice a very tall (infinitely tall) tree has grown in its place. I try to figure out how it got there and what species it could be. I decide it must be a poplar for growing so columnar and so quick.

At this point my subconscious must be getting irritated with me. I am really so dumb sometimes. Every time I have went lucid, I was given multiple inconsistencies to snap me into awareness and it seems to take me so long to figure it out.

So my dream brings in my mom. She starts saying things that really bother me. She's being a jerk. I listen to her for awhile and then she comes into my house and continues with the drama. That's when I stop and think "why is my mom at my house? She has never been to my house (read: she ran away 11 years ago and we have basically been estranged every since.)

Oh my gosh - this isn't real. At that moment, every cell in my body vibrates. It buzzes - very strongly - almost kind of painfully - like it burns. I purposely throw my body through the floor and the lucid dream begins.

Initially I must be flying, though I am not doing anything to make movement. I am high in the sky, moving quickly toward a tropical location. I see aztec type temples and get excited. I think I am going to learn something about that ancient civilization and I'm really liking it. So the dream drops me into the water. I am cold and wet.

Annoyed but not scared, I just lay back - knowing that the dream will just move me along to the next scene.  This is a sharp departure from my regular experiences. If I were in water - in dreams or real life - I would be afraid of drowning, especially ocean water with currents. But I am not worried, I just float along until I see a large object in the sky.

It's spaceship like - but I know it is not a spaceship. It is a command center, a warehouse/distribution kind of thing, and drones are leaving it in all directions. They are delivering things. Everything is white and silver and these are not drones that look like helicopters - they look more like pods - like the shell body of a jet ski but of course white/silver. I try hard to read the name on the pods. It's a company/brand name. I do successfully read it but I forgot the name after I wake up. It is not a company/brand I am currently familiar with.

The dream brings me along past an open mall type place and I see people sitting on stools eating something they bought from a type of cafe. I don't see their food.

I am brought into an office where two women are working. They talk to me about nonsense things.

I should mention that I am not walking or flying. I am maybe hovering but I am moved by something else. Almost as if I am grabbed by my back and taken places, but without any sensation of being held onto.

I want to leave the women because they are not very interesting to me and as I start to leave one of them stops me and pulls off my hair. My real hair is underneath and looks like my normal hair. I guess I was wearing a wig. She gives me a cat to put on my head. An actual cat, no longer alive. It zips open underneath and is worn as a hat. Weird.

I look up and see the drone structure but realize it's connected with a larger system that moves people. And then everything goes black.

I sit up in bed. "I guess that's it this time," I think. I look over at my husband's clock and can not see the time. This is normal, as I sometimes can't see the clock over his body. I got up and looked at the time on the alarm keypad. It was all jumbled. "Just great", I thought. This keypad had always functioned well but it was not jumbled like the keypad we have downstairs.

I went down and make breakfast for my children. Then I packed their lunches. Then my alarm went off and I woke up. Tricky, tricky. I had just been dreaming. Somehow, I had lost the ability to be aware during my dreams. Maybe my mind was bored of the cat hats and weird people. Maybe I have a limit to the amount of lucidity I can experience.

Either way, I was quite annoyed when I made my way downstairs to once again make breakfast and lunches. I was quite pleased to see the keypad in working order. Home ownership is one big repair after another and I was not interested in fixing anything else.

But I was not in awe after this lucid dream. I did not wake up wide eyed and gasping for air. I think maybe since the dream didn't begin with fear and did not include any fear, it helped. Maybe because I blacked out and ended with an irritating but normal dream it wasn't a shock to my body. I don't know. I just know that I want to do it again.

Here is the way I am choosing to view lucid dreaming:

Our mind and body are separate yet intertwined. Even scarier,  our brain is divided. Please take the time to look up the split brain experiments. Read about them and watch the videos of the experiments. The bottom line - you are not what you think you are!

My interpretation of the split brain is that we are divided into two beings - body and spirit: subconscious and conscious. Rubbish, you say? Let me give you a few examples. Beyond the basics of breathing, heart beat, sweating, digestion etc, your body controls a lot without your input.

When I was in college, I walked along the river to get to work one morning. I heard someone behind me and was negotiating with myself about whether I should speed up, turn around, or flat out run. Too late. While I was thinking about it, the man grabbed me from behind and covered my mouth. My body was not thinking about all the garbage that was running through my brain. It screamed the loudest, most blood curdling scream I have ever heard. It was not from ME. I did not do it. I have tried to repeat it, but can't. My body protected itself!

My body also drives itself. It also does all the walking. I never think about lifting each foot or bending my knees. While I drive I am busy thinking about what I'm going to say to my husband when I get home, what I need to pick up at the store and various other nonsense. My body drives and eventually I notice that we have arrived. Sometimes I pay attention while driving, but mostly if my eyes can see the road, my body will do the right thing. Scary, huh? Maybe you are just thinking I need to have my license revoked. These are just a few of the instances. If I am mad or stressed out or overly thinking about something, my body does it's own thing - sometimes with disastrous results. My body will fight back without thinking it through and will say hurtful things to people. Let's switch the term "my body" to my "subconscious." Scientists have found that our subconscious is programmed from 0-6 years old. These are survival patterns learned from our parents, caregivers, and anyone we interacted with during that pivotal time.

If my parents lashed out in anger, my subconscious (aka my body) will do the same when I am not consciously choosing to act with tact/patience/thought.  The subconscious and conscious are both part of ME. But who I really am is the conscious part. It should stress you out to realize we do much more subconsciously than consciously. We are so lost in worry and random thought that we are not often living our own lives. This is sad. It's time to be aware and to choose more of our actions in life. Knowing that our subconscious is often running the show, we know that it is responsible for a lot that happens in our life. Why do we keep choosing the wrong type of guy to date? Why do we have a gut feeling about something? Why do the same patterns keep happening in families - addictions, abuse, affairs, and even personalities and career choices?

So in the split brain - are you the left brain or the right brain? Or neither and it is just a redundant system designed to make sure you can survive if damage were to occur? If one side is the subconscious and the other is holding your conscious, it leads to some very interesting ideas. Even still, we know your body can and will run without you.

And that's what it does at night. Your body needs to sleep. It is when all autophagic repair and healing occurs. It is when your hormones cycle to stay in time with your circadian rhythm and in tune with time itself. While your body sleeps, your mind may be active or not.

I believe your subconscious mind is responsible for dreaming. Your subconscious mind does not speak like your conscious mind and that may be why your dreams use metaphors, jump from place to place, or other oddities. Your subconscious creates an alternate reality from it's perspective. Kind of groovy.

So when I have a lucid dream, I am not looking for answers to the universe. Any answer found would most likely be my own body's view of the answers. May it know why we are here and what our ultimate purpose is? It's possible, but not likely. My body is just animated matter - with a very sophisticated software program. But it does hold clues to myself. Why do I self sabotage? Why do I cling to sadness? Why can't I feel or give love? What the hell is wrong with me? You know, that type of stuff.

So the drones I saw were probably my body's feeling about what the future will be like. Perhaps my body knew I wanted to see the aztec civilization and realized it knew nothing about it. It just wanted to lie on the beach and sip pina coladas, so it dumped me into the ocean.

My goal in future lucid dreams will be to meet my subconscious. Not in nonsense cat hat ladies, but with someone who can tell me what really happened when I was younger, why do I hold the opinions I have, and what can I do to convince this other side of me that it's okay to fail. It's okay to try. It's okay to love other people. What does the subconscious know that it thinks I should know? What secrets does it know?

Keep in mind, it might lie to me. It might tell me nonsense riddles. We may never find a productive solution. Hell, I can't even stay lucid long enough to maneuver how I want and ask the things I want to know. But I am willing to keep trying.

Wish me luck!

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