Stripping Wallpaper

I’ve always had strange dreams.

There was the one about the giant snake in the median of the road. There was another about a bear running full speed directly at me and then getting distracted by a honey-baked ham on a tree stump. Or the one where my 8 year old presented me with some leggings I wanted and claimed he’d taken the car to go to the store to buy them for me.

I don’t always remember my dreams when I wake up and I don’t always think about what they might mean, but sometimes I do.

I’ve been stripping wallpaper in one room in my house and it has been very difficult. I really want to get it done and the walls painted because the wallpaper is old and dark and I want the room to be bright and pleasant. The wallpaper is stuck on well and is not coming off easily at all.

I had a dream one night that all of a sudden, I was working on it and it started coming off very easily. When I woke up, I was kind of excited and hopeful that it was a SIGN that I’d get this project DONE (unfortunately, it was not).

But then I was curious.

What might the symbolism of stripping wallpaper be? I found a dream dictionary website and searched for wallpaper.

“To dream that you are peeling or stripping off wallpaper denotes that you are beginning to let your guard down. You are breaking down your barrier one layer at a time. It also indicates that you are revealing aspects of yourself that have been kept well hidden.”

I then yelled SHUT UP at my computer.

I know dream interpretation is not a science, and probably brings in our own biases in ways we both know and don’t know, but…seriously, this “definition” is exactly what I have been going through lately.

In Daring Greatly, Brené Brown talks about the armor that we use to protect ourselves, and I realized that what she was describing was something I had commented on more than a year ago in a conversation; I was feeling like I was often waiting for the other shoe to drop, that it was easier to just not feel happy about anything because then it meant I didn’t have to feel sad or disappointed when it all got ripped away from me. I could protect myself from the pain. And even as I typed it, I knew how messed up it sounded, but it was all I really felt I could do at the time.

When I was thinking about what she wrote, and realized that I’d been doing that and had even said so more than a year ago, my legs got a little weak and I had to sit down on the floor and wonder how Brené and her book knew me.

Slowly, I’ve been allowing myself to shed that armor and feel again. There are days when I have felt such joy and happiness that I look in the mirror and wonder where I’ve been, and it’s made me determined to have this me stick around and not disappear again.

It’s not easy.

After a lot of questions and thinking about it, and even initially deciding against it, I finally decided to go through my friend Andy’s coaching sessions. While I’m doing it at a snail’s pace, it’s been more valuable than I’d anticipated. I’ve learned what I most value, and I’ve learned how to see how those values, my strengths, other aspects of my personality, and what drives me has been present–or not–throughout the events and decisions of my life.

I’m peeling away the wallpaper to get at the heart of who I really am.

Juggling in Public

Winter was long and cold; spring was slow in arriving. But once it did, I had the urge to go for a walk and spend some time sitting by a nearby pond, enjoying the weather, while I thought and journaled.

While I was there, I saw a man in his maybe 60s show up with a bag of juggling equipment. For most of the time I was there, he practiced in the grass.

I thought it was a little weird.

After a while, a group of four people who looked to be in maybe their early twenties walked by, but stopped to talk to him and ask him about what he was doing.

“What made you want to do this?” one of them asked.

Mid-life crisis,” he answered.

I was too far away to hear most of their conversation, but one of the young men asked him if he could try it, and the man let him, and gave him some tips on what to do. After a few minutes, the group went their own way and the man continued practicing his juggling on his own.

In Daring Greatly Brené Brown writes:

To put our art, our writing, our photography, our ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance of appreciation–that’s also vulnerability. To let ourselves sink into the joyful moments of our lives even though we know that they are fleeting, even though the world tells us not to be too happy lest we invite disaster–that’s an intense form of vulnerability.”

Practicing juggling in public seems vulnerable to me; anyone could walk by and see him doing something pretty unusual, but it didn’t bother him, and he even welcomed the interaction and questions of these people. They may never see each other again, but for a brief period of time, they shared something, because he was willing to (in my opinion) look a little silly, doing something important and meaningful to himself. For a few minutes, these random, unconnected people connected over something most unusual: public juggling practice.

We interact with a lot of people everyday, but we don’t often connect with them. Most of the time, we’re too afraid to be vulnerable, to juggle in public. There are a lot of reasons for this, and you all should just read the book, because it’s one of the best I’ve ever read. So many of us are missing connection with people, and don’t know how to change that, but it is possible.

We just need to be able to juggle in public more often.