Allowing Myself to Dream

warriorYesterday I wrote about Living Each Day We Are Given and how there will come a time when I am free from my current concerns. People think I should be preparing for that future, planning what I am going to do, where I am going to go, and how I am going to live. Each person has his or her own suggestion as to what form that preparation should take, such as my going back to school either to situate myself anew in the job market or to take advantage of student loans. Others think I should be researching places to live, but the truth is, I am tired of planning. I’d like to be bold without being foolish, adventuresome without being reckless, but most of all, I’d like to be spontaneous without being flighty. In other words, I’d like to stretch myself to see what I’m made of without putting myself in danger, and I can’t do that if I immediately go from one planned life to another.

Still, I am preparing for my future, though it might not seem like it. I am exercising and trying to eat right, taking yoga classes and going for long rambles in the desert. And I’m pitching ideas, trying them on for size.

I’ve always had a sense of my strengths and weaknesses, but I don’t want to take those strengths and weaknesses into consideration. I want to throw myself wide open and envision a life of endless possibilities, at least to begin with. It won’t be long before the realities slowly creep back in. I’m not elderly, but I’m not young, either. I’m not indolent, but I’m not athletic. (I’m smiling to myself as I write this. I had to rewrite the word indolent a half a dozen times because each time I inadvertently wrote insolent. I’ve never been insolent, never liked hurting people, so I have no idea where the subconscious desire for insolence came from.)

I’m not much of a daydreamer, living fantastic adventures in my head. I’ve always been too practical and pragmatic to want what is unattainable. Never been one to want much of anything, to tell the truth. Many women in my situation gave up their own dreams when they got married, and now that their husbands are dead, they are picking up those original dreams and running with them. I have no such abandoned dreams, but many things will be open to me in my new life that would have been inconceivable in the old one, and I need to allow myself to dream so I can become receptive to those possibilites.

Do I want to hop a plane and fly to Britain, with no real plans of what to do when I get there, just see what happens? Do I want to hole myself up in a garret and write incredibly wise and witty books? Do I want to enroll in classes — Tai Chi or calligraphy perhaps? Do I want to get rid of my stuff or put it into storage, and take to the roads? Do I want to . . . ?

There is a chance that I will move back to Colorado and settle down, but now that I am on my own, settling down seems too much like stagnating, and stagnation terrifies me. I don’t want to end up like one of those old woman who sits in her dark apartment, alone, with the whole bright world outside her door. And yet, and yet . . . there is the small matter of a lack of funds and the large matter of a laid-back nature more suited to a life of contemplation than a life of action.

So now I’m throwing my heart out into the world of possibilities in the hopes that someday the rest of me will follow.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

If You Don’t Have a Dream, How You Gonna Have a Dream Come True?

Do we need to have a dream? It seems to be the consensus that yes, we do. As Harper’s Bizarre once sang, “You gotta have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true?”

A friend is close to achieving her dream of living by the sea and writing the livelong day. She just needs to wait a bit to make sure her sales will remain steady before she quits her day job. She attributes her dream coming true to talking about it, planning it, visualizing it. This is the way many people make their dreams come true, and it seems to work, but what if, like me, you only have vague longings rather than a concrete dream?

I would like to have a dream, to work toward something I am passionate about, but so far such passions elude me. I’d like to make a living off my books, of course. Do you notice I said “off my books” rather than “from writing”? Almost anyone can make a living by writing nowadays if they write sexy romances or mystery series and churn out two to four books a year, but I am a slow writer with few ideas. I average one book every two years, and to increase my output, I’d have to write all day every day and far into the night. Even if I could dredge up all the necessary words, I’d have to contend with the physical hardship of sitting in one place for hours on end. Besides, I don’t like romances or series of any kind. And, unlike my friend, I have no interest in spending all my time writing. There is still real-world living I have to do before I can totally immerse myself in fictional worlds.

Outside of wanting to make a living off my books, I have no real dreams. Never have had. I want, of course, but I want something greater than my imaginings. Something so wonderful or awesome that my life becomes transformed.

As a child, I loved the mystique of presents. There was the possibility of getting the gift I always wanted but didn’t know I wanted. Oddly, the most disappointing gifts were when I received what I asked for. As an adult, I don’t want to limit my dreams to what I know to ask for. I want the perfect dream — the life I always wanted but didn’t know I wanted. The problem is, if I don’t know what that dream is, if I can’t imagine it, how can I make it come true?

All I know is that I need to find a way to open myself up to the possibility of surprises. So far, I’m doing this by exploring my inner and outer worlds — searching for ways to connect more deeply to life, being present here in the now, being me. Perhaps one day, as I continue to grow and develop, I will find the surprises and unknown wonders that I have to believe are waiting for me.


Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+

Dreaming of the Dead

I don’t often dream about my deceased life mate/soul mate, but last night was an exception. Perhaps my bloggerie yesterday, where I mentioned a revelation I had while walking in the desert, instigated the dream. The revelation — that having a sign from him wouldn’t change my life, that I’m already doing the best I can to be the best person I can be — was a pivotal point for me. Or perhaps it was because I’ve been going through the movies he taped and have thrown away some I know I will never watch. Whatever the reason, it was good being with him again for a few minutes.

I don’t think the dream was a sign from him, nor do I think he actually visited me. In fact, I knew it was a dream while dreaming.

In the dream, we were going somewhere on foot, and I realized that it would be cold before we got back, so I went inside to get a coat. In my closet were two of his coats — a jacket and a trench coat, which I have in fact kept. As I was pulling the jacket off the hangar, I remembered that I had gotten rid of most of his things after he died, and I panicked, wondering how to tell him that his stuff was gone. I left the room, and met one of the moderators of the grief group I had attended. He asked how I was, so I explained the situation, then I added, “It’s a good thing this is a dream, otherwise he would be really angry.”

In the dream, I was glad not to have to tell him his things were gone, and I’m glad I don’t have to tell him in real life. Even though he told me what to do with most things, he never told me what to do with his tape collection, and I don’t know what he would think of my throwing any of them away. But he is beyond caring about such things now.

Part of me wants to get rid of everything that reminds me of him — which would mean getting rid of everything I own. But part of me thinks there might come a day when having our things around me might help connect the disparate parts of my life — the years with him and the future years without him.

It still seems bizarre to me that a person’s things outlast him. In this age of obsolescence, you’d think it would be the other way around. Besides our household goods, his tape collection, and various things I have not been able to get rid of yet, I have a great many papers  in his handwriting — recipes, the list of video tapes, a foot-high stack of notes from his studies into health and nutrition, and various other notes I come across from time to time. Oddly, for something so personal, an unexpected glimpse of his handwriting doesn’t sadden me, which is a good thing. I’m sad enough as it is.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your book?

Freud thought every role in a dream was played by the dreamer, and in a way, that’s the way my books are. The emotions the characters feel are mine since I can only write what I feel, and their personal problems are ones I’ve grappled with. In the writing, though, the characters become more than I ever was as they develop in response to the needs of the story. Kate from A Spark of Heavenly Fire is the most like me, maybe because she was the first character I created.

Here are some other authors’ responses to the question about much of themselves are hidden in their characters. The comments are taken from interviews posted at Pat Bertram Introduces . . .


From an interview with A. F. Stewart, Author of Once Upon a Dark and Eerie

I really hope there is very little of me in my characters since many of them tend to be immoral, vicious, bloodthirsty killers, or unwise enough to get themselves into situations where they are maimed or killed. Well, maybe they share my odd sense of humour.

From an interview with Debra Purdy Kong, Author of “The Opposite of Dark”

When I first began writing about Casey several years ago, I think we had more in common than we do now. Like Casey, I wasn’t interested in marriage, I was studying criminology, and my parents were divorced. However, I’ve grown older while Casey’s stayed young so our interests and concerns are quite different. She’s still building her career and attending school, and looking for love. I’ve been there, done that, so I look at her from a different perspective and see almost nothing of myself in her now.

From an interview with Bonnie Toews, Author of “The Consummate Traitor”

There are elements of myself in both heroines, but yet they are stronger than I think I could ever be. The journalist, Lee, lives with my recurring nightmare and my affinity with the Holocaust. I have often said, “I am a Gentile with a Jewish soul.” The pianist, Grace, reflects my more naive, pollyanna side. And yet, the one time I headed into the Rwandan conflict that proved the UN’s promise of “never again” would the world tolerate another genocide to be an outright lie, I went with complete faith, like Grace, that I was protected from harm.

From an interview with J J Dare, Author of False Positive and False World

The aggressive part of my passive/aggressive personality is turned loose in the books. I can let myself go through my characters; I can destroy without regret, lie with a straight face and a cold heart, and generally, get away with murder.

From an interview with Dellani Oakes, Author of Lone Wolf

Matilda is a lot like me in some respects. Her fierce devotion and the way she takes up for those she loves is totally me. Oddly enough, some of the aspects of Wil’s personality come from me as well. Mostly, he and Marc mirror aspects of my husband’s personality.

So, how much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your book?

(If you’d like me to interview you, please check out my author questionnaire and follow the instruction.)

Sucker Punched by Grief

After the first excruciating months, dealing with a major loss is like being in the ring with an ever-weakening opponent. The feeble jabs inflict little pain, and you start feeling as if you can go the distance. Gradually, as the blows come further and further apart, you let down your guard. You even welcome the blows that do land, because they remind you why you are fighting. Then . . .


Out of nowhere comes the knockout punch.

My knockout punch came after a restless night. I finally fell asleep in the early morning hours, and I dreamt.

I dreamed that my life mate was dead, but I woke to find him alive and getting well. It was wonderful seeing him doing so much better, and a quiet joy seeped over me.

I started to wake. In the seconds before full consciousness hit, I continued to feel the joy of knowing he still lived. Then . . .


The truth hit me. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move. Then, like an aftershock, came the raw pain, the heartbreak of losing him . . . again.

I’d only dreamt about him once before, and that was at the beginning when my defenses were still in place. In that first dream, I told him I thought he’d died, but deep down I knew the truth, and there was no shock when I awoke, just a feeling of gladness that I got to see him once more. But this time, I had let down my guard. I even felt a bit smug that I was getting a grip on my grief so early in the process, and so the dream caught me unaware. In the depths of my being, I believed that he hadn’t died.

I cried on and off for two or three days (I lost count; grief tends to override time) but now I’ve regained my equilibrium — at least until the next time.

A friend who counsels the bereft told me, “In my experience with grief, a healthy person, such as yourself, is going to grieve in a gradually diminishing way for two years.”

Two years??!!

If so, I have a very long way to go. I’d planned to stop blogging about grief. I don’t want people to think I am eliciting sympathy, nor do I want to seem pathetic, grieving long after the non-bereft think I should be done with it. But if I’m going to have bouts of pain for many months to come, I might as well share them and let others take whatever comfort they can from my learning experiences.

This episode with the dream taught me to be patient with myself. I’ve been thinking that I’m mostly healed, and I’ve been feeling like a slacker, just taking life a moment at a time, not doing anything to prepare for the rest of my life, not doing much of anything but reading, walking, writing a little (a very little), taking photographs, and going through my mate’s collection of movies. Now that I know the power of the sucker punch, and how easily it can gain the upper hand, I understand this simple life is all I can expect of me right now. And perhaps that’s the way it’s supposed to be.