The Power and Wisdom of Dreams
The tale of the first regional IASD Conference in Southern California
By Rita Hildebrandt
On October 11, 2006 Barbara Bishop – a member of IASD and teacher of dreams and creativity at Marymount College in Rancho Palos Verdes - had the following dream: “I am on the top floor at Marymount College- seems to be the third floor (in waking reality it is a one story building). The view from here is very beautiful. The buildings look ancient, sacred, church-like, peaceful and quiet. The only other person here with me is Jean Smith (another teacher at Marymount in her 60’s, very nice, wise, wonderful hostess type manners). I need to get down to the other floors, but I don’t want to leave this amazing place. I did not know it was here. I open one door and see an elaborate drinking fountain. Another door leads to an auditorium. The lawns are really nice on this level – very green. I see ornate golds and reds. I know there is an event, something important that is supposed to happen here, but now that I am awake, I don’t recall what it was. I knew it in the dream, however. EOD
At the time Barbara dreamt this dream I was in the deepest of grief, having lost my beloved husband in August of 2005. It was not until July of 2007, when I attended the yearly IASD conference in Sonoma, that I came back filled with great enthusiasm and decided to send an email to 11 people living in Southern CA and invite them to my home in San Clemente for a brainstorming session to have a regional dream conference in Southern Ca. I wrote in my journal “ I am still coming down from the high of the conference. It was such a rich experience at so many levels. I felt like my soul family was right there with me in a percolating field of wisdom, knowledge and creativity that affirmed the core of who I am and my love for the dreaming mind.”
Lauren Schneider, Walter Berry, Geoff Nelson, Dianne Ravin and Bobbie Miller attended the first monthly meeting at my home. There was a lot of enthusiasm and we talked about a couple of possible dates in the spring and discussed having a one- day conference. We agreed to look for appropriate avenues to hold the conference.
On 8/4/2007 I have a fear dream about the dream conference. I am in my late twenties in the dream, feeling very alone and insecure. I arrive at the company where I used to work at that time in my life. In waking life at that age I was learning new skills in money management and experiencing a lot of pressure and demands on me. In the dream we are having a dream conference at this place of my past and I stumble from event to event, with problems along the way. EOD
A month later we met in Whittier, at Geoff’s church and Sandy Ginsberg and Barbara Bishop joined the group. At the end of that exciting meeting we considered holding it at Marymount College, where Barbara works, we set a firm date and began planning the program. By the third meeting, also in Whittier, Dianne and Bobbie had stepped out and the group was now 6 of us: Lauren, Barbara, Sandy, Geoff, Walt and myself. When this meeting was over we had a tentative program and a possible Keynote Speaker.
On 12/7/07 I dream about the conference with the group and in a more upbeat tone: I am taking off on this air balloon with a group of people including Walter. Instead of a solid basket we have flapping white, light fabric and are able to fly and also come back down. EOD
On 12/15/07 Richard Wilkerson enters my dream as a pirate and mad director of this dream production. He is inspired by my grief over the loss of my husband and creates this giant shadow hairpiece that looks like a wig for Captain Hook and I wear it as a central player of this improvisational dream theater production that sprung from the ground of my deepest grief. Richard creates more hairpieces and this impromptu dream production becomes a resounding musical theatre success in the area. People come from all over to see it. A building of marble halls (with the music by Enya “I dreamt I slept on marble halls”) springs from the ground of the company I used to work in and we have a large crew of creative, zany people. This dream building continues growing as new people move in. Richard creates more wigs and we are off to join the theatre crew who is winning awards and the production just keeps growing leaps and bounds. By the end of the dream we are in a Hollywood movie office brainstorming a new musical dream theatre production because of the success of the first one. EOD
Next day 12/16/07 I dream that an event has just finished and Jean Campbell, Barbara Bishop and I and many others are leaving the premises. There was a lot of chaos and each of us picks up after each other trying to keep things in order and organized. In this chaotic environment somehow everything fell into place and got done. The dream ends when we all leave the building, tired but satisfied. EOD. During this time I also was participating in conversations on the Peace Dreaming Bridge about the Montreal dream conference. I believe the dream connected both of our conferences.
The progress we were making was rather astounding considering the small number of people involved. The excitement we generated was strong and contagious and carried us forward, from month to month, as we continuously communicated through emails. By the fourth and fifth meeting as we were working our way through the budget, we encountered some difficulties. Creative solutions emerged through our constant communication and everybody’s high level of response. We had moved to monthly teleconferences by then. We were growing a strong sense of purpose and connection in the group and we all worked very well together.
Richard Wilkerson, Marcia Emery and Robert Gongloff were our intermediaries with the Board, supporting us unfailingly, believing in us and providing all the resources that IASD has available for regionals. Jodine Grundy and Sheila Asato, who had organized successful regionals in Ohio and Minneapolis, also came to our help with good advice and suggestions.
As the New Year began, anxiety settled in when we realized we were only 3 ½ months away from the day of the conference and we needed 33 people to break even with our budget. In January of 2008 we worked indefatigably, with a self imposed looming deadline, to create a mini web page for the regional conference. Lauren and Barbara were attending a workshop at Pacifica in Santa Barbara and wanted to make the announcement of the regional conference there. Richard Wilkerson and Liz Diaz made it all happen for us as Liz worked late hours into the night with me refining the details and creating a visually stunning page. We were all so excited to see the final web page. It made it all more real. During this same time Sandy Ginsberg took charge of the design and production of postcards for Lauren and Barbara to distribute at Pacifica. Sandy created a most beautiful design and found an Internet printing company that provided very good prices. She also found a creative way to order the postcards in batches and saved us a lot of money.
In January Barbara had three dreams. Her first dream “ I am making plans for something with a big crowd. I pick up a small baby and realize she is nearly starved to death. I begin feeding her small pretzels and crackers and she seems to revive okay. I know she will be fine.” Her second dream: “I am driving my SUV car in water. The road is rocky and uneven. The water gets deeper and I push with all my might on the gas pedal. To my surprise the car moves up the embankment with ease, slowly, but steadily upward. At one point I am driving almost vertical but the earth holds me and I make I up the road. It seems impossible to hold this dream conference at Marymount but we do it anyway. “ On February 5th she dreams: “I realize the dream conference is here and I awaken knowing our regional conference will be successful.”
During this time we were also struggling to find the required liability insurance at a reasonable price. After Robert Waggoner read this finalized article in the Dreamtime magazine this is what he shared: “When I read Rita’s article about the various dreams that guided and assisted the conference committee through their work and how she felt that they were carried by their dreams and a larger force as they moved through the process in their individual ways, I felt a desire to tell my brief experience with the conference and the same mysterious, problem solving, creative force. In January, IASD’s Central Office contacted me to investigate Marymount’s insurance needs for the conference. As treasurer, I looked over the proposed contract and began to look into the special event insurance. Of course, our regular insurance broker came back with a bid of $440.00; a considerable sum for a conference that estimated attendance around 40 to 60 people. As I called other insurance companies, I began to dread the prospect of filling out a six page form simply to get a quote, which might take four weeks to process. So we investigated
other possibilities for insurance, but each had its own set of problems or hassles. Then, at that point, when a clear decision was made that IASD would proceed and somewhere find an affordable insurance provider, within an hour of that decision, Richard Wilkerson received a notice from our regular insurance broker that they had re-considered their previous bid, and now would offer insurance for $220.00. How often do you hear of insurance brokers halving their price? I was stunned. The mysterious force of creative intent appeared to be pushing aside waking world issues and moving the Los Angeles regional forward on a divine mind. The news was almost too good. We waited for the paperwork from our insurance broker, and then announced the break-through. The Los Angeles regional was ‘on’ and I had a feeling that it would be a huge success”.
In mid January we were having difficulties with the Marymount Caterer and Lauren suggested using a caterer that she and her husband knew. This man offered to do the catering at cost. I dream that I am at this shop that transformed during the night into a family reunion that is being catered in a first class manner by this Iranian woman. The food and service are excellent. When I tell Lauren about the dream she tells me that the man in charge is Iranian and has a gentle and caring side to him.
On 2/16 I dream I am in this well lit place with a large group ready to have a celebration gathering. I seem to be in charge of this event and there is an incredible amount of activity all around me. Some people are very visible, some people seem more invisible but there is a strong hum of flow and cooperation everywhere. Everybody is contributing their unique gifts and it all is converging and flowing together to make this event happen. I see Geoff in the dream as he attempts to paint a painting and has never painted before. He is very pleased with the results.
The food appears magically on all the tables and I notice the floor needs sweeping so I gather a broom and do this. Robert Redford appears and takes out his wallet and wants to give me money. Everything is ready for the celebration to begin. EOD In talking to Walter later I find out he had just returned from the Sundance festival in Colorado.
By the end of February we had 25 participants signed up with a marketing budget of $200.00 and the help of IASD’s members list, our own client lists and friends and Marcia Emery’s mailing list. We were spreading the word whereever we could.
On March 1st 2008 we all met at Marymount College, the location of the conference, and tour the Auditorium and classrooms working on the final implementation and details. Everything became more real as we sat in the classrooms where the workshops were to take place and perused the Auditorium with creative ides on how to set things up. It was hard to believe what all we accomplished in such short period of time.
On 3/7/08 Walter dreamt: “We are preparing for the dream conference in April. Geoff and I travel to the steep side of this frozen mountain. I am amazed at Geoff’s expertise in navigating this treacherous trip. He opens the side of the mountain and shows me the inside. Inside there are a series of platforms on wheels that have 10 foot legs. They seem to be the support of the mountain. He shows me that when the conference gets here, all I have to do is roll these different shaped platforms into place and interlock them. They have letters and numbers to show where they fit together.
We get out on the steep mountainside and I climb into an iceboat. Geoff is enjoying himself flitting around the ice. Suddenly the iceboat starts to break free and I am in danger of plunging to my death. I am terrified. I plunge with the boat and Geoff tells me: “ jump out.” I yell back: “No – I can steer it onto the ski path!” I steer the boat onto the ski run and yell to the snowboarders and skiers “This is an emergency! Get out of the way!” Everybody complies with my demand except for a sailboat that starts heading up the path toward me with Rita, Barbara, Lauren and Sandy in it. They are in full-on party mode and wave at me and laugh as they sail up the mountain in their white sailboat. Oh great, I think, here are four women who have worked their asses off to get this conference going, and just when I am about to die, they are drunk and naked and sailing up the mountain right at me, thinking this is all fun! I steer hard around them, barely missing them, and they applaud as I zip by. Don’t they know this is a serious matter? That I am about to get killed? And then I reach the bottom, and I feel a little foolish – maybe
they are right, maybe this really is fun and we all should try to relax and get naked and drunk and ride an iceboat down the mountain. EOD
The night Walter was dreaming this dream I was dreaming another dream of the conference: The conference is on and people are meandering around from room to room. It all seems low key and this poet troubador Pete Seeger is doing his own thing. I see Lauren as she moves around and feel safe that she is here orchestrating things in such a low key way. I am giving a presentation on Dreams and the Expressive Arts and have an exciting new book. The color of the cover of the book is soft orange/red and there is an oriental design on it. I have some difficulties with my presentation and Pete just breaks out in song and poetry when I do. Everything seems to be moving on its own accord and all the people are fine with the imperfections and the natural way in which the process is unfolding. EOD
I could not figure why I was dreaming about Pete Seeger –I knew he was a singer from my youth but I had never heard his songs. When I share the dream, Lauren writes back: “I grew up on Pete Seeger and used to go often to his concerts with my family. He had the most wonderful ability to include and harmonize an entire audience, getting them all to participate in song. And just as I write this to you, Peter Seeger starts singing over the speakers in the living room where my son is listening to shuffled music (5000 songs plus) on the computer next to me. How is that for synchronicity and confirmation!”
And Sandy writes back to me :” I have been making collages of my dream themes for two purposes. First, because the deadline for entries to Montreal’s IASD’s Art Show is nearing and second, the artwork is taking a “collage”form since that is the medium of choice for my workshop presentation at the Regional. When I read your dream, I was struck by a connection to one of the images I had recently completed. “ When I saw the image the colors were exactly the colors of the book cover of my presentation in the dream.
On 3/16th Sandy dreams:” We are all together, maybe six or seven of us. We mill about, generic men, all wearing the same clothes. We have purpose, but it’s hard to see as we’re accomplishing it with our strange movements. It’s a slow hexagonal “square-dance”. Crossing over one another, passing each other in the center… sometimes with seeming partners, but mainly with each one for themselves.
It is hard to tell one of us from the other, who is who? We all look the same and have the same purpose. Our suits are loosely cut, and so we move with ease in this slow frenzy. It looks strange from above, like an atom with electrons in their orbits around an invisible center. Each knows where to go.
On closer inspection, I see a way to tell us apart. Each of us holding a round, bright yellow disc on a handle. Each disc has bold black markings that are unique and distinguish it from the others. We hold onto these while we do our dance. My disc has abrupt direct straight lines in haphazard directions. That’s how I can tell which is Sandy in the crowd!
The scene changes and I see the same people. Now they are sleeping. Each one is curled, half fetal, slumbering peacefully. They are like links in a bracelet now that they are done with the dance. Each one’s head is to the right and feet to my left as their backs face me. I can’t see their signs any more, and I wonder which one I am. It’s easy to tell! I’m the one with the beige suite. The others have grayer ones, but mine is warming up. We are head-to-foot all along one circular platform… dreaming, incubating, peaceful… like one being. EOD
As you can see, synchronicities and dreams abounded throughout the whole process, moving us forward and bringing in resources and solutions as needed as well as affirmation and excitement about the conference.
The president of Marymount College was delighted to host the conference there under Barbara Bishop’s guidance. Lauren and her husband Sascha, provided us with a top notch caterer at cost and a professional photographer who offered his services for free. Geoff’s ministry was helpful in spreading the word about the conference. Walt provided lighting experience and a necessary sense of humor to balance my Germanic side when I got too bossy or serious. Sandy, Lauren and Barbara worked on the details of providing CEU’s to participants with the help of Alan Siegel. I brought in, as a host, my organizational and communication abilities from my past life as a corporate executive in the financial arena.
But most of all we worked well together, respecting each other and cooperating each step of the way while we kept the vision of the conference and contributed our dreams, creativity and efforts to the process.
On 4/4/08 I have a last pre-conference dreams: “The conference is being held in a couple of upstairs wings of a giant theatre. The right wing is the largest and it is set up with staircase seats and the stage is at the top. The left wing is smaller and it is set up with staircase seats and the stage is at the bottom. I enter the left wing and join a presentation by service volunteers from South America. The subject matter is service to humanity at the highest level. When the presentation finishes I think to myself that this is not the kind of presentation people would expect at a dream conference – it was rather boring.
“As I enter through the door to the right wing I am amazed. While this service presentation was going on, the other wing filled completely up and sold out. There is a hum of excitement and anticipation in the air. I wonder if I can find a seat. I climb the stairs and find a nook to the right with a rectangular table where my mother is presiding. I am so glad to see her again and I hug her and tell her how much I missed her. She looks like a royal spiritual mother surrounded by her children. And now the dream conference begins.
“In the next scene the conference is over and Barbara is showing me this most beautiful and vibrant piece of art that she has created – representing all the presentations. She is excited to have created this piece as she did not think of herself as creative.
“In the last scene of the dream we all now at the street level and the food table is prepared and Laurel is in charge. The table is small but has a magic quality to it. All the food is home made and there is an incredible amount of variety and overflowing. There are steaming soups, warm breads, and anything else you can imagine: a table that can feed the masses and never go empty.” EOD
This dream was really helpful to all of us as we entered the last week before the conference and some of us were in overwhelm at all of what needed to get done before 4/12th. Sandy wrote to all of us: “Does this feel like labor pains?” I was waking up at 3 a.m. in the morning worrying about details and otherwise preparing all the forms for the registration process. Barbara was handling all the details at Marymount, Lauren was working with the caterer trying to get last minute registration information, Sandy was working on preparing name tags, CEU forms and registration packets, Walter was preparing giant creative posters and Geoff was working on other forms. The other dream that was a consolation to this last minute rush of details and fears of how things would turn out, was Walter’s dream of all the machinery clicking into place inside that mountain.
On Friday April 11th we all met at Marymount to attend to the final details of putting everything together. We worked hard from 4 p.m. til 9 p.m. over dinner.
Saturday April 12th arrived as a sunny day, with Santa Ana winds blowing and temperatures in the 80’s. It was an unseasonably warm day in April. We began arriving at 7 a.m. praying all would go smoothly. At 7:30 a.m. volunteer students from Barbara’s classroom arrived filled with enthusiasm and young energy.
And everything fell into place the way our dreams had dreamt us forward. The hard work and attention to detail made the registration flow easy, the breakfast was delicious and the keynote speech given by Lionel Corbett was deeply inspiring and beautifully articulated.
One of our concerns was the size of each workshop, and whether we should sign people up ahead of time or not. We decided against it because of the guidance of our dreams. Remarkably, each room we assigned to each presenter held the right number of people and each presentation was visited by a large number of people. Just as our dreams had predictedJ )
In the morning we had presentations on the” Creative Expression of Dream Symbols” by Sandy Ginsberg, “Dreams and Projections” by Walter Berry, “ Dreams and Guided Meditations” by Rita Hildebrandt and a panel on “Collective Dreaming” with Geoff Nelson, Lauren Schneider, Sarah-Jane Hall and Barbara Bishop.
Participants enjoyed the immense and beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean from the Marymount campus while they ate a leisurely lunch with unending entrees and deserts. The large round tables allowed for lots of networking and sharing between participants, presenters and volunteers.
In the afternoon we had presentations on “Taking Dreams into the Labyrinth” by Geoff Nelson, “The Rashomon Approach to Dream Work” by David Jenkins, “Images of Wholeness in Dreams” by Joan Concannon and “Numinous Dreams and Visions” by Lionel Corbett.
The conference concluded with the organizing committee interacting with presenters and receiving feedback on the conference and ideas of where to go from here. People left glad to have come to this first ever Southern Ca. Regional Conference and with a desire to grow the dreaming community that we started on this day. Ah, and the conference was sold out – 130 people attended – and there was a hum of excitement and anticipation in the crowd throughout the day.
One presenter said that the atmosphere of the conference was so friendly and democratic-it felt like everyone was welcomed with respect and equality. We were so pleased that we created that kind of environment and represented IASD so well. A participant commented on the playful comraderie that the people in the organizing committee reflected. Another participant wrote: “I’d like to take a moment to thank you and all the members of your talented committee for such an enlightening experience. The day was a true learning experience for me as a lay person with only a limited background in analyzing and interpreting dreams. I was amazed at the quality of speakers available to us throughout the day and how willing they were to share their expertise. The luncheon was a Babbett’s Feast providing for all. Thank you for organizing such a wonderful retreat at such a truly peaceful and meditative venue, Marymount College.”
We are deeply grateful to the Board of IASD and particularly to Richard Wilkerson, Liz Diaz, Robert Waggoner, Marcia Emery, Robert Gongloff, Jodine Grundy, Alan Siegel, Jean Campbell and Sheila Asato for all the cooperation and help that was given to us throughout the whole process. Our gratitude also goes to Rasji, who provided a large amount and variety of delicious food at cost and to all the people at Marymount who helped us advertise the conference locally and prepared the grounds to create the event.
And the dream goes on…
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