July 9, 2013

Roadblocks and New Beginnings

roadblocksI jump in my car, pull out of my driveway, and speed uphill—the direct route to town. At the top of the hill, the road is torn up and blocked. A relaxed, slow-paced country guy on the road crew tells me I can’t go this way.

“There are no detour signs,” I say with a whine in my voice. “I have to get to town.”  The man smiles and ignores my feelings.

“Damn it, I have to get to town,” I snarl. He smiles.

Fuming, I drive back down the hill and pull into my driveway. A large pale blue egg bigger than a football lies on the grass. I pick it up and see a baby bird inside, pale yellow, still, but then a whisper of movement.

The outer egg shell is pecked away but the membrane is intact. Is this huge chick alive or dead? I press my index finger through the membrane. A little face emerges from the hole.

Painting my dream bird
Painting of my dream bird

“Wow. Thanks. I need to breathe,” the chick says in perfect English as it gasps for air. “Thank you. Thank you.”

“How will I take care of you?” I say. “I have to get to town. I don’t have time for you.”

“Thank you, thank you,” the chick says.

“You need to be fed and cleaned every two hours and getting to town will take longer,” I say. Much as I fret, there is no choice. I must keep this baby bird alive.


I wake up buzzing with frantic energy over a dream bird.

Little bird, you are vulnerable and need a mom. Looks like I’m it. Who are you? My inner life, a messenger telling me to slow my pace, an emerging unexpected possibility waiting to take flight? In many sacred traditions, birds are archetypal representatives of soul or spirit. Angels have wings. Whoever you are, I need to watch over you, all day, every day. I’d rather go to town.

Town is where there are bookstores, grocery stores, restaurants, and my hospice work. Town is extroversion and connection with the outer world. Town is where I take off my hiking boots and wear city shoes. I want to get there. Fast. I don’t want to be stopped by anything, not even talking birds.

Bluebird babies soon after hatching

The dream says I can get to town, but I can’t go my habitual hurried way. Why not relax and enjoy the journey? Meanwhile, this grateful, vulnerable new life magically appears at home and needs my care and kindness. I can and must help the chick live and breathe. What is this mysterious new life with wings?

I make a watercolor portrait to honor her birth. In my imagination, I hold the baby bird in my hands. I breathe. I promise to protect her, to be patient and nurturing. She represents a new life, one I don’t understand, didn’t plan, and can’t control.

She’s talking to me. I need to slow down and listen.

Do you listen to the messages of your dreams? What do they tell you? For another post about dream messages, see 9 Ways to Unpack a Powerful Dream. For a post about watching young bluebirds in their blue shells, see When the Bluebirds Fledged. If you’d like more information about Jungian dream work, you’ll enjoy Jean Raffa’s blog Matrignosis.


  1. August 8, 2018 at 2:45 am



    Thanks Elaine for this! It brings a little clarity to some very strange dreams I’ve been having lately. I intend to paint them – I sketched them in my dream journal – I find dreams are very helpful in unblocking ‘road blocks’.

    1. August 8, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      I agree, Susan. My dream therapy appointment was canceled this week and we hadn’t met for a month. It will wait, but I have a few dreams burning for exploration. Painting always helps me.

  2. July 12, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Lynne Taetzsch


    Elaine, I have always had vivid dreams, too. I don’t always write them down, but as soon as I wake up, I go over every detail in my mind several times in order to help myself remember it.

    I can usually see a connection between the dream and my life, though I don’t do a formal analysis.

    The most vivid since my husband died are the ones where he appears physically solid, in good health, and I know he’s REALLY there.

    Your dream story was beautifully written, as always. And inspiring, as always.


    1. July 13, 2013 at 8:23 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you, Lynne. I have notebooks full of dreams. The most vivid dreams in my life were in the year after Vic died. He was solid, passionate, and so there–yet I often knew in the dream that he was also dead. I haven’t written much about dreams in blogs and don’t know if I will continue, but my dreams accompanied me through grief as I worked toward finding a life separate from Vic. In one dream, as Vic and I hugged, I wept and protested, “I love you, but you have to leave. I can’t be married to a dead man.” That line often comes up in my mind, because I am still both married and not married to him. You likely understand what I mean by that. With gratitude.

  3. July 12, 2013 at 12:31 pm



    Elaine, Liz – – – fascinating. I used to dream and remember doing so, but I either have not dreamed, or at least have not remembered any dream, in ages. I do tell myself fantasy stories as I drift off to sleep. Don’t know what to make of them, however !! Any connection between dreams and fantasies ?

    1. July 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm

      Elaine Mansfield


      I imagine there is a connection, David, but don’t know enough to say much. Perhaps dreams are less colored by our ego desires. I often notice events in my waking world and wonder what they would mean as a dream. I frequently dream about driving or road problems, so it’s striking that waking me can’t get in the driver’s seat of my material car without a big hassle. The door won’t open from the outside with a key or any other way, so I have to get inside through another door and open from the inside. Quite inconvenient. It feels like a waking experience that reflects the dream images. But who cares about meaning? I want it fixed. I’m glad it will get fixed tomorrow or at least diagnosed so that parts can be ordered. Thanks for responding and stretching my imagination.

  4. July 9, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Mary Friedel-Hunt


    You nailed it…held my interest…hooked my imagination…evoked thought, evoked feelings, evoked my pain…and made me smile.

    1. July 10, 2013 at 8:31 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      Thank you, Mary. Your words mean so much to me. Evoking your pain sounds hard, but sometimes awakened feelings hurt. I’ve suffered under this driving hurrying self all my life. It’s an act of will to stop, attend, and nourish the new possibilities cracking out of the shell.

  5. July 9, 2013 at 9:23 pm



    Very cool. I dreamed the other night that my former manager at Hopkins, Martina, greeted me with kindness, forgiveness and humor. In that dream I felt very grateful and blessed. I still regret letting Martina down by falling apart on her watch, but try to choose to believe that she would be happy for me that I’ve found a fulfilling job in NC, a wonderful husband, and a terrific circle of friends. Then I remember that the characters in our dreams are manifestations of oneself, and I feel like Martina’s benevolent presence is a sign that I’m on the road to forgiving myself.

    1. July 10, 2013 at 8:27 am

      Elaine Mansfield


      I agree with your second take on this dream, Liz. Your inner manager is forgiving you. For most of us, self-forgiveness is much harder than forgiving others. On the other hand, sometimes there’s an objective component and it’s time to take an action in the world that has been avoided or delayed, such as contact with someone. My dream therapist asks me what I was thinking and doing in previous days to help me understand the dream. I keep a little notebook by my bed to write down dreams, and after each dream, I write reflections of the previous day or two. Sometimes, such as last night, I’m up a while writing. As Bob Dylan wrote, “I’ll be in your dream, if you’ll be in mine.”

      1. July 11, 2013 at 8:23 pm



        I should try the notebook…I have no idea what I was thinking before that dream! Though when I put my mind to it now, the churn going on in my current office emerges as the connection!

        1. July 12, 2013 at 9:22 am

          Elaine Mansfield


          I have years of notebooks filled with dreams and the dates, but I did not write what was happening at the time. When I began seeing a therapist for support during Vic’s illness, I chose someone who wanted to work with dreams because mine were strong. She always asked about the day or two before, so I began writing down the dream and then writing down what had happened recently. Of course, this requires turning on a light and rummaging for notebook and pen in the middle of the night if you easily forget your dreams, as I do. Can be hard on a partner, but my dog Willow doesn’t complain about me disturbing her sleep.

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