Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Katrina’

Since I was a little kid, my go-to anxiety dream involved snakes. In this recurring dream, I would step outside my house to find a yard filled with snakes, and I would have to walk carefully to avoid them. No matter what house I walked out of, the yard itself was inevitably the yard from our home in Collins, Miss., where I went to elementary school.

This was never what I would call a nightmare, since Dream Me would just sort of sigh and start picking her way through snakes, but it always occurred during stressful times.

After Hurricane Katrina flooded my home, my hometown and a boggling number of other places I loved, my subconscious traded snakes for water as an expression of anxiety.

Again, these dreams aren’t nightmares. The problems encountered — usually water rising where it shouldn’t be rising, or me somehow falling into a deep body of water — aren’t so much scary as they are irritating.

During one particularly active dream sequence a couple of weeks ago, I found myself seated at a table that was really part of a boat that plunged over the side of the dock when the driver gunned the engine (I never said my dreams obeyed the laws of mechanics or physics). I swam back up to the dock and climbed into a dockside restaurant, which immediately began to turn sideways since it turned out to be a huge boat that was rolling over. As I kicked my way out of a window into the water, Dream Me really couldn’t believe she had to swim all the way up from the bottom of the ocean AGAIN.

I mean COME ON.

I totally get it. My subconscious gets overwhelmed with anxiety and takes it out on my dreams. It takes what I’m apparently scared of deep down and releases it at 2 a.m.

My everyday way to cope with anxiety is to constantly analyze how to fix problems. I’m on to Plan C before most people even realize that Plan A is done for and Plan B is just ludicrous.

It’s the same in my dreams. Instead of waking up in a cold sweat when the boat plunges beneath the surface of the water, Dream Me is concentrating on swimming horizontally before trying to head up to the surface in case the sinking boat creates a whirlpool (apparently my subconscious thinks it just might, no matter what the Mythbusters say).

Healthy? You’ll have to ask my theoretical psychotherapist. But it makes sense to me that working through dream anxieties rather than simply having them scare you half out of your pajamas has to be pretty good self-therapy.

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Ever manage to inadvertently start following a healthy eating pattern?

This weekend, I realized that I’ve established two useful food guidelines over the past few years: I don’t eat in the car, and I don’t eat in front of the TV.

Both situations came about entirely by accident.

I purchased a car with a manual transmission six years ago, meaning that the “extra” hand required to eat while driving is only accessible when cruising speed has been reached on the interstate. City driving does not free up this hand. As a bonus, the car’s tiny cupholders are a marvel of engineering; the two up front are too small for anything but a 12-ounce soda can, and the larger one between the buckets seats requires the flexibility of a Cirque performer to reach.

The living room embargo is a bit more complicated. As we watched the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina approach our home in Mobile in 2005, we grabbed our table from the dining room and flipped it onto the bed in hopes of keeping it dry. We ended up with only the back third of the house flooded, but the teardown, rewiring, rebuilding, re-everything meant that the table was taken apart and stored in the bedroom closet for the better part of two years.

What I discovered during this time was that no matter your intentions, eating dinner in the living room off of the coffee table pretty much ensures that you WILL turn the TV on. It’s just what happens. And once the TV is on, conversation is off.

The first thing I set up upon arrival in Huntsville, therefore, was the table. There have been no dinners in front of Smallville, no breakfasts in front of The Soup. Just talking, newspaper-reading, and, occasionally, a subtle Pandora soundtrack.

Not eating dinner in the living room leads to not eating much of anything in the living room except for the rare bowl of movie popcorn. Nobody heads to the kitchen and grabs a bag of chips to mindlessly munch on; nobody sits down with a sleeve of cookies to polish off.

Focused eating is more likely to be healthy eating, and dining without distraction makes for much better family time. And you don’t have to buy a manual transmission or wait for a flood: Declare the driver’s seat off limits for noshing, and insist that nothing crosses the dining room border but popcorn. In both cases, your seat cushions and your waistline will thank you.

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