Losing a Tooth.
Dreams and Mother 9-28-07
By Joanna Garza
Posted from Anderson, Missouri
This week I had a dream that greatly disturbed me.
Dreams and their symbolism have helped guide me many times throughout my life. Dreams especially teach me about myself and cause me to become very introspective. Some special dreams notify me that an important change is on the horizon.
The Stream of Interpretation
Extends Across the Generations.
When I was younger, I dreamed a lot more because I had a lot of conflict internally about the directions I would take in life. I asked my mother to interpret my dreams for me. She identified the symbols for me and told me how they related to my life. Mom was taught by her mother on how to understand the meanings of dreams.
While I was in my early twenties I questioned the validity of my mother's wisdom. Higher education made me doubt my mother's influence because her beliefs could not be scientifically proven. The ways of Indians were considered folklore and not taken seriously.
A Portrait of Mom.
Mom looks like a woman the famous Oklahoma artist, Dorothy Sullivan, might paint in one of her pictures of Cherokees. Some say that Cherokees today are very diverse and that there is no one stereotypical look for Cherokee citizens. I disagree. People in 2007 see few "higher blood quantum" Indians, and many don't even know Indians still exist. You can tell mom is an Indian by looking at her. She is brown.
Cherokees from Northeastern Oklahoma do share similar facial features. I see these same commonalities in all my relatives. Mom's face is oval shaped. Her eye sockets are round and her cheek bones high. This is a prominent feature of our people. Under her eyes you can see the circular shape. It makes the thinner skin under her eyes contrast with the strong bones. Her nose is not large, but broader and rounded.
When mom smiles, her eyes squint up and her lips are full. Her hair has turned all white. Sometimes she sits with her hand under her chin, and you can see the meekness in her eyes. Her wide fingers and strong hands show in an instant that she has worked hard.
Recently I've noticed that mom is much smaller than she used to be, but despite the time that has reeled by us, she remains young to me. Her deep intuition is the gentle thread that connects us to our past. As I get older, mom tells me more and more how to read the signs around us, either in nature or in our dreams.
She said that she did what her mother told her and that most people would consider it foolishness. I decided to listen to my mother and to my dreams while contemplating how they were teaching me about life.
A Dream about Teeth
Signals that Something Will Be Lost.
I have dreamed about my teeth only three times in my life. My recent dream disturbed me because I knew that I would have to give up or lose something.
When I was nineteen, I dreamed that I had lost a tooth and everything came out, even the root. At this time in my life, I was being foolish in my actions. I was tired all the time and thought I had a vitamin deficiency. I went to a clinic and they gave me a pregnancy test. The doctor said that I was pregnant. I couldn't believe it. He made me an appointment to see another doctor. At the second appointment I was told that I had had a complete miscarriage and nothing was left inside of me.
My second dream about a tooth wasn't as sad for me, but it was a warning. In the dream I had a loose tooth. It never came out, but had the potential to get stronger or weaker. I knew I had to clean up my life and weed out anything that would prevent me from reaching my goals.
In the third dream, my big front tooth comes off. It more-or-less breaks off like a brittle chip. The root is still intact. I am very distraught and shocked. (I have always taken a lot of pride in my teeth. I guess anything that a person has a lot of pride in could serve as a symbol, too.) Within a day, my teeth adjust. The gap between my teeth narrows. I still have my two prominent front teeth, and the space is beside my front tooth. The root is completely intact and the rotten end is showing. I am so depressed. Someone tells me that they would be happy with teeth like mine, and that they wouldn't worry about the small gap. All the other teeth are good, but I can't be happy with such a noticeable imperfection.
Cautious of Warnings or Messages,
I Follow My Mother's Instructions.
When I woke up, I was a little worried because I wondered what I would have to lose. I wanted to talk to my mother immediately, but I knew that I would have to wait. According to my mom and grandma, you have to eat or drink before you talk to someone about your dreams. Evil dreams and negative images carry the weight of truth into reality. I am cautious of the warnings or messages, and I am careful to follow my mother's instructions. We know that most people would consider us superstitious, but that's what we do as Indians. When we eat or drink first, our bodies have more strength.
I asked mom what she thought my dream meant. She chuckled and said, "Well, mom always said you were going to lose something if you lost a tooth. Whatever you're going to lose will be very important to you, but it would be trivial to someone else." She named different objects that I might lose, but I knew in my heart that it would not be a material object. I knew that I had to give up a part of me. I needed to know the message of the dream so I could change and do what was necessary to improve myself. The tooth represented my pride, but I didn't know exactly how.
Mom said to be careful for the next four days. Then the "spell" would be broken. I resolved to keep track of my personal possessions and pay more attention, although what was really necessary was for me to look inward. During the day I put the dream on the back shelf. On my 45-minute drive home, I replayed the dream and mom's words, and tried to put the dream into my own perspective. I thought about my recent attitudes and actions. I knew the dream had to do with my pride.
I Saw It: I Was Jealous!
At first I couldn't pinpoint my diagnosis. Over and over I kept thinking about my attitudes and actions. Then I saw a face in my mind and it got specific. I was jealous of one of my friends!
This particular friend and I share many of the same aspirations, values, and hopes. We are the same age and have the same profession. A couple of years ago, she was faced with a business opportunity and she took it. Her life has changed because of the success in her business.
Now she is trying to help me follow in her footsteps. I've had doubts and reservations. She listened to them, and gave me correction. It was apparent to me that her correction was sound, and I knew that I could not let jealousy stand in the way of accepting her advice and leadership.
I would have to become humble and be happy with all the good teeth I have. My jealousy couldn't be excused as competitiveness. Even a small dot of jealousy could distract from the beauty of the other teeth.
I was happy. I knew my loss was really a gain. I have to eliminate self-defeating behaviors to be able to achieve my higher purposes. Giving up this negative attitude will allow me to have a complete set of teeth. True humility will allow me to accept the correction I need to become more successful.
Patiently, mom has always let me form my own conclusions while she subtly teaches me her own beliefs. Mom doesn't usually give me an abundant amount of feedback when I am seeking her agreement. When I told mom the meaning of my dream, she simply said, "That makes sense." I knew I had gotten the answer to the dream.
E D I T O R ' S N O T E : Guest writer Joanna Garza is ESOL Level 1 Social Studies and English teacher at The English Academy in the Rogers, Arkansas, Public Schools. Her E-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org She writes:
My name is Joanna Garza. I was born at the Indian Hospital in Claremore, Oklahoma, on October 27, 1970.
My mother is Cherokee Indian and my dad is white, although dad is a member of the Cherokee Nation, too. Both of my parents are from Oklahoma. I am half Indian and am enrolled as a tribal member of the Keetowah Indians. I have lived most all of my life in southwest Missouri near the Oklahoma border.
When I was growing up, my brother, sister, and I went to school in Missouri, and my mother took us back and forth to Oklahoma to see our relatives there.
After I graduated from high school, I lived in several places. I attended colleges in Dallas, Texas, Hawaii, and Colorado. I have a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
I met my husband in 1999. He is a "Texican," a Hispanic American from Texas. We have two children together, and I inherited his three through marriage. They are 23, 19, and 17 years old.
I have been teaching for nine years. Culture, language, and religion are important to me. I love learning, reading, and writing.
Thanks, Joanna! Your contribution to our continuing exploration of education is greatly appreciated. We eagerly await the next contribution from the Planet Gnosis cyber community.