May 27, 2020
Like a lot of you, I was doing yard work this past weekend, sweating in oppressive heat while I dug out weeds and spread mulch around the front of my house. Suddenly, I felt the overwhelming need to turn around and look at the street. There, in the distance, I saw a single man riding his bike.
I only saw him from the back, but in that instant, he looked exactly like my dad. Same build, same hair, same bike, and the exact body movement my dad had when he rode his beloved bike. He was alone and I’ve never seen him in my neighborhood. I hadn’t heard him, but something made me look up.
I almost shouted to him — except my dad has been gone almost a year. I turned to go inside to tell my husband but when I turned around, the man was no longer in sight. The whole thing felt a bit like a dream or some sort of altered reality to what I really wanted to see.
Both of my parents, and my grandparents, keep appearing in my incredibly vivid dreams of late. Mostly, they’re comforting. It’s not surprising to me since this time of year holds a lot of memories — Mother’s Day, my mom’s birthday, my birthday, Father’s Day, and the days they died are all in a one-month span. Some have been gone years, but this is the first year without my dad. How I wish that really had been him on his bike. I would have jumped on mine and shared one last beautiful ride. That would have been a dream.
I’ve also had horrifying nightmares that seem so logical and filled with actual truths that I swear they are real until I wake up sweating in my bed. I’ve been chased by horrible people, been responsible for burying a body, been in accidents, been shocked by my ICD over and over and more. They are way worse than my recurring dream of having a math test when I’ve forgotten to go to class all semester. These nighttime occurrences are anything but a dream and most nights are anything but restful.
Luckily, I’ve learned I’m not alone. We are all experiencing an incredibly difficult and stressful time. Kimberly Fenn, professor of psychology, says that lighter sleep, unusual and vivid dreams and insomnia symptoms are results of stress — and, unsurprisingly, what many people are experiencing. Read more about her thoughts on sleep and stress during a crisis.
Lack of sleep and stress are also not good for the immune system, so we all need to take care of ourselves. Our mental health is just as important as taking care of our physical selves. There are plenty of Spartans who are offering tips on self-care during this extraordinary time. They have advice on working from home and mental health, tips if you’re feeling isolated, advice for introverts and extroverts and how stress affects parents and kids. National Mental Health Awareness Month may almost be over, but your wellness should be a priority every single day.
For most of us, dreams don’t just come to us when we’re asleep. We have dreams and aspirations that motivate us to move forward in our lives. For Mary Taetsch, a 2020 philosophy graduate, she dreamed about being a Spartan. When she was rejected out of high school, she didn’t give up on that dream. Instead, she joined the Navy and after serving her country, was accepted to MSU as a single mom, in her mid-20s as a disabled veteran. Read her STUDENT VIEW: Staying persistent during an unlikely road, to learn more about how this incredible Spartan made her dream come true.
2020 dual doctorate graduate Dee Jordan had a lot of dreams. Some of those were realized this month as she and her son graduated on the same day. She is a first-generation college student and her son, Ashton, became the first male in their family to earn a college degree. They overcame many challenges along their journey, but never gave up on their dream. Read more about this inspiring family in the story, Mother and son become Spartan alumni together.
Spartans all over this world are dreaming of astonishing ways to change the world and finding solutions for problems we already know about and even those we're not yet aware of. Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Dream on, Spartans. We’ve got a lot to do. #SpartansWill.
Photo by Derrick L. Turner