My reoccurring dreams are about my teeth, being naked, being chased, missing a final exam, committing murder and flying.

No. 1: Teeth Dream. Okay, so dreaming about my teeth falling out would seem to be about my own vanity, but the more likely reason is that I have said something to someone that I shouldn’t have said.

And, since I am known to call friends and family after a raucous conversation to “check in” about whether or not I have offended them, the latter interpretation is more probable.

No. 2: Naked Dream. In this dream, I arrive half-naked to an important event.

This disturbing dream usually takes place in a public venue where I am supposed to represent. Naked Dream is about feeling vulnerable, possibly.

Other interpretations include being “found out” about something I have done. Perhaps I’ve offended someone, for example, but since my teeth have already fallen out, I am, instead, naked.


Naked Dream seems to go on and on as the crowd, fully dressed, gathers around me.

No. 3: Chase Dream. Bad enough, yes? But, to make things more dramatic, it is usually combined with Immobile Dream.

In this dream, the lower half of my body is anchored in mud or sand and I am unable to get away from whoever or whatever is chasing me.

According to dream experts, this dream happens when our bodies are in REM sleep and are actually immobile. No matter the science, it’s terrifying. Other interpretations include being stressed about a transition and running away from big decisions.

I am an avoider.

No. 4: Final Exam Dream. For me, the final exam is a high school algebra test. In this dream, I’m running through my high school corridors (sometimes half naked) looking for the room where the algebra test is being administered. I must take this test to graduate. I never find the room and I wake up anxious but not terrified.


Some say the Final Exam Dream is a good dream because it helps keep us on track at work and with personal goals.

“The (Final Exam) dream is helping you to have enough anxiety to stay on track,” said author and psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen in a New York Times article about dreams.

No. 5: Murder Dream. I kept this dream to myself until very recently, assuming that it might upset my loved ones.

“I dreamed I murdered someone. How’d you sleep?”

Waking up believing you are about to be arrested is alarming – eyes wide open, heart pounding, drenched in sweat is not a fun way to start the day.

Some say this dream could mean that my actions are disconnected from my emotions. Others say I could be “killing off” old habits. And then there’s the reoccurring repressed aggression theme.


“Last night I dreamed …” was often a phrase heard among my friends to start a conversation. Now we talk about our kids, food (mostly food), day-to-day worries and Donald Trump.

My friend Dan is the only one I know who posts his dreams on Facebook. (If I dreamed what he dreamed I would not post it on Facebook, but I admire his chutzpah.)

“I dreamed …” is the beginning of a confession about one’s subconscious and, in my opinion, the ultimate tell about a person.

A common theme in my reoccurring dreams is loss of control. As my life becomes more stressful, I try to control everything. My dreams are a reminder that it is not possible to control everything.

According to Dr. Amen in the same article, “Dreams prepare us for the bad things that are likely to happen in our life.” As he put it, stress dreams are “a dry run for survival.”

My smartphone has become the perfect tool for controlling my life and for surviving. I keep it close for updates and messages from family and friends. It is rare that I leave the house without it.


If my family is not with me, my phone offers a false sense of security.

No. 6: Flying Dream. In this dream I simply run, flap my arms and fly. I can feel the air pressure under my arms as I leave the ground. Flying in my dreams is so effortless that when I wake up, I believe I can fly.

This holiday weekend, I plan to leave my smartphone behind and experience this Fourth of July hands-free with my eyes level to the horizon.

Jolene McGowan lives and works in Portland with her husband, daughter and dog and has no plans to leave, ever. She can be contacted at:

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