After a decade as a political reporter in Washington, D.C., I was disappointed with my career and disillusioned with journalism to bring about social change. I turned to writing screenplays as and antidote. While struggling with an elusive scene, I dreamt the first dream I ever remembered.

The dream was simple but far-reaching in significance. It was a single image of five women intertwined by work and play. In reality, the black and white etching titled “Five Women Painting” hung on my apartment wall.

In the picture, the women pulsate with life. They are beautifying one another, serenading, drawing, writing, reading. The women are different nationalities, yet interrelated, interconnected. The women seem powerful simply because they do not seek power. They seek to empower themselves. They seek to empower each other.

At first, I was uncertain what to make of the nightmare apparition. For years, I had managed to navigate the world by rote and reason and linear thinking. But, in my day-to-day life, I was struggling to resolve the dilemma of Jennifer, the heroine of the screenplay appropriately titled Real Dreams, I thought there might be a connection between the dream and what I was writing.

Jennifer, a socially conscious TV producer, (alright, the story was a bit autobiographical) was about to give up her successful career to marry Mr. Wrong. I pondered how to extricate her from making a disastrous mistake.

That’s it! Jennifer, the heroine, would, on the morning of her extravagant wedding, pull the framed pictograph from my dream out of her packing boxes. She would grasp its message: focus on reporting about women who bring culture and beauty into the world. She called off the wedding and returned to her career with renewed commitment and the promise to find “strength, real strength” in herself.

A dream may have meaning on multiple levels. I followed Jennifer’s lead and invigorated my own career. Thanks to the first dream I ever remembered, I pivoted from writing about political issues to writing about how dreams can guide our daily lives.

After the Five Women episode, dreams continued to influence my life. Harbingers of the night imparted content for my book about the mind-body-spirit connection; resolved an acrimonious relationship with my mother and an unhappy romantic relationship; ameliorated a potentially serious health crisis; revealed a healthy, lifelong eating plan — all in the immediate aftermath of the dream of the five expressive women. In the decades since, dreams have continued to affect every aspect of my life.

Since ancient times, dreams have been integral to medicine, religion, culture, and even science. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, relied on dreams to detect the diseases of worshippers sleeping in Greek temples. Dreams fill the holy books of the major monotheistic faiths. Cicero tells the Dream of Scipio, merging philosophy and the mystical, in The Republic. Cheimst August Kekule credits dreams and waking visions with his formulation of two premier scientific discoveries. A dream (more like a nightmare) prompted English author Mary Shelley to write the novel Frankenstein. Dreams inspired Guillermo del Toro to create the award-winning film, Pan’s Labyrinth. Paul McCartney credits a dream for the lyrics of the song “Let It Be.” When The Beatles were breaking up, McCartney’s mother came to Paul in a dream and counseled, “Let it be.”

I have interviewed and profiled dozens of people–artists, entrepreneurs, filmmakers, activists, women with cancer–who have called on dreams, our inner GPS, to transform their lives. I’m excited to tell their stories and my own and share the power of dreams with you in these monthly posts. I will write about the personal and practical; the narrative and the how-to, so you can integrate your nightly messages into your daily life for positive change.

Check out more of Joyce’s experience with the world of dreams at! Have questions and want to go straight to the source? Email her at!

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