Here’s the newest page in my daily journal, entitled, “Caution.”


The word “Caution” was trimmed from a piece of yellow caution tape I found on the ground while visiting an apple orchard back in October. I knew it would be a perfect addition to a journal page at some point, and I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered it worked well here.

The stamped words beneath the title state, “if you sleep, you may dream.” The page was inspired by some bizarre dreams–more like nightmares–that I’ve been having periodically for the last year.

On December 23, 2014, my beloved pet passed away. Her name was Kirby. Prior to Kirby, I’d had a lot of pets…but there was something truly unique and special about this particular animal. In many ways, she was my best friend. Her loss was excruciating, and even though it’s been 12 months, in some ways I’m still grieving.

The bizarre dreams I have are always about her. In each one, something happens that causes her to become lost, and no matter what I do, I can’t find her. During one dream, she was kidnapped from inside my home, and I ran around the city, frantically searching for her; I even called the police and reported her stolen. They kept telling me she was “gone,” and I could see they believed I’d been negligent. In another, she was somehow taken to Europe, and I ended up on a plane headed for Paris–but when I arrived I couldn’t locate her, even with the help of an impatient private investigator. In the most recent dream, which I had two nights ago, I’d taken her with me on a bike ride and accidentally left her on a bridge. I returned to the bridge but she wasn’t there, and I couldn’t track her down. The police were in this dream, too, and they chastised me for being careless.


In all of the dreams, I wake up in a cold sweat, my heart pounding. Sometimes there are tears in my eyes. After a few moments, I realize they’re only dreams–and I shake my head because they are so ridiculous and unrealistic. But it doesn’t stop them from coming frequently.

I don’t have any experience as an interpreter of dreams, but I recognize that all of this has something to do with my loss, and how my mind and heart are still trying to process it. When Kirby passed away, there was a large part of me that blamed myself for not seeing it coming. Despite the fact that she was at an advanced age and had suffered a stroke without any advance symptoms, I felt so much as though I’d missed something and that it was my fault. I suspect many of the elements in my dreams, such as the fact she is always lost, and how it happens without warning, point back to these internal conflicts. The fact I’m always blamed for what happens, is another connection to them.

I might not be able to stop having these dreams, but at least I can use my art journal to help me to express my strong feelings about them.

This page was created with black and white gesso, acrylic paint, a vintage book page, pieces of caution tape, Washi tape, magazine images and graphics, rub-ons, stickers, letter stamps, pigment ink, and a pen.


About Jenny Petricek

I am a mixed-media artist who loves collage, bookmaking, journaling, and memory art.
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2 Responses to “Caution”

  1. Cheryl says:

    I have been into dream interpretation for a long time and I think you are spot on with your own dreams. You are indeed dealing with the sudden loss of your pet and it looks like you are able to translate your dreams quite well into journal pages. No amount of second-guessing what you coulda-woulda-shoulda done will bring her back. It’s natural to blame yourself. Why not play the game of ‘what’s the worst thing that could happen if I had done this’? Sit yourself down with your journal and a nice cup of tea (or wine) and write your dream and your interpretation into a journal and keep writing it out, wring it out of your soul, then play the game and write it’s answers down in your journal.

    I lost my mother in 2014 and I have dreams where I am trying to find her because I want to tell her something or share something with her. I’m always anxious when I can’t find her. Other dreams she is there and talking to me. This dream I interpret as her being ‘on the other side’ and she is telling me something I need to know.

    I feel your pain. Please forgive me if I’ve spoken out of turn and hurt you in any way.


    • Thanks for commenting, Cheryl! I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only person who’s experienced this kind of thing! I’m going to keep exploring this in my written and visual journals; I agree with you that the only way to deal with it is to confront it and lay everything out on the table…maybe then my subconscious mind won’t have to keep replaying this same scenario over and over in my dreams.

      One of my favorite things about blogging is the real, true connection you can make with others…and I am so thankful to have found on this journey someone as caring as you! Thanks again! 🙂


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