Dream weaver

Some people know their jobs so well they could do it in their sleep. Tzippi Moss, however, relies on others' sleep for her livelihood.

Tzippi Moss has a dream job. Or, more to the point, her job is dreams. A holistic psychotherapist by profession, the 51-year-old Moss works with people in a wide variety of areas, particularly their dreams. "I am a dream facilitator, not a dream analyst," she stresses. That is, she does not interpret people's dreams for them but rather helps each person understand what his dreams mean to him. Dreams have their own special language, she explains, and each person holds the key to understanding their coded messages. And they are messages, Moss contends. "Dreams work on multifaceted levels," she says. "The beauty of dreams is the treasure trove of information they provide. They offer us guidance, holding up a mirror of our own life but with challenges - the places that we're stuck - and a dash of humor." And we all dream. Whether we remember our nightly reveries or not, everyone dreams - all mammals do, says Moss. "But we do very little with this incredible gift," Moss laments. "Every night, a combination of therapist, stand-up comedian and artistic muse visits you - for free!" she marvels. To help people tap into this rich resource of self-awareness, Moss has been running workshops for groups and individuals for the past six years. She says that most people's dream recall is poor, so her first task is to give her clients the tools to remember and record their dreams. She then helps them look at and work with the building blocks of their dreams - place, setting, characters, objects, feelings - and understand how that story is parallel to or guiding their actual life. "Often, the role of our dreams is to prepare us for challenges down the road," says Moss. What we experience in our dreams is a dress rehearsal for the real thing. "Whatever we can do in our dreams," she says, "we can do later in our lives." Or some version of it. A person may not be able to soar over a vast green landscape as he might in a dream, but he can "take off" on a new and exciting venture in his life. Even nightmares serve a valuable purpose, says Moss. "They beckon us to change patterns in our lives that are no longer working. They hold an invaluable source of gold, urging us to make needed changes. And frightening dreams in which we are threatened with death often symbolize major transformation and change - a form of rebirth." Ultimately, her goal is to help people apply their dreamwork to the biggest dream of all - their lives. As for Moss herself, her own life began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1957. She received a BA in Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University in Massachusetts and a masters in counseling psychology from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. There, she initiated a dream group comprising fellow therapists, and for three years they worked on their dreams together. Fulfilling her own lifelong dream, Moss made aliya in 1979. "From a very young age, I knew that Israel was where I would live," she says. "I had no relatives who lived there, but from as young as I can remember, I had a stronger association with Israel than anyone else in my family." Raised in a Conservative home and attending Jewish day school, Moss recalls that when Succot came around, she would insist that her parents build a succa. In Israel she did a number of things before becoming a dream facilitator and life coach. She taught English; worked at the Israel Museum; was a counselor for members of street gangs; and ran a center for the elderly. Now Moss, who is married and has two children, aged 17 and 20, has just launched a new project. Called "Experiment in Living," it is a course geared toward helping people seize the day. "I want to wake people up to the fact that there is a terminal condition called life," Moss explains. She is dedicated to teaching people how to live the way they truly want to - and not put it off. "People do not allow themselves that freedom unless they know they're going to die, such as those who have been told they have terminal cancer," she comments. "I want us to wake up to our lives and live more consciously on all levels." If we wake up to the dream that is our lives, says Moss, we will find that our daily existence is filled with magic and mystery. "Our life is a dream that we are constantly creating," she says. To illustrate that, Moss brings in the concept of synchronicity. Most of us, she says, experience synchronicities - those seemingly strange coincidences that occur, such as running into someone you were just thinking about or glimpsing the title of a book or film that echoes an issue you have been grappling with. In her workshops, Moss stresses the value of synchronicities as well. They carry a dream message, she says, and it is up to each of us to decipher what that message might be. For example, if you get a call from someone you haven't heard from in years, you can ask yourself, "What qualities does that person represent in my life that I may have been missing?" Or "Is he/she there to remind me of something I am longing to make contact with?" Down the road, Moss has two dreams of her own that she wants to create. One is to lead dream workshops for couples. "It can offer them the unique skill set to open up their entire world and provide them with powerful tools of communication - and fun," she says. The second is to initiate multicultural dream groups. As dreams are a universal experience and have a universal language, Moss believes that such workshops could bring people closer together. "The symbolism can bridge huge gaps and help us discover our commonalities, our shared humanity," she says. One thing is for sure: Whether we know it or not, "We are creating the stories every night in our sleep," says Moss. Her job is to help people tap into their own unbridled consciousness. "You are the creator, the big dreamer, with scenarios furnished by your own creative genius, wisdom and insights." As it is written in the Talmud, says Moss, "A dream not interpreted is like a letter unread."