"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce

All material on SHIMMERCASTDREAMS copyright of Marie Bruce and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday, 24 February 2017

BOOK NOOK; SAS Who Dares Wins

Image result for sas who dares wins book

I never thought that I would be the kind of person to read military books. Its not that long ago, while in a bookshop in Oban, that I stumbled across the military section, pulled a face at it and walked away!  Now though, they are fast becoming my favourite books to read and I like nothing better than taking a soldier or two to bed with me in the evenings for a spot of adventurous bedtime reading!

This book is my new go-to manual for motivation. Co-written by the four ex-SAS soldiers who made the TV series SAS Who Dares Wins, this companion book to the series is full of information and tales of high risk adventure.  Not only does it give details of how these men came to be in the SAS, but it aims to teach civilians how to think, act and persevere like an elite soldier. In short it is a cross between a collection of biographies and a self-help manual.

I had some fun Tweeting with the authors during the show and they all seem like nice lads.  Colin Maclachlan has even emailed me tips and advice on how to deal with anxiety, telling me to identify the situations that trigger a hyper-sensitive fear response and to remember that no-one else can make me afraid - only I can do that to myself by allowing myself to panic.  It's good advice and it was his emails that made me want to buy the book, just to see what the other lads had to say as well.

I wasn't disappointed and there are some cool stories used as examples of how to remain calm under pressure, control one's emotions and how to be the 'grey man'.  I've read the book three times now and so when someone recently said that he didn't know me at all after 18 months of working together, I took it as a compliment and a sign that some of this book must have sunk in, because I am learning to keep my cards closer to my chest.

As my college course has become something of a battle-field lately, with the pressure piling on, I need books like this one just to get me through these final few months of my diploma!  Because military books are not just for those who serve in the Armed Forces - everyone can benefit from reading them.  SAS Who Dares Wins is a great introduction to a new way of thinking, reminding you of your capabilities and that you can push yourself to even greater achievement if you just keep going and don't quit. This is exactly what I need to hear right now!

The book has chapters on mission planning and delivery, avoiding and deescalating conflict, identifying strengths and weaknesses, knowing when to retreat, gaining respect and establishing command, decompression, how not to quit and handling responsibility.   It aims to teach readers how to be 'an army of one' so if you are like me and you prefer to be independent, or if you lack a support network, then this book could well become your new best friend.  It will give you motivation when you need it, remind you of your achievements, skills and capability and steer you in the direction of leadership and personal responsibility, helping you to better yourself along the way.

My one gripe with the book is that there are a few football analogies used to explain something.  I'm a woman. I don't get football, so these explanations went right over my head. I can just about cope with the military lingo (because there is a glossary at the front of the book), but football is beyond me!  Still, there is a nice selection of glossy photos of the authors in their uniforms so I can forgive the football references. Boys will be boys! 

The book is available in hard copy and Kindle on Amazon UK, just click here
You can Follow me and the boys on Twitter too, here are the links;

Sunday, 19 February 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Will You Remember Me?

I feel no fear tonight
 I feel no pain
I don't know what I feel
Or hope to gain...
Will you remember me?
Dannii Minogue - Disremembrance
One of my favourites from her greatest hits album.

Friday, 10 February 2017

ONCE UPON A VALENTINE; Chin Up, I Remember You

Sometimes an unexpected memory is the only Valentine you need to make you smile for days...

And sometimes he doesn't even need to be in the same room as you...
...the sound of his voice on the phone is enough;

Before you know where you are, you've taken flight and you're feeling the afterglow.

Sometimes the briefest of connections can be one of the most awesome...

A gentle reminder, right when you need it, to just keep your

Friday, 3 February 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Broken Arrow

Love this song by Pixie Lott

And now you're trying to convince me, 
He wasn't worthy,
But you can't complete me,
He's the part that is missing...

You could be my hero, if only I could let go,
But his love is still in me,
 like a broken arrow...

Sunday, 22 January 2017

IVORY TOWER; Snowy Reverie

I have spent the weekend acting on my plans to winterise my bedroom and I couldn't be happier with the results!  This was the last room in the house that I needed to bring into my overall snowy winter theme, but I didn't want it to be an exact replica of the main room downstairs, where I have lots of ornamental silver stags and wintry trees, like an enchanted forest.  

For my bedroom I wanted a white winter rose theme, as I live in Yorkshire and the white rose is the emblem of this county.  I was also inspired by images of beautiful swans in snowy settings and the blush pinks and purples of a frosty sunset.   I adore swans and I have befriended them on my visits to the highlands -  I love their strength, grace, beauty and purity.  They are symbols of true love and fidelity, so as a totem animal they are perfect for a bedroom.

I was dreaming up a vision of an enchanted hidden glade in wintertime, with a sparkling pond, white roses growing nearby and a pair of loving swans gliding on the water. I think I have managed to achieve the essence of this dream in the decor items I have chosen to spruce up the room.  Everything I bought is creamy white and has a shimmer or a glowy finish.  The cream crushed velvet curtains literally gleam and look very glamorous set against the voile blinds that sparkle with silver sequins, like a sprinkling of snowflakes. The crystal tie-backs hold it all in place and catch the sunlight shining through the windows.  White roses and lilac thistles on the windowsill finish it off perfectly.

I had a particular image in mind when it came to the bed. In series one of Once Upon a Time there is a scene where Snow and Red are sitting on Red's bed chatting.  It is a four poster bed, hung with cream drapes and the bed is covered in lots of snowy white fur and sheepskin.  It looks warm and cosy and very wintry and I wanted to recreate that look, as I already have a four-poster bed with a cream lace canopy and drapes.  So I covered the bed with a cream faux fur throw and added scatter cushions in white faux fur and cream faux suede with diamante trim. It looks like the kind of bed you would never want to get out of...a dreamy wintertime retreat.  It makes me think of Anna Karenina snuggled up in furs on a sleigh and dashing through the Russian snow to meet her lover Count Vronsky.

I have a lovely white rose picture that is hung above the bed and the briar rose trellis of tea-light holders going up the side of the bedroom door, brings in the winter rose element.  I am also getting a white rose rug for the centre of the room.  With all the ice-fairy and snow-angel ornaments I already have, and a fresh scattering of dainty white swan ornaments, the room is now a picturesque vision of an enchanted winter wonderland.  It is delicate, pretty and feminine, while still having the bright wintry feel of a snowy day.  I'm very happy with how it has turned out.

So tonight I plan to have a long hot bath and then retreat into my winter rose bedroom with a glass of mulled wine, a good book and my ambient snowy DVD playing, which has relaxing scenes of winter woodlands and snowy rivers, with nature sounds.  With this DVD and my lovely winter themed home I can now enjoy the beauty of snow all year round, whether it be in the silvery forest downstairs or the enchanted swan glade upstairs.  And all this without having to get cold and wet! 

Sunday, 15 January 2017

IVORY TOWER; Winter Revisited

You might remember that this time last year I was in the process of giving my living room a bit of a face lift by creating a winter theme with lots of new soft furnishings.  I wanted it to look like Narnia and Scotland in the snow, so I bought lovely faux fur throws, silver stags etc.  You can read about it here and here if you want to know more about the transformation.  

Since then the wintry theme has spread through my house - I got a stunning large glittery tree picture for my birthday which is in my kitchen, plus I have a set of snowy white owls in there too.  My kitchen is all cream and natural wood, so it has a wintry feel anyway.  I was given a lovely cushion of a reindeer in the snow for Christmas - this is sat on the settle in the hallway, on top of a snowy white faux fur throw, so it has a very Scandinavian 'log cabin' vibe and helps to brighten up a small dark space. 

My staircase is also quite dark and so yesterday I bought some lovely new pictures that are shot through with sliver glitter to bounce the light around more.  The first picture is of a red squirrel eating a nut in the snow and the second is of a snowy winter woodland with two white hart deer in the middle - this one looks like Narnia and has tons of glitter so it shimmers like frost in moonlight.  I've bought a crackle-mirrored vase and filled it with silver light-up twigs and white roses to lift a dark corner. With the huge winter landscape picture and the white voile curtains that have metallic silver thread running through them that I bought last year, the staircase is now light and bright and silver white. 

I am making plans to winterise my bedroom too - I want it to have a glamorous, shimmering winter rose look, so for the past two weekends I have been shopping in the January sales, picking out things that I can use to spruce up my bedroom.  I'm not going to change too much as I am basically happy with how that room looks.  I will be keeping the knights and ladies pictures and all the furniture, but I want all new soft furnishings in lighter colours to brighten the room.  

I tend to buy things when I see them and put them to one side until I have everything I need to complete the transformation, so I recently bought some gorgeous crushed velvet curtains in a rich cream colour.  They have a very glimmering effect and the fabric looks so luxurious and glamorous.  Yesterday I also bought new crystal tie-backs that have an icy finish and some voile blinds with sparkling metallic detail.  I want my bedroom to shimmer and sparkle, like a white rose on a frosty morning.  I also bought a cream faux fur throw and cushions for on the bed, so that will look like a winter sleigh all covered in creamy white fur.  I already have a large picture of a white rose hung above the bed and I am going to get a white rose rug for the centre of the room to pull it all together and really give the space a winter rose look.

It is going to be so lovely and I can't wait to get it all done.  I think I will do it in the next week or so, certainly before the next half term break from college, so that I can enjoy the space, and then my little winter palace will be complete in a vision of silver trees, snowy woodland creatures and romantic white roses! 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

WRITER'S DREAM; Target Practice

As soon as you get published in a significant way, you inadvertently become something of a public figure, which in turn makes you a seemingly easy target. This is especially true if you're writing about witchcraft because the esoteric genre does tend to attract its fair share of nutters!

Lots of people pick up a Mind, Body, Spirit title out of sheer desperation - they are not happy with their lives and they are looking for something to make it better. Fair enough. Many of those people find a new sense of empowerment and personal responsibility within the pages of my books and columns etc, and they go on to lead productive lives. That it the point of Wicca - it is about taking charge of yourself and your own personal happiness, while doing harm to none.  

However, there is always the odd nut-job who will instantly blame the witch if their spells are not effective in the way they want them to be.  This can lead to some rather negative author mail, from demands that you write a spell especially for them, or that you cast the spells on their behalf, or even that they meet you for some kind of private consultation.  I don't advocate meeting with strangers just because they have read your work, unless it is in a safe environment such as a publishing event, book signing and so on.  

I have had my fair share of author mail and reader feedback over the years, not all of it positive.  Now I'm not saying that I want everyone to sing my praises and tell me they love my books, but nor do I want people blaming me for the fact that their life isn't working.  Unfortunately, the latter does happen from time to time and while I do sympathise with someone who is struggling, it is not my responsibility to fix someone else's life.  Your life is your own responsibility, not mine. 

One of the downsides of having been a columnist with the same publication for so many years is that people always know where to find you.  During my time with Spirit&Destiny I have had readers contacting me to ask for magical advice or querying the effective substitution of one spell ingredient for another and this is all positive interaction that I am happy to participate in.  But I have also had negative interactions too, from someone who demanded I hex her husbands lover and interfering family, to emails laced with pornography and death threats. Needless to say, this is unacceptable interaction and I do not respond to such communications.  

It isn't just emails either.  Disgruntled people have actually gone so far as to telephone the magazine (or visit the Bauer office in London!) and start ranting at my editors, deliberately trying to throw a spanner in the works. One particularly nasty woman even accused me of causing her father-in-laws heart attack!  Another spiteful man said that he'd been cursed by me.  I can do without this kind of ridiculous spite and a good editor will always defend her writers, as was the case at S&D.  I think the bottom line is that there are some resentful individuals out there who just want to try and tear other people down. 

Certain individuals think that they can cast an influence over my editors and place a black mark on my life with their childish ranting and raving, but of course, it doesn't work that way and so they either slam down the phone or are helped from the building by security. They are left more disgruntled than ever, while I am left somewhat bemused by the entire episode! 

Casting an influence is much harder than it seems and I am the only one who can cast an influence in my life and career, because that is the very essence of personal responsibility and Wiccan ethics. That is what I have been teaching for 20 years! But some people refuse to learn the lesson.

It is just another reason why I am not sorry to have left the magazine behind.  Having my column with them for so long was making me a sitting duck - I prefer to be a moving target and keep folk guessing, so they never know what I am going to do next.  I have taken the target down. 

Now that my time with Spirit&Destiny is over, I feel I can move forward in a new direction, building up a brand new platform of psychotherapy publishing.  No-one knows who my editors are anymore, so they can't simply pick up the phone with a fabricated accusation whenever they have had a bad day, or can't get their own way.  Nor can they try piggy-backing on my work and dropping my name to my editors, because my editors remain unknown to them.

Casting an influence over anything is an adept magical skill that takes years of practice to perfect. And those who can do it are likely to be well protected from having it done to them!  All I can say is this; I will always protect my assets, including the work I do for various publishers and the good name I have with editors. The spitefulness of others is just not enough to derail my life as a writer, a counsellor or anything else I choose to be.