"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.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

MUSICAL DOLL; Beautiful Voices

Today has been wet and windy with rain pelting the windowpanes incessantly. I like days like this one; they make me want to snuggle up in my little house, pottering and organizing, sipping cups of tea and listening to beautiful voices such as these...

Classically trained songstress Laura Wright has such a stunning voice.  I love her album 'The Last Rose' from which these snippets are taken and I have been playing it almost daily since I bought it a couple of months ago.  Her voice is ethereal and dreamy.

This pagan style album 'So Far' by Jeff Endemann was sent to me as a birthday gift by the artist's brother-in-law Joseph Vargo of Nox Arcana.  I love every track on this album. It carries me away to the magical landscapes of Avalon and Sherwood Forest.  If you have ever dreamed of living in a castle with your very own troubadour, Jeff's album is the one for you.  Romantic, beguiling, powerful and poetically lyrical 'So Far' evokes the gentle spirit of England's myth and magic...and it ends with a Lullaby. Perfect.

These have been my go to albums for some months now. They are a lovely way to relax, with a glass of wine at the end of a busy day.  Both albums are available on Amazon or check out the artists websites.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; My Soldiers, I Salute You; Protected Be.

Is there anyone in the UK who isn't appalled by the attack on a British soldier, on UK soil, close to his barracks in London???  This news has shocked and upset me greatly, not least because the soldier's wife is also a Yorkshire lass and my heart goes out to her. I have been reeling since the story broke earlier in the week as, I am sure, have many other people who are also acquainted with British soldiers.

I have three very dear friends who are soldiers of the Black Watch.  If you read my blog a few posts ago you will be aware that I once left a love note on a rowing boat that belongs to my soldier, to remind him of our time together.  It is this soldier; plus his son and his son's best friend, who I am so afraid for right now as they are are all serving soldiers of the British Army and even though I have not seen them for some time they are still nonetheless, my true friends.  Although I have cast protection spells for my three soldier boys, in the past and in the present, I had thought that all British soldiers were safe enough when they were based at UK barracks. Now I am not so sure and I am frightened for them. I will continue to cast for their protection of course, but it is difficult knowing that a soldier can be targeted on home ground.

I love my boys. They are all very brave; constant and true.  They go where the troubles are so that they can make things better for the ordinary people who are caught up in war and difficult circumstances. I am very proud of them.  They are and always will be very dear to my heart. They are an inspiration to me and they have taught me more than they know.  I can defend myself against an attacker thanks to my soldier taking the time to train me and to pass on his knowledge. I carried a symbol of their Clan with me (and a symbol of my doctor friend too) to my stepfather's funeral back in October to glean a little of their strength for myself during a difficult time.  I am empowered by thoughts of my three boys on a daily basis.  Fond memories of my three soldier friends inspire me each and every day.  I just hope they know how much they still mean to me.

Friends are like stars; you don't have to see them to know that they are there.  I am there for my soldiers. I am watching their backs on a cosmic level. I am doing all that I can to protect them and keep them safe. And I will continue to do so.  I am constant and true to my three heroes. Protected and Blessed Be, my friends. Stay safe.
xoxo Maz

Sunday, 19 May 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Whitby; Dracula Country

Siren's Lament; the image on my new handbag
I love the work of Yorkshire artist Anne Stokes.  Check out her website

Yesterday my mother and I spent the day in Whitby on the North Yorkshire coast.  Whitby is of course famous for being the place where Dracula first landed in England and the author, Bram Stoker had a fondness for the seaside town - there is a bench named after him, said to be where he sat and gleaned inspiration from the sea.  It is a lovely coastal town with the ruins of Whitby Abbey still standing like a sentinel upon the sea cliff, lots of Gothic references and it's own kind of ice-cream, the Whitby Gothic ice-cream which is a blackcurrant and liquorice purple and black confection.

It was a chilly day with a strong wind blowing in a swirling sea mist, but then Whitby is supposed to be Gothic so the weather was fitting.  We had our fortunes told by a Romany Gypsy in a pretty little kiosk on the edge of the pier.  It was a small room, fitted out with sparkling chandeliers,  a large collection of crystal balls, photos of the beautiful family vardo (gypsy caravan) and a very welcoming atmosphere.  I had never had my fortune told before as I usually just read my own cards and crystals, but I wanted to see if a stranger could come up with anything new.

The fortune teller said that within the year I will meet a handsome, kind hearted man who will carry me away to the realm of happy ever afters.  I'd like to believe this, but then she also said I would have twin boys - I'm nearly 40, can't stand kids and have no intention of signing my independence away to the Motherhood, so I took it all with a pinch of salt to be honest.  I did have a giggle when she pointed to a crystal dish full of trinkets and told me to pick out a lucky charm for myself. I dipped in and pulled out a small silver witch riding a broomstick ...so maybe there was something in it after all... I'm still not having babies though.

It would be nice to think that the romance and 'even greater success' she foretold is genuinely waiting for me in my future.  I saw the whole thing as a rather fun experience, but not set in stone.  I have always believed that to a certain extent we create our own futures.  I guess that is the rub with a seaside fortune teller - they have to be very general, even if they hit on the odd accuracy,  their clients are likely to develop selective hearing anyway!  Still, it was fun.  I enjoyed the experience and I would go again.

Afterwards we walked on the pier and threw silver coins into the seventh wave of an incoming tide while making wishes.  This is something we have done since I was a little girl.  It was fun to make new wishes with my mother beside me.  We also went shopping in a lovely ethical gems and sea-shell shop (try saying that after half a cider!) where I got a beautiful heart shaped rose quartz crystal and Mum treated herself to a new dream catcher.  But the main purchase was a new messenger handbag with the picture above, Siren's Lament, on the flap.  I am a water sign, so a mermaid bag suits me perfectly.  Like me the artist Anne Stokes is a Yorkshire lass so I try to support her work whenever I can.  She has licensed her art work to a variety of products, from mugs to handbags to wall hangings, so check out the Shop on her website above.

All in all it was a lovely day out and I am looking forward to going to Whitby again over the summer and hearing the mournful cry of the seagulls once more.
BB Marie x

Friday, 17 May 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Playing House; Going Solo

I would love to live in this pretty pink cottage.
Last Sunday my life was temporarily high-jacked by a burst pipe and a flooded kitchen.  Fortunately no real damage was done; it was just inconvenient.  Although on Sunday I had help from my mother who was there at the time, for the most part, as a single woman I have to deal with such problems myself.  Of course there was the initial moment of girly panic when I stepped into my kitchen and it looked like a scene from the movie Titanic, but in all such situations, common sense soon kicks in and I manage.

I love living alone.  It is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my whole life.  There are some people who say that it is a selfish way to live, but I think it is far more selfish to cling onto a man, or to have children just because you are afraid of being alone.  To me, being independent and self-sufficient is a selfless act because I don't expect anyone else to take care of me.  I take care of myself and have done for nearly twenty years, so I'm doing a pretty damn good job of it so far.

Living alone is not without it's drawbacks.  There is no-one there to wake you up from a nightmare.  You have to wait until the phone rings or you go out before someone says 'Happy Birthday' to you.  If you fancy a cup of tea, you have to get up and make it yourself.  When you are sick, you have to be your own nurse.
I nursed myself through swine flu back in 2009 - all alone, in quarantine and feeling absolutely rotten I still took the time to change the bedclothes, toothbrush and wipes door handles etc with antibacterial spray to try and eliminate the germs from my house. I felt so bad I almost called an ambulance, but my mum was on holiday and there was no-one to look after Pyewackett, so I rode it through and cared for myself. This is the kind of thing you learn to do when you live alone. You quickly learn how to mother yourself.

There are lots of benefits to solitary living too.  You will have absolute privacy - unless you hand out spare keys, which I don't.  Solitude, peace and quiet is yours any time you want it. Turn off the phones, lock the door...be your own Girl Friday as you enjoy the deserted space that is your home. You can watch whatever you want on TV without negotiation; you don't have to share your chocolate; you can wear pj's all day if you want to; no-one will ever know if you finish the tub of ice-cream in one sitting.  You will soon come to see that much of the drama that comes into your life is put there by other people...the distance you gain in living alone gives you perspective so you can set up boundaries against drama queens, eliminate toxic relationships and fill your life with those people who uplift you.

It is always useful to have access to sage advice and help is on hand when I need it, in the form of a few well chosen books.  These are my go-to titles when I have some kind of homemaker dilemma.  They might be useful to you too, even if you live with others.

  • Live Alone and Like It by Marjorie Hillis;  My brother bought me this book one Yuletide and it has become a firm favorite with me.  First published in 1936 this sassy how-to book was a bestseller in it's time.  I am not surprised as the advice is quite firm, to the point and given in a very British stiff-upper-lip manner.  I love the author's no-nonsense style - she reminds me of my grandmother; the generation of the War Years and their 'just get on with it' attitude.  Some of the advice is dated; some is frankly hilarious; most of it is still relevant for women living alone today.  This book always makes me giggle and it is nice to touch base with an authorial voice from my grandmother's generation. Every woman who lives alone should read this book.
  • House Rules by Clare Coulson;  Clare Coulson writes for magazines Elle, Red and is an editor at The Daily Telegraph.  She has put together a fantastic primer in household management, covering everything from mending clothes to etiquette.  She unravels the mystery of washing labels with diagrams and explanations (this is so often over-looked and I found it very useful), explains the basics of stain removal and is fearless in tackling tricky crisis problems such as blocked drains, flea infestations and rodent house guests that were not invited, but have moved in anyway.  She offers practical advice on laying a real fire, cooking a Sunday roast and the correct way to reply to an invitation.  This pretty lilac covered book also has celebrity tips on scenting the home from Jo Malone, safe candle burning by Diptyque and shoe care by Jimmy Choo. What's not to like?
  • How to do Everything...by Dawna Walter;  This is a book dedicated to the fine art of organization and it takes the reader through a typical day, offering advice on how to stay on top of clutter and housework and still have time for yourself and the life you want to live. From sifting through paperwork, to packing a suitcase, to tips on making your house feel more homely and creating lovely atmospheres, the author has it covered.  Being a Scorpio I am a bit of a control freak and I like nothing better than a good declutter/reorganization session.  This book gets me in the mood to take control of my living environment, one room at a time.
  • How to be the Perfect Housewife by Anthea Turner;  Ex-Blue Peter presenter turns her attention to making housework joyful, even an art-form. She teaches that a home should be run like a business, with a regular schedule for cleaning, maintenance and bill paying etc.  She also offers tips on sensible shopping to save money, safety and accident prevention in the home and garden, stocking a first aid kit and getting through the Christmas season with style. Love her or hate her, Anthea Turner has succeeded in reclaiming the skills of the housewife and bringing them up to date for modern women who have no intention of being tied to the kitchen sink.
  • How to Create a Magical Home by Marie Bruce;  I had so much fun when I was writing this book that I wanted to include it in the list.  I designed the book to help readers make their homes more magical, turning them into places of enchantment and fairytale charm.  The spells and rituals are simple to do and can put a 'bippity-boppity-boo' into your living space.  It has been very popular with readers and is reaching a whole new audience now it's on Kindle.  I hope you enjoy it.
Whether you live alone or with family I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and will check out some of the books listed above.  Home-making is one of the womanly arts and it has been denigrated in society for far too long.  Creating a homely living space is something we should be proud of.  A fairytale palace is yours for the making...get out your brooms and be swept away!

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

WRITER'S DREAM; The Alchemy of Writing

I couldn't agree more....

  Writing is a form of alchemy and just like turning lead into gold there is magic involved.  A writer is nothing if not a magician; a sorceress transforming the way in which she views her life – creating fiction from fact and fact out of fiction.  It is possible to write things into being, to improve your life with the act of writing.
Writing in itself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  What you place on the page has power and it may soon become apparent in your daily life.  By this I mean that if you write about your longing for a relationship in your diary within a few short weeks or months, you may find yourself in love.  Or perhaps there is a particular item you want for the house or a new dress for a special occasion; in writing out your desire, somehow you come that much closer to having what you want.
Like magic our writing works in mysterious ways.  I’ll give you an example.  I have written poetry for years and some of my work has appeared in my books and been well received by readers.  Poetry as I have mentioned before has had its day; it is now generally viewed with suspicion by mainstream publishers.  My dream was to write pagan poetry and set them to music so that I could sing them (singing is another passion of mine) and maybe even record them.  The problem was, I did not play a musical instrument and have little knowledge of musical theory.  I wrote of my pipe-dream in my diary back in 2002. Some years later  in 2007 I was approached by a highly successful musician who asked me if I was interested in writing a pagan album and recording it with him.  Was I interested?!  Was that a trick question???  The result as you probably know was my debut album, Moon Chants. 
This is the magical alchemy of writing at work.  The act of writing is alchemy for turning dreams into reality.  In the past writing was considered a magical act in its own right and words and letters were thought to hold the power of transformation within them.  Ancient letters such as the Norse Runes and the Celtic Ogham are still used today as powerful tools of change and insight.  The alphabet we are more familiar with today is no less powerful. In putting words on the page you are defining a new future for yourself – why not define a future where you are living a writing life?
I realize that this might be difficult to believe but the very act of committing a dream to the page seems to begin a chain of events. Suddenly you will be introduced to people who can help you or who share your dream.  You will be drawn to a library and find a reference book which can help your current writing project along. It is as if your higher self is guiding you to make all the right moves, helping you to get the job done and achieve your dream.
I could wax lyrical about the alchemy of writing all day, but the only way you will come to see the truth of it is if you begin to experience it for yourself.   Pick a dream that you harbor and write it out in as much detail as possible.   The dream can be anything at all – there are no limits.  What matters is that this dream means something to you, that you are passionate about it and that you write it out in as much detail as possible.  Remember that you are trying to write your dream into being.  When you have finished the piece date it and keep it in a safe place. When the alchemy of your writing brings your dream into being take out the piece of writing and write how the dream manifested and on what date.   It works for me.  You won’t know if it will work for you too unless you try it out, so put pen to paper and commit your dream to the page.  You too can become an alchemist of the written word. 

Friday, 10 May 2013

BOOK NOOK; Buck-Up Books - A Woman's Voice

A cosy read is just what I need.

Reading in bed has to be one of the simple joys of everyday life. It is a great way to recharge your batteries and reduce your stress.  Grab a pile of self-help books, escape into a cosy bedroom, light scented candles, plump up the pillows, snuggle beneath the duvet and have a good read.  This type of relaxation is the best medicine after a long day of running around at work and so on.  It is an easy way to practice your self-care skills too, especially if you have been feeling under the weather.

Whenever I feel a little low there are certain books and authors I automatically reach for.  These books are old favorites that I have read many times before and which never fail to lift my spirits.  I'm not talking about the kick-ass self-help authors either; as much as I enjoy the work of Anthony Robbins there are times when he seems too harsh and I need a bit more sugar with my self-help medicine.  I need an authorial voice that is less commanding and more cajoling; less dictatorial and more whimsical. In short, I need the authorial voice of a woman; one who gently nurtures me through each page with soft words of encouragement.

Two authors I reach for again and again are Julia Cameron and Sarah Ban Breathnach.  These ladies are the most inspirational female authors I have ever had the great pleasure of reading.  I have nearly all of their books and I am always on the watch for new titles.  In voice and style they are quite similar; gentle, nurturing and compassionate towards their readers.  While Julia Cameron concentrates on nurturing creativity and self-expression through art and writing, Sarah Ban Breathnach teaches her readers to find joy in simple, everyday moments rather than postponing happiness until a perfect life has been achieved - there are no perfect lives, so just be happy. 

There are times when I need to nurture my talent more; to honor it and be thankful for the success I have achieved thus far. When I feel as if I might never write another word, when I think I've already said everything I wanted to say in print, along comes Julia Cameron asking "What next?" and somehow, I manage to find an answer to her question. She is a fantastic midwife for creativity.

When I find myself worrying about all the things I want to do, but haven't done yet; when I selfishly focus on everything I don't have, rather than showing gratitude for all that I do possess I reach for Sarah Ban Breathnach. She shows me all that is wonderful in my life right now, in this moment; she offers a helping hand when pessimism is an unwelcome guest who has stayed too long, escorting negativity to the door and seeing in the brighter spirits of hope and good fortune.  She teaches that it is okay to want more but while you're working on your goals just look at all that you already have and know that it's enough for today.

The books listed below are my go-to titles for when I am feeling fragile and down-hearted.  Women are hormonal creatures and our moods do fluctuate up and down.  A creative life is full of highs and lows, triumphs and rejections.  When you feel dispirited and frail by all means take to your bed for a little while but do so with style and elegance, armed with a glass of wine or cup of cocoa and a selection of nurturing books that will help to buck you up. In this way, not only are you enjoying some down time tucked up under the covers, you are also making productive use of your time by filling your mind with positive, inspiring ideas and intellectual food for thought. It's a win win situation.

  1. Romancing the Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach;  this is my favorite title by this author and the book I am re-reading right now.  It is full of tips on the joy of romancing yourself, whether single or in a relationship.  It will give you permission to indulge your glamorous, romantic side and embrace all that is feminine, womanly and whimsical. Great for lonesome princess days.
  2. The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron;  I love all of Julia Cameron's books but this one is a small paperback rather than the larger size tomes her titles are usually printed as, which makes it easier to handle for bedtime reading.  It is a companion for artists, nurturing inspiration and unleashing the creative experience. Great for writer's block.
  3. Time to Write to Yourself by Dianne Sandland;  this is a writer's guide with a difference; it is about the art of journaling for the purpose of healing mind, body and spirit.  It teaches the benefits of journaling as self-help therapy and uses clinical practices such as Clustering/Brain-Storming, Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy  or 'talking therapies' for readers to try for themselves.  Don't let these clinical terms scare you away from the book - it is really just about journaling to free up your head-space and see what exactly you are coping with on a day to day basis.  Once it's written down on the page you can see issues more clearly and begin to deal with them, thus healing yourself through the power of the written word.  Great for regaining control of your head-space.
  4. Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff, PhD;  this book is basically the ideal best friend you wish you had, but probably don't have in reality.  It is one long permission slip to give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack and take some time out.  It is about treating yourself kindly, being as compassionate towards yourself as you would be to a sister or friend.  Learning how to separate personal tragedy from the general human condition is the first step to putting problems in to perspective.  This book will walk you through difficulty, holding you hand as you go.  Great for when you need a friend but don't actually want to talk to anyone!
  5. Creating Money by Sanaya Roman & Duane Packer;  I've had this book since before I got published in the mid-nineties.  It is a spiritual guide to the concept of money, abundance and prosperity.  It has work sheets in it where you set your goals. At the time of purchase I wasn't that confident in my ability to create a career in publishing for myself and so I filled out the goals in pencil, thinking I could always erase them if it didn't work out...when I read through those penciled goals now it makes me smile because I have achieved all of them! For that reason alone this book holds a special place in my heart. This book is a guiding light for the skint/broke/financially challenged.   It will change the way you look at and relate to money and prosperity.  Great for those days when money worries are dragging you down.
I very much hope that you have found this little guide and reading list helpful.  Bedtime reading should be fun, but it can be inspirational too. Happy Reading.
BB Marie x

Saturday, 4 May 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Beauty and the Books

This reminds me of Madonna in the '80's, with a touch of fairytale fun!
Image from www.google.co.uk

I've been quite busy this last couple of weeks, indulging in some serious shopping.  I decided I wanted to spruce up my bathroom and make it a more glamorous place to retreat into.  It now has new candle holders, blinds, shower curtains, storage drawers, towels and accessories.  It is a much prettier place in which to dream among the scented bubbles.  I wanted it to feel more feminine, like a relaxing spa - a quiet place in which to glamorize and beautify and I am very happy with the results. Instead of being a purely functional space it is now more of a beauty room.

If you follow me on Twitter you will know that the major purchase this week was a beautiful New Car!  My old banger kept on threatening to fall apart at every speed bump; it was unlikely to make it through another winter and it had become such a difficult car to drive.  The power steering was on its way out so it cornered like a tank, but as it was so old it wasn't really worth getting it fixed up.  So it has gone to the big scrap yard in the sky.   Even though it has taken all the fun out of driving for the last couple of years, I was still sorry to see it go.  But my new car is so pretty!  It is a rich burgundy, reminding me of a glass of fine wine.  It has a lovely beige interior and a beautiful tortoiseshell effect trim along the dash board.  It looks great and it is a joy to drive.  I am very excited to have it.

To get used to the new car I have been going off on short drives to the shopping center, as you do.  This has resulted in more shopping - of the accidental kind.  You know, when you go into a store for that one thing and you come out with a bag full of stuff? This happens to me more often than it really should and so I drove home with a boot full of beauty products, cosmetics and new books. 

I have always been a girly girl - I enjoy messing around with make-up and skin care products, just for fun, not because I'm going out.  I like to spend an afternoon trying out new make-up products, with Kylie or Britney playing and scented candles filling the room with fragrance.  Its pure girl time. It is also great practice as I like to get used to a product before I wear it on a night out. I once made the mistake of taking a new, untried eyeliner with me on holiday and using it for the first time while I was away - I had a bad reaction to the product and spent the day with blurred vision and red eyes; not a great holiday look.  So now I try everything I buy at home on a day when I'm not going anywhere special. Its a fun way to spend a little time.

I stocked up on Yankee Fresh Cut Roses products because that is my favorite scent for the lighter months of the year.  I  also bought some books that I am really looking forward to reading.  I got By Midnight and  Darkness Falls both by Mia James.  These are vampire books, set in an exclusive school in London's Highgate and they draw upon the legend of the Highgate Vampire. It makes a nice change to have a vampire series set in England rather than America.  I also got two historical novels; The Forbidden Queen by Anne O'Brien which is about Katherine de Valois; and The Queen's Promise by Lyn Andrews which is about Anne Boleyn and I plan to read this one first. Oh, and I can't wait for the new series of Once Upon A Time this Sunday night....should be a fun bank holiday.  

Whatever you are planning to do I hope you enjoy the long weekend.
BB Marie x