"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.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; A Blessing of Unicorns

A group of unicorns is known as a 'blessing'. In folklore these creatures are said to bring good fortune and they can only be tamed and ridden by a virgin.  They are a symbol of purity and the magical alicorn upon their brow can purify water and detect poison. It also has healing powers. 

I have always loved unicorns. I have a unicorn key-ring and tea-cup; and as a pony-mad child I had pictures of them all around my bedroom.  I still have one of these pictures (the last survivor!) and a few unicorn statues in my study where I write.   So when I was walking through the city centre to my counselling placement last week and I saw Paperchase had a new range of unicorn stationery in the window, I popped in to take a peek. 

I have been on the hunt for a new organiser or agenda because my academic diary is now due to run out.  I wanted something pretty and small enough to carry in my bag, so A5 or smaller.  I was spoilt for choice with the new Flyaway range!  They have everything a feminine heart could desire, from water bottles and lunch boxes to coloured pencils and pencil cases - all designed with a pretty print of unicorns and winged deer, lama and rabbits!  It is such a beautiful range and it is the kind of enchanted world most magical writers want to live in.  It suits my personality, so I started to look for a new organiser.

I finished up getting a few bits from the range, as you do; I got a lovely academic diary to keep track of all my client appointments, supervision sessions etc.  Hopefully this should see me through to the completion of my clinical hours.  It is A5 and has pictures of unicorns and winged creatures on every single page, plus a page of stickers for things like holidays, doctor appointments, parties etc. It was just perfect for what I needed, so I got one.  I love this design so much that I also got a perpetual personal organiser, so once the new academic diary is finished next summer, I can just use yearly Filofax inserts in the organiser and still enjoy the Flyaway artwork for years to come. This is in pink, so it goes with everything I've bought this year. 

I like to use clipboards too. I always have a clipboard and pad by the side of my bed because it is usually in the half state between sleeping and wakefulness that I have some of my best writing ideas and I like to note them down asap. So I got an A4 Flyaway clipboard for this purpose and the old wooden one I was using, that used to give me splinters, can go in the bin!  Plus I bought a little folder of sticky post-it notes, page markers, to-do list and memo pad, which will come in very useful.  Finally, I got pink index cards to write down a new set of affirmations, because all my old affirmations have now come true; and some pretty pink and white love-heart paperclips. 

So now my office supplies have been replenished with a beautiful new unicorn makeover!  The good thing about being a self-employed writer is that shopping sprees like this are tax-deductible. Stationery is a legitimate business expense, but no-one says it has to be boring, so why would you not buy pretty? And when office supplies come as beautiful as these, its hard not to get carried away by the unicorn dream...

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


The downside of being a Type A serial achiever is that unfortunately, some people will dislike you for it.  This is not because you have done anything wrong in going after what you want; it's more that they are threatened by you in some way.  They could be suffering from low self-esteem, have zero sense of self-worth or be concerned about their ability to hold onto a relationship.  It could be that their own career has stalled, or never even got off the ground - and all they can do is stand on the sidelines and watch as you steam ahead in leaps and bounds. Whatever the reason for their dislike, it is important to remember that it is their issue - not yours. 

While being on the receiving end of  the odd flash of jealousy is unpleasant, it is nonetheless, forgivable, because we all experience envy every now and then.  However, when people hold onto their envy and make compulsive jealousy their own lifestyle choice, it is a completely different matter - especially if they use their jealousy as fuel to act against you, and encourage others to do likewise.

When this happens it is called a Vendetta and the clue is in the word, which comes from the Latin vindicta, meaning vengeance. When someone is orchestrating a vendetta against you it is because they are vindictive by nature and they are looking for vengeance. In short, they are out to get you - and again, this is not necessarily because you have wronged them; it could all be a part of their vindictive imagination; their own twisted obsession. 

Being the target of such a vendetta can be stressful, but again you need to keep in mind that it is about them, not you. Have pity for those who are so damaged beyond repair that their sole purpose is to orchestrate a vendetta, and their only joy in life is that of vengeance.  Pity too, those weak individuals who choose to join in the vendetta; who haven't the intelligence to realise when they are being manipulated and instead brainlessly follow the ring-leader, like lemmings leaping off a cliff-edge.  It really is a pathetic way to live, so try to have compassion for your enemies.

That said, you will need to do some damage limitation. If your career has been targeted, try to create a whole new network of colleagues/editors that your enemies know nothing about - and keep your new contacts secret!  Distance yourself from their chosen target as much as possible - this might mean switching companies or publishers, or moving to a new area or department - because if they have targeted your career once, they are likely to do so again. It makes sense that you should protect this area of your life from their vindictive spite as much as possible.  It might also make sense to detach from any mutual associates - at least for a time. True friendships can always be rekindled when the dust has settled. But for now, remove yourself from the situation as much as you can.

You also have the option of reporting their behaviour to their superiors.  If they are a member of a professional body, say the BACP or NUN for example, then their behaviour towards you brings that organisation and their profession into disrepute. In this case they should be reported for it, but only as a very last resort, if all attempts to reason with them have failed.  People who take a stab at your career need to be aware that they are thereby making their own career a target too!  

There will always be those diminished individuals who like to puff themselves up and go by false titles, and they may indeed have taken in a whole group of people with their lies - but rest assured, the truth will come out eventually - it always does, and then they will be seen for what they really are. If spitefulness, lies and false representation are all they have to recommend them, they are worthy only of your pity. They deserve no more from you than that.

Of course you can add some witchery into the mix too - binding, banishing and silencing gossip spells will all help. Invoke karma and let the universe deal with them on your behalf.  If your own slate is clean, rest assured that they will be dealt with in some way. And then simply rise above it. When you have done all that you can to protect yourself, your family, your career and your reputation; when you have alerted their superiors to their behaviour in order to protect others from their vindictiveness; when you have identified the lemmings who follow the vendetta and tackled them too; when you have utilised your magic; and when you have removed yourself from the situation, thereby refusing to participate in the drama - there is nothing else you can do, except rise above it and get on with your life.

Don't allow their vendetta to derail you or your career. Continue with your plans, achieve your goals, keep aiming high...and know that when you are nice good things will come to you, for living well really is the best revenge!   Have faith in the Threefold Law and remind yourself that those who created, or joined in, a vendetta against you will reap as they have sown; spite for spite, career blow for career blow, relationship breakdown for relationship sabotage ...it is all coming back to them threefold, until their life is in bits around them.  And they will have no-one to blame but themselves. That's just how karma works...so be sure to keep yours good and like Snow White says to her jealous step-mother in Mirror Mirror;
"It's important to know when you have been beaten"
Let Karma tackle your enemies

Friday, 14 July 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; The Need to Press Ahead

Robert the Bruce - The Good King

I am big on goal setting and I do feel the need to press ahead to the next target on my list. For me, goal setting is the path to achievement - if you don't know what you want, you will spend your life drifting from one calamity into another.  That's not my way. I like to see my way ahead.  I like to know what I'm meant to be doing.  I like to plot and plan and organise my way to success. I hate feeling trapped, stuck and stagnant. I hate spontaneity - I think its flaky and not to be trusted.  I like to push on, and when the need to surge forward takes me, I always think of Robert the Bruce, strategically burning castles during the Scottish Wars of Independence.  I imagine the conversation went something like this;

"Welcome to my home Sire! Nice crown!"
"Thanks - I won it in a battle. Nice castle."
"Thank you. It has been in my family for generations."
"Aye, well - that's why I'm here.  I'm sorry mate, but I'm going to have to burn it to the ground."
"What??? WTF??!"
"It's all part of the war strategy.  We can't hold Scotland unless I hold the crown; and I can't hold the crown unless the English and any enemies I have among the Scots, are diminished. To do that, I have to know that these strongholds can never be held and used against me.  That's why I'm burning them. Yours is next on my list."
"But, but...my son! What will he inherit?"
"All will be rebuilt when the war is won, never fear. Those who stand with me will be richly rewarded for their loyalty.  Those who don't, will fall alongside the English. I plan to build a better Scotland than we had before, once I've won the war."
"But Sire, what if you lose?"
"I never lose."
"Er, Sire...there was that time when you were ambushed..."
"Oh aye, that. Well let's just say that was all part of the plan...you have to give your enemies the illusion of a wee victory every now and then. It softens 'em up, makes 'em complacent - and then you strike!"
"Mmmm...but still, this is my home..."
"We'll find you a new home - more cosy-like, fewer drafts. When the war's over, they'll call me The Good King - and you'll be known as one of the nobles who stood beside me, through thick and thin,"  
The Bruce turned to his brother Nigel and whispered "Burn it, Nigel, while he's still numb from the shock.  Make sure everyone is out and at a safe distance. Settle the family as comfortably as possible in the village; give them coin to tide them over. Dismiss the servants back to their families, but tell them - any man who wants to join my army and fight for his country is welcome. There's nothing here for them now anyway.  Stir them up Nigel, rouse the rebel heart! Muster as many as you can and bring them to the meeting point three days from now. I'll see you later." The two brothers shook hands and the Good King mounted up and rode away, the red and gold of the Royal Standard flying out behind him...
By Marie Bruce

Sometimes you have to do things you really don't want to do in order to achieve your goals.  You have to go out of your way, stop being lazy, stop making excuses and get on with it.  Sometimes you have to break things apart in order to rebuild something new - toxic friendships, bad relationships, a job that makes you miserable...get rid of them! Clear the decks for possibility; wipe the slate clean for a new dream to take shape; drop the kids at the grandparents and just do it, whatever it might be for you, just do it.

Experience is the key to confidence.  Once you have achieved one goal, you will be more confident in achieving the next. Identify your target by defining what you want, what you are aiming for. Then break it down into a series of smaller, more manageable steps.
Take one step at a time.  Build your overall confidence in your ability by achieving one small step towards your goal every single day.  It might be as simple as a phone call or email; updating your CV; writing affirmations down on index cards and reading them every night before you go to sleep. It might be signing up for a new class to retrain and change careers, or doing a business studies course prior to setting up shop online.  The point is, you will never know what your next move should be unless you start looking into it now - and by now, I mean today.

I find goal-setting and achieving is something that makes me happy. It lifts my spirits and keeps me moving forward.  I tend to stick to just three big goals at a time.  Each one of these I break down into smaller steps, so that I am not overwhelmed by them. I love that feeling of having knocked down a target and moving swiftly onto the next - this is what I mean when I talk about having the need to press ahead.  The thrill of knocking down a target is so great that it spurs me on to go for the next one on my list.  In this way, I feel like I can pretty much achieve anything I set my mind to.  

As an example, one of my big goals in recent years has been to retrain as a counsellor in order to expand my writing work with publishers.  The training is broken down into levels anyway, but I also saw each assignment as another step forward too - whenever I passed an essay first time I felt that sense of pride and achievement, and it kept me going through the darker days when I felt like I wanted to quit.  Because feeling like you want to give up is all part of the process of achievement - it is what separates the will-be's from the wannabes. The wannabes drop out, give up, quit; the will-be's press ahead, push on, keep going not matter what.  Now that I have completed my four-year Diploma I am pressing forward with new goals, looking for ways to weave these future goals into my life-path, identifying what I have to do to achieve them, because for me, the achievement never stops. It's what drives me and makes me happy and content with my life.

You have to press ahead in your own life. No-one else is going to do it for you! Apathy is the enemy.  Apathy is when you just can't be bothered with your own life.  Living in a state of apathy is like being a member of the walking dead - a zombie who can only moan about how awful their existence is. Apathy kills you slowly - it's weapons are depression, addiction, debt, complacency, motherhood - before you know where you are you've woken up dead and you did nothing with your life!  Kick apathy's butt with some serious goal-setting - and then simply press ahead.  Because if The Good King could burn down his own beautiful castles, secure in the vision that he could rebuild and make his Kingdom great again - you can apply for a new job, move house, say yes to a date or whatever it is you dream of doing. May fortune go with you. 

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; If You Were With Me Now

Classic Kylie...

If you were with me now...

And Finer Feelings...a little taste of Paris

Parlez vous amour?


Sunday, 9 July 2017

SCREEN SIREN; Troy; Brad Pitt

It is 3am and I have just finished watching the early-morning glory of Brad Pitt in the epic Trojan War film, Troy.   Now that my counselling course is over I can concentrate on more interesting things, such as Brad's stunning manliness in this modern classic.  It's a long film, so not good for a school night, but now that school is out for me, I am free to indulge! 

I love the romance of this film. Brad plays the hardened warrior Achilles, brought to a softer climax by the love of Briseis, the virgin priestess of the Temple of Apollo.   He claims that she gave him a moment of peace in a lifetime of war, and I can relate to both these characters for different reasons; Briseis because she is a feisty maiden of a pagan temple, taking no crap from any man, least of all a seasoned warrior; and Achilles because I wrecked my own Achilles tendon in a riding accident when I was 16 - I got my foot caught in the stirrup and I was dragged a wee while, which has left me with a weak ankle ever since - my very own Achilles Heel.

But it's not just Brad Pitt who makes this film worth watching - there is also Orlando Bloom and Eric Bana too, all shirtless and tanned; like Brad is not enough!  Three gorgeous men, all collaborating in gorgeousness, to tell the classic tale of Homer's Iliad.  The scene between Hector and Achilles is tough because you want them both to win - but of course, there can only be one victor in warfare.  The scene at the end when Achilles meets his destiny is also tough, but you know that he at least has the love of Briseis to take with him. 

This film wraps up the myths of Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships, and the traitorous Trojan Horse.  If you've never seen it - where have you been??? Living under a rock? - if you have seen it, it is always worth re-watching....of only for Brad Pitt butt naked five minutes into the film!  
So enjoy! I certainly did!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; I Finished My Psychotherapy Diploma!!

Released from the Tower!

Last night I had my very final class in college which means that I have now finished my psychotherapy diploma! I'm thrilled to be free of it.   Every Tuesday for the past four years I have been coming to this building for lectures and it will be strange not to return here again come September.  My lecture room was on the fourth floor of the central tower - if you count up four of the long horizontal windows, that was where my lecture room was.  This has to be one of the ugliest buildings I have ever seen, and because it is made from glass and the air-con is rubbish, it is like sitting in a greenhouse come the summer months.

I have mixed feelings about leaving.  On the one hand it means that I am now finally free of classes, essays, assignments, residential training days, endless 'skills practice' and tutorials.  It means that our task-master tutor will move onto a whole new set of people, releasing us from the 150+ emails with which our inboxes have been bombarded during the course.  We've had a veritable barrage of emails from him since before the first class - some useful, some vital, but many just unnecessary.  While I admire his commitment, it could sometimes feel a bit too controlling and I really don't like it when people try to pull my strings - I am not a puppet to a puppet-master. 

So I can't honestly say I am sorry to be free of all that.  I am sorry to lose the library though and the lovely tech guy who would help me with IT issues.  He never made me feel stupid and he had a very reassuring presence - I knew he would help me sort whatever went wrong with the digital portfolio, and in a calm and patient manner that I found very soothing. So I will miss that calming influence.

I'll also miss the friends I made on the course.  We are going to keep in touch, and we have a leaving party planned for this weekend which should be fun, but it is inevitable that we will now all go our separate ways.  Our time together has come to an end; we will no longer see each other every week.  But it has been a pleasure to study with them. I have learnt a lot from them and I do feel that some lasting friendships have been made within the group. I am looking forward to our official leaving party!

As it was the final class last night we brought gifts for everyone and exchanged them.  It was interesting to see what people had brought and why they had picked those particular gifts.  I took sample CDs of my Moonchants album for everyone, along with celebration wish bubbles.  I came home with a bag full of goodies, from pretty pink scented candles, to lovely stone tealight holders for our respective therapy rooms, to a folder of organisational post-it notes which will be useful and a plaque which says "never let anyone dull your sparkle" - again, this will look lovely in either a therapy room or in our homes. In addition, there were stones, poems, sweeties and affirmation cards, all doing the rounds and making us all smile. It was a lovely evening and a nice way to mark the end of this milestone phase in our training.  After class I celebrated in a small way with my mother - we had cake and Prosecco and she got me a card to mark the occasion. It was a good laugh and after four years of stress, I really needed to let my hair down!  Our official family celebration is a meal out next week. 

Most of all though I just feel a huge sense of relief - relief that it is over and that all my assignments have passed!  Providing the external moderator agrees with how our tutor has marked our work, this essentially means that I have passed all the academics of the course. Now it's just my clinical hours to finish and a placement report to write up, but neither of those things have anything to do with the college - they go straight into the examining body as soon as we have completed them, probably next year.  So I am on track to succeed and gain the full diploma, which is a great relief.

I also feel a sense of having been liberated. For the past two years I have felt shackled to the course - now I feel free again and it's wonderful!  I am making plans for my future studies and I have decided that I am giving myself a year off, before going on to hopefully do the MA I have had my eye on since the very beginning.  An MA which has nothing whatsoever to do with counselling and psychotherapy, but is something much closer to my heart.  I am hoping to begin studying at MA level in autumn 2018. 

So there is lots to enjoy and look forward to...parties, family meals, new study goals etc. My fresh start seems to be a long time coming... but all I can do is press ahead with my own life and keep achieving my goals. And so tonight, I feel drained but happy to have finally completed my training and to be ready to start a whole new phase of my life. The training chapter has ended and I am more than ready to turn the page and see what comes next...Confide In Me...

Monday, 3 July 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Stay On These Roads

I cannot describe how much I love a-ha. 
They have always been my comfort, my solace and my celebration.
Their music has seen me through some of the darkest days of my life and helped me mark some of the happiest times too. I feel so privileged to have seen them perform live in my home town.
Whenever I play a-ha, I feel the need to just give myself up to their music and listen...

Stay On These Roads is one of my favourites - and they look even more gorgeous on motorbikes!  The lyrics hold a poignant message...stay your course and eventually you will meet those who are meant to be in your life, while all the rest will simply fade away.

Have faith that someone you are destined to meet is just up ahead, around the next bend. You can't see them yet, you might not even know who they are, but know that they are out there and you will meet...

Enjoy x

Sunday, 2 July 2017

BOOK NOOK; Bravo Two Zero by Andy McNab

Someone recommended this book to me some time ago - I can't recall who though; it might have been one of the RAF guys. Suffice to say, I bought it and I have stayed up late into the wee small hours to finish reading it tonight.  It is a very gripping book about a group of SAS soldiers who go into Iraq during the Gulf War in the early 90's.

It isn't a pretty book by any means - it looks very out of place on my blog - and its not the kind of thing I would normally choose to read. It is a gritty, violent and bloody memoir of actual events that had me scared to turn the page sometimes and made me wonder why anyone would recommend it to a Jane Austen fan???

But my inner warrior princess absolutely loved it!  I was sucked in from the first page and taken on a heart-pounding adventure into a world I have never before encountered.  The author really allows the reader access into the bubble of the SAS - you feel like you are a part of it, one of the lads, a silent member of the team.  You share all their experiences, which is very exciting at the beginning - not so much fun when they get captured though, or when they 'need to go pooh-pooh'!  

I'm not going to lie - I found this a tough book to read. It is well written and action packed; but sometimes it all got a bit too much and I had to put it down for a day or two. It made me anxious, weepy and gave me bad dreams.  It describes  various ways in which the author was tortured.  This was really hard for me to get through, because by the time the capture has taken place, as a reader I had already connected with this man.  I wanted to help him, rescue him, or at least stand beside him so he didn't have to endure it all alone.  It was miserable reading at that point and not the best bedtime story I've ever had.  I just had to keep telling myself that if he could manage to live through it - which he obviously did as he went on to write the book - then I could bear to read through his experiences.  I didn't skip ahead, not once. I'm quite proud of myself for that as I really don't enjoy reading about violence.  But I can see why this book was necessary and why it has become such an important part of military literature.

There are some lighter moments though and a good deal of humour, usually in the most dire situations!  It made me laugh and gave me great insight into mental resilience - apparently you just have to keep telling yourself that you're winning, no matter how much trouble you find yourself in.  It's a good tip. Obviously it worked because he survived and came home safe, if a little bashed up.

My favourite parts of the book were the Americans in the next cell, getting everyone into trouble by asking for a Big Mac and the descriptions of the US Air-force and RAF planes doing competitive tricks on the homeward journey. That was great fun to read.  I still don't know what the difference is between a barrel roll and a victory roll, but hey, maybe I'll find that out in another book by the same author - I bought two and the other one is waiting in the wings.  And I loved the part when McNab claims that reading books changed his life - as a life-long bookworm and an author myself, his declaration was like mother's milk to me. I think I fell a little bit in love with him then. I was like "Yes! He loves books!!!"

Towards the end of the book McNab addresses the issue of PTSD - at this point I began to understand the recommendation, because I certainly found it useful. He explains what PTSD is, what the symptoms are, how it can affect people years after the event and how the general medical profession simply isn't there yet when it comes to any real level of understanding it. All things I can relate to.  Also, as a soon-to-be qualified counsellor, a soldiers take on this topic is great inside information for me, especially for when working with veterans and active servicemen and women, which is still my long term goal. I've bookmarked those pages so that I can find them again for easy reference.

All in all I enjoyed the majority of this memoir. The torture scenes are difficult to read, but the adventure was a blast. I will certainly read the second memoir I bought by the same author - though not right away...I need to read something pink and pretty to soothe my anxious mind before I get into any more of Andy McNab's gritty adventures! I can feel a reread of Pride and Prejudice coming on...
Meanwhile, you can follow Andy Mcnab on Twitter here and me too of course...I'm over here ... come and say hi.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017


Rebellion can be the beginning of freedom

Mine is a rebel heart. I have always had a bit of a rebellious streak within me.  It didn't emerge until quite late though - I was never a rebellious child or a rebellious teenager.  In fact, I was a pretty good kid and my mother tells me that I never really caused her too many problems.  So I am not typically rebellious. 

My rebellious streak came to the fore in my late teens and early twenties - I learnt that unless you make a stand, people will take advantage and pull the wool over your eyes.  So I made sure my stance was strong, and sometimes forceful.  I let people know that I am not one to be messed with. I can take care of myself... I don't need babysitting. 

Being a Bruce I have a natural tendency towards rebellion anyway. Any Scot will tell you that a Bruce can always rouse the rebel heart, not only in herself, but in others too, and I do encourage people to stand up for themselves if they are being treated unfairly. 

Personally I do not regard rebellion as a bad thing.  It depends how it's used. The rebel spirit is just as important as the warrior spirit and the two frequently go hand in hand together.   I would go further and say that the rebel spirit is vital to facilitate positive change. Without the rebel spirit, abusers would never be challenged, dictators would never be toppled and corrupt governments and organisations would continue to rule supreme.  In such situations we need rebellion to effect positive change, for it is the catalyst to freedom.  Yes, rebellion can be messy and sacrifices will have to be made - but on the other side of rebellion lies peace and freedom, so it is a battle worth fighting.   

I am proud of my rebel heart.  It has got me through some tough times and I have no intention of dousing its light.  And after four years of psychotherapy training, wherein I have been repeatedly told that my rebellious streak is something 'to be addressed' and attempts have been made to remould me into a softer image,  I am most proud of the fact that my rebel heart still beats as strongly as it ever did.  I haven't been changed by the training - I am still strong, still outspoken, still rebellious and still bolshie.  Even that very word - bolshie - comes from the heart of rebellion and the Bolshevik Revolution.  It is a word that fellow classmates have often used to describe me and I take it as a compliment. 

I am not a rebel without a cause, but I do use my strength to stand up for those who might not feel able to stand up for themselves. In the past I have stood against drug dealers, wife-beaters, animal cruelty and paedophiles - and I would do so again, without hesitation.  If I see something amiss, I'm going to speak up and challenge it.  If I see someone in trouble, I'm going to do what I can to help. If people don't like me for it, that's just a bit too bad.  If they gather together in a personal vendetta against me - they'll soon be left with egg on their faces, wishing they'd picked an easier target! Because I am a Bruce right through to the marrow of my bones. The battle is in my blood and I always win.  

But for my friends and loved ones, if we're on the same side, you can always count on me. If you feel that you can't fight anymore, I will fight for you.  If you are lost and don't know which way to turn, I'll help you figure out your next move.  I'm good at strategy and can come up with a viable battle plan, knocking down targets along the way.  I don't look for trouble, but I don't run either, so if it shows up - I'll show it the door and send it homeward to think again, no matter who it is. Because I dance to the beat of my own Rebel Heart and in the Celtic sense, that is no bad thing...it is something to be honoured, celebrated and respected. 
The Corrs - Rebel Heart

Saturday, 24 June 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; The Day I Met Marie...

Because I'm the one that gets away...

What a kiss...from the King no less,
Got a pocket full of rainbows

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; The Art of Detachment

Detachment is a wonderful thing.  It is something I have a knack for.  I can cut myself off from disappointing or difficult situations with relative ease, retreating into a bubble of my own space, where none can touch me.  I suppose it is a kind of self-preservation.

Detachment is something I have done for as long as I can remember.  It is a common defence mechanism, but as a young girl I wasn't really aware of it - I just did it naturally, shutting myself away and retreating into a world of books and imagination.  This means that I developed a habit of withdrawing into my own world and it is a habit that continues to this day.

I can already feel myself detaching from my college course and class mates because we only have three classes left to go. Already I feel the need to separate myself from them and go into the bubble. It's not that I don't engage or interact with people - it's more that I keep interactions quite superficial.  I am polite, but not personal. People rarely get to know the deeper reaches of my personality.  I keep up a barrier between me and them; we can chat and have a laugh, but I've always got one eye on the clock, counting down the hours until the little performance is over.

There are degrees of detachment - the bubble is a way of separating myself from a situation I am not fully engaged with, which bores me or might upset me. Lots of people use this technique to get through divorce or funerals etc.  Isolation is a stronger kind of detachment, where I might cut someone right out of my life altogether, because I don't consider the drama they, or their associates, bring into my life to be worth my time.  This means that if I feel my time is being wasted, or someone has let me down, spilled my secrets or betrayed my trust, I can cut them off with barely a blink and detach from them. What's more, I am unlikely to be as easily drawn in by that person a second time - they will have to work much, much harder to capture my attention. And if betrayal is a factor, they will never have my friendship or trust again.  

My defensive walls are high and thick and made of ice.  I can literally feel myself moving through the process of detachment, because it is so familiar to me now.  It is like a frosty layer, icing over my whole being. Whenever I think of the person who came up short and let me down,  I turn into an ice maiden, retreating behind a wall of ice, untouchable and therefore safe from further harm. 

I support this detachment by eliminating all evidence of that person from my life, so I throw away all gifts, cards and so on.  I might block their phone number so they can't call me; or delete them on social media.  

And of course, I do forget people completely due to PTSD!  This can be both a blessing and curse, because not everyone deserves to be forgotten - but some do.    Eventually I will remember them in flashbacks - itself a traumatic experience - and then I might want to talk to them again, just to validate those memories, but this isn't always possible and so after a time, I have no option but to detach from them all over again.  And after four and half months of solid flashbacks, day after day, with no validation, that's kind of where I'm at right now. 

Because there comes a point when you just have to write people off, for your own peace of mind.  You can't keep flying round in circles, searching for those who are never there for you when you need them. You just have to write them off, for your own sanity. So that's what I do. I write them off - in my journal, on Twitter and Facebook and here on my blog - I just write them off, saddened that they let me down, cross that I was taken in by them in the first place, but ultimately the pilot of my own life, moving on to a new, as yet unknown, horizon.

Detachment is just a natural part of me. It's how I cope with loss; the big losses and the little ones. It's my thing. Let it go.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; The Mothership

People frequently ask me why I don't have children.  It's because I'm smart.  It's because I'm observant.  It's because I noticed from a young age that motherhood changes women, and not for the better! I have always known that motherhood is not for me.  I didn't even play with baby dolls as a child - only fashion dolls.  It is a way of life that has never interested me in the slightest. 

I remember having a tantrum with my mum when she insisted on dragging me to the GP for a Rubella injection when I was 11.  I knew then that it wasn't needed - I was never having babies. She didn't believe me and gave me the standard grown up answer of "You'll change your mind when you get older".  I'm now 43 - and I still haven't changed my mind, nor do I have any regrets or worries that I might have made the wrong decision and left it too late. I have made the right choice for me - babies are just not my thing.

I have noticed over the years that something happens to women when they have a baby.  The first pregnancy is filled with excitement and joyfulness - they can't wait!  Subsequent pregnancies are much more subdued and quiet.  There is little fanfare in the announcement and the joyfulness isn't apparent - because they know what they are in for!  The blessing of ignorance has been stripped from them and replaced with experience of the birthing chamber and the day to day toils of childcare.

I have watched motherhood turn bright, ambitious women into snazzy, resentful individuals, envious of anyone with an ounce of success or freedom. I have seen kind, compassionate women become engulfed in entitlement, expecting the world to bend over backwards for them just because they have a few kids in tow! As if!

Motherhood diminishes women and dulls their sparkle. They lose their glitter.  Motherhood can derail a promising career; or render it completely out of the question, particularly if education has been forsaken in favour of getting pregnant as young as possible.  When motherhood is viewed as a career choice, as it is by lots of teenage girls; or a get out of life free card when women reach a certain age and realise that they have done nothing with their life so far except drift, resentment is the result; resentment that they are shackled to the home and a school run; resentment towards their man who gets to enjoy a career and the success that goes with it; resentment of women who don't have children and who live a life of more freedom. 

It seems to me that the only person a woman can really trap with the 'accidental' pregnancy plan, is herself. But she knows that an empty nest just isn't enough to keep a man coming home every night to a wife he never wanted, or has tired of. And if she can't have more children herself, she'll use the grandchildren to fill the void. 

Men will take any and every opportunity to leave the house that has become a creche, whenever they can.  They take on jobs that mean they work away a lot; they stay late at work for meetings; they have to play golf with the boss at weekends; they work overtime to gain promotions.  And ultimately, a man is always free to walk away from the relationship and start again with someone new, possibly even having more children and a whole new family.  Men are never really trapped by parenthood in the way that women are, for it is always the women who are left holding the babies. 

Call me crazy, but I am not prepared to take such a high risk gamble with my life and the freedom that is so important to me. I want to be as free as any man, and the only way I can achieve that is to remain blissfully child-free. I certainly don't feel as if I am missing out on anything. My nurturing side is given over to animals and my counselling work, and my ambition has never been derailed.  I generally achieve my goals, because I can commit to them fully; I am not distracted by childcare duties. 

So I am content with my choice to remain child-free. What does irritate me though is the resentment I get from women with children, because I have more free time and disposable income than they might have.  I can spend my money on what I want. If I want a new Chanel perfume I can buy one, with my own money, not a husbands - I don't have to wonder if the kids need new shoes first.  If I want to go away alone on a nice holiday, I can do so - I don't need to organise childcare first and then worry all week! I am free to do as I please.  Spending my life hiding behind a pram has never been my aspiration, but for some women, giving birth is the best way for them to avoid life, tucked far away from the working world and the responsibilities that go with it. 

This doesn't go down well with some mums who seem to think that their life choice is more valid and important than mine. It isn't. The fact that they work to provide for their kids isn't more valid that the fact that I write to provide for myself.  But I often get comments like "Mmm, it must be nice"  Yes, it is.

I make no apologies for my life. I chose not to get married or have children because I knew it would make me feel trapped and I need to feel free.  I had the sense to think ahead - I took a good long look at motherhood and I didn't like the end the result I saw, so I didn't go down that path.  Which means that I don't wake up in my mid-forties wondering where my life has gone and why I haven't done anything with it!  I wake up knowing that I have achieved most of my goals and I am still setting new ones that I will achieve in the future.   I'm just not interested in being beamed up by the mothership.

My journey is one of freedom and fancy, of glitter and glamour. My path is artistic and creative.  I have the freedom to follow my heart wherever it leads and to chase after my wildest dreams...to go where the whim takes me, because freedom is my bliss. 

Saturday, 3 June 2017


Midsummer fey-dreams
I am a day-dreamer, a fey-dreamer...It is that time of year again, as the summer solstice approaches, my mind turns to all things fey and faerie, to the wondrous and the whimsical.  As the earth embraces the bright season and all is lush with new growth, I fall into fey-dreams of possibility.  Hope is renewed with the lengthening days and the magic within me stirs restlessly, eager to be cast out into the wider world with a heartfelt cry of Blessed Be!

I cast daily charm spells for all who need a little boost - for people I know and those I have never met; for my readers and my clients; for family and friends alike.  Charms are simple acts of magical kindness, like lighting a candle and dedicating the flame to those who need a little more light in their lives. Or blowing wish bubbles out into the clear blue sky, wishing joy for the sorrowful, or healing for the sick.  Random acts of magic like this help to keep me positive and optimistic. Because someone, somewhere needs a bit of magic in their lives and I am happy to share mine. It takes no time at all, but it puts a spring in my step as I think of the good wishes reaching the targets I know nothing about.

Summertime is all about faerie magic and it is nice to get out into nature more. I make daisy-chain crowns and wish on stars on a summers eve. I cast a pebble into the seventh wave of an incoming tide and state my desire to the merrowmaids.  I write goals on leaves and bury them to bring them into reality. I float feathers on a river to cast troubles away or dance with the sylphs of air on a windy day or invoke the winds of change by hanging wind chimes in my home. These are all simple charms to keep the good magic flowing in my life. 

The long winter can leave us all a little stagnant, but spring and summer bring oceans of opportunity if we are open to it.  Faerie magic can open your heart to love, joy and abundance, which is why I wrote a book and composed music about it. Reading books on fairy-lore and ritual can help you to rise above the mundane and see the world in a completely new light.  

I love reading books about Otherworldly places, allowing my imagination to take flights of fancy with the elves of Middle Earth, or the water kelpies of Scottish folklore.  

I believe that flights of fancy are to be encouraged at any time of year, but especially through the faerie season of midsummer.  I was going to write a Book Nook post about my favourite faerie books and music, but I honestly have too many to choose from. So instead I plan to Tweet about various fey books from now until the end of August - it is the best way to do them all justice!

So come follow me on Twitter and set your inner Faerie Queene free as we tread softly upon the petal path of faerie dreams, venturing deep into Elphame to dance with the Sidhe...for this is where the magic happens!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Banking Karma

It's 3am as I start to write this post. I have been up all night writing essays for my counselling course, which I am happy to report will soon be at an end.  I have only five classes left to attend and a couple more essays to write, and then the training will be over.  I am looking forward to crossing the finish line!

It will be nice to get my freedom back.  When I embarked on the course I didn't imagine that it would infiltrate so much of my life, but it feels as though everything else has had to be put on the back burner for the past four years.  It will be nice to have free time again, where I'm not thinking about the latest college assignment.

I miss day-dreaming. I miss being able to sit in reverie, without feeling guilty because I'm not writing essays!  I miss reading books that are nothing to do with psychotherapy.  In the past four years, I have had to think of my course as a priority.  This doesn't sit well with my rebellious, Bohemian spirit. I like to be free to drift through the days, doing what I want, when I want to.  

I hate writing essays.  It is the most tedious writing I have ever had to do. Essays leave no space for self-expression because every word has to meet a certain target and you are shackled to the criteria.  This academic hoop jumping has really stifled my creativity.  The best way I can describe is, it is like writer's block, but instead of being blocked out of writing, you are boxed in to a corner and a particular kind of writing -  a kind that is zero fun to produce and feels very much like a complete waste of your time. It's not that it is hard intellectually - it's just very tedious to keep repeating the same thing over and over, because all essays are simply a variation on a theme. At least I keep passing them though, that's a blessing. 

I feel less like myself because of it, which is surprising because I was assured that this course would make me much more self-aware - so shouldn't I feel more like myself then?  Apparently not. 

All this will change once I have my life back in July - I will no longer have to wear the student hat, and I can go back to just being myself.  I won't be trapped in a classroom every week, bored and fed up of endless navel gazing. Instead I will have my freedom once more - freedom to look up at the stars and dream magically, rather than examining all the crap in the world and trying to identify where it came from!  Freedom to focus on my real job of writing once again, taking it in a new direction;  freedom to take the dance class that I've had to put off because it falls on the same night I'm in college; freedom to play, to be filled with wonder at the beauty of the world, rather than focusing on that one inevitable imperfection and discussing it to death!

There is one good aspect to the course though and that is my placement.  I love doing my clinical hours.  It is the only part of the training that makes me happy, and which validates my original theory that you really don't need a diploma to help people - counselling is little more than basic common sense and human kindness. I said as much at the beginning of my training, and four years later I stand by that assessment.   I have used nothing I have learnt in class on my placement because each organisation has its own way of working.  My placement is with a counselling organisation and totally separate from the college, so it is a nice break from the lectures.

I never expected that working for free as a psychotherapist would be the best part of the course, but it is.  Obviously it would be better if I was getting paid for my time, but that will come eventually, just like it did with my writing.  I love my placement.Because everyone is voluntary there is no hierarchy, and people are nice! There is no bitching, no snottiness (some counsellors I've met in the past can be quite snotty) and no veiled put-downs masquerading as 'concern' like you sometimes get with doctors.  It is just a really nice environment. I enjoy working there and I come home feeling elated that I have played a small part in helping my clients through a very dark time in their lives.  It is the one part of my course where I feel like myself again.

Of course helping people with their troubles is all part of being a witch, so despite the academics trying to remould me, I am still doing exactly what I have always done - and that is, I help people, bringing a glimmer of light into their darkness, as any wise woman of old would have done.  As a messenger, I can sometimes bring comfort to those who need a sign, but mostly I help people to keep living, as best they can, when they think that their life is over. 

I see it as banking good karma - I help those who need me, for free, and that skilled kindness will be returned to me by the threefold law at a later stage. Its a win-win situation.  I wish all good things for my clients, just as I do for my readers.  Spreading kindness and gentleness helps to shine a light in the world and it makes a positive difference. But I'd be lying if I said I'm not looking forward to the eventual cosmic pay-day! Good things come to those who wait. 
BB x

Sunday, 21 May 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Patience is a Virtue, But Mine Wears Thin!

"But it never is time for the waiting to be over, until its time. No matter how much wringing of the hands, crying, begging or bargaining we do, the waiting will continue until its damn good and ready, which is rarely soon enough...

The truth is that waiting is when the magic happens. Waiting is the mystical space between the dreaming and its coming true."

from Romancing the Ordinary by Sarah Ban Breathnach

I'm good at waiting, but sometimes my patience wears a bit thin.  Its not so much the waiting that bothers me - its the silence, the false endings and the lack of news that irritate me and make me wonder if my time is being wasted. But this is what I need to remember - it will all happen in its own time, not mine. Be patient. Keep busy. Play music with meaning and wait for the magic to happen, because this really is just the beginning...better to wait and make a fresh start, than to rush and make a false start.


Monday, 8 May 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Half The World Away

The sun comes up in China
The lights go on in Rome
Half the world is waiting...

Friday, 5 May 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Pretty In Pink - Biker Heaven

My Life Mantra

I have been utterly seduced...I have just returned from retail heaven!  The local shopping centre is simply full of pink, tempting me in every shop window...shades of rose, blush, flamingo, candy floss, baby, shell...were everywhere I looked, as far as the doe-eyed could see.  The shopping buzz has me in its grip and I am delirious and dizzy with joy! 

Pink has always been my favourite colour, closely followed by red. But for years pink hasn't really been that available, so I am delighted that it is now the colour of the season.  I have spent a happy couple of hours shopping this morning, adding to my collection of all things pink.

Some time ago I bought a lovely dusky rose pink, trench-coat style jacket.  Because I am petite I have a problem getting coats and jackets to fit me and all the trench-coats swamped me, but this little pink jacket comes just past my hips and belts at the waist, so it fits quite nicely.  I have been wearing it for college and clinical placement and people always compliment me on it.  You certainly do get more attention when you're dressed in something pink, hence the old saying "Wear pink to make the boys wink".  I have always found this to be true. 

Earlier this week I was out with my mother and I spotted a darling pastel pink tote bag, which of course I snapped up right away.  It's the perfect size for me and matches my pink kiss-clasp purse from Accessorise, so I knew I was meant to have it.  It goes beautifully with the dusky rose trench-coat too and they make a perfect pair.

Then today I was seduced - literally seduced - by another pink jacket!  A leather biker jacket to be exact, in the softest, palest shell pink!!  It's zips were twinkling at me under the store lights and I just lost all sense of self control... I had to have it...I just had to. It reminded me of Michelle Pfeiffer singing 'Cool Rider' in Grease 2.  I love that song (see end of post) - it sums me up.  So the biker jacket and a pink semi-sheer skirt, shot through with silver thread, found their way into my shopping basket and I beamed at the check out girl as she claimed her commission on the sale.

I justified the purchase by reminding myself that I still wear the black leather biker jacket I bought way back when I was 18.  It still fits and looks fab, so if the pink one is as good an investment, I will be very happy with it.  I also feel like I deserve a little treat for making it through four years of academic torture - my psychotherapy training finishes this summer and this jacket is my reward for sticking with the course.

It also goes nicely with a very pretty dress I bought a few weeks ago - a dream of a dress that is floaty, floral and balletic in style.  If you follow me on Twitter you will already know that I love this dress so much I named it Juliet! It's romantic and feminine and I can't wait to wear it with my new pink biker jacket.

Finally I popped into Victoria Secret and sniffed around all their fragrances.  I love their bath and body products; my favourites are currently Amber Romance and also Temptation, which suits me, being the author of  The Wiccan Temptress, which you can purchase here if you are so inclined. 

So it has been a very productive few weeks of girly shopping sprees.  I do love buying new clothes - it honestly makes me feel better, and I need smart new things to wear for my clinical placement and also for my holiday to Oban in autumn.  I can't wait for that. Just four months or so to go and I will be back in the land of the kilted Scotsmen where kisses aplenty await! Until then let's not forget that... 
"On Wednesdays we wear pink" 
- from Mean Girls
I wanna Cool Rider (In a kilt!)

Monday, 1 May 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; The Wheel of Fortune

Image result for wheel of fortune tarot google images

"It is the wheel of fortune that can throw you up very high, or bring you down very low. Its message is to be indifferent to victory and defeat, as they both come on the turn of the wheel."

extract taken from The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

I have been ruminating on the wheel of fortune a lot recently, pondering on how it governs all of our lives; how it turns steadily round and round, allowing each of us to experience the highs and lows of life.   It's as if we are all riding a cosmic big wheel - for someone to enjoy the view at the top, someone else has to be at the bottom.  With each cycle the wheel draws you higher and higher, until it is your turn at the top, but then inevitably, it also begins its descent, taking you back down to earth again.

You will know which half of the cycle you are on by noting the main events of your life in recent months or years.  An upwardly mobile cycle brings promotions, great experiences, new lovers and friends, opportunities, abundance, lovely holidays and all the good things life has to offer.  In this stage of the cycle, it will seem as if everything is just coming to you, as you realise your dreams and enjoy life to the full.

A downward cycle tends to strip things away from you, so you experience bereavements, divorce, job loss, poverty, rifts with family and friends etc.  Delayed starts, false endings, obstacles and the derailment of plans are all a sign that you are on the downward cycle. It can be frustrating, upsetting and debilitating. But the wheel doesn't take away anything that you were meant to keep - rather, it removes that which has been holding you back, or which has served its time in your life.

It's like emptying a vase of stale, stagnant water and refilling it with fresh, pure water so that the flowers can continue to bloom.  If you didn't do that, the flowers would die, poisoned by the toxic water. They need purity to survive and thrive.  On a downward cycle it can feel as if your life has been emptied out and there is nothing left but the void of what used to be, but take heart, because when you feel that you are at your lowest ebb, that is a sign that you have reached the bottom of the wheel, and the worst is over. 

Like any big wheel in a funfair, the wheel of fortune allows us time to enjoy both the pinnacle at the top and the doldrums at the bottom. We need this breathing space to assess how far we have come on the climb, enjoying the fruits of our labour, or to come to terms with the losses.  It isn't about being punished - it's about being prepared for the next cycle. 

And you are far from powerless - you can use the two poles to make plans for the next half of the cycle; so when you're at the top, you can start cushioning yourself for the downward journey by setting money aside in savings or retraining to improve your qualifications etc.  When swinging in the doldrums, you can rest and recover, seek counselling for support with the losses and make goals for your next upward cycle so you know what you want the wheel of fortune to offer you.  

These seemingly small actions will keep you being proactive in your life and set the wheel swaying a bit. Before you know it, you will feel the jolt as the wheel shifts gears and moves on once more, taking your day to day life along with it.  

I have also noticed a pattern of seven year cycles in my life, in that I tend to have a seven year block of any one thing, whether it be good or bad, before moving onto something else. These cycles tend to alternate between negative and positive, and right now I am sitting on the cusp between the fall and the flight. My next bliss cycle is due in any time this year and I am ready to welcome it, knowing that the wheel of fortune is lifting me into a new phase of life, with new people for me to meet and new experiences and opportunities for me to enjoy.  

It's exciting and liberating to be free of the past and ready to move on into the unknown.  That is the purpose of the wheel of fortune - it keeps us moving forward; it teaches us that everyone has ups and downs and no-one's life is perfect. It makes us stronger, more resilient and ready to accept that change is necessary and can be a good thing.  It prepares us and makes us ready for the fresh start it brings, as we ride on into the next upwardly mobile cycle of life. So say a prayer for everyone who needs it...because their down cycle might have only just begun.