"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, 29 December 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; You're So Cruel

Some men deserve no better than the Veronicas treatment...


xxx

Sunday, 24 December 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Only You

Wherever you are in the world this Christmas Eve, I wish you a very happy Christmas...
xxx

Thursday, 21 December 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Enchanted Winter Walk


Last night I went on the Enchanted Gardens Winter Walk at Brodsworth Hall in Yorkshire.  This beautiful stately home was all decked out in Christmas lights and all the gardens were lit up.  

I went with my mum, pictured here in the magical light tunnel and we had a lovely time.  These events take place every Christmas time at various stately homes and are run by the National Trust.  A few years ago we went to one in Sherwood Forest and that still remains the most magical one we've attended, but then Sherwood drips with magic all year round.  Brodsworth was very pretty and they had created a fairytale theme for their light display.

There was a mist shrouded fairy cottage and it was easy to imagine a witch lived there, looking after all the woodland creatures and befriending the fairies.  There was a model fairy village with tiny tutu fairy dresses hung on a washing line and a little fairy tree swing.  All the fairy houses were made from old cans, wellington boots and such like, and every now and then a tinkling laugh rang out from the shrubbery - like a fairy hiding away and watching everyone.  There were fly agaric mushroom houses too and an enchanted talking tree who introduced himself as the Guardian of Brodsworth and was 300 years old.


The rest was more adult, with the garden statues all lit up and music playing through the trees, so there was something for everyone.  There was a bonfire about halfway round, surrounded by log seats,  where we stopped for mince pies and mulled wine to warm up and you could toast giant marshmallows on the fire.  It was a pleasant festive picnic.

At the end of the walk was a small fairground and I won us a couple of stuffed Christmas toys for under our trees - mine is a gingerbread man and my mum's is a reindeer.  There were lots of hot food stalls too, so we finished the night off with hotdogs and roasted chestnuts.  It was a lovely night, blending together all the best of dark nights and fairylights, bonfires, games, music, food and drink.  I believe the event is on all this weekend and if you can't get to Brodsworth, check out the Enchanted Gardens page on the National Trust website to see if there is a similar event near you.  My mum and I had such a great time and it is always nice to visit stately homes at Christmas. Its such a fun, festive way to spend an evening and break up the monotony of the dark nights. I really enjoyed it. 



Wednesday, 20 December 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; One More Sleep

Four more days of being lonely
Three more dreams of you and mistletoe
If I can make it till Christmas Eve
Then it's one more sleep...
Been listening to this while doing the Christmas baking with my mum today. 
xxx

Monday, 18 December 2017

BOOK NOOK; Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts

Image result for nine lives of christmas book  images

"Merilee had shed her fancy clothes and changed into her cozy jammies; pink flannel with a candy cane print.  She'd turned on her tree lights and served herself some light eggnog along with a small plate of Christmas cookies her mother had sent home with her (for comfort), and now she was snuggled under an afghan (more comfort) with Its a Wonderful Life playing on her TV (which should have been comforting). A perfect ending to a perfect day.
Not. She was by herself. She didn't even have a cat now. What was so wonderful about that?"

It's 3.30 am and I stayed up late reading Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts.  I first came across this story when I watched the film of the book online. I was super smitten by the gorgeously tall, dark haired, dark eyed actor who played the love interest - a fireman, no less (thus ticking all my boxes in one go!) and having enjoyed the film, I got the book on my Kindle. 

I don't know what I like most about this novel; that it's a Christmas story; that it's a romance; or that it is narrated, for the most part, by a cat. The cat is called Ambrose and he is down to his last life.  He makes a bargain with the Great Creator that he will be a good cat who helps humans, if only he can be saved from the black dog that is trying to kill him and so enjoy a long and happy ninth life.  The bargain is agreed and Ambrose is rescued by Zach  (aka my hero, the fireman!) and so Ambrose invites himself to move into the bachelor pad. 

It soon becomes clear to Ambrose that Zach doesn't know what's good for either of them! Zach is fully committed to his commitment phobia and although he has a girlfriend, she's not the one and Ambrose knows it - she doesn't like cats.  He declares war on this woman and decides that Zach would be much happier with the nice lady who works in the animal shelter and pet supplies store instead, Merilee.  But Merilee has her own issues - self-esteem issues, financial issues, dreams of finishing vet school issues...just all the issues.  Ambrose has his work cut out trying to play match-maker and get these two together, but that is what he must do to keep his bargain and live a safe, happy and peacefully long ninth life.

The film version glosses over the cat's part, but it is still an enjoyable festive film.  The book really plays up to Ambrose as a feline match-maker and it did make me laugh, though it also made me really miss my own cat Pyewackett.  This is the first time in 18 years that there isn't a Whiskers cat stocking underneath my Christmas tree, which makes me feel very sad.  But I know I was a good cat mom and Ambrose has certainly brought me some comfort and joy on this long cold night! He's adorable.
  
If you like festive tales and cats then this story will be right up your street and I suggest you watch the film and read the novel too. Both are lovely...and the fireman is seriously hot! If I met a fireman who looked like this guy, I'd shove a cat up a tree just so he could come and rescue it! Enjoy!


Friday, 15 December 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Festive Carousel Ride!

Image result for carousel ride images

I had my first carousel ride of the festive season today and I loved every second of it!  The Christmas Market has been in the city for a couple of weeks now, but today the carousel arrived!  I think carousels are simply the most beautiful fairground ride ever to be invented and they have always been my favourite. They are just so pretty and whimsical. 

I went on a lovely Victorian carousel called the Golden Gallopers. My horse was called 'Moonlight'  It was five minutes of pure joy!  The mirrors twinkled, the gilding gleamed and the fairground music played as we spun around in merry circles.  The  up and down movement of a carousel horse is very similar to riding a steady pony over small cavelletti jumps. It reminded me of childhood riding lessons, when I first learnt how to jump a horse over obstacles. 

It certainly won't be my last carousel ride of the season either, as I plan to go on it again for as long as it remains in town. I'm also going on a lovely winter walk next week and there is a carousel in place there too, so no doubt I'll have a go on that one as well. Carousels are all part of the festive season and Yuletide magic, and today's ride was £2.00 well spent.  I had an enchanting time and after a tough day of grief counselling, riding Moonlight was just the pick me up I needed. I can't wait for the next go! 

Thursday, 14 December 2017

ONCE UPON A NIGHTMARE; Merry Shitmass! Survival Guide!

Image result for pink broken christmas images

We are midway through December and the Christmas bomb has officially exploded.  Its all tinsel and twinkle as far as the eye can see.  You can't even pop to the shop for a loaf of bread without Slade screaming out a reminder that "Its Christmas!!"...as if that weren't obvious from every window you just trudged past!  

It's all so pretty and twinkly and festive. It's meant to make you remember how happy and loved you are. But what if you're not happy? What if you're alone and lost? What if you're separated from your family because you are working away? What if you're bereaved, or ill? What if Christmas is just a big reminder of everything you don't have and the carol singers might as well just slap you in the face?

Christmas is a tough time for a lot of people - not everyone can muster up Tiny Tim's optimism in the face of adversity.  I have always been aware of that fact, but working at Cruse Bereavement Care this year has really brought it home to me - for some people Christmas is just one more trauma to face, and fight their way through.   To get to the Cruse office I walk past a least half a dozen homeless men; once in the office I do what I can to support broken hearts, knowing that ultimately there is only so much I can do.  Christmas makes my job much harder.

In everyone's lifetime a sprinkling of Merry Shitmasses will have to be endured. It can't be merry and bright every single year, because life isn't like that.  Our expectations of Christmas need to be moderated to the situation we are in during the run up to December.  Some Merry Shitmasses are to be expected - if you have had a death in the family, been made redundant, or you've just been dumped, you will already be aware that Christmas is going to be tough on you this year.  However some Merry Shitmasses take you completely by surprise, blowing up in your face over the festive period and knocking you for six, because there is something about this magical time of year that means the truth, no matter how painful it is, will come out.  This is why applications for divorce soar in January.  The Yuletide gods demand celebration - not sham.

Of course, the magazines won't tell you this.  I have lost count of the number of times I have tried to explore this darker side of Christmas in my work and then had the call from an editor saying "Could you maybe write something a bit more uplifting?".  Uplifting always wins the day in the media world, but I want to write things that are also relevant and helpful to my readers, and I know that not all of you will be looking forward to the festive season every single year, because shit just happens.  

Suicide and domestic abuse rates increase at this time of year and December/January is the Samaritans busiest period.  For some people Christmas stinks - ignoring that fact and expecting them to still 'make merry' is unfair and damaging and can ultimately do more harm than good. 

I sincerely wish every one of my readers a very happy Yuletide, but if you do happen to be faced with a Merry Shitmas to endure, here are some survival tips to help you get through it with as much grace as possible;

Be Honest;  Be honest about how you feel.  I'm not saying that you should complain to anyone and everyone, but gently explain that you are not in the festive spirit and just want to get through it quietly.  Real friends will understand.  Also, the world will continue to enjoy itself and will still wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year -  its not meant to be a personal insult to you so don't take it as one! 

Have The Talk;  A Merry Shitmas is a good opportunity to have one of The Talks with your kids - you know, the one about life not being a bed of roses and how things won't always go as they planned.  Tell them that you can only make the best of the situation that you have been dealt. Teach them how to deal with festive upsets by setting the example, not of martyrdom, but of calm, determined resilience.  Teaching kids how to take hard knocks is a vital life skill for them to have, otherwise they will become the kind of over-cosseted adults who cannot handle set backs. 

Allow Extra Time;  Christmas holds everything up, so if you are in the unfortunate position of having to deal with funeral arrangements or divorce proceedings, accept that nothing much can be done until the world returns to work in January.  Funeral directors do still work over Christmas, but it takes a bit longer to arrange and might even cost more. Divorce, doctor and hospital appointments will usually have to wait until January.  There's no point fighting against the tide, you will only exhaust yourself further.  Take this extra time as a moment to try and recharge your batteries instead. 

Opt Out  Give yourself permission to opt out of anything you think will be too much for you. Turn down party invites, get the groceries delivered online, use up any time owing to have extra days off work, refuse dinner invitations, don't bother with Christmas cards etc.  Again, real friends will understand your need to navigate the season in your own way this year. 

Self-Care  Look after yourself.  Have pampering spa nights, eat good food, light scented candles, treat yourself to new pyjamas and slippers, take vitamin supplements to ward off colds and flu, write your thoughts and feelings down in a journal to help process them. This is not just survival for women either - men could get new shaving products or beard care items to pamper with and might find journaling easier than talking to someone about their troubles.  Its about taking care of yourself, acknowledging that you have been hurt and are going through a tough time and need a little extra TLC, so be tender to yourself and treat you right!

Its Your Christmas  Remember that it is your Christmas too. No matter how tits-up its gone, it is still your Christmas and you can do as much or as little of it as you want.  Put the tree up, or don't.  Bake mince pies if you want to, or buy them in if you just want to eat them and can't be bothered to bake. Keep the kids happy, but say sod-off to everyone else. Ditch the office party in favour of PJs and a glass of wine in front of the telly. Make a turkey dinner or beans on toast.  It's your choice. 

Never underestimate the power of opting out of the Big Day, enjoying yourself quietly at home, while the rest of the world has a melt down over a small oven and a dead bird!  On Christmas Day, have a lovely hot bath, put your PJs on, plate up some festive snacks and go back to bed with a Jane Austen DVD box-set - that's what I did the year my Nan died on December 21st and it actually turned out to be a rather enjoyable day after all! 

And remember, its just one year - next year your life will have moved on and you might have the best Christmas ever. Whatever kind of Christmas you have this year, may you be sprinkled with lots of Yuletide blessings...Merry Shitmass! Love to you all😍x

I hope you won't need these links, but here they are just in case;
www.cruse.org.uk  for bereavement
www.samaritans.org.uk for general help
www.crisis.org.uk for homelessness/evictions
www.refuge.org.uk for domestic abuse
www.stepchange.org.uk for financial hardship and debt 

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

BOOK NOOK; The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable


"Be careful of the moon, little Sophie," Ivan Ivanovich whispered. "It will bewitch you. Before you know it, you can no longer live in the day, but only in the world of dreams."
Quotation taken from p76 of The Wolf Princess


There is still some snow on the ground in Yorkshire tonight and it has been freezing cold all day.  It is the kind of weather that makes me want to snuggle up by the fire with a great book, so that is exactly what I have been doing.  The Wolf Princess has held me captive for much of the day and I feel like I have been on a magical journey to a vast snowy land.  I have always loved snowy, wintry novels and this one is based loosely on the Russian fairytale The Snow Maiden.  

It tells the story of Sophie Smith; an unremarkable girl who has spent her life living in poverty.  She is the poor girl who lives in a boarding school among wealthier girls, and she feels a little out of place.  Sophie dreams of Russia and so when she is taken there on a school trip, she is over the moon.  But the trip doesn't go as planned. Sophie and her two friends are led onto the wrong train by a mysterious Russian woman, who leaves them there to look after themselves. Then they are dumped at a disused rail platform in the middle of the Russian countryside. And that is when their adventure really begins!  

This book has everything you could possibly want from a winter's tale; snowy landscape,  a winter palace, wolves running through a silver forest, secrets and mysteries, hot tea sweetened with cherries...I can't really say too much without giving things away, but it is real treat to read.  The novel is very lyrical in the writing style and the frozen air of Russia is described as being like breathing in 'peppermint and diamonds'.  It is a very pretty book to read, conjuring up vivid images of a lost Russia, pre-Revolution and the wealthy estates that are all but forgotten.

This novel is very shimmery and glimmering on the page - by that I mean that everything is white from the pure white steam train that rescues the girls, to the white wolves that howl in the snowscape of the Winter Palace at night.  Sophie is given a coat and slippers of silver to wear and a white diamond ring, for safe keeping.  There are swinging chandeliers that glimmer, ice-skating picnics on a frozen lake, and a very glamorous lady of the winter palace.

It's all so fresh and festive, with shimmering jewels and whispered tales of missing diamonds.  But there is also a dashing military man who is not quite what he seems and a young stable boy who is forbidden to speak to Sophie and her friends.  The Winter Palace is full of mysteries that Sophie must unravel to discover the truth about the Princess, the Palace, the diamonds and even, herself.  Its a fantastic novel and though it is aimed at teens, its such a good story and so beautifully written, anyone of any age can enjoy it. So if you like wintry, magical books you will love The Wolf Princess. I couldn't put it down and it has left me feeling as sparkly as a brillianty, in much the same way as the book Sun & Moon, Ice & Snow did. It makes me want to travel to a cold, snowy country and spend Christmas or my birthday there one year.  You can buy or download The Wolf Princess by clicking here.  Enjoy! 

Monday, 11 December 2017

SLIPPERS & SKATES; The Nutcracker


"The Prince gallantly placed the crown on top of Marie's head and led her out into the starry night, beyond her house and deep into the forest toward the Christmas Star.  Snow began to fall and the glistening flakes began to dance." 
Quotation from New York Ballet book The Nutcracker
xxx

Saturday, 9 December 2017

SLIPPERS & SKATES; Mirror Mirror on the Ice



I have just got home from an ice dancing show. I love to watch ice dancing.  I have been to Disney On Ice a few times and really enjoyed their shows. Last Christmas I went to see Disney's Frozen on Ice which was fabulous and they are great at putting on a winter show.  If you have kids though I recommend smuggling some treats in with you, or taking some cash, because Disney charge £8 for a portion of popcorn and £10 for a bag of candyfloss, so be prepared!

Disney On Ice is fantastic, but since a girl from my college class was killed at the Ariana Grande concert during the Manchester terrorist attack a few months ago, I have become a little anxious about attending big arena events.  So this year my mother and I went to see the Christmas show at the local ice rink, instead of going to see Disney On Ice at the arena. 

They put on a show called Mirror Mirror on the Ice which was an amalgamation of all the best loved fairytales; Snow White, Frozen, Cinderella and this years revived classic, Beauty and the Beast.  We had front row seats and a great view - I could see all the intricate step sequences and turns, which is beneficial for my own skating. There were some huge jumps and big lifts and the costumes were so pretty and sparkly...it was tutus galore!

It was a long show, starting at 1pm and finishing at 3.45pm with a fifteen minute interval, so it was certainly value for money. My favourite parts were the skating Snowflakes, Elsa's solo, Cinderella's solo, Beauty and the Beast pairs skate and the four Ugly Sisters, which were danced by male figure skaters in drag, skating to songs such as Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Its Raining Men, lifting their skirts and flashing their bloomers as they went!  They were hilarious, and recieved the biggest round of applause of the whole show. 

Although they didn't have the special effects of a Disney ice show, they did a fantastic job of giving Disney a run for their money.  Mirror Mirror on the Ice was magical, enchanting, princessy and romantic.  All the well known Disney songs were played and I think my absolute favourite part was Beauty and the Beast skating to Tale As Old As Time by Ariana Grande.  But the whole performance was fabulous. I loved it and I feel so inspired for my own skating - I can't wait to get back on the ice again myself.  It has been a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and I feel all festive and ready for Christmas now.

So if you don't want to pay Disney ticket prices, then check out your local ice rink and see what events they are putting on over the Christmas season.  It is far less expensive, but just as beautiful and so much fun to watch.  And if you just want to stay at home during the colder weather, then Dancing On Ice makes a welcome return to our TV screens in January, lending a touch of frosty magic to the dark winter nights.  I can't wait for that and I'm so glad that they have decided to bring it back.  And as if all that wintry enchantment wasn't enough - tonight we are going to have snow!!
Have a lovely winter...it's a most magical time. 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Mistletoe Kisses

I should be playing in the winter snow,
But I'm gonna be under the mistletoe,
Kiss me underneath the mistletoe...
xxx

Sunday, 3 December 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Santa Baby

Santa honey, I've been an angel all year...
Think of all the fun I've missed,
Think of all the fellows that I haven't kissed;
Next year I could be just as good,
If you check out my Christmas List...
😘

Saturday, 2 December 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; He's Gone 2000 Miles

In these frozen and silent nights,
 sometimes in a dream, you appear...
I think of you wherever you go...
Gets colder day by day - I miss you

XXX

Thursday, 30 November 2017

SLIPPERS & SKATES; Northern Ballet's Little Mermaid

Northern Ballet



This afternoon my mum and I went to see Northern Ballet dance The Little Mermaid at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre.   It was one of my birthday presents and I enjoyed every second of it.  I have seen the Northern Ballet before; dancing A Christmas Carol and Wuthering Heights. They are my favourite Company and I was intrigued to see how they would dance out a story that takes place largely under the sea. Would it feel mermaidy enough?   The answer to that question is a resounding Yes!

This has to be the most beautiful ballet I have seen since The Russian State Ballet of Siberia's version of Swan Lake.  It is visually stunning, with lighting that looks like the rippling waters of the deep ocean and dancers acting as 'waves'.  The costumes were glorious, in pretty pastel colours and shimmering metallic fabrics that swish and sway and end in pleated mermaid tails!  It was very much like being swept away into an enchanted realm where pretty mermaids, sea nymphs and bare-chested mermen hold court. 

The story is true to the original text of the fairytale, which is always a relief when a book is presented in a different medium.  They had one piece of set which became by turns, the backdrop of the ocean, the rocks on the beach and a ship!  It was so cleverly designed and added to the magic of seamlessly transitioning the story from sea to land and back again.  

The music was beautiful and featured lovely mermaid vocals that echoed around the gilded theatre, making you feel as if you were surrounded by mermaids.  But it was the choreography that stole the show - the ballet dancers were so fluid in their movements; everything was slow and graceful, like they were actually moving through water.  They rippled across the stage like water elementals.  It was all so very magical and beautiful and pure.  Just writing about it makes me want to see it all again!

The Little Mermaid is one of the best ballets I have ever seen, so if you fancy going to the ballet this Christmas, I would recommend this one over The Nutcracker any day of the week.  They are on tour until May 2018, so check them out here and dive into a wonderful fairytale world of pure romance.  I enjoyed the ballet so much this afternoon and I really hope that they put this one out on DVD soon because I want to keep the magic and bring it home with me - it's that good! It makes me want to snuggle into my mermaid blanket and dream of being Ariel. 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Beautiful Ballet, Sugar Plum Fairy

Stunning balletic music videos that have the spirit of winter captured within them...
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy

And Shatter Me...
Enjoy!
xxx

Monday, 27 November 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Kinky Boots

Everybody's talking about kinky boots, kinky boots...
Lovely lanky thigh boots...
And I've bought three pairs already this autumn...
They certainly seem to stop traffic!
πŸ˜‰

Sunday, 26 November 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; This Love is Ours

The stakes are high, the water's rough,
But this love is ours...

My Baby's fly like a jet stream, high above the whole scene...
xxx

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Santa Tell Me

Now I need someone to hold, be my fire in the cold...
Santa tell me, if you're really there,
Don't make me fall in love again if he won't be here next year...

Its my birthday tomorrow which is when I always start playing the festive tunes! Enjoy
xxx

Friday, 17 November 2017

BOOK NOOK; Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica D George



It is a cold, frosty night as I begin to write this post and I am snuggled under the faux fur throw, sipping on hot spiced fruit punch to keep out the chill. I have a Yankee Snowflake Cookie candle burning, to make the house smell festive, and after a long day of Christmas shopping, I feel like I am getting into the winter spirit, no doubt helped along by this fabulous book, which I have just finished reading.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George is a retelling of the classic Norwegian fairytale East of the Sun and West of the Moon, which is also an album by my favourite band A-HA.  From being a young girl I have always wanted to go to Norway, possibly for my birthday one year, and this book has revived that dream in me again.  I really want to see for myself the frozen snowy landscapes that are described in this novel, because it sounds just like a real life fairytale. 

I could feel the cold as I read this book; the world building is that strong upon the page that it lingers in the mind. It tells the story of a poor lass with no name and no prospects, but after coming upon a magical white hart reindeer and freeing him from the brambles he is trapped in, the girl is granted a boon.  She is given a secret name and the ability to talk to animals and hear their words.  The girl soon becomes well known for her special gift and before long an enchanted polar bear comes calling, begging her to help him by living with him for a year and a day.  The girl agrees and her adventure begins, taking her across a vast land of ice and snow.

The bear lives in a magical ice palace, where log fires blaze in the hearths but the palace doesn't melt.  The girl is introduced to luxury and fine dining for the first time in her life and she is given a beautiful suit of rooms in the palace, including a dressing room full of wonderful ballgowns and lovely clothes.  She settles in and with her pet wolf, Rollo, for company, she begins to explore.  

Thus far the novel has undertones of Beauty and the Beast, but this tale as old as time has a distinctly Norse twist, for in order to break the enchantment and free the bear, the girl must first decipher the strange runic language carved into the ice pillars and fireplaces of the palace.   The story incorporates lots of Norse mythology, and magical creatures such as trolls, selkies, fauns and centaurs, all play a part.  The girl meets the Three Norns and the Four Winds as she continues in her quest to free the bear and she must make the journey to find the Queen's palace that lies east of the sun and west of the moon. 

It is a very wintry tale of swirling snow flurries, and in a way I wish I had waited a few weeks to read it, as this is a novel that begs to be read by the twinkling lights of a Christmas tree, while snuggled into a mermaid blanket or faux furs. Even the character of the North Wind looks just like a white and silver version of Father Christmas!  So if you are looking for something to read during the festive season when you have time off work, this book is ideal. And if you think the cover girl looks familiar, that's because it is modelled by You Tuber FreddyMyLove adding her charm to the overall beauty of the book. 

If you like wintry Narnian style fairytales then I am sure that you will really enjoy Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.  It has certainly got me all ready for winter. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; A Thousand Years

I have died everyday waiting for you...


xπŸ’˜ x

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Life Goals

Ballet is one of my goals for next year


November is my birthday month and the time when I begin to make plans for what I want to do throughout the next year.  With the harvest of Samhain last week I realised that I've done quite a lot in the past twelve months.  I have completed the classroom hours of my Counselling Diploma and left college and the taskmaster tutor behind; gained a placement for my clinical hours; passed three extra training courses in Grief Counselling, Business Etiquette and PTSD Counselling; wrote new psychotherapy features for a new editor and a new media house; and went ice skating again for the first time in four and a half years.  Of the six major goals I set for myself this time last year, four have been achieved, plus additional ones I set along the way - and there's still time before the end of the year to achieve the last two.

So I've been pondering on what I want to do next.  Half-term being over, I went ice-skating again yesterday. This is definitely becoming a regular thing. We had the first frost of the season and my car was covered in white when I went out to drive to the rink.  I had a lovely skate and practised some manoeuvres - just forward chasses in both directions and glides, nothing fancy - and I felt like myself again for the first time since I started the diploma.  It was very liberating to just glide along to the music without a care in the world.   

Of course the ice-hockey players kept getting in my way and one of them nearly skated right into me!  I was on a circle, just quietly doing my own thing and chasses-ing around the line, when he very nearly slammed into me. He did that three times!  He did apologise each time, giving me a wink and a smile, but it still irritated me.  

There is some rivalry between ice-hockey players and figure skaters and the hockey players love to give figure skaters 'tips' on skating, so when one of them skated up to me and said "I've got a tip for you" I just rolled my eyes and thought "Here we go!" Then he said "Whatever you do, and this is very important, whatever you do, always keep your feet on the end of your legs!" and off he skated, thrilled with his own wit. It did make me laugh though.

I got chatting to one of the figure skaters. He has lessons in ice-dancing with one of the male ice-dance coaches and he was telling me about it.  It does sound like fun and is something I would love to try, but I need to find my ice-feet again first.  I've had a long break and I just need to build up my confidence, not to mention my strength and balance, before I undertake ice-dancing lessons.  

Its always nice to chat to people who have a shared interest. You never know what you might learn or what doors might open for you.  In the past four years the rink has taken on lots of new coaches, so it could be that one of them suits me better than the one I had before.  Getting some private lessons might be fun and it is something I am thinking about.

I have also decided to set the goal for next year of starting dance classes again, namely ballet, as I think this will improve my skating.  The two disciplines are  very similar and spending time in ballet class should help to improve my core strength, balance, turn-out, extensions and fluidity.  Ballet and ice-skating support one another, so it makes sense that ballet class should be one of my next goals.  Later this month I have tickets to see The Northern Ballet dance The Little Mermaid and I am sure this will inspire me to do all I can to achieve my own ballet goals. 

Another goal I am setting for the next year is to continue my psychotherapy training.  I want to take a Life-Coaching course because this sits neatly alongside both counselling and my writing and I can use it to expand both areas. I do it anyway in my self-help writing so I might as well get the qualification for it!  Someone I know from my clinical placement is thinking of setting up a private practice next year and he asked me if I want to work alongside him there, so this is also something I am considering. If I had a Life-Coaching qualification it would mean that we could offer that too, as well as counselling services. 

And once I have finished my clinical hours and got the certificate for my Counselling Diploma in the bag, I can then put together the portfolio of work to support my application for the MA that I want to do.  I'm hoping to begin that next year, in the autumn time.  It will be another iron in the fire.

So I've done a lot since my last birthday, and when my new solar year starts on the 22nd I will have a list of goals all written out, so that I know where I am going and what I want to achieve in the next twelve months.  It is important to know what you want out of life; to have a focus and a direction of travel, with a particular  destination in mind.  Drifting along has never been my style, because it gets you nowhere and you end up feeling like a victim of life, instead of an active participant.  I'm looking forward to another year of busyness, learning, achievement and possibility.


Saturday, 4 November 2017

POET'S CORNER; Love's Philosophy by P B Shelley

Cupid and Psyche

Love's Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the ocean,
The winds of heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single;
All things by a law divine
In one another's being mingle -
Why not I with thine?

See the mountains kiss high heaven
And the waves clasp one another;
No sister flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth,
And the moonbeams kiss the sea;
What are all these kissings worth,
If thou kiss not me?

By Percy Bysshe Shelley

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Its All Coming Back To Me Now

Echoes of the past whisper through the silver mists of an autumn night...its all coming back to me now...ghost rider...


"It was gone with the wind but its all coming back to me...
The flesh and the fantasy all coming back to me now."
xxx

Monday, 30 October 2017

Saturday, 21 October 2017

POET'S CORNER; Beautiful Wings




Beautiful Wings

I gaze no longer at empty horizons
I look no more to the skies
Now turning away
At the dark of each day
To the place where the last hope dies

Enshrouded in a wispy cocoon
I rest and I wait out the storm
Then in plumes of white
And ethereal light
I grow spirit Wings of my own

And I try out the span of my Wings
They're as light and as pure as snow
As they beat with my heart
Shake off dreams torn apart
I am free now to let you go

So I leap out into the void
In peoples darkness, now I am their light
But who holds a candle for me
In the darkness through which I can't see,
When Wings weigh me down in the night?

As I dance with cold winds of the north
On the wing I am one with the dove
Our chance has been lost
I'm an Angel of Frost
A new beginning I'll suffer alone.

By Marie Bruce


Friday, 20 October 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Swan Song

Winter has come for me...is it a dream?


New wings are growing tonight.
xxx

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

POET'S CORNER; From Wounds That Bleed


From Wounds That Bleed

Around, all around the shadows gather

My dread grows as his touch falls against my neck, capturing my fear like a bird in his hand
It slays me, and darkly my life's blood drips to the cold, uncaring tombstones

Wrists that bleed from crimson wounds no-one else can see and now will never heal
In a strange and terrible glee I dance macabre while my doom takes me

Now alone, my soul cries out behind silent, staring eyes
Seeking the shadows for refuge

This is the path on which your love left me
And I am all the stronger because of it. 

By Marie Bruce

Monday, 16 October 2017

SLIPPERS & SKATES; Ice Baby


Last Christmas-time as I sat by the twinkling tree, watching Ice Princess, I decided that I would make returning to ice-skating one of my goals for 2017.  I used to go skating two or three times a week, with lessons and practise sessions and I have certificates for the Skate UK Levels.  I really missed it and it was something I wanted to get back into on a regular basis, so I made it one of my goals for this year.  Today I have achieved that goal and I have just returned home from my very first skate in four and a half years!  

I'm not going to lie - it was pretty nerve-wracking.  I didn't sleep last night due to anxiety about it and my mind was trying to distract me with all the things that could go wrong. But I had a nice message from a pal this morning, which gave my confidence a boost and it was just the pep talk I needed. Then once I got to the rink and got my skates on, I started to feel a lot calmer. My friend was quite right - the first time back is always the hardest. 

My main fear was actually stepping out onto the ice again, but I needn't have been so anxious about it.  As soon as I was on the ice my old training kicked in and I did okay.  I wasn't the best skater by any means, but I wasn't the worst either.  I decided to just take it steady and enjoy the thrill of being back at the rink.  They were playing ballet music, which I love, so this helped to calm my nerves too. 

I'd forgotten how much I love skating, and with arms outstretched like wings, how much it feels like flying when the glide takes hold of you.  In my head I could hear my old coach saying "Glide...be the swan, gliding across the ice"  It was much like riding a bike, in that once you have learnt to do it, it all just comes back to you again and it feels like you've never been away.

I still had some nerves to contend with and there were private lessons going on so there were skaters doing sit-spins and such like around me, which is a bit distracting, but in a good way as its fun to watch.   A couple of hockey players were there too, practising their stop turns and I had to keep an ear out for the dreadful scrunching sound of their hockey skates coming up behind me.  My figure skates sound much nicer - they give a soft whisper as they cut through the ice.  It is a comforting sound and today was mostly for figure skaters anyway. 

For the most part I tried to just concentrate on what I was doing, which was to get a feel for the ice once more and nurture my confidence.  I wanted today to be about feeling comfortable when skating again, so I didn't do any manoeuvres, other than sculling and forward one-foot glides.  The hardest part was maintaining the correct speed - too slow and I'd get wibbly legs; too fast and the blade would bolt away from me like a misbehaved horse - it took me about half an hour to judge the right speed and maintain that. 

I was also very aware of what was going on around me, making sure not to cross the paths of figure skaters having lessons, while giving those skaters who were obviously beginners the space they needed close to the edge.  There is nothing worse when you're a beginner than a fast skater speeding past you too close! I remember it was one of my pet hates when I first started, so I tried to be as considerate to other skaters as possible, while claiming my own space.  I had one slight stumble when I didn't get the correct ballet turn out on my left foot and the toe-pick hit the ice, but it was just a blip in the flow of movement, not a fall, so it didn't knock my confidence, which is good.

On the whole, it was a good skate and I really enjoyed it.  I know it will become a regular part of my life once again, just as it used to be, and I'm already planning which manoeuvres I want to practice next time.  Now that I have finished my college course, I have no excuse not to go skating and I am really looking forward to my next glide on the ice.  I wish I hadn't left it so long, but it is fantastic to be back at the rink, happily skating, chatting, laughing, meeting up with old friends and new.  I had great fun and when I came off the ice I had snow on my blades and my leg-warmers were wet, so I know I worked hard!

So yes, today was a milestone for me and I'm glad I didn't let the anxiety and nervousness get in my way.




MUSICAL DOLL; Going Under

Drowning in you...Going Under



Wake me up inside...Bring me to life


Looking forward to their new album, Synthesis, dropping next month.
xxx

Saturday, 14 October 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Gothic; The Power of Darkness


It is that time of year again when our thoughts turn to 'ghosties and goulies, long leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night'.  It is October and the gothic season is upon us.  It is all rather fun and fabulous and fleeting; a month in the year when we can give ourselves up to spooky films, ghost walks and DVD marathons of Supernatural.   But what happens when the shadows seem to linger a little too long; when the darkness encroaches on your day to day life, pulling you down into a gothic abyss? 

I adore the gothic genre.  Books, music, films, poetry, art, architecture...if it's gothic I love it, whether its a classic novel such as Dracula or contemporary art by Victoria Frances and Anne Stokes.  I love to immerse myself in this world of shadowy enchantment.  But you can have too much of a good thing and the power of darkness draws you in like a magnate.

I studied gothic literature at university and in cultural terms it is a very important genre because it brings to the surface all those issues that society as a whole shies away from.  Death, despair, depression, addiction, mental illness, isolation, incarceration, forbidden love, secrets, trickery, manipulation, illusion, delusion...its all apparent in the gothic genre, which lays it out on the table for all to see...and yet it doesn't tell the truth.

This is because the gothic genre romanticises everything, but there is nothing romantic about watching someone descend into addiction, depression or dementia and fading away before your eyes as they become little more than the shell of the illness which holds them.  Think back to the movie Black Swan, which bears all the hallmarks of classic gothic literature.   The main character, Nina is suffering from mental illness, yet the film portrays this as the spirit of Odille, the black swan, possessing her.  It romanticises Nina's frailty with a supernatural twist, because few people would go to see a film about a girl with a controlling and possibly abusive mother, who experiences delusions and  eventually kills herself!  

The gothic culture is also important because it gives people a place of belonging when their life has become a struggle, or when they feel like outsiders, for whatever reason. Goth culture embraces those individuals which society might shun.  The darkness makes all things beautiful. 

When feeling down, you can turn to this genre for comfort because it doesn't tell you to get a grip and get on with things.  Instead it says "You're depressed? But how marvellous! What does your beautiful darkness look like? Let's turn it into music, a song, a poem, a symphony."  And so you can wallow in the realms of  Edgar Allen Poe or Evanescence and feel that your low mood is completely understood, in a way that no doctor could ever comprehend.  Giving yourself up to the mood in this way can in itself be healing, but it is vital you don't let yourself linger too long.  After all, the main point of experiencing dark nights of the soul is that they lead you back out into the light of a new dawn.  Balance is the key. 

A few years ago I had lots of gothic art in my home.  Prints by Victoria Frances adorned the walls of my study and bedroom; black roses stood in a vase on my desk.  Friends would contribute to this style of decor by giving me gothic calendars and mugs etc for my birthday and at Christmas, usually with the comment "I thought you'd like it because you have gone a bit that way haven't you?"  A wiser, more compassionate friend would have asked why I was suddenly drawn to such images of isolated maidens, wounded and alone, wandering in dark forests, and why I felt my place was among them.  

Then two years ago I had an equally swift and sudden change of heart.  I was tired of the darkness. I realised that enough was enough, for it was no longer doing me any good. I'd had too much of a good gothic thing and I was ready to move back into the light once more. I wanted to make my home lighter, brighter, whiter - I wanted it to sparkle, for the sunshine to bounce around the rooms, reflected in mirrors, sequins and crystals.  I put all the gothic art away and bought sparkling pictures of snow scenes instead.  My home is now a snow-scape of creamy white and sparkles and I love it.  I stopped wearing so much black and went back to the favourite colour of my childhood, dusky pink.  I'd had the dark night of my soul, the gothic genre had helped me through it, but now I was awakening to my new dawn.

The darkness is a beautiful and powerful thing.  Enjoy all that the gothic genre has to offer this dark season...but don't allow it to linger in your life for too long! Blessed Be. 










Friday, 13 October 2017

MUSICAL DOLL; Gothic Romance

Pretty music for the Gothic season...enjoy!

Isn't someone missing me?


And will we ever end up together?


But who can decide what they dream? And dream I do...


xxx

Thursday, 12 October 2017

WRITER'S DREAM; Psychotherapy Writing Success


It has been just over a year since I stopped writing my Wiccan column for Spirit&Destiny magazine.  Everything happens for a reason and as it turns out, I left not a minute too soon, because I was immediately up to my eyes in essays for  my therapeutic counselling diploma.  In the past few months I have written over 40,000 words in psychotherapy essays!  I have been super stressed-out and when the course ended in July, I was glad to see the back of it, but I did feel a little cut adrift.

With no column to write and no essays to focus on, I had time on my hands to wonder if I'd done the right thing in deciding to switch genres.  Yes, the Mind, Body, Spirit genre isn't nearly so lucrative as it once was, but maybe any writing was better than no writing at all and I felt like I was in a writing desert.   

To add to this, there were major changes going on within the publishing and media houses I work with - changes that had nothing to do with me and which were beyond my control.  For instance, my favourite long term editor decided that she would retire this year.  Losing an editor you've worked well with for years is always traumatic for a writer, because it could mean that the new editor won't support your work in the same way.  Writers need editors to champion our ideas at board meetings - without the editor rooting for us, writers would never get published, so it's imperative that a writer has an editor who is totally on side and supportive of our creativity and ideas.  When that editor leaves, there is always a chance that the new editor will bring in her own pet-writers. 

At the same time, a re-shake of the entire media house was going on, with magazines being out-sourced and editors switching from one magazine to another.  This does happen periodically, but it means that most commissions are put on hold until the changes have been made.   To add to the confusion, one of my book publishing houses was in the long process of merging with another house.  So it was all going on at the same time and freelance work was very slow.  

I had all the same feelings that any writer has when the work is going through a lull; feeling that maybe that was it and I would never receive another commission; that I would never write another word;  that I should have stuck with MBS and been grateful for it, unless the genre disappeared altogether.  In my mind, the words of  all the naysayers of my past were coming back to me - how I'd just been 'very lucky', or 'it's just a hobby' and how it was all just 'a flash in the pan'.  Fortunately for me, I didn't believe them back then and I certainly don't believe them now, after 20 successful years in publishing!  But it was a very anxious year and I had to be extremely firm with myself to keep the faith that something would change for the better soon. 

I really needed my holiday in the Highlands!  The mountain air, the space, the freedom of the place, all helped to clear my head and keep my spirits up.  While I was there, I decided to cast a sea spell in Oban Bay, because it never hurts to have a good dose of magic on your side! As soon as I'd cast the spell, I felt an immediate shift of energy and I knew that the spell had worked.  I gave thanks and walked along the esplanade back to my hotel on the sea-front.  It was a beautiful September evening and I felt a gathering sense of optimism growing within me. 

A few days after my return home I received a new freelance commission, for a psychotherapy feature, which marks the continuation of my switch in genres and the beginning of a whole new publishing outlet.    I am now writing for a new editor, with a new media house, for a new look magazine.  It is great to know that I am making the cross-over into more therapy based writing, and that my reputation as a reliable contributor of MBS is actually helping me to make this switch in saleable writing expertise.  

Yes, switching genres is a bit like starting all over again and it will take time to build a firm publishing platform and body of work in this area. But I have so much enthusiasm for this kind of writing, because I enjoy making it unique, with its own style. It is a relief to know that I have new editorial support for this style of work and for my ideas in general.  

I have mentioned that, in the past, certain individuals have tried to throw a spanner in the works with my editors at Spirit&Destiny, and that I had made plans to work with a whole different publishing outlet; one that those individuals know nothing about, in order to prevent their spitefulness having any adverse effect on my writing career.  

Well now I have achieved that goal.  Spitefulness isn't enough to stop me.  I love to write.  It's my job and what I get paid to do.  And now I am writing features in my new genre of psychotherapy, for a new media publishing house and building up a working relationship with a lovely new editor.  I got exactly what I wanted.  But then, I always do!  So here's to a whole new chapter in my writing career...I'd better crack on with it. 
Invictus