"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.


Wednesday, 26 July 2017

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Spirit-Work


"No aspect of your life is insignificant to the angels; nothing is too small for their compassion, care and celestial assistance. So whether you are up and coming or down and out, getting hitched or getting ditched, the angels know all about it and they are there to help you through it."
Angel Craft and Healing by Marie Bruce

When I wrote Angel Craft and Healing back in 2007, it was my ninth title and the culmination of a very happy partnership with my original publisher.  I knew it was the perfect title to end with, and although I was already contracted to my second publisher for The Wiccan Temptress, I knew then that I didn't want to write any more Wiccan books.  I'd written ten books in a few short years, plus the annual updates for The Witch's Almanac, so I felt that it was time to take a break from books and concentrate on the Moon Chants album I was composing and the magazine work, including my original column with Spirit&Destiny

How strange it is that now, ten years later, I have come full circle and I am once again working with the angels, but in a completely different way.  Because it seems to me that while Wicca and witchcraft are earth-work - by that I mean that they are attuned with nature and bound by the four elements of earth, air, fire and water - psychotherapy is more akin to spirit-work, or angel-work.

As a counsellor I am constantly dealing with intangibles; thoughts, feelings, confidence, responsibility, associations etc.  I am helping people to come to terms with all the fleeting moments of time and the ephemeral emotions that are the basis of being human; helping them to accept that nothing lasts forever and change is inevitable.  
This is spirit-work and it is especially the case in grief counselling.  It is spirit-work because it is intangible - it cannot be packaged and sold as a product or taken as medicine; rather it is something that evolves in the relationship between the client and the counsellor - both parties need to be fully present in the room if the practise is to be effective.  And due to the nature of this kind of work, it can frequently feel as if I have one foot on the ground and the other in the celestial realms of the angels!

In a way, it feels like a very natural progression of my magical path, but angel-work isn't something that I ever set out to do. I enjoyed writing about the topic, but I never planned to walk a spirit-path in such a hands on way - I was happy enough with the spell-craft.  So it has taken me somewhat by surprise but I can  feel that I am working in the Light when I am in consultation with clients.  It is rather strange and lovely, a bit like the first time I ever cast a spell that worked - there is that same feeling of awe and wonder about it all.  

It is also quite a relief.  When I first considered doing grief work I was concerned that I might find it too sad, too depressing or just too overwhelming.  It isn't though, because it isn't really about death - it is a death that brings people to grief counselling, but I try to make the sessions themselves very life-affirming - for me, it is about helping people to live again, beyond the loss of a loved one. Again, in a magical sense, that comes down to spirit-work, guiding people through their own personal darkness and bringing the light back into their lives once more.  

Spiritually I feel as if I have just been boosted up to the next level of a magical computer game!  It feels as if I have achieved all that I wanted to and needed to as a witch, passed on my witchy knowledge for the next generation via my books, and now I have been lifted to a completely different kind of task as a Light-Worker. I have the same kind of awe and resistance to it that Paige has in Charmed, when she is forced to embrace her White-Lighter side but all she really wants to do is cast spells and be a witch.  I feel a bit like that too, in that I chose to be a witch, but this is something else that I hadn't really bargained on and didn't ask for! 

So far, the spirit messages have been on hold, which I'm grateful for!  I have passed spirit messages onto people in the past, but it has never happened with a client.  Again, this is something of a relief, as it is a side of magic that I don't embrace - I don't want the floodgates to open! So I keep it under wraps as much as I can, but I am aware that it has happened in the past and it will probably happen again in the future at some point.  I am taking it as one of the angelic signs that I have been brought to this place in my life for a reason - to help others. 

I firmly believe that you wouldn't have a talent or a gift if you weren't meant to use it. It can take time to get comfortable with a magical gift, to learn how to tap into it and embrace its power in a safe way, but you wouldn't have been given it if it was more than you could handle.  You just need to allow yourself time to figure out how to use it well. Slow and steady always wins the race!

In a way it feels like a rebirth - I need to take baby-steps as I find my way around this new level of magical living, this new spiritual environment, this new type of responsibility.  It all supports the theory that I've had for some time; that I have been through a transitional period and my life was in the process of receiving a cosmic make-over.  Now I think that I am just beginning to emerge from the other side - the light at the end of the tunnel is angelic and I begin to feel a new sense of purpose. I have no idea where the Light leads, but I am at the stage now where I am willing to follow it, saying "Show me, teach me, tell me, lead me"  - I am trying to surrender to it, which is not something that comes easily or naturally to me, as I prefer to be in control.  

But I am more open to the idea of surrender than I have been before - I just want to see what could happen next because I have a deep trust that it will be something wonderful! A new beginning. A fresh start.  I feel a new sense of calm and inner peace. My stress levels  have decreased somewhat. I now feel that acceptance is the key to power - saying yes rather than no, being open rather than closed off, embracing adventure and opportunity rather than dismissing chance for fear of risk - these are the things I will try to surrender to from now on, just to see where they lead.  For if you don't take even the first small step, you will never get anywhere - and I am the kind of person who likes to feel that they are constantly moving forward in life. 

Finally, it all begins to make more sense to me. I know once more what path I am on, what my new role is and I am ready to embrace it.  I feel that my sense of trust in Spirit has been renewed and that I am safe to trust the journey and just go with it, knowing that it will all work out for the best...in faith, trust and angel dust!
Blessed Be.
Angel Craft and Healing



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

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Vendetta


Look what you made me do...

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?

xoxo

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.