These are my musings and observations on my daily life, loves and the laughter that are all a part of my experience of living now in the shires of England.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Tears - poetry by Maya Angelou


The crystal rags
Viscous tatters
of a worn-through soul.

Deep swan song
Blur farewell
of a dying dream.

Maya Angelou

Monday, 30 May 2011

Tinted vision

Months ago I decided to start painting some areas of the house. And, I did just that. I moved furniture, pictures and curtains and I painted. When I had completed the work I put some of the things back and the rest have either gone or are waiting to go to new homes.

I was pleased with my efforts - indeed I still am pleased with them.

So imagine my surprise when it came to my attention that something I thought I had painted was still the original colour. How did I miss that? I thought I had done a thorough job but weeks after the painting paraphernalia had been put away I noticed a yellow piece of wood amongst all the newly painted white bits.

It literally came to light one morning. All that was necessary for me to see this oversight was the correct lighting and the right perception.

When I saw it I immediately realised what I had done; I knew that I had painted when it was getting late in the day, with a yellowish light overhead (I know, it all sounds obvious now!) and I therefore had the perfect set up to obtain a tinted vision that obscured what was directly in front of me. The piece of wood appeared to have been covered in brilliant white paint but it remained yellow all this time.

Now with the right conditions I could plainly see what had always been in front of me. If the sun had not been shining right then, or my eyes had been focused elsewhere then I never would have seen what I had so easily omitted.

Without the right conditions then my painting in the dark would have seemed fine.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Water-Front Streets - Poetry by Langston Hughes

Water-Front Streets

The spring is not so beautiful there –

But dream ships sail away

To where the spring is wondrous rare

And life is gay.

The spring is not so beautiful there –

But lads put out to sea

Who carry beauties in their hearts

And dream, like me.

Langston Hughes

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Border Line - Poetry by Langston Hughes

Border Line

I used to wonder
About living and dying-
I think the difference lies
Between tears and crying.

I used to wonder
About here and there-
I think the distance
Is nowhere.

Langston Hughes

Friday, 27 May 2011

Unwanted information

I have already written about those people who say, “I have to say ...” despite you not wanting to hear anything from them. They can be annoying. They can upset you. They can really hurt you when you are at your most vulnerable.

Because I have already waxed on about them I won’t do it again right now. But, I have to say ... (and this may appear to be coming from the other side of the coin) at the right time and in the right manner releasing information can be like having a boulder lifted off your arm.

If one part of you is trapped then it is impossible to move from your location until you either cut off the limb or you find a way to release it.

Once released the blood slowly flows back into your extremities, and even though there may be damage you can begin to feel like your whole self again.

When I practised this just named ‘release and be free’ exercise recently – not using a direct confrontational speech, because I’m not particularly comfortable with that, I experienced a sense of relief and the easing of a tremendous pressure. I used a seedsowers approach to distribution; however, there is one major problem with this method: you never know - until harvest - if you hit stony or fertile ground, all you know for sure is that the seed has left your hand.

I just hope that what I released was not unwanted information. There would be nothing worse that the information appearing, say as a child may turn up on the doorstep of her unseen biological father after decades, announcing “I’m yours, can you love me? I’ve loved you all the time I’ve known about you – I have this picture of you. See ...”, and expecting a miraculous union.

I have never experienced flight in a hot air balloon but when I felt release that’s what I imagined it would feel like. I had a sense of weightlessness and freedom. And the best thing of all was that because I had dared to share – in the best way I knew how, I was simultaneously wrapped in a sheen of hope: it was a delicious feeling.

Cynics say that miracles never happen but I experienced one right then.

I felt that there was hope for a different beginning. I felt happiness because I wasn’t restricted by fear; I had broken free.

It is a peculiar emotional state to be in, because it has been so unfamiliar to me, but I like it and I plan to keep hold of it.

Feeling this good, particularly if one can achieve it without hurting others, is well worth taking the chance of reaching out to hope and pushing the boulder of fear down the mountainside.

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words - and never stops at all."

Emily Dickinson

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Moving on

It takes different people different amounts of time to move on. I have concluded that moving on from a relationship can be amazingly easy or devilishly difficult depending on your emotional connection at the time of its conclusion.

Often you leave a relationship because you are suffocating but you may leave a relationship because you feel you are drowning in totally unchartered emotional waters. I have never been a strong swimmer, physically or emotionally, however, when I love people but I know that right at that point I cannot be with them then I will even swim away from them to save both of us despite the fact that every stroke is breaking my heart and making my arms heavier than lead. The constant love makes me move in ungainly strokes that may just achieve my objectives.

It does not matter how far away I get, I will never forget them. And those memories must remain private. Intrusion into their current life is not an act of love.

I know that time and circumstances change people, however, I believe that some attractions remain true despite the distance or the time. The important thing is to know if they are valid for both people in the relationship, otherwise it really is time to complete the moving on exercise.

Sometimes, even when we cannot see the way out, we have to step away from where we are and keep moving forwards. I have done this. It was not without pain, but it was easier than I had imagined for all the time I was emotionally disabled and over compromised. I stepped forward and found a window that led to happiness.

This is an extract from some of my thoughts once I was free to be myself ... to be different to whom I was pretending to be and to accept that I wanted something different in my life. I wanted the pleasure of love and desire. I wanted to be free from emotional disability; I wanted to be able to express all of me - if I wanted to.

Like dormant volcanoes you can stay silent for so long but the eruption into life will come eventually. When a person is continually denied self-expression they will either give up and die or stand up and fight for their life: I chose to fight.

I experienced living in an oasis of self-belief when I was alone with my friends or some members of my family. The travelling time to them was blissful. That should not have been the case. The return journey always saw tension stabbing its way into my neck and shoulders as I anticipated my cold welcome back.

One day I just said that it was over and I needed ‘something different’ in my life.

An unsent letter to … my ex.

When I told you of my decision to end our relationship it was almost as much of a shock for me hearing it out aloud as it must have been for you hearing it at all. Although I know that we both knew for a long time that neither of us was happy. I have lacked honesty in dealing with my feelings towards you and for that I’m sorry. You deserve better. You deserve to know the facts.

... My desire is to desire and experience the desire ... It was though I had been voluntarily drugged (I craved simple and mutual love and desire and I found it elsewhere) and each time my fix started to wear off I went back for more.

Everything has its due time and our partnership has run its course. The good times were there in the past but now ‘I need something different.’

I need to be me.

So, this is my advice to you, dear reader – these things I have learnt from plenty of experience: don’t become lost in your own life. If you ever feel the desperation for change make sure you address it because you could, like me, deny yourself so much that you empower other people to take control over you. Then you will never have the experience of peace, and love is no longer an element of the relationship. The only thing that you are sharing is a sense of suffocation in a daily nightmare.

It’s time to move on.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Nature watch

Happiness is sitting in the evening sunshine watching a vixen and her three cubs playing in the hedges. The cubs play with each other and run and roll without fear. They chase birds that alight near them. They are curious about everything.

As I walk slowly forward to the fence to observe them, the mother goes onto high alert and, with ears pricked up, she faces me head on. She looks directly at me, daring me to do her cubs any harm. They have picked up on her sense of potential danger and have moved their play closer to where she is rooted to the ground. But still they play.

She watches me as I watch her. Then she slowly slinks away along the border of the trees. Her three cubs obediently follow her.

I continue to watch them. She continues to watch me. The cubs have no interest in me.

They are learning how to be ... themselves in this environment. Nature ... watching.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Children quickly settle in the ego state: everything is about them. Look at me! Watch me. Come here! They like to perform and they like to have an audience.

It is widely said that this shameless exhibitionism carries on into the full flush of youth. A time when the child has realised their own knowledge and power and still craves constant attention.

I know many adults who are what people call ‘shrinking violets’ or ‘wall-flowers’ and they would do anything rather than have any prolonged amount of focus on them. I have been known to inhabit that persona once in a while – especially when I am feeling uncomfortable.

This led me to thinking (I seem to be doing a lot of that lately) about what ego-age I would refer to myself as being at any given time.

When I am needy ... I need care and comfort: I am a toddler.

When I am sad ... I want you to see me and make things better: I am a child.

When I am confused ... I want you to ignore me (a bit): I am an adult morphing into a child.

When I am afraid ... I want to know you see but know that you won’t focus directly on me: I am a pre-teen.

I am all of these ages, all of the time. Sometimes I am an extrovert but often I want peace and quiet. Sometimes I am flamboyant than again I can be horribly reserved. At all times I am different ego ages.

What age are you right now?

Monday, 23 May 2011


Thinking about messages.

If your actions are a message, if your life is a message, what message are you sending right now? How do I transform myself into the message of myself?

Is my life message valuable and does it have anything extraordinary to impart to the receivers?

Is there anyone capable of receiving and understanding my message in its current form? Do I need to change my message and its delivery?

What messages am I looking for from the people I meet? Maybe a similar level of exceptional being that they may look for in me?

How nice it is to see in the eyes of another person that the message has been received and understood. How pleasant it is to hear from the lips of another person that all is clearly absorbed.

Message delivery complete.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

It's constant

I can think of at least three avenues to the same feeling:

A - Having never known something yet still having the feeling that something important is missing in your life – there is a gap.

B – Having briefly experienced a sense of completion and then letting it go before fully understanding it – the void will always be painful.

C – Having a close relationship with someone or something that is suddenly removed from your sphere – the bottom drops out.

All of these lead to a feeling of constant absence.

Ms Angry?

I have no desire to shout at people, but apparently I have done this twice in the past few weeks. This may not sound at all strange to you but for me it is ‘out of character’. It appears I may have to be recast as ‘Ms Angry’ if this disturbing trend (do two instances make a trend?) continues.

The first time was when I politely asked a man to stop putting leaflets through my door, on my car and all the cars in my street – he smiled, then ignored me and carried on regardless. I repeated my request, this was also ignored. Then I called the number on one of the leaflets and registered my concern at this behaviour and this is when I was told that I raised my voice for the first time. Both people I talked to seemed to think that I had not right to object to their intrusion into my personal space. They were wrong in my opinion, and I told them so.

The next occurrence was when I attempted to return a faulty item to Curry’s electrical store and the customer service representative was just plain rude and dismissive of everything that I had to say. He was not just surly to me this behaviour was also shared with his colleagues – so I don’t feel as if I was singled out for special treatment. However, I chose not to accept it and told him so. He laughed at me.

I did not join him in laughter. Instead I told him that just ignoring me and walking up and down the store with my information was not acceptable. From my initial contact with him I knew there was a possibility of trouble. He literally elbowed his colleague out of the way, then took my receipt and guarantee and walked off. First he spoke to a colleague nearby, then he walked past me – ignored me – and wandered off around the store leaving me with no idea of what he was doing or how long I would have to wait. I did waited patiently but after many other customers had arrived, been dealt with and left I was still waiting.

Then he sauntered back and said that he couldn’t do anything about the faulty item. He smirked as he said it and pushed the receipt across the counter towards me.

This is when I, apparently, shouted again. I think that I just spoke firmly – at least that’s what it sounded like in my head. I know that I am capable of shouting as I have done so on two rather memorable and sad occasions in my life – I didn’t like either of them and shiver at the memory because I really was Ms Angry then because my back had been broken by too many straws of abuse.

In the end another, more senior member of staff, came and dealt with the problem more satisfactorily and sent this surly character away.

In these recent instances I was just mildly perturbed, I don’t think I was even approaching feeling annoyance yet; there was a definite difference between these times and the straw back-breaking moments. I think all I wanted was to ascertain some semblance of understanding between myself and the person I was talking to. I guess I spoke in clipped tones and in a register different to my normal calm voice; hence it was catalogued as shouting by the hearers.

I just like customer service to do what it says on the tin, that’s all!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Mafia with crosses

I offer no apologies for this piece.

I am going to talk about an O.C.G. That is not an Organised Crime Group – like the Mafia, but an Organised Christian Group (although this applies equally as well to all O.R.G.’s – Organised Religious Groups).

To see if you are paying attention there will be a spot quiz at the end. Ready? Good, let’s proceed.

O.C.G. 101

Characteristics of an O.C.G.:

It is a form of government or governance that controls territories and processes.

It has an element of the state within its structure.

The O.C.G. has a hierarchical structure for the ease of monitoring and controlling its members.

The O.C.G. operates a system of totalitarian governance.

It has a strict code of behaviour.

The O.C.G. has a ritual for the initiation of new members.

It bestows new names upon full members when they enter the fellowship of the organisation; this new name marks the start of a new life. Links to the former existence is severed when the new identity is given.

It has rules of ‘proper’ behaviour.

It has a specific dress code.

Members of the O.C.G. must learn the distinct language of their particular O.C.G. in order to distinguish themselves from members of other O.C.G.’s.

Members must have allegiance to the O.C.G.’s world-view.

The O.C.G. has its own court and judgement system to deal with its members’ perceived wrongdoings or misbehaviours.

It metes out punishment without sanction; it cannot be questioned.

It uses its influence to penetrate politics and the judiciary to enhance its interest.

The O.C.G. operates on a currency of power and fear.

Local branches of the O.C.G. have families that rule all of the decision making process.


So those are the main points for this section. You will, however, be required to spend some time in reflection and you must apply these characteristics to any organisation that you believe may be an O.C. G. – what you do next is up to you.

The characteristics that I have listed above belong to the mafia. They also belong – without exception – to many churches that I have observed, including the one I attend.

If you do not believe me I suggest that you infiltrate your local O.C.G. and report back with your individual findings. A word of caution, the organisation is formidable and does not take kindly to any attempt to make changes from within. After an extended period of field research you may decide to convert or try to leave and become affiliated to another O.C.G. – this is, of course, easier said than done.

In many churches – as with the mafia - the rights of citizens are not recognised. The church will go against the law of the government of the country and impose its own beliefs on citizens. Within this environment there is no appeal to justice. Churches regularly, and openly, flout the law of equality, especially with regard to sexuality, and there is no right of appeal for justice within the organisation. The churches frequently operate outside the legal rules that bind ordinary organisations and its actions effectively declare that it sees the state as redundant. The church operates in its own world, its own underworld.

My question at the end of this short session on O.C.G.s 101 is why are churches so much like the mafia?

Do they feel they have some kind of monopoly on God? Or do they think they are God? I suppose within their O.C.G. they really are.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Masquerade ball

When I went to Italy some years ago I was particularly fascinated by the masks that I encountered in both Verona and Venice; I think most tourist like me were.

We crowded around the stalls and handled the various offering with small cries of delight and wonder. Many people quickly grasped them and immediately assumed a different persona once their face was hidden behind the mask.

The onlookers also took up their roles in the masquerade. As the masked person pranced around with exaggerated movements the audience accepted the new identity that was portrayed.

What I have learnt from this experience – and from living a life that wasn’t mine – was that whenever someone wears a mask all ensuing expressions must be conveyed by the body as the real face is obscured. The mask has an effect on both the wearer and the beholder.

The mask may give anonymity or it may give a new identity.

At the end of the day, it is still a mask; it’s not the real person.

Life should not be a continual masquerade ball – after all even the best masquerade ball comes to an end at some stage.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Man up, bird!

I got to thinking today about a situation where, if I were a man, it would have been said that I ‘manned up’. But as I’m not a man I also wondered what the female equivalent was:

Imagine a French lesson if you will:

Today we are talking about rising to the occasion,

(for some strange reason this phrase has elicited images of obelisk-type structures in my mind – go figure)

Now class, stop talking amongst yourself, pay attention please - the masculine form of this verb shown here on the board is ‘manning up’ and the feminine version is ‘womanning up’...

It doesn’t quite have the right ring to it does it? Womanning up?

I was talking with a friend today and after I had laughed until my chest hurt we spoke about some serious matters that were important to each of us individually. One of mine had to do with me doing something that I had been afraid of for a while. My friend – who sometimes says next to nothing but it still amuses me because of the way he says it – has the ability to see positivity and potential in so many things and while we were flitting from topic to topic as friends do in conversations he came up with the phrase that seemed to fit the bill rather well. He suggested that what I did was to ‘bird up’ – I think it was him that suggested it but as I like the phrase more and more I’m beginning to rewrite the conversation in my memory and I’m almost certain that it was me who first aired this phrase ...

Anyway, it was born in the delights of a wonderful moment of sharing the truth about where I had been and why I had changed. I accepted that I had risen to the occasion – like a phoenix rising from the ashes, and I have continued to face reality in my life. So, here I am being strong and being brave. It’s conversations like these that remind me that I do have confidence to do what needs to be done.

If as if at that stressful time I thought to myself, “Man up, bird!” And I responded by doing just that.

Saturday, 14 May 2011


I think I’ve got a problem with persuasion as I seem to have spoken about it quite a lot lately. If it’s not someone persuading me then it’s me persuading myself out of something – or into something.

The only down side is that I know that if I can be persuaded one way or another then I really don’t have any self-confidence in my own opinion. How sad is that? Do you feel for me? I hope so because I’m only writing this to elicit cries of “Poor Marj!” “Bless her,” and other comments in a similar vein. Has it worked?

I was tempted to think that I didn’t really know what I believed but the truth is I really do. I am sure on this matter. So, if you did share some sympathetic words for my perceived plight I thank you from the depths of my heart. When I was in a temporary flux (between the fifth and sixth line of this blog) I could have been persuaded to believe that my life was following similar plot lines as those in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I am sure nothing quite as dramatic is happening and that maybe I am blowing things out of all proportion to the reality that I am in.

My final thought on this is that when you feel something on both mental and physical planes, then you really do know, don’t you?

I think I can be persuaded that this is true.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Comfortable visibility

Social media is about visibility. We chose an identity and decide the level of accessibility that we want to allow. I am letting you know ... this much about this topic; this is what we more or less say. It may be what we think, what we know or even what we hope will be in the future. Any way that it happens we choose the level that we are comfortable with.

In real life we neither want to be ignored or noticed too much; we don’t want to stand out from the crowd, indeed we want to conform to the standards of the crowd.

An online identity is about being uniquely different from everyone else. Being able to manipulate your image is like decorating your home: it reflects how you feel right now. Like Gok Wan

or Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen

you choose your own level of comfortable visibility.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Some people ...

Once in a while I just want to be alone with my thoughts, to enjoy a quiet walk and to mind my own business. Alas, my face seems to be giving another message to people. They seek me out of a crowd, they smile with me, nod at me and then they have the audacity to engage me in conversation.

Wait a minute, that means that I also talk to them, doesn’t it? OK. So maybe I really do want to spend time with all these random people I meet in my daily journeys, it’s just that I didn’t know it.

Anyway, it appears that one of my morning contacts thinks I’m quite a good laugh and a bright and happy person (no idea where he got that misconception from) because he spied me from a long way off and headed directly for me with a purposeful stride. Then he planted his feet with the air of someone who was making himself comfortable for the duration.

I smiled and settled in to a comfortable stance myself as he told me the stories that had peppered his life since we last met. Phil had been on holiday with his wife, his dog has been in the kennels – but without any ill-effects this time, and he has been flirting his 69 year old self around the hotels of the Devon coast. His cheeky grin accompanied the sparkle in his eyes as he told me of his exploits with a Polish employee and the extra profiteroles he gained just from sharing a smile and a few nice words with her each day.

As a parting salvo he mentioned that most people on the coach tour were a pleasure to be around, but there was this one woman who never had a smile or a nice word to say to anyone.

“Some people,” he said, “they’re just like snow at harvest!”

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

My broken dream

I didn’t know I was dreaming but I was. It felt real to me and there I was dying to hear the answer to the question, instead I was woken from my slumbers. I didn’t want to be awake right then, I wanted to know. I still do.

Waking up from my dream was like reading through a book and finding the last few pages have been unceremoniously ripped from the binding. I remain devastated.

I had asked, “Do you want me to stay or go?” And then I was yanked from the room where she was. It felt as if I was deep sea diving and the ascent was too quick. I struggled to reconnect with my familiar surroundings in the dream but my new environment of my bedroom was suddenly alien to me.

I wanted to cry. I really wanted to know if she needed me, if she wanted me, if she was choosing me to be with her instead of the other person in the room. She knew I would do whatever was best for her – that’s always been the way between us.

We were alone in the room together when one of her relatives had burst in and had just confronted her, after which she had flung herself to the floor in anguish. By now she was across the room from me, but I went to her and stooping down I gently held her head in my lap. Her beautiful eyes remained as closed as her entire body. I couldn’t read her at all.

I knew what the connection was like with her family, and I didn’t want any confrontation. However, I would have stayed if she nodded, said a small word or even squeezed my hand. I would have faced wild animals for her but ... I never got the answer.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Stuff, stuff and more stuff

I feel sick. This is not a physical sickness (unless tiredness counts) but I feel sick of stuff.

As I continue on my redecorating spree I realise how much stuff I have. I am trying to use my own de-cluttering steps and, so far, it is working a treat. However, I do have the occasional pang of “Oh, I shouldn’t give that away because X gave it to me,” or “I’m sure I could find somewhere else to put that object-Y”.

The other day I even got rid of something. I was attached to it in a number of ways (none of them physical as I’m not Spiderman or any other super hero, but I digress) – this thing, this object-Y was a gift and I appreciated receiving it – it suited my home.

Nonetheless, in a rash moment of ‘I-can-do-what-I-said-I would bravado’ I said to an unexpected visitor, “Do you want this?” I retrieved object-Y from where I had lovingly stored it and displayed it to her. She loved it and agreed to take it immediately. When she drove away with it in her car I experienced what can only be described as panic.

What was I doing? Could I really let it go? How would I explain it to X?

I text my recipient and explained my dilemma.

She understood and said she’d return it.

Then, I breathed.

In that moment of breathing I let something go.

The past. My heavy and negative attachment to the past was released. A section of my past story had been like

This time I felt braver so I called my friend and told her that I had made the right decision initially and object-Y was hers to keep.

She laughed at me and said, “Make your mind up!” I laughed along with her as I knew that I had permanently decided to move forward.

“Seriously,” I chortled, “it’s yours. Enjoy it. It’s lovely, but it’s not for me anymore.”

“I know you have a sentimental attachment to it,” she said kindly. (She knows this part of my story.)

“Yeah,” I acknowledged, “but that’s OK. It’s time to let X go now.”

“If you’re sure ...”

“I am. Thanks for understanding,” I still felt sure of my move, “it’s the right thing to do,” I concluded.

And that was it.

Apart from those 5 minutes when I was in total flux everything I have decided to get rid off has gone smoothly.

The things I can’t give to friends will continue to go to the charity shops or to be recycled somehow. There really is no point in me keeping them. They could seriously have become millstones around my neck if I let them. Instead I am enjoying the feeling of rolling freely down the hillside.

Friday, 6 May 2011


Some days I look back and struggle to remember what specific things I had achieved in that day. I know that I was doing things – all the time, but the exact nature of those ‘things’ often evades me.

Then I look back on a day like today and I know exactly what I have been doing.

Over the past month or so I have been making positive changes in my living environment. This includes painting and shifting things. On the days that I have been at home this week I have marvelled at the amount I have accomplished. And this is all because I wake up with a plan, I stick to the plan (maybe with some minor, minor tweaking as I go along) and I fulfil the plan.

I am able to look back at my work and feel proud at the amount I have done each day. The newly painted spaces have a sense of a new beginning and I am always ready for that.

Concentration on the task in hand can get the job done quicker.

An optional extra, that is a bit like topping on a cake, is when someone sees what you have done and says, “Awesome!” with obvious enthusiasm.

Concentration on the task in hand is sometimes like a double harvest – the extra crop resembles a whetting stone and the whole experience sharpens your attitude for positive living – just like friends do.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Body language

It speaks even when you don’t.

With all the coverage of the Royal Wedding there have been commentators who see and hear everything. They imagine what is going on, and in some case they know what the participants are saying because of the lip-reading skills they employ.

Before and after the wedding body language experts were on hand to tell us all the things we couldn’t hear or imagine. They told of the deep and genuine affection between Prince William and Catherine Middleton – to be honest, they weren’t needed to share what was obvious: anyone could see that this couple have deep positive feelings for each other.

The same happiness was evident in another ceremony I attended recently. Love is beautiful to behold.

Peaceful expression, relaxed behaviour, genuine affection – these things do not need a body language expert to interpret them.

With so much joy in the air it is a bit surprising that I found myself drawn to pictures that were taken of me in December 2005. I remember what I felt at the time but even if I didn’t the pictures tell the story (I also recall why I refused to have pictures taken of me for so many years – as a photographer I know what the camera says, and it is true: it does not lie [unless you use photoshop!])

My pictures were untouched but it appears nobody else ever questioned how I was feeling at that time. The anxiety, negative thoughts, sense of vulnerability, fear and uncertainty were scattered through those photographs like confetti.

I love the science of body language.

It speaks even when I can’t.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Unrealistic dreams and realistic nightmares

It’s like this at the moment ... I wake up way too early, that is I wake up before the alarm goes off and I can’t get to sleep again. It’s the same time every morning and it’s getting beyond a joke now. The problem is I’m too tired to get up and do something constructive so I have to lie in bed for the rest of my supposed sleep time until I have mustered up enough energy to get out of bed.

I’m a bit like a dynamo light, not much to start with but once you get me going in the morning then there’s no stopping me. Some strange phenomena in my brain has decided that my awakening time needs to be altered. I wouldn’t mind so much if it was an hour’s shift – taking me back to GMT or even to another time zone because then I could adjust the rest of my day accordingly. No, this alteration in my body clock has decided on a 40 minute shift. Random? It seems so to me, but it is regular like clockwork in its randomness.

It may have something to do with the dreams that I seem to been inhabiting recently. Maybe they are too unrealistic and in my subconscious mind I feel the need to come back to a different reality earlier than planned.

I was too befuddled to think about it in any depth in the early throes of the dawn but later on in the day, as I was walking between appointments, the thought came to me that maybe having an ‘unrealistic dream’ is not a bad thing.

Too often in the past I’ve had the tendency to dream small and my expectations were easily attained. Now

When people say to you that you are being unrealistic maybe they are saying that your dreams are beyond their understanding. Although my dreams have seemed more real that my journey back to consciousness I have enjoyed my dream time because it is a fresh reminder that what others consider unrealistic dreams are better for me that the living reality of a realistic nightmare. The dreams stretch my belief in my capabilities and open up hidden possibilities. I feel alert, awake and active in my dreams. It is a strange thing to feel vibrantly alive and then realise that you have been sleeping through it all.

I will constantly strive for the experience of my dreams – even when I am too tired to roll myself out of the bed in the morning (maybe because I've been pedalling my dynamo light in my dreams), because I know that the previous limitations, imposed by myself and others, only lead to a far too realistic nightmare that lasts way longer than 40 minutes of any day.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Good viewing?

I like a good TV programme and my TV hard drive will show you the ones that I really like to watch. I have recently watched some amazing films such as Temple Grandin, The Kingdom, and series like The Secret Caribbean with Sir Trevor McDonald; I also had a series link on Monk (for years) and I am currently recording the first series of Six Feet Under – I know! What a variety bag.

Some of these programmes make me laugh, think and sometimes cry.

I’ve been told that I cry a lot when I see emotive things on the screen. They could be happy tears or sad tears, but they usually flow in empathy for the feelings displayed on the TV.

Something really odd happened to me a few months ago, it was in February I think, I settled down to watch a pre-recorded drama that had had a suitably big build up by the producers. I was expecting an intriguing story but I got something totally different.

Within 10 minutes of watching the programme I found that I was almost howling with despair; I could not believe what I had seen in front of me. Through the unexpected tears I managed to find the remote control and rewound the recording to check that this was the correct programme.

I was watching The Promise, broadcast by Channel 4 earlier this year and the images on the screen so distressed me that I was unable to focus or register the scenes until I had watched them about three times. At first I thought it was actors but then I realised that this was actual real newsreel from the Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen in 1945. The Jewish people shown on the screen were so emaciated I had trouble believing that they were real. Those who were not yet dead – and many thousands lay dead on the ground – were in such a bad condition that you could almost see through them.

I saw them cling to life. I saw some who had obviously just died because they couldn’t breathe any more. I saw their bodies being dragged, carried and dumped into open pits. The ones not moved by hand were pushed along unceremoniously by bulldozers into mass graves. The bones that held the small amount of flesh that remained tore like fragile rice paper as they fell.

I wept copiously.

Each time I remember those scenes I shiver in horror and the same thing happens when I see what devastating harm one man can inflict upon another man. I was only a witness through the television screen over 60 years after the event and still I felt the impact of their painful existence.

War inevitably brings about death. It is always horrible.

After the events of the past day, as I hear about people celebrating death, I have found myself thinking about this programme again and I still can’t find anything to smile about when I think of death as a result of war.

Monday, 2 May 2011

It's all in your head

That’s right. It is all in your head. At least that’s where it starts. We think things into existence. We have a thought then we have an action (or is that the other way around?), somewhere thoughts and actions are connected and our thinking becomes more than firing neurons in our brains.

The problem that I sometimes have is that I get over concerned with what other people are thinking about ... me. It bothers me. In reality it bothers me much less now than it used to but there is still a small area of my brain that thinks about what people are thinking about me. Does that make sense?

However small (or large) that area of thought intense brain activity is what I have come to realise is that I can’t control what other people are thinking. I have enough difficulty controlling my own thinking! What I can do is remember everything that I know to be true about myself and my circumstances and make sure that I don’t let the thinking about what they are thinking about me become too big of a distraction in my life.

That was a lot of thinking!

I think I’ll go to bed now.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Spiral staircases

Have you ever had a recurring dream? I’ve had a series of different dreams repeated over several years. I wonder what I am subconsciously thinking about that they keep occurring in my night visions.

Take for example a spiral staircase that seems to go on into eternity. I cannot see the end of it (for undefined reasons – remember this is a dream-like scenario) and so I feel afraid to step onto it. Eventually I do get to the last tread and, hesitatingly, I step through the clouds or fog or whatever murky substance my dream has conjured up, and I am right back at the beginning of the staircase, looking up to a spot where I believe I have just passed into.

It seems like a circular dream, and being on a floating spiral staircase it is a bit like being on the waltzer ride at the fairground: you can never quite get your balance or perception right.

The image of a spiral staircase could have the same affect on us as it did on James Watson (co-discoverer of DNA) as we use this vision to discern the structure of our lives. On the other hand this vision can pump us full of despair. Given those two choices I regularly choose discernment and discovery.

I’m not sure what – if anything – I will dream tonight, but on the first day of a new month I am again drawn to the idea of beginnings. When you are a beginner in any area you have the beautiful tendency to see all possibilities. When you feel you are an expert in anything you see only a few possibilities open up before you.

So, whether I wake up tomorrow with a perfect recall of a dream from decades ago, or I sleep without incident I will look at the new day in this new month as a new beginning.

Each day in my life is a fresh page in my life book. Each day is really a new beginning.

Like the spiral staircase I cannot see the end of my life book as it is a long way off, however, I see what is ahead of me right now and I will take that first step in this new daily chapter as my daily beginning.

If I am fortunate I may create something in my fresh days that will remove the endless spiral staircases from my night and day realities.

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