Learned from one of my characters.

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Sometimes characters take on a life of their own. They often surprise me.
As the end of my first apocalyptic love story neared, I found myself writing a totally unplanned scene in which a bitter, sadistic character is given a second chance. An unplanned sequel “Journey to Redemption” materialised tracing his physical and emotional journey across a dangerous new world from Wyoming to Taiwan.
Presently, trapped in Los Vegas, he becomes henchman to an ex showgirl run crime ring. I thought this would be an exciting addition to the plot, but I’m seeing more and more as I write, how only in seeing himself in her can he begin to make the changes he needs.
How true that is of life, it’s often only when we see our own vices manifest in others we become desperate enough to change.

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Choose to live.

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For me, the best New Year quote was given in the movie Braveheart. He says, “All men die, but not all men truly live.” Many go through life chained to circumstances, living according to “the pattern” of expectation, quenching their dreams, sweet childhood racing hearts reduced to spiritual poverty, disabled by fear.

To truly live demands courage. One might meet an untimely death! At best we stand to fail sometimes, become a target for gossip, have our “friends” desert us. I’ve trod the path, I know.

The alternative to embracing life, is to live a humdrum existence, to “arrive safely at death” dreams stored away lest you fail. I did this at first, till at 17 I exploded, unable to contain it any longer. I hurt some people (especially the boyfriend I no longer wanted to marry). The truth can hurt, but I would have hurt them more in the long run…

I cracked the – 1960s council estate, London suburbia – mould, getting a job in downtown London, I pursued my talents, eventually earning a fine art degree and being ostracized by former friends and neighbours for my audacity. I questioned everything, began to travel, to teach, and best of all (after a great many adventures and going through hell for a while) discovered God was real. From that point on, though there have been battles to fight, I led an enchanted life of total FREEDOM!

During this time, I was continually told these things were impossible for me, a poor girl from a council estate where no one could dream of more than shop, office or factory work, scarcely knew other options existed. Even my school advised against my staying on to take GCSEs (I was dyslexic – a condition unrecognised then) so I left school and started work at 14 years old. I see in retrospect God always had a hand on my life.

Well, that’s my story and it has repeated itself in my children, each conquering “the impossible” in their own way. My advice to anyone with a burning fire? If you hate your life, be brave! Step out on the water like Peter. Sure, he sank when he looked at the waves and the wind, (as we often do) but Jesus lent a hand and together they walked on the water. Peter, a simple fisherman, is remembered while the richly endowed of his time are forgotten. Not for his intellect, talents or wealth but due to his courage to risk everything. So, step out, pursue those dreams, but, if you’d be wise, take God’s hand you may need it sometimes.

A pregnant pause.

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I’ve always felt the days between Christmas and New Year a time of evaluation, a time to reset my compass. It could make sense to celebrate new year on the 23rd of December, winter solstice, when night recedes, and days begin to lengthen, but perhaps it’s better this way. No one knows when Christ was born, but Dec. 25th seems a good choice, when “light comes to the world”.

He didn’t come with a trumpet blast, a sudden dramatic arrival. Rather He slid in quietly, as a tiny babe. (Much like our deepest resolutions, known only to those closest). Though greeted by angels and shepherds, and later prophets and wise men, his arrival was unknown to the vast majority, who were unaware of any change.

It was thirty years before His big public ministry began. Isn’t that how change usually comes? Begun by a define choice, a point of time we commit to a course of action, it’s manifestation appears slowly. Often there are things we must learn and experience before we can fully embrace our goal.

Christmas was commitment when Christ took the first step, by being born in the flesh. He had yet to expose himself to public scrutiny, to heal the sick, to walk on water, to die for us. He had choice as we do. At any point in those 33 years he could have thrown in the towel and walked away to hide in obscurity, but birth was his first commitment, when it all began.

So, I like to take time to ponder my path. Heart cleansed by the remaining gifts of Christmas, love, compassion, unity, I pray about my path and reset my compass for the year ahead.

Stranger at the door.

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A stranger stands before the door

You’d ask him in but he may want more,

More than you’re willing or able to give.

He’ll shake up your world and change how you live.

He may be a friend, but perhaps he’s a foe.

Taking you places you’d rather not go.

Should I go meekly or put up a fight?

Accept and be cheerful, or take off in flight?

I could slam the door refuse him his end.

Or open it wide receive as a friend.

Yes, that’s the wisest and smartest recorse

For the name of the stranger is “Change” of course.

 

 

 

 

“I’ve had many troubles, most of which never happened!”

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“I’ve had many troubles, most of which never happened!” Great Mark Twain quote!

That summarizes my last few weeks (during which I’ve barely posted). I might say the troubles did come, but the scary visions of what might come of them didn’t. One of the biggest was a phone call out of the blue during which I discovered my landlord had to sell my cozy apartment I’ve been taking for granted for several years. Not that there was a possibility of being out on the streets, thank God, but still it was like someone wrenched my security blanket away, my personal refuge amidst the storms of life (of which there have been many of late).

One has to delve and face one’s secret fears and mine, I realised, was possibly ending in an unpleasant, dark or uncomfortable place. Being older, an artist, and sensitive to my environment I need a clean, bright, warm, inspiring place in which to function well. I also had to face the possibility that my time in my sweet old English town might be at an end (even my time in the UK). There’s been a kind of pattern to my life and I generally end up moving every three and a half years or so for one reason or another, and I realised it had been three and a half years here.

I know it is always good, every so often, to put everything on the altar and seek God’s will in my life… could He be trying to show me something? Will this be a small change or a big change? I know the best thing one can do with change is embrace it.

Thankfully this change turned out not to be so earth shattering in the end and I hope to soon finalise a contract for a new apartment very close to my youngest daughter’s, it’s clean, light, well kept with an incredible view. not so hard lol!

The major change however was to downsize to one bedroom and also put my name on a two year waiting list for over 60s sheltered housing (cute independent studio flats) with a local church association. Looking to the future I wouldn’t want this to happen in my 70’s!

So all’s well that ends well, change happened but not the scary bit thank God!