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.

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Eternal imagery

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I’ve often cause to wonder, when in lucid dreams I stray,
I seem as always I have felt,
The rounded chin, the wrinkles melt.
This other self in dreams appears still young and slim today?

No. More than this.
Though it’s me, yet bones more slight, the eyes more free,
Familiar as a glance may be, me … yet not me.

“Why?” I ask.
A dream voice answers, clear as a bell.
“You’re in disguise, ’tis but a shell.”
I ponder then upon my bed disguises others bear.

The crippled form, the ugly face,
May one day be interfaced
True beauty hid within a husk
That one day shall be turned to dust.
On that day we shall see.
Just what was hid from you and me.

A Christmas dream.

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granpa

The old armchair squeaks companionably as I edge my equally aged frame down into its depths. The fire is really only fake electric logs, but if I squint my eyes, minus glasses, it could pass for the real thing. Alone at Christmas, hugging my masculine independence, like a tattered security blanket, to my heart, I close my eyes. Not for me care homes with immaculately scrubbed walls. Let me rather linger here and remember what once was. Thoughts drift…

 

I see, through falling snow, a man chopping pine. He looks up, beckoning me as he carries in the logs, motioning me to come inside. Hesitantly I dust the snow from my boots. The house is modest but roomy. A girl and boy of eight or nine, rush up to him, their cheeks rosy, as if they’ve been helping with outdoor chores. Little faces peer around the door, shy of this stranger in their midst, whist mother comes in with a tray of steaming drinks.

A real wood fire burns in the grate and I hold out my hands relishing the glowing heat. Muffins follow as the three little faces come in, drawn by the treat. Father heaves one on each knee, laughing, merry, peeking at me from the corners of their eyes

A Christmas tree stands in one corner. A real one, I note with satisfaction, taking in the brisk smell of pine needles. There’s a natural joy about this family that seems to bubble over into laughter, as if they are just so happy to be alive and together. I begin to chuckle too. I just can’t help myself.

Life has a different perspective for them it seems, no hustle or bustle, no vying for gifts. Father proudly shows off his little brood, mother loving and affectionate towards him and them. I‘ve missed this I realized.

Seeing my glance, finger to lips, she motions me to accompany her into a side room. It’s full of half made things, embroidery and needlework, magnificent half completed cushions, paintings, mixtures of dried herbs that give off a wonderful aroma, woodwork, carvings and a beautiful mural set in the floor and I realize it is a workshop, not only for her but for their whole family. I see gaily painted blocks (a project of the elder boy?) A panel of somewhat messy embroidery and a rough half carved rocking horse. I run my hands wistfully over the pine, memories stirring.

I hear music coming from the other room. Mother nods and we return. They’re dancing, the girls giggling and swirling gaily, as father prances around, a fiddle in hand, from which he gleans a scratchy melody. I clap and stamp in time as mother invites me to my feet…

 

But I can’t dance, my slippers are soggy. I look down at my spilled mug of tea. A dream, just a dream, but it sure was a good one! I glance at the plastic fire, the fake tree with its store bought decorations and sigh.

Just then the doorbell rings. Shuffling along in soggy slippers I peer through the frosted glass. It couldn’t be? Could it?

“Surprise!” I’m almost bowled over by two rambunctious, young teenagers. My son grabs my shoulder to steady me.

“Now calm down you two hoodlums,” he yells. “Gramps is not as strong as he used to be.”

He looks into my eyes, “We couldn’t leave you on your own for Christmas again dad. I just couldn’t come last year… the whole thing with mum, it was too much. But I… I kept remembering about the time we made that rocking horse for Emmie’s Christmas present. Do you remember? It was so wobbly she could barely ride it, but I always remember building it with you.”

“Yes, I remember son.” Eyes tearing I hug him close.

Returning to the living room the fake fire and tree didn’t seem to matter anymore. I had my dream, my Christmas dream.

 

 

Dream Master (no. 3)

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flash fiction from October 2014

Song Bird Songs

lights
The darkness was soft around her like a comforting blanket, warm and snug, endued with a faint glow. Embedded in the walls, if such they could be called since they had no substance, glimmered pinpoints of light, momentarily flickering. She reached out her hand, as in slow motion, clasping substance in the mist. A jewel glistened within her hand, glowing in the darkness. She reached out eagerly to get more wondering at the rainbow forms glistening on her palm.
She was aware of a being beside her his face picked out in silver light. The dream master was here.
“I’m sorry you had to come alone,” he whispered, his voice an echo of the stillness. “This lesson cannot be taught another way. I wanted you to overcome your fear of the darkness, those black times when clouds of doom and destruction overcome your life.”
Reaching up he plucked a delicate…

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Dream Magic.

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(From September 2014)

Song Bird Songs

dreams med

Do we all dream alike? I’m often amazed at dream concepts related or portrayed in paintings and movies so vastly different to my own. I wonder at the diverse worlds we enter when sleeping.
Personally my dreams generally come in two varieties, what I term “frustration dreams” (often after a stressful day) where I’m trying to find something (a place, person, or item of clothing – even the bathroom!) but just can’t find it.

The other more usual dreams are practical or inspirational. In these dreams I discover solutions to problems, new creative ideas and of course my best stories! I often take it for granted that if I “sleep on it” the answer will probably be right there in my head when I wake up. I’ve discovered though many folks find this unusual. Do my fellow writers also glean words and stories in that wonderful stage between sleep and…

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