Sunday 24 October 2021

I had a dream

No sleep, no dreams.
Pre dream

I rarely dream. I listen to friends who do dream and wish that I did.  They always have so much fun, and if we were inclined to do so, we could spend ages unpicking them to find meaning.  Sometimes we do, like recently my friend dreamed that she was looking for her Prince Charming. He's over there, someone said, up in the maths tower which you have to climb.  My friend has a memory of swinging in through the window of this maths tower on a vine (like Tarzan) instead, so she didn't have to climb it at all. She did not say anything about Prince Charming inside so perhaps he had dived out of one window as she was swinging in through the other.  Wonderful. We couldn't work out what any of that meant, so perhaps we will wait for her next dream and try again.  I am told that I do actually dream, everyone does, but that I do not remember them.  Possibly because I wake a lot in the night and they don't have time to really get going, or because what deep sleep I do have crams them all in and my brain explodes.  I really do not know, and perhaps you can put me right on this.

Night time used to be a fearful place for me. Many years ago I did not sleep well, and did not want to face the darkness.  There was something about the long quiet dark hours of the night in which I could not escape from my own thoughts that made me try and avoid it.  I would resist going to bed, resist going to sleep, and keep the radio on to help me.  To lie down and stay still, to know that all the chattering in my mind would be louder and louder in the quietness, and to feel the anxiety in my stomach in the early hours when I woke after only a small amount of sleep, made life very difficult.  I did sort it out after many years and in the end, and it was quite simple.  Mostly, it was a decision to stop dreading the night, and to have a proper bed time and wake time.  I read a good book about sleep, put their recommendations into practice, and the long dark scary nights began to recede. I love my night times now.  I sleep very well in my own way, and don't worry about it if I don't.  But still, I do not remember my dreams.  

The dream

 My life is full of meaning.  The work I do, the people I meet and the places I go means that I am often concentrating hard on what the outcomes are.  Much of what I do is about energy and energies which includes healing work, listening work and creative work. It can be very intense - it is intense - which is why it works.  The deeper and more difficult things in our lives take time, focus and energy to deal with and when I am working with someone, I use love and kindness alongside time, focus and energy, and it draws on resources we forget we have.  Sometimes, my work is an encounter with someone out of the blue, and I may not know who they are or what their name is but we encounter each other and for the time we spend together, there is an exchange of healing and experience.  

When I go to London, I carry loose change so that I can give it to whoever asks for it.  One time, a very misshapen young man, obviously not right in the head, left his cardboard box and beckoned me over.  Would I go into the coffee shop and get him a sandwich and a coffee?  With sugar? I did so, and while I was buying it, he wandered in looking filthy and strange. I feared the coffee shop owner would refuse to sell to me if it were for this man, everyone stopped and looked at him.  But the coffee shop owner gave me a smile and said that as it was for this man, who he addressed by name, he must have cake too.  Apparently this young man is often in the shop, and the owner loves it when people listen to him and buy him what he asks for.  When they don't the owner gives him the food anyway. The young man and I left the shop, he asking me to come back another day, and buy him some more.  The healing here was through the coffee shop owner, and the experience was for me. The vehicle was the dishevelled young man.

So, my dream.  I dreamed that I was in a dark, black place, so dark that it was impossible to describe.  The blackness had a texture to it, like velvet.  It was not a frightening place at all, despite the deeper than dark darkness.  I had a person, that was neither alive nor dead, and in the darkness I had to lift this heavy body and put it back into its soul.  It was hard work, and I struggled to manage the weight of the body with me, and I remember thinking that I had no idea what a soul looked like, or where to find one. At that moment, to my left, a ball of light appeared which was so bright, so light and so beautiful that it took my breath away.  It was flat, not spherical, and in the centre was so much love and I knew that this was the soul I was looking for.  But I also understood that this amazing light was looking out for me too.  Somehow, I raised the figure above my head and into the soul and as I did so, I knew the figure that I was carrying was that of my son who has so many troubles.  In the distance I began to see other lights appearing, and I knew all was well.

Finding the soul and it finding me.

When I woke, I was filled with the beauty of this light, the feeling of peace after the body and soul were united, and the memory of the incredible blackness in which I was struggling to lift this body.  Days later, I am still in awe of the whole dream and keep coming back to the light.  I like to dwell on the power of this and feel the most important part of the whole dream is that the soul light, though it belonged to someone else, was magnificently looking after and out for, me too.  Wow.

Post dream

Of course, it was a dream.  But it felt more than a dream.  It felt like something hopeful, something wonderful, something beyond me.  I am reassured, inspired and relieved by it.  We struggle along in our lives, and many of us feel we are alone especially when things seem never to improve. Life can be so relentless and lonely, and at times, we long for reassurance that we are not wasting our time, that doing our best will pay off, that somehow things will get better. Even those of us with a faith of sorts can feel abandoned.  It is hard work, when the going gets tough. I do have a faith and I do believe in a God of love and kindness.  I do think there is a purpose to life and that if we can remember it, we are not alone.  Of course, we don't always remember it, how can we?  We are only human and sometimes it feels like we blinking well are alone. But this dream came to me when I needed something to reconnect me with hope, and I think it was a spiritual experience in a dream.  So much so that I have tried to paint the experience, which when I was doing it, boiled down to two colours, black and white.  But I did paint it and used Prussian Blue and Paynes Grey for the darkness, because those are luminous and there is depth to them whereas black is matt and flat. My head is painted in matt flat black which shows up against the depth of the blue and grey, if you look carefully.

I went to see my son and decided to tell him.  I showed him a photo of the painting, and he liked it.  There is always a chance that when one talks of a dream experience like this, that it will not be taken seriously and dismissed as nonsense.  My son was quite taken with it, and I am glad.  Since I had to raise him above my head into his soul again, and he was jolly heavy, it was the least he could do.  Ha ha.

Post script - a dream experience like this does not necessarily change things in the world.  It would be wonderful to think that suddenly all is well, and that we are all healed.  We live our lives as we choose, and our stories are our own, even if we feel they are not.  Life is nothing if not an ongoing, extraordinary, painful and joyful series of lessons, experiences, losses, gains and understandings.  A dream like this, though I describe it as a spiritual experience inside a dream, is for me and I take from it that I, and my son, are not alone. I take from it a feeling of comfort and connection that is beyond what I normally experience, and a knowing that the whole of existence is vaster and more intense than I could possibly know in my day to day life.  I like this, and it helps me accept a bit more what I cannot change. 

Light is everywhere, even when we cannot see it, which is most of the time.


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Saturday 9 October 2021

Rebellion in my soul.


Twin passions, net curtains and Ribena
  How it started.

I was born rebellious.  A nice little girl, born to wonderful parents in a Catholic/Protestant household which was properly mixed faith in those days, I was brought up to behave well.  Except, I did not always want to behave well.  It seemed, to my little fairy brain, that behaving well meant no glitter, no dressing up in net curtains, no running away from nursery school. Why would we not want to do all those things? I wondered.  Following my heart did not always turn out well though and I soon understood that it was better to do what was asked of me.  I do understand, it is no fun having a class full of good little children with one wayward fairy disrupting everything.  And I only ran away from nursery school once, but I did so with a pretty beaded purse I had found in a coat pocket in the cloakroom on my way out.  My mother returned me and the purse to school where everyone was very nice because at five, I was considered too young to be a proper criminal.  Later, at my nice convent school in Liverpool I found a shed full of packed lunches brought in by the children.  I must have eaten a good third of them before I was discovered, and though it looked bad for me, I had no idea that these were lunches for other children.  It was just a mountain of food, and so I dived in. I was discovered in a Ribena coma too, I had never experienced Ribena until I found it in all those lunches and could not believe anything tasted so good.  I vaguely remember focusing on going through the mounds of packed lunches like an addict looking for more Ribena.

At no point was I aggressive, mean or willfully naughty.  I just did not understand the rules and so I went my own way.  I suppose now I would be given a label and extra support.  In fact, my father who always thought I was perfectly fine, did take me at my school's request to an educational psychologist.  In their report he was told to give up, because I would never make O levels, let alone A levels.  I remember that session and being asked to do some drawing.  I drew male hippies in bell bottom trousers and flowers in their hair all over the place and did not really engage with anything else that was part of this assessment.  So my father, probably a fairy himself too now I come to think of it, took me to another one.  I must have liked this next educational psychologist because I came out as super intelligent.  Everyone liked that result better, so we went with that one.  I want to balance this, and say that I am neither educationally subnormal (first assessment) or super intelligent (second assessment), I am just a creative person much like other creative people.  Very creative people (me) have a different take on life, and it is as simple as that. 

However, I did get to university, I did go into the real world afterwards, and I did find it all very difficult unless - I could do my own thing.  And therein lies the rub. 


Doing my own thing.

From the word go, I did my own thing if I could get away with it.  I bleached my hair white in the early nineteen eighties and then coloured it pink.  Instead of getting a job, which was very hard because I was inclined to be a bit unemployable, I squatted in old houses and flats in London and made art, met mad people, and became very alternative.  But even that did not feel completely right.  I liked being nice, and it upset my family that I was so far on the edges of polite society.  Too right, polite society would have run a mile if they had had to engage with me.  I could tell them how to break into empty houses, how to find the nearest reggae sound system and where to collect your dole money.  But I was at heart too nice to be this far out of the loop.  Despite living in squats and having pink hair, I was a moderate in the eyes of my companions, I was nice and I didn't smoke, take drugs or drink.  I must have seemed odd even to them.  I spoke well, was well educated, and thanks to my mother I knew how to make a proper bed and to wash lace.  I did not really fit in. 

Bolt cutters and a cheery smile

I did get a job, eventually, and became a well paid member of an economic consultancy as a receptionist and then an assistant librarian. It was a culture shock, and very good for me.  I really tried to conform, but it ate at my soul, and after ten years, I left. Not without much gratitude and respect for the lessons learned, and I think economics improved quite a lot after I had gone.  I was not very good at my jobs.  But people liked me, I liked them, and I think I was kept on as light relief. 

Doing my own thing, trying to understand the rebel inside and living in the real world outside made me ill.  I hadn't the courage to be really me, nor the ability to integrate the conventional world around me into my own world.  It seems now, looking back, that I had many lessons to learn and most of them were about who I really was.  Once I got that sorted, I could make sensible headway with everything else. 

It was tough.  I married my first husband, lost him (mutual agreement) and had my three children.  (Before my husband left).  I struggled with money and life but I managed.  This is no sob story!  The moment I began my upwards journey was when things could not get much worse, a friend offered me space in her studio to paint, and I took it.  I became a full time proper artist.  I was, at the time, a divorced mother of three tiny children and weighed sixteen stone.  Within a couple of years, I had lost five stone, run a London Marathon and was calling myself Artist Exraordinaire. Well done Antonia.  Except that I still couldn't work out how the world actually worked, and still had much to learn, experience and understand.  Onwards and upwards, then, carry on with the journey of life.

And now -

Here I am.  Aged 61, once divorced, twice widowed, living alone and making my way as an artist and many other things besides. I have grey hair, four grandchildren (not linked), a studio and some peace. 

The rebel in me is much quieter now, but more discerning.  I have done much homework, I had to work out who I was and who I am and yes, it is ever changing.  We never really arrive at the definitive Me, every time we think we have done so, life throws something else at us and back we go to square one. But as we get older, we retain the memory of who we have been and who we want to be, and somehow it is not as hard as it used to be when we were younger.  So now, I feel better about stepping outside the box because I feel better about myself.  I do not have to worry about so much.  So now, acts of rebellion feel like the right way to go.  Unless I get arrested or kidnapped, neither of which I want, I can always come home and shut my door and unless either my brain malfunctions or my hands fall off, I can write, paint and draw. I can cook, pick flowers, and make things. I can be creative, I can be a fairy.  But a rather unconventional, grey haired fearless one.  These days, I take my personal freedom very seriously.  I live my freedoms and do not wish to comply with nonsense, but I do not need to make a fuss about it, I just do it.  Once, long ago, when I had pink hair and frightened my mother's posh friends with talk of what bolt cutters to use on locks of empty houses, I felt I bumbled from one crazy situation to the next.  Now, as I get older, I care much less about getting things wrong - though I do still care - I have enough history behind me to know I will probably be OK.  In fact, it may be that this next stage in my life is where I man the barricades at last.  Rebel Grandma has arrived.


Rebel Grandma.  Naughty, but nice.

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