Dreams So Real You Want To Shout At Your Sleeping Spouse

My poor husband John has no idea how close I was this morning to giving an indignant shout of,  ‘ How could you ‘ when I was waking this morning with one foot still firmly in the tight grip of a vivid dream of betrayal. Even though my dream husband was not John and in fact no one I even recognize, the fury and shock I felt in my sleepy state made me pull away from the dear man sleeping next to me.

Being a vivid dreamer is a bonus for writers and I frequently make notes after a busy night especially if it feels like my subconscious has presented me with a little gift of insight or some seed of a story and I searched for the details as I was waking up trying as best I could to commit them to memory.

Last nights journey down the path of marital infidelity seemed like a bit of both insight and story on reflection this morning. Stay with me while I try to explain. Over the last few days, I have been working on a short story that I originally wrote in the third person which according to more than a few folks I’ve read, is not the best way to write one if you hope to have it published.

I do understand the concept of how writing in the first person is designed to be more immediate putting you directly in the middle of things in a way that writing in the third person cannot and why it works well when telling a tale with less words, but I think I usually prefer the options that third person point of view offers. I have seen it done successfully with both the novels and short stories of writers who have managed to publish, but they are all pretty recognizable names and I have to wonder what happens to the rest of us (the unpublished) who may choose another way.

As I have struggled to shift the point of view in my short story rewrite, I have been challenged in a way that I think has provided a good mental exercise regardless of which version I send out the door. In a world where many of us can get bogged down in one-way, right way, my way or the highway kind of thinking, changing my story has begun a subtle shift in my characters as well.

For example, when I woke from my dream and began going over the details imagining how my character (who looked just like me only with a bad eighties hairstyle) might have responded had I not cut the storyline short by waking up, I found myself shifting the dream reaction into a much more interesting and creative outcome.

Granted the point of view was not affected, but in much the same way that I am giving myself the freedom to play with point of view in my current work, it seems to be having a positive effect on my creative process providing me with more options than the typical ones we think of when faced with an all too familiar plot of infidelity and betrayal.

Additionally, while I learned a few more things about staying open to the different perspectives possible for my characters, it was also interesting to note that when my waking body language tried to pull away this morning, I woke to find John’s hand wrapped gently around my wrist as if even in sleep he was saying, ‘ Don’t go.’

One Step At A Time

The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs…

one step at a time.

~ Joe Girard

My sister Margaret gets the credit for the photo of me climbing the 280 steps to the top inside the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. I thought this photograph was a good one to use in a thank you to all of the readers and friends who took time to leave a supportive message with regard to my writing and ever so slight disappointment over receiving a polite  ” not interested ” response from the newspaper I queried recently.

I have found such fine support for the writing I do here and I am never sure I let you know how much it is appreciated. Mary from A Breath of Fresh Air left me a very kind comment yesterday about writing a book, in which she said she that she would not hesitate to gift a collection of stories taken from my blog to her friends. It was just the lift I needed yesterday to pick up my pace mentally and refocus on the steps before me.

Thanks again to all who visit here at Gifts Of The Journey and thanks for your support.

Successful Moves – Climbing Your Way To The Top

As illustrated by my last post, while I was in Paris I was never quite sure what I might see around the next corner. One might think this location a bit odd for this show of skill … balancing a ball on various parts of the body in front of a Paris skyline especially since it occurred in front of the famous house of worship below.

Unlike other well-known churches and cathedrals, there was no photography allowed and once inside it felt more like a place of worship than the tourist sites that so many others churches have become.

Since this man had chosen to locate his ” workplace ” at the base of the steps leading up to the famous church it seemed somehow appropriate that he send what looked like a prayerful message to his higher power.

I noticed the man with the ball for a minute until I was temporarily distracted by the traveling troubadour above. Even the music man stopped to watch the ascent when he realized he had lost the attention of the crowd who found a man climbing a lamppost more interesting than his version of James Taylor’s ” You’ve got a Friend.”

So up he goes …

… and up

… climbing hand over hand with a soccer ball resting lightly on his head.

He reached the top rather quickly and the gathered audience that watched from below him as well as the larger once scattered across the steps to the Sacré Coeur were impressed and amazed as their clapping and shouts illustrated.

Just as they say in business … what goes up must come down, he could not maintain his high position forever and he began his descent back to earth. He dangled by one arm balancing the ball on his foot instead of his head and teased his audience with a few impressive displays of his ability to keep their attention.

At one point he dropped his ball, but someone below gave it a toss back up and no one seemed to lose interest even with the temporary loss.

Once he had his ball back, he did a series of flips and had the ball bouncing up and around from one foot to the other, a trick that one might be more accustomed to seeing demonstrated on a soccer field.

Then he let the ball go to the ground and quickly followed behind dropping his body faster than one might imagine safe for a descent.

Back on the ground he stood for a few minutes atop his impromptu stage, a concrete base where his muscled physique reminded me of the marble bodies standing watch in the Louvre. With his hat at his feet before him, he waited as his audience showed their approval with the clink of their coins and I wondered as I watched how much money he would take in for his labor.

Before I could think too much about his possible yearly income, my attention was diverted back to poor Yuri who had begun his song again hoping to sell a few CD’s before it was time for the climbing man’s next show. So surprised was I still by the carnivalesque atmosphere of the area that when I saw the woman below approaching …

I wondered if she was perhaps another person intent on making a living close to the church grounds and as she stopped to be photographed with tourists standing with the Sacré Coeur behind them, I wondered briefly if she was merely in costume to make money or a real nun.

She paused on the steps and gave Yuri a look that made me wonder if she meant to compete with him for an audience too and for a second I half expected her to break into a song and dance routine straight from Whoopi Goldberg’s London stage production of Sister Act.

I watched as she climbed the steps graciously posing for a few more photographs until she was joined by two more members of the church and they went inside. By the time I was ready to leave a few hours later, both Yuri the musician and the climbing man were gone and several new performers had taken their place.

I ran into the older nun you see above only a few days later which was interesting on its own, but where I saw her and what she did make the story even better. That’s one for another day though as I have my own work to get on with. Having no cap to place at my feet, I need to send out more submissions as I look for opportunities today to make my own way to the top.


The Big Countdown Begins – Ten

It may seem a bit self-indulgent to announce to the world that I have a big birthday fast approaching but turning fifty seems as if it should have some special attention paid to it. I have no clear idea of what I will be saying over the next nine days leading up to my birthday, but I plan to post a bit of something that will be quite shamelessly, all about me. That’s right, I will be posting daily right up to my birthday on September 10. I have not planned a thing in terms of topic and will write whatever comes to mind which can be my favorite kind writing and might lead to some interesting insights.

Some people enjoy having big parties to celebrate special birthdays, but I actually tend to feel a bit shy and out of place when I’m the absolute center of attention so I am pleased to be making memories with a smaller gathering of people who care about me. Can two (John and my sister Margaret) be considered a gathering?

After a detailed examination of my accomplishments over the last year, I find that some of my goals for forty-nine have not been met. I must confess that not one thing I’ve written in my forty-ninth year has gone out the door electronically or otherwise in search of a publisher. I am not sure why I have dragged my feet so badly when this has been at the top of my list for so long.

I have watched as other bloggers and writers have found their footing while juggling huge responsibilities and managed to publish while I write and research and think too much about the best way to find an audience for my work. I don’t feel jealous about their success just a bit disappointed in myself for not getting more done by now.

Watching others seems to be a life long habit with me and I tend to take a bit longer to find my footing once I’ve figured out the steps. In the photograph above, my fourteen year-old self is on the far right looking uncertain about what the group is doing or how I might join in.

I still feel like that fourteen year-old sometimes … uncertain about doing things just right even though I know now after almost fifty years of living that movement in any direction is sometimes all you need.

My Last 24 Hours (of 48)

Big Bag Of Dreams

I have always been a bit intrigued with numbers noticing the ways in which one might imbue meaning into a particular one or even a series of numbers such as the 09-09-09 of today’s date. It’s kind of funny in a way since I’ve struggled with math for a fair amount of my life especially in middle school when numbers on a chalkboard could inspire fear faster than almost anything else.

As a child we moved so frequently and sometimes from coast to coast, that many things were lost in the back and forth of change. My math education was one of them. Looking back, I can see how little math I learned in my first 12 years in the classroom, 13 if you want to toss Kindergarten into the mix. So while I’ll could read before many of my fellow Kindergarten classmates, (okay, it was mostly rhyming Dr. Seuss) I never ever felt like I had a secure grasp on numbers during the long years of my public education.

As you can see by my title, change is coming and it’s bearing down rather quickly. In less than 24 hours I will leave 48 behind and slip quietly over in my sleep into the last year left before my 6th decade begins. I have big plans for this year. I have always treated birthdays in the  same way that many do New Year’s Eve, as a time for reflection and goal setting. I like to make a plan around my birthday and write down my dreams and goals for the next year.

It’s easy for me to look back and think about all I haven’t managed to do yet. I’ve had a list of Things To Do Before I Die since 1987 and while I’ve been crossing things off as I complete them, there are a few that I’ve changed my mind about that no longer matter anymore. I’ve been able to do a good many things on my list, but I am not entirely satisfied with where I am in several areas of my life. I enjoy so many good things while others struggle that it seems a bit greedy to want more than I have right now.

Many of the blogs I read on a regular basis have their own lists that they call a variety of names, such these found here: Mondo Beyondo, Life Lists, as in the case of one I read just this morning where Karen Walrond simply refers to her list as her Truest Goals.

After reading Karen’s post this morning, I felt inspired to do something I never do which is to share at least three things from my list for this year. I’m calling mine my Big Bag of Dreams. The title is based on a quote by Benjamin Franklin:

It is hard for an empty Bag to stand up-right.

This year I’m writing down my goals for the last year of my 5th decade on a brown paper bag with the top three on one side and an extended list on the other. I intend to put bits of the things I do to accomplish my goals into the bag so this time next year when 49 rolls over to 50, my bag will be so full it can stand upright. I want a tangible 3D image of what I am doing to fulfill my dreams during year 49 with me everyday.

Here are the big three for next year:

Complete the book I’m writing now and actively look for an agent and publisher.

Finish designing the game I’m developing with my sister Margaret and begin production and marketing.

Research, design and set up a Big Bag Of Dreams week long workshop/playgroup/dreambuilders gathering for a group of women interested in filling up their own bag of dreams to be held during 2011, the summer of my 50th year here in Cornwall, England.

At a glance that list looks a bit scary even to me, especially if you knew what other things are in the planning stages right now regarding big travel and more home renovations. When I feel as if it may all be too big a dream or doubt starts to creep in as doubt often does, I will remind myself of some of the other things I have done that at different points in my life I would have considered impossible.

It’s easy to overlook areas of success when they occur on a smaller level than say publishing a book or winning an Oscar, but when I need an example of a goal I’ve accomplished, I can remember of my first semester of University work where I learned 12 years of math in three months earning a B in a class I had been terrified to take. If I can do that with all my issues around math and numbers than who’s to say I can’t do exactly what I want with the three main goals for my Big Bag Of Dreams project.

Tomorrow as you may have worked out is my birthday. I’ll turn 49 at 2:02 am and John, sweetheart that he is, has something planned that involves packing an overnight bag and is a total surprise for me. I will probably have limited access to my computer for most of the day Thursday and I’m not sure if I’ll post again before the weekend, but I would love for you to consider leaving three special projects, dreams, or goals you have for your life in the comment section below.