I have a dream



Never real and always true – Antonin Artaud

Dreams fascinate me. I dream deeply and often. Last night was a confusing mash of visists from dead friends, vague acquaintances, family – some terror, some fun, set in the twilight between the past and the present. There was no depth, no message, no psychic foresight. It was all just a dream …

I recently read Richard Wiseman’s Night School, a great account of sleep, dreaming and psychological research. On the subject of dreams, I’m none the wiser. Am I deleting unused or unnecessary information? Am I processing difficult thoughts and feelings? As I entering my subconscious? Am I entering some shamanic dream world denied to me during the waking hours? Am I seeing warnings of the future?

At some time, nearly all of these have been true. I’ve had dreams of foreboding, and sometimes acted on them. I’ve had dreams prompted by anger, injustices, or trauma of the days and weeks beforehand. I often find I’m flying, and always have done since being a a child. I have dreamed lucidly, knowing it was a dream, and being able to choose which direction to take – not often, but sometimes. More and more, dead friends visit me in my dreams – one in particular. It’s never frightening, and sometimes I know that he’s a spectre, and sometimes it seems we’ve just met up again as we used to. Invariably, he has some sort of message or some discovery or revelation to bring. Mostly, I feel comforted that he has visited because I cannot reach him any other way. For a while, he is real to me.

For a time, following surgery and medication, in the midst of anxiety or depression, I lost my dreams. These were the most unsettling times. I knew of their absence, and begged for their return, no matter how frightening or terrifying they might be, because the loss of them was worse than the truths they brough. They have always returned.

There have been brief times when my dream world and my real world have interacted. Immediately after my heart surgery, my world was populated with Chinese nurses, vengeful caretakers, hippos created out of paper mache, and Arabian princes. I believed them all, and it took years for me to be dissuaded of their reality. I daydream easily and often, my mind wandering off into half created worlds and futures, passing minutes or even hours.

On and off, I have kept dream diaries. I ask for dreams, and sometimes the requests are granted – answers to life decision, ideas for stories, characters, plots and projects. I can always remember at least some of my dream when I wake – although often feel frustrated that I haven’t recollected enough, or got to the end. But my dreams don’t have endings – mostly, the waking is its own end. I have often died in dreams, and dream in colour, destroying at least two popular myths.

I don’t (largely) snore – so I am told, and have never talked or walked in my sleep, the thought of which disturbs me greatly. My dreams are entirely private, and acting them out in some way in public fills me with a self censorship my dreamland has always freed me from.

I’m not a Jungian, or Freudian, and don’t really believe  in dream symbols or interpretations. Occasionally , counselling clients  discussed their dreams with me, and therapeutically I have found it most helpful to ask what emotion the dream brings up for them, as well as any special meaning they might attach to the dream. Invariably, we are able to find some understanding of the dream, although this is most probably simply interpretation rather than a ‘real meaning’. But dreams have never been unhelpful for me or for clients, and as a writer I am always surprised and welcoming f the worlds created by my dreams.

I wish I knew more. For someone who spends so much time dreaming, I know instinctively that it must be important. I cherish my dreams, and wish you all the best, and sweetest, of dreams…


there will be an interval



I had a letter last week. From myself. Which I had written 5 years ago. See, Time Travel is real. I am The Doctor.

I was watching an arts event, Pilots, at my local arts centre in January 2011. It was all kind of interesting and experimental, and one of the projects was by Cross Collaborations as part of their ‘Past Present Future’ project. We were invited to write a message to our future selves, to choose a button we liked from a little collection, and return it with a stamp addressed envelope to be posted 5 years hence to our future self.

As it happens, there was an interval coming up. I was bored an uninspired and had difficulty imagining myself 5 years into the future. So what I wrote was a statement of fact, what was happening in the here and now. Just a piece of information. I felt I was cheating a little and not taking the exercise seriously enough. But it didn’t have to be anything profound, or anything special. I hadn’t got any special plans for 5 years’ time.

…the will be an interval …

And completely forget about it.

I say I didn’t have plans. At least, I didn’t for five years in the future. But I was just booking a holiday for later in the year – to Peru. I’d heard so much about Machu Picchu, the Nazca Lines and the holiday included staying with a native family on tree rafts at Lake Titicaca. This holiday had all of them and plenty more besides. Some time ago I’d attended a self development workshop, where we were all asked to imagine achieving something exciting and wonderful. One very timid young girl eventually confessed to wanting to go to Machu Picchu. I brought her a brochure the next day for an adventure group I was part of (SPICE – Special Programme of Initiative, Challenge and Excitement) which happened to be advertising a trekking holiday to Machu Picchu, just to encourage her to believe in the possibilities. A year later I got a virtual postcard from her with pictures of her at Machu Picchu. She was beaming.

So I was excited, and terrified. I’d never been on for great heights, so it was also a challenge to myself – initiative, challenge, excitement. My brother, rather sensibly, suggested checking with my cardiologist as it was a high-altitude holiday. I dismissed the idea but, as the time came for the holiday, I booked an appointment.

Which is just as well. Because that’s when they found out that not only my mitral valve (which had been repaired ten years earlier) was leaking, but that there was also a problem with my aortic valve – more so, in fact. When the cardiologist delivered the news, she told me to think very carefully about the holiday to Peru, because it would be very dangerous. And then told me not to cry, as she couldn’t stand it when patients cried.

I had to cancel the holiday. Fortunately, I got all my money back on the insurance.So I didn’t get to Peru, or Machu Picchu, or Lake Titicaca. Although she had said a heart operation probably wouldn’t be necessary for 5 – 10 years, in fact I needed emergency surgery within 3 years.

There will be an interval

None of which I could know writing myself a letter to the future. As I didn’t know that I would also have testicular cancer, lose my job,or lose my driving license through an eyesight problem.

Which meant, that when I did receive a letter I’d completely forgotten about writing – in my own handwriting – I was a little confused and felt I’d suddenly stepped into an episode of Lost. And I sat and looked at the message:

There will be an interval

And I laughed. And I cried. And goosebumps ran down my spine. It all seemed so prescient, so insightful, so philosophical, naive  and so pertinent. The little message from five year ago me was like a hug from someone who really cared about me. And a phrase that meant nothing at the time – except that there was going to be an interval, a comfort break for a pee and an ice cream – put everything in perspective. An interval had almost ben a finale, the script I though would be performed had become an improvisation, and sometimes we surprise ourselves, and don;t realise the significance of what we do at any on time. And it’s not all about the big performance, the centrepiece, the main event.

There will be an interval


2015 in review

hi to y’all from 54 countries. I’d love more comments – so feel free …The View from A Fridge is nothing without you.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

You will forever be in my heart


You will forever be in my heart. I first came across this phrase, not from relatives from Ireland, but from watching the inspiring Young@Heart chorus singing their version of Forever Young at Hampshire County Jail, after finding out one of their members had recently died. It was enormously powerful and moving – and the inmates, quite rightly,  gave it a standing ovation. Amid the applause, and the meeting of inmates and seniors, one inmate shows them his respect with the phrase “You’re in my heart forever”.

You will forever be in my heart.

Moments, memories, people. These are what stay in our heart forever. I visited some of my old teachers recently, and we shared food, wine and memories. Rather insanely, I’d taken part in a Knife Throwing Act with my Art Teacher for a revue performance. thinking that there was some magic trick involved. There wasn’t, as I realised when the third knife he’d picked up from the school canteen, landed itself between my legs. A tailcoat I wore for the act still bears the puncture mark of one of the knives.

Ah, good times. The conversation turned to not so good times – recollections, scandals, undiscovered secrets and scandals involving paedophiles, suicides, abuse and cover-ups. For the most part, what remained in hearts was good – amazing people, a beautiful environment. A lot of losses, too – school was a long time ago, and I’ve lost close friends since, as well as teachers and other people we knew mutually. They do live in our hearts forever, books in a library waiting to be burned down. Those darker memories also have their impact – further abuse, addiction, suicide, the taint of institutions protecting reputations and not children.

i was always a step away from what happened. I only heard about it many years after, when survival wasn’t dependant on being believed, and when choices to reveal could, or must, be made.

Memory is a funny thing. About the same time, on social media, timelines filled up with pictures and accounts of people remembered on World AIDS Day. People who had left us before medicine caught up, before our strongest enemy became stigma. Like the final scene in Longtime Companion, the memories of lost friends blur into a walk in history, and sometimes I find myself saying hello or goodbye with the wrong people.

Most of the people I now carry in my heart are those I choose to invite. I’ve shown some an exit door – some go willingly, so linger or return in different ways, at different times. For the most part, we live in harmony and share songs and laughter. Occasionally, a heart will break from the weight of memory, and I’ll do the best that I can to heal it in some way. So my heart is, literally and emotionally, full of patches and tears breaks, resounding to a beat that reminds me I’m still here. With all the people and memories that I carry.

And perhaps You will forever be in my heart should be a welcome, and not a goodbye. An invitation as well as a declaration. Allow me to love you, to meet and walk with you on your journey for a while. And if we should part, for whatever reason ….

You will forever be in my heart

Although all of the above is a lie. The phrase itself is Irish for ‘May I have permission to go to the toilet.’   I was hoodwinked by my own gullibility. I’ve mistaken a profound feeling for being taken for a ride. On the one hand, I find it hilarious. On the other, I stay with the translation as I read it. Like memory, I can choose the tainted, or the good.

I’d just rather believe you will have a place in my heart, than tell me to go  p off ….





Written In Stones

future stone

It’s been a while since I blogged – miss me, faithful reader? – and in the meantime, I’ve gone through a redundancy. Which is a relief, a disappointment, and an opportunity. In my day job as counsellor and psychotherapist, I’ve worked with many clients on ‘change management’ of various sorts, and redundancy itself quite often. From the outside, the strategies I offered seemed clear and helpful, goals simple to pinpoint, aim or work for.

From the inside, it’s very different. Feelings of loss, disappointment, loss of worth and self-esteem, self doubt and self questioning cloud the space in-between  and clog the gears, leaving a sense of stuckness and impotence. Weighed down by the past, my fears and uncertainties.

It’s not easy to let go, and sometimes we need a ritual, a structure to help us reflect, learn and grow. When I’ve ended counselling sessions, I’ve sometimes used ‘smudging’ or the burning of incense or a candle to formalise a break or clear a feeling, a response, something left over. I use focussing and Interpersonal Process Recall to check in on how I’m feeling and where the feelings might come from. I can share my thoughts, feelings, observations with colleagues and my supervisor.

Yesterday was an ending for me. A long relationship with a valued and trusted supervisor who had also trained me. I’d been supported through many changes at work, and we both agreed that an ending session  – the rituals of goodbye – would be useful. My supervisor offered me a tray of stones, a technique we sometimes use in counselling to find an object to reflect on what we see, what we notice, what we might project at that particular time and place.

A way to tap into something subconscious, or a felt sense.

I shuffled my hands around in the battered foil tray containing big, small, elaborate, smooth, rough and raw stones, looking and feeling for something appropriate.

A stone for when I first entered the counselling profession.

A stone for when I first met my supervisor.

A stone for the end of the relationship.

A stone for the future.

The first is a battered and raw large pebble. Parts of it feel smooth, parts of it feel rough. It’s not polished and it feels an unfinished shape. The second is part of broken tile, clear and beautiful glass on one side, rough honeycombed plaster on the other. I hadn’t noticed the rough side when I picked it. Shiny, shiny. The third stone was dark and chipped, its centre exposed and its exterior worn smooth. A very tactile stone – cool and comforting.

The final stone is the one in the picture. I’m still seeing different things in it. I picked it because it reminded me of a decoration on a mobile decoration hanging up in my home. It’s round, it’s an appealing colour, and it’s complex. If I look hard enough, I see nicks and scratches and imperfections. When I hold it, it seems smooth but my fingers can find faults and lines along the surface if I let them. I find it hypnotic, enticing, and uncertain, foggy, shiny gold and deepest blue.

I don’t claim to know what any of it means. And it doesn’t have to mean anything. It’s play, it’s imagining and creating and questioning.

Oh, and it rolls and moves around and doesn’t stand still….

In case no one has told you today: Anonymous Love Letters & Promulgating Universal Joy

love letters

love letters

Based on an idea from the Freemind Project, I’ve started writing anonymous love letters, and just kind of leaving them for people to pick up and hopefully receive a bit of a boost to the day.I started feeling low because my Driving Licence has been taken away due to my loss of field vision and decided I’d try and create something positive out of my misery. Because I can no longer drive, I take buses. At first I felt resentful, no longer having my own car. There are other people on buses, and some of them can be quite annoying sometimes. So when I came across the idea of leaving messages of love to random people (and they don’t come any more random than on public transport) , I realised it might make the bus journey a whole lot more interesting and positive.

Of course, I don’t go round giving them to people I choose, waiting to see if they love me back and tell me what a good and loving person I am. The whole point is to give away something loving and positive to another person, without knowing who the recipient might be and not expecting a response back. It’s just in the nature of random acts of kindness, in the spirit of random acts. Putting some lurrv out there and hoping it sows some sort of seed.

The best place I’ve found so far is the lockers in my local gym. I’ve just come back from a workout, and I’ve left a note for whoever might use the locker next. They may choose to open the letter, they may not. I have to stop myself from hanging around out of curiousity to see. But I just hope someone picks it up, and that it touches them somehow. The envelope reads ‘A nice message for you’ and on the back I add ‘YES – YOU! OPEN IT #randomactofkindness’ I don’t know what people think when they open it – whether they feel touched, or annoyed, or mystified, or start looking around to see if someone in the room is trying to start up a bro-mance or ask them out. The point is, it’s letting someone know they’re pretty wonderful just because they happen to be there. I also add that I hope the message makes their day a little better, and if it’s a good day already, they might one to save the message for a day that’s not so good. Or pass it on. As the Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence say, ‘Promulgate Universal Joy’.

Today’s message was based on a Facebook meme posting I picked up a while ago. And, as I’m spreading a little love, feel free to take this with you, faithful reader, and do with it what you will:

In case no one has told you today:

You are beautiful.




And you can achieve whatever you set your mind to.

I’ve told that to a stranger in my gym today. And Universal Joy to you too. Go and be a bit random, if you like. On the buses, in the gym, at school or college, a festival, a rally, a prayer meeting. It makes the world a better place, and your heart a little larger.