Between Saturn and an iceberg – there be dragon (fruit) and dreams

Many years ago, I returned from a visit to Poland, clutching a chubby china pot which closed with its own little lid. Painted on its exterior were some stars and a cat. It was too cute to resist and it did not trouble me that I did not understand the meaning of the words beside the artwork. Later, however, I learned that the words described the little pot as “a place to keep my dreams”. How perfect. I have been thinking of this little pot recently, when reflecting about my “wish bucket”, that imaginary receptacle where I keep my dreams and wishes. Maybe in my mind I see it as less of a bucket and more like that little pot, designed especially for me to keep those dreams in. A little like a glass storage jar, but without the airtight lid. No, I don’t want my dreams to be confined. They must be able to seep out, or fly into the air. Perhaps my dreams are being nurtured in a wide-necked glass jar, amongst a pot pourri of treasured thoughts and memories. Easily accessible and ready to be drawn out or added to.

Recently I wrote about some of the dreams and wishes in this wish jar, as think I will now call it. There are a number of weird and wonderful dreams in there, jostling against each other as time and circumstance gently shake the contents:

  • Meet a blogging friend in a new place (repeat as often as possible)
  • Buy a picture/piece of artwork at a gallery opening and watch them put the red sticker on it.
  • Book into the Oriental Bangkok for a weekend.  Or maybe a night.  Or maybe just have afternoon tea there given the price!
  • See a kangaroo in the wild.
  • Visit a country with the letter ‘Z’ in it.
  • See the Aurora Borealis (northern lights)
  • Get funky, colourful nail art on my finger and toenails just for fun, just for once.
  • See the rings on Saturn through an astronomy telescope
  • See some of my writing in print.  In a book, with real paper pages!
  • See an iceberg
  • See a starfish in the sea
  • Sail through the Norwegian Fiords

There are (and always will be) many dreams to realise, but one is shifting and moving to the surface, peeping over the glass rim, ready to be taken in my hands and released into the air. If you look carefully there is one dream which for me is a Particularly Big Dream. It is nestled just after my wish to see the rings on Saturn through a telescope and just before the desire to see an iceberg. That wish is to see some of my writing in print, in a real book with paper pages. This was clear also when I took up the baton in the recent Blog Tour and I wrote (at length) about my writing process.

Last year I saw a call for submissions for an Anthology, seeking narrative non-fiction and memoir from women writers who are, or have been expats in East Asia. How perfect was that? To cut a long story short, and one which the Editor tells here, my tale was selected for inclusion in the Anthology How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia. This is a collection of stories exploring the struggles and triumphs of expat life in East Asia by 26 female writers, edited by Shannon Young.  It will be available in paperback and e-book formats on 10 June 2014.You can follow the Facebook page here and read the Editor’s introduction to the book and contributors here.

Soon, I will be able to meet the other women writers through their stories and perhaps in person when the book is launched, as well as the Editor who I have worked with through the fine tuning process. Soon I will be able to pick up that book, leaf through its pages and read my own words. I can’t quite imagine how that will feel.

There will be many more details to share in the coming weeks, with reviews and the cover image, and perhaps my own experience of dragonfruit surprises!

Dragonfruit surprise!

Dragonfruit surprise!

And then I need to nurture the related dream, to produce a book which is all my own work. Something else which is being kept alive in the wish jar.

wishjar

How does one dress to be a writer, I wonder?

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A peek into my wish bucket

I have been nursing some unexpected foot pain the past few days and with great reluctance have skipped my early morning cycle and swim to ensure that whatever had caused the pain would be not be aggravated.  So I woke slowly on Friday morning, as the sun slowly seeped in through the bedroom window. I reached over for my iPod and had a quick check to see how the world had been faring overnight while I was resting.  I was immediately struck by two posts, from family in the far north east of Scotland, both of whom were in awe of a magical and spectacular display of the northern lights, (Aurora Borealis) or the “heavenly dancers” immortalised in song.

While I had been sleeping, many parts of the UK had been privy to an unusually stunning performance, and with the benefits of modern technology a number of awe-inspiring images were being beamed across the cybersphere. Despite growing up in rural Perthshire in Scotland, I have no recollection of seeing the northern lights and have maintained a fascination and wish to see them.  So much so, that they have featured in my “wish bucket”.

Northern Lights - one of many images on Twitter

Northern Lights – Gullane in Scotland – one of many images on Twitter

My wish bucket is something I have created in the past few years, to capture those little and not so little wishes and dreams.  It is not a  bucket list, as there is not a pressure to tick these off before I kick it!  Nor is it a wish list which I similarly have to work through.  Rather it is an imaginary receptacle into which I carefully put those dreams and desires to turn into reality when the time and opportunity allows it. I particularly like the fact that I can take these delights from the bucket as often as I like.

Now is then, a very apt time to revisit what is in my wish bucket and perhaps spur me into action. These are the treasures in my wish bucket:

  • Meet a blogging friend in a new place (repeat as often as possible)
  • Buy a picture/piece of artwork at a gallery opening and watch them put the red sticker on it.
  • Book into the Oriental Bangkok for a weekend.  Or maybe a night.  Or maybe just have afternoon tea there given the price!
  • See a kangaroo in the wild.
  • Visit a country with the letter ‘Z’ in it.
  • See the Aurora Borealis (northern lights)
  • Get funky, colourful nail art on my finger and toenails just for fun, just for once.
  • See the rings on Saturn through an astronomy telescope
  • See some of my writing in print.  In a book, with real paper pages!
  • See an iceberg
  • See a starfish in the sea
  • Sail through the Norwegian Fiords

The first wish I plucked out of the bucket was the toenail art wish.  I put this off for a silly length of time before I decided to get some nail art on my toenails.  And when I did, I just loved it! I showed my toes off to anyone I met and delighted in the delicate design which was not only exquisite in my eyes, but also highly affordable at around $8! This was something I could take from the wish bucket time and time again.  And I do!  Happily the novelty has worn off to the extent that I no longer take photos of every single design I have had, though there are more photos than is sensible!

I have also realised a long held dream to buy a piece of artwork at an exhibition and am delighted with my acquisition.  Living here with a vibrant and emerging art scene has really made that possible, and I was delighted to watch the red sticker being put on my new piece of multi-media artwork, an innovative mix of photography, paint and collage.

The red sticker on my new piece of art

The red sticker on my new piece of art

I have spent time on the Oslo Fiord, although I still want to travel along the remoter western fiords in Norway, so that is another wish which I can take out of the wish bucket more than once. I have also managed to meet up with two blogging friends, Terri of A Fresh Chapter (in Hong Kong as she transited from Vietnam to India) and Audrey in Edinburgh and wish to meet many blogging friends who I have connected with on this very warm online breast cancer blogging community.

There are still many dreams in my wish bucket, and some easier to realise then others.  The northern lights remain there and it would be wonderful one day to see them.  I am delighted that so many in the UK were able to witness their magic and share their pictures though.  One day perhaps……….

There is another very special wish which I am hoping to see realised in the coming weeks but I do not want to speak of that until those plans are firmer.  In the meantime, I hold on tightly to the happiness which my wishes have gifted me and look forward to sharing more in good time.

northernlights metrouk

Landmark days 1 and 2 crossed

 I had a horrible nightmare overnight into Thursday.

I had a very vivid dream that I discovered a lump on my right side. In my dream I knew that the date was exactly a year from finding the lump and so it does not take genius nor wildly lateral thinking to see what my mind was doing. I started the process of getting myself back to Bangkok to deal with the lump, and this involved telling people quite openly that there was a new lump and that I was very worried. The next stage of the dream focused on the fact that the lump was a rather odd shape, and it felt very hard, and even seemed to have a “point” at one end. I kept prodding and poking at the lump and eventually it worked its way through the skin (revolting I know but that is what happened) and turned out to be a cocktail stick. Heaven knows how it got there but perhaps it found its way there at the time of my mastectomy surgery. Even more worrying is how on earth such a bizarre notion played out in my mind while I should have been peacefully slumbering.

I was then faced with the embarrassment of going back to the people I had told about the lump and trying to explain it was a rogue cocktail stick!

That was my very weird start to Landmark Day 1 and I woke to the relief that I hadn’t found a lump combined with the memory of the day last year.

Yesterday (Saturday) was Landmark Day 2 – a year since I was referred by my Doctor to Bangkok for investigation. Happily my dreams have not been so disturbing, but then the events of that day were less alarming too. It is all cranking forward towards 2 October and the Cancerversary. I have something in mind, and underway to mark it so watch this space…….