The Moodscope Blog



How I worked my way out of depression (Part 1) Thursday March 14, 2019

Today's post is part 1 of 2, the second part will be published tomorrow.

A short story...

It's been almost 8 years now since that horrible year in my life when I thought so much about killing myself. This won't be a sad story, I'll let you know from the start, but a story about winning. This is how I see it and feel it now.

That year I got to the lowest point of my existence: the failed long-term relationship, the feeling of being betrayed, the immense hate, the lack of any sense of accomplishment at the workplace, the financial restraints I suddenly found myself into, the awful sense of being completely alone in the whole wide world, the feeling that life has no meaning and there's no point to go on...

My mind, my soul, my heart, they were all in pains and my whole being was in a constant ache. All day I wanted to scream to the emptiness outside of me. I was in a very desolate place and I will never forget that year. But I don't know if I want to forget it. It has helped shape me and made me so much stronger than I ever was.

I contemplated the idea of taking my life. I was dreaming about how a simple gesture will end it all and how the world will simply continue without me in it. So fast and simple... I was in complete darkness and I was beyond sad and desperate. I used to think if I would cut my wrists, no blood would come out anyway, because it has all gone dry in my body. I cried so much, I got to a point where I thought I also didn't have tears in me anymore.

For me, what got me out of it and helped me, was the idea of those people I knew loved me, my family, and that they will not be ok without me. I thought about my grandma, that had died some short time before, who had loved me so dearly and helped raise me. I wanted her to be proud of me and not see me fall. And with these realizations, I knew there was no one who could help me if I didn't want help. I began to say I need help. I started saying that to myself every day and I started to look for help everywhere around me that I considered possible.

Out of fear of what I might do to myself, I started spending a lot of time with friends and family, forcefully in the beginning, but I realized it was helpful. I started praying and praying and praying, a lot, and talking to whom I saw fit about being in a poor state of mind. And that helped too. I started to read about depression, I meditated and I also discovered Moodscope. I took long walks in the park and dragged myself to the gym. I started playing the "Grateful for..." game, my own way of reminding myself every time of all the things I should be grateful for, that other people were not so fortunate to have and can only wish for.

I admitted to myself I need help and I need to be very gentle to my own self, I clinged to any nice moment and I tried to enjoy and live each moment fully. I know it would seem easy for those not having depression, but for me, at that time, it was a race against the clock, not to give into the weak moment of giving up on my life.

With all my love,

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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Lent Wednesday March 13, 2019

Some people give up alcohol; but I've already stopped drinking (at least in theory). Some people give up chocolate – but I've still got half that box of Christmas chocolates left and they are far too good not to eat. Some people take on the discipline of doing something nice for others every day, but – I don't feel the need to do that either.

A friend said she's giving up complaining for Lent. She is reading Will Bowen's book, A Complaint Free World: How to Stop Complaining and Enjoy the Life you Always Wanted. I thought about it for a while but that one didn't resonate either. I have always held with the philosophy of counting your blessings, and not your lacks, and hate complaining about anything!

So – why give up anything for Lent? I am a Christian, a member of the Anglican Church; but even within the Church, the Lenten fast is not obligatory.

Yet I feel I want to mark this period in some way – and in a manner which will make a positive impact on me and on others.

After some contemplation I had an idea. This Lent I am giving up being nasty to myself. For the six weeks up to Easter (only five now), I will cease to beat myself up, call myself names or castigate myself over anything. I will accept my actions without judgment. This is much harder than accepting the actions of others without judgment!

So – that alcohol thing? Saturday night I slipped up big-time. I went around all Sunday with a fuzzy head and a queasy tummy. This week, the healthy eating has fallen by the wayside. I have not written the chapter of my book I told myself I would. I have not kept promises made. As the book of common prayer says, "I have left undone those things which I ought to have done and I have done those things which I ought not to have done."

And I have decided not to feel guilty about them, or to sit in judgment upon myself, or to punish myself. Instead, there is a huge emptiness where all that judgment, guilt and punishment would normally churn away like a maelstrom. It's an odd feeling of nothingness.

My first observation was that I felt guilty for not feeling guilty, so I had to get rid of that too. Now there is a freedom; a limbo. And I don't know what will come next.

Of course, I do not wish to drink again – it really doesn't work for me. Of course, I feel better if I eat more vegetables and less sugar. Yes – I really do want to finish my book. I want to keep those promises I made.

But - it's okay to start again from here.

I don't know what will happen, but I do know that forgoing the inward punishment means more space and energy to look outward to others.

And that must be healthier. With or without that chocolate!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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This word belongs in the bin Tuesday March 12, 2019

I read that using the word 'should' a lot can cause a low self esteem.

When we use should a lot it puts pressure on ourselves and if people say you should do this or that, we feel we are not good enough the way we are.

I am doing a public service by opening up my big should bin that is not recyclable.

All those should sentences you can put in my bin. They can be ones people say to you or ones you say to yourself.

Here is what I am putting in:

What I say to myself:

I should stop eating chocolates.
I should exercise more.
I should be more organised.

What people say to me:

You should be happy.
You should be more patient.
You should not be so critical.
You should act your age.

Do you have more should sentences of your own or from others?

What will you put in the bin, trash can, waste paper basket or whatever you call it?

Maybe shoulds help you and you can explain how and why?

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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What Do You Want To Be Remembered For? Monday March 11, 2019

Penelope beamed with delight. She'd been foraging in the National Trust's second-hand bookshop at Kingston Lacy, and she'd found a treasure! That treasure was, "A Darzit Voice," by Beau Parke – "Poems and Stories from a Dorset Man."

In our village, where Beau lived, he was remembered for his poetry and stories, and for his much-loved friendly chatter. Penelope's find clearly triggered many happy memories.

Let's go back further in history. Dorcas, in the Bible, was known for her acts of kindness – specifically, "always doing good and helping the poor." When she died, weeping widows showed the Apostle Peter the clothes Dorcas had made for them. They were able to show Peter the evidence of what they remembered her for: kindness shown through her gifts of hand-made clothing.

"What do you want to be remembered for?" Your answer may surprise you! The idea for this blog came to me in the night – in that dream-like state between wakefulness and sleep. I knew, in this state, exactly what I wanted to be remembered for: my poems. Not what I thought I ought to be remembered for: the good Dad, the dutiful partner, the kind person, the generous giver. No! The poet! In my dream-like moment of clarity, I wanted to be remembered for my writing, my words, my voice. My logical-brain kicked in as I began to swim back to a more traditionally conscious level (you know, the one where you edit the answers!), and added more of what we might expect – kindness and music for me – and I'm sure you could add to the list – but the point had been made by my sub-conscious mind!

The unedited truth was out: poetry. The problem is, I don't write much poetry... yet!

Dorcas left evidence that tied her in to what she was remembered for. Beau published his poems so that he lives on, easy to recall in our memories through his books. Once you know what you'd like to be remembered for, ask yourself what the evidence would be to link you to that memory.

The call to action is coming next, but before it does, I want to emphasise that this is not meant to be a morbid blog about death! It's a positive blog to help focus you on your passion so that you can live your passion – doing more of what you love. Beau loved to write and chat; Dorcas loved to make clothing and give..

What do you want to be remembered for? When you can answer that, the next choice is easy: go and do more of what you want to be remembered for!

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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Pull me back into the shallows: an open letter Sunday March 10, 2019

I wrote this recently when I felt myself withdrawing from social events, and from making contact with friends and family. Sometimes depression and anxiety make us want to withdraw and I often rely on those that know me well to pull me back to the surface.

Please don't let me withdraw too far. If you haven't heard from me in a while or I'm slow to respond to a text, or I've missed more than one appointment, or I cancelled that dinner or missed that party or you just haven't heard my voice in a while... please don't let me withdraw too far. Trust your instinct. Please reach out your patient long arms and gently pull me back into the light shallows because sometimes I won't realise that I've gone swirling back into my lonely shell. Sometimes you'll see it before I do. Sometimes it takes a person who's been there to know it in another. Sometimes I won't spot where I am sinking to until it's too late and by then, not only have I missed out on being near you all and living but I'm too busy berating myself for going too far within and allowing myself to float down into the depths.

I will never, ever resent you for reaching your hand out to pull me back to the warm sunlit surface. Drag me if you need to. And every time you do, no matter how bedraggled I am, I'll be more grateful than you could ever know. And I promise, if and when the times come, I will do the same for you.

A Moodscope member

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Healing hurts Saturday March 9, 2019

So, in the latest episode of Brum Mum's domestic dramas I cut my forefinger when washing a dog food tin out. Ouch it hurt!! A jagged cut with a flap of skin which was now oozing blood.

That was the same day that I got up to find that the dog had pooed all over the living room floor (mercifully mainly on a wooden floor) and then half an hour later I dropped my brand new phone which I had had for four days, and would cost me so much to repair that the upgrade has now been consigned to the back of the drawer. Or was it the day after?

Having survived half term, crawling through the days I had with the kids despite being mentally and physically exhausted, I cannot help but be cheered by this beautiful Spring weather. Yesterday I walked round the chocolate box bit of Brum I live in and marvelled at the first lot of primroses out and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my face.

But I also considered how, just as my finger was now healing but was still sore, I was beginning to heal from some of the pain I have been facing, but that didn't mean that it was easy. I have indeed blogged before about the searing pain of losing my Dad, and the split with the partner last month, I haven't shared that I had a lovely date lined up for yesterday and then at the last minute he pulled out citing distance as his reason for not turning up.

Now I am resilient enough to know that the abortive potential date was not my fault, although I had built it up in my head and was as excited and nervous as a teenager.

The other painful stuff is stuff we all face at some time: the loss of a dear one, the relationship breakdown and for me currently a messy situation at work that I need to resolve.

This is all tough stuff, but I've won half the battle because I know that and I am trying to deal with it. I have arranged some counselling, taken time off work to re-energise and planned a weekend away with a girlfriend in the summer. WITH NO CHILDREN...

So, as I type this blog with my slightly sore finger, I have come to accept that I can't change some things, I am feeling what I am feeling and I am working to try to make a better future for myself... and that starts today.

I hope that when things hurt you can find some healing too... and the whole point of Moodscope is that we can share those tricky thoughts, those messy situations, that scary stuff which is just too much to bear on our own.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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Blind Spot Friday March 8, 2019

Bang, the words hit me like an articulated lorry. I feel like I have been in a slowly emerging car crash for the last year, and I knew it would end badly, but I didn't think I would be blamed.

I managed a lady who is a vindictive bully. I did the best I could, but she was underhand. The emerging car crash was the slow realisation that she had been bullying multiple people over a long period, with significant distress and pain to them. The articulated lorry smash was me being held accountable as it happened on my watch, that I hadn't protected people from her. This was the absolute worst thing. I had tried my best, and tried to do the right thing, I had put my heart and soul into trying, even though I was frightened and tired, but I hadn't been able to achieve what was expected of me. And it had devastating consequences.

At that time, something got inside of me, and weakened my soul. I went to dark places. But I didn't give in, I kept on and took a long hard look, and started to put the pieces back together. How do I feel now? Stronger, that I have learnt some important lessons, and that I am vulnerable, I know have an Achilles heal, but I feel I would do things differently.

It took a long time to emerge but I found compassion for myself. For the other past victims, her current and future victims (because for sure they exist, even if they may not even realise as she manipulates them) I apologise that I wasn't able to stop her, and I send them my love and healing. When Karma comes to her I will try to feel pity and care, but her Karma seems a very long time in coming and I am not promising anything, for me there is still an even longer way to go before I can go that far.

And if you are be bullied as I and the others were, I am here for you sending love and healing, don't despair, stay strong you can and will get through. I wake this morning and can still see the scar, I touch it's edges and ridges, and feel grateful I am in a better place.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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The well from which wishes come Thursday March 7, 2019

If I need to drink more water, I leave out the water jug. Fully loaded and ready to pour. But its not enough. I put it in line of sight. But its not enough. I put a glass beside it. But its not enough. I pour water into the glass. But its not enough. I place the jug and the glass beside the kettle and beside my notepad which runs my life. But. Its. Not. Enough. I leave it in front of all the important things, so my wrists have to trip over it to reach anything life affirming. But it is not enough. I need to leave it there for some time. Sometimes an hour. Sometimes a day. Sometimes a week, a month, a year. Now I've learned a bit and I just leave it all set up every hour of every day of my life. And I drink more water.

If only improving our mental health was so simple. Some of us need to work harder at keeping our mental health on the lead than others. Whatever it is you need to do, even if you are not sure what that is, just keep bringing 'things' that are good for you into your line of sight over and over and over again. One day you will find a rhythm and one day you will harness the good days and ride them like a wild horse and one day you will see the bad days and just sit beside them until they abate. The hurt does lessen.

Know that. And if you simply don't have any strength to know that, at this moment, then you can trust my word. It's taken me more than thirty years to glimpse it, learn about it and believe it, but now I know it. I'm not fixed or cured, I'm not sure I want to be, but I know I can cope with it.

Your rhythm will come. It'll start with random beats. Hang on.

Now do your Moodscope cards. They will illustrate your rhythm.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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If I Were Perfect Wednesday March 6, 2019

If I were perfect, my house would be clean;
My carpets all hoovered; my taps would all gleam.
If I were perfect I’d complete every chore
And you’d be happy to eat your dinner from my floor.

The dust bunnies would be banished, the grime all gone
Papers would be tidied and the admin all done.
The ironing would be smooth and all put away
And the bins would be emptied at the end of each day.

If I were perfect, our meals would be planned
We’d eat five a day and sugar would be banned.
My children would eat with relish and delight
And then they’d wash up with no hint of a fight.

Oh, if I were perfect, I’d never be cross
With my husband and children – and I’d always be boss.
My business would prosper, my clients would pay;
I’d be filled with such joy as I worked every day.

If I were perfect, I’d be slim and fit
Of gin and chocolate I’d consume not a bit.
I’d lift weights for pleasure and have lots of fun
And smile as I trained for that 5K fun run.

But, if I were perfect, my friends would all leave
They’d laugh at me: “Who are you trying to deceive?”
Where is the Mary we all love and know?
We want to find her under this show!

The Mary we love is scatty but kind,
She’s warm and witty with a sharp mind.
We know she hates housework and that’s okay,
We’d rather she wrote blogs than do cleaning all day.

The Mary we love gets impatient at times.
Her kids drive her crazy, time out of mind.
But we know she loves them, and we know she loves us
Life’s too short for that perfectionism fuss.

So, if you despair because you’re not there yet
And you’ve failed because of targets not met.
Just think of what your “perfection” would be
And what we’d lose – the stuff that makes you and me –

Just perfect.

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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Doing something, anything, in this case writing a blog Tuesday March 5, 2019

Everyone seems to be doing it, so why not me?

Well there is no good reason other than:

A) Being bothered
B) Feeling like it won't be any good
C) What is the point- how does it help?
D) What will I write about?

All of the above have been good reasons until now not to write something... but they are no longer thoughts that serve me, so I'm trying to get rid of them and actually do SOMETHING.

I'm writing this sitting in my tiny backyard with the warm of the Spring sunshine on my back. The very few birds we seem to have around are chirping to each other. 'Here or here?' I imagine them saying when considering the eves of which house to nest in.
Listening to the birds, I'm reminded of how much better I feel when chatting however briefly, randomly or deeply with another person.

For me social anxiety and fear of 'putting my foot in it' when talking to others keeps me isolated and at home rather too often.

I am at a crossroads in life just now and I want to step forward with enthusiasm and courage but taking the first steps to a new beginning is often a hurdle I can't jump. I know I need to make more and deeper connections with those around me and others I haven't even met yet.

What is it I fear, you ask? Well it's routed in judgement I am starting to think. Will I be boring company with limited small talk? No interesting anecdotes to share as I barely see anyone or try new things.

It's a vicious circle – no new experiences, nothing to talk about, nothing to share when I do meet people and no meeting of new people as I'm not getting out there to meet anyone!

I'd really appreciate any suggestions as to how to get out and meet new people without feeling foolish, stupid, inadequate, that they might think I'm boring, uninteresting, ugly, not worth being a friend to.

So there, I've done it, I've written a blog and I hope it's the first of lots I'll write as I've always wanted to be a writer, but I need those new experiences too in order to have something else to write about; so your suggestions about overcoming the anxiety of getting out there truly are welcome.

A Moodscope member

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Catastrophising Monday March 4, 2019

"Everything is a drama with her!" so said one good friend of mine about another. The context was a trail of woe that followed this mutual friend around. Nothing seems straightforward for this lady, and if you made the mistake of asking how she is, the stories of disaster could make a reasonably 'funny' sitcom... if you could see the funny side. She couldn't. Quietly, within the confines of my own thoughts, I echoed, "She could say the same about me!" My life has become that of a Drama Queen.

Some people seem to be unlucky. Almost cursed. I remember once wondering if it had been the time that a Gypsy lady had 'cursed' me for no apparent reason... perhaps she was just having a bad day. Or what about when I broke the mirror? I think it only logical that we should seek a reason for, a meaning for, or even a cause for the calamities that touch every life from time to time. "Why me?" we ask. Good question. Usually the wrong answer.

The truth, however, is that life isn't fair, and that it never has been. The sooner we accept that, the faster we have a chance at a revised form of happiness – based on better expectations. Very bad things happen to very good people. Human beings, on the other hand, impose fairness on the World, and the World is a better place for this imposition (consider the abolition of slavery, or our current just war against human trafficking.) When we can, we make it better. Eventually.

However, we can make it better even in the midst of tough times by refusing to the use the Super Power of the Drama Queen: Catastrophising!

Catastrophising – and I'm not sure if it's a real word – is a real phenomenon. It is the power to take a bad situation and blow it up out of all proportion. I had a cracking example recently. Through my own fault, I've had the 'bad luck' of losing the internet at the house. I used my payment card for a snack on the Friday, drove back from the office, and then couldn't find my card. I didn't have much fuel or energy so I decided not to drive back to the office to check. Of course, not having internet meant no way to check my bank to see if someone had found my 'lost' card and used it for all manner of nefarious purposes!

I then got food poisoning that wiped out not only me but also Penelope for two further days. This meant I was unable to verify how 'terrible' the situation was for four days! When you use the Super Power of Catastrophising, that's a lot of time to dream up the very worst possible scenarios about what might be happening!

This time, I decided to hang up my Super Hero Costume of 'Drama Queen' (The Tiara of Terror, and the Tutu of Tut-tut!) and just shrug, "Whatever!" I knew I'd be able to sort it out... eventually. That was quite a breakthrough, for me.

And guess what? The card was under some paperwork at the office. And I haven't died of food poisoning... yet!

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday b****y Sunday Sunday March 3, 2019

For charade players the title is a film and a song. Although we are Anglican we had a catholic funeral service for my husband here in France, best solution, nearly the whole congregation was French and catholic, and the family coped very well, doing their 'own' thing for Papa later in the UK.

However, several people paid for masses to be said, and I go to mass on those Sundays. We have had many deaths in the town in the last 4 months, four people I knew in 10 days. Last week there was a big congregation, the whole family come when relatives are mentioned, so, many young people. Being a writer, the lives of these families intrigue me (uncharitable characters would say I was nosey).

As I walked home in brilliant sunshine someone ran up behind me 'Come to Lunch'. Great. She and I are past masters at doing things spur of the moment. They cannot be poor, but the house is just short of squalor - no heating, crumbling plaster, same oilcloth on table as 25 years ago. She has milked cows twice a day for 30 years. Now a son has taken over the tenancy she has Sunday evenings off! First one celebrated with coffee, cake and two hours chat in my warm kitchen. They have two sons and a daughter. The husband is a bore and a boar – we get on well, but if the subject is not agriculture or politics he goes to sleep. He treated the elder son as a stupid clot, so the boy (in his 20's) left for the States, no English, where he proved not to be stupid at all, now in Noumea, and all communication lost - his mother is very cut up, but can't say a thing. Second son had learning difficulties, but coped, spent 4 years in Switzerland as a relief milker, most enterprising. He's back, but will NOT live on the farm, his partner is 47, no hope of children, so, two sons, but nobody to bear their name.

The second 'case' is another lady recently widowed. When we came here they had the best delicatessen in town, and did huge official meals, 300+ people. He was rumoured to be avaricious, they did not have a holiday for 37 years. Then, one morning, she just could not get up, she had hit the buffers. They had to stop the business, and we met very often at 'do's' as we were all fond of dancing. She's nearly 80, very smart, and coping.

Back to Sunday – restaurants do a good trade here, families take Granny out. But old-fashioned English Sundays? The obligatory family roast, Mum's famous roast potatoes, her apple pie (many people were sick of apple pie) – bullying the kids into decent clothes and good behaviour. Tea with the Aunts (anybody keen on the Forsyte Saga?)

So, what's Sunday for you? Golf widow? Lawn mowing? Passing the baton with the kids if you are separated? Or lying in bed with the Sunday papers?

Dread, or delight?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member

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Room 101 Saturday March 2, 2019

My partner Spock and I sometimes play word games to pass the time on long walks. You know the sort, 20 Questions, Dessert Island Discs, Kiss Marry Kill (warning, if playing this with your other half, the relationship may never be the same again. I should not have included Bambi).

Another favourite is Room 101. Many of you will have watched the TV show, based on 1984. Room 101 is where all the terrible stuff is. You don't have to wish harm on the subject, if it is a living being. For instance, wasps are on my list, but I never harm one. I just wish they were never created.

When it comes to things that should be abolished, Victor Meldrew has nothing on me. Spock on the other hand does this silly Buddhist moral high ground thing. Rise above it, don't get het up, blah blah. I remind him of that next time he's shouting "What's this w****r playing at!" at another motorist.

Here's my basic list:

Wasps nests.

Sticking plasters. Useless, fiddly, fall off.

Adverts and trailers on TV and in cinema. The latter just gets worse, you think you'll wait outside, but they're still running when you take your seat - 30 minutes last time!

Other people's bottoms. I have one of my own thank you. I avoid looking at it, so I certainly don't want to see yours. At one time seen only on building sites, now they are everywhere.

People who clean up after their dogs, then leave the plastic bag on a hedge. Do they think there is a dog poo fairy who will come along and take it away?

Fly-tippers/litter louts. Bring backs the stocks.

Coffee shops. Great for a chat, but has anyone ever had a decent cup of coffee in one.

Designer dogs. This includes Crufts. Don't get me started.

Female celebrities who look 30 years younger, claim it's all down to yoga and celery juice.

Nuisance calls.

Narcissists. They're everywhere. Is it some kind of gene mutation?

Tattoos above the collar bone.

On top of this, there are others more topical.

Teeth. I forgot to use my little brush for just two miserable days. Now I have swollen bleeding gums. Thank you.

Parents who allow children to run amok in public. We arrived at a restaurant to find our table overrun by kids. Toys, food, chairs knocked over. Their parents did much sighing and eye rolling when we politely asked them to move the little darlings. They spent the evening running round screaming.

A woman with feral children was asked to leave the dog rescue kennels, after they released and tormented dogs. "My children are your future" she told me. My response was "May God help us all"

All politics and politicians, all parties, all nations. It's not funny any more.

So Moodscopers, what gets your goat? Don't be coy, we know you harbour some very strong dislikes. Unburden yourself, you'll feel better for it.

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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Procrastination Friday March 1, 2019

A couple of weeks ago, games as a form of procrastination were mentioned in blog comments.

This coincided with me attending a talk by Barbara Oakley, who talks about the causes of procrastination and methods of dealing with it. I wonder whether those of us suffering with mental health conditions are more prone to procrastinate, letting negative emotions get in the way of achieving our goals.

Why do we procrastinate? When we have a difficult task to do, even one for our own benefit, such as reading a thought-provoking book or practising a musical instrument, our brain hurts! It sends messages saying "This will be tough" and we literally experience brain pain. Not that you'd notice it, but internally those chemical reactions are happening.

That devil perches on our shoulder saying "Do something easy instead", such as eat cake, or watch telly. We succumb and get an immediate hit of happiness. But it is only temporary happiness, till we realise the task has not been done, so we also get a hit of guilt.

So the biggie is "How To Deal With Procrastination"?

Have you tried the Pomodoro technique? Do you remember those tomato-shaped kitchen timers from the 1970's? Pomodoro is Italian for tomato.

1 Turn off all distractions: your phone, email, apps that send notifications.

2 Set your timer, be it tomato-shaped, or on your phone (in airplane mode)
for 25 minutes.

3 Focus on your task for 25 minutes.

4. When the timer beeps, give yourself a treat – a cup of tea, listen to a favourite song, five minutes enjoying sunshine. This treat is a critical part of the process.

Then set the timer going again, and repeat the process, if you can.

At the very least, you will have made a start on your task, and had a treat. This makes your brain happy which starts the process of forming a good habit.

Here is a youtube link of Barbara Oakley at Google:

To cut to the chase on procrastination, go to 17:30 – 22:30

Do you have any tricks for beating the procrastination devil?

A Moodscope member

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Starting over Thursday February 28, 2019

Recently in her blog All the things I never did... (19 February 2019), The Gardener hit on the downer that has plagued me since 2010. In some ways, I've healed, but I still feel like I'm a lost wanderer.

I've been called a collector – a collector of information. I want to know everything there is to know. You probably can't come up with a subject that I won't find interesting. So at age 57, I take free online courses (currently and simultaneously I'm taking a course on Jane Austen, on behavior and genetics, genealogy, the history of royal British fashion, the buildings of ancient Rome, and prep to get my real estate license. I learned to ride a motorcycle at age 51, travel extensively, regularly take photography courses and workshops, write a bit (nothing published – too scared), and run a very successful pet care business. I garden and do crafts.

I read books on antiques, ethology, Dickens, psychology, travel guides, woodworking.

Yet, I find myself feeling extraordinarily unsatisfied (not dissatisfied). I have a seriously troubled relationship with my mother, brother, son, and daughter. I have no friends (yes, for real, no friends). I've failed miserably at volunteering. I lost my career in animal sheltering back in 2010 in a rather dramatic series of events that ended with my being institutionalized. Humans are cruel creatures when they get on a crusade; they believe they can do no wrong. I have PTSD and can no longer work; Lord knows I've tried, which has only added to my feelings of inadequacy and failure.

I have a driving desire to move someplace far away (from my native Texas). The mountains of North Carolina perhaps. And start over. My soulmate/husband of 38 years worries that I would be jumping out of the pot into the fire. But I have a driving desire to clear my mind, rid myself of driving past locations that bring only heart-wrenching memories, and establishing new routines for myself.

I know running away is not an answer, but I feel more like I would be cleaning house, purging, renewing, reviving.

Have you ever tried to start over only to find you were running away? Were there clues beforehand that you were probably making a mistake? Or did you launch a new start and found it so wonderful you wondered why you took so long? What did you find useful in making your decision?

A Moodscope member

P.S. Thank you to each and every one of you for being constant and true. It's so hard to find "real" people in this world. My daughter-in-law knows (some, but not all) of my mental health issues, and is afraid of them. She has cameras in her home to watch when I am with my grandchildren. Why can't she just talk to me about this? I can help educate her!

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Getting Stuck! Wednesday February 27, 2019

This is the third time it's happened, so I should have expected it.

Well, being honest, it is about the thirtieth time, but only the third since I found a way through it.

Yes, my book has got stuck.

I think I have at least twenty draft novels in the loft. Some are written in exercise books in an eleven-year old hand (there might be earlier attempts too, but I'm not sure if I've kept the stories where I wrote myself into the adventures of the Famous Five and Secret Seven); some are typed on my mother's old portable typewriter – only thrown away last year when she downsized and moved into her small apartment. Some are printed out in faint grey on that computer paper with holes down the sides. Some are stored on floppy disks (both sizes). There are a lot of stories, and they all have one thing in common: they are unfinished.

You see, they all got stuck at a certain point – usually about a third of the way in – and I didn't know how to unstick them.

I know how to unstick them now, at least in theory. I plot and write every word in my head before I even touch that keyboard.

When the simplicity of this solution was first suggested to me, I was flabbergasted. I had always assumed I was a "seat of the pants" writer, so I just started a story and let it find its own way. Apparently, its own way was to meander to a dead-end. Once I plotted my story scene by scene, it almost wrote itself; the task became easy.

In my second book, it was my villain who gave me trouble. The problem here was that I just liked him too much! Once I understood he was really another hero, it was easy: I just had to chain myself to the keyboard and type.

This book (deep sigh). Despite meticulous plotting, despite knowing my characters inside out, it still got stuck.

I needed to rewrite (in my head) a crucial scene. I did that but was still stuck. Then a friend challenged me. 'Just write another 500 words,' she said. 'Just write the next scene.'

It took such a long time to write those 500 words. Well, no: it took a long time to write the first 300; the last 200 just flew. And now I can't wait to get on with the next bit. All it takes now is the discipline to schedule writing time and then take that time and write.

We get stuck with a lot of things in life. My daughter is stuck with her homework. My husband is stuck midway through decorating our bedroom. My mother is stuck halfway through a patchwork quilt.

Maybe the same solution applies: work it all out in your head first. See the way it needs to go. Then – just do a little bit. Get moving and the momentum of your vision will pull you forward.

A Moodscope member

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I do believe (in fairies). I do. I do Tuesday February 26, 2019

This is not meant as moan or complaint. I simply realised I had words I needed to let go. And no other place to release them.

Where were you at 5.55am when I needed reassurance that the day would turn on its axis? Where were you at 6.40am as I cared for our sleepy children trying not to show my deeper self? Where were you at 7.30am when there was a last minute panic? Where were you at 8am as our teenage son cried into my neck? Where were you at 8.15am as I battled through the wind and rain sharing the load of 5 heavy going-away bags? Where were you at 8.45am as I sat deflated in the car? Where were you at 9am as my mouth twisted into a 'do not cry now' shape? Where were you at 11am as our teenage daughter cried over things she had been holding inside, waiting patiently for me to have time to hear her? Where were you as I held her, cooked for her and pointed her in the direction she needed? Where were you as I drove her through the rain? Where were you when I was exhausted and had to appear fresh to meet our other teenage daughter who had had her second large disappointment of the week? Where were you as I treated her to tea out to hear her face to face, instead of cooking with my back to her? Where were you as I snuggled her into our bed to watch tv so she might feel she was the only one in the world who mattered? Where were you when I received a call well after midnight from our older teenage daughter to say she'd finished work and that the buses had stopped? Where were you as I drove in the night leaving younger people sleeping, unaware I'd gone and hoping the burglar would not repeat? Where were you early the next day when it was time to start again?

Did you not want to be more than the parenting you received? Diamonds are no substitute for presence. They are perfect. And hard and cold. You were gone. You were always gone. It was my realisation of being utterly alone which prompted me to suggest you leave. But I did not imagine you would go.

I rebuild. It is taking a very long time. The bricks keep falling. I keep replacing them. Only a quiet voice, deep inside and very far away whispers it will be ok. I need that voice. When I can't hear it, I need other things to tell me it will be ok, the reassurance that rain falls, the rhythm of night following day, the feel of my heart beating, somebody's smile, each serves to say it will be ok. And it will. Believing is a powerful action which only asks for us to turn up. I whisper "I trust" and the two 'Ts' give my teeth bookends of solidity to say aloud. A little mantra. I do trust. I do believe. There, another brick placed.

Grab your bricks. Rome wasn't built in a day. And Lego can be cathartic! Meet you there.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

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How to get more energy Monday February 25, 2019

"I've got neither the time, nor the inclination, nor the energy for that now..."

Wouldn't it be great to have the time, the inclination, AND the energy for whatever we'd like to be doing?

According to Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz, authors of "The Power of Full Engagement," we can enjoy life more – with the emphasis on the 'Joy' – if we look after not one but four sources of energy. I was surprised at some of their choices of the four: Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual.

Physical energy – not so surprising – breathing properly, eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep is a well-known recipe for well-being.

Emotional energy – having enough emotional reserves to bring energy into each day's challenges. For me, Moodscope is an essential source of emotional energy. Your kind comments to everyone's blogs are a great exchange of energy. They add enormous value and relevance to the blog each day. Encouragement gives energy.

This is why I recommend you comment on the blogs – to feel ever more a part of our community – and push yourself to the point where you can feel willing (not necessarily 'comfortable') to write a blog. I thank you for your energy. Thank you for giving me strength.

Moodscope can appear to have a few favourites – an issue I'd like to address. The same names that come up time and again were not chosen – we chose ourselves. I love to write, and I know Mary Wednesday also has a shared passion for writing. It gives us energy and a sense of purpose - so we approached Caroline. Everyone who comments chooses to comment. Would you do me a favour? Pick yourself! Choose to comment! Elect yourself to write a blog! You'll find a fresh sense of purpose, engagement, and, yes, energy.

Purpose is another of the energies – the authors calling it "Spiritual Energy." Not necessarily religious, spiritual energy is all about finding purpose. In the past, I've supported the Lucy Rayner Foundation. This is a heart-wrenching example of finding purpose (and thus the energy to go on) out of adversity. Lucy, a young vibrant woman of great promise, deeply loved, committed suicide. The lives of everyone in the family were changed in an instant. Now the whole family is dedicated to preventing this happening to other families. I can help you find your purpose – and would love to.

The fourth energy is mental energy. I love writing on Monday because I have this theme of Moodscope Monday Mindset in my mind. Action often starts with a thought that articulates a feeling – thus having a possibility mindset is a huge source of energy. My hope is that the Moodscope blog can contribute to your mental and emotional energy – and maybe even to your spiritual energy.

May I recommend you choose one of the energies to work on first? I'm fat.There, I said it. My breathing is laboured. I need more exercise. That's what I'm committing to... and rather publicly! What are you going to do to get more energy?

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to leave a comment below

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Who decides what is good for me? Sunday February 24, 2019

Marys blog a while ago, about what brings us joy made me think, that maybe all the things that bring me joy and I like doing are really things that I am told are not good for me. I know eating chocolates is not good for me, but it does bring me joy in moderation of and I do like spending money but of course have to be careful I don't spend too much even though I need to buy stock for my shop.

I am intrigued by something a friend said by making 'feeling good' your goal. What happens if the thing that makes you feel good is actually not very good for you? Like eating my chocolates or staying at home, because it might make me anxious to go out socially.

If I like to stay home and eat chocolate and that brings me joy but others say it is not good for me, does that mean I have to choose something others approve of?

My friend cannot understand me and says that feeling good would exclude anything that is not good for me, as, if feeling good is my goal, then these things would not be on my plan.

My friend says that if my goal is to feel good why would I do something that is not in my best interests.

I maybe different, but eating chocolate, staying home and spending money does make me feel good and brings me joy.

So, who decides what brings us joy and what is good for us?

A Moodscope member

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The Lonely Dot Saturday February 23, 2019

Today I started completing the daily test again. After 610 days of not taking it. Yes, 610 days. Today. I went back to it. Also, today, I made it to my 40th consecutive day of Headspace daily meditations when a quiet voice in my head (yep, getting better at listening to her these days) said: "Ok, so how about you try taking the daily Moodscope tests again?" Research shows that 'piggy backing' a daily habit onto another daily habit means you are more likely to sustain it. And believe it or not, I HAVE been reading the daily Moodscope blogs! Perhaps not for the 610 days during which I haven't taken the test but I'd say for a sizeable chunk! And Moodscope has been in my life since 2014. AND I can often be found 'screen shotting' the quotes at the end! Brum Mum's one recently within her blog about choosing to act was very beautiful and resonated with me.

But I've NOT been tapping the green dot that says 'take the test'. I wonder why?? I think I know and I won't go into all the whys and wherefores now, but suffice to say: I've been ignoring or at the very least suppressing some of my raw emotions. However, through therapy, I've learnt for me it's habitual and part of a childhood cycle that I'm freeing from. I've come a very, very long way in terms of accepting myself but...going there on the cards? 'Scared?' 'Distressed?' Go there and admit it to myself? And it be recorded? No thank you I told myself. Same goes for some of the lovely red cards...'Strong?' 'Enthusiastic?' Again, admit to myself I'm often 0/1 on these?? Erm. No thank you. Not to mention having to do battle with my annoying inner critic Petunia-Hyacinth who judges my low scores! But today, there was something about the mini celebration that went off inside when I acknowledged I'm Quite A Bit Proud of myself. Woah. I am actually! I am Quite A Bit Proud of myself!

Who knows, maybe in 40 more days - or less - I'll try again with annotations too, but do you know what? And this is massive for me: what I've achieved today is enough. And I am quite-a-bit PROUD of myself. Today.

A Moodscope member.

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