The Moodscope Blog



Count your blessings and other things! Tuesday September 3, 2019

My anxiety is caused by a physiological condition (hypercalcemia) but it is the anxiety about the anxiety that causes me a problem!

One of my solutions has been to count time. If you feel too tired to get out of bed in the morning, count to 20 slowly with a determination to get up when you reach this number. Rise slowly and congratulate yourself on a good start to the day. Perhaps have a different breakfast drink, chamomile, mint or rosemary tea. Small pleasant things can make a milestone in your day.

Physical activity is so important when you feel anxious and tired. Do you have real difficulty in motivating yourself? I try stepping outside and walking briskly for just 2 minutes (or try a run, if you are able, for 30 seconds). Do not worry about what to wear; any clothes and comfortable shoes will do. Chances are after the time is up you will continue. If not, pat yourself on the back at having a achieved a brisk walk or short run that day. Make a determination to try again tomorrow for a bit longer. We all know that every journey starts with a small step!

Putting off doing that uninviting household task? Maybe clearing out a cupboard that has become a jumble? Resolve to tackle it for two minutes. Time yourself with something that beeps at the end of the time. Then see if you feel like continuing. Getting engrossed in a task often makes the time fly and provides the motivation to do more. If not, finish off and feel pleased that you have made a good start.

How about a bit of quiet time? Go into the garden (or look out of the window) for a full 5 minutes. Count how many birds you see. Try to identify them by species. How many sparrows, dunnets, finches, magpies or pigeons. Look up one of the birds you don't know much about and learn a new fact!

Counted time is time well spent. It gives a sense of achievement and acts as a springboard to continue the task/activity or the motivation to do other things. Start with very short periods of time and build up from there. It adds a structure to your day and keeping a log is a good way of seeing tangible progress.

Be well, my friends, and make those minutes count.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Maybe, Maybe Not Monday September 2, 2019

Jumping to conclusions is the only daily exercise I get. It's not helpful when those conclusions are extreme! It's far too easy, when something small goes wrong, to extrapolate the consequences to herald the end of the world! I need to stay more open to possibilities.

Once upon a time I heard a story about a fortunate farmer. Onto his farm wandered a most gorgeous wild stallion. Much strength could be harnessed if the stallion could be tamed. The farmer's neighbours all gathered to celebrate his good luck. "You are so lucky to have this wonderful animal on your farm!"

His smiling reply was, "Maybe, maybe not."

The farmer had a single son. His son and the stallion became friends, and when the stallion was almost tame, the son climbed upon his back. The stallion, startled, threw the son from his back, and the son became crippled, unable to walk without support.

The farmer's neighbours gathered together to console the family. "You are so unlucky to have had this happen to you!"

The farmer's smiling reply was, "Maybe, maybe not."

The king of their country went to war with a neighbouring nation. All the fit and healthy young men were conscripted into the army. The farmer's son could not join them as he could not walk without support.

The farmer's neighbours wept to see their own sons dragged off into conflict. They said to the farmer, "You are so lucky that your son has been spared..."

Of course, the farmer said, with a smile, "Maybe, maybe not!"

The moral of the story is to stay open. Not everything good that happens to us remains wonderful for ever – so we must cherish the moments. However, not everything bad that happens to us leads to a bad outcome in the long-term. Saying, "Maybe, maybe not," keeps us open to possibilities.

What the caterpillar concludes is the end of the world, the butterfly embraces as the beginning!

I'd be fascinated to hear your own stories of setbacks that became a blessing.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Cigarette anyone? Sunday September 1, 2019

Nope, I'm no smoker. I did almost choke to death on a bi-daily basis as I tried hard to be a smoker for about two weeks as a young teen. Put on my best James Dean bomber jacket and brooded over my ciggy trying to look like I was inhaling as I didn't inhale. And I did once make a friend spray his drink across a terrace at a wedding when I tried his cigar, didn't know what to do with the smoke and inadvertently blew some sort of smoke art out of my nostrils. I also managed to chew the odd cigarette butt, back in the 70s, as my older brother and I tried sipping the dregs of empty beer tins at family parties. The beer tins which, as it turned out, had been used as ashtrays after the contents had been slurped. The lessons we learn!

Nope. Not a smoker. But I recognise a good thing when I see it. I see smokers in all scenarios taking a little ciggy break. A few puffs around a doorway. Shared with colleagues, pals, even strangers. They've got a bit of a good thing going on. They allow themselves this break. They're often to be seen simply enjoying their break, not phoning, not scrolling, not dealing with anything other than allowing their smoke time to be uninterrupted and enjoyed. That little part, without the smoking, is incredibly healthy!

I'm going to take a leaf from their tobacco plant. I still can't be a smoker as I just have no interest there, but I can take a couple of tiny breaks in my day to just be. And that will be precious. Fancy it?

Score time. I will if you will.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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An Angel Boy Saturday August 31, 2019

In 2009 we were gifted with a real live angel. Lucky us. Strictly speaking he was no angel but that moniker of Angel Boy was what his previous owner, Joan, gave him. And this is what he became to me.

I always remember the first time we saw him. Tied up outside a shop, I pointed to him and said that I wanted a dog like that. He came towards me with Joan and I started chatting to her about how we were looking for a dog and the rest is history, as it is said. He came to live with us.

Timmy has lived many lives in one. An only dog for a period of five years with us, he was small farm assistant to my husband who worked at an alpaca farm. Timmy would bark at the owner for entering his own land! He got up to speeds of 34 MPH running alongside the quad bike my husband used. The alpacas hated Timmy and would try to kick him when he crawled under the fence and it was funny to see all these huge animals chase such a tiny dog around a field! We would get in the old rattly land rover at the top of the lane and "pretend" we had forgotten him only to see him running madly behind us in the mirror. Then we'd let him in and we'd drive back home.

When we lived in Cambridgeshire, Timmy was used to flat lands and big skies and the nearest he got to water was at Grafham, the man-made lake. Then we totally turned his life upside-down by getting Barney in 2014. I'd started a new self-employment business in April and this was October. I really struggled with the concept of having two dogs and felt like Barney was taking precious time away from me and Timmy. In 2016 we upped sticks and moved to what felt like the other side of the universe, the Highlands of Scotland. Pine forests, sandy beaches, rolling moors and exploration abound for dogs and humans alike.

Timmy has always "got" me. My husband and I joked that he was on the autistic spectrum for dogs. Perhaps by inference that means I am or that we both are. But I have struggled with my mental health at times and Timmy always understood that. He would kiss my tears away and was the most loyal boy you could ever wish to have. I loved everything about him and especially his funny little ways. He was a lot like me. Thinking too much, having so many strange foibles, attentive, sensitive and a complete doofus at times and being totally silly.

His brother, Barney, as you know, passed away on Sunday 12th May and I went downstairs to find him asleep finally in his bed. Heartbreaking, but the best way to go. It was a double and cruel blow to find Timmy the same way just over 9 weeks after Barney, on Friday 19th July, totally unexpectedly, after what we assumed was a short illness with some spells of sickness and diarrhoea. Both had died in their sleep and I take comfort that Timmy's last memories (as well as Barney's) were being surrounded by love in their home with their mum and dad. Miss our beloved boys so much.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Disagreeing with respect Friday August 30, 2019

I have noticed especially in social media but also in real life, that people find it hard to disagree with respect.

We have seen politicians being personal and rude to each other just because they have different opinions.

I don't think it is possible for us all to agree with each other, but it is necessary for us to discuss our differences without attacking the personality of the other person.

How do you disagree with people showing politeness and respect?

I encourage you to share your ideas, even if you find it hard to disagree respectfully.

I feel for our mental health it is important for us to be aware of how our comments may affect others.

How we handle any disrespectful feedback from someone is also very important. The temptation is to answer in kind but that only escalates the tension and does nothing for the discussion.

However, allowing someone to explain and giving our full attention to what is being said is a respectful attitude.

Sometimes the only answer is to walk away when people are being rude. It may feel as the other has 'won' the discussion but in reality, I believe the other person will know the response is unacceptable no matter what they say.

About the worst thing to do in a disagreement is to shout. Even if you're not calm, try to control your voice and body language. Appearing angry or defensive is a not a good idea. Maybe you need to think and plan before you speak.

You need to accept that not everyone will agree with you and that is ok.

I believe disagreement comes about because we have learned to think differently from someone else, based on our experiences.

How do you cope when you disagree with someone?

What do you do if someone disagrees with you with disrespect?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Redemption of a balanced soul Thursday August 29, 2019

It is said that the brightness of one can illuminate the darkness all around; if offered with love and openness. I believe this to be true. Often we are not aware that our light has been seen by others, but frequently we can light a darker path for someone without even being aware. Finding the calm within the chaos can sometimes seem like an endless search for limited resources, but if we are fortunate enough to have a light shone for us, if we sit and just allow it to unfold organically, it can be less of a struggle and ultimately, we all benefit. After all life is a lattice work of relationships.

One of the most constructive things I have learned over recent years has been finding the healthy balance between the masculine and feminine. I now see there is an undeniable strength in both, and I have come to realise that my original confusion derived from feeling there was a weakness in the feminine, and an enormous strength in the masculine. I now understand this was too black and white, and definitely incorrect!

In the wild there is no such thing as a healthy gelding (a castrated colt or stallion.) A stallion has to breed with his mares, that's his job, and to keep the best for this job the lesser/younger males are made to leave and they form what is called a bachelor herd; a herd of colts and stallions who have no mares in their herd, and will only ever mate successfully if they are able to take over an existing herd by overpowering their stallion, or creating their own by enticing mares to join them in making a new herd. Consequently, a gelding in the wild, will only have come about through injury. This (on a lesser scale) can be seen in domesticity; the struggle for the gelding to find a valued place in a herd, especially if the herd is kept in a less natural way. But balance is their key to success (& survival); finding their place and embracing it.

So how does this affect us?

I believe we must find a healthy balance between feminine and masculine, not one that has been distorted by social protocol and peer expectations, but one that can dance in harmony. Working together rather than pulling apart. Embracing each other's strengths and finding a way to nourish each other in mind and body. I believe that when we truly learn to look within, to see everything as a gift to our development; it all becomes a little less scary and a little more exciting, sometimes all we need is that light...

Once we begin to search for a healthy way of co-existing, a way that encompasses what each and every one of us has to offer then, and only then, we'll become closer to finding our way back to a more nourished, balanced soul.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Where do you Spend Your Energy? Wednesday August 28, 2019

It's good to meet up with old friends, isn't it!

At least, it is sometimes. I remember the last "Reunion" I attended. I came away, having had a very pleasant evening and pleased I had caught up with the lives of people who I once knew well, and having enjoyed their company. Nonetheless, I also realised that I have stayed close to the people who really mattered and have no desire for renewed intimacy with the others. Basically, if you weren't best friends then, you are not going to be best friends now: people just don't change that much.

Exceptions do happen though.

This weekend I met up with old friends I have not seen since university days, some (ahem) thirty years ago. I had a long lunch with a girl I knew only slightly then (and yes, we are still girls, even though we are in our fifties). By some magic we were able to be open and vulnerable with each other in ways we had not expected, and never achieved then, and thus have, I believe, forged something new and deeper than we had all those years ago.

I shared an issue I have which had been bothering me for some time – and she shared a similar issue. It was the moment of bonding when, as C S Lewis says, friendship is formed in that moment of recognition: "What, you too? I thought I was the only one!"

My friend is further along the path of dealing with her issue than I, and she was gracious enough to share her experiences.

Towards the end of the conversation, when I was detailing, yet again, all the aspects and complications of the situation, she said, "Mary – you know what you have to do. Going through it all again, and yet again, is taking your energy. Your energy is too valuable to waste in this way. Take the action; be resolute; don't go back; don't listen to arguments; stand firm."

I realised she was right. Spending time and energy worrying about it, when I knew what I wanted to do – and needed to do – was taking energy away from what I do want to do and what I do need to do.

We have only finite resources. Every moment we spend worrying; delaying action because we will hurt or disappoint others, or because we will shut down potential future opportunities, or because we will say goodbye to unrealistic dreams, is a moment wasted; a moment we cannot spend on the real; on hopes and dreams we can make come true.

Oh, I'd be the first to swing on a moonbeam and to chase a dandelion wish, but those are beautiful day-dreams which feed the soul and help create art. But I don't want to pour my soul into a churning vacuum of negativity.

And I'm sure, neither do you.

So, yes, I've had that hard conversation and I'm walking forward. I feel lighter already.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Survival Tuesday August 27, 2019

I am currently experiencing a depression. I'm scared of it. It's by no means the first; I think I've had bouts since my childhood, but these days they seem more debilitating and to go on longer.

It fills my body with heavy tension, stones in my stomach, lead in my limbs and fear racing round my brain, turning any thought dark and potent with dread. It makes me frightened of people; that they will see me and judge my failure to cope, my shame, lack of resilience and I see their suggestions as damning criticisms. It makes me crawl back into bed rather than get up and face the day, though I know that bed is a place it will assail me worst, where my defences are lower.

I know what I say to others who feel this way; It's not your fault, accept the feelings and let them pass, don't fight them. Locate your inner paralysed child and take their hand, be kind and take one step at a time. Sometimes I tell myself that it deepens my understanding. Mostly I'd rather forgo that understanding and not feel intermittently awful... but apparently it's not a choice. And I am not alone, despite feeling it. This community helps. I mostly lurk but have had real help from other's postings, knowing that they know the same desperation sometimes and that it passes eventually. Once RATG responded to a wail of anguish from me, telling me to hang on in there, make tea, drink it, live. And it enabled me to do just that.

Writing this has stopped me returning to bed and to the demons of attack. Instead I've sat and written and drunk my tea as I did so and now I feel able to get washed and dressed and perhaps do a few things to alleviate the creeping chaos. Writing helps me when I remember to do it. It's the mental equivalent of clearing off the table or washing up (neither of which I am very good at...). Shifting and sorting and reorganising thoughts and feelings into something that feels more manageable and allows me to feel a glimmer of competence and authority. My frightened overwhelmed child part is no longer alone and cowering but has a compassionate adult alongside. It's not a cure but it allows a momentary change of view and the more I practice that, the better I may get at it.

Fingers crossed.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Joy from Learning Monday August 26, 2019

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: []

I love the fact that learning something new can change your life for good, forever. It doesn't even have to take long. Twice in two days I've learned something valuable and life-enhancing in less than two minutes! Whilst 'joy' might be too strong a word for it, it has certainly brought me pleasure and has improved my future.

One was a cooking tip from my friend, Penny. She simply dusts her chicken in flour (no egg, no water – only a bit of salt and pepper) before frying. This locks in the moisture and the flavour. I'm a convert! It tastes so much better! Try it if you haven't already!

The other was a bit more technical, nevertheless it only took a one-minute, twenty-four second video on YouTube to show me how to do something with my photographic software that I've been wanting to learn for ages. Interestingly, the video has been on YouTube for years, but I wasn't looking for the answer diligently enough! Now there's another blog!

Even in the most horrible of times, learning something new can bring us anything from the pleasure of momentary relief right through to full on joy! For this reason, I'd ask you to share in the comments one very quick and easy-to-learn tip that has enhanced your life. It might be cooking, exercising, an attitude, or an activity. Feel free to add links if it's something you too have discovered via YouTube or other sites.

Learning how to be mentally healthy is far more complicated than photographic software or dusting chicken in flour, however there are some quick lessons that pay dividends ever more – and I'd love to know any of those that you have. The number one mental-wellbeing tip for me is 'Gratitude'. Learning to say, "Thank You!" out loud even for the tiniest of 'blessings' constantly recalibrates my attitude in a positive direction.

What are your joyous 'learns' in life? We're listening...

A Moodscope member.

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

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Tattie magic Sunday August 25, 2019

I'm cooking potatoes in a pan with water. They're simmering, then I'll strain and they're ready to serve with a giant twist of sea salt and a palm size lump of butter. The potatoes came out of my parent's garden and my kids grew them in giant buckets. They've done this with my parents since they were old enough to walk. It's a planting and harvesting ritual and it makes us all smile.

In a separate pan I'm frying up some red onions and some peppers (some of the peppers are also from parent's garden) so that they're cooked but still have crunch. I'll throw in some five spice before serving everything up together in a mish mash on our plates. And We Will Eat. We're all starving hungry. Its nearly 8pm and its been a long day. An enjoyable day, a not-much-food-consumed day.

I'm typing this as I wait for the magic to deal itself. And that is my point. Sometimes things sort themselves with just a bit of standing beside and waiting. Dinner is sorting itself, I wait nearby. Is there anything niggling you today? Making your skin tight and your brow pull down? Perhaps you might be able to let it sit awhile. Let it have a bit of space. Be near. Watch to see if it sorts itself.

Go on, take a break. Don't jump to try to fix it. Don't rush to fill the gap. Let it toast. Magic might happen.

Score time. I will if you will.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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Oh no not again!! Saturday August 24, 2019

I've been on this recovery journey for quite a few years now. I've had three years of personal therapy (tick), studying for my counselling degree (very nearly qualified so almost a tick) and personal development (tick).

So why then do I wake up on a Monday morning after a great weekend feeling that I am useless and a complete waste of space??? Noooooooo!! I am right back where I started.

Wrong! I have awareness which I never had previously. I probably overindulged in both food and alcohol. Probably? Well ok I did. A bit of comparison crept in between myself and my friend. We have very different histories and different stories to tell. Neither better nor worse than the other. I also found out later that the universe was shifting a lot of energy around that time.

So the difference now is I didn't isolate and continue with the self-soothing with alcohol. I felt my sadness and yes, I was sad and lonely. A very difficult thing for me to admit. But guess what? It's ok. People don't run a mile when I say I'm lonely. I take responsibility for myself and reach out and connect and ask for help when I need it.

This recovery isn't easy and its ongoing and I feel truly blessed for my Moodscope community. I dip in and out but know that there are always people here when I need them as I am there for others.

I'm going to keep connecting and stop beating myself up so much if I feel low. I know that these are just feelings and they will pass.

A Moodscope member.

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

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It's all Loss Friday August 23, 2019

[Salt Water mum wrote this piece in April but is happy for it to be published today. Her mum sadly died on 2nd July 2019]

Four weeks ago, my sister and I brought our children to say goodbye to their Granny. My mother was dying and it was time to let her go. So we all thought. My sister, being the practical one, insisted we go shopping for our 'funeral' clothes that same day too. When our father had died, we had raced from his death bed to the department store to buy our black ensembles. This time, we would be prepared!

I remember that department store vividly - my ex-husband rang as I hunted for suitable black shoes for my children. He told me he had always loved my father and that he had always loved me. He reminded me that 'love was never our problem'. Which was true. We did the love thing well. It was the 'normal' living bit that we couldn't manage. I remember sitting on the floor crying, amidst mismatched kids footwear. Crying about my failed marriage, crying about my dead father and just crying because sometimes it all gets too much.

So, here we are again but mum, with all her strength, has defied the doctors and is alive still. No one knows how long she has. Hers is a complicated illness - nothing about my mother is straightforward! We have a tense, volatile relationship and yet I love her. It's the same with my ex-husband. Part of me will always love him because he is the father of my children.

In the past few weeks, I have heard the same advice from three people: 'Choose your life partner carefully, it's the biggest decision you will ever make.'

One of those people was a character in a novel.
One was from a TED talk.
And one was a rather strange, random man I walked past on the beach (I meet a lot of such people - another blog!!)

Death. Grief. Hurt. Loss. I'm lumping them all in here. People who you love and you leave or who leave you. And it's all painful. I remember commiserating with a lovely woman, a poet, when her husband died.

'I was sorry to hear about your husband's death,' I said.

'And I was sorry to hear of your separation,' she said.

'Oh gawd, no, completely different,' I argued, '...thank you but you've been through so much...' And she looked at me and said the kindest, most insightful words I heard at that time ''s still loss, a different kind, but it's all loss.'

Every visit since our 'goodbye-to-Gran-day', when I leave mum now, I say 'I love you'. Even the days she doesn't speak to me or doesn't know who I am or imitates my voice in a mocking way. Even those days, I say 'I love you, mum'.

She's old. She's sick. She's lived her life. It won't be a tragedy. She wasn't motherly. She wasn't the mother I wish I'd had. But I do love her. And I will miss her.

It's all loss.

Salt water mum
A Moodscope member.

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

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Feel the fear... and do it anyway. Thursday August 22, 2019

I don't like flying and have never flown long haul. So I was in denial that last December I booked flights to visit my dear long-standing friend in Singapore. Not only was I bucking all my natural instincts and phobias to put myself on a plane for fifteen hours, but I was also taking my two children just to make it more difficult.

So, dear reader, we made it. As I write we are about to go for dim sum, Sunday lunch, before we fly back tonight.

This has not been without adventure. We missed our connecting flight from Frankfurt so that we were stranded late at night in a strange city. But I found a hotel, regrouped, ordered pizza and then bought a new flight. Nothing was stopping me now.

As we flew over Russia and China I learnt to accept turbulence was not an imminent sign of disaster. We arrived in Hong Kong, which was not part of the original itinerary, and finally in Singapore.

And then we had a ball!!

So what have I learnt (apart from the fact that Singapore is hot, hot, hot) is that I can do this. I can fly, I can overcome deep-seated fears, I can navigate a strange country (albeit most people speak English and it's one of the safest in the world) and I can and deserve to enjoy myself.

So I apologise if this seems a huge boast and showing off about a holiday of a lifetime but...

It is about resilience and bravery. At Frankfurt when we missed our flight at that point I could have flown back home, but I was encouraged by those I love to keep going.

So I challenge you to confront one fear. What will it be?

A Moodscope member.

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

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You've Got a Friend in Me Wednesday August 21, 2019

You've got a friend in me,
You've got a friend in me.
When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles away from your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said,
You've got a friend in me; yeah, you've got a friend in me.

You've got a friend in me,
You've got a friend in me.
You've got some troubles,
I got 'em too;
There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you
We'll stick together and see it through
Cause you've got a friend in me,
You've got a friend in me.

Some folks might be a little bit smarter than I am
Bigger and stronger too (maybe)
But none of them will ever love you the way I do
It's me and you, boy.
And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You're going to see it's our destiny
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
Yeah, you've got a friend in me.

There are many good songs to have come out of the Walt Disney films, but this is one of the best for me.

This morning a very good friend knocked on my door and said, "I'm going for a walk: would you like to come too?"

Of course, she didn't mean walk; she meant a walk and an opportunity to talk.

She's been through troubles, I've been there too. She's been through tough times with her daughters, just as mine too are going through their troubled teenage years.

We cannot escape troubles in this life. What we can do, however, is pour out those troubles to a sympathetic ear. My friend certainly received a deluge this morning.

They say you make friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for life. I hope that each one of us has a least a couple of good friends for life; friends with whom we can share the deepest troubles of our souls.

And the joys too – because life can be sweet.

I think the trick of making real friendships which last for life is trust and vulnerability. You can never hope to make a real connection, one which lasts, if you do not trust that person with your vulnerability. I'm not talking about spilling your deepest secrets on a first meeting, but establishing, bit by bit, a deeper relationship than mere "friendliness". This also means you cannot hope to have many of these friends. This really is an area where quality outweighs quantity.

And, yes, sometimes giving that trust and being vulnerable means coping with hurt and loss if the person you trust doesn't return that friendship on the same level.

But the value of the real friendships that survive is worth the grief and pain of the ones which don't. I wouldn't be without my friends; each of them is treasured and valued in their own unique way. And I know they value me in return.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Danger of a Single Story Tuesday August 20, 2019

It's funny how the world works sometimes. My job is to raise money for charities. I wrote my Master's thesis ten years ago, when I was just starting out as a fundraiser. I was inspired hugely by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's moving TED talk "The Danger of a Single Story" - if you haven't seen it already, I highly recommend you do! Then last week at work, I was invited to a training session entitled "Challenging Privilege and the Danger of Single Stories". It turned out to be inspired by the same Adichie TED talk and was promoting the same messages that I wrote so extensively about ten years ago.

The sentiment of my thesis has stayed with me throughout my career because really, we fundraisers are just story-tellers. Stories are human nature, and they have a significant impact on all of us throughout our lives. Think of a story that's told in your family, or something you read or heard about on the news. It might be the plot of a film or a play. Perhaps it moved you emotionally. Perhaps it changed your perception of something.

Our brains are wired to understand and retain stories – it's a neurological fact. Because of this, stories are powerful and the "single story" – even more so. A single story is limiting, and it creates stereotypes. We see them all around us. Girls like pink, boys like blue. Girls are nurses, teachers, secretaries. Boys are engineers, pilots, brain surgeons. This single story about what a girl "is" and what a boy "is" has had a huge impact on our world.

Thankfully we live in a time where much of society recognises these single stories as just that – one, single story of one, single human's experience. In my job I'm conscious of it all the time, and of the responsibility we have, as story-tellers, to question, challenge and disrupt these stereotypes so that others can live lives that are equally unlimited.

It got me thinking, though, about the single story that I tell myself, about myself, and the impact that this has had on my life.

I am in my thirties and have never had a relationship. This is a shameful, sad story that is unrecoverable from, I have told myself. I haven't been in love because I am broken, there is something fundamentally wrong with me, I don't deserve it, I tell myself.

I see my story everywhere. When friends get married, when they divorce, when new babies arrive, when I watch a movie, listen to a song. It reinforces the one single story I tell myself, about myself, that I am not worthy, I will never experience these magical moments of life and therefore I am lesser than everyone else.

Why do I have so much belief that others deserve to be seen as the multitude of complex conflicting unpredictable stories that they are, but leave no space for myself to do the same? Can I apply some of that complexity to my own experience and think of some stories that I have lived, or might live, that have a different ending to "I don't deserve love"?

Is this something you recognise? Are there stories you have told yourself, or have been told about yourself, that have limited your experiences or even, perhaps, enhanced your life?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Balance Monday August 19, 2019

For you, today, gentle words of encouragement... especially if you feel what follows isn't true for you!

I filmed a remedial massage therapist. Amanda got the group of professional women to stand up and blow into a balloon. She explained that the lungs were an essential part of our, "core stabilisers." As we stand and exhale strongly enough to fill a balloon (20 times in the morning while the kettle is boiling), we re-establish our stability. Sitting for protracted periods of time affects our hip-hinge in a very unhelpful way, leading to core instability when we stand. This instability is responsible for many of the injuries that she addresses.

Amanda's claim is that we need to activate our core stabilisers... and then she went on to say something I'm not sure I believe, but which I thought was fascinating. She said, "We don't grow old; we grow instable." Hey, I didn't even think this was a word in English! Some grammarians, however, accept 'instable' as a word. It means, "exhibiting instability." She continued, "Our bodies are not designed to sit down. Our bodies are designed to move."

Jumping to my granddaughters, it's been a delight to see each of them in turn overcome instability in their quest to walk. There is something within them that helps them move from instability to stability – to achieve both balance and momentum.

I am aware of the same concept shown in how our bodies normally regulate temperature, and blood sugar, and all the things we don't pay attention to until they go wrong! The 'norm' is balance – stability.

Nature, too, moves all the while towards balance. One way or another, with or without our help, the Earth will find ecological balance again. Life always finds a way, even if it seems to take forever.

Here, then, are my words of encouragement to those of us who are sad now. Joy will come again. It's balance.

Here, then, are my words of encouragement to those of us who weep now. We will smile again. It is the way of balance.

Here are my words of encouragement to those of us who feel confused and lost now. We will regain clarity and direction. This is the way of balance.

When we are in the midst of sorrow, loss, weeping, and confusion – we do not feel there will ever be a change but there will be. This is as certain as day following night, Spring following Winter, grandchildren learning to walk. Time brings balance. There is hope.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Hello, you're doing great Sunday August 18, 2019

I didn't realise I had depression for quite some years after I'd been walking around with it. Never knowing why I felt the ways I did (even after speaking to my doctor) I blundered through trying to make sense of it all. It wasn't spelled out to me. The name not uttered. I made a slow discovery over many years, feeling a bit stupid eventually, and of course I carried it around still under wraps as I'd been shown was the way to do it. Thankfully, we are slowly seeing a huge shift in this type of behaviour. I still tend not to tell people but I think quite a lot of that is just who I am rather than any sort of shame or embarrassment.

For anyone reading today who is still unsure of where they are or why they feel so bad, I wonder if you might be able to send a little light. Anyone who is able, please leave just a couple of words or a short sentence in the comments to give a little hope. Perhaps something you wish you had heard. I have lots collected over the years but something I often return to is "Those who mind don't matter, those who matter don't mind".

It's score time. Let's see where we are today so we can adjust accordingly. I will if you will.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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

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Learning never stops Saturday August 17, 2019

I have lived for many years between highs and lows. It was years before I identified these, thanks to good friends who had the courage to be honest with me. One once said "I find you easier when you're depressed any day" and I had always thought how being outward and energetic was so much easier for friends to deal with.

I learnt that some friends could cope whilst they were single but not once they had a family, my up energy disturbing the routine of their lives, already difficult with small children.

I've learnt that friends have their time with me and it's ok if they need to take space.

I've learnt to read my own behaviour and take myself to quieter places when my energy runs high.

I've learnt to phone the samaritans for support, not just on extreme days.

Through commitment to counselling I can reflect and make good decisions. I have learnt to take responsibility for myself and my illness.

A friend asked if I could take a pill that would take my illness away, would I. I replied "I don't know, because this is who I am, where I am and what I am and that is a decision I don't have to consider today."

For today I have learnt enough to get by, may be tomorrow will be quiet or have a new strong learning that the world and it's reality brings. For now I have learnt enough to get by today.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Hello everyone... Friday August 16, 2019

I've not had a laptop for a while and, that coupled with being silly busy has meant I haven't been doing much on here. But you know what? I've missed you all! I really have. Yet despite not coming on here and reading all your blogs (gosh I have some very interesting catch-up reading to do), I can honestly say there hasn't been a day that I haven't thought of you all.

An emotion or thought would creep in and some of your names would instantly jump to mind - with a few wise words that I'd expect to hear from you! Whilst milking the goats I'd find myself telling them about you and some of your past blogs (which seemed to amuse them...) Clearing out more of Mum and Dad's papers (yes it still goes on) I thought of some of the many kind words of encouragement I've received from you. The other day Hubby and I were carrying all the wood into the woodshed (I'm sure many of you will remember how emotive it was to go ahead with the felling of the trees...) Well, as some of you suggested, we have looked into getting a carving done and hubby is also turning one into a bird table. Whilst still on the subject of the trees, we were sitting having a brew the other day and admiring the view. I remarked to Hubby that, as pointed out by members on here, we are now able to enjoy a view that was before obscured from us, silver lining to every cloud eh?

I smiled a few days ago, I was reading out a joke to my OH and as he was laughing I said "Yes, I miss my daily Moodscope joke" and guess what he answered... "so do I" haha because I invariably read that out to him also.

Yes wise words, laughter and encouragement – that's what I think of when I think of this fabulous group. Everyone showing understanding and feeling empathy for each other in a way few other groups can achieve; all expertly navigated by the wonderful Caroline (et al) and yes Caroline, I have thought of you often as well.

Yes I've missed you lot, and I shall enjoy reading through all I've missed.

Off to pop the kettle on now and begin catching up on what you've all been chatting about... :)

A Moodscope member.

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

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Is it really a good idea to have any expectations? Thursday August 15, 2019

This is a question I posed to myself whilst waiting for my flight home. My sleep-deprivation undeniably sparked a pensive mood within me; a question that I asked myself after getting off the phone to my boyfriend.

What if we have a less-than-touching reunion? My anxious brain panicked. I had this idea, I suppose you could almost call it a fantasy, in my head of us reuniting at the airport. Would he give me a long, warm hug and a passionate kiss? Or would it be a quick hug and a peck on the cheek?

The thought of the latter happening filled me with dread, and despair. I didn't want that kind of reunion. Then again, if we set up idealistic, or even realistic, expectations in our heads, are we just setting ourselves up for failure?

The thing is, thinking about it made me worried. I knew that if he came to meet me and it was anything less than romantic and affectionate, that I'd be bitterly disappointed and possibly a bit resentful towards him. I don't want to feel that way; after all, it's not his fault if he doesn't meet the expectations that I set up for him in my head.

But... if not his fault, then whose? Is it mine for setting up any expectations in the first place? Or is it rather a case that no one at all is to blame?

On the other hand, surely it's good to have some expectations in life? Having hope for how something, or someone, will turn out enables us to have some awareness of what's coming. This way, we're not completely blindsided by that something (or someone).

And yet... we still get disappointed and frustrated when things don't pan out the way we hoped.

So... am I completely irrational? Or am I making a mountain out of a molehill?

I'm actually amazed at myself that I somehow managed to in-still a feeling of nervousness and dread in to our reunion. I didn't want it to be mediocre, or not special. I want the long bear-hug. I want the passionate kiss.

All in all, is it a good idea to set expectations?

A Moodscope member.

(foot note: our reunion at the airport was very sweet and affectionate!)

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

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