The Moodscope Blog



What are you reading? Friday October 11, 2019

What are you reading? I asked my husband, leaning across to where he was cradling his iPad, engrossed.

About racism in football, was his reply.

I quipped "Soon, you'll be reading about fashion IN FOOTBALL!

He assured me he would not be!!

But thinking about it, I realised he and I came from such a different angle. Basically, sport vs art & writing. BUT that it amounted to the same thing in the end. He and I share core values, and agree on 'matters of paramount importance'...(I'm putting that phrase in quotation marks, because here, it sounds trumped up, over-elaborate and yes, a tad laboured!). Yet, who says that you ever weigh out IMPORTANCE in pound bags? Important to one, is trivial to another. So in a partnership of any kind, marital, business, or indeed any other sort of friendship or association, I firmly believe you have to share core values.

That's what's reassuring about my OH. I can rely on him, when I'm off track, to set me back on course, metaphorically speaking. Like a piece of train that's lying on its side, and needs resetting on the branch line. A touch of Thomas the Tank engine analogy there, if you like.

Those references are vital I think. Core values shared. Be they with family, friends or at work, in business, even (or perhaps especially) in politics, dare I mention...

I am lucky to have a sounding block or two. I am blessed with people to turn to, and ask "What are you reading?" sorts of questions. Even if, from time to time, you get a "Leave me alone, I'm engrossed - can't you see?!" sort of response!!

A Moodscope member

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Every mind matters - Who are our heroes? Thursday October 10, 2019

Today is World Mental Health Day 2019 and this year the focus is on suicide prevention.

Such a pertinent focus as in the UK, The Office for National Statistics have reported that in 2018 there were 6,507 suicides registered, this is significantly higher than that in 2017 and represents the first increase since 2013.

Earlier this week, the PHE and the NHS in the UK launched a new initiative - Every Mind Matters - to help people take simple steps to look after their mental health, improve their mental wellbeing and support others. The Royals helped launched the web site. Lots of publicity obviously, and a well needed and helpful site.

So, well done to the Royals for raising the issue and talking about mental health, I'm sure this will encourage others to talk and to seek help. And although, this is a small step in the right direction by the PHE and NHS, we would really like to thank the organisations who have been looking after the people suffering with mental health issues for a very long time.

But before we do that, we would like to say a big thank you to all the Moodscope members that openly give their love and support to others, even though they may well be suffering themselves.

Here we go, here are our other heroes:

Mental Health Foundation
Young minds

I'm sure there are many more smaller organisations out there that deserve a mention and if you know of one, please add it in the comments section on our blog.

In the meantime, if you are feeling suicidal, you are not alone, please reach out to someone, and if you can't talk to someone you know, we and our heroes are here to help.

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft

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Personal Philosophy Wednesday October 9, 2019

It honestly didn't look as if it was going to be that bad!

True, the sky was a bit grey and the wind snapped mean little wavelets on the narrow strip of water, but there was no real warning.

We parked as instructed and scrabbled to find change as the ticket machine would not accept notes. More sensible middle-aged cars turned up and disgorged more middle-aged folk, sensibly dressed in waterproofs and walking boots, binoculars hanging around their necks. We had lots of change that day for some reason and were able to help another couple with the ticket machine. They wanted to pay us back, but we refused. "You'll do the same for someone else," we said.

The date was 12th June this year, and the event was a Bombs and Beasties guided tour of Orford Ness. It was a birthday present to me from my husband, who always knows what I like – mostly because I tell him!

For those of you in the dark, Orford Ness is an isolated spit of land off the Suffolk Coast, used for military testing from 1913 to the mid-80s. When the scientists left, having decided to leave all that sort of thing to the Americans, who were just so much more enthusiastic about it all, they just – walked out - leaving everything to the sea and the wind and the birds. It is now a wildlife preserve, managed by the National Trust.

It still wasn't too bad as we traversed that strip of water in an open boat, as we started to walk along the track. I saw my first spoonbill, which completely made my day then and there. We watched a pair of marsh harriers circling into that grey sky and then – the rain came down; the kind of driving rain which arrives meaning business and then settles down to make a real day of it.

So, we spent rather more time on the "bombs" part of the tour - under cover; and very little on the "beasties", as every wise beastie was hiding from the rain just as we were. Even the Shelducks were saying it was just too wet for ducks!

And, we got wet. Very wet. Luckily, I had a spare waterproof to lend the lady who had discovered her own waterproof - wasn't. We had hot tea in a big thermos we could share. The day became one of camaraderie against the elements and I don't think any of us will forget it.

I remembered that day as I was doing a training exercise at my work conference this weekend. We were asked to explain our personal philosophy.

"What goes around, comes around," I said. "And you create your own reality."

That wet day could have been a disaster, but it wasn't. We were able to share what we had and create community in that shared experience.

And it was very nice to be bought tea and toast at the café by our new friends, once we had all got back safe, if not quite dry, to the other side.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Can you go 7 weeks, 7days, or even 7 hours without complaining? Tuesday October 8, 2019

A few years ago I read about a challenge to go a week with out complaining. I thought this would be easy, as dear Moodscoper, you would know how kind and calm I am and you would never imagine I would ever complain! Alas it was a bit more complicated than that.

I realise that with the internet being readily available, everyone has a chance to voice their opinion which can lead to complaining which can become toxic.

I thought going seven days with no complaining, would be so easy, but then I talked to family and friends who thought I could not go an hour without complaining, imagine that!!
However I thought I would try for 24 hrs, as that would be easy to cope with. As well as trying to go 16 hrs, my waking hours, without complaining I had to make note of all the times I did complain.

I realised this was going to be harder than I thought when 20 mins in my partner said I had complained, but honestly I felt I had made an observation. Then we were arguing about what a complaint meant. I gave in and agreed it may have been seen as a complaint.

It did not go well for the other 15 hrs and 40 mins. I admitted to 7 complaints and there were another 8 complaints where the jury was still out.

My helpful feedback was seen as a complaint. I suppose if my comments are construed as a complaint then maybe I need to make changes or change my family and close friends.

I know for myself that the tendency to complain means maintaining a reasonable mood, and that can very difficult to do if you often are too self-critical.

While much has been written about how to reduce complaining, I would to like hear what Moodscopers experiences are.

Have you tried, or would you find it easy to go without complaining for 7 days?

Are you someone who realises they may complain a bit? How do you go about reucding your complaints? Or do you think it is healthy to complain?

Are you someone who never complains at all? If so what is your secret?

A Moodscope member

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

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Extraction Monday October 7, 2019

"Well, that one wanted to come out!" declared the dentist. After months of discomfort, concern, sometimes pain, and troubled experience eating, the molar was out. Out, and in less than an hour. I was free.

True, there's a large gap in my mouth now – one can never naturally be filled again, but the pain and trouble has gone. My tongue has already begun to adapt – it's found a new thinking habit! Instead of me having to very publicly stroke my beard in order to think better, now all I have to do is worry the hole where the molar used to be, and it helps me think.

I know people are weird. I'm a bit weird.

Enough! Why am I sharing this? The final decision to 'lose' the tooth has got me thinking. My life is already quantifiably better. I can enjoy my food again. I feel better mentally too.

This has got me thinking, "What else am I hanging onto in my life that has passed its best used by date?

If you knew me, you'd know I was Lord of Clutter. 90% of the clutter is valued by me; 1% is used regularly! I don't want to get rid of it any more than I wanted to get rid of my tooth, but I suspect I'll feel better. Is there such a thing as an Autumn Clean to match the Spring Clean I missed?

We've been shedding some relationships too, lately. People who weren't good for us. People are far more valuable than a tooth, but sometimes they've got to go – maybe only for a season.

And finally, some dreams. They were very precious. But some have gone, and others have got to go.

Given the confidentiality of our comments, what do you know you could 'lose' – let go of – and yet be all the richer?

Is it time for you too to consider an extraction?

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Alphabet of LOVE or the ABC's of LOVE Sunday October 6, 2019

While at my recent yoga class, I started focusing on the word LOVE, which is so powerful.

I am tired of hearing the word HATE being used so much in our popular culture these days. So I came up with "the alphabet of LOVE" or "the ABC's of LOVE" and wrote down mostly verbs that precede the word LOVE. I found a word for each of letter of the alphabet, and for the letter "X" I wrote XTRA LOVE (an acceptable variation of EXTRA LOVE, I hope) !!
SO hear it goes, feel free to add your own words:

Accept LOVE, Believe in LOVE, Choose, Create LOVE, Delve in LOVE, Effortless LOVE, Find, Feel LOVE, Give, Get LOVE, Hold, Heal, Help LOVE, Infuse, increase, invent LOVE, Just LOVE, Keen LOVE, Love LOVE, Make LOVE, Nestle in LOVE, Own LOVE, Protect, Promote LOVE, Quintessential LOVE, Restore, Repair LOVE, Save, Seek, Search for LOVE, Take LOVE, Usher in LOVE, Value, Validate LOVE, Want, Wish for LOVE, "E"Xtra LOVE, Yearn for LOVE, Love reaches its Zenith.

And the moral of the story is:ALWAYS BE LOVE because LOVE conquers fear, hate and evil.

What kind of LOVE can you think of?

A Moodscope member.

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Experiences of a manic depressive 26 years ago Saturday October 5, 2019

I was head of the Physics department in a Cornish comprehensive school. The headmaster was totally unsupportive and eventually I requested my union to send me an official to accompany me to a meeting in the headmasters office. The official turned up in a white Rolls Royce and caused a bit of a stir. The headmaster produced letters of complaints about my teaching all of which were written by the husbands or wives of the teaching staff. The union official warned me never to reveal this to anybody. At the time I had been stable on a low dose of Lithium for some years and my previous career had involved my teaching in a famous girls boarding school where I was well appreciated.

Eventually I was advised to take sick leave and promptly went into a long period of depression. The local education authority did not support me as I had not revealed my bipolar condition on my original application. (In those days it was impossible to get a job if you revealed a mental health condition even though it was well controlled.)

I worried about what sort of job I could get as I had no intention of teaching again. After several months a friend told me not to worry, she fortold that one day it would suddenly be revealed to me. So it was, after a wonderful experience of crewing on a sailing yacht during which I sailed from Plymouth to the Halford river. I remembered waking up one morning while we were anchored in that river and experiencing such peace in the beautiful surroundings with calm water and serene trees lit by the low dawn light. I recalled this peaceful feeling of a year before and decided that I would sail again.

It was the beginning of a wonderful adventure. I cruised the Mediterranean Sea for two years sailing on four different yachts and eventually stayed on one boat as we navigated the Atlantic Ocean taking 28 days and made landfall in Barbados. On this boat we cruised the West Indies for two and a half years and eventually headed for the South Pacific islands. All the time I was able to enjoy these intriguing experiences as I was protected by my Lithium medication. I was careful to see doctors when I could but nobody suggested I should have blood tests. In those days the danger of kidney damage was not widely known.

Some of the islands we visited were totally remote. There were no tourists and the local inhabitants lived by subsistence, fishing and growing vegetables. No shops, electricity or running water and no money. The people were so friendly and really pleased to see us. It was very revealing to discover how happy people can be in these circumstances. I was very lucky to have met them and their delightful children. One door closed for me and so many opened.

This is a summary of a book I have written but not yet edited. I have called it ' Drifting Away.'

A Moodscope member.

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What it's like to be depressed Friday October 4, 2019

I have always pondered this question and I've never been able to think of one simple answer, however I'll give it a go and see if anyone can relate.

I wake up in the morning thinking I'm not good enough, I look at other people throughout the day and think they are better at what they do than me. I'm not good enough for my relationships, I feel like a failure pretty often, find it difficult to relate to people which in turn makes me feel worse!

No matter what I seem to do, my brain keeps on telling me I'm not worthy of any happiness or any self worth. That is sad because it's a self fulfilling prophecy and I've tried all my life to change or want to fit in and I'm pretty sick of it, but find it extremely difficult to cope. I do however exercise, eat pretty decently, don't drink that much at all and yet this feeling of of being stuck in a black hole doesn't seem to lift... but everyday I fight another day!

Who ever said life was easy... it's definitely not like this.

Can anyone relate?

A Moodscope member.

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

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What do we want to know? Thursday October 3, 2019

A few months ago a book showed me something about myself which I thought I already knew. It was a novel about a woman with face-blindness. She described her childhood and how upset and she'd been when her mum walked past her at nursery and took another little girl home. For me that was powerful because for the first time in my life I was seeing myself. When I read about that little girl mistaking another woman for her mother it suddenly seemed upsetting and I felt for her. Reading on I realised how hard some things about her life had been, like how difficult it was to make friends and the lies you tell to explain why you don't recognise people you know. When you are at the cinema or watching a screen drama, and your friends say afterwards how great it was you don't say you were struggling to keep up. More lies. I'd never seen any of this in a story before, and I know that most people can't imagine what it's like to have prosopagnosia — and this is the point: neither did I, and yet this is my world. For me, things like mistaking another woman for your mum were just normal. And if it's normal you don't really notice it.

The last couple of years I was doing a study at university so I had to read a lot of non-fiction, mostly research and scientific papers. I was studying the brain (in another area of psychology) yet despite knowing how we do facial recognition from a cognitive and neurological perspective none of that knowledge was anything like seeing myself in that novel.

I think the question of what does it actually mean to know something has a couple of aspects which show up here. The novelist tells you what you already know but lays it out in a new way. It's not new factual information, it's a new presentation, new insights. Whereas the scientific paper brings you new facts about the world. It literally brings you things you did not know before. Yet when we talk about gaining knowledge it's often as if it's only this latter version which is important.

I keep this knowledge distinction in mind when thinking about mental health and the question of what do we want to know. Sometimes we seek facts. This dialogue of facts is often the language of our doctors and professionals and yet sometimes it seems as if it's not telling us what we need. I'd suggest this is because there are times when we are really seeking insight. Insight is not the language of facts but the language of novelists, artists, and indeed the sort of writing you'll often see here.

A Moodscope member

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To Err is Human Wednesday October 2, 2019

We've all been there, haven't we? That moment when we realise we've made a terrible mistake and that the world is about to fall down!

Sometimes it's only a minor mistake, yet the consequences are horrendous.

I still remember the moment, more than thirty years ago, coming up to a roundabout and not knowing which turning to take. I looked back from the road sign to the actual road ahead and realised I was about to crash into car in front. There was no possible way I was going to stop in time.

Screeeeeech... Crunch...

That day, thank goodness, the cost was minor. Three people were shaken up a little and a few car repairs had to be made. There was nothing worse but I still have a horror of complicated roundabouts and give daily thanks to Google Maps.

Sometimes the consequences are emotional: that time we say something we wish we could take back. Or the time our error incurs a £100 fine.

I've written about self-loathing before: that spiral down into black despairing hatred, often triggered by something minor, but this is about the bigger things.

We all make mistakes.

How would you behave if someone ran into your car from behind, because they weren't looking where they were going? How do you react when someone blurts out a hurtful comment? How would you feel if you had to pay £100 because someone you trusted got it wrong?

Maybe it would depend on the attitude of the offending party.

I still remember the kindness of the man I ran into on that roundabout. He lived just around the corner and he took my passenger and me to his home where his wife gave us hot tea while he phoned the police and the recovery services (this was before the age of mobile phones, remember).

I remember the recent graciousness of a friend, when I made an ill-considered comment. She texted the same day to let me know I'd hurt her and gave me an opening to apologise and make amends.

The fine was paid by me because my dental practice inadvertently processed my treatment under the wrong schedule. I had signed where told to, and I had signed in error. Mea Culpa – I should have read more carefully. They have apologised, but they are not liable for that fine: I am.

The police were called to that road accident thirty-odd years ago. The fatherly policeman explained that I would not be prosecuting for dangerous driving. "Here in Yorkshire," he said, "We understand that anyone can make a mistake."

My friend accepted my apology and I have learned from that mistake.

The dental practice has promised to learn from their mistake and hopefully I will check more carefully before signing on the dotted line marked X.

Yes, we all make mistakes.

We forgive the mistakes of others and must forgive ourselves too for our own mistakes.

To err is human. To forgive is human too.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Why? Tuesday October 1, 2019

Why not? is often the answer to that. But today I wondered if we could look at 'why' just a little. If we over analyse 'why' then we might become morose and miserable. Please don't dwell on the deep 'why' today. A little 'why' can be useful.

You probably know I live with three teenagers. Around 7pm of any evening I am often to be found in the thick of the crazy hours 4-9pm. The time when everyone needs, often wildly different things at different times. Often it goes - car pick up, emotional dump and drowning, dinner, answer door, hug, car pick up, more emotionals, possibly some grumping, answer door, dinner, football drop, dinner, hockey drop, dinner, ignore door, ignore a couple of phone calls, work drop, round to collect drop one, start kitchen clean up, collect drop two halfway through the clean up, return to Vesuvius style kit load outside washing machine, put on load 1/47, lay out breakfast, lay out things for packed lunches, "no spare shoelaces, try Sellotape", are we cleaned up yet?, Oh supper has begun, let's do recycling, is that rain, what verruca?, that leg didn't hurt a hour ago, damn the washing is out, am I shouting? I think I am. I AM SHOUTING. And I say "I AM NOT SHOUTING AT YOU, YOU HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING WRONG I AM JUST TIRED AND I AM JUST SHOUTING.

The 'why' is important here. I will be shouting because I am tired and frustrated. The day will have started long ago and it will have reached a crescendo. The point in the opera when the lady is emoting her everything and the audience wants to cry itself inside out, that bit. And its important that the three teenagers understand it's not them. They are just living and breathing and taking their opportunities as I want them to do. But that they know the 'why' of why I'm shouting is very, very important. I'm very lucky that at least one of them often moulds their body around my back and puts an arm around, and I know they understand.

Just like I understood tonight when I had my head bitten off from the shoulders. She was tired. Just like her mum. She shouted. Just like her mum. And it was ok because I knew it wasn't me. It was, but not really.

Knowing 'why' is sometimes very, very useful and it's a word which can help us throw up all manner of things. No need to delve into the big why, just focus on the little why.

I love saying a word so much it sounds weird. Whywhywhywhywhywhywhywhywhywhywhy.

Score time. I will if you will.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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Hitchhiking to Happiness Monday September 30, 2019

I need you; you need me.

Oh, and that's a good thing... a REALLY good thing.

That's a BIG lesson to learn in life because for some daft reason we've been sold a lie. The erroneous interpretation is that needing other people is a sign of weakness. It isn't. It defines what it means to be human.

We are tribal. We are family. We are strong together, and weak apart.

We need 'difference'. Different viewpoints. Different skills. Different insights.

I like the metaphor of hitchhiking. A hitchhiker knows where they want to get to. What they don't have is the capability to get there quickly enough. They need help to accelerate their achievement of their dreams, goals, and ambitions. They need other people's capabilities, resources, and willingness to help.

I want to get to a town called, "Happiness."

I've heard it's a great place where you aren't judged for the journey you've taken to get there. You aren't judged for what you wear. You aren't judged for the company you keep. You aren't judged for the way you are - not age, not race, not gender, not education, not nationality.

I might get there, eventually...

...but I know for certain I can get there faster in good company – with you.

I wanted to take this opportunity to say, "Thank You!" to everybody who has commented over the years I've been writing for Moodscope. Every comment has flowed out from the best of intentions, and every comment has moved us forwards together.

We are tribe. We are family. We are Moodscope.

Of course, as a Hitchhiker, it is really helpful to put your desired destination clearly on a card while you are thumbing a lift by the roadside. I'm off to 'Happiness'.

I suspect 'Happiness' is a place that's a long way away, but that's where I'd like to go. Who'd like to go there with me? Anyone travelling my way?

Here's the flipside. I've got a great vehicle that could give YOU a lift. I know how to organise my thinking, I'm pretty good at time management, and I'm awesome at Social Media. Am I bragging? No. I'm advertising the direction I'm going in.

I want you to know that I'm here for you, and if I can do anything to make your journey to Happiness easier, faster, and more enjoyable, I'd love to give you a lift.

What can I do for you?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Being Sunday September 29, 2019

I was at a dinner party years ago, way back when I used to get invited to dinner parties, does anybody actually hold (or attend) them anymore? The guy sitting next to me said "I just want to be happy" and I retorted, "I just want to be".

Wow, I did not know this about myself until I heard myself say the words out loud and realised it was both true and profound.

I'm reminded of the glass half full/half empty debate which always drove me mad. It's neither and both I'd say. Why does it have to be one thing or another, why is it not just what it is? And if we really want to debate it we need more information. Was it full and now it's less full, so we might conclude it's on it's way down, or was it empty, and therefore on it's way up?

Why do we need all this labelling, does it serve any purpose? Optimistic or pessimistic - are we really one thing or another? I would suggest not. It may be that I'm optimistic of getting an interview for a recent job application, but I may be pessimistic about the commute (with all good reason).

I may be optimistic about finishing the 10K run, but pessimistic about doing so within the hour.

I do not want to be labelled as one thing or another, I am what I am in that moment and without a doubt, it will change. I do not want to have to be anything, I just want to be.

A Moodscope member.

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From a mother Saturday September 28, 2019

I read the Moodscope blog for insight into my daughter's bipolar - a friend once gave me some good advice - if I can help 10 times by changing something by 1% then 10% will be quite an improvement.

I have felt in the past that she sets her herself up for disappointment with unrealistic (and romantic) expectations and Tiffany's blog (15 Aug 2019) set me thinking - I feel fate intervened as I have been reading a book called The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters - It is a simplified analogy about how the brain works but in essence the premise is that we have a rational, logical human brain which learns about life (a bit too slowly sometimes) and a chimp brain which is reactive and is ready the moment we are born, requiring instant gratification to things like hunger and feelings. There is also a 'computer' which reacts the fastest and both the human and chimp have input to this. We have to learn to manage the chimp...

Anyway, it has made a great impression on me - there is help on how to have difficult conversations; how to have better relationships and how to get more enjoyment out of life. Although it requires effort and won't always work, I feel I have a better understanding of what I can change and what I can't - the bottom line is that we always have a choice - it doesn't necessarily change the circumstances but it can always change how we think about it and how we move on - so I feel that this might even be 10% in one whole go.

I love recognising the styles of the more regular contributors - your highs and lows and insights and questions - for me it is ways of helping and understanding the challenges you face that I value greatly! I would like you all to know that you are helping me by having more insight than I would otherwise have had so I do thank you and appreciate you all!!

If anyone has been helped by someone unexpectedly recently I would love to hear.

A Moodscope member.

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A friend with MS Friday September 27, 2019

My friend was diagnosed with MS in 1996 and I visited her as soon as I heard to see how she was coping. Not long after, her husband left her and her nine-year-old son to cope on their own. She was duly upset and furious with him for the betrayal and relied on her friends even more.

Two of her friends lived quite close and would see her often. I was a friend, but not as close as them either physically or emotionally.

Accordingly I took a back seat when it came to visits. I had an almost atavistic response to her illness: on some level I thought it might affect me, although it's not contagious, so always found reasons to avoid seeing her. However, generously, she still thought of me as a friend but I could only face visiting her with others to give me support. I'm ashamed to say I last saw her in 2011 although my subconscious was sending me messages about seeing her soon, which I ignored owing to my fear of the situation. Now her son informs me that she's died and that I will be most welcome to come to her funeral and wake, which I think is very generous of him too.

I just wondered if anyone out there has had a similar response to the serious illness of a friend and how you reacted? I was like this with my mother as I was scared stiff when she was ill and found it hard to visit her too but steeled myself to see her.

I suppose it's a fear of facing up to mortality and in my mum's case watching the seemingly settled structure of my life come apart as her illness took over.

I really don't know why I react in this way and it is easier to talk here about it than anyone who knew my friend. Any help would be appreciated.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Still needed Thursday September 26, 2019

Stood at the kitchen window watching the rain running down the window in hundreds of tiny rivers, my eldest son working in the garden despite the rain content to be active, my mind strays back to years gone by when on rainy days me and the children would snuggle on the sofa one huge pile of arms and legs a big blanket wrapped around us watching back to back Disney films.

Those days long behind us now, not just because we won't all fit on the sofa or because the rainy days have stopped, life has simply moved on, my children all but grown, my eldest living at the opposite end of the country and my youngest at that awkward teenage stage where watching movies with mum is not cool. I feel a sense of loss for those years and an emptiness descends letting my my children grow and stretch their wings of independence is one of the hardest thing I have had to face.

I sigh and set of to walk the dog much to his displeasure at going out in the rain. On my return I'm greeted at the door with first my youngest "Mum, I can't find my phone charger." A shout from upstairs "Is that mum? Tell her I need my jeans for work please." My daughter from the kitchen "Mum do you want a brew?" A few minutes later my eldest bounding in through the back door "Mum come tell me what you think, I've built you two planters in the garden."

I smile and laugh aloud, I guess I needn't have worried, they still need me but in different ways now.

A Moodscope member.

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What Are You Good At? Wednesday September 25, 2019

"Mary," a very good friend said, a long time ago, "You couldn't administrate your way out of a paper bag!"

That sounds harsh, but it wasn't. You see, I had taken on the role of secretary to a social organisation and had made a complete hash of it. Nobody got angry with all the mistakes and missed communications; they all put up with it with remarkable tolerance. But – at the end of that year, nobody suggested that I stay in role, for which I was grateful.

Those words released me, and I have never since volunteered for any administrative job; I just can't do it!

When I left university, in 1984, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so chose accountancy – a job to which I was totally unsuited. Nevertheless, I managed to pass all the exams to become a chartered accountant and spent fifteen miserable years working as hard as I could at something I didn't enjoy until the director of finance in my then employment took me to one side.

"Mary," she said. "You're a lovely girl. You work really hard. You've got lots of skills and talents. But they're not the skills and talents you need to do this job. You should find another career."

Yes – I did go home and cry. Those were difficult words to hear. But – again, those words released me to find something I'm good at. Today I am an Image Consultant: I work with people to discover how they can present their best self to the world every day.

Every time I see a client leave my studio, transformed, believing in her own beauty, I am validated. When I meet a client in the street and she says, "You changed my life!" I know I'm good at what I do. That recognition is wonderful!

It's the same with the writing. I write for you, blogs for my business, contemporary romance, poetry; more serious stuff. I seem to be good at that too.

I bake, I make greetings cards, my children say I'm a good mother (they're probably biased) and I know I'm a good friend.

There are still far more things in the world I'm not good at: gardening, decorating, staying tidy, being on time, making small talk at parties. I can't play tennis, or a musical instrument. I can't fly a plane or understand higher mathematics. I have never been able to make a successful toad-in-the-hole.

We can keep looking at all the things we can't do and spiral down into negativity until we feel like the most worthless human being on the planet; or we can look at the things we do well.

Some of them may seem small. Are you a good listener? That's an invaluable skill. Are you good at fixing mechanical things? Are you good at looking after animals? Those skills are so needed.

Think about what you're good at and allow yourself a moment of self-recognition and, yes, congratulation.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Decluttering Tuesday September 24, 2019

Well... this is something I have been looking forward to for so long... because... it's not mine... it's someone I love's "hoard". And when I say hoard, I mean rammed to the gills. Not just the garage but our workshop too.

Now I should feel vindicated but I actually feel strange after the clear-out... I think it's one of those things that you don't take on board till it's done. I found myself thinking all sorts of things... I wish I'd known about this right from the start... was it my fault that I "let" it get out of hand... did I somehow enable it...

Of course it's not something you discuss generally. It's almost like a dirty little secret and I've let it out of the closet. One of the first ways to take a step forward is the person admitting they have a problem. Bit like an alcoholic. But we never really discussed it. There have been so many collections... tanks, trains, planes, books, pen-knives, guitars... and the list goes on. It is a thing that runs in the family with two others and one person is so out of hand with it they never invite anyone inside the house. It is a no-go area. People have stood on the door step and not been let in. No one comes around for dinner, or a cup of tea, for anything. And I think that is so very sad.

I have been more patient than a previous person who chucked everything out – no discussion... gone. And this was a repeat of something else where stuff had to be left behind because there wasn't enough room in the removal van. Can you imagine it? As a child your beloved collections are left behind... not put in the car or gone back for. And then that child takes it upon themselves to walk back to where they lived to ask the new people if they still had kept the bits and pieces. How very brave and how very poignant. Of course they didn't have the bits – had slung them. And that stays with a person. So they try and buy back that lost part of childhood... but they don't know when to stop. So after a while when I heard about that, I had great sympathy.

But I have been impressed by the way that the task has been tackled and that there isn't a painful big discussion about everything... where you almost have to go through pros and cons of holding on to something... like you see with some really bad hoarders on the TV.
The decluttering of the house has somehow decluttered our minds a little and we will have places for everything. I have given quite a few bits and pieces to a local charity – which feels lovely – and the rest is being sorted.

I realise that on the scale of things things aren't as bad for us as they were on TV but they were disrupting, draining and frustrating at the very least...

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Delight of Don't Monday September 23, 2019

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

"Don't flush the loo!" the shout comes up the stairs. This goes against decades of mental-programming as a kid growing up: "Flush the toilet, put the lid down, wash your hands – there's a good boy!"

She-who-ought-to-be-obeyed likes to save water. Great plan. What she doesn't realise is that I have a glitch in my programming. My brain can't cope with 'Don't'.

I've tried to explain this to her but she persists. My ears hear, "Don't flush the loo!" My mouth answers back, "OK!" My brain says, "Do not flush the toilet; I must not flush the toilet!" And I flush the loo!

I can show why this works in an instant. Don't think of a Pink Elephant wearing a tutu and roller-blades!

What did you think of? Exactly.

In order NOT to do something, we have to imagine what it would be like to DO something.

This blog thus flows on from last Monday's one on "Would you rather." What a great response there was to that blog – I'm very grateful.

Today's blog is intended to help you fall in love with the delight of "Don't!" Why? Because "Don't!" is your friend. It's like a signal that pops up to warn you to think again!

When you don't want to do something, it's a flag waving at you to use what we shared last week, "What would you rather...?"

When you don't like something, it's a flare that's been sent up high into your sky of awareness asking you, "What would you prefer instead?"

My main theme today is simple: "Don't doesn't work!" Well, not very well.

What are the "Don'ts" in your life?

What would happen if you did?

What would you rather do instead?

My dream is that we turn our thinking around every time we catch ourselves flowing towards the negative. Don't is the call-sign of negative thinking. When we focus on what we'd prefer to do instead, wonderful things can happen.

I'll close with a deeper thought about happiness. Many people I know focus on what they don't have. Whole industries in Sales and Marketing, Publishing and Fashion, focus on what you are missing in your life – what you don't have. I am very slowly learning that what the eye sees (i.e. what you DO have) is far better than what the heart yearns for (what you don't have.) Therefore, I ask, "What are grateful for today that you DO have?"

Don't be shy now... lol

A Moodscope member.

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

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Two Roses on a Stem Sunday September 22, 2019

A poem in memory of my twin sister, Catherine who died by suicide on 6 January 1982.

Fallen rose petals rest in a glass jar by my side.
You are on thin ice, I am deep in snow.
Whose footsteps do I hear? My sister's, who has suffered so.
The pain is deeper than the snow, and the ice has cracked.

We read the Two Too Twins book
We were either too quiet, too sad, but never too mad
And now I don't know how I can feel glad.
Strumming your life on a guitar,
Dancing my life in a leotard,
Your music sounded like a beating heart.

You and I, two roses,
Fresh from the garden where love grew wild,
Rain fell in summer, and the stem broke.
The rose petals fell to the ground, but they won't fade away.
I keep the rose petals in a glass jar, by my side.
One rose sleeps, the other grows.

A Moodscope member

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

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