The Moodscope Blog



Hello there Monday December 24, 2018

So, here you are safe.

Here, there are plenty of people who understand completely how you are feeling and many will be dreading tomorrow, for different reasons.

You are not alone.

Relax for a few minutes.

Check your body over for any areas of tension – jaw, shoulders, hands...

You have chosen to check in with us and we are here.

Smile, if you can, or at least relax your facial muscles. I am smiling back.

Breathe deeply – inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Repeat as often as you can throughout the day and feel your tension ebb away.

Choose a simple, comforting phrase and repeat it to yourself

"I am safe"
"This will pass"

Maybe just a word


I have candles burning – and one is for all you lovely Moodscopers – everytime I look at it I wish for peace of mind and heart for all of you.

Here's to peace: Peace in our hearts, in our homes, in our world.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Meaning of Christmas Sunday December 23, 2018

I have compiled this Christmas list from some of the themes expressed in many of the Moodscope blogs over the last 12 months:

C is for Caring. Care for others and leave some for yourself.

H is for Hope. Even at our lowest points always believe things will get better.

R is for Respect. We may not like everybody but we should respect their views and behaviours.

I is for Interesting. Encourage interests and passions to fight negative thoughts.

S is for Sympathy. Sympathise and try to empathise with others and their difficulties.

T is for Togetherness. Seek shared interests and join others to enjoy them. Which leads nicely to :

M is for Moodscope! The camaraderie shown on this site is amazing and truly inspirational. Long may it continue.

A is for acceptance. We all need to find inner peace and sometimes need to accept something we cannot change.

S is for Seasons. Enjoy the changing landscape throughout the year. Spring is not far away.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Oh holy night, the cheese is brightly shining Saturday December 22, 2018

In my quest for strong and balanced mental health over the last 30 odd years, there have been many tools used, honed, and relied upon. Remedies, books, counsellors, research, websites, therapies from scientific and complementary origins as well as plain old 'eat three good meals and sleep better' disciplines. Today, I unpacked our twice weekly shop and fell over yet another lightbulb moment which I feel is my duty to report to you lovely people. It was all in the cheese.

I'm no cheese aficionado. To be honest, at a cheese and wine tasting I once attended, the hangover from the combination was so severe that it turned my head forever. I can still face a mature, organic cheddar, feta crumbled through tomatoes and perhaps the occasional light dusting of parmesan or equivalent over something Italian. Today, the cheddar and the feta took up relay positions as my Star of Bethlehem.

Both fell out the shopping bag. Both were placed on the cheese shelf. But before tucking them in I noticed something important. The mature cheddar has a best before date of the 9th of January. The feta is stamped best before the 1st of May. Hello cheesy mentors!

You see, in noticing the dates, the cheddar has already linked its arm through mine and said "do not fret little one, this crazy, pressured Christmas season is merely steps, walk with me, we are already looking to January the 9th, we walk through crazy season together and we are beyond it already". And the feta has placed an arm around my shoulders and said "I am from Spring to come, it's there, lying ahead, already in the making".

They are quiet, unseen, guides. And if they are lovingly consumed by way of melted cheese on toast or a sausage and feta casserole prior to these dates, I know that their siblings and friends will step into place with an equal to or beyond date to guide me.

I will now not try to block out Christmas, as was my gut feel, but look beyond and through. Thank you cheesy pals. I Gouda feeling we're going to be ok. (Deep apologies for that, my head is almost lowered in shame.)

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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What not to say to a friend experiencing a mental health problem. Friday December 21, 2018

Just snap out of it.
Get over yourself.
You need to get out more.
It's all in your mind.
But you have nothing even to worry about.
Stop complaining all the time.
I always knew you had a problem.
There is nothing even wrong with you.
Stop looking for attention.
You don't look anxious or depressed.
You are not pushing yourself enough.
It sounds like you're going crazy.
You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself.
No one ever said life was fair.
You are always so negative.
It's your own fault. Things could be so much worse.

With thanks to Suicide Awareness and Prevention

Hopeful One
A Moodscope Member

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

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The Greatest Gift is You Thursday December 20, 2018

You are beautiful.

'Oh no! Not me,' you say. 'Other people are beautiful. Not me.'

You know I'm not talking about physical beauty, right?

'I'm still not beautiful. You can't see my ugliness, because I'm too scared to show you. But, it's there. Oh yes, it's there!'

You're scared? It's only the fear that's ugly. You are beautiful.

I once heard that we are all diamonds, encased in manure – with a thin coating of nail varnish on the top. We are terrified the varnish will crack, and the smell of the manure will come through. We see only the manure and do not know about the diamond beneath. We see the gemstones in others, though: we even call some people "rough diamonds."

Think about it: all those things about yourself, that you don't like, are caused by fear. Furthermore, many of those things are just nonsense. It is the fear that is manure.

I think I'm lazy – but other people say they don't know how I can do so much. I know, however, the "so much" is only displacement activity; it means I don't have to do what I should do. And I don't do what I should do because I'm scared. But calling it laziness is more comfortable than calling it fear.

Yet fear is not a vice, like laziness. Your vices too, are only fear.

Fear doesn't respond well to anger or violence: so, beating yourself and up and calling yourself names is unlikely to help.

If you were trying to encourage a timid animal to come to you and trust you, then you would use gentleness and patience and rewards for small steps. Maybe we should try that on ourselves.

What would happen if we could see our own beauty? What would happen if we could see the diamond and not the manure?

Think about what we could give to the world.

The world needs you and your beauty, because nobody is as uniquely beautiful as you.

I started to write this blog about life purpose. Maybe one day I'll post that one. My life purpose is to create beauty and to generate joy. I try to do that in many ways, but one of them is in my work. As an image consultant my work is not about "image" or even the clothes people wear. It's about self-knowledge and self-acceptance and people seeing their own beauty. The purpose then of that is they feel confident enough to give the gift of themselves to the world.

We say Christmas is a time for giving. In the words of the carol, "What can I give him, poor as I am?" But we are poor only in our own minds. We see the manure, not the priceless diamond beneath.

It's okay to give the whole package to the world. The manure is only the wrapping for the diamond. And well-rotted manure is good for roses anyway.

And roses are beautiful too. Just like you.

A Moodscope member.

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

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How to be your own grandparent Wednesday December 19, 2018

I'm a wise old man. Well I'm certainly getting older every year and I've started to look back at my life and look inside myself, to find out who I am and why. And that feels like a kind of wisdom.

But it took me a long time to get there and I had to come to a crisis before finally admitting that crying at lunchtime wasn't normal and it was time to do something about it. That something was talking to my GP and trying a low dose of anti-depressants for a year, which did stop the tearful episodes and allowed me to concentrate at work, but didn't solve any problems.

The crisis came this time of year, but three years ago. In brief, my mother ended her four month battle with cancer the same day she met her new-born great-grand-daughter (our grand-daughter). The pills I was taking meant that I hardly cried at her funeral, and I was someone that could shed a tear just thinking about that scene in Dumbo (you know: baby of mine). But things at work continued to deteriorate and it's taken all my strength – and lots of support from my wife, the NHS and from work – to keep my nose above water.

I stopped the pills and began CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which included an introduction to mindfulness. It's not fixed my life but has given me some tools and tactics for coping when things don't go right or just feel tough.

One concept it introduced me to was 'being kind to yourself'; there's a meditation called 'befriending'. If you find it hard to be kind to yourself, you should think of a person that loves or loved you unconditionally and try to see yourself through their eyes.

Having a grand-daughter has made me think about my own grandparents and how easy it is to give unconditional love as a grandparent. Uncomplicated by the need to discipline (as a parent must) but with all the love, plus a licence to spoil. So I try to be a grandfather to myself, and give myself that unconditional love. Why not try it, if you find it difficult to love yourself, and say to yourself:

"May I be safe and free from suffering. May I be happy and healthy. May I have ease of being."

Toby aka Grandpa Punk
A Moodscope member.

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

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Is it me or why do I feel guilty? Tuesday December 18, 2018

Back in June, I lost my Mum. She had been in hospital then a good care home for just under 2 years. During this time, I visited her regularly so she was rarely alone. Mum and I had lived together for ever! However, we led pretty independent lives. I worked full time until I gave up work to care for Mum. So for the last two years I have lived alone. Does it bother me? No! Does it bother other people? Some of them.

I've always been a bit of a loner though I am by no means a recluse. I get out most days, either to go to the gym or go shopping or visiting friends and family. Once I am home, I rarely go out again.

I managed to get away at the end of September for a holiday and as this is the first Christmas on my own, I am going away for a break to cover the whole event!

So, why do I feel guilty? I prefer my own company – I can always keep myself occupied and providing I've got food/drink/television/books/music and warmth then I'm happy. However, there are those people who say, "Oh you shouldn't be on your own" – my reply is "Why?". Back they come with "Well you'll be missing your Mum" and similar comments.

I know the majority of these people mean well, and when I explain that I am better on my own – I can 'grieve' or think about Mum – they understand and often say, "Well if you do want company or fancy a cup of tea or something stronger, you know where we are". How kind, I think. How can we ever tell some people that what they are saying is crass, unnecessary or even painful?

I am looking forward to the Festive season – it will be different, but I will be able to start looking forward.

How are you feeling at the moment? Are you worried or frightened, or are you looking for a challenge? However you feel, your fellow Moodscopers will be there with virtual hugs and lots of love.

A Moodscope member

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

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Three Gifts Monday December 17, 2018

[To watch a video of today's blog, please click here:]

I've been told, "It's more blessed to give than receive." I don't know if that's true, but I thought it would be great to put it to the test - with your help. Are you up for this?

G&T stands for, "Gin and Tonic," which I like, but also, "Gifted and Talented." You are gifted and talented, though I appreciate that you often may not feel that way. Being human comes with gifts pre-installed! My favourite gift that you have is your smile. You also have that ability to share a kind word of encouragement. On top of that, you have some pretty nifty ideas... and ideas are brilliant because when you give them away you find that you still have them too!

I wonder if you'd press pause for a moment and think about your other gifts and talents?

How about the arts? Can you draw? Can you paint? Can you sculpt? Can you sing? Can you play an instrument? Can you knit, sew, crochet? Do you enjoy a craft?

Then there are languages. Can you write original material? Can you write poems? Are you good at articulating ideas?

And the sciences – and maths! Do you have gifts and talents here? Are you good with figures? Can you fix things? Are you good with your hands in an engineering kind of way?

In a certain well-known story, 3 Wise Men brought their own gifts to make this season special. I'm going to encourage you today to give away three gifts or share three aspects of your talents.

This will usually mean giving your gift of time. It could be as straightforward as the gifts we began with today: sharing a smile with as many people as possible, deliberately giving the gift of encouraging words to someone, and investing your ideas in someone else who'd find them valuable.

If you pressed pause and thought about arts, languages, and science there may be a card you could make, something you could knit, figure-work you could help someone with, something you could fix for someone... a planned act of kindness.

Finally, I'd love you to give yourself a gift. As we thought about arts, languages, and sciences it may well be that you wished you had a gift or talent in some of these areas. I'm going to ask you to commit to giving yourself the gift of learning a new talent... than can then become a gift that goes on giving.

Above all, once we've put to the test the idea that is it more blessed to give than to receive, I'd love to hear your stories of how it was true for you.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The paradox of showing vulnerability... Sunday December 16, 2018

Our natural instinct is to hide any vulnerability and in some situations that may be wise.

But the surprising thing I found is that showing how vulnerable you are can have exactly the opposite effect of our worst fears. It can have a positive effect and open doors we thought were slammed shut. As humans we respond well to authentic disclosure from others and far from mocking we tend to want to help.

I discovered this by accident when I felt I had to tell a deeply personal and humiliating story from my past to show why I cared about an issue I felt compelled to address. I thought I would be laughed at and mocked but the reverse happened. I was supported and helped by a team who got behind the issue and resolved it.

Science has now proved that this is a real phenomena and there are very useful TED talks on vulnerability which make the point much better than I can.

Have you ever found that by letting your vulnerability show it made a positive difference?


The Moodscope Team

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

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How do you keep going? Saturday December 15, 2018

It has been a long time since I blogged here; I have had two bereavements this year; an elderly aunt in February and my alcoholic sister in March. It's been a tough year.

In my last blog "What helps you?" (17th October 2017) I invited you to choose one resource that has helped you during tough times.

Lots of you provided some great suggestions – thank-you!

But, dear Moodscopers, I feel I owe you an apology – at least to those of you for whom the thought of picking up a book, accessing a web-site, doing anything feels impossible. Had I read my own blog this year, I think I would have dismissed it out of hand as an offering from someone who simply doesn't understand.

This year has been so challenging for me. Reading a self-help book or navigating a self-help web-site has just not been possible for me. Keeping on top of the normal daily chores along with the nightmare of winding up two estates and dealing with the fall-out of Nicky's (my sister) death has been a huge challenge; normal life was put on hold for several months.

So, lovely Moodscopers, today I invite you to share your one tip that keeps you going when life seems impossible. It could be a saying, a "must-do", anything small that helps you in your darkest times. How long a list can we produce?

Mine has been: "All things pass, and this too will pass".

A Moodscope member

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

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'My dream man' Friday December 14, 2018

I'm so fortunate, I have my dream man.

His kindness to strangers, his love of animals, his appreciation of nature, his honesty. All of our little 'things' we have together; like the quotes and characters from films and songs that stick with you and become 'yours' or that we'll look out for foxes on our drive home or leave food out for hedgehogs. We collect books and succulent plants, we watch the same adventurers on youtube, we visit national trust properties, we imagine one day holidaying in far away lands, we read, we explore, we discover.

Then there are the things that he has worked through that only I know about, the secret struggles, as well as the more obvious features like his looks and his sense of humour - all are things I love about him and never thought I would find in one person.

But my dream man has another thing too.

My dream man has depression.

Even as I write I find myself checking - has depression, suffers from depression, is depressed, which is correct and which is kind to say?

You see I love my dream man with all my heart and wish to spend my life with him, so I work hard to learn about depression, to become aware of his sensitivities, to modify my interactions so rather than trigger him I can be the safe place for him to rest at the end of the day.

But sometimes my dream man can't see past the end of the day. Sometimes he can't even see the next few hours. Sometimes my dream man doesn't give an f what I need or deserve. Sometimes everything is putting pressure on and complaining at my dream man and he just wants it to stop. Sometimes my dream man can't shave, or find his suit jacket. Sometimes my dream man feels that therapy was useless and the pills aren't working. Sometimes my dream man feels life is pointless. Sometimes my dream man cannot cope with what I have been through, he is ashamed of me, I am tainted; this for me as a survivor of sexual violence is very painful, yet strengthening, to withstand and affirm against.

Now I know that this is not actually my dream man talking, or doing, or not talking or not doing. It's the depression.

I just wish it would let him go, and give me back my dream man.

A Moodscope member.

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

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If? What would Kipling write now? Thursday December 13, 2018

Some time ago I was flattered, by Lex, I think, saying that I epitomised the 'If' in Kipling's poem.

In the 9 weeks since my husband's death I have written, to me, the 'stages' of grief. The last was 'I know where I'm going' illustrated by a long, straight, French road. Now, the Hindu god epitomises my current state. It looks as though I may be out of my 'cage' that of being a carer, and rooted to the spot from lack of money.

Now, my caring responsibilities are over, and it looks as though the unsold house, source of many of my problems, is finished with. So, why do I feel like a caged bird, who, although the door is open, is scared of getting out?

Age, naturally, is against many flights of fancy – Club Med off the coast of Malaya being dream world. But I find my mind has stopped exploring possibilities – and now, in retrospect, I wonder (not worry) that I may have presented a closed mind to the mass of advice I have received in the last 5 years.

No TV, lovely music and some good St Emilion wine have generated analysis of the advice, and a questioning if ANY of it was practical. It was not. To the adviser, it was SO simple. There was a large, historic house, in good order, lovely garden, famous tourist area, let it, long let or week-ends. Selling it was the urgent need, a long let would have caused legal problems, and hassle, besides; I'd nicked most of the furniture for the new house. Also – as I am sure many have found to their cost, a house which may seem a luxury family abode becomes a slum when you try to let it (or sell it on a market in the doldrums). It is quite likely you have to spend to bring it up to 'letting' standards. By the time you have paid taxes, income, local, and possibly VAT, plus the percentage demanded by, Airb&b etc you are out of pocket.

Most of my life I have had to get up early: large family, farming, lots of animals, sick husband – no way do I want to get up and provide breakfast for PG's. And I CANNOT change big duvets, I'd have to pay somebody, who would have to be reliable, to do it. Anyway, door shut on that lot.

Travel ideas open – had some super trips with the Ramblers' association and the local diocese. But I have to get to point of departure. Stalemate. However, there is a system here 'blah-blah' cars. If I can be driven to the Gare du Nord I can get to Geneva, and thence to the Alps. So, as is necessary in modern parlance, to 'think outside the box' I am beginning to feel that getting out of the cage may not be so scary after all!

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

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When You Don't Get What You Want. Wednesday December 12, 2018

There were tears in the Wednesday household last weekend.

My daughter had saved up her allowance and worked extra chores, all to buy a pair of sports shoes.

Alas, when she went online to buy them, they had sold out countrywide.

I am reliably informed that these (ridiculously overpriced, in my opinion) sports shoes are the last word in ultimately cool things and that my daughter has impeccable taste; but that just made it worse for my bitterly disappointed teenager.

As her mother I had mixed emotions.

Of course, I want her to have everything her heart desires: I am her mother. On the other hand, I think these shoes are a shocking luxury and morally indefensible. I applaud her thrifty habits and work ethic in getting the money to pay for what she wants. At the same time, she must learn you can't always get what you want. I want her to be happy and I want her to learn to manage her unhappiness.

We all have things we desire but which we cannot have. There are things we work hard for, times when we do everything right, but it just doesn't go our way. We don't get that job. The house sale falls through. Nobody gets us that Christmas present we've been hinting so hard for all year.

And the bigger things. Many of us, if asked what we most want, would reply, "Health". Mental health and physical health. It's something that many people take for granted, and thank goodness they can, but we cannot.

Relationships too. We long for closeness, connection with others. We long for loving and united families. Some of us want, more than anything, a close romantic relationship: someone with whom we can share our hopes and dreams, and the tenderness of sexual union.

We all have things – and relationships – we want but cannot have.

How do we deal with those disappointments?

Cats deal with disappointment by shooting up a leg, washing ostentatiously and pretending they didn't really want it in the first place. Cats are all about saving face.

There's the traditional British stiff upper lip: "That's a pity. Never mind. Onwards and upwards."

Toddlers, and those still immature, throw tantrums; as if – by loud protests – what was denied will be given to them. Maybe, if they scream enough, the universe will change its mind.

And – the mature way: the grief expressed. Because, yes, it hurts. To be denied what we long for is painful. To deny that pain is to drive it underground where it festers. But the mature way, even in grief, is to be open to new possibilities.

They say when one door closes, another opens. Sometimes it's a window, not a door. Sometimes it's in a place you didn't look and has a shape you didn't expect. But there is always something.

My daughter has decided to keep that money for now. She will spend on something else later.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Something's changed Tuesday December 11, 2018

Something's changed. I was aware subconsciously before I realised it. That fleeting thought a few weeks back: "I wonder whether my old counsellor does one off sessions". Then last week something happened which would usually make me feel angry and upset. This time it rendered me curled up in bed weeping. Two days later I just started crying for no real reason. At parents evening my daughters' key worker said "Well done mummy, your girls are excelling". But all I heard was (non-existent) criticism in the pauses between her sentences.

But more than all this material evidence is a change in the way I feel. Tears beneath the surface. Explosive reactions over the tiniest negative situation. Huge self-depreciation. Shying from physical contact. I've felt this way before. I thought it was behind me but here it is again. And I'm terrified. I know how those dark years felt. They were horrendous for everyone near me. I know I'm a fighter, I know I got through it before. But I don't want to have to fight that fight again.

But, I've noticed what's happening. That's hugely valuable. I haven't got a clue what's brought me back here so there's no quick fix. Instead, a proactive question: how do I stop myself slipping further down this slope?

I've started charting my scores. I know I ought to have been but I've never done is properly previously. They're all over the place but I know a pattern will come in time.

Comfort and warmth are a huge part of my well being. So I've found my thick slippers, got out my cosy blanket and added an extra t-shirt. It helps.

Perhaps I should see if my old counsellor does one off sessions. Or book in for a few. And at the very least I need to talk to my other half about what's happening. Currently it's an unspoken that we're dancing around. He knows it, I know it. We need to talk about it.

And then there's re-balancing my social vs home life. Sometimes hiding at home helps. Sometimes getting out and finding a giggle helps. Maybe I need a difference balance there.

But is there anything else I can do? I know help mechanisms are so personal but I'd love to hear any suggestions from other members. I'm so desperate to watch the black cloud blow past rather than getting stuck beneath it.

In hope,

A Moodscope member.

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

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12 Aspects of Gratitude Monday December 10, 2018

[To view a video of this post please click here:]

I'm sitting here, writing this, with a box of 24 Craft Beers from around the World. This is a thoughtful gift from Emily, Matt, and Michael – an Advent Calendar of Beers! Cheers! Hanging off the back of the lounge door is Lady Penelope's Advent Calendar of... Chocolates! Shopping in ASDA, I saw an Advent Calendar of Cheeses! An idea began to form...

Mindset is most definitely affected by focus. We get more of what we pay attention to (in terms of thoughts and thinking), and whatever we think about frames our day. In some senses, we are what we think. In fact, there's even that famous proverb, "As a person thinks in their heart, so they are." (From Proverbs 23:7)

Could thinking about gratitude make us feel grateful today? In case it works, here's a Seasonal Thanking Game, a Christmas Thinking Game, to brighten the patterns that twinkle between your neurons! Do this, and your brain will light up like a Christmas Tree!

The brain is really very good at finishing incomplete patterns – like finishing other people's sentences for them!

The game is a finishing game – and it goes like this. I've called it, "The 12 Aspects of Gratitude," like the song, "The 12 Days of Christmas." Ask your brain to come up with examples of what you're grateful for attached to the quantities 1 to 12. For example, I'm grateful for Penelope – she's my number 1. My 3 sons – my number 3. My 5 grandchildren – and you see the pattern. However, "People," is just one category. I love the four seasons. I'm also in love with the three words, "I love you!"

Before you are tempted to think this is too hard with numbers like 8 or 11 – let me be joyfully honest with you: my intention is for you to just think about some of them! If you could come up with 6 examples of quantities that come easily to you, you'll have lifted your focus and fixed it upon that which makes you happy... and I want you to be happy.

This is most definitely a game that becomes better in the sharing... so please pop your joyous answers to any of the numbers in the comments!

A Moodscope member

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

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Engaging with our senses Sunday December 9, 2018

Having recently read so much by wonderful Moodscopers about the benefits of being mindful of our senses, and how nature can alter our mood for the better, I thought I'd share a poem I wrote a little while ago.

I find tremendous solace in being with nature. I love that it combines simplicity with complexity so effortlessly. The plants flower, the leaves fall, the birds sing and the rain falls – all without any guidebook as to how things are 'supposed' to be. They just are.

I was sitting under a tree when I wrote the poem for my book. I wanted to play with words and combine the same simplicity and complexity that I find in nature, within my own senses. To taste smells, feel sounds, just be. As my different senses began to join the conversation I could see how, if allowed, ALL our senses can combine to make the most elaborate, colourful, exciting picture that is... us.

I'd be interested to hear what the following evokes in you. Can you engage with shadows as they slip...?

Feel Nature Calling

Taste the rain upon your face
Smell the wind its sweet embrace
See the scent in webs of lace
And hear nature calling

Feel the cacophony of birds up high
Smell the trees and watch them sigh
Consider rabbits in sun they lie
And hear nature calling

Embrace the trees and all they say
Listen to bulrush gently sway
Enjoy the grass; watch it play
And hear nature calling

Hold on to sand as it drifts
Engage the shadows as they slip
Dance with nothing as it sits
And hear nature calling

Quench the pain of hungered love
Grasp the kiss of one black dove
Play the dance of solitary moves
And hear nature calling

Caress the sun and all its rays
In your own adoring gaze
Feel the ice through the blaze
And hear nature calling

Drink the sounds of oceans deep
Watch the dance of restful sleep
Time to feast and drink in deep
The sound of nature calling

A Moodscope member

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

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Three little words Saturday December 8, 2018

When I am struggling, I am depressed. Sometimes I'm angry. The blinkers come on and I see only a narrow tunnel. It seems the best way through is to put up my collar, stuff hands in pockets and bury my chin down. Be smaller. Be less.

A while ago, I found meditation a huge help. And then I let it tail off. I've reintroduced a daily practice but I've yet to reap the benefits anything like I had before. Perhaps it's just that the novelty has gone but I will stick with it. It's a crutch and I need one.

During my (guided) practice, I am often encouraged to choose whether I am 'thinking' or 'feeling' when I am distracted. I am encouraged to use one of those descriptions, very briefly, and then move back to listening for my breath. This ten minute, daily practice is to strengthen my mind and make a new pattern develop. The aim is so that when I am bombarded with distractions during my day, I might remember to do this and access the peace I so crave.

Using this limited vocabulary in the moment of meditation allows us to refocus quickly. But it has brought me to realise that I've also been using limited vocabulary when I think of my mood. And perhaps if I am more specific in my word choice it will shine a little light into corners where my demons are lurking. Maybe I could flush some of them out! I've had a little think. And I've decided that right now I am brave enough to admit that I am:
Sad. Confused. Lonely.

There we are. They are not the prettiest bunch and I look at them with neither inspiration nor admiration. But they are honest. And although I am not in any way ready to deal with them, now that I have labelled them, there is a glimmer of hope that I can use them as a mark in the sand.

Are you able today to choose your three little words? Sometimes writing them out takes away just a little of their power. And if you are in a good place, your three little words might just give us a rainbow to aim for.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

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The Comfort of the Familiar Friday December 7, 2018

When I am looking for a movie to watch I usually choose a movie I have seen several times before. My family think it is funny that I choose one I have seen before. The answer is easy, I like the comfort and reassurance of movies I have viewed multiple times.

Knowing what happens next in a world where everything and everyone seems to be changing is very welcome. When I watch Notting Hill or Shawshank Redemption for the umpteenth time, there are no surprises, I know what every character will say and how they will react.

This may sound predictable but every time I see a favourite movie I gain something from it, some insight I had not noticed before. I find if I don't like a movie or book, viewing it once is one time too many but if I like a movie I never seem to get tired of it.

I am wondering if I am alone in wanting to see the familiar rather than risking the chance to try something new.

There is an enormous attraction to the safe and the familiar. Years ago there was a new shop that had 32 flavours of ice cream and my brother always chose chocolate. The family laughed but now I realise that it makes sense to select the flavour you know rather than ending up with an ice cream you don't like.

I would like to know if anyone likes the reassurance of the familiar with movies, books, food, or anything else. Tell me about something you have seen, done, read, eaten many times instead of trying something new.

If you always take a risk why don't you go back to an old favourite?

A Moodscope member

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

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Choices Thursday December 6, 2018

I took the Moodscope test this morning and wasn't overly surprised to see a decline in my score. A myriad of reasons, none of them significant in themselves but undoubtedly having a cumulative effect. I wasn't overly concerned, this is a temporary dip, a minor blip and one from which I felt confident I could recover.

But then, in the narrative underneath was a phrase that caught my eye – "don't lose sight of the fact that you have the power to decide how you'll feel". I have to admit it stopped me in my tracks. It's a sentiment I've heard bandied about so often in discussions around depression and my immediate reaction was to take it as a judgement. The devil on my shoulder saw that phrase and felt utterly validated and in that split second I felt my scores drop another 10, 20 points.

What power do we have in the face of mental health challenges? Do I choose to suffer from depression or PTSD? Absolutely not, and yet I recognise that I do have choices in front of me. Some will be restorative, others will deplete. That devil on my shoulder is steering me towards the wrong ones. Run and hide. Withdraw and listen to that well-worn record of self-judgement that tells me I'm just not good enough and never will be.

But if I listen really carefully there is another, much quieter, voice. This voice is reminding me that I've been here before and that I do have other choices. That I can be kind to myself. It reminds me that if I am kind to myself, that hard inner critic will soften. It reminds me that when I judge and berate myself, that judgement spills over and I begin to judge others but that if I am kind to myself, then it will be kindness that eventually spills over.

Having choices can feel daunting, and exhausting. There are times when I simply can't see any other path but the familiar one that inevitably leads me back into the grip of depression. Today I do have choices. I can choose to hear that phrase "you have the power to decide how you'll feel" through my little devil's filter – that I am weak and am choosing to surrender to depression. Or I can recognise my reaction as a red flag and choose to try a different track.

So, I'm choosing to contact my GP to discuss tweaking my medication. I'm choosing to be honest with my therapist this week and I'm choosing to reach out to a couple of cherished friends – not to burden them with this heaviness, but to surround myself with their kindness. It's the harder path, but the better one.

I'd love to hear whether others would have a similar knee jerk reaction to that phrase and whether having that power, that choice, feels empowering or overwhelming.


A Moodscope member.

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Just The Way You Are Wednesday December 5, 2018

How many of you remember that song by Barry White?

Don't go changing, trying to please me...

I talked recently to two people. Their relationship is not working, because each of them needs the other to change.

Adele says Barry's behaviour - his lack of commitment - makes her anxious. Barry says he cannot commit to anyone who has that level of anxiety: he just can't live with her.

They are at an impasse.

I'm not a counsellor. I'm not a therapist; but I do know that if they pin their hopes of happiness on the changed behaviour of the other, then neither one of them will ever be happy.

I think the beginning and middle of happiness, if not the end, is accepting that things are the way they are, and that people are the way they are.

"What?" you say! Just accept the unacceptable? Just put up with it?

No – I don't mean that at all. Sometimes we must walk away, even if we love that person. We owe it to ourselves, out of respect and love to ourselves.

What I said to Adele and to Barry, was that each of us can only be responsible for ourselves. We can only change ourselves: we cannot change our partner. We cannot change our boss, our sister, our mother or our children. We cannot change our politicians (except by election, and that's not what I meant).

When my husband and I, many years ago now, broke the news of our engagement to my mother, there was a long pause. Then, "I'd like to talk to him, please. Alone."

After forty minutes or so, he returned to me, slightly wild around the eyes. "What did she say to you?" I asked, in some trepidation.

"She told me, in detail, about all your faults."

"Oh?" (My mother loves me. I knew that she would not have done this to be vindictive.)
"She wanted to be sure I knew what I'm getting into..."

And yes, my husband, meticulous; organised; responsible, is married to a woman who is impulsive; forgetful; wildly creative and loving; but undisciplined; forgetful and quite frankly, scatty. Oh, and did I mention forgetful?

Last night I was supposed to take my elder daughter to scouts while he took the younger one to rookie life-guarding. I had forgotten I had a networking meeting booked and the lady turned up just as I was about to leave the house. My husband juggled things so he could do both drop-offs, and never uttered a word of complaint. I know my disorganisation pains him, but he loves me and accepts me – just as I am.

And I love and accept him, even when I am ironing 28 handkerchiefs and eight dress shirts a week. Did I mention I hate ironing?

Neither of us can or will change.

Question: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer: Only one. But the lightbulb must want to change.

A Moodscope member.

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

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