The Moodscope Blog



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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Mum's Unfinished Masterpiece Saturday September 21, 2019

It's something Mum had wanted to do for ages, she'd always been a good knitter but had never had a go at cross stitch - she loved trying new things; said it kept her mind alert (there were few brighter than my Mum.)

So she bought a couple and off she went.

Yesterday I was clearing through some more things, and came across one of her cross stitch pieces, it was one she'd never got around to finishing due to failing health, and even though I'd said to her I'd try to help her complete it, I'd sadly never found the time. Now she's no longer here, I've felt guilt and sadness every time I see it. Why didn't I make time; try harder to finish it for her? I came to the conclusion that I would finish it, in her memory, but even that evoked too many emotions. So I kept putting it to one side, promising myself that one day I would finish this (and other) pieces...

Yesterday a light was switched on. All negatives lifted. My hubby and I were going through a pile of things and we came across 2 of her pieces, one being the unfinished piece. My hubby said "Well it looks finished to me." I looked closer. Mum had completed more than I'd remembered (probably because before I'd been looking at it with a slightly negative slant.) Now I was seeing it through fresh eyes, optimistic eyes, eyes that were seeing the beauty of what had been completed rather than what had not.

"It's rather beautiful as it is don't you think?" I mused

"It is." hubby replied "I thought it was finished when I first looked."

And you know something? It is beautiful. The colours of the flowers are vibrant, and there is raw quality to it, brought about by the fact that it is 'complete in its in-completion'...

We're often seen as incomplete for one reason or another; lack of prospects, lack of fitness or some other reason... Perhaps part of our picture is not yet fully covered, but our picture is still the most gorgeous, individual expression of who we are, even if it's changed a bit along the years! Maybe we are all complete, in our glorious in-completion...

I've decided I'm going to find the most beautiful mount and frame Mum's Unfinished Masterpiece, because to me it is perfect... just the way it is. I'm going to celebrate all the hours of work already gone into it, rather than mourn what may be missing. It will be a celebration of all that's different in this world, for all of us who are proud to have a few stitches missing and yet still face the world (most of the time) with our picture being fairly recognisable.

Here's to all our unfinished masterpieces, let's embrace them for what they are rather than look to make them perfect; in a way that's often not even needed.

A Moodscope member.

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

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I hear you Friday September 20, 2019

I never cease to be amazed at how quickly things can crumble.

I have a good friend who I have known for many years and it seems that I have upset her.
Needless to say, there was a mis-understanding. Isn't this always the way. I didn't think I had committed to an event, stating that I had a previous engagement, but she claims she asked me twice and was waiting for me to confirm my attendance. I didn't think I was letting her down when I didn't show up as I hadn't accepted, yet she feels hurt that I didn't attend, (one might say that if she had to ask me a 2nd time, clearly I hadn't accepted the first time she asked).

I am trying to step back from the situation – or at least from responding from a hurt place myself, as I know that she is grieving. Is it not true that we need someone to blame when we are hurt, and need someone to take our anger (at the world) out on? No point in shouting into thin air, it generally wont get you a response, but shout at a friend and they will usually defend themselves against the unjust accusations, so now you know you are being heard.

So, hurt though I am, I am responding with kindness, taking responsibility for not being clear and have apologised profusely for any mis-understanding.

The knitters amongst us will know that it takes ages of knitting row after row before a shape begins to emerge, yet a fraction of a second to unravel the stitches, now no more than a length of fibre. The bakers amongst us will know of the preparation that goes into a cake, yet overcook it for 5 minutes and all will be undone; burnt, inedible. Step in a puddle inadvertently and your soggy sock will take a lot longer to dry out than it took to get wet. Drop a handmade mug on a tiled floor and the hours of shaping and forming by the potter undone in an instance.

I'm reminded of a scene in a film where, during a wedding ceremony, a crystal glass is wrapped in a white linen napkin and stamped on by the couple getting married. The purpose of which is to remind us of the fragility of relationships, with the glass symbolising that even the strongest love is subject to disintegration - one might add, almost instantly. One wrong act – finished, over. All former love and laughter forgotten while one wrong act takes centre stage.

I've experienced this not for the first time in my life, but am responding differently this time. I am responding with kindness and compassion, and am not fanning and fuelling the fire with my own rage, as I have done previously. I can understand where my friend is at with her grief and so I will take it. I will accept it because I've been where she is now and it's painful and the one thing she needs right now is kindness and understanding and so I have told her, "I hear you, I'm sorry I let you down".

A Moodscope member.

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

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A good read Thursday September 19, 2019

I often quote here from books I have read. Seldom do I not get a response: 'Thanks for reminding me, read that book years ago and loved it, keep on reading it etc'.

People say I am 'well read'. I'd have a job to quantify that – the range of books, authors, fiction, biography, history? Remembering what I have read? Identifying with the characters? Pipe-dreams that you are the hero/heroine? Hmm! I joined a sort of 'stitch and bitch' or 'knit and natter' group. I was always referring to books, and nobody had even heard of them. Does that make me an intellectual snob? As a one time journalist and author the genre are the most awful egotists. When I went into the doctor's waiting room and somebody said they always turned to my article/column first I would say a polite 'Thank you' but really one was puffed out with pride.

Questions for people here. Depending on your levels of depression are books a comfort? To curl up (as I did when I could in the last five years) in a warm corner, deep in a book which took you away from the sufferings of the moment. I think some depressions are so severe that concentration on anything is difficult. With holidays, for some it will be how many books can I pack (unless you are a Kindle addict) or what on earth am I going to do with the kids (think of people in flats, single mothers, carers).

For convinced bibliophiles, what are the 'ingredients' of a good book? I've read three Somerset Maugham recently, now reading one of his biographers (book must weigh a kilo). He was not a very nice man, wrote, often unpleasantly, about people he had met, and who had been kind to him. But he was an excellent story teller, and, for me, very important, evocative of places I had visited. John Galsworthy an all-time favourite, unrivalled, in my opinion for his social history moving through three generations of British history.

Jilly Cooper I read again quite often. Her style races along, I am no prude, but find the obligatory orgasm every 20 pages boring and not germane to the story. Her research, whether horses, art, music – even sink schools, is impeccable. I get bored with first person books, and super heros (Dick Francis in this category). Evelyn Waugh's wit and black humour brings me back again and again to his books. I love the letters from him to Nancy Mitford - all her books a must. So many books now, however good, are surpassed by really good TV dramatisations, Jane Austen an author many had not heard of before seeing Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice. That's enough (Ed, as in Private Eye).

What is your 'Good Read', and why?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Everyone Needs Someone Wednesday September 18, 2019

Over the summer I finished my collection of twelve short stories; a collection I'm really pleased with. Each one takes place in a month and is exactly one thousand words. Each deals with a different view of death and rebirth, endings and beginnings. Because this piece of writing was a result of a challenge by my friend Raziel, there are hidden elements in each story too.

My point is that I finished them. Oh, the first draft was completed more than a year ago, but then I put it to one side before the final polishing. I read and reread; I tweaked; I double-checked everything. Then, confident, I sent them out to my first trusted readers.

And back came a flood of editing and proof-reading points. My final polishing had still left snags and rough edges. I was mortified.

In a similar process, my elder daughter gave me her final draft of her essay for her EPQ (Extended Project Qualification). She thought I would read through it and make a couple of helpful remarks. Instead I covered it with red pen! My daughter is a scientist, not a writer, and it showed. I hasten to add she was grateful for the red pen: it demonstrated she had subjected her essay to rigorous editing. Apparently, the process of the EPQ is more important than the finished result.

We both needed to subject our work to the view of another trusted person.

Chatting with a friend yesterday, we spoke of people we know who, on social media, confess that they can happily do without the entire human race, so long as they have their animals. Animals, they say, are much better company than humans.

Yet, they profess that preference on social media, a platform solely for humans. And I say this despite my cat sitting in his preferred spot on my lap as I write. He frequently attempts to engage in social media, gets involved in every phone call and firmly believes that he can write a better novel than I!

We know that certain animals are pack animals. In Switzerland it is now illegal to keep just one guinea-pig: guinea pigs are highly social animals and need company. My daughter has a friend who recently lost one of her donkeys. The remaining donkey is lonely, depressed and has lost his appetite. He needs the companionship of another horse or donkey.

I think many of us in the Moodscope community, would class ourselves as introverts. We find social interaction (other than with very close friends or family perhaps) to be difficult; we avoid parties and crowds. Yet we all need someone. We need more than one person. We need engagement, even if we live alone, we need some form of companionship: someone to bring out the best in us. We need other humans.

I don't write into a vacuum, I write for anyone who wants to read what I have written.

You are my people; I write for you.

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Therapeutic Benefits of Music and Movement Tuesday September 17, 2019

About two weeks ago we watched a recorded programme which was initially broadcast in the UK on BBC 2 called Dancing to Happiness. I believe that it was broadcast to commemorate Darcey Bussells' 50th Birthday on 27 April this year. Unfortunately it is not currently available on iPlayer.

Darcey Bussell visited various groups of people using dance to improve their mental health or the ill effects of some degenerative diseases like dementia or Parkinson's. The first group that she visited was led by Kevin who had suffered intensely from undiagnosed Bi-Polar and for a while revealed some very destructive behaviour patterns. He was introduced to the beneficial effects of dance and was leading a course for a group of young people aged between 16-25 who were suffering from various forms of mental health which had caused them to drop out of the mainstream. Through using dance as a form of self-expression, they learnt how to re-engage with life and it acted as a very effective therapy, way beyond their initial expectations.

She visited a group of people of various ages suffering from Parkinson's disease and witnessed how music and movement were helping their general sense of wellbeing and empowering them to benefit from the social interaction with other sufferers of the pernicious degenerative disorder. Another group were dementia sufferers who found that using dance and music was helping to trigger some happy memories which contributed to their general sense of wellbeing.

She visited a group of retired women called the Silver Swans who were learning to do ballet to give them a fresh purpose for living. They had retired very reluctantly and were suffering from depression as a result.

This group of women had an impact on me as I am going to be retiring next year and am psyching myself up for it. I doubt whether I shall take up ballet as I am a very uncoordinated person and my mother found me a very exasperating child as I always seemed to show her up. When I was about 10 or 11 I did go to ballet lessons but the teacher called and asked her to remove me as I was very slow and couldn't follow the movements of the class, thus holding up the rest of the girls. I have realised since that I am both dyslexic and dyspraxic but have learnt coping strategies to enable me to navigate some difficult paths through my life.

I loved the programme as it filled me with immense hope. It was great to see how some of the members of the groups that Darcey visited were able to rebuild their lives through the use of music and movement.

A Moodscope member.

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

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What Would You Rather... Monday September 16, 2019

"What would you rather have?"
"What would you rather be?"
"What would you rather do?"
"What would you rather give?"

These are four of my favourite friends, but I don't always remember to listen to them.

Our Molly at Moodscope has challenged me in a brilliant way on a couple of occasions now... called me out from a position of perceptive insight that I believe is one of her gifts.

Last week, I shared openly how I had felt more suicidal than I can remember, and how difficult it was for friends to know what to say or do to ease the pain of that moment. Truth is that whilst I'd prefer not to continue with the current pattern life seems locked in, I'd much rather have something else. Unconsciousness or even death would ease the pain and would be a welcome escape, but I'd rather have a life to the full.

When we focus on what we don't like about now, it is all too easy to feel overwhelmed, depressed, hopeless, and develop a desire to escape at any cost. The four friends I have as questions shift the attention, as Millie was talking about last week too.

I wonder what your answers would be to the four questions?

What would you rather have/be/do/give?

I've just attended an Art event with Bridport Open Studios. Chatting with the Artists I met was exciting and energising. I've always been drawn more towards creative art than towards business, and I wonder if I've created trouble and unhappiness for myself by not being, doing, and giving in the way I'd prefer.

I'd rather be an Artist, mixing with other Artists, and living in an Artistic enclave like Bridport. Abraham Maslow, one of the leaders of Motivational Thinking, suggests that whatever we could be, we must be.

Could it be that much of our unhappiness emerges from knowing we're not being true to our heart's desires? If I could stop what I'm doing now and survive as an artist, I'd choose that freedom in a heartbeat.

How about you? Who are you really? Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? How do you want to give back to the world of which we are so much a connected part?

What would you rather have/be/do/give?

A Moodscope member.

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

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From crutches to baby steps Sunday September 15, 2019

I have not been in a good place this year, since February really. I have felt numb, listless, weary. Any activity has been a huge effort for me. I have felt as if I am simply going through the motions in an attempt to keep some semblance of normality. I have not been much fun to be around. When asked what I wanted to do, my answer invariably was "I don't know". I have clung onto my "crutches" - day-time TV, gossipy magazines and endless games of Solitaire – when it has been a gloriously sunny day outside!

So as the start of the new academic year approached, I decided it was time to take myself in hand – enough was enough. Here is my list of what I began doing:

1 My moodscope score – for the first time this year (though still not every day).

2 Consciously smiling, beaming even, (regardless of how I was feeling) at my nearest and dearest – who commented on how lovely it was to see me smile again.

3 Aiming to get outside everyday, even if it was just to the corner shop (I've not always been successful with this one).

4 Forcing myself to go out – for a coffee with a friend, to the cinema, for a walk.

5 Saying aloud "Action leads to motivation" (thanks again Hopeful One!) and "Anything I do is a bonus" as I tackled the most basic of chores.

6 Recording in my diary what I had done each day – and congratulating myself for it.

Re-reading this I fear that it may come across as being very simple on the one hand, and overly energetic on the other. Believe me, there have still been plenty of hours wasted on my tablet. I haven't managed to restrict that crutch yet...

It feels as if it is going to take some time before I am back to my normal, active self. In the meantime, I am accepting my "baby steps" as progress, and not berating myself for my "crutches".

What baby steps help you emerge from the fog?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Can you enjoy without remembering? Saturday September 14, 2019

What would you choose?

You can have any experience for one night you want, no money limit, but, and there is always a but, you will have no memories at all after the event is over.

What do you choose? The experience because it will be amazing, or do you say no because what is the point of an event if there is no memory.

Can you enjoy something that you can not remember or is the best thing about travel, telling stories to others and looking at photographs?

Some of you will answer so quickly and say this is so easy others will ponder and wonder what they would choose but eventually they are confident in their answer.

Other people I have asked will just refuse to decide and think it is way too silly and hypothetical.

So, do you want that once in a lifetime event you will not recall or are you happy to remember events however ordinary?

A Moodscope member

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

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You can't make a difference Friday September 13, 2019

My partner said this to me about 8 years ago but these words still loop endlessly through my mind.

He meant financially – although that hurt enough as I had always tried to work and feel that I was contributing money-wise as well as doing most of the childcare and housework. I took pride in the fact that, despite moving every few years with children to settle into new schools, I managed to do some kind of work. I had, before children, even earned more than him for a year or two.

I come from a background where money was tight. Lack of financial independence meant that my mother stayed with my father despite a multitude of reasons for her to leave. I had vowed to my 20 year old self never to be financially dependent on anyone.

So those words hurt. My self-confidence was shattered. They led me to question whether I was making a difference in other areas. If I couldn't "make a difference" by working, was I making a difference in any other areas of my life?

My need to be part of the world of work was only somewhat assuaged by working part time. It wasn't great but it seemed better than nothing until one of my children asked why I was doing it. He said that, when I came home I seemed either very sad or very angry! That didn't seem worth putting my children through either.

I stopped working, too demoralised to see what the point was and have since volunteered in a variety of roles. Those roles mean that I do make a (small) difference in areas other than in my family life. But it has changed the way I think about myself and how I assume other people see me.

We underestimate how much our sense of self and status is bound up with the work we do. Even if we don't enjoy the commute, the meetings, the inevitable one person at work who annoys us, whatever we do, we still like to be able to introduce ourselves with a job title. And the fact of a pay packet at the end of the month is irrefutable proof that we're earning our way.

There are many reasons why it makes more sense for me to volunteer. I can drop everything if I'm needed elsewhere in the family. But I do still wonder what all that studying, exams and qualifications, all that "keeping the cv going" was for.

How do we ensure that we can "make a difference" and be satisfied with smiles of gratitude rather than a healthier bank balance. We are told that we should be able to do good deeds with no thought for a reward but that's easier said than done. We're not all saints!

Learning to be content with the rewards of volunteering rather than those of a monetary kind is another skill in itself. It requires a different mindset from the "time is money" of capitalism that we have been encouraged to embrace.

How do you feel when people ask what you do? Does it make you proud of your achievements?

A Moodscope member.

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

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The black hole Thursday September 12, 2019

There are lines in one song I listen to a lot lately.

I wanna shed my skin
I wanna see who I really am
I wanna swim with all that drags me in every time.

These lines haunt me.

When I am down, depressed for some reason or another, I think of going deeper. I feel like I need to follow the current that drags me inside of that black hole in the center of any person, go along with it, just fall inside, don't fight it. Don't try to make myself feel better with all the techniques from the psychologist or from my own experience, just go down.

When I am meditating, it can be difficult for me to disengage. I am getting astounded or horrified by the thoughts and fantasies I have, I can feel like that's all that really matters... but I also know that the black hole is just under the surface of all of these thoughts. They cover it, endlessly streaming from some other place, but I still feel its magnet pull.

When I am in the flow state, writing, or planning a lesson, or playing some video game, I sometimes feel like being suspended in the air above this flow. The following correct word or phrase, the next good picture for a presentation for a lesson, another mission accomplished — and the emptiness below it. I can get back in the flow, and that magnet pull is not that strong. But I know it's there.

I don't think this emptiness is something bad. I do think it's unavoidable that we look in this emptiness from time to time. I think that we are the emptiness, actually, and all of our personality, all of our thoughts and ideas are just self-medication, trying to make us feel not empty. We are to acknowledge its existence, we are to accept it and we are to feel it from time to time. All of out thoughts, all of our accomplishments, all of our striving and desires is just a cover-up for the hole inside.

And that's okay. We are all into this together. We are building upon this emptiness. We have already made so much, and we keep getting better. The emptiness is there to try to fill, not to get sucked into.

I have been working on filling this emptiness by myself and with a psychologist for a few years now. I've gotten so much better at being me. I can't say now that I am depressed — most of the time I am at least 'alright'. I am in a very healthy and happy relationship. I am ready to fight for the things I think I want.

And yet...

I do want to go in and never return.

Maybe, that's also okay?


A Moodscope member.

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

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Get it Out of Your Head! Wednesday September 11, 2019

Regular readers of this blog may remember that you left me at the door of my home last Sunday, as I realised I had spent all day cleaning the Beach House, when my own home needed cleaning much more.

Well, let me give you a quick overview of the week since then. Please take a deep breath now...

Monday, I cleaned enough in the morning to hold a Colour Analysis Session in the afternoon (my clients must walk through the whole house to get to my studio). Tuesday, I spent shopping in Cambridge for school shoes and stationery supplies for my younger daughter who had neglected to tell me she had grown out of her previous school shoes! Wednesday they went back to school and I cleaned; ALL DAY! Thursday, I ironed – ALL DAY! My husband says he honestly had no idea that he owns thirty-five shirts: one for each day of the five weeks I was away… Friday I attempted to clear my in-tray - I got it organised at least. Saturday was the street barbeque (yes, I organise this too), and Sunday was clearing up the barbeque, taking a delightful elderly gentleman to church and clearing all the furniture from upstairs, ready for the carpet fitters.

On Monday I attended a workshop on Overwhelm!

Now, before anyone gets cross on my behalf – my children did help with the cleaning; everyone pitches in with the barbeque; we all moved furniture – so it is not a case of me doing everything all by myself. I'm only telling you this because I think we all tend to do so much we often feel overwhelmed by it all.

"What are the symptoms of overwhelm?" asked the course leader.

"Panic attacks," said one.

"A churning in my stomach and I feel sick."

"I forget things and then beat myself up."

Oh yes, that last? It's now 8.30pm on Tuesday and Caroline texted me a few minutes ago to ask where this blog was. I had planned it all out this morning, but somehow forgotten to write it – because I had too many other things to do. I was overwhelmed.

So, what can we do about those feelings of being overwhelmed by life and all the things we must do?

The first thing and the most useful thing is to get everything out of our heads and down on paper. Once it is written down in black and white (or purple on turquoise if you want to be interesting), it stops churning around in your mind and it's easier to organise.

You can see what's important and what you can put to one side. You can see what deadlines you can reschedule and what must be done right away. You might even see what you can ask someone else to do for you.

You can ask for help and you can talk things over with a friend.

Get it out of your head and into words.

And breathe!

A Moodscope member.

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

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Where your attention goes... grows Tuesday September 10, 2019

I've had some spectacular losses over the years, where to start? There's at least a dozen blogs in the tales of my losses alone, but I've also had some heart-warming gains, although I realise that I didn't necessarily recognise it and appreciate it at the time, but I do now and that's all that matters.

So if 'where your attention goes, grows' – and I believe it does, I am not going to recount the tales of woe and loss, instead I am going to acknowledge and celebrate the priceless and touching gains that I've generously received; the caring friendships that I have been blessed with. Kindness freely given to me when it was really needed. Support that got me through a difficult period. The listening ear that helped me see a different perspective (yes, I know, ears hear and eyes see, but you know what I mean). The patient professional that listened without judgement while I recounted my losses, my fears, my pain, my hurt, and yes my anger. The strangers who shared their stories with me and allowed me to walk with them in silence and companionship. And let's not forget nature herself which has pretty much taught me everything without saying a word, but just by 'being'.

I am slowly understanding that going it alone is not always the best, or the only way to travel. It has its advantages for sure, some of the time, but there is also great value and depth in travelling with others, literally or metaphorically. Who wants to pay the single supplement anyway? (Albeit a totally unjustified charge in my opinion!).

I shall leave the question hanging therefore, as to what do you want to pay attention to and see grow and flourish?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Beyond Best Intentions Monday September 9, 2019

I'm told that the pathway to hell is paved with good intentions. That's putting intentions in a bad light. I believe intentions are the essential starting point. Living a worthwhile life begins with being 'intentional' – which is deliberate and purposeful. Intentions can truly be good.

However, we always need to move beyond intentions to appropriate action. Yesterday, I witnessed a public display of solidarity that was heart-warming, at least at the intentional level. At a business meeting, of all places, a colleague shared with the room his battle with depression. What he did differently was to ask those of us who were suffering, or had suffered in a similar way, to stand.

More than 25% of the room stood, bearing out the 1 in 4 statistic we hear about when it comes to knowing how many of us face this torment. What happened next was even more astonishing. He asked those seated to stand if they were committed to listening to others who were going through depression.

Everyone stood.

The cynic in me would suggest peer pressure played a part, but it was a dramatic demonstration of intentional commitment! The presenter's call to action was two-fold: that those who feel depressed need to talk, and that those who are prepared to support need to listen. I am in complete agreement if we add a third step.

The deeper truth highlights a far more profound need – a need for education that leads to appropriate action. The month before, in that very same room, with the same network, one of the members approached two other attendees and opened up. They frankly shared that they were considering ending their life that day. Both people who 'listened' and then laughed. It wasn't callous laughter – they just didn't know how to respond. Also, it was way outside their perception of the person who shared – a normally bubbly, energetic, effervescent character... but that's enough about me!

I've just got off the phone with one of them. When they became aware of the gravity of the situation, they were mortified and called to apologise. It was a powerful conversation and one that has only strengthened our growing friendship. The truth is, though, that neither of us know what to do. My learning gained from this is that we all need to take any mention of suicide seriously – especially if it seems incongruent with the person. We also need help to understand how best to respond. We need education – that is, if we want to play a supporting role in bringing about positive transformation.

At our networking meeting, we are now considering some Mental First Aid Training so that a number of members can be available for those in pain. This, I believe, is a powerful next step in ensuring the road to heaven on earth is paved with good intentions and some positive direction around the right steps to take next!

A Moodscope member.

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

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I've got a dream Sunday September 8, 2019

"Play that song again mummy", she said. And so we did. Again, and again, and again. But then, on the umpteenth rendition, the lyrics sang to me as if for the first time.

I've got a dream. It's a song from Tangled, the Disney version of Rapunzel, in which all kinds of unlikely creatures from the underworld sing about their much more virtuous dreams. One dreams of being a concert pianist, another of falling in love and another about collecting ceramic unicorns. They all have dreams.

And that's when it struck me: what's my dream?

As a teenager and early adult I had all kinds of dreams. But I have either achieved these or they have faded into the mists of un-achievability and the realities of adult life. Children are encouraged to dream, to aim for the stars. When you're young anything is achievable.

But what about as adults? I've been feeling lost for perhaps the last 10 years, and these feelings of aimlessly trudging through life have intensified since I had my children and stopped working. Perhaps this is because I don't have a dream, and haven't for a long time? I don't have anything that ignites fire in my belly, gets me excited, or fills me with ambition.

So that's what I'm going to work on: find a dream or two (or ten!) to give my directionless amble through life a bit of a kick in the derriere and to act as an upper to all the downers of everyday adult life.

So, dear Moodscopers, shall we share our dreams and get some passion spreading through the blog comment walls? I'd love to hear what dreams you have.

I'll start us off: one day I would dearly, dearly love to run a marathon. And, once my kids are at school, I'd also love to find a job that truly helps people.

With love,

A Moodscope member.

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

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Be Polite Saturday September 7, 2019

It's here again, that time of year. I came home just now to find a carrier bag hung on my gate, left by my neighbour. Inside there is a marrow, great in length and girth. She has an allotment, and I often enjoy the pleasure of carrots straight from the ground, green beans and strawberries. Some years back she left me the first marrow.

"Did you enjoy that marrow" she called over the fence later. Now I can't see the point of marrows. No flavour, no crunch, and probably no nutritional value.

"Yes" I lied "Very tasty, thank you".

Many many marrows have appeared over the years. I can't pass them on, people more honest than I have told me "No way are you palming that off on me".

I know there is a competitive element to vegetable growing, so it has occurred to me that she never actually eats the things herself. She saw me coming.

I take them into the nearby woods, hoping the animals will eat them. I can imagine the foxes and badgers "Here she comes, more ******* marrows".

Even this has to be done with stealth, the marrow wrapped up in case she sees the shape inside the bag. She sees everything, trust me. I lie through my teeth when asked how I serve them, stuffed, frittered, curried, you name it.

It's not the first time being polite has backfired on me. There used to be a perfume I hated, called Tweed. Not only did the person who first gave it continue to do so year in year out, but she told others, who followed suit. Body lotions and soaps were added. "Oh, my favourite!" I would cry.

My ex-husband told my mother once that he liked tomatoes and celery. Indeed he did, up to a point. My mother rarely cooked, her mental state inspired some odd meals on the rare occasions when she had visitors. However, this piece of information about her son-in-law stuck. A plate of cream cakes, chocolate biscuits with custard, a pint of Harveys Bristol Cream each maybe, but always for him a side dish of a kilo of tomatoes and a whole bunch of celery, served unadorned. It was not a good idea to insult my mother, you could end up in hospital, so he dutifully chomped his way through it all.

The biggest ever test of good manners came when I was around eight. I had gone to see my father at work. He was supposed to be taking me out to eat, but something came up. A nice man who worked for him insisted I come back to his house for a meal, and to meet his little daughter of the same age. Lunch was served. I stared at what was on my plate. The others tucked in, so I picked up my knife and fork. How I got it down I will never know.

"Do you have brains fried at your house Valerie, or pickled like this?" I was asked. "Pickled" I replied. So that's what this slimy disgusting thing was, served with bread and margarine. I finished it and said thank you.

Back with my Dad, he thanked the foreman. "Oh, it's a pleasure, she's welcome any time, she likes her food doesn't she?"

Have you ever regretted being too polite for your own good?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Intermittent Faults Friday September 6, 2019

When you're trying to mend something, whether it be a washing machine, jumbo jet, sick pet or a sad head, the worst problem to try and solve is the intermittent fault.

Each malfunction has a relevance to us, a different scale of importance and brings different emotions to the fore. The washing machine that fails to let you in occasionally, or pumps its dirty water out all over the floor is not life-threatening. Certainly annoying. Getting on a Jumbo jet when it has an intermittent undiagnosed fault is definitely life threatening, and Boeing's new planes are quite rightly still grounded – they know what the fault is, but can't fix it to the satisfaction of the authorities.

However, mechanics have huge resources, testing equipment and the advantage that their intermittent fault isn't likely to cause harm, and it doesn't move around providing the appliance that's affected is taken out of service.

Working with animals when they get ill is heartbreaking, watching your own animals suffer, using whatever experience you've gained to decide at what point to involve the vet, and knowing that whatever skills are brought to bear, you lack that vital tool, the ability to talk and ask what hurts.

Sad heads, caused by who knows what combination of nature and nurture, possibly genetically predisposed, or caused by issues during childhood, lifestyle choices, illness, poor partner selection, being sent out to fight on behalf of your country or losing your home and running for your life from bombs and bullets, all of which leave a mark, intermittent faults that sometimes can be coped with, sometimes not.

The difference with us humans lies in our ability to communicate, which not all of us can do as well as we'd like, either spoken or written. Sadly excellent sites like Moodscope are by their very nature exclusive, as the ability to easily read, grasp and utilise sometimes interesting and complex blogs is only available to us lucky ones with a half-decent education, no dyslexia and a computer.

Get to the point, I hear you cry – where many of us on Moodscope are helped and supported by the blogs and responses in our quest to diagnose and cure our intermittent faults, we must also be cautious not to rely totally on Moodscope's reassuring presence. We must also continue the search for the engineer and tools that can help us to understand what it is that ails us, and how to fix it – who or what is your favourite or most effective tool to fix a hole in your head where the rain is getting in?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Eye Movement Densensitization Reprocessing Thursday September 5, 2019

Despite having been told I have trauma related mental illnesses that will stick with me like the proverbial German Shepherd, EMDR therapy came along just in time.

It sounds too simple and frankly, too silly to count as therapy and muchless to be effective. Basically, you roll your eyes to improved mental health. Is that what my teenagers were aiming for when they used to roll theirs at my lectures? Haha.

Firstly, EMDR is therapy for trauma, which I have had alot of, some by happenstance and some by choice of bad association.

The therapist asks about the event and makes notes on a pad; how did the incident make me feel? What was the message received from such an experience? I answer; it left me feeling cold and empty, worthless and undeserving of lifes good things. More flawed than others, disconnected in a crowded room, anxious about everything and fearful of nothing. I get anxious about the unknowns but am not afraid of the known. Hmmm.

I told her about witnessing a head on car collision on August 15th, 2016. I was the first on scene of the crumpled car of the still seizing driver. The emergency service was overwhelmed by calls and placed me on hold three times while the victim squeezed my hand numb. I can sometimes still smell the gasoline, blood, spilled antifreeze and burned rubber, hear the sound of glass breaking, the thud of the impact and then the moment of shocked silence as that segment of society grapples with what to do next.

How did you feel? She said. What were the most pronounced feelings at the time? Hopelessness and abandonment.

When was the first time you ever felt that way? In my crib, at infancy.

Okay lets go there. Pull up the picture. Then she moves her index and middle finger back and forth rapidly for a few minutes and I try to follow with my eyes while maintaining the memory. Big breath in and out. What changed? What stayed the same?

I have been disassociating, she says. Trying too hard to follow the finger movements. So she taps my knees instead, back and forth, back and forth, instead, while I close my rolling eyes.

Sometimes the picture fades out completely. Sometimes it moves a great distance away or alot closer. Lets go with that, she always says. There is no wrong answer.

I leave feeling different mentally. A warm feeling spreads over my noggin sometimes. Othertimes I feel tremendous peace. Sometimes, good old anxiety. What now?! Who am I without the bad memories?!

I don't expect to wake up a different person but the therapy has reconnected some loose wires. My trauma-fractured short term memory has gelled somewhat. I forget less, remember more. I "blank out" less.

Journaling and writing about my life experiences helps. I don't want to dwell on the past nor be absorbed in self pity, but someone told me once: the cheapest form of therapy is a notebook and a pen.

Or in this case, pad, pen and pointer.

Joke: What did one shrink say to the other?
Answer:"You're fine how am I?"

A Moodscope member.

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

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