The Moodscope Blog



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

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

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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.

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

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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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Changes Tuesday December 4, 2018

Once a year I am part of a big fundraiser for rescue dogs. I meet people who I never see in between. We are all busy on that day, but the conversations we grab are intense, lives are captured in a snapshot, soundbites bring us up to speed. No small talk.

A young woman, pale, underweight, scars of self-harm. Single Mum, two children. Two years ago she was waiting to hear if a man who had raped her was going to be charged. He was just a good mate, known and trusted for 3years. She had taken an overdose, a moment of anguish. Phoned him, would he come straight over, if necessary call an ambulance, stay with the kids.

She passed out, awoke many hours later, naked, raped, children alone crying. He told her that if she reported him, the children would be taken away because of the overdose.

Days later he returned, old school attack and rape, she tried to fight him off. This time she rang the police. She was covered in injuries, and the rapist had scratches on him. The police were dubious a charge would stick. One male detective was supportive.

One year ago. The court case was days away. She was in a state, a rape counsellor would acompany her. The police were confident he would get an appropriate jail sentence.

This year. He got 10 months, on a lesser charge of sexual assault. He had just been released, back home around the corner. Her barrister and the police did a very poor job. No mention was made of the fact that he had been to court on two previous rape charges. Got off both times, technicalities.

For all this, she looks better, smiled, allowed her anger to show. She has been having DBT therapy (I had to Google) and it has clearly worked for her. Therapist helping her claim compensation.

Another woman. A few years ago - exhausted, reclusive. She had a young son with severe autism. When he was diagnosed she was pregnant with the second child. Her husband reacted to the news by hanging himself.

Last year. She had found work in a busy shop. She was getting help with her son, some respite periods. Anti-depressants helping.

This year. Looked lovely, tanned, newly blonde. A man on the scene. Taking it slowly. Later this year she starts training to become a midwife, her dream job. Off the medication for now.

Third lady.

Four years ago her Dad was grieving the loss of his second wife. She and her siblings were arranging their lives to help and support him. He had walked out on their own mother when they were small.

His life seemed over.

Three years ago, he moved abroad to make a fresh start.

One year ago - he had lived with 5 much younger women since moving.

This year. He has fathered a baby, due soon. He is 83, the girlfriend in her 20's. He has changed his will, leaving everything to her. Furthermore, as his children have failed to be thrilled for him, he never wants to hear from them again.

Nothings lasts for ever. Things change, we change, for good or ill. Ordinary people are extraordinary.

A Moodscope member.

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

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More Motivation Monday December 3, 2018

I'm fascinated by what makes people tick, aren't you? Given my long battle with lack of motivation, I've been studying Daniel Pink's take on the subject. It's great content.

In his book, "Drive – the surprising truth about what motivates us," Daniel talks about 3 motivational operating systems. Motivation 1.0 is the basic motivation we know as animals. We have hunger, we have thirst, and we like to get together to make more members of our own species.

Motivation 2.0 is what has run business, schools, and government for centuries – the carrot and the stick, reward and punishment. The idea is simple – if you do what we ask, you will get pleasure; if you break the rules, you will get pain. An assumption made is that work is not satisfying and so we need incentives to keep doing it. This belief is logical. Punishment and reward should work. However, it doesn't work often enough any more...

The truth is we are all motivated at a much higher level – Motivation 3.0. This is what we call 'Intrinsic Motivation' – where the activity itself is its own reward. What we do doesn't seem like work – it seems like play. You and I can discover what satisfies this drive by answering a simple question: "If money was not an issue, and if you had all the time in the world, what would you choose to do?"

I asked a group this week to answer that question and the results were inspirational. Here's what they wrote: "Spend time in my garden," "Spend time sewing, which I love." "Sing every day!" "Motorcycle trips." "Teach my son how to pedal/ride his bike :o)" "Understand what my parents enjoyed before I came along." "Exercise more." "Sleep." "Baking and making! :0)" "Quilting." "Walk more and be more healthy." "Write more poetry." "Spend more time with my children." "Bake a cake!" "Travel to South Africa." "Take my children to Snowdon." "Time to read." "More time with the kids." "Spend more time with my Dad." "Travel with family." "More sex*" (*Motivation drive 1.0) "Take some long weekend breaks!" "Spend more time with my partner walking the dogs." "Create my own Christmas gifts, would do a lot of baking and spend time with my family." "Personal health and fitness." "Spend time with my Mum and Son, and to find time for me!" "Give time to another rescue charity." "Would like a holiday." "Wildlife Holiday Photography."

Yes, you guessed the question I'm going to ask you. It's the same question! What are your answers?

Katie, my niece, also inspired me. We were talking about Bucket-Lists and she suggested it would be great to have smaller buckets – lots of them. The idea would be to have regular motivating activities scheduled into shorter time-frames. I'm going to suggest you answer the question for yourself and then plan to take some action on your answers within the next season of 90 days. This builds hope, drive, and motivation.

As always, I'd love you to share your answers! Sharing them publicly can lead to a 10x increase in the likelihood of you actually engaging in these activities.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Onwards soldiers! Left. Right. Left. Right. Sunday December 2, 2018

This is how I feel my depression is best managed. Daily it claws at me, pulling and pulling. Sitting on top of me restricting movement and breath. And so I do the best I can to follow a firm routine and march my depression into submission trying to give it little choice but to shadow me, not lead. Left. Right. Left. Right.

I picked up a gem in this respect. Courtesy of Mo Farah some years back. He was being interviewed at the end of a race in which everyone was surprised to see him secure second place. The interviewer asked him what went wrong, and Mo Farah told him what his plans were for the following week. The interviewer asked him if he was surprised to find himself in second place, and Mo Farah told him in which race he would be competing next. The interviewer tried once more to drill out the 'failure' and Mo Farah smiled his glorious smile and said he was now training to be ready for next week. He blanked all attempts at dwelling on what had just happened and instead moved on to the next step. He dealt with second place the moment it occurred, and he left that moment behind. Lifted his eyes to the next. The best part about this, for me, is that he didn't intend to teach anyone anything, he simply demonstrated.

I'm inspired by Mo's second place almost daily. And I hope you might pull something from it too. What's next?

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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Sticks and Stones Saturday December 1, 2018

It's no secret that most people have a gossip about something or other, maybe about the new employee who's starting in the office next week, or their ex's new 22-year-old beau. At the end of the day, it's human nature, we all love a good gossip now and again, if for no other reason than to let off some steam.

Whilst most gossip can be construed as harmless, the problem seems to arise when the intent behind the gossip is a more harmful one, causing the rumours to spread like wildfire. The issue with this is, eventually, the gossip will reach the source. By the time this happens, the story has become so misconceived and ludicrous, that the damage is then, more-often-than-not, unrepairable.

What people don't consider when they're revelling in the rumour-spreading process is the effect it will inevitably have on the person(s) the rumour is about. Sure, a lot of people have the ability to let insensitive situations such as these roll right off their backs, however this is hardly the case for everyone.

Some people may have had bad experiences in the past regarding having rumours and gossip spread about them, experiences that still scar them to this present day. They may have been so affected by false rumours, that they had no choice but to change schools, or jobs; therefore completely uprooting and inconveniencing their lives. Rumours can cause irreparable damage. Not just to someone's general life settings, but to their mental well-being, which in turn can then cause more issues in their personal and professional lives.

When I used to be gossiped about at university (and believe me, I was gossiped about a lot), it's safe to say that I didn't handle it quite so well as I do these days. Knowing that people were getting enjoyment from discussing me and my personal life and shunning me because they chose to believe the rumours they heard about me... it left me in a very dark and lonely place. But thankfully, I managed to move on with my life.

Not everyone possesses this kind of resilience, and the damage caused by rumours can stay with some people a lot longer. And that's what people need to realise - that the rumours they're spreading affects and impacts upon people, sometimes irreversibly.

This especially rings true when considering the staggeringly-high number of people who commit suicide every year due to being a victim of bullying. People who may see rumour-spreading as nothing more as 'banter' need to start contemplating the fact that to someone who's mentally and/or emotionally vulnerable, being the pivot of others' gossip-wheel is a lot more than just banter.

So, understand that your words and actions have meaning. Don't do something to someone that you wouldn't want done to yourself. I'm not expecting miracles here; I know how unlikely it is that there will ever be a mass-revelation amongst people and suddenly everyone will start treating each other with nothing but kindness and respect, but everyone should at least start realising that a little kindness can go a long way...

A Moodscope member.

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Two Devils Friday November 30, 2018

Depression and anxiety come in waves - a never ending cycle of a constant sea change; a repetitive state, a thought and feeling that "I will never be okay ever again!".

It is a broken record which repeats over and over every day. My fragmented thoughts make me feel like things aren't so good, but after talking, I realise it's OK to say "I am not feeling good." It is a constant and draining battle everyday. If I do not fight it, it will take over me, with its cloud of negativity telling me I am not good enough and people are better off without me!

But I won't let these thoughts and feelings define me. I am stronger than them and with each day that passes, I realise I am stronger than they can ever be!

It's like two devils on my shoulders; one makes me feel like no one likes me and the other one makes me worry unnecessarily. They aren't just fighting me, they fight each other - some days I can cope other days I can't both are always there.

A Moodscope member

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"Moving forward with you no longer in my life" Thursday November 29, 2018

The following is a very personal note from my heart, to someone who will never see it!

I wrote it because I'm finally heading towards a closure that I've needed to find for a very long time. The person has created many different emotions in me over the years, and I can now see how much I have learned (and possibly will continue to learn) from their actions. If Mum and Dad were alive I know they would be pleased to see me beginning to let go and move on.

I believe this person has taught me much, and so I'd like to turn my anxieties, bitterness and feelings of worthlessness into being thankful for the lessons they have taught me ...without them even realising it.

Thank You

I thank you for allowing me to search out the healing gift of forgiveness
For enabling me to learn how to let go of all the times you made me cry
I thank you for teaching me I no longer need to hide until you have gone
And thank you for giving me the strength needed to no longer feel small and unworthy

I thank you for reminding me people don't always stay the same
And for teaching me that bitterness is futile and pointless
I thank you for reminding me that my health is not determined by your actions
And for showing me how paranoia can destroy ones soul

I thank you for the memories of when you were the way you were
The person I so loved and looked up to with all my heart
I thank you for the memories so ingrained in my very soul...
...of your support, your jokes, your smile and your laughter

I thank you for making me see clearly when the changes started
And for showing me; through your actions, when cracks began to appear
I thank you for behaving in a way that removes you from the person you were
And in so doing reminding me that you don't have to love someone unconditionally

I hope that one day you too will learn the gift of forgiveness
And that you eventually learn to forgive yourself
I hope you can learn that we create our own consequences
And that you begin the long and sometimes painful process needed forgive yourself for the years of blame you pointed toward others

In that forgiveness I truly hope you find light and happiness
And I hope you find a way to fully, open your heart.
And that you are finally able to find a true and lasting congruence that helps you heal; heal your body and soul; scarred by your false ideas and misguided beliefs

Despite our new reality I will always love who you were,
I just no longer like who you have become.

A Moodscope member.

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Madison's Story Wednesday November 28, 2018

This is a true story, told by Madison herself.

Grandma had been in the hospice for weeks and we all knew the end was drawing near. The cancer was eating away at her so every day there was less Grandma and more of the white sea of sheets on her bed. We all took turns keeping vigil.

It was my turn that evening. There was joy and pain in it. I had so many memories of my Grandma and they played in my mind as I watched her sleeping. Then her dark eyes opened and fixed on me.


"Yes, Grandma," I answered.

She coughed, then said, "Well, I know time's short. I guess it's time for me to give you the secret recipe for my lemon cake."

I leaned forward eagerly. I had only been trying to wheedle that recipe from her for the past dozen years! Every time I asked, she would smile slyly and say, "Not yet."

One thin hand, almost translucent, beckoned me nearer and I leant down to hear her whispered words.

"The recipe for my special lemon cake is," she paused and there was a twinkle in her eyes as they met mine. "It's a packet of Betty Crocker's yellow cake mix, a packet of lemon pudding mix, and a sugar glaze." She gave a soft snort. "The secret is the lemon pudding mix."

She nodded and lay back again, while I sat, stunned by her revelation. Suddenly she cackled. "Oh Madison, girl: you make everything so complicated. Things are rarely as difficult as you think they are. Think simple, girl. Think simple. Just make things as easy as you can. There's enough that's hard in life without making it more so."

After a bit she closed her eyes again and drifted back off to sleep. I sat and held her hand for a while and then gave up my place to my mother. Grandma died, without waking up again, a few hours later.

When Madison told me this story I was struck, and asked if I could relay it here, and she gave me her permission and her blessing.

We do make things complicated – at least I do. I'm always looking for that secret recipe to make everything perfect when there is no secret recipe.

In practical terms I must learn that there is no shame in letting others do the work. It's perfectly acceptable to serve mince pies made by Mr Kipling and to buy a ready-stuffed turkey crown. I don't have to be a domestic goddess this Christmas: I can be a relaxed and happy mother instead.

Last night our family sat around the dinner table and talked about what we all wanted out of Christmas. The answer was not any specific gift, or a particular food or tradition: we wanted an enjoyable family time.

My task now is to plan a simple Christmas, with as few complications as possible.

I wonder what Madison's Grandma would have done?

A Moodscope member

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I know where I am going. (No I don't.) Tuesday November 27, 2018

Well, I know where I'm goin'
And I know who's goin' with me
I know who I love
But the dear knows who I'll marry.

I have recently written blogs titled 'Watershed' and 'Aftermath', about reaction to grief. Now, our whole family seems in a train, and it's 'All Change'.

My husband has just died, and the company which bore his name has stopped trading, for the best of all possible reasons – but it is the end of an era. The two occasions drove me to tears, because, suddenly, six decades just fused together.

It seemed only yesterday that two young people, 19 and 24, were sitting on our bed, in my father's house, only solution after our marriage. I can even remember my 'nightie', orange and white candy stripe. My husband had just failed to get yet another job, he was 'too young'. I said 'Can't we go and grow cabbages somewhere', he said he had always fancied agricultural contracting, and off we went on a roller-coaster 60+ years.

Now it's life changes, house changes, country changes. Two grand-sons engagements announced. The picture was taken in Northern France, just before Christmas 1964, pre motor-ways, travelling through the night with three children, risking hypothermia in a soft-topped Land-Rover. With two weddings coming up, and a Memorial service in the church where we were married on what would have been the 64th anniversary of our marriage, that subject has been uppermost in my mind.

Our family has a worse record than that of the Queen for divorce. Four out of five of our children. Eldest grand-child, married last July, split this May. Brother-in-law, niece, my parents. Even my mother-in-law's mother left her husband in 1900! Leaving the 7 year old to be brought up by grand-mother of Queen Victoria's generation.

I hope, fervently (as we all must do who have grown-up children) that they will be happy, and survive the enormous challenges marriage presents. More than if you are not married? Is it the actual 'tying the knot' which adds stress, commitment to what was just 'living together'. That is not a cynical remark, that people 'living together' are not seriously fond of each other. But if they have no responsibilities, house ownership, children, then it is possible to 'walk away'. And, statistically, more and more, the actual wedding is a catalyst for disaster, quarrelling relatives, over-spending – many marriages, including two of our own children, only lasted 18 months. But they all lived together before they married, none of your Victorian wedding night shock. One would think that the maddening foibles which we all have, which can become unbearable, would have been absorbed, or put up with.

I question why people get married at all. There are many legally binding systems now which avoid the little gold band. Marriage is a lottery, when you think of couple's history – propinquity usually, university, the work place, re-bound. No shot-gun now. Anyway, a new hat might be in order!

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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Simple idea produces a simple blog Monday November 26, 2018

If You Are Feeling Listless There May Be A Surprising Cure.

"Listless," is defined online as, "an adjective describing a person who is lacking energy or enthusiasm." Another definition adds, "...unwilling to do anything requiring effort."

We understand that, don't we? I really dislike that sense of listlessness, and I relish every opportunity to banish it to the waste-basket!

I'm making this up based on an 'Aha!' moment this morning... but it has a ring of truth about it and I'm willing to give it a go. Furthermore, I know that some of you will have already put to the test what I'm about to suggest...

What grabbed my imagination this morning was the structure of the word, "Listless." I suddenly saw it as, "List-less," or, "to be without a list." Silly, perhaps, but is there gold in that thought?

How many of us find solace in a realistic (there's another 'list') list? I know from way back that psychologists suggest a sense of well-being flows from three factors: overview, structure, and control. Without these, we can lose our sense of well-being.

A well-formed and realistically achievable list (I'm being careful here) can lead to all three. It can give us a sense of overview, as in clearly capturing everything we want to do that day. It can give us a sense of structure, as in what order and priority to do these things in. And it can give us a sense of control as we break the 'improbable' up into manageable bite-sized tasks. As we tick each bite-sized task off the list, we will get not only a sense of satisfaction and well-being, but also an awareness of increased energy – the opposite of listlessness.

This, then, is a call to all our members who live by lists. What benefits do you experience from living by lists? What suggestions would you give for creating a realistically achievable list?

Here's to the day where we can tick off everything on our list, then scrunch it up and consign it to the waste-basket along with any sense of listlessness!

A Moodscope member.

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

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