The Moodscope Blog



Hitchhiking to Happiness Monday September 30, 2019

I need you; you need me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I might get there, eventually...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can I do for you?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Being Sunday September 29, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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From a mother Saturday September 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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A friend with MS Friday September 27, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Still needed Thursday September 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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What Are You Good At? Wednesday September 25, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Decluttering Tuesday September 24, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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The Delight of Don't Monday September 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

What did you think of? Exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What would happen if you did?

What would you rather do instead?

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

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

Don't be shy now... lol

A Moodscope member.

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

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Two Roses on a Stem Sunday September 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member

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

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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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