The Moodscope Blog



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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Beyond Best Intentions Monday September 9, 2019

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

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

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

Everyone stood.

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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I've got a dream Sunday September 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love,

A Moodscope member.

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

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Be Polite Saturday September 7, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Intermittent Faults Friday September 6, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Eye Movement Densensitization Reprocessing Thursday September 5, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or in this case, pad, pen and pointer.

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

A Moodscope member.

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

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Listen to Your Mother Wednesday September 4, 2019

7am and I was in an old tee-shirt and scruffy jeans, cleaning.

I'd said goodbye to my family the night before; had waved them off home and rejoiced in one last evening alone in the house by the sea. There was time for one last glass of wine with friends. There was time to watch one last sunset shimmy like a Pride march dancer dressed in silver, then gold; then orange and peach; turquoise and finally that soft, smoky harebell blue fading imperceptibly into night. There was one last joy of sleeping with the window wide open, listening to the waves lap closer and closer until they licked the wall below, and then lap further and further out onto the mudflats in their eternal tidal dance.

But now it was morning, and time to clean.

When you spend the summer on the beach, there is sand; when the house next door is a construction site, there is builders' dust; when you have teenagers, there is snack detritus everywhere!

I started at the top. I wiped down window ledges and skirting boards; I pulled out beds; I scrubbed at mud (and wine) stains on the carpets. I vacuumed with a will. The bath gleamed, the toilet shone; the bathroom mirror promised to tell me I was the fairest in the land if only I would stop this torture with the polishing rag! I evicted a dozen spiders and swept down a hundred webs, and still I was only halfway down the stairs!

The phone buzzed with the daily text from my mother. She likes to text, and I like her to text. Now she's on the family farm and no longer living in isolation, I worry less, but I still like to know that she's well and what she's doing.

I told her I was cleaning, and she replied, "Don't tire yourself out!"

I looked at the text and shook my head. Honestly – I'm 56 and my 83-year-old mother still worries about me! I started on cleaning the oven.

I finally finished late afternoon. The house almost quivered with cleanliness! The tide was up, so I went for one last swim, showered, cleaned the shower, changed into fresh clothes, switched off everything, and drove the hundred miles home.

When I walked into my own home, I realised two things. The first was that one husband and two cats can, in the course of a summer, dirty a house just as comprehensively as sand, building dust and teenagers; the second one was that I had expended all my energy cleaning the house by the sea and had nothing left for home.

My mother was right: I shouldn't have tired myself out.

Oh, it was lovely to leave the Beach House clean for the next people, but my home and family need me more.

I need to clean more at home, where it matters, and less where nobody cares.

I should have listened to my mother.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Count your blessings and other things! Tuesday September 3, 2019

My anxiety is caused by a physiological condition (hypercalcemia) but it is the anxiety about the anxiety that causes me a problem!

One of my solutions has been to count time. If you feel too tired to get out of bed in the morning, count to 20 slowly with a determination to get up when you reach this number. Rise slowly and congratulate yourself on a good start to the day. Perhaps have a different breakfast drink, chamomile, mint or rosemary tea. Small pleasant things can make a milestone in your day.

Physical activity is so important when you feel anxious and tired. Do you have real difficulty in motivating yourself? I try stepping outside and walking briskly for just 2 minutes (or try a run, if you are able, for 30 seconds). Do not worry about what to wear; any clothes and comfortable shoes will do. Chances are after the time is up you will continue. If not, pat yourself on the back at having a achieved a brisk walk or short run that day. Make a determination to try again tomorrow for a bit longer. We all know that every journey starts with a small step!

Putting off doing that uninviting household task? Maybe clearing out a cupboard that has become a jumble? Resolve to tackle it for two minutes. Time yourself with something that beeps at the end of the time. Then see if you feel like continuing. Getting engrossed in a task often makes the time fly and provides the motivation to do more. If not, finish off and feel pleased that you have made a good start.

How about a bit of quiet time? Go into the garden (or look out of the window) for a full 5 minutes. Count how many birds you see. Try to identify them by species. How many sparrows, dunnets, finches, magpies or pigeons. Look up one of the birds you don't know much about and learn a new fact!

Counted time is time well spent. It gives a sense of achievement and acts as a springboard to continue the task/activity or the motivation to do other things. Start with very short periods of time and build up from there. It adds a structure to your day and keeping a log is a good way of seeing tangible progress.

Be well, my friends, and make those minutes count.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Maybe, Maybe Not Monday September 2, 2019

Jumping to conclusions is the only daily exercise I get. It's not helpful when those conclusions are extreme! It's far too easy, when something small goes wrong, to extrapolate the consequences to herald the end of the world! I need to stay more open to possibilities.

Once upon a time I heard a story about a fortunate farmer. Onto his farm wandered a most gorgeous wild stallion. Much strength could be harnessed if the stallion could be tamed. The farmer's neighbours all gathered to celebrate his good luck. "You are so lucky to have this wonderful animal on your farm!"

His smiling reply was, "Maybe, maybe not."

The farmer had a single son. His son and the stallion became friends, and when the stallion was almost tame, the son climbed upon his back. The stallion, startled, threw the son from his back, and the son became crippled, unable to walk without support.

The farmer's neighbours gathered together to console the family. "You are so unlucky to have had this happen to you!"

The farmer's smiling reply was, "Maybe, maybe not."

The king of their country went to war with a neighbouring nation. All the fit and healthy young men were conscripted into the army. The farmer's son could not join them as he could not walk without support.

The farmer's neighbours wept to see their own sons dragged off into conflict. They said to the farmer, "You are so lucky that your son has been spared..."

Of course, the farmer said, with a smile, "Maybe, maybe not!"

The moral of the story is to stay open. Not everything good that happens to us remains wonderful for ever – so we must cherish the moments. However, not everything bad that happens to us leads to a bad outcome in the long-term. Saying, "Maybe, maybe not," keeps us open to possibilities.

What the caterpillar concludes is the end of the world, the butterfly embraces as the beginning!

I'd be fascinated to hear your own stories of setbacks that became a blessing.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Cigarette anyone? Sunday September 1, 2019

Nope, I'm no smoker. I did almost choke to death on a bi-daily basis as I tried hard to be a smoker for about two weeks as a young teen. Put on my best James Dean bomber jacket and brooded over my ciggy trying to look like I was inhaling as I didn't inhale. And I did once make a friend spray his drink across a terrace at a wedding when I tried his cigar, didn't know what to do with the smoke and inadvertently blew some sort of smoke art out of my nostrils. I also managed to chew the odd cigarette butt, back in the 70s, as my older brother and I tried sipping the dregs of empty beer tins at family parties. The beer tins which, as it turned out, had been used as ashtrays after the contents had been slurped. The lessons we learn!

Nope. Not a smoker. But I recognise a good thing when I see it. I see smokers in all scenarios taking a little ciggy break. A few puffs around a doorway. Shared with colleagues, pals, even strangers. They've got a bit of a good thing going on. They allow themselves this break. They're often to be seen simply enjoying their break, not phoning, not scrolling, not dealing with anything other than allowing their smoke time to be uninterrupted and enjoyed. That little part, without the smoking, is incredibly healthy!

I'm going to take a leaf from their tobacco plant. I still can't be a smoker as I just have no interest there, but I can take a couple of tiny breaks in my day to just be. And that will be precious. Fancy it?

Score time. I will if you will.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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An Angel Boy Saturday August 31, 2019

In 2009 we were gifted with a real live angel. Lucky us. Strictly speaking he was no angel but that moniker of Angel Boy was what his previous owner, Joan, gave him. And this is what he became to me.

I always remember the first time we saw him. Tied up outside a shop, I pointed to him and said that I wanted a dog like that. He came towards me with Joan and I started chatting to her about how we were looking for a dog and the rest is history, as it is said. He came to live with us.

Timmy has lived many lives in one. An only dog for a period of five years with us, he was small farm assistant to my husband who worked at an alpaca farm. Timmy would bark at the owner for entering his own land! He got up to speeds of 34 MPH running alongside the quad bike my husband used. The alpacas hated Timmy and would try to kick him when he crawled under the fence and it was funny to see all these huge animals chase such a tiny dog around a field! We would get in the old rattly land rover at the top of the lane and "pretend" we had forgotten him only to see him running madly behind us in the mirror. Then we'd let him in and we'd drive back home.

When we lived in Cambridgeshire, Timmy was used to flat lands and big skies and the nearest he got to water was at Grafham, the man-made lake. Then we totally turned his life upside-down by getting Barney in 2014. I'd started a new self-employment business in April and this was October. I really struggled with the concept of having two dogs and felt like Barney was taking precious time away from me and Timmy. In 2016 we upped sticks and moved to what felt like the other side of the universe, the Highlands of Scotland. Pine forests, sandy beaches, rolling moors and exploration abound for dogs and humans alike.

Timmy has always "got" me. My husband and I joked that he was on the autistic spectrum for dogs. Perhaps by inference that means I am or that we both are. But I have struggled with my mental health at times and Timmy always understood that. He would kiss my tears away and was the most loyal boy you could ever wish to have. I loved everything about him and especially his funny little ways. He was a lot like me. Thinking too much, having so many strange foibles, attentive, sensitive and a complete doofus at times and being totally silly.

His brother, Barney, as you know, passed away on Sunday 12th May and I went downstairs to find him asleep finally in his bed. Heartbreaking, but the best way to go. It was a double and cruel blow to find Timmy the same way just over 9 weeks after Barney, on Friday 19th July, totally unexpectedly, after what we assumed was a short illness with some spells of sickness and diarrhoea. Both had died in their sleep and I take comfort that Timmy's last memories (as well as Barney's) were being surrounded by love in their home with their mum and dad. Miss our beloved boys so much.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Disagreeing with respect Friday August 30, 2019

I have noticed especially in social media but also in real life, that people find it hard to disagree with respect.

We have seen politicians being personal and rude to each other just because they have different opinions.

I don't think it is possible for us all to agree with each other, but it is necessary for us to discuss our differences without attacking the personality of the other person.

How do you disagree with people showing politeness and respect?

I encourage you to share your ideas, even if you find it hard to disagree respectfully.

I feel for our mental health it is important for us to be aware of how our comments may affect others.

How we handle any disrespectful feedback from someone is also very important. The temptation is to answer in kind but that only escalates the tension and does nothing for the discussion.

However, allowing someone to explain and giving our full attention to what is being said is a respectful attitude.

Sometimes the only answer is to walk away when people are being rude. It may feel as the other has 'won' the discussion but in reality, I believe the other person will know the response is unacceptable no matter what they say.

About the worst thing to do in a disagreement is to shout. Even if you're not calm, try to control your voice and body language. Appearing angry or defensive is a not a good idea. Maybe you need to think and plan before you speak.

You need to accept that not everyone will agree with you and that is ok.

I believe disagreement comes about because we have learned to think differently from someone else, based on our experiences.

How do you cope when you disagree with someone?

What do you do if someone disagrees with you with disrespect?

A Moodscope member.

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

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Redemption of a balanced soul Thursday August 29, 2019

It is said that the brightness of one can illuminate the darkness all around; if offered with love and openness. I believe this to be true. Often we are not aware that our light has been seen by others, but frequently we can light a darker path for someone without even being aware. Finding the calm within the chaos can sometimes seem like an endless search for limited resources, but if we are fortunate enough to have a light shone for us, if we sit and just allow it to unfold organically, it can be less of a struggle and ultimately, we all benefit. After all life is a lattice work of relationships.

One of the most constructive things I have learned over recent years has been finding the healthy balance between the masculine and feminine. I now see there is an undeniable strength in both, and I have come to realise that my original confusion derived from feeling there was a weakness in the feminine, and an enormous strength in the masculine. I now understand this was too black and white, and definitely incorrect!

In the wild there is no such thing as a healthy gelding (a castrated colt or stallion.) A stallion has to breed with his mares, that's his job, and to keep the best for this job the lesser/younger males are made to leave and they form what is called a bachelor herd; a herd of colts and stallions who have no mares in their herd, and will only ever mate successfully if they are able to take over an existing herd by overpowering their stallion, or creating their own by enticing mares to join them in making a new herd. Consequently, a gelding in the wild, will only have come about through injury. This (on a lesser scale) can be seen in domesticity; the struggle for the gelding to find a valued place in a herd, especially if the herd is kept in a less natural way. But balance is their key to success (& survival); finding their place and embracing it.

So how does this affect us?

I believe we must find a healthy balance between feminine and masculine, not one that has been distorted by social protocol and peer expectations, but one that can dance in harmony. Working together rather than pulling apart. Embracing each other's strengths and finding a way to nourish each other in mind and body. I believe that when we truly learn to look within, to see everything as a gift to our development; it all becomes a little less scary and a little more exciting, sometimes all we need is that light...

Once we begin to search for a healthy way of co-existing, a way that encompasses what each and every one of us has to offer then, and only then, we'll become closer to finding our way back to a more nourished, balanced soul.

A Moodscope member.

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

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Where do you Spend Your Energy? Wednesday August 28, 2019

It's good to meet up with old friends, isn't it!

At least, it is sometimes. I remember the last "Reunion" I attended. I came away, having had a very pleasant evening and pleased I had caught up with the lives of people who I once knew well, and having enjoyed their company. Nonetheless, I also realised that I have stayed close to the people who really mattered and have no desire for renewed intimacy with the others. Basically, if you weren't best friends then, you are not going to be best friends now: people just don't change that much.

Exceptions do happen though.

This weekend I met up with old friends I have not seen since university days, some (ahem) thirty years ago. I had a long lunch with a girl I knew only slightly then (and yes, we are still girls, even though we are in our fifties). By some magic we were able to be open and vulnerable with each other in ways we had not expected, and never achieved then, and thus have, I believe, forged something new and deeper than we had all those years ago.

I shared an issue I have which had been bothering me for some time – and she shared a similar issue. It was the moment of bonding when, as C S Lewis says, friendship is formed in that moment of recognition: "What, you too? I thought I was the only one!"

My friend is further along the path of dealing with her issue than I, and she was gracious enough to share her experiences.

Towards the end of the conversation, when I was detailing, yet again, all the aspects and complications of the situation, she said, "Mary – you know what you have to do. Going through it all again, and yet again, is taking your energy. Your energy is too valuable to waste in this way. Take the action; be resolute; don't go back; don't listen to arguments; stand firm."

I realised she was right. Spending time and energy worrying about it, when I knew what I wanted to do – and needed to do – was taking energy away from what I do want to do and what I do need to do.

We have only finite resources. Every moment we spend worrying; delaying action because we will hurt or disappoint others, or because we will shut down potential future opportunities, or because we will say goodbye to unrealistic dreams, is a moment wasted; a moment we cannot spend on the real; on hopes and dreams we can make come true.

Oh, I'd be the first to swing on a moonbeam and to chase a dandelion wish, but those are beautiful day-dreams which feed the soul and help create art. But I don't want to pour my soul into a churning vacuum of negativity.

And I'm sure, neither do you.

So, yes, I've had that hard conversation and I'm walking forward. I feel lighter already.

A Moodscope member.

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Survival Tuesday August 27, 2019

I am currently experiencing a depression. I'm scared of it. It's by no means the first; I think I've had bouts since my childhood, but these days they seem more debilitating and to go on longer.

It fills my body with heavy tension, stones in my stomach, lead in my limbs and fear racing round my brain, turning any thought dark and potent with dread. It makes me frightened of people; that they will see me and judge my failure to cope, my shame, lack of resilience and I see their suggestions as damning criticisms. It makes me crawl back into bed rather than get up and face the day, though I know that bed is a place it will assail me worst, where my defences are lower.

I know what I say to others who feel this way; It's not your fault, accept the feelings and let them pass, don't fight them. Locate your inner paralysed child and take their hand, be kind and take one step at a time. Sometimes I tell myself that it deepens my understanding. Mostly I'd rather forgo that understanding and not feel intermittently awful... but apparently it's not a choice. And I am not alone, despite feeling it. This community helps. I mostly lurk but have had real help from other's postings, knowing that they know the same desperation sometimes and that it passes eventually. Once RATG responded to a wail of anguish from me, telling me to hang on in there, make tea, drink it, live. And it enabled me to do just that.

Writing this has stopped me returning to bed and to the demons of attack. Instead I've sat and written and drunk my tea as I did so and now I feel able to get washed and dressed and perhaps do a few things to alleviate the creeping chaos. Writing helps me when I remember to do it. It's the mental equivalent of clearing off the table or washing up (neither of which I am very good at...). Shifting and sorting and reorganising thoughts and feelings into something that feels more manageable and allows me to feel a glimmer of competence and authority. My frightened overwhelmed child part is no longer alone and cowering but has a compassionate adult alongside. It's not a cure but it allows a momentary change of view and the more I practice that, the better I may get at it.

Fingers crossed.

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Joy from Learning Monday August 26, 2019

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

I love the fact that learning something new can change your life for good, forever. It doesn't even have to take long. Twice in two days I've learned something valuable and life-enhancing in less than two minutes! Whilst 'joy' might be too strong a word for it, it has certainly brought me pleasure and has improved my future.

One was a cooking tip from my friend, Penny. She simply dusts her chicken in flour (no egg, no water – only a bit of salt and pepper) before frying. This locks in the moisture and the flavour. I'm a convert! It tastes so much better! Try it if you haven't already!

The other was a bit more technical, nevertheless it only took a one-minute, twenty-four second video on YouTube to show me how to do something with my photographic software that I've been wanting to learn for ages. Interestingly, the video has been on YouTube for years, but I wasn't looking for the answer diligently enough! Now there's another blog!

Even in the most horrible of times, learning something new can bring us anything from the pleasure of momentary relief right through to full on joy! For this reason, I'd ask you to share in the comments one very quick and easy-to-learn tip that has enhanced your life. It might be cooking, exercising, an attitude, or an activity. Feel free to add links if it's something you too have discovered via YouTube or other sites.

Learning how to be mentally healthy is far more complicated than photographic software or dusting chicken in flour, however there are some quick lessons that pay dividends ever more – and I'd love to know any of those that you have. The number one mental-wellbeing tip for me is 'Gratitude'. Learning to say, "Thank You!" out loud even for the tiniest of 'blessings' constantly recalibrates my attitude in a positive direction.

What are your joyous 'learns' in life? We're listening...

A Moodscope member.

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Tattie magic Sunday August 25, 2019

I'm cooking potatoes in a pan with water. They're simmering, then I'll strain and they're ready to serve with a giant twist of sea salt and a palm size lump of butter. The potatoes came out of my parent's garden and my kids grew them in giant buckets. They've done this with my parents since they were old enough to walk. It's a planting and harvesting ritual and it makes us all smile.

In a separate pan I'm frying up some red onions and some peppers (some of the peppers are also from parent's garden) so that they're cooked but still have crunch. I'll throw in some five spice before serving everything up together in a mish mash on our plates. And We Will Eat. We're all starving hungry. Its nearly 8pm and its been a long day. An enjoyable day, a not-much-food-consumed day.

I'm typing this as I wait for the magic to deal itself. And that is my point. Sometimes things sort themselves with just a bit of standing beside and waiting. Dinner is sorting itself, I wait nearby. Is there anything niggling you today? Making your skin tight and your brow pull down? Perhaps you might be able to let it sit awhile. Let it have a bit of space. Be near. Watch to see if it sorts itself.

Go on, take a break. Don't jump to try to fix it. Don't rush to fill the gap. Let it toast. Magic might happen.

Score time. I will if you will.

Love from

The room above the garage
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Oh no not again!! Saturday August 24, 2019

I've been on this recovery journey for quite a few years now. I've had three years of personal therapy (tick), studying for my counselling degree (very nearly qualified so almost a tick) and personal development (tick).

So why then do I wake up on a Monday morning after a great weekend feeling that I am useless and a complete waste of space??? Noooooooo!! I am right back where I started.

Wrong! I have awareness which I never had previously. I probably overindulged in both food and alcohol. Probably? Well ok I did. A bit of comparison crept in between myself and my friend. We have very different histories and different stories to tell. Neither better nor worse than the other. I also found out later that the universe was shifting a lot of energy around that time.

So the difference now is I didn't isolate and continue with the self-soothing with alcohol. I felt my sadness and yes, I was sad and lonely. A very difficult thing for me to admit. But guess what? It's ok. People don't run a mile when I say I'm lonely. I take responsibility for myself and reach out and connect and ask for help when I need it.

This recovery isn't easy and its ongoing and I feel truly blessed for my Moodscope community. I dip in and out but know that there are always people here when I need them as I am there for others.

I'm going to keep connecting and stop beating myself up so much if I feel low. I know that these are just feelings and they will pass.

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It's all Loss Friday August 23, 2019

[Salt Water mum wrote this piece in April but is happy for it to be published today. Her mum sadly died on 2nd July 2019]

Four weeks ago, my sister and I brought our children to say goodbye to their Granny. My mother was dying and it was time to let her go. So we all thought. My sister, being the practical one, insisted we go shopping for our 'funeral' clothes that same day too. When our father had died, we had raced from his death bed to the department store to buy our black ensembles. This time, we would be prepared!

I remember that department store vividly - my ex-husband rang as I hunted for suitable black shoes for my children. He told me he had always loved my father and that he had always loved me. He reminded me that 'love was never our problem'. Which was true. We did the love thing well. It was the 'normal' living bit that we couldn't manage. I remember sitting on the floor crying, amidst mismatched kids footwear. Crying about my failed marriage, crying about my dead father and just crying because sometimes it all gets too much.

So, here we are again but mum, with all her strength, has defied the doctors and is alive still. No one knows how long she has. Hers is a complicated illness - nothing about my mother is straightforward! We have a tense, volatile relationship and yet I love her. It's the same with my ex-husband. Part of me will always love him because he is the father of my children.

In the past few weeks, I have heard the same advice from three people: 'Choose your life partner carefully, it's the biggest decision you will ever make.'

One of those people was a character in a novel.
One was from a TED talk.
And one was a rather strange, random man I walked past on the beach (I meet a lot of such people - another blog!!)

Death. Grief. Hurt. Loss. I'm lumping them all in here. People who you love and you leave or who leave you. And it's all painful. I remember commiserating with a lovely woman, a poet, when her husband died.

'I was sorry to hear about your husband's death,' I said.

'And I was sorry to hear of your separation,' she said.

'Oh gawd, no, completely different,' I argued, '...thank you but you've been through so much...' And she looked at me and said the kindest, most insightful words I heard at that time ''s still loss, a different kind, but it's all loss.'

Every visit since our 'goodbye-to-Gran-day', when I leave mum now, I say 'I love you'. Even the days she doesn't speak to me or doesn't know who I am or imitates my voice in a mocking way. Even those days, I say 'I love you, mum'.

She's old. She's sick. She's lived her life. It won't be a tragedy. She wasn't motherly. She wasn't the mother I wish I'd had. But I do love her. And I will miss her.

It's all loss.

Salt water mum
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Feel the fear... and do it anyway. Thursday August 22, 2019

I don't like flying and have never flown long haul. So I was in denial that last December I booked flights to visit my dear long-standing friend in Singapore. Not only was I bucking all my natural instincts and phobias to put myself on a plane for fifteen hours, but I was also taking my two children just to make it more difficult.

So, dear reader, we made it. As I write we are about to go for dim sum, Sunday lunch, before we fly back tonight.

This has not been without adventure. We missed our connecting flight from Frankfurt so that we were stranded late at night in a strange city. But I found a hotel, regrouped, ordered pizza and then bought a new flight. Nothing was stopping me now.

As we flew over Russia and China I learnt to accept turbulence was not an imminent sign of disaster. We arrived in Hong Kong, which was not part of the original itinerary, and finally in Singapore.

And then we had a ball!!

So what have I learnt (apart from the fact that Singapore is hot, hot, hot) is that I can do this. I can fly, I can overcome deep-seated fears, I can navigate a strange country (albeit most people speak English and it's one of the safest in the world) and I can and deserve to enjoy myself.

So I apologise if this seems a huge boast and showing off about a holiday of a lifetime but...

It is about resilience and bravery. At Frankfurt when we missed our flight at that point I could have flown back home, but I was encouraged by those I love to keep going.

So I challenge you to confront one fear. What will it be?

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