The Moodscope Blog



Your Turn At The T-Junction

Monday August 30, 2021

I’m meeting many folks at Emotional Crossroads. They are hurting and don’t know which way to turn. While they are hurting, they are often snappish! “Hurt people, hurt people.”

There is a way to get release at the T-Junctions in our lives. “Lex, are we talking about a T-Junction or a Crossroads?” I think it’s both. We can go on the way we’ve been going, as we may have been doing for days, weeks, months, or even years – not facing the issue. In that sense, it’s a Crossroads. But to break free we need to make it a T-Junction – where the only option is to turn one way or another.

Either we deal with the issue (and thus address the emotional baggage) or we let go of the emotional baggage and count the issue closed.

One method I use is to ask three simple questions. I’ve shared this before but it was so long ago, I think it’s worth revisiting in case your own heart is at the T-Junction.

To illustrate, pick up a pencil (or a pen!) and squeeze it. If you’re feeling daring, squeeze it until it would be uncomfortable to hold on to it for long.

My first question to you is, “Can you let this go?”

The answer is, “Yes!” You picked it up, you can put it down. But hold on to that pencil or pen a bit longer…

My second question is, “Would you let this go?”

In the case of a humble writing instrument, the answer is also, “Yes!” but when the pen or pencil is replaced by an emotional hurt, the answer is as often, “No!” as it is, “Yes!” Hold on to that pen or pencil for one last question.

My final question is, “When?”

If you’ve said, “Yes!” and then “Yes!” your third answer can be, “Now!” and you can release the object. Let the pen or pencil clatter to the tabletop or even the floor.

These three questions bring us to the T-Junction.

Think of something in your life today that’s got under your skin. Could you let that go? The answer is always, “Yes!” Know that you have the power to let it go if you so choose to do so. The T-Junction choice is your answer to, “Would you let that go?”

If the answer is, “Yes!” turn right and ask yourself, “When?” and if the answer is, “Now!” let it go!

If the answer is, “No!” turn left and ask yourself, “What action do I need to take next to face this hurt or discomfort?”

Often, it’s as quick as picking up the phone and having an honest conversation with someone else who is a part of the problem (and thus a part of the solution). Let’s be honest, this could go very, very wrong, but you will have changed, you will have moved, you will have taken a bold step towards freedom.

A Moodscope member.

[Note: If you’d like to learn more, the method is part of The Sedona Method.]

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



Turn your face to the sun 

Sunday August 29, 2021

I’m sad. There. It’s said.   
Parenting solo can be a lonely place. When you fall over the finish line last, you do so alone, no shared sorrows, also no witnesses. When you streak over the finish line ahead of everybody else, the gold medal is just yours to cherish, but there are still no witnesses. 
I’m winning and losing in equal measure and it’s a rollercoaster. School is back but not steady.  The timetable for my now older children allows them to study at home and so the house, yet again, has a revolving door and I’m never alone to listen to quiet. It just never seems to stop. I do ask them to contribute, and this often means even more interruptions/jobs for me. The catch22 frustration is real. 
I feel I am grumpy almost all of my day, not helped by the noise of building work going on in two separate places beside my house. And I have a recurring eye problem which is pulling me down. There frequently feels little reason to smile. Perhaps my expectations are once again too high. 
I retreat to the back bench. With tea. Ten minutes to decompress.   
And I turn my face into the late summer sun. 
Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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



Coffee grinding

Saturday August 28, 2021

When I’m up earlier than my husband, I perform a little ritual that makes me feel calm and contented. I crack open our kitchen balcony door, take a deep breath of fresh early morning air, sit down and start to sing a mantra while I slowly grind coffee beans by hand.

I’m not a regular singer, not even under the shower. It’s something uncommon. I’m not used to it. But this became a new habit and makes me feel good and unique.

I’m not a Buddhist and this is not about religion, but some mantras make me feel good. When I sing them or read them out aloud it’s like a treat only for me.

Your favourite song or prayer or poem will do the same job. Give it a try. Maybe it makes you feel pleased and special, too.

The Om-sound at the beginning causes very pleasant vibrations in my whole body and I enjoy pronouncing the exotic Sanskrit words of a healing mantra (the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra: “Om Tryambakam…”).

The grinding movement, to conquer a little resistance over coffee beans by every round of the grinder handle, the grinding sound, the tasty smell of freshly ground coffee, I sense all this. I take notice of little things. And I enjoy these little things.

I focus on the movement of the grinder handle and the singing. I find that I started to think friendly thoughts, to smile and to feel very peaceful every time I do this. And afterwards.

A while after I started this, my husband asked me if we changed the coffee brand, because the coffee tasted different to him. I reported him about my new habit and that it was still the same coffee brand. He told me the coffee tasted better for some time and I looked much brighter on some mornings. I think he’s right.

Take care.

A Moodscoope member.

P.S.:I’d like to thank all people who write down some of their thoughts and stories and feelings for others to read them here. Thank you.

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



Do you really have a choice?

Friday August 27, 2021

I had three blogs written to choose from for today. The first one was maybe too controversial,
the second one was too disorganised, and the third one needed too much writing.

I had a choice of three all my own making but not one was ready. How many times in life do you hear people say “You have a choice just do it”, “There is always a choice.” “I have no time for people who make wrong choices etc.”

It seems that there is this universal thing called a choice that is the same for everyone in the world.

I feel that not everyone has the same choice. Often making a good choice means having suitable choices to begin with. It, means being educated, informed, healthy, financially stable, and many other factors.

If you are born into a poor family, or you can’t read or write or into a family of criminals, or into a war-torn country, or in a refugee camp, or have a serious mental illness or many other factors, how many informed choices can you make?

When I was 16, I was told I could have radical brain surgery or take medication that had side effects. I was young and confused so I chose neither and spent many years living a chaotic life. Sure, I had some education, and had more choices than many people but I had no support or reliable information.
I know a friend who, many years ago, wanted to marry outside her culture. She was told she could marry but was not to ever come home. She chose marriage and never saw her parents again. It was a terrible heart wrenching choice for her.

So the idea of having a choice and making a choice can be complex seen in a social context.

What role do choices make in your life? Having some control of your mental health journey with choices, has that helped you? How does having no choice in your mental health plan make you feel?

When people say you made a bad choice in your past do you tell them the context in which it was made?

A Moodscope member.

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



What is missing?

Thursday August 26, 2021

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, but thought this would be a good time to post something. As you may know, I’ve struggled/managed/struggled/managed, somehow/struggled and the vicious circle carries on. I’ve been feeling pretty rubbish the past few days but had previously felt I was coming to an even steady feeling of “I’m okay” since caving in and upping my medication.

So why am I feeling this way? What am I missing in life? I seem to have all I need right? So what’s wrong? I seem to land in the lost realm and it gets pretty ropey/scary at times because I just don’t know the why! Okay I’ve been to two funerals of a close person who’s parents have passed away and yes I’ve done some pretty evasive surgery on my teeth which takes a while to get fixed… so maybe all this has contributed? But knowing that these things will pass, why am I feeling unsettled? Maybe I’m thinking of when my parents pass away, how will I deal with it… maybe I won’t etc. I know you’ll say that thinking about something that hasn’t happened is essentially wasting energy but it can be hard to stay in the moment these days with so much going on in the world.

Sorry all, no words of wisdom but just questions… think I’m missing some connection in my life that’s not there.

Hopefully from your experiences I could learn something or even try.

Hope you all are managing the ‘noonday demon’ as Andrew Solomon calls it! Great book in An Anatomy of Depression which I’ve yet to finish (is a big one).

A Moodscope member.

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



Things we Take for Granted

Wednesday August 25, 2021

Last July, I wrote about the passing of our guinea pig, Nugget (Requiem for a Guinea Pig – 8th July 2020). His death left Patchy all alone and we needed to find him a hutch mate; guinea pigs are herd animals and should never be kept alone.

After much searching, we found Ruby, a lady also in her golden years. After some initial suspicion – Patchy, being rather a greedy pig, was concerned about sharing his food – the two bonded and are now devoted to each other.
As Patchy is neutered, we are not worried about baby guinea pigs.

A couple of months ago we realised Ruby had cataracts and was losing her sight. She is now completely blind.

It’s not a huge problem, of course – she does not need to keep watch for an attacking hawk or predating fox, and her nose works just fine for finding the food bowl, but it has meant a change in the way we do things. When we clean their cage, we put everything back exactly the way it was, so she knows where her house and toys are. When they go outside to graze on the lawn, I make sure to put her first into her “igloo,” so she feels safe. We have put a guard on the ramp to the higher level of their hutch, so she won’t fall off as she runs up and down. Her loss of sight is not a huge problem, but we have changed how we do things.

Having covid in the family has also made us rethink. We did not lose our sight but losing one’s sense of taste and smell is disconcerting and worrying. The tiredness and fatigue have meant careful consideration of whether each journey is really necessary: yes – I’m talking about walking upstairs here! Easily the worst thing has been my daughter’s breathing. She has felt as if she has concrete in her lungs and as if she was trying to breathe with her nose pressed right up against a dusty sofa. You don’t realise how much you take breathing, energy and your senses for granted, until you don’t have them.

There have been some amusing moments, however. In an attempt to get her to eat something, I procured her favourite sausage rolls and Cornish pasties. This was not a success. She turned to me with a face of betrayal. “Mummy, do you know how disgusting a Cornish pasty is when you can’t taste it? The texture is horrible!”

I have been cooking hot curries and spicy Mexican food for her, so she can taste them; I have let the housework go because we are all too tired to do it and, besides, there is nobody to see the mess but ourselves; I have said a grateful “Yes,” to all the kind friends who have offered to help and shop for us.

And I shall be profoundly grateful when we can all taste, smell and breathe freely again.

A Moodscope member.

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



What does Moodscope mean to you?

Tuesday August 24, 2021

I’m sitting here on a rainy August afternoon thinking about Moodscope.
I’ve been member for many years and probably read every blog that’s ever been published.

I was thinking just now how it’s become part of my daily life not in an intrusive way, exactly the opposite.

I can read the blog and choose to comment or not. No obligation.
No pressure.

No one is standing over me telling me to contribute. Not even my inner critical voice lol!

I think that’s one of the most positive things about Moodscope. There is no pressure real or imagined to say the right thing, respond or comment. We are a group of “friends” who actually show a great deal of love and compassion to each other.

That warm feeling is there every day. Where else would we get that? I can’t think of any situation in which I feel so comfortable saying what I feel or just being there as a silent observer.

I’ve also learnt such a lot. I have learnt more useful advice and suggestions here than anywhere else.

So thank you and of course to Caroline who works tirelessly for us.

I’d be interested to know how others feel about Moodscope, how it’s helped you over the time you have been reading the blogs. I think there is a magic formula to its “success” but for me it’s difficult to put it into words.

A Moodscope member.

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



Check out this YouTube clip of Pathe News’ Wimbledon feature (1962). I was directed to this because someone wanted a voiceover in a similar style.

At first I found it quaint and rather funny, since it seems like yesterday to me… but then I got to thinking…

“Imagine what someone in 1962 would have thought about the styles and culture of 1902.” What a long way we have travelled since then (though whether it is all ‘progress’ is a matter for debate.) “What would someone in 2000 think of the styles and culture of WWII Britain?” All of a sudden, 60 years seems like an age, a lifetime, and, of course, it is!

Equally suddenly, I’m feeling ‘old’ though not necessarily in a bad way. Where will we be in 60 years’ time? I can imagine someone from the Swinging Sixties finding the Victorians quaint and a bit weird. And how about a New Romantic looking back on the 1920s?

The big question for us is how much culture has changed in the way we heal threats to our mental health. The 1960s saw an enormous shift away from institutionalisation – and what were called ‘asylums’ were systematically closed. Care moved towards the family and the Community, with the unwelcome result that many sufferers became homeless because neither family nor Community could cope.

Jump with me into a time machine. Let’s pop to the future… 60 years into the future. What has to change for the world to become a more humane and compassionate place?

I’ll close with something that made me weep this week (in a wholesome way). It is the story behind the hymn, “It is well with my soul.” This is one of the best productions I’ve ever seen - with Hugh Bonneville as the narrator:

Fair warning, it’s nearly 17 minutes long but well worth the investment of your time. Why am I sharing it? Primarily, out of curiosity. When things go wrong for me, I rage and I rant! Without spoiling this story, these ‘souls’ transformed their sorrow into service, and I am in awe. How can we learn to be more like them?

A Moodscope member.

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



Ice cream in the wind 

Sunday August 22, 2021

I admit I’m mentally tired at the moment. School holidays are almost over for us and, this time, they seem to have been more about facilitating my now young adult children’s lives, than watching toddlers eat ice creams in the wind. 
I had things to pick up today for my eldest girl. She’s away just now, helping to fundraise for her choir, hard hit this last 17 months by the lack of paid performances. Nipping into the dressmaker with my mask on, I realised I hadn’t seen the lady in ages. We started to chat and she said “is it YOU?”.  Even behind her mask, her smile was huge and mine was too. It was so refreshing to see her and be greeted so warmly. I came out walking on a little cloud.

Next, the optician to collect my daughter’s glasses. A man I did not know served me and I was in there a good 15 minutes whilst he sorted a difficult problem. He was so caring and efficient.  Again, cloud walking for me.

I came home and nothing had changed. Still chief facilitator. But, for the time out, I was thankful and today it is my little reminder for you to do the same.

The smallest interaction, in the right place at the right time, can do wonders. If you’re struggling right now, perhaps you can at least struggle in a nearby coffee shop for 20minutes.  Or a library. Or a museum or gallery. Find a reason to ask a question. And I hope the small interaction might give you a tiny little boost. 
Love from

The room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.

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



The great balancing act

Saturday August 21, 2021

No, I have not joined the circus ( although I wish I could clown around more ). However, I am intrigued by the word “balance”. The fact that I am a Libran star sign with the scales may be just coincidence.

This year I have been involved in both physical and mental balance. The former became important when I fell over and fractured my fibula bone in my right leg. One of the best exercises during physiotherapy was standing on the broken leg for up to 30 seconds. Balancing on one leg is not easy if you have not tried it before. More on the physical benefits can be found on BBC Sounds where Dr Michael Mosley has produced a series of talks under the heading of “ Just One Thing”.

In a psychological sense the word “balance” is less easily defined. It is used regularly in general conversation and on the Moodscope blog. I think of a “balanced mind” as giving an accurate, fair or equal coverage of all aspects. This is great in theory but as we all know it is not always easy to achieve.

Striking the right balance can help you lead a happier and more contented life. And we need to seek a balance in many aspects of our lives. For example, the balance between solitude and sociability. These are a pair of words that are almost opposites but most people need them both. The proportions for each person vary. If you are more inclined to be introverted you will probably need more time alone. Getting the right balance will improve your mood but an imbalanced life feels like a constant battle.

Another pair of words that require careful balancing are Selfish/Unselfish. These have been mentioned a few times on the Moodscope blog. To care for yourself and others requires a careful balance. We are social animals and our natural instincts are to help others wherever possible. Where this becomes a regular routine it needs to be managed so that we leave sufficient time to look after ourselves. Obviously if we neglect ourselves we become less capable of helping others. So the balance between self and others is important.

I think it is worth some time considering the balance in your life. No doubt you have responsibilities and necessities that take up a certain proportion of your life but the remaining time is yours to decide how to use. If your mental health is poor this time can be used to invest in self care. Maybe take some physical or mental exercise, a rest (even a nap!) or spoil yourself in some other way. Whatever you decide please do not feel guilty--this time is just for you. You need to keep yourself in the best mental and physical state possible.

In a permanent relationship where 2 people live together you have a 3 way balance. There are the needs of the 2 individuals and the needs of the relationship itself. Second thoughts, this subject is complex and can wait for another day, another post! I’m not sure my mental health can cope at the moment.

On balance, do you need to make any adjustments to your life?

A Moodscope member.

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



Cheating or creative?

Friday August 20, 2021

I was in year 6 (I was 11 years old) at a local primary school where I loved the teachers and all my lessons.

My teacher, Mrs P, announced she had exciting news - an exciting competition to celebrate Book week.

I was disappointed when I heard it was a book review. We were to write in class and the prize was a plain book that the mother of the teacher’s pet had donated.

We were writing the book review in the afternoon after choosing a book from class or school library we had read.

I remember looking at the clock knowing I wasted ten minutes while everyone else was writing.

I have no idea why I decided to make up a book complete with title author, a plot, characters and even described a dust jacket.

The words did not flow but gradually I was writing a story but knowing it was a review and did not tell the whole story but mentioned the key points of plot and character.

I didn’t realise for a moment that maybe I was cheating - no not me, miss goody two shoes as I was known. I had no interest in the prize and was sure my teacher who was the judge would see my review was fiction.

A few days later Mrs P announced to the class that I had won the winning review.

I had to read out my review and Mrs P said I was to bring the book in tomorrow.

I had thought I would make up the book (ok I had not really thought it through) and no more lies. I had forgotten that once you tell one lie or cheat, you often must make up more stories.
I started to panic

I wanted to be honest but all my class wanted to see the book so I told them the book was at my cousins and I would not see her till Christmas time.

Since I felt a cheat, I could never enjoy my prize let alone read it. I hid it away.
This may sound trivial, but it is something I didn’t tell anyone for over 40 years.

So, does it matter there was no intent to cheat or am I kidding myself being creative does not involve cheating?

Can anyone to relate to where they may have been creative and not exactly told the truth?

How did you feel.?
A Moodscope member.

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



Stop pleasing, start living

Thursday August 19, 2021

This is the statement on the front of my copy of ‘Untamed’, by Glennon Doyle.

This has been another of my lockdown reads. And there were so many quotes that resonated with me, that it’s pretty much impossible to pick one or two to share.

The book is partly autobiographical and partly a challenge to ‘wake up’. The premise really, is that most of us are living the lives we think we are supposed to live – bounded by what we were taught by children from our parents, our friends and our culture – rather than embracing our ‘real’ wants and needs. I think it is relevant particularly to those of us who live with/have lived with depression. Yes, depression is a physical illness but I think it is triggered for me, when I am not being true to who I am, to what I need – when I am living my life in a way that is about other people rather than me. I’m much better now, at recognising when things don’t feel like a fit for me, or when someone is asking too much of me. It’s been a long journey…

The book covers all sorts, from addiction and numbing to parenting, love and making difficult choices. It’s a collection of sometimes random thoughts and reflections, but if you fancy a ‘dip in’ kind of book that just might give you some ‘aha’ moments, I’d definitely recommend it.

I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes to reflect on:

“It’s easier to call us broken and dismiss us than to consider that we are responding appropriately to a broken world”.

“I did not know that I was supposed to feel everything. I thought I was supposed to feel happy. I thought that happy was for feeling, and that pain was for fixing and numbing and deflecting and hiding and ignoring.”

“Every time you’re given a choice between disappointing someone else, and disappointing yourself, your duty is to disappoint that someone else.”

A Moodscope member.

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



Just Showing Up

Wednesday August 18, 2021

They say that 99% of success is just showing up, and I saw an example of that this week.

Last week at the coast was Regatta week, a week of dinghy racing and parties. This is not Cowes, or anything fancy, I hasten to add. While the sailing club has produced several Olympians over the years, everything is still very basic and down to earth. Nobody is posh, and glamorous yachts are notable by their absence. Nevertheless, sailors from all over the country turn up: partly because the course is challenging and partly for the social life.

During the day, the estuary is alive with boats of all sizes; from the three-man skiff with its narwhal nose, cutting through the water like a torpedo, to the tiny, coracle-type Optimists, crewed by the youngest of the cadets. By night, the sailing club is a hive of music and dancing.

My younger daughter does not have a competitive bone in her body and sails contentedly around the bay with the other non-competitors. My elder daughter, however, likes to race. And they both love the parties!

There was little chance of winning her class, but my daughter duly entered the Slow Handicap with her Topper. The Topper is the moped of the sailing world. It has a single sail the size of a pocket handkerchief and is usually sailed by teenagers. At nineteen, my daughter is really too old for it; at barely nudging five feet and weighing a mere 100lbs soaking wet, she is exactly the right size.

Surprisingly, she came home with two bits of silver. She not only won her class but was the highest placed “Lady Helm.”

To begin with, she felt like a total fraud. You see, there were only two competitors in her class (this is unusual: there are normally around twenty) but the other boat – faster and with better sailors – was disqualified in the first race and did not compete in the next two. This meant she won three out of her four races. All the older and more experienced sailors, however, reassured her. They told her that one of the most difficult things to do is to sail doggedly alone, around a challenging course, with every other boat – in the fast handicap – flying past you. They told her she had courage and determination; that they admired her and that she deserves her name on that silver.

Sometimes, it takes everything we have just to get up, get dressed and face the day. We must grit our teeth to get on with life and meet our commitments. And yes, there are times when we must accept that we’re too ill and just can’t.

There is rarely a trophy for turning up, and mostly we don’t get the praise and recognition we deserve. There is a certain satisfaction, however, in getting through another day without giving in. When you’re living with depression, every day is a victory.

Turning up is not always rewarded, of course: we also came home with covid. Life isn’t all a triumph.

A Moodscope member.

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



Walking in the rain

Tuesday August 17, 2021

As a nurse, I spend most of my waking hours being with vulnerability, and oftentimes with sadness. I see patients “battle on” against some giant invisible force, then surrender to its will in varying degrees. I see some that come out the other end healed of their malaise, and some swallowed by it.

Illness is a loss that leaves the chatter of our otherwise self invested and self seeking minds, with more questions than answers. It often seems to be a call to stop and reflect. It can even be an invitation to know ourselves deeper. It is however, always a call to courage.

My patients, anxious, frightened or completely unaware of the plight that has befallen them, are heroes, and teachers both. They teach me what it means to live and to love. Essential lessons, beautifully taught at the holy grail of suffering.

Sadness is not new to me. I have lived most of my life feeling sad at being“othered”. A bit like my patients, rudely “othered” from a normal life. Most patients ask the one question, I have often found asking myself “Why me?”, “Why cant I live a normal life”.

And yet, it is in the midst of sharing the space with their suffering as a nurse, that I have been brought some real gems of wisdom, to answer these questions. I nurse a patient with brain lesions, fast losing her ability to speak coherently. She answered “Why me” poignantly “Because me can wait, and can bear….I can wait wait wait, bear bear bear. That’s how I know I am stronger than this illness” On the next bay, another patient added “What’s the point of expecting anything? My father taught me you can change nobody. Accept them if you can. If not, let them go their way.”

Sounds simple, but something I am learning to grow into and integrate more and more. Like my patients, I have known illness and loss intimately. I go through months feeling like I am walking in endless rain. Sunshine peeks in every now and then, and then the rain resumes. I am reminded of what a middle aged patient dying of cancer once said to me “change only what you can my dear….let the rest flow its course”.

I have the privilege of being a part of a family, where my being is an “outsider”, an “other”, an asylum seeker whose needs no one understands and cannot find the time nor sensitivity to support. Like my fellow brothers and sisters who have known illness, depression and loss, I am often reminded of my status as the “other” in a world where acceptability is a direct function of robust physical and financial health.

And then I return to work, to my patients, and keep learning what it is to live and to love. As one patient taught me “To love is simply to give, give and give more, and be fulfilled therefrom”, And to live “is to learn to differentiate between price and value”.

The most beautiful people I have met, have all been scarred. They have known struggle, defeat, suffering and loss. It is these depths that bring them the wisdom of sensitivity, a deep loving concern. Beautiful people don’t just happen.

This is from me to you, the beautiful person reading this…

A Moodscope member.

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



Are You, Too, Too Busy?

Monday August 16, 2021

The junction at Morden Park Corner, on the A35, near Poole, is dangerous. There have been so many accidents there that there is now a robot sign that broadcasts common sense in brightly lit LEDs: “Slow Down!”

I know the junction well, and always approach it with caution – nevertheless, it lights up for me too. The Universe is speaking.

There are dangerous junctions ahead of us and choices to be made concerning the directions we will take going forward – on both an individual and planetary scale. While responding to the uplifting comments added to last week’s blog, the message came through on Facebook Messenger: “Did you know, Ron is dead?” I’m beginning to recognise grief. It begins as a literal pain in the chest for me. Ron was a new friend and the future held much for us as we both love to teach study skills and were keen to work together. Ron was way ahead of me and had just won an award for his breakthrough work in Speed Reading. He has helped multitudes of dyslexic students ace their studies through a masterful blend of study skills, mindset training, and speed reading.

I think all life has value – whether it is demonstratively productive or not – so I’m not going to expand on Ron’s value to humanity save to say that he has made the world a better place. What really shocks me is the death of a spark. He was insightful and witty, clever and charming, generous and gentle. Stop the clocks. Turn back time. His techniques can probably be taught by others but nothing can replace that unique spark.

Here’s the icky bit. Ron was a very good talker. None of our conversations were brief. I’d often not pick up the phone when he called because I knew I’d ‘lose’ and hour. Now I’ve lost way more than an hour – I’ve lost a kindred spirit. None of the hours I spent with Ron were wasted. He would educate me as well as entertain. So what was the problem? I was simply too busy. Too busy for fun. Too busy for friendship. Too distracted by other stuff.

The sign will speak to me every day I go to work in Swanage: “Slow Down!” But now, I’ll think of Ron. Please slow down. Please don’t be too busy to share the gift of time with any other soul that sparks your fire. I’m not talking about the energy vampires – you can limit your exposure to them. Ron was a “Raditator” not a “Drain” and every second with him was time well spent.

Let’s slow down and connect with sparkly people – who knows how long they’ll be in our lives?

A Moodscope member.

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Where I live, Autumn slips inside the air when July bows to August, almost undetectable aside from the most subtle of whisps. The small trees have the occasional orange highlight and, sooner than the paper calendar will dictate, they will tip the brim of their bunnets.

This is, for me, a funny feeling time of year. I can never decide if I feel sorrow at the end of the warmest airs, late into the night, or if I feel excitement at the start of the blank canvas of the academic year and the perennial pleasure of scarves and soft jumpers.

As befits the tag of a long term dancer of depression, I’ll take what I can get. Long ago I would have bucked around now. Not given up summer nights without a surly glance and a sorry soul. Nervously pacing in anticipation of 4pm curtain calls.

But we’ve done this before. We are stronger than any season lived before. There is about to be a most beautiful twelve week finale before nature slumbers.

Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. And hold. Repeat. We can do it.

Love from

The room above the garage 
A Moodscope member.

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Just one thing

Saturday August 14, 2021

Have you listened to the BBC Radio 4 series Just One Thing presented by Dr Michael Mosely?
In each 14 minute episode the good doctor discusses the merits of one thing that might improve your mental or physical health. He has a lovely avuncular manner that entices you into thinking that you, too, could try this.

The episodes are:

1. Early morning walk - a brisk stroll to improve sleep, mood and heart
2. Eat some bacteria - fermented foods for a healthy brain body and mind
3. Cold shower - reduce stress and improve the immune system
4. Learn a new skill - for a sharper, clearer and happier mind
5. Intelligent exercises - strength exercises to boost brain power and reduce risk of heart disease
6. Green spaces - improve immune system and reduce stress
7. Stand on one leg - improve core muscles
8. Take a breath - lower anxiety and enhance decision making
9. Hot bath - help the heart and improve sleep
10. Count your blessings - boost the heart and wellbeing.

Now, I know that we are a diverse group with different physical abilities and different access to the items on the list, such that not everyone can do press ups and squats, not everyone has a bath, not everyone has a local green space, but maybe you might like to choose Just One Thing to incorporate into your routine.

Can you spend a minute or two extending your exhalations? Breath in to the count of 4 and out to the count of 6. A full exhalation automatically improves the next inhalation which increases the amount of fresh oxygen coming into your lungs.

I now brush my teeth standing on one leg. I can do this quite easily with my eyes open, but with my eyes shut I overbalance quite quickly. However, I have increased my eyes shut balance from 1 second to about 7 seconds by practicing every day. Also, it’s fun. I often giggle at my pathetic efforts and a giggle is good for the health.

Instead of waiting for the water to run hot, I now get in the shower as soon as I turn the tap on for 30 seconds of shrieking till the warm water arrives. I’m sure it makes my eyes sparkle.

Maybe you have a garden or a park nearby, where you can sit and look at a tree for a few minutes. Does this make you feel calmer inside?

Have you tried any of these things? Did it help? Do you fancy picking one to try?

A Moodscope member.

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I am someone who can’t remember words to songs, but there is one line from one song, ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ that has stuck with me since I first heard Janis Joplin’s rendition.

This is the memorable line: “But I ‘d trade all of my tomorrows for a single yesterday.”

I was in my teens when I first heard this song, and I was perplexed why anyone would give up all their tomorrows. I had recently been diagnosed and did not like myself or my life, but I had hope life would get better, my yesterdays were too painful to want to repeat.
As the years passed, I had more yesterdays and many were enjoyable, but I would I trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday? I don’t think I would.

I have asked many people this question and only one person in his 60s was certain he would trade all his future on a single yesterday, and he even knew the day. It was when he met his wife, who died a few years earlier.

I know it is a line from a song, but it does make me think. Are we looking forward to the future while enjoying the present? Or are we always looking back wanting to relive just one more yesterday?
I wonder, would you trade all your tomorrows for a single yesterday? Why or why not?

Is there anything you would trade all your tomorrows for?

Is there another line or phrase from a song that has made you think?

A Moodscope member.

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Gossipy writers group

Thursday August 12, 2021

It’s been a long time since our writers’ group has met in person. We’ve done our best to keep it going by ‘Zoom’ but it’s not the same. In fact, it is so much not the same that psychologists are piling in to say why it isn’t.

It’s because when we meet in person we pick up and process huge amounts of information about what that person is feeling and react accordingly. Zoom is exhausting because we’re trying to build those models with only a little information.

So it’s wonderful to actually meet together, even if we are carefully socially distanced and outside in the garden. Towards the end of our recent meeting, Fiona said that she would like to read a poem that was a special favourite of hers: ‘House’ by Kathleen Raine.

We’re quite gossipy at writers’ group so a bit of inside info on a famous poet is well within the remit of our erudite discussions. Well. It turns out that Kathleen Raine was head over heels in love with Gavin Maxwell, who was the man who wrote ‘Ring of Bright Water’. But the love was unrequited for various reasons, which we spent a few moments discussing as they are rather sad and a big effect on both their lives.

As a child I remember going to the cinema to watch the film ‘Ring of Bright Water’ and weeping copiously in the dramatic otter scene, trying to hide my tears from my friend sitting next to me. It was a deeply etched childhood emotional experience carried through into adult life, so I wanted to learn more about Kathleen Raine and ordered a book of her ‘Collected Poems’.

I searched the book in vain for Fiona’s favourite poem; and then in the introduction, which was written by Kathleen Raine herself, I found this: “Poems that I have no hesitation in omitting … are those written in a voice of insincere religiosity. Love poems of a personal nature are also gone…”. Obviously the one that Fiona liked so much, ‘Home’, was one of those omitted.

I often bite my tongue, or stay my pen, when I’m about to say or write something that I think might be construed as being trite, not clever or too revealing of my emotions. It might be better to come out with it so that people know what I’m really thinking, and it might chime with their feelings too.

But we often forget that when we meet in person, we are picking up those emotions and feelings. We’re all chiming like bells when we interact socially, we’re looking and listening while we interact so we can interpret those unwritten lines of a personal nature.

Have you been able to get back to meeting people socially again?

Rowan on the moor
A Moodscope member.

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Happy is Contagious

Wednesday August 11, 2021

An occasional luxury, which becomes a necessity when I am ill, is grocery shopping online with home delivery.

Because every supermarket has a different layout and shopping in the unfamiliar is stressful, I also treat myself to an online grocery shop and delivery when we go away.

This time, there was no delivery slot available; instead, I could “click and collect.”

I took my younger daughter with me to collect the groceries and we were lucky, there was no queue. The assistant was a red-haired and bearded young giant with a huge smile and a soft voice who couldn’t have been more helpful or charming. He called us both “My Lovely” without affectation or creepiness, and in no time at all we heard about his brother, who is six feet seven, how his family moved here from Watford, and how he loves the slower pace of life here. His obvious enjoyment in the simple task of helping us pick up the groceries gave us both a warm glow. We left with the mirror image of his smile on our own faces and some of his happiness in our hearts.

Humans are social creatures. Even those of us who are profoundly introverted need human interaction through the internet and social media, or even just TV or books. When we meet other humans, even through the screen, some of what they are is caught by us and some of what we are rubs off on them.

It is said, when you laugh the world laughs with you; when you cry, you cry alone. I do not altogether believe this to be true, as it is my experience that good friends all rally around in support when you are down. Possibly it is true that we wish to be alone when we cry. Maybe there is shame at admitting weakness or little energy to cope with the presence of others. I think we are also reluctant to inflict our own misery on others because we feel it is selfish. Empathic people can take our emotion into themselves: our pain causes them pain.

Yet, when we look around it seems that some people have been blessed with more than their share of happiness; they always seem to have a smile on their face. This might, however, be because we only see that side of them. When people who knew him speak of my father, they remember him as a “jolly fellow” who always wore a huge grin. Only his close family knew the other side; the deep depressions which led him to take his own life. When I was speaking to a casual friend whom I see only a few times a year, she commented that she had never seen me anything but bubbly and bouncy. Very few, apart from you Moodscopers, see the bad times.

Perhaps it is good that we share our joy without restraint, and keep our pain within our intimate circle: the world needs more happy.

A Moodscope member.

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