Blank Holiday

1 May 2022
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Have you experienced the tyranny of the blank page? My strongest memory was of the need to write about my Summer Holiday Break when I returned from school. I think the teacher thought she was being kind – after all, there would be plenty to write about, wouldn’t there? I remember falling into deep friendship with the word ‘and’!

When you read this, it will be a Bank Holiday in the UK. I’ve had several ideas for an upbeat blog to share this week but the truth is, I think I’ve said it all before… I’ve been writing for Moodscope for a long time. In case you feel like you, too, have nothing to say, I wondered if you’d find this process interesting…

I remembered staring at a blank page, then I remembered the strategy we used to use with a jigsaw. We would start with the edges and the corners. My page has a ‘North’ and ‘South’, an ‘East’ and a ‘West’. These are interesting places to start with.

North is where I’m headed in life guided by my ‘true North’ values. In a word, this is ‘transformation’ for me through ‘new ideas’. My life’s quest has been to find better patterns of thinking to influence my behaviours and thus my results. Moodscope is a mine of good ideas.

My East and West are how I start and end the day respectively. Currently, coffee in the morning and Netflix with wine at night. I think I need to work on this! What’s your rhythm of the day? Can you share a better pattern?

In the South lie my roots – what I’m connected to: Moodscopers, family, friends, Nature – especially woods and water. The roots feed the fruits. If I don’t get enough time with my roots, my fruits fail.

What are your Norths, your Souths, your Easts, your Wests? I’m sure this creative exercise will work for you too.

Lex

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

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

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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Comments

Sally

May 2, 2022, 5:36 a.m.

“All we have to do is decide what to do with the time that’s given us “ todays quote , as selected by Moodscope/ Caroline? ALL ?? I find it very, very hard to decide many things, but what to do with the time given us? One of the hardest. Fear of opting for the wrong activity makes me pass on lots of them…so I end up wasting, or couch- potatoing , time! Lex, nice blog. Well written. You’re good with thoughts as words, and have left me puzzling … I do like your creative exercise. I do creative writing and help run a group. I’m thinking furiously…how can I apply this in some way to our next meeting…? Thank you. Have a nice Bank holiday.. May it not be blank!

Reply

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:15 p.m.

Hi Sally Perhaps try it with the group 'as is'. What are they heading towards? (Their true North) What feeds them? (Their true South) What are the rituals that start and end their day well? Thank you for your kindness, Sally. True North may hold the answer to the 'right' activities! It was a busy Bank Holiday seeking to downsize the collected material consequences of pursuing too many interests! It was not blank! Actually, may I expand? I've been meditating on my own blog today and realised I no longer have a blank sheet in life. I've scribbled all over the page with the activities and relationships I have experienced. Now I wonder if there is a creative writing activity that takes a cluttered yet colourful page and seeks to add patterns of meaning to it...

Sally

May 4, 2022, 7 p.m.

There is actually, Lex: You pick 6 words at random from, say, the newspaper, and two must be verbs.. Each person writes the 6 words down. Then, in ten minutes, each person scribbles down a short story incorporating these words. It makes for very diverse writing, everybody’s story is totally different! It worked well! ( you could ring 6 words from your cluttered page, and write a creative piece incorporating those). I hope I’ve explained it clearly enough!

Bearofliddlebrain

May 2, 2022, 5:42 a.m.

Oh yes, the blank page, Lex, such a worry it was when you didn’t really ‘do’ anything exciting in the holidays - not like many kids today. So many don’t get the chance, but lots do: they are taken to Center Parcs, go to the seaside for a week, go to Disneyland Paris or USA…go for day trips to the amazing theme parks here in Britain. We didn’t have a car during the day when I was growing up - Dad used it for work. When Mum had time, she would pack a picnic a trundle us all to the beach about two miles away…..we’d be so exhausted by the time we got there, but spirits would soar when we scrambled through the dunes to see the sea! So that’s what I would write about - or the big spotty dog that chased me and my brother in the sand dunes and gave us a worry about dogs for years!! You’ve managed to come up with a new idea yet again - don’t know how you and the other regular bloggers manage it tbh!! My North is my trajectory - and when mh is good, I can ‘see’ where I’m aiming for. My South like you, is my roots - those who ground me - Mr. Bear and Baby Bear as well as the roots of where I’m from, family roots, siblings, (the aunts who are still alive - I have a need as well as a duty, to keep in touch with them); my oldest friends and friendships that need nurturing; my physical and mental health; using physical fitness with others to keep both mh and ph going…and Moodscope. East, for me is getting up when I fully wake and following the sun/daylight - get out into the garden for weeding, pruning or for exercise - a run, the cold swim - see my reply to Ratg’s blog yesterday!!) all to keep the circadian rhythm going; a cuppa - has to be Yorkshire tea for me ;-)). Tea with Moodscope! Cuddling the doggits and walking them - a constant in our lives and we’re lucky to have them! Finally my West - following the sun again and gently calming down with dinner in the evening, listening to The Archers whilst we eat, if it’s on; some wine; a film or series, or peace and quiet and a book, blue-light-blocking glasses on and sleep. I like thinking about this exercise like a jigsaw - let’s hope for this bank holiday - there’s plenty of blue sky to slot together, the green of grass and trees…. Thank you Lex and hope you enjoy your day, whatever happens between the coffee and the wine! Love and Bear hugs x x x

Reply

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:17 p.m.

What a wonderful account of your adventures, dear Bear... I really 'lived' what you shared. Love and Lex hugs x x x

Isabella

May 2, 2022, 6 a.m.

Morning Lex! Very interesting blog as usual. I have never thought in this way so I’m going to have to st down with pen and paper…. My mind went to North, South, East, West, home is best. I guess that is where I’ve always felt safest and content. My son takes after my late husband and travels to all points of the compass - he’s off to the far west soon. You’ve given me a good thought for the day. Thank you X

Reply

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:18 p.m.

Thank you, Isabella... I might put home in the Centre... and all other directions start from there x

Teg

May 2, 2022, 6:53 a.m.

Dear Kind Friends A week ago I was in the depths but now the world seems a brighter place. I want to sincerely thank Norman, SWM, Oli, Amanda, Sally, Jul and Lex for their very kind messages of support. Each message means so much and demonstrates the true worth of belonging to this Moodscope community. I am confident that normal service can now resume!

Reply

Bearofliddlebrain

May 2, 2022, 8:40 a.m.

I was MIA some days last week and didn’t know you’d been having a rough time Teg. Fingers crossed you’re in the way up with us all pulling you up a ring at a time. Love and Bear hugs x x x

Jul

May 2, 2022, 9:15 a.m.

So good to see your name Teg. I have been wondering how you are and thought maybe I'd ask today but no need now! Jul xx

Valerie

May 2, 2022, 11:05 a.m.

Oh I am sorry I missed that Teg. Pleased you are on the med.***

Teg

May 2, 2022, 2:45 p.m.

Thanks Mrs Bear I am gradually making my way up the Moodscope "ladder of love". I will try to repay some of the kindness with something cheerful next Saturday! Txx

Teg

May 2, 2022, 2:48 p.m.

Thanks Jul. Very kind of you to remember me. So many buddies without even asking! Txx

Teg

May 2, 2022, 2:50 p.m.

Hi Valerie Yes I am certainly "on the med". Too many tablets! So nice of you to comment. Txx

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:20 p.m.

Hello Teg! Normal service is good but any service is welcome. This is the place to simple be whoever and however and wherever you are when you stop by to visit with a comment. Here's to some happiness for you. Lxx

Mary Wednesday

May 2, 2022, 5:29 p.m.

Oh Teg - I am so very sorry I missed that you were down. It's so good to see you back. Sending warmest wishes to you.

Teg

May 2, 2022, 6:10 p.m.

Hi Mary Thanks for your wishes. It's great to be back and sharing life with my friends again. Txx

Teg

May 3, 2022, 6:38 a.m.

Hi Lex Sorry missed your message yesterday. Thanks and I am pleased to see you are still iluminating the Moodscope blog.

Liz

May 4, 2022, 6:29 a.m.

I've been dipping in and out of Moodscope Teg but wishing you well xx you are a name that crops up as many of my Moodscope pals do and it's nice to see it again and that you are on the up

Norman

May 2, 2022, 6:58 a.m.

Ah! Lex, When I worked in a consultancy we always talked about "getting past the blank sheet of paper." It was often my task. You see, you can't discuss a blank sheet of paper: unless it is a genuine "blue skies" situation, someone needs to frame the discussion. Even if everything in the first draft is rubbish and rejected, that very act tells us what we DON'T want, which helps to guide us to what we DO want. Getting your first draft mangled and shredded was no disgrace, you had done your bit, especially if you'd got the team to open their minds to new possibilities in a situation. I like your compass framing, a good way to think about it. I'm moving into a flat near Newcastle tomorrow (travelling up today) after months of technical homelessness. Another blank sheet...

Reply

Bearofliddlebrain

May 2, 2022, 8:38 a.m.

Good luck and best wishes in your new flat that I’m sure you’ll make into a home! Bear x

Vivien

May 2, 2022, 9:15 a.m.

Norman, All the best in your new flat - hope all goes well

Valerie

May 2, 2022, 11:06 a.m.

May you feel happy and at peace there Norman.x

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:22 p.m.

Hi Norman Wishing you many positive discoveries in your new location. May you rapidly find new roots and a sense of 'home'. May you make new friends and entertain old friends with what you discover. As Valerie says, "Peace" - may that be what you experience. x

Mary Wednesday

May 2, 2022, 5:36 p.m.

Wishing you a smooth move and every happiness in your new home. I'm trying to think how many years we've known each other here, Norman. For as long as I've been writing, I'm sure!

Liz

May 4, 2022, 6:30 a.m.

Wishing you happiness and security in your new home Norman.

Jul

May 2, 2022, 7:01 a.m.

Hi Lex Interesting way to look at life. My days East to West generally take on the same pattern. Starting like you with coffee and ending with TV. Wine at the weekends if possible (very difficult and miserable). In France, my day when I'm travelling from East to West is different although it starts with coffee and ends with TV and wine every day! I find the break in routine often exhausting but I guess a change and challenges are good for me. I'll have a think about South and North. I am pretty aimless actually so probably don't have any particular point where I'm headed or want to head. South I think is where I feel most grounded. Have a good blank holiday Lex. Jul xx

Reply

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:26 p.m.

Hi Jules I wondering if we've all be oversold on the 'purpose' and 'direction' and 'meaning' messages. I wonder if it is really that unacceptable to simple be and not have a great purpose in life. I know those with purpose and meaning in their lives appear to be happier, but that doesn't really prove that purpose and meaning bring happiness. The Universe is practically infinite. Time is almost eternal. We are tiny within those frames. Perhaps it is fine then to not think grand thoughts, nor to make bold plans. Perhaps it is enough to say, "This is a good cup of coffee," and, "This is a particularly fine glass of wine," and thus, to cherish the moments. Lxx

Mary Wednesday

May 2, 2022, 5:41 p.m.

Oh, would I were a politician Or else a person with a mission. Heavens, how happy I could be If only I were sure of me. Ogden Nash

Jul

May 3, 2022, 6:48 a.m.

I agree with you Lex. I have often thought this. But it doesn't stop me reading motivational articles etc. I do think we are far too hard on ourselves and we are always seeking solutions but maybe we should stop and just think well maybe I'm fine just as I am. I don't think we give ourselves the space and time to consider this. Jul xx

Jul

May 3, 2022, 6:49 a.m.

Lovely Mary. Jul xx

Teg

May 2, 2022, 7:41 a.m.

Good Morning Lex! Which direction? I usually find "forwards" is the best! Seriously a thought provoking Post. And my mind has not gone blank. In my youth I joined a local travel club called "Compass". It seemed an approprate name and we journeyed to Europe a few times. Eventually it disbanded and we all went our separate ways. But it was great while it lasted. I suppose we need to find a balance between the 4 compass points. As you eloquently explain they all have their own importance. Thanks Lex.

Reply

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:27 p.m.

Ah, Teg, sometimes I prefer the way you explain my ideas!!! They all, as you wisely say, have their importance.

The Gardener

May 2, 2022, 8:31 a.m.

I am NOT deoressed, sometimes convinced I am - but given something to do, somebody to meet, I perk up. The word 'blank' is a facer. For so many years I had dead-lines to meet - always a 'target'. Now, life is so pointless, nothing I do matters. I hate getting up, BUT, I do like my coffee, breakfast, with Moodscope, e-mails, check TV on French and English. Geography!! Ha ha. Admit Scotland beautiful, had poor experiences, except in St andrews. East Anglia? Cold and flat. Wales? Nothing to eat. West Country, too crowded. Back to 18th century seems our family from SE England, where many still are. For the last 40 years I have 'felt' European: had a house in France, could happily live in Spain or Italy (I'd settle for Taormina in Sicily given enough money). Adore big cities, sitting in sun with glass of something and watching world go by. Grey here, not a bank holiday - now I am un settled! Will do tax form, an occupation. Then I will tackle my new cordless cleaner, which I do not understand. Good holiday to all.

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Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:38 p.m.

Ah, Gardener! How you could write about the North, the South, the East, and the West on a global scale! I'm meditating on the difference between 'purpose' (as in your comment on 'pointless') and 'meaningful'. I do often wonder whether there is any point but there are always opportunities to find meaning!

Oli

May 2, 2022, 8:47 a.m.

Easy one for me today Lex. North = finish writing presentation scheduled for next Tuesday. East, South, West, Up, Down, Past, Future = not relevant while focus is North. Have a lovely bank holiday!

Reply

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:39 p.m.

That's a laser-like focus, Oli! I wish you success!

Valerie

May 2, 2022, 11:08 a.m.

I am puzzled here Lex,you seem to be saying that coffee in the morning and wine plus Netflix at night is a bad thing? ***

Reply

Bearofliddlebrain

May 2, 2022, 1:26 p.m.

…maybe he means wine and Netflix every night???? How are you Valerie? Bear x x x

Valerie

May 2, 2022, 3:02 p.m.

I repeat,would this be considered a bad thing?!! I am struggling with low mood and lack of motivation Bear. Spock has been quite depressed and having pessimistic morbid thoughts too. We seem to be in a phase of "re -infecting" each other with the mental bug. Thank you for asking Bear,you are a sweetheart.***

Teg

May 2, 2022, 4:15 p.m.

Hi Valerie I am sorry you are finding it difficult to manage at the moment. I understand the idea of "re-infecting" completely. At one stage about 2 years ago I infected my wife so much she could take no more. We just about survived! If nothing else please remember this will not last long term. As you say it is a phase which will pass. With our support you will find the switch ( and then see the light!) Txx

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:42 p.m.

Hi Valerie I sincerely think daily life without good coffee and uplifting wine would be a waste of the give of time! Whilst the doctors would encourage me to moderate my intake, coffee and wine are essential to good mh! (For me and many others!!! xx)

Mary Wednesday

May 2, 2022, 5:43 p.m.

I am sending hugs, Valerie! Big squishy ones. (Not as good as Bear's, but sustaining, all the same.)

Valerie

May 2, 2022, 6:03 p.m.

Thank you my lovelies ***

Lifelong Learner

May 2, 2022, 12:16 p.m.

Thank you Lex. I need to find some direction today. I’m feeling directionless. Family dramas have been ignited and I feel powerless to weather the storm. Moodscope is a beacon in the dark. I just need to hold on until the storm abates.

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Bearofliddlebrain

May 2, 2022, 1:29 p.m.

Hi LL - you can’t choose your family…but you can choose to keep out of it - walk away, walk in some nature - even if it’s just your garden or to the shops to extract yourself from the brewing storm….if it’s not of your making, you shouldn’t have to take sides. Only dip your toe in the waters when it’s calmed down ;-)* Bear hugs and love x x x

Lex

May 2, 2022, 4:47 p.m.

Hello Lifelong Learner - bearings, bearings, bearings... a key in the storm. I hope you connect more strongly with what is most important to you. And, if I may mix metaphors, that is important to you is your anchor in the storm. What you hold to be true and precious is most important. May you weather the storm and emerge safely into calmer times.

Mary Wednesday

May 2, 2022, 5:27 p.m.

Lex, I absolutely love this idea. I'm really lucky: I don't think I have ever had writers' block or been stumped by a blank page, but this compass approach is great. My True North- I'm headed home to be united as one with the Universe; with ***. This means actively seeking the virtues of Christ and letting go of the other stuff. Along the path, it means leading a life of learning and of service. Moodscope is a place where I can learn, teach and serve. East. Again - I'm lucky in that I'm a lark! I love being up at 6am or even 5.30am when the day is fresh. Like you, my West is more of a problem. I am tired and have less discipline. I try to be in bed by 10pm - lights out 10.30pm, but it happens less frequently than I would like. South is what fuels you, I guess. Faith, family, friends. Creativity goes South to North and back again. I guess that's true of the faith bit too: It's my roots; my blood, bone and marrow; and also my destination - even when the specifics of that dedication are (and only ever be) unknown. Wow! What a great blog. You've really made me think!

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Mary Wednesday

May 2, 2022, 5:46 p.m.

And, I'm sorry if this comment sounds revolting smug. I honestly have so much dross to shed. I'm a long, long way from where I'm going, but at least I have a destination that makes me smile.

Teg

May 2, 2022, 6:16 p.m.

Hi Mary You have something very precious " a destination that makes you smile". Keep travelling in the right direction! Txx

Lex

May 3, 2022, 7:44 a.m.

So glad this struck a chord with you, Mary Wednesday. I can relate well to what you've written and shared from the heart.

Liz

May 4, 2022, 6:27 a.m.

Hi Lex. My North is where I live now, very very far North and a very different life. My South is where many people I adore live, in a bit of a warmer climate. Some come to us for that slower pace of life and beach, pine trees, mountains, stunning scenery. My East is also kind of where we are too - it gives us that micro-climate the area is known for so you never kind of know what you are getting, 12 miles away it could be snow, it could be sunshine where we are and vice versa. I have made this mostly about geographical locations. My West is not so clear. We moved to our North because our South was finished with. But with that came sacrifice and change and transition and I guess wisdom too and probably actually definitely more sanity. So I will go West for the rest of this year - for me that means pushing those boundaries I have created - it means trying new things - actually doing them instead of saying I am going to do them and writing lots of lists about when they are going to happen and putting off the moment! Wish me luck Lex and I wish you the same back. Hugs from the Highlands xx

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Liz

May 4, 2022, 6:34 a.m.

And this Bank Holiday for me was good. I always used to work on a Monday for the last 3 years for my previous employer as that is what suited both of us so I never got them when they happened and would save up hours to take them off if I needed to, but never on a Monday . I have now found a job (alongside self employment) which pays all bank holidays which is so appreciated! Our bank holiday meant a trip further afield to a ruined castle, watching an osprey eat a fish on the side of a loch and then do a lovely forest walk down to a house on the beach which was so sensory and so **** lovely, except for the dead rotting fox on the beach - but who had an amazing wee skull. I've always been fascinated by decay.... must be that dark side I try to hide! x

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