Thursday, 22 February 2018

When I was a little girl.

When I was a little girl I was creative, fun, mischievous and happy. I had strong attachment to my mother and would be terrified of letting her out of my sight. My first day at school is a memory shared not for the smiles and pride but for me kicking and screaming and being man handled over the threshold then coming home and hiding behind the sofa feeling totally betrayed.

Of course I did settle in to school eventually and I made some friends there too. But one Friday afternoon, when I was 6, my Mum didn't pick me up from school, it was the Nurse who usually came to visit my Granny who lived with us. She took me home, took me into the kitchen and gave me some paints and told me to stay there. Later that evening, I sneaked out and up the stairs, I could see my Mummy lying in bed, lots of grown ups around her. I scurried back into the kitchen and waited, quietly.

It turned out my Mum had had a massive stroke that left her completely paralysed. She went into hospital and the next time I saw her it was Christmas Day and I didn't recognise her.
She was left severely disabled but my Father brought her home for us to care for her. My Granny went into an nursing home and promptly had a heart attack. I didn't know at the time but my Father knew then that he would never have old bones. I was what we now call a 'young carer'. Everyone told me to be good, to be good for my Mummy and Daddy. So I was. I was dutiful. I didn't have a tantrum, I didn't cry if I had to go to someone else. I didn't ask questions that might upset people.

Three and a half years later my Father went into hospital and he didn't come home. His funeral was on my Mother's birthday so I spent that day in the hospital with her to keep her company. A week later our house was put on the market and I was at boarding school. Be good, do your best, don't upset anyone.

By the time I was a teenager I was acutely aware that I was different. Now I know it was depression. Now I know what I should have been told, how I should have been allowed to behave, what I should have said. I eventually spoke to a teacher about how I felt, my teenage journals are full of advice to anyone reading to talk to someone. I'm so grateful to that wonderful teacher, she absolutely saved me.

Talk to someone.

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/when-i-was-a-little-girl

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Building in Some Slack.

Our flight was scheduled for 18.05. Last call for boarding was 17.40. My husband said that he had arranged to get the hire car back at 16.00 and we should therefore leave at 15.00.

I turned on my sunbed to look at him. It was ten past two and I had just reached page 177 in my Jack Reacher book. It was an exciting bit and I didn't want to move.

"It only takes fifteen minutes to get to the airport from here," I pointed out.

"But we've got to shower off the sun cream and sand and then change into going home clothes. And I have to put more petrol in the car."

I reluctantly closed my book and started to drag my sun-drugged body off the lounger; started to gather up our children and belongings. I was grumpy; I had wanted to eke out every last drop of warmth before we returned to the great grey beast of the British February.

But, he was right of course. It always takes longer than you think. It was half past four when we got the car back and gone five by the time we dropped off the baggage. Negotiating Security and the Duty Free took some time, and in the end, we were pretty much the last people to board the plane.

But – there was no panic, because he'd built in enough slack.

My eldest takes after her father. She has already drawn up her revision timetable for her GCSEs and, with sly humour, has labelled some periods, "Procrastination and messing about."

I have yet to learn to do this. My mother says that I have always tried to fit a quart into a pint pot. For years, this phrase meant nothing to me, as I didn't realise a quart is two pints!

So, I over commit. I try to fit too much in and I never leave enough time to do it all.

The result, of course, is stress. It means I am late to appointments or have to cancel at the last minute. It means that sometimes I am so stressed I forget things entirely, and I'm always in a rush.

As you know, I don't do New Year's Resolutions; but – if I did – then my resolution for 2018 would be to do less and to schedule more.

It's not lazy, it's self-preservation.

It's for the good of those who love me. Because they need to be less stressed about me being too stressed.

And if they don't have to worry about picking up the pieces of my disasters they will be less stressed and they won't get angry.

I will schedule in more time to do less.

I Promise.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/building-in-some-slack

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

There must be instructions somewhere.

Hello my friend. What do we have today? Let's see. Are you begging for the end of the day already, to be comforted by darkness and quiet, or are you able to see the day as yours?

Even if you are working and have an employer watching over you, it is still your day and how you handle your challenges is your choice. I try to look ahead at what things are going to rough me up (loud people, busy situations, bad manners, my senses being attacked) and arm myself for them.

Yesterday I was volunteering. I knew I would meet an extremely loud woman unaware of anyone else's existence but herself. As a bit of a wall flower, I bristle around her. I had to plan. It worked! She made a loud entrance and we all became aware of her holiday plans for the following week, and we now have the additional detailed and intimate knowledge of her foot blister, but I was also able to divorce myself from it because I'd planned.

She blasted us with her 'everything' and I had fun because I'd decided I would picture her as a hoover. It worked! The moment she launched, I heard 'hoover' and I just carried on reading my duties for the afternoon. Peace became me. In my head I was running through a silent, sunny, flower-filled meadow whilst she had hoover noises coming out her mouth.

It was a great film!

Dare you to try it.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/there-must-be-instructions-somewhere

Monday, 19 February 2018

Life is like a camera.



I saw an inspirational plaque in a photo shop in Weymouth. I thought its contents profound and insightful – mixed with just the right amount of wit.

It said, "Life is like a camera: just focus on what is important & capture the good times; develop from the negatives & if things don't work out, just take another shot."

Writers often long to discover their own 'Signature Quote' – that pithy aphorism that they will be remembered for. Forrest Gump had his, "Life is like a box of chocolates..."  I hope that whoever had come up with, "Life is like a camera..." was rather pleased with the result. I know I would have been.

'Focus' is a core concept for me nowadays. But what to focus on? The received wisdom here is on what is important and the good times. When we are low, it seems naturally easy to obsess over the bad times and frankly on what is less important. What is important to you? That's a question that only you can answer – but it's a core question that needs a heartfelt response.

As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, your definition of 'good times' is also unique to you. The call to action, though, is a great one for all of us: capture the good times. This is why I always have a camera or camera-phone with me. Good times are everywhere.

'Develop from the negatives' was a great way of putting the need to move on from the negatives – to make them serve our own purpose, and then move on from them.

But the final passing shot was the best shot for me: "If things don't work out, just take another shot." It's never too late to press the shutter to capture the good times of a new scene.

If you'd be happy to share, there are several cues here to respond to. What's important to you?  What are 'good times' to you? What negatives have you learned from and then moved on from? When and where in your life have you taken another shot?

I'm not asking you to answer all those questions below, but I'm sure it would help if you thought about them all.

Here's to the good times and what is truly important.

Neil
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/life-is-like-a-camera

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Every silver lining has a cloud.



Caroline has rightly banned a recent offering – on the witch hunt where any man, alive or dead, who touched a woman 'against her will' is to be pilloried. She said it might be provocative!

For the first three months after Mr G went into a care home my 'freedom' was not that easy to assume. The sight of him was harrowing – at night I read stuff I knew – Dick Francis, Wilbur Smith, Jilly Cooper – don't know if I even noticed, just dull the pain until the sleeping  pills kicked in.

Now I've gone 'serious' reading in French, new books to me. The morality issues are worse than current ones. First book was the life of the Mountbattens in India – she would seem a total nymphomaniac – yet admired by Ghandi, life-long friend (lover?) of Pandit Nehru, and a tower of strength in the partition struggles. I Re-watched the film 'Portrait of a Marriage' (triangle Vita Sackville-West, Harold Nicholson, Violet Trefussis). Vita was born to luxury, absolutely wild, yet she and Harold produced the Sissinghurst garden. He was a diplomat, and homosexual, what a risk to take. Poor Violet seemed totally amoral, even called 'evil', yet, born to Alice Keppel, mistress of Edward VII, what moral basis could she get?

I am struggling with a fantastic book by a French writer, Dominic Lapierre, about the race between high-level medical researchers to find the cause of AIDS – which came from the sexual explosion of the 1970's.

Thinks came to a head this morning with the news that workers for Oxfam have been taking advantage of their position and abusing girls, in Haiti in particular. New outrage. They are living in an area of corruption and misery – temptation is there all the time – 'abuse' could sometimes be mutual comfort. What nobody will admit that there is an important side to even the horror of sexual tourism. In very poor countries (we have some experience of this) a pretty girl who works as a prostitute in Bangkok can buy her starving parents a cow and send her brothers to school. The 'business' (un-documented) is a vital part of some third-world country economies.

My 'silver lining' allusion comes from struggling with my great mass of pictures and not seeing the underlying problems. The worst is my favourite breakfast location, the garden of friends in Adelaide. Now, their son-in-law has early onset dementia – they have adopted Indian brothers, now teen-agers, that poor family. I now have to train myself to see my pictures as 'snapshots' taken at the flash of a second of time. Otherwise, every lovely memory will carry its own cloud, even to the rice-fields of Ubud, in Bali, now being a virtual housing estate – like prostitution, the families could not live on the production of a tiny field of rice, but they can on the burgeoning tourism.

Lesson learned, do not live in the past.

And you?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/every-silver-lining-has-a-cloud

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Could today be the start of a new life for you?

Thought for Moodscopers...

When things go well we are happy and contented. But it doesn't last does it?

I believe most adversities are what I call Self-Inflicted and arrive through contention of one sort or another. Opposition seems to attack us when least expected, always when we are unprepared! We hear something detrimental about ourselves, we respond, we contend, then ignore each other.

It's vital we don't carry upon our shoulders, subconscious ill feelings toward another.

Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Teresa even some popstars portray a philanthropic loving persona. These men and women lived their lives 'giving' to all in need.

We all have an inbuilt capacity to love one other, loving ourselves sufficiently to see the love in others. We came to Earth with no preordained contentious ideas, no past, and no foreseeable future.

Arriving with a love for all things - need confirmation, just look into the eyes of a baby.

We may unconsciously hurt anothers' feelings, if so, we urgently need an emergency repair kit to secure and rescue (anagram) the relationship we once had. Not as a doormat, but in humility, compassion for the love of them and their feelings. Even if we had no part in this disagreement.

Cast off the ego, the self, and express that loving inner compassion lying dormant, waiting for that person who has hurt us. If it fails, we cannot be responsible. We can walk away...leaving their burden behind, upon their shoulders.

Laws govern Armed Forces, Roads, Courts etc to keep the peace. The Sun rises and goes down, without hesitation. The Moon comes out in obedience to the laws of nature to govern the coming and going of the tides.

Order governs our minds, if we will let it, at peace. We become The Peacemakers. Orderly minds widen the gap between joy and sadness. Nothing left festering, as procrastination 'is the thief of Time'. Never 'shackled' to the burdens of others, sub-conscious clear, free to enjoy this beautiful world.

It's like clearing out our cupboards... It feels wonderful!

Self-confidence comes as we 'listen' with our hearts to loved ones, less confrontation, less agro, more love, more intimacy, they will love you for you.

'Contention' out of the way 'Our House in Order', relationships, debt, health, finances, work/career under control, there's 'nothing' to worry about.

Order is a state of mind, when real adversity strikes, broken arms, kidney stones etc that's all we have to 'worry' about.

I make daily 'to do' lists everything crossed off, anything left, is dealt with tomorrow. My life is orderly... Not perfectionism.

Order lessens and deminishes Bipolar Depression. Yes in that 'Miner in the Pit', 'Nagatha Critchly', 'cocooned', life becomes bearable without depressive thoughts of the things we failed to do when well.

'Return to Love' a book by Marianne Williamson, is a must, for those searching for 'Inner Peace'. It will guide you to Love and understand yourself, and the benefits of Loving others - particularly Pages 72 through to end of 73.

Your views will certainly be of great interest to me.

Thank you for 'Listening'.

Dave x
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/could-today-be-the-start-of-a-new-life-for-you

Friday, 16 February 2018

Community.

Our ancestors knew it, they knew that the community was there to support each other and look after their own. Now how many of us are lacking that community feeling? We are facing the biggest crisis in loneliness and mental health that we have ever seen.

People who go to work, converse all day with unknown faces via a small handheld piece of artificial intelligence. Then come home, to a screen, individually tailoring what they should watch on TV, food deliveries come to the door. They sleep, wake and go all around again, hardly really talking to another person. Or no work, stuck in the four walls with a screen or nothing for company.

How important community still is to us. To Everyone. So many of us blog about our communities that we invest in, our lifelines. It might be an online group, it might be a coffee morning, colleagues, or the people you meet at the same bus stop every day at the same time and one day you all got chatting, or people walking their dogs along the same route.

I grew up in a village, everyone had their place and value there. The village shop, church and pub, the village fair, youth club, festival celebrations, constantly bringing us together. Within our walls we ate our meals together at the table, picking over the days events. We watched TV together, shouting out at The Generation Game, repeating our favourite lines from The Two Ronnies. Together.

Now we need to seek these moments out, we need reminding that we NEED community to survive, and if we don't have the strength to do this? Then we are so easily susceptible to loneliness and mental illness. Have we come to a community time in crisis?

I have some valuable little communities outside of my own household that keep me going, support me, keep me afloat. They are Moodscope, my yoga class, my best friends who I met when my eldest was a baby, school Mums, my off road running group. When I'm well they're there and when I'm not well, they'll still be there. I also go on the Mental Health Mates walks in Leeds and find a little hub of like minded people who understand. I'll be OK whilst I've got these, I just wish the TV was better!

Which communities do you feel glad to be a part of, where can we gently seek these out if we're not feeling sociable?

Lizzie
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/community

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Decisions! Decisions! Part 1: The Big Ones.

I have a friend who loves the phrase "I used to be decisive but now I'm not so sure".  But that is actually me. Or maybe I didn't used to be decisive. I can't decide on that either.

Regardless, these days I struggle with decisions; putting too much pressure on choosing the "perfect" option as though my entire wellbeing depends upon it. This is one of two blog posts sharing newfound perspectives on decision making.

First up: The Big Ones.

Right now I'm facing a mass of big decisions: children's education, whether to move house, whether I go back to work, and if so what my career might be. They're huge, life changing decisions and are so entwined that I can't tease them apart to see the wood from the trees. And of course trying to find that "perfect" solution was increasing my anxiety and unbalancing my perilous mental state.

But during one long winded discussion about it, I had an epiphany: it's simply not possible to plan out the next 5 years, let alone 10-20 years. There are too many unknowns. Unexpected opportunities may arise. So much could change. The realisation came like a clearing in the forest; a calm glade with a shaft of sunshine lighting the way. So I made one decision; the best decision I could make for the next year. And after that I will see.

Instantly the other decisions melted away; replaced by a huge sense of relief. Making a short term decision felt "right", comfortable and not too daunting. So next time I start to lose my way and get bogged down with The Big Ones, I'll pause, focus on choosing what works for now, and leave the adventures of the future as an exciting surprise.
 
Perhaps this might help others too?
 
With definite love

Shizzle
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/decisions-decisions-part-1-the-big-ones

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

What's Love Got to Do with It?

Today is Valentine's Day and the shops are full of red hearts and red roses; out-sized greetings cards with red hearts and red roses; boxes of chocolates in the shape of hearts and roses; teddy bears holding red hearts and red roses, bottles of champagne decorated with red hearts and red roses and, who knows – even toilet cleaner decorated with – yes, b****y red hearts and red roses...

Commercialized? Oh, what makes you think that?

It's also my mother's birthday. For obvious reasons, we've never ordered flowers to be delivered on her birthday.

For many of us, Valentine's Day is just a slap in the face. Even for those of us in happy romantic relationships, love is something we express every day, not just on 14th February. My husband and I give each other a card – if we remember, and we usually don't – but that's all.

And – it seems to me, looking at my Facebook feed, that those of us with happy relationships are in the minority. In real life, my close women friends are married: my close male friends are single (and not interested in a conventional marriage). In the virtual world, there are more singletons than not. Some of them are happy singletons; some of them would rather not be single.

Maybe that's a biased sample. After all – most people in a relationship do not spend all their spare time at the keyboard – unless they are writers looking for any excuse not to write... (Guilty as charged, m'lud.)

But all of us have love. Somewhere.

Last night, a single man of my (virtual) acquaintance complained in our group of his single status. He would love to be married and to have children. At fifty he has given up on the idea of children and is despairing of love.

His post garnered more than 500 comments. Some were part of threads which became gloriously silly, but there was a lot of good advice. "Tough love," as another friend described it. "Stop complaining, get up off your bottom, go out and meet those women," seemed to be the gist.

My point is, not that he is unhappily single, but that he is actually surrounded by love. Just not romantic love (although some comments were along the lines of "If I were free, I'd date you!")

There are few of us who live lives of such isolation that we have no love.

Maybe that love is from children, other family members or friends (whether virtual or in the "real world").

But we all have love. Somewhere.

If we look, we'll find it. And maybe we should tell that person, those people, thank you.

We don't have to give them red roses or a box of chocolates in the shape of a heart.

A thank you and a smile will do.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/whats-love-got-to-do-with-it

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

I am no longer a child without choices.

It took me 30 years to process the loss of the family farm. As my teenager would say; "delayed response much?"

Growing up in a very abusive and strict german-mennonite home meant not showing your emotions. A display of affection beyond a handshake was considered worldly and unnecessarily. If father took the willow branch to us he demanded silence or the process would continue. Needless to say I learned to stuff my emotions until they boiled over like my mother's pressure canner.

When I was 12 we were ordered off the family farm for debts unpaid and if that wasn't enough of a country song mother went into labor and the hospital as we packed.

I waited for sadness that didn't come. Nor did any other emotion. At twelve I had quite a mastery of escaping feelings and numbing them out.

My brother was born and he proved to be a marvellous distraction from our disrupted lives.

We left the farm, unpacked our meagre possessions into a borrowed home a half mile away and went to visit our new sibling. I thought the little bald wonder in a wrinkled sleeper was the most beautiful creature in the world.

When friends asked if losing our home only to drive by it twice a day bothered me I uttered a very convincing "No."

Years of therapy and counselling later, not only had I forgiven my parents I had drawn some lines in setting cement; "I choose to have a relationship with you..." I told them; "but do note that I am no longer a child without choices. If this relationship takes on the nature of the past I am out of here."

For the most part things have been good. I have cut them off twice for 6 months when same old same old reared its ugliness and we have resolved our issues.

A month or so ago I was watching a movie; "The Promised Land," and there came a line; "We still have our barn." A damn inside jerked loose and I cried three decades worth of pain. We lost our barn and almost everything else. There had been an auction previous to the move. How good it felt to grieve what I had convinced myself did not matter.

Delayed response indeed. And although I have covered a great distance in most aspects of processing emotions and life events my critical inner voice says; "Do not become a paramedic. No-one has that kind of time." And that is okay. I am more of a tortured writer, author and musician anyway. We tend to lose track of the ticking clock.

Bailey
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our blog on the Moodscope web site:

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/i-am-no-longer-a-child-without-choices