Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Father of My Children.

His primary legacy is one of abandonment. Thirty years. I ask myself what part did I play and would I do it again? I do not have an answer today.

The church service is remarkable and filled with awed acceptance, gratefulness for the last eight years of family involvement, and the knowledge that his homecoming is meaningful. Made so by seven precious grandchildren.

His two daughters struggle, each on her own journey, with the memories of events that lead to his departure. One remembers little and pulls him back into her life. The other remembers too much and cannot afford him the same love and acceptance as her sister. Yet they unite in their quest to honor him, their father. For the wee grandchildren. For them.

So, the focus is on the children. The seven are from twelve years old to six months. Five sons followed by two daughters. They greet guests, perform special music, and recite grandpa's poetry written to his own father. They show their own mother's stunning photographic journey of death's beckoning over the last eight years on a mammoth screen at the front of the church. Music fills the air. It is the culmination of a life and death of fleeing and addiction unshielded. Larger than life.

The photographic journey shows their participation in Grandpa's life as he travels six times into Hospice, back home, and into rehab, only to keep repeating the pattern. He'd left them for thirty years because he loved them enough to not take them down with him.

Simple. Kind. O, sliver of love; you've come again to show us the way.

Di
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Think before you speak.

"...you should say what you mean" said the March Hare, "I do," Alice replied; "...at least, I mean what I say..."

Did I really mean what I said to my friend? Or was I just being mean? I didn't mean to upset her, so why did I say that to her? I was out of order. I was taught that if I haven't got anything nice to say, I just shouldn't say anything, and I don't gossip, but I do often have strong views and on occasions my mouth runs away from my brain.

Some great words of advice from Don Miguel Ruiz in his book "The Four Agreements".

Agreement number one.

Be impeccable with your word:
- speak with integrity
- say only what you mean
- avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others - use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

In me there is an element of confusion though between the advisability of speaking up (speaking ones mind) and not speaking to avoid offending. I find this difficult to resolve. Why cause offence if you don't need to? But should I dissemble just to keep the peace? Or just keep quiet? If no one is being harmed, why make a fuss? Or should one always speak up in order to not just be authentic but because there is usually more than one way of looking at things and to offer differing or similar thoughts?

Looking back at my "words" exchanged with my friend; after all just because we didn't agree, it didn't make me right or her wrong. And it doesn't mean we can't be friends. The only thing it did was to open a dialogue about something I believe in just as strongly as she holds an opposing view. And as long as I didn't belittle her thoughts (and her right to those thoughts) then that's probably ok. I think!

"Really, now you ask me ," said Alice, very confused, "I don't think..." "Then you shouldn't talk," said the Hatter.

Worrying about whether or not I offended her is probably a fruitless task. I know that it really doesn't or shouldn't matter what other people think of me (another of the "Four Agreements" - Don't take anything personally!) and that if she doesn't know me and appreciate me well enough to not take offence then it is probably not worth my worrying about. Ouch! That sounds so arrogant to my ears... Is life too short?

What do you think?

Alice
A Moodscope member

Friday, 31 July 2015

I'm a slow learner.

I'm possibly going to state the obvious. Inside the fog of depression, I didn't really know this until years had gone by, and I wish someone had told me way, way back. This might not be applicable to all but it might be helpful to someone.

Depression has different times.

There is the 'I'm in it and I can't see anything else' time.

There is the 'I've seen where I've been and I have an idea how to trip it up' time.

And the 'I've boxed it, glued the lid shut and sometimes I even crack a smile' time.

Now, for me, I have the first two of these throughout the year. The first one has been my main unwelcome companion and I only rarely shed it. Using Moodscope has helped me see when in the year it is at its worst and that helps me to ride it, like surfing a wave. No. That's glamorising it...it's more like a bucking bronco. The second one is where I'm spending more time as the years pass and it's my aim to grow this time. The last one I have visited before, just the once (properly), and so I know I can get there again. But I also have each of these over a week, sometimes a day, sometimes it changes in the same hour. I might wake up in one, travel to another and head back before dusk.

Part of what I've learned over the years, and what is allowing me to have a little comfort, is to recognise which time I'm in at any one spell. This helps me adapt. I don't always know I'm falling but I certainly know when I've hit and then I can remind myself of where I am and what I can expect of myself.

Before I knew this (and you may all be rolling your eyes at my naivety!) I just felt like sludge all of the time and, without an end time, it really grinds. I never know how long my times will last but it does help to identify them. I may even name them. But I'm not sure they are polite, repeatable names for public posting. In fact I know they are not! :-) They all begin with the same letter.

Do you already look at your depression in this way? If not, then let this roll around your head for a while and see if it might alter any of your thinking. Keep travelling.

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Who Are You?

"You won't find your soul mate until you find yourself."

I often say, the amount you love yourself is the direct equivalent of how much you can love anyone else!

Without doing the work on ourselves and making that commitment with no short cuts, (see July 2nd blog) how can we expect to find the right partner?

If we find the right partner when we are insecure, or lost or down then they will be the 'right' partner, who is attracted to that incomplete person which will also most likely lead to a co-dependent relationship i.e. one where both people 'need' each other from an insecure basis – not 'want' each other and can overcome challenges to achieve that.

Co-dependency is a learned behaviour that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioural condition that affects an individual's ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.

It is also known as "relationship addiction" because people with co-dependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.

So, for me, I now believe that until I am very comfortable with myself – which I have not been – and feel I have done the work and committed to lessening my depressive bouts – which is now happening with relationship and work changes, I will at this ripe old age of 61 be unable to find that soul mate I have so longed for.

The lack of that work previously, has brought great hardship in many forms...divorce, infidelity, damaged children, large financial losses, suicidal depressions et al.

I can however leave the best legacy I can, by fully becoming me and showing my children, one close and one still unknown after 7.5 years of separation, that we can move past such things and find a more balanced and healthy life.

The 'gift' that now 24 years of depression and one suicide attempt has given me, is that it finally made me take that Road Les(s) Travelled and to go on the only journey in life that I believe is worth it – the inside one – the inscaping one so many of us have avoided by escaping in whatever way we hoped would make us happy (drink, drugs, sex, gambling, avoidance, deceit).

If someone asked you – 'Who are you?' instead of 'what do you do?' what would you say?
Are you a Human-doing or a Human-being?

Which way would you like to be moving, as it's not where you stand that counts – but which way you are moving?

Are we focusing on the externals and neglecting that inner work or moving inside to love and care for ourselves?

Les
A Moodscope member

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Quite Frankly Terrified!

We should have seen it coming I suppose, but it just didn't occur.

So, over the last three days, the scores on the nervous, anxious and scared cards have been sky high!

What was this terrifying thing?

My son wanted to bring his new girlfriend to visit. "And," he told me in an aside, "This one's special!"

My husband and I looked at each other in bewilderment. With our girls, we have had years of getting used to them bringing their friends home for tea, to sleepovers (with conspicuous confectionery consumption), to those friends joining us on holiday. By the time they start bringing home young men I hope we will have a good handle on things. But we've only had six months with Tom.

You remember Tom, don't you? I blogged on 18th February about how I came to adopt my son at 26.

Of course I've known that he has had a succession of young females in his life. He's an attractive, warm hearted lad; it's all perfectly natural.

But, when you take your girlfriend home to meet the parents it's a bit different.

Then there's the fact that Jenny has bright pink, blue and purple hair, tattoos and piercings while we are as conventional a family as you would find in a month of church going Sundays.

So, yes, we were all nervous.

At least I was nervous until I realised that Jenny must be feeling at least as scared as I. "Poor girl," I thought. At that point it stopped being about me and my family and about wanting to make this young woman feel comfortable and welcomed. My focus shifted and, oh boy, did I feel better!

And of course it's been fine. Jenny's lovely. I met them at the station and it took all of ten minutes for us to have the kind of honest conversation you need to have in order to create the basis for a real and authentic relationship.

Tom's sisters like her and are fascinated by her hair. "Mummy – can I have blue hair too?" (Not until you're at university, dear!)

Even my husband has come round, although he says it's the first time he's been greeted with the words "I know I've got the hair and tattoos and piercings, but I don't do drugs or anything like that, honest!"

Wind. Sails. Taken out!

We should have trusted Tom. He has excellent taste. In fact, he's chosen a girl rather like me!

Now – I wonder what I'd look like with blue and pink hair.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Procrastination and Depression.

Okay, so I admit I am a master procrastinator. Ever since my university days when I would wait till the night before to revise and rely on caffiene and adrenaline to get me through.

I am realising that for me procrastination and depression are strongly linked.

My very good friend Kate and two of her children were coming to stay. I knew about it for weeks but could not/would not force myself to get our home 'visitor ready' until 1pm on the day she was arriving. I was expecting the arrival time to be 6pm.

Thank the good Lord for my husband. He was doing things and getting the children to help.  Then he politely told me to put down my crossword and wait until I had finished my jobs before picking it up again.

When I have that overwhelming energy-zapping I've got lots of stuff that I don't want to do feeling, it's awful.

And then when I finally get around to doing it I feel a million bucks!

Sooo frustrating! I need to find a way to inspire myself to do the things that need to be done.

When I am out working this is not a problem due to my people pleasing habits (although I am a bit concerned that my people pleasing habits have gone down the proverbial gurgler!).

I really struggle to do stuff that I don't want to do. I am a rebel without a cause.

Oh well, now that I can see my problem, maybe I can fix it.

No advice required :-). It will most probably make me cranky!

I like figuring things out on my own. Please share what works for you though.

Theresa
A Moodscope member.

Monday, 27 July 2015

These three remain.

Many a wedding couple choose 1 Corinthians 13 for their reading. These are the familiar verses beginning, "Love is patient..." The passage has an even more poignant observation as the climax: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

That's a great recipe for enduring success, isn't it?

I recently heard Andy Haynes present on the need to stop making excuses and take action.  At the age of 6, he was listening to Radio 2 with his Dad. He boldly declared, "Dad, that's what I'm going to do!" His Dad said, "I know son, I know." True to his commitment, Andy became a Breakfast Show presenter and producer for BBC Hereford and Worcester. Andy then went on to explain that at the age of 6 he had the worst stammer he'd ever heard. A lad with a speech impediment became a celebrated presenter!

What struck me about this was the power of Andy's Dad's words to create faith. So, goal one for us today might be to speak encouragement into someone's life so that they might grow their faith in what is possible for them in the here and now. To help someone believe in themselves is a worthwhile achievement.

Hope is to do with the future and the unseen. Our words can bring hope too. We can capture someone's imagination with a vision of a better future, yet unseen. Sometimes our friends can be cast down by their circumstances. It can take our bolder vision to lift their eyes to see that better future in the distance.

Love is a funny word. I prefer kindness as this, for me, brings to my mind "acts of kindness". There's a wonderful old-fashioned word called "loving-kindness" - a phrase that fills my heart with 'warm-fuzzies'!

I would consider today a day well spent if my words and my deeds could bring hope, faith and a sense of being loved into the lives of others. And my creative self loves this challenge.

"Now these three remain..."

Lex
A Moodscope member.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Art of Mindfulness.

Mindfulness crops up a lot in Moodscope's blog posts, doesn't it. We all know the importance of it but if anxiety is our problem, perhaps frequently slamming into us like a freight train, we may find ourselves asking the question, how often am I actually, properly, mindful?

Er?

I can be quite mindful when applying my hand lotion.

Sometimes.

What's interesting is that I've realised I'm a collector of "mindful moments" from every book I read, carefully copying passages into whatever journal I'm keeping at the time.

I think I do this because I so much want to live in the moment more often and so these carefully crafted words inspire me to actually make it my own reality during the quotidian routine.

Here's a favourite:

'...they watched his mother make dinner. She spoke softly in Italian to the red sauce she simmered in the Dutch oven, the gigantic meatballs she rolled, the gold-coloured rosemary-scented focaccia she put on a tray out on the front porch to cool...'
An excerpt from The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg.

Was the mother's name Nigella, I wonder?

Hey, I'm not suggesting we start talking to the kid's fish finger butties here but it does inspire me to slow down when preparing food. To savour the chopping, the marinading, the stirring, the peeling, the testing and tasting.

Here's another:

'She took the fragrant lavender soap from her drawer...Rubbing it carefully between her palms she smoothed the lather over her face and neck, then rinsed it off with clear water from the bowl. Her skin felt wonderfully fresh. She repeated the process with each part of her body, taking her time, indulging herself, patting herself dry lightly. This was not washing; this was bathing,...'
An excerpt from Izette by Viv Packer.

Granted, the rush of life may dictate that this won't always be possible but mindfulness begets mindfulness. To simply be mindful of being mindful is half the battle won.

Maybe if we were to imagine ourselves as a Simon Armitage in any given moment; how would we describe the smell, sight, touch, sound, taste?

What mindful moments will you "write" today?

Suzy
A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

I woke like Lily Munster.

Can you be a touch bi-polar? Can you have a streak of it running through you like the white streak in Lily Munster's hair? I apologise in advance if this blog is flippant to those who are bi-polar, I really don't mean it to be. Humour is my default to coping. It's just that through reading Mary's blogs, so much of what she describes of her highs and lows, resonates with my own behaviours that it makes me curious.

I'm not bi-polar because I have a steady low that can go from bad to worse. But when I get very busy (stressed to the hilt) I can jump on the steam train on steroids and then the silly stuff happens. Normal thoughts float elegantly to the ground and instead my thoughts turn into something like cartoons with all of the outrageous sound effects, only not so fun and happy.

I'll be going on holiday soon. Naturally I am going to die on the plane. Like I did last year. And it will bring comfort to those mourning me to know I squeezed in an eye test before I left. As they sift through the 42 years of gathered stuff they will thank me for washing the kitchen floor and changing all the beds. Piling up donations to charity they will love that I frantically cleared out and glued all the broken toys. Why would I want to meander into holidays feeling calm and relaxed when I can create tension and anxiety that a film maker would pay top dollar for! I lose half of the holiday to recovering from this trip to the fair ground on fast forward.

I've been using meditation to grow my peace. It has helped. Only, at these times my brain is so strong in its quest to be a cartoon, that exhaustion takes over and I can't stay awake to meditate. Sleeping like a koala bear (up to 22 hours a day) would still not be enough.

So I ask you...can you be a touch bi-polar?

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Surfing the waves of life.

I find it really hard to articulate the feelings around my anxiety to my loved ones, which makes it even harder for them to support me as they have no idea how I feel.

I was recently trying to think of an analogy to describe my anxiety in the best way. It is just like surfing. The water is life. When you are on top of the surf board and surfing the waves of life you feel great and you can't ever imagine falling off the surf board. It is like you have never fallen off the surf board and never will; you are on top of the wave having the best time. This is how I feel when I am fine.

When the anxiety starts to approach is when perhaps the board hasn't been waxed well and it's slippery. I keep falling off but the ankle strap pulls me back up and I keep jumping back on the board. For me this is when I need to be conscious that the anxiety is becoming uncontrollable again – there is still time to pull it back in, or wax the board so you can surf the waves of life again.

Then there are those times when I fall completely off the surfboard, and I am deep beneath the waves. The ankle strap has broken and it feels like there is no coming back. It feels like I will never be on the board surfing the waves again.

Little do I know, there is a jet ski with a rescuer on its way – I will surf again, maybe not today, but maybe tomorrow or the next day, but I will.

I find this analogy an accurate way to describe my anxiety and how desolate I can feel on a bad day. The bad days are not eternal – they come and go, even if they feel like they are here forever. So if you have taken a tumble from your board, just remember the jet ski is on its way and tomorrow (or the next day, or the next) you will be surfing like a pro once again.

Dani
A Moodscope member.