Thursday, 3 September 2015

Job Satisfaction.

I predict reactions to this blog: ‘What a prig this woman is’.

Remark: ‘How lucky you are to speak so many languages’. No luck, except a retentive memory – then application.

Remark: ‘I’ve always been scared of meeting you, heard all about your activities, how do you do it?’ Only answer, impossible to give, was ‘Get up in the morning’.

The catalyst for this lot is a course I attended on ‘Time Management’. For a week before, we had to log our day’s activities, down to the last phone chat. Try it, you’ll be shattered.

My dearest and most disorganised friend said ‘I’ve always wanted to play the piano’. Me, ‘Why not?’ No time. She had two ‘tidy’ children, a husband abroad half the year, and no money shortage. She could have learned half the orchestral instruments in her life-time.

Am I satisfied? Yes. Until five years or so ago I never went to bed without thinking I could/should have done more, and done it better. I’ve managed to stop that – but my sons, who can turn their hands to anything and have excellent brains have yet to reach that stage – I hope they can do it earlier than I.

And lists! I made lengthy lists, unattainable when they were written, without any glitches or spanners. The undone bits haunted me. Conversely, I love deadlines – last minuter, of course - it adds a lovely spice to life.

Have a nice, satisfactory day.

The Gardener.
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Friends for Life.

Every summer I am in the fortunate position to be able to come down to the sea. The family sails, swims, builds sandcastles. We drink wine with other families along the sea wall and watch the sun go down. It's a magical time.

As the years go by our children are building memories and relationships. They only see these other children for a few weeks each summer, but I know these friendships will endure.

How do I know this?

Well, this year, my eldest daughter (age 13) is the Vice Commodore of the sailing club cadets; which has meant that she has been responsible for a lot of the organisation of "Activity Week" in which 50 young people, age 8 – 14 learn about sailing and have fun on the water. (And if my pride in her is oozing out of the screen as you read this, I can only apologise.)

My point is that this year there are many cadets from families who – 35 years ago – had their fathers in the cadets. These men have brought their children from far afield (from abroad in a couple of cases) to join in "Cadet Activity Week." I have spoken to them, in my capacity as "parent of the Vice Commodore" (just had to get that in again – sorry!)

One father explained to me, as he looked around the group, "This set of people is the nearest I have to an extended family, I value them so much." Another almost had tears in his eyes as he said, "James was my best friend growing up. We only had the summers together, but he was my best friend. It means so much that his daughter and my daughter are now sailing together and are friends too."

Most men have the desire to see their genes go forward, to continue the family. But there is an additional joy in seeing your children do the same things you did and getting equal enjoyment from them.

I like to think that the strong bonds formed in childhood can endure, and can be passed down to future generations.

There is a comfort in continuity. Especially the magic of continued friendship – friendships that are passed down to the next generation.

Even if we don't have children of our own, we can probably find some area of continuity in our life. What continuity in your own life brings comfort?

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Accepting we are who we are.

I'm not a massive Bob Marley fan but was listening to David Rodigan's radio show when driving home tonight and he played "Three Little Birds"...

I have had a couple of days off work this week and have enjoyed the freedom to lie in, to read, to see friends for a coffee. I have also had time, free from my normally ridiculous schedule, to reflect.

I have realised that I have come along way... two years ago I was in psychiatric hospital, completely bewildered as to how I had sunk so low and wondering what the hell was going to happen. That low was followed by nine fraught months as I negotiated the end of a very unhappy marriage, a new job, moving house and trying to ensure our two children were ok.

Now I am decorating my living room, in my lovely little house and have realised that I am happy. Now that's not to pretend that life is all roses... it's taken me over twenty years to accept that I have quite a serious mental health condition and some would call me bi-polar, although I'm not sure that's how I would describe it.

But what I have realised despite all my fears, self-doubt and sometimes self-hatred I am loveable, I have some fantastic friends and I have even rediscovered a sense of humour.

So if your day is not starting well or you are feeling a bit black and blue, whatever you are feeling, like Bob sung "Everything's gonna be alright"... stick with it.

Brum Mum
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 31 August 2015

Life to the Max?

[Audio version:]

I've got a little friend called, "Max."  Max is my neighbour's dog. He looks like "Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy" if you've ever seen the Lynley Dodd books (or care to Google the image).

Max is an enthusiast. Nothing is held back. I have known him try to draw me through the garden fence by the power of his nose suction alone. This little black, wet nozzle of a snozzle finds a tiny gap under the fence and inhales as if his life depends upon it... His wagging tail causes a small tremor that can be felt through the ground... he is truly inspirational!

I think it would be fair to create a verb in Max's honour: to be Maxed. To be Maxed means to be enthusiastically 'assaulted' by an energetic bundle of hairy love!

I'm pretty sure Max's love is unconditional, or perhaps indiscriminate. It still feels nice - if you're not wearing your posh togs.

Walking to the shop the other day, I saw Max in the distance, and thought to myself, "Today, I do not wish to be 'Maxed'!" I wondered how I could politely avoid being pounced upon without offending him or his owner.

My concerns were unnecessary. Max was 'elsewhere'. He had found some fascinating scent along the bottom of another fence and was busy pursuing this trail. Nose down, he was blissfully unaware of anything else.

Max had found joy and freedom through single-minded focus. One thought, one purpose, one pursuit. I don't think he has many worries, but if he did, he wouldn't have been troubled at this time. His mind was absorbed.

Could you find joy and freedom in single-minded focus today? Could you make a promise to your brain that you'll come back to the other stuff it's fretting about later but in the meantime just focus enthusiastically on something lovely and absorbing?

Live life to the Max.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Physical things to bring comfort.

When depression holds you up against a wall and demands your money or your life there is sometimes very little we can do. The all-encompassing iron cloak pins us down and knowing that we want not to be under it is sometimes the only thing we have. But we can put cushions around us to help the blows. Maybe something from this list will help. It's random, but even one thing from it might bring a physical comfort and from that a tiny thing might change. It's not going to make a waterfall from a trickle but when you are being held up against a wall, even a penny in your pocket is something.

1. Going somewhere high, even in the car if walks are too much. Looking down over a town or a valley can give you that feeling of rising above your problem.

2. Washing off the day – a quick bath, at any hour, can make a new start.

3. Shedding work clothes and putting on soft stuff. It's a hug in its own way and who cares if its 4pm.

4. Food – it really does help to make food an occasion. If cooking is beyond you, even a plate of your favourite nibble stuff is good. Personally: parma ham, rocket, basil oil, big mug of tea and something sweet, all on the same plate.

5. Eat that food somewhere new. In the bath. Outside. On a chair at the window with the window open. In the shed. In the car. In the hall on the floor. Anywhere but your usual place.

6. Put the pillows at the other end of the bed and sleep that way. It shows your body things can be different.

Try something. And do let me know if it helped. Or if it didn't!

Love from

The room above the garage.
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 28 August 2015

This old dog can learn new tricks.

Over a year ago when I first found the moodscope website, I wondered what I could learn from such a site. After 40 years of living with a diagnosis of bipolar I felt I knew all about moods and mental health. How could doing a graph or reading blogs help me. Sounds arrogant and I am probably exaggerating my reaction a bit.

I started charting my moods about twice a week then four times a week then every day. I started thinking about how anxious I was, how guilty I felt, how inspired I was and how active I felt. My partner started saying I am sure today would be over 70%. I found it gave more words than saying I feel low or I feel happy. It was useful.

After about 7 months I started reading the blogs and found myself addicted to reading every day. I learnt so much from moodscope members. I learnt people can have low moods without being depressed, that people can write well when depressed, that many members have had survived many adversities, that members have so much insight into their illness, that people have so much compassion for others. The collective wisdom of the moodscope members is amazing and so helpful.

I think the quality of the comments always impresses me. Even when people are hurting they take some time and effort into writing a very insightful and caring response.

I think the wide variety of people's experience is its strength as there's such a great reservoir of information and wisdom to draw from. Just by turning my computer on, I can find out about other people's lives, their struggles and their triumphs. The humour and wit of writers both of blog and comments make me smile and laugh.

I like reading members writing their first blog, members who are struggling but want to help others, members who are confused, members who just are trying to make sense of their lives.

I have thouroughly enjoyed being a member of moodscope and have learnt so much.

I feel so privileged to have 'met' through their words a wonderul community of caring people.

Indeed this old dog has learnt some new tricks!

When have you surprised yourself by learning something new when you thought you knew it all?

A Moodscope member

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

Thursday, 27 August 2015

If I were young again...

If I were young again, I’d pay attention
To that little - known dimension.
A taste of seemingly endless time,
A life and space that would always rhyme

In those days we were single – we lived them one by one.
Now we hardly see ‘em – they don’t walk - they run.
As we all got older – we all did more and more,
And some such beautiful things, then became a chore.

It’s just so hard to leave these ‘cages’ of our thinking,
From which by its stages we’re just sinkin’.
We move from seeming joy, to a more uncertain time,
We move from being human – down to a slow decline.

The more we remember – the quicker we forget,
Then we find ourselves – emotionally in debt.
That’s without the money and the often inevitable marriage,
And all the other, new grown up adult baggage.

These races that we’ve run, were not for glory,
There is no moral to this story –
We run for peace of mind.
But the race we’re running now is never-ending –
space and time are bending,
And there’s no finish line.

So how do we run our own race - that rich and deeper ‘inscape’.
To unlearn that IQ process – and thus to internally reshape.
What is important in our lives,
That separates and then divides.
Our heart from head and soul from sense,
As modern life and ‘stuff’ becomes intense.

It’s then we have to go back and reveal,
That magic about times that were real.
To become childlike once again,
Before we all - turn insane.
We have to go get back in touch,
And let money go from being a crutch.

If I were young again, I’d pay attention –
To that little - known dimension.
A taste of seemingly endless time,
A life and space that would always rhyme.

So, what can you do today

- that helps find time again?
- that can help refrain your situation?
- that helps find your joy?

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Are you an optimist?

A friend of mine was cycling home from work on Friday and got knocked off his bike. It was a bad crash. He has a broken ankle, stitches in his head and stitches in his hand as well as many other scratches and bruises.

He's from Latvia. He's a Marine Engineer and had been working in Dover for the last few years on the ferries. He decided he'd like to better himself and get promotion but to do this he had to take a two day Engineering Management exam. So he quit his job and started working in a factory so that he could earn some money to pay for the exam which was expensive and have some time to do the studying he needed to do before hand.

He took the exam and is waiting for the results, but continues to work in the factory until he finds out whether he has passed. It's hard work for him and he gets paid very little compared to what he is used to, but he thinks it's worth it to be able to return to work in the future as a manager.

I always thought, it must be hard for him, but he was always cheerful and positive and looking forward to the future.

Then this accident. My heart went out to him. What bad luck at a time when there wasn't really a lot of good going on in his life.

I phoned him today to see how he was, thinking he must be so frustrated, angry and fed up, not able to work or even go out. I was going to console him.

But no. My friend really is an optimist. He said he was absolutely fine. He was looking on the bright side. Perhaps it happened because someone from up above was telling him to slow down a bit. If he'd had the accident at some time in the future, he wouldn't have been able to start his new job so it was lucky it happened now. He said he wasn't quite as good looking because of the stitches on his head, but they would mend and then he'd look good again. He talked about how he had met some lovely people in the hospital and thanked me for my support. The only thing he felt sad about was the lady that had hit his bicycle - she was so upset!

I am amazed at how positive he is. It has shown me that you really can choose how you react to events. I would have definitely been frustrated, angry and fed up. I would have been miserable - he hurts a bit, but he's happy. Worth thinking about isn't it?

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Laughter therapy. Have you tried it?

One of our Moodscope members is a Laughter Therapy coach and wants to tell everyone about the enormous benefits:

Laughter therapy is a revolutionary approach to laughter that allows us to enjoy the many benefits of hearty laughter in the same way that we enjoy a game of tennis, a gym workout, or a run. It allows us to laugh at will and is a fun, gentle and easy exercise system that stimulates laughter without jokes or comedy and without special clothing or equipment.

There are so many benefits:

Laughter is nature's stress buster. Considering that more than 80% of all illness today is stress-related, and that 80% of all prescription medicines are for stress-related conditions, laughter quickly reduces our stress levels and keeps them down. Thousands of scientific studies highlight the many benefits of laughter.

It's also good for the body. Laughter quickly reduces levels of toxic stress chemicals, releases a natural pain killer, provides an excellent cardio and aerobic workout, increases energy levels, oxygenates our blood and major organs, boosts our immune system and levels of cancer fighting cells, reduces blood pressure, improves our digestive and sexual performance, protects us from cancer, colds, viral ande bacgterial infection, speeds healing and has a positive effect on heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and asthma.

It's good for the mind. Laughter puts us in a positive state of mind with improved mental, learning, communication, empathy, creative and innovative capabilities. It boosts our emotional intelligence and allows us to operate at peak performance. It quickly reduces harmful negative emotions including fear, anger, distrust that lead to anxiety and depression. It increases positive emotions that make life a wonderful experience for us and those we come in contact with.

Extended hearty laughter causes our body to release a cocktail of hormones and neuropeptides into our blood that quickly reduce stress, make us feel good, boost our immune system and more.  In 20 minutes of laughter we get natural and healing organic pharmaceuticals with no bad side effects – and it doesn't cost a cent.

Take a look, just go to Youtube and put in the words 'laughter therapy'. Have a laugh!

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 24 August 2015

One Quarter of a Mile.

After a long day writing, it was time to veg out in front of whatever the TV had to offer.  After an entrĂ©e of "Two And A Half Men" - the following film was, "The Fast and Furious."  Sure I had it on DVD; I think I even have it on Blu-ray. I could watch it without the annoying adverts. But I was tired.

So I began to watch it.

Didn't watch the whole film. Didn't need to. But I watched it until I got what I needed to hear. In a rare moment of opening up to Brian, Dom Torreto (played by Vin Diesel) explains the tragedy of his past. Happy memories obscured by a life event that lost him his father, lost him his self-control, and then cost him his freedom when he was sent to jail for assault.

With the past sullied and the future unsure, Dom delivers this line:

"I live my life a quarter mile at a time, nothing else matters. Not the mortgage, not the store, not the team and all their bulls**t. For those ten seconds or less... I'm free."

The movie is one of mixed morals, conflicted characters, and variable values - but I like it. I haven't met a perfect person yet. I experienced a sympathetic resonance with Dom - a man torn between worlds, wishes and what to do next. His strategy? To live his life a quarter mile at a time.

For him it was the quarter mile of the road race, but I think he was speaking generally too.

I've got 'issues' with my past. I don't like how it went. Can't change that - though I can change the lens I see it through. I've got doubts about my future. But I can, and I will, live my present life a quarter mile at a time.

What does the next quarter mile hold for you?

That's not even taking a day at a time. If you ran as fast as Roger Bannister at his best, that's the next minute! If you drove as fast as Dom, that's 10 seconds. I can live 10 seconds to a minute at a time when the going gets tough.

And if working out the next quarter mile is too confusing, I think the next quarter of an hour is more than enough!

A Moodscope member.

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