Thursday, 26 May 2016

Just for a laugh.

A woman becomes an overnight internet celebrity after she made a simple video of herself alone in her car trying on a Star Wars mask. It is funny but what does it tell us about our society that over 70 million people have viewed it.

News programs want to interview her, bloggers are commenting on her video and its significance for our society.

I think it is lovely that a video of a woman with an infectious laugh has touched so many people but what does that say about our society. Is the sound of a woman laughing so unusual that we need to go to the internet and tell all our friends about it.

I remember when I first started taking medication people would tell me I was not much fun anymore and it was probably true.

I had done so many wild impetuous things when high, that I had forgotten to laugh and have fun.

As adults we are often worried about making a fool of ourselves in public, of letting go and releasing the childlike qualities within.

Seeing an adult woman have so much fun with a mask, is so reassuring in a world with so many violent upsetting images appearing daily on our screens.

Why don't we do more spontaneous fun things or do you?

What was the last thing you did that made you laugh long and loud?

What was the last something silly you did just because you felt like it?

What childlike qualities do you like in yourself?

A Moodscope member

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Future Perfect.

I was apologising again. I do a lot of this (see Managing Friends 101; 8th July last year).

"Don't apologise," said Raz. "I have a rule that I am only friends with perfect and beautiful people. Therefore, if you have made a mistake, it is only a part of the process of you becoming perfect – and, as time is an illusory irrelevance, you are already in that state of perfection."

I didn't argue. Raz is a quantum physicist, priest, philosopher, musician and poet: I do not pretend to understand him even half the time. I was just grateful he wasn't upset with me.

I'm a writer (hey – you knew that, didn't you?) and so grammar is one of the tools of my trade. The perfect tense in grammar refers to the present statement of an action in the past. For instance, "I have painted this picture." The action of painting took place some time ago. The word perfect, in this case carries the Latin meaning of completed or finished. There are also the forms of pluperfect (or past perfect): "I had painted this picture," and future perfect: "I will have painted this picture." In all cases the picture is a completed and finished work of art. Whether it is varnished, framed and ready to hang in an art gallery with a fabulous price tag is not part of the discussion; the fact it is finished is what makes it perfect.

Maybe I am trespassing into Lex's area of expertise here, but I like to think that we are all working on ourselves – constantly seeking to improve ourselves. We are in fact, working on becoming perfect. Absolute perfection seems unachievable, like infinity: all we can do is "tend toward" it (as I remember from my old A-level Mathematics days).

Our problem arises when we demand absolute perfection right here, right now, in our current time. We want to be proudly exhibiting perfection, just like that painting. And every mistake we make devastates us emotionally because it ruins perfection absolutely.

We could accept the present tense: I am painting this picture. But this present imperfect tense carries no sense of completion: we could be painting that picture for ever more, and never get beyond the background and a few squiggles that might – or might not – be trees.

Instead I like the future perfect tense: I will have painted this picture. I will have become perfect.

I don't understand time as Raz does; quasi time is his particular field, and I didn't get past chapter 3 of Stephen Hawking's Brief History of it, but I'm willing to accept that time is much more complex than I could possibly imagine.

So just maybe, we are all completely perfect, both in the future and right now. Any mistakes we make are just part of the present process of becoming perfect.

You know - I think I can live with that. Even if I don't quite understand it.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Dance me to the end of love.

I can see one of my best friends from my kitchen window. He is tall, patient, determined, inspiring, and his major strength is that he is flexible and does not break when he has to bend. All stuff we each of us aim for! My friend is a tree. Actually, he is half a tree.

About 6 years ago the tree that stood beside him (and that must have been terminally ill) was blown down in a storm, his final goodbye was to crash through a fence and block the road. He made his mark and we won't forget him. It was from that moment that I realised the small guy standing next to him (he's only about 30 feet tall) had had only space to be half a tree.

He had grown only on one side. He looked rather like a dancer who had been frozen mid-position. I looked at his sorry body all through that winter as he shivered without leaves and without his friend. He looked to me like he would not recover.

Each season I have been his witness as he has dressed, danced, grown, turned, tired and slept and each year he gets more and more beautiful. I'm pleased to report that right now he is vibrant and he is far from the splinter I was scared he might become. He has growing still to do. He still is half a tree, not in height but in width. But his tenacity, elegance, dignity and grace have pulled me up and onwards on more days than I can count.

He didn't give up. And so neither have I.  Let him be our inspiration.

Love from

The room above the garage with half a tree in view.
A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 23 May 2016

So, tell me what you want, what you really, really want.

So say the Spice Girls! Could it be that they have discovered the spice of life? Could the spice of life be to tell your brain or mind what you really, really want on a daily basis?

Two significant inspirational speakers whom I admire have credited their success to the same practice that I'd like to share today. Brian Tracey and Dan Sullivan both say we can achieve success by writing down what we want on a daily basis.

In 1978, Dan lost his business and his marriage. Life as he had known it ceased to be. Reflecting on why his marriage and his business had failed, he settled on the reason being that he hadn't been telling himself what he really wanted. So, he started the practice of writing down each day what he wanted in and from life. This included a generalisation of the kind of life-partner he wanted. He didn't know who they were so, instead, he wrote down the characteristics of his ideal life-partner.

The interesting aspect for me about all this is that he never went back to read those lists. The act of writing them down was enough to set his mind to know what to work towards. In fact, the word "Mindset" is an interesting one in the sense of setting the mind. Your mind is a faithful servant that needs to be set to work. It needs to be set in a clear direction. Its magic, however, happens at the other-than-conscious level.

My suggestion is that we consciously write down what we want, big and small, on a daily basis, and then leave it trusting the job has been given successfully to both our unconscious mind and the universe in which it lives and moves and has its being.

And this doesn't have to be in a posh life-planner. Brian suggests just using a cheap old note-pad because the purpose is not to go back and consciously continually review. This is a different kind of magic.

Suffice to say that both Dan and Brian have enjoyed the success they sought – and whilst not without hard work, seemingly without effort, stress or strain.

Is it time for you to tell yourself what you want, what you really, really want?
Yes, it is – it is time!

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 22 May 2016


Depression! Is that it's name.
This uninvited control of my brain

An invisible force inside your head
At times no escape, you wish you were dead

Different emotions I know we all try
I've done my best, I still sit and cry

To find a haven with people who understand
We didn't ask for depression it wasn't planned

We've found that place, now we're able to cope
With new friends and help we find on Moodscope

With love,

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 21 May 2016


When the word photoshopped is mentioned people think of great transformations in a photo, making someone much younger or much thinner or adding people or buildings to a photo.

My partner who is a photographer, sees photoshop as just a modern dark room. Of course photoshop can be used for big changes but it is mostly used for small changes or  adjustments.

Really it is about making the best of what one has so I started to think there may be tools used in photoshop that we can apply to life.

Blur and Sharpen are two tools that are used in photoshop. The blur tool makes images obscure and softens an image making it look out of focus with a blur effect. Sometimes I can give too much focus to things in my life and they need to be blurred not eliminated, just given less prominence. I used to worry too much about what other people thought of me so I have decided not to focus on it as much. I used my blur tool.

The sharpen tool makes an image clearer as it sharpens the image. It concentrates on the best part of a photograph so that the strengths are highlighted. Instead of focusing on our weaknesses this allows us to enhance our strengths. On days when things are not going as well it is helpful to remember to concentrate on our strengths and not dwell on our weaknesses.

The Healing Brush Tool chooses an area that is unblemished then you transfer that to the area that needs repairing, great for getting rid of wrinkles in photographs, I am told. There are times when we need to dig deep to find hope, to remember better times to help us get through when we need repairing.

Maybe sometimes we need a few adjustments to help us to cope better...

Would you use any of these tools to help you?

A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 20 May 2016

The Wisdom of Toothpaste.

Sometimes I don't think ahead – especially where this involves a question of maintaining the status quo. It bores me. This means that I often run out of basic things I need. At that point, I realise I need to make provision! Suddenly, I get motivated to take action! None too clever, but I'm content to be me – and I'm unlikely to change in that respect.

Toothpaste is a common example – I run out regularly. But, when you're ready, there's a lesson even in toothpaste.

I have a cavalier attitude to a new tube of toothpaste. I squeeze with gay abandon, brush, rinse, repeat – for surely the paste will last forever?

But when it gets down to the end of the tube, and I realise there is no replacement, it truly seems to last forever. It would appear that there is more toothpaste in the last part of the tube than there ever was at the top end.

My life is toothpaste.

At the beginning of the tube, I wasted paste. I didn't care. I had all the time in the world.

Even in the middle of the tube, I still felt like there was plenty of toothpaste – so I still wasted time.

Now I sense my end! I may actually have decades left – I don't know, but I do sense a conclusion to this tube of toothpaste!

My response is a good one. I am finding more paste in the little that is left than in the abundance I began with. Every day is a bonus. Every sunny day is to be appreciated. Every rainy day is to be received with gratitude for the life-giving water it supplies. Every smile is to be reciprocated. Every kindness remembered and cherished.

I live more in the moment now than ever before. Yes, I look back with regret at the waste, but I don't waste much of my time left doing this. I notice it and come back to the present. Yes, I worry about the future, but not for long. Today is the day to squeeze every last drop of value from this day's portion of the tube!

Fancy a squeeze? Or just a hug?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

When you least expect it.

It's been a while since I wrote here. After my second Moodscope blog in March, events around the date of my husband's suicide conspired to push me into a dark place, and I got physically ill – the two often go hand in hand, don't they?

As a widow, I think I've been luckier than most: I'm financially solvent, have two wonderful and resilient kids, interesting part-time work, good friends and have found many areas of support over the past six years. So I didn't understand why I was so overwhelmed by sadness and despair. I thought finally I was succumbing to a nervous breakdown! The horror!

At least until I rang a very wise woman, the director of a child bereavement charity, who I admire enormously for her knowledge, compassion and straight-talking.
"You're having a grief ambush," she told me. "I've seen it before."
"So I'm not having a breakdown?"

I can see now that the incapacitating sense of loss was something new – I was too busy bringing up the kids and generally surviving. Then when they were settled, Boom, it happened.

As you can probably tell from my writing I'm articulate and reflect a lot, so I used that skill to become an advocate for those bereaved through suicide, joining networks involving the NHS and charities working on suicide prevention, and speaking about my experiences to different audiences. I felt I owed it to my husband, partly, to rescue the funny, kind person he was from the illness and suicide that he became. Also people wanted to hear what I had to say; it was heady stuff stepping out from the exhausting caring role and being listened to.

So when the wise woman told me to stop all the bereavement work immediately I was flummoxed. It always had a negative effect on me afterwards, mentally and physically, but I thought it was worth paying the price. And here she was saying "No more".

"It's time to move on," she said. "You've been brilliant and helped a lot of people, but now you have to think of yourself."
"But what am I going to do?"
"But what if I feel overwhelmed with grief?"
"You cry."

So I cried. A lot. And I felt huge relief that I didn't have to do the suicide bereavement work anymore, because it did keep dragging me back. I also got myself checked out to ensure there was no underlying physical cause (there wasn't). Then when I started feeling better, I did nothing, except the normal daily life stuff.

Two months on, I'm a different person. I'm not saying I'll never experience some grief again, it is cyclical after all and I go up and down too, but giving myself that space to grieve allowed something to shift and I genuinely think the worst is over. I've got my positivity back and a real belief that the best is yet to come in my life.

I just wanted to share that with you.

A View From the Far Side
A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Taking it the Right Way.

I spent my weekend in the garden.

Now, what did you think as you read those words? Did you imagine I spent a couple of long lazy days, lying in a hammock, frosty glass of wine to hand, reading a good book? Or maybe you saw me tenderly transplanting seedling flowers and vegetables, my hands patting down warm earth around fragile roots.

The reality was rather different.

Having been ill (in the down part of my cycle) from September to Christmas, and off my feet entirely from mid-February until just last week, my garden resembled a jungle. In places I needed a machete!

Now, unlike my friend from the Deep South of Georgia, USA, I did not come face to face with an alligator while weeding, but those lush and rampant weeds could have hidden anything! I felt like Livingstone hacking my way through the African Rainforest; very adventurous!

And this morning my neck, shoulders and back were insisting that I pay heavily for that adventure.

I popped a couple of ibuprofen and reached for the Deep Heat Rub, idly reading the packaging as I did so. "Do not apply to sensitive areas such as your eyes," it said. Oh yes - this stuff hurts as badly as raw chillies. "Do not apply to broken skin. Do not take by mouth."

Well – duh! Just the idea had me wincing.

And then I thought of something else.

Last week a business contact of mine sent round an email that offended a few people. She meant what she said to be helpful, but some took it the wrong way. Last night I had to make a difficult phone call. What I had to say could certainly have been taken the wrong way: as interfering; as gossip; as sheer malice, when I meant to be caring. That was one reason I choose to phone rather than email: it's easier to misinterpret an email or text. I didn't want what I had to say to be misinterpreted.

We all know people who seem to take a positive delight in being offended. While I hope none of us are in that number, in this community we tend to be a little more sensitive and thin-skinned than some. Maybe we can be offended or hurt through robust comments. Even when those comments are made with positive intent.

Before we react, let's just look at what was really meant, rather than what was said and what we made it mean.

We need to metaphorically read the label. There are people with hearts of gold who are incapable of tact. We need to apply their words to the places we need a brisk rub, but not to any delicate areas. Sometimes we need to ignore their words, because our skin is broken and because we cannot swallow them just then.

After all, Deep Heat is excellent treating the pain of the adventurous, but not when used orally.

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016


Mmmmm. A big word is trust. Not something I feel comfortable with. I mean, if the bus driver says he'll drop me at my road end then I trust him. I trust school will open on time and I trust that the supermarket will arrange supplies so I can feed my children. Those lists are endless. I more mean proper trust. I am in deficit when it comes to that.  I feel I am not alone... I feel there are more than a few of us who feel this way. It doesn't matter why, it just matters that we are aware.

I know it's not healthy.

And so I know I must sometimes challenge myself. Prod. Push. Stir.

How? How do we do this without tipping ourselves off balance?

Just begin with you. Trust yourself. It's big enough.

We are not required to throw our trust into the street for all to see. We are not needed to lay out a table of trust for all to sample. It is not expected that we might dress in our trusting robes. It can be small. It can be tenuous. It just has to be a leap of faith that whatever we are wrestling with, we can deal with.

Trust yourself. We can handle it. We can grow here. We can pick up. We can flourish. We can follow our own footsteps. We can forgive ourselves. We can allow ourselves mistakes. We can. Trust it.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member.

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