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.

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

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.

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

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:

Sunday, 23 August 2015

What if?

We are many stories - while some are not so pretty, there are many for which I am grateful. I sometimes endure severe depression combined with thoughts of a weariness so severe I find I no longer have energy to live. (My friends with military training call it life termination and this makes me laugh at my serious self.) I often ask myself what do I want to carry out during this final phase three of my life?

Just what are my dreams in this phase? I reflect and squirm. Then I think, what if I am already living my dreams? What if I can be at peace with my world and all that it encompasses? Can I do this? I can and do, most of the time.

My personal dream is to know and have a belief in a higher power (for my Papa, it was nature - for me, it is God). I want to enjoy and harbor special relationships with my now-grown children. I want to love a Beloved.

Additionally, I want to know the morning light on my face upon waking in my treehouse-type cottage and I want to dance until I fall spent and weeping for joy. I want to give a soft landing to rescue animals who are perhaps a bit strange from their earlier unknown journeys.

I wish to live in a lake cottage filled with meaningful yet "non-matching" furniture; write something daily, profound or otherwise; be bold enough to sketch; and, compose music when I wish - 4am is good.

My dream is to have a dedicated falling-down music cottage (parts of three cottages stuck together in the 1940's), where I can be quite loud; design anything with fabric; or linger downstairs in my art studio.

Finally, I want to enjoy my dear friends who challenge, lift and encourage each other; to know the sheer quiet joy of kindness - true kindness toward others and toward myself; and to understand that mean-spirited humans need love more than anyone else - and that I may not have enough love to love them. Yet.

To my world, I salute you. I thank you.

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 22 August 2015

To peak early or bloom later.

When ever I introduced a new friend male or female to my dad, within 5 mins he had told them how I topped the year when I was 11. At first it was sweet then embarrassing  then awkward that the last thing I did academically that made my dad proud of me, was  over 35 years ago.

It was not my dad's fault that I peaked early and never really lived up to the expectations from being seen as a smart child. I spoke early taught myself to read early and even at 4 my parents were predicting my academic future. Alas I peaked too early and spent my life never being able to surpass my achievement at 11.

My parents never exploited me as I was no where near being a child genius, just a child who loved learning and reading.

When I see people on Facebook saying how smart their child is because he can say the alphabet backwards at 2 years, reading at 3 years, doing maths for 9 year olds at age 5, I hope that the child is not going to be worn out by the time they are a teenager.

When there is pressure for children to perform, to be bright, to be so creative their parents can boast about them to other parents what happens when they no longer stand out from their peers, when their achivements aren't deemed worthy to be post on Facebook or turned into an anecdote.

Many children are naturally bright and enjoy learning so lets not put so much pressure on them to perform, just encourage them to be themselves and to have fun discovering their invidual skills and talents and what makes them special.

If I had my choice I would choose to bloom later than peak early.

What about you, what would you choose?

Moodscope member

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

Friday, 21 August 2015

Piglet and Pooh – Over to You.

"Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you." A A Milne

How many of us struggle to 'feel' connected to others when we are down, maybe even when are 'OK'?

How many of us tend not to show affection by hugging when you meet, taking someone's hand or simply touching, say their shoulder?

I know my father could not touch me at all, even when I was depressed. Once I drove 2 hours to see if I could get a hug, to also give me something to do while badly depressed and suicidal and he still could not hug me even when asked.

That was a result of his harsh background and being beaten by his mother. His 'rules' when he had been drinking, were his fists. He did however, do the best with what he had. I wasn't beaten all the time, only when he was drinking and I did something that was not acceptable to him. So basically my mother 'held my hand' and we moved out.

A kind word, an affectionate touch, a listening ear, a show of empathy even of the simplest kind, can change a whole day or even a relationship for life for someone. It shows you are thinking/feeling outside of your own mind and space. It also shows, that you can 'see' and probably gauge the emotions of those around you - a sign of good emotional intelligence.

You may even be balanced enough to challenge someone about their poor behaviour and while creating some 'discomfort' in that instant, possibly help that person see that what they are doing or even being, is not acceptable. Good leaders and mentors are always serving in this way from a strong foundation of personal or organisational values.

Since children learn only three ways; firstly example, secondly example and thirdly example... they will really only 'learn' by your example and how you treat your partner, friends or fellow colleagues. Thus by what you do, NOT what you say.

Leadeship expands the future, management controls the present.

Which are you portraying though your character and behaviours?

As time seems to rush by even faster each year, do you have enough presence to take time to grow and develop others, by physically or metaphorically holding their hand? Thus enabling them to grow their and their family's future potential and thus improving society.

Who can you 'serve' today by doing or should it be 'being' a Piglet?

"If something comes to life in others because of you, then you have made an approach to immortality." Norman Cousins

A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Your kiss is on my list.

I would like to share my approach to writing lists as a vital tool for managing my way through life.

When I'm sailing through a positive phase, my list is merely a reminder of 'stuff to do', but during the low times it becomes a significant weapon in my armoury to find my path, till the light shines again.

Things about my list:

It lives in 'my' box, in the heart of the house, the kitchen.
My list must be pen on paper for easy reference and adding new items, and, more importantly, I get to physically cross out a finished item.  Yay!

When the list gets too messy or the page is full, I write a fresh list omitting all the completed jobs. I love the pristine list that is, for now, shorter than the old one.

It has both long term and small immediate tasks – plan a holiday or book an appointment for the cat vaccinations. Non-urgent items can stay on my list for years if they don't bother me.

One day I will fix the wobbly door handle, but it involves going to B&Q – Ugh.

But what happens when I'm in a low place?


I've got out of bed, showered and breakfasted - quite an accomplishment. Even the easy jobs look daunting – booking the cat jabs seems colossal.

So I break it down and add each component to the list:

1. Find the vet's number.
2. Choose a convenient date and time.
3. Ring the vet.

Right, I've found the number; I can cross that off the list and have a cuppa and/or a rest.

Checking my diary, I see that Thursday is blank. I'd like sometime mid-morning to prevent me from sitting in my dressing gown all day. Decision made.

Now job three is only to call and book an appointment on my preferred date and time.
Best of all, I have crossed three items off my list.  Result!

Most jobs can be broken down into smaller tasks and I can see the measurable progress towards the bigger job.

I can put "Kiss <beloved's name>" on my list as often as I like.

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 19 August 2015


Last night my son behaved really badly. At seven he was overtired and didn't know how to relax. Needless to say, bedtime was a protracted affair with neither he nor I coming out of it very well.

He crept in to see me this morning, gave me a hug and said, "Blank page, Mum?" "Blank page," I agreed.

Redemption is a very religious term although the Redemption Song by Bob Marley is a good tune to listen to. The beauty of the concept is that, however we have behaved previously, regardless of what we did or didn't do, today is a fresh start.

For me, as probably many others, mornings can bring dark thoughts. I have learnt to take delight in the small things, whether the hug in the morning, the blackbird singing or even hearing the neighbour's child playing up... a good reminder that it's not just me that has to face the world. We all do.

What will you do with your blank page today?

"Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds....

Won't you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
'Cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs..."
Bob Marley

Brum Mum
A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

From whence cometh your help?

Most of my life I have attended some form of worship, Catholic, High Anglican, Gospel Hall. But, do I believe in God? I cannot answer. Yet, in my darkest hours, someone has been there. This morning, the anthem on Morning Worship was 'When I needed a neighbour were your there?' And, wow, I listened.

I was classified manic depressive for years, and escaped. Now, living with my husband's Alzheimer's disease I am into two big 'D's', despair and defeat. Often, in tears, I gaze at the flowers and the birds frantic to feed fledglings and I do say, 'God give me strength'. Perhaps I have a stubborn nature, or pull myself up by my boot straps, and on I go. But, not alone.

Last night we had struggled to church, in pouring rain, then on to a restaurant, less than 100 metres. My husband has decided he cannot walk, and we shuffled along. Someone ran up behind us 'When you've finished, come and fetch me and I'll take you home in the car'. A neighbour.

I have an honorary grandson helping me sort out our new abode – a neighbour. All around neighbours are praying for us – which means they are thinking about us daily.

When our third son, aged four, was desperately ill and looked like losing a leg, our then neighbour abandoned his business for a day and followed the ambulance, picking up the bits of me and giving real succour.

As a teenager, parents separated, village turned against us, father abroad, a neighbour took a terrified teenager in and let me sleep in an armchair each night till my father returned.

A great current sadness is my oldest friend, suffering depression and thought to be suicidal. Her husband answers the phone, reads her letters, won't let her use their car. She is a devout Catholic. I cannot help her. Let her not be alone at this terrible time.

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 17 August 2015

Rhythms, Cycles and Ripples, part 1.

Lex has recorded an audio version of today's blog for you - to listen, just click here.

Rhythms, Cycles and Ripples
Sammy Davis Jnr said it well,
"And the rhythm of life is a powerful beat,
"Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet,
"Rhythm in your bedroom, rhythm in the street,
"Yes, the rhythm of life is a powerful beat."
[Song, "The Rhythm of Life."]

There's a rhythm and a cycle to your year, your Seasons, your month, your week, your day and night. Every moment has its own rhythm.

And your personality has its own "Signature Rhythm"... something that sets 'you' apart by the way you walk, the way you talk, even the way you shrug your shoulders.
Or to sing again...
"The way you wear your hat.
"The way you sip your tea...
"The way your smile just beams.
"The way you sing off-key.
"The way you haunt my dreams...
"The way you hold your knife (do-do-do-do do-do).
"The way we danced until three.
"The way you've changed my life..."
[Song, "They Can't Take That Away From Me."]

There are many messages here, but I'd like to begin today with drawing our attention to circles that ripples make.

Life happens. Events happen like dropping a stone into the pond of our lives. The effects ripple out.

Some things we can control, some things we can influence, and some things are outside this in what we can call "The Circle of Concern". Knowing the difference between these ripples or circles can really help us respond with resilience. By focusing on what we can control and what we can influence, we can feel empowered. It's not always possible to let go of those matters that are outside our control and influence but weigh upon our concerns. However, time is mercifully finite. If we choose to invest our finite time in giving attention to the circles of control and influence, the positive ripples will spread out and even transform the ways we see the circle of concern.

To conclude this first in a series, I'd just like to say that there will be a rhythm and cycle to your day - a time in the day when you'll feel more able to deal with 'stuff'. I'm stronger, sharper, more effective in the morning. I know this. So, getting in synch with this rhythm of life can make all the difference to working on what you can control and influence.

Here's to perfect timing.

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 16 August 2015

What's your story?

We've all got a story. Something happens in our life and we create words around it. That's who we are: meaning-making, story-generating machines. You know that saying 'life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent what you make it mean'? It's so true. The exact same thing could happen to 100 people and there would be 100 different tales to tell. 100 different machines making meaning.

And stories change according to mood. Same person, same life... different mood = different story. I'm a single parent and on my good days my story is as happy as Larry: I'm a co-parent who loves having the freedom of time off so that I can write, paint, travel and see friends. On a bad day I'm a tired single mum who gets no support and is lonely and depressed.

What we don't realise is these stories create our world. Why does the world - which is a fixed set of energies, people and things - get described differently by every single human? Because we create the world as we see it through our words. Words have energy and what we say becomes our reality.

I'm redrafting my story and I'm ready to tell it differently. No more story of depression. (And if I feel depressed I'll know I've been thinking it because there's no feeling without words - but that's a subject for a other blog post!) And no more language of defeat. From now on my story is whatever I dream it to be. And I can dream big ;-)

What's your story? And does it need a rewrite? I'd love to hear your words...

With love,

A Moodscope member.

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

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Good thought cinema.

My daughter graduated from university recently, so we had a 'graduation tea' for her.

At the party she was given various presents and keepsakes. I organised a keepsake for her which consisted of a little handmade book. Inside the book, all of the 8 guests were asked to write 3 things:

1. A nice memory of the Graduate.
2. Something nice about her.
3. A good wish for the future.

The night before the party, I was laid in bed planning all this and thinking of various memories and one funny one in particular.

I acknowledged how happy and contented I was feeling.

This was followed by a bad memory sneaking in the back door of my mind and with it an uncomfortable feeling.

I then changed my thoughts back again to the nice, funny memories and went to sleep feeling great about the party the next day, and great about not allowing my mind a 'free thought reign'.

I hope you can have some fun in your own cinema of good thoughts today.

A Moodscope member.

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

Friday, 14 August 2015

A Walk In The Park.

I am lucky to have a beautiful park near my house. It is always a pleasure to visit, to look at the trees, flowers, birds, ponds, all that nature has to offer.

On a good day I go for a run round it. On a less good day, I'm doing well to get to the gates and sit on the nearest bench for a while. But whatever type of day it is, on my return home I always feel better than when I left. Sometimes it is that very thought that actually gets me out of the house.

These park trips are usually solitary, but sometimes we crave company. A couple of years ago I heard of parkrun. Maybe some of you are already regulars with your t-shirt to prove your dedication. For those that have not heard of it, parkrun is a free 5 kilometre run that starts at 9am every Saturday morning. It happens at three hundred and fifty venues throughout the UK (and there are plenty more in the rest of the world).

"I don't run" I hear you say.

"That doesn't matter" I respond.

You can turn up and watch. Depending on where you are on your journey, getting out of the house may be a great achievement. What a wonderful start to the day. You may feel inclined to smile or clap at the runners as they pass you. They will appreciate your encouragement, and that can help you feel better inside.

And having watched the event, maybe once, twice or twenty times, you might think that the people seem a friendly bunch, who you'd like to know. But how do you start the conversation? Find the most approachable looking person and ask how you can volunteer as a marshal, a timekeeper, or perhaps help serve tea after the run. You will soon be directed to a person, probably armed with a clipboard, who will be delighted to meet you.

You may feel inspired to walk the route, with a dog on a leash, or push a child in a buggy – probably not both as you'd run out of hands. The key point of parkrun is its inclusivity, it matters not one jot whether you're the first or last over the finish line, but that you participated. Perhaps after a few visits you may choose to try a tentative jog for a few metres, but nobody will force you.

If you'd like to find your nearest parkrun go to

And you don't need me to tell you that a little exercise in the fresh air is great for lifting the mood.

A Moodscope member.

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

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Finding 'Me' – Is All That's Real.

How do we find ourselves,
When we keep asking the same old questions?
To find our way,
We must lose our balance with new actions.

Can you be comfortable,
With discomfort?
Can you step into the unknown,
With the possibility of hurt?
Can you hold your heart,
In the flame of life?
Can your spirit,
Deal with on-going strife?

There is no shortcut,
To anywhere worth going.
You cannot cross a chasm
In two steps, knowing,
What is on the other side.

How much do you want to live?
The more 'life' - the less certainty.
Most are locked into 'do',
Life is all about 'be'.
The only certainty in life,
Is to inscape and find 'me'.

See the dawn from a new place,
Watch a sunset with new eyes .
Talk through the night once more,
A new life could be the prize.

Taste a new way,
Smell that fragrance of joy,
Touch your soul inside,
Emotions you must employ.

And feel.

That's all,
That's all,
That's ever

What did that evoke in you? Notice it...
What are you going to do different(ly) today or how are you going to 'be' different today?

Write it down and revisit it tonight and see if it's true.

A Moodscope member.

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

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Dear mum.

Late Saturday night 19-2-1977

Well, it's finally time to let me out of the nest to test my wings. I am excited but I know thru all the arguments I will miss you both. I hope that my absence will bring us much closer together. I am impatient, not tolerant, and short tempered but I do try hard to be nice to you. I do LOVE you no matter what terrible things I may say to you.

Please think nicely of me as your daughter. I feel I am leaving at the right time and I will make a goal of my life. But if I don't I'm sure I'll be welcome back even thru the bitter disappointment.

Luv Kisses

I found this letter written on a small piece of paper, scrunched up among a box of stuff from my family home that I hadn't looked at for 7 years since we sold the house. My parents never threw anything out. Just over 100 words written when I was 19 on the night before I was leaving home to study a 4 year degree, 5 hrs away.

I know that we are encouraged to live in the now and not to be burdened by the past but sometimes memories sneak in to the now. When I first read my words my tears stained the already fading paper because I heard a different Leah than I remembered.

People often say, "What would you say to your younger self knowing what you know now?" I want that 19 year old to talk to me and teach me how to be confident while knowing her limitations.

The 19 year old Leah, knows she is very difficult, knows she may not cope without her parents, but she is willing to have a go, take a risk.

I am pleased that even at 19 I told my mother how much I loved her despite how I behaved. This was very poignant to me as by the time I really realised how much trouble I had been to my mum when I had children of my own, my mother had dementia so I was unable to truly thank her.

Eighteen months after writing that letter I was back home living with my parents after being so depressed, my dad had to come down to my university and pack me and my belongings into his small car. It wouldn't be the last time I came back home after testing my wings and falling back into the family nest.

I am gradually starting to see some light in my past. I had hoped I grown out of being impatient, not tolerant, and short tempered, but my partner assures me I haven't. Maybe time for another letter!

What could your younger self teach you?

A Moodscope member.

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

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

"Change something."

That was my friend's advice. He saw I was breaking, or broke,n already—beyond my comfy point of normal flexing.

It didn't need to be something massive. Or big. But significant. To me. Tiny, perhaps.  But matter-some. So that I'd see a difference. Feel a difference.

"Decision is the ultimate power". We won't know if ours is the best decision. A good decision. But it's a choice. Of ours. Done.

If we don't see a difference, no matter. Choose a second thing. Change that. Keep watching. Listening. To your heart. And to others'. To the moodscape around you.

"If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got". So goes the dictum of the empirical scientist. Wanna see something new? Change one factor.

A Moodscope member.

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

Monday, 10 August 2015

Making Associations.

In an earlier blog, entitled, "Breaking Associations," I encouraged us to challenge unhelpful links that we'd allowed to define us negatively. "Hopeful One" said, "There seems to be an underlining assumption that being defined in this way is always negative. In my opinion it's not so much the definition or the associations but the internal judgements we make that do the damage."

We are in agreement, Hopeful One!

Associations have their own associations! We can make them mean what we want them to.

For example, we can change the context. One of my favourite film clips is from a rather violent thriller called, "Face Off!" In it, Nicholas Cage and John Travolta swop roles as goody and baddy. In my chosen scene, Judy Garland's version of, "Somewhere, Over the Rainbow," plays serenely while a S.W.A.T. team destroys the flat our hero is sheltering in. The association is 'wrong' - it shouldn't work. It works perfectly.

So the flip side of breaking bad associations is to make good associations - deliberately.  An association is simply, "This means that," or "This links to that."

Naturally occurring associations include hearing a song when you're having a good time. The song and the feeling of feeling good become linked automatically. The next time you hear the song, you feel good because the two files are linked in the library of your brain! Even more powerful is scent. You may associate an after-shave or perfume with a person. Smell the scent, remember the person.

These links happen naturally and unconsciously. In fact, all the sense data you were receiving at the time becomes linked in your mind to the event.  Famous Canadian Neuro-Surgeon, Wilder Penfield, demonstrated the physical nature of memory by stimulating areas of patients' brains. The memories that were triggered enabled the patients to relive experiences - along with all the senses recorded at the same moments in time.

This is good news because we can create this process consciously as well as unconsciously. You and I can choose to link a song, a scent, even an object to an emotional feeling. When we sense we are beginning to feel great, we can choose to pop on our "Feel Great" Playlist... and turn up the volume! The brain doesn't care what comes first, the chicken or the egg! It simply splices the memories together. Do the procedure often enough and you will discover that your "Feel Great" Playlist will remind your mind what it is like to feel great... et voila! You will feel better.

Right, I'm off to find a magic feather... heard some flying elephant dropped one near here.

A Moodscope member.

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

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Me and my friend alcohol.

I have been 'off' alcoholic drinks due to a diet that I am proud to say I have mostly stuck to, and only allowed myself some alcohol during a weeks' all-inclusive holiday, in June.  But, as a celebration of dear friends becoming grandparents, last week, we opened a bottle of champagne! They also provided us with more bottles of wine that evening...and that's where the problem lay...they wouldn't take the unused ones away with them. So, I knew they were there; it's like a box of chocolates or a packet of biscuits...if they are there they have to be eaten! I proceeded to drink, on my own, over the following three nights. I felt as guilty as a guilty thing on a guilty day...but still, each evening, I went back to find the other bottles...and surprise, surprise, after drinking, I was know, the craving 'I-need-to-eat-ANYTHING-I-could-get-my-mitts-on-hungry' then I'd feel quilty all over again, m'lud!

Each morning, I woke too early, thirsty and dizzy; I felt depressed - so flipping low that I could barely function properly. And was extremely ashamed of myself for getting in that situation.

A friend came back to visit last week.
She'd been gone a while - I wasn't so weak!
But she stayed three days, well evenings, really
And the very next mornings she'd made me feel guilty.

I sort of welcomed her - drank in her perfume,
Consumed her wholly, she made me bloom.
At first I told no one, I hid her from sight,
I knew she was wrong for me, my life she could blight.

It was so easy to love her, have her back here so soon,
(Enjoy her when others are not in the room.)
I was being rather selfish, I didn't want to share -
The luscious colours that she's able to bare.

Early in the mornings I awoke with a thirst,
And a head that was pounding, it wouldn't be the first
Of many hours,
to wake, to lie there, ashamed,
Cos I knew who had done this - it was me who's to blame.

And the guilt that I felt the very next day,
Made me realise what I was doing - it wouldn't go away,
Unless I stopped now, stopped letting her win,
Stop drinking the wine, champagne or the gin.

I'd thought she had helped me, when feeling so low,
I felt more relaxed, she always cheered me so!
I didn't understand, how much she could hurt me,
As I relied on her daily - I just didn't want to see.

It had been quite a while since I let her back home
In the evenings with my husband,
...or here on my own.
But, you made me depressed, dear, you made me so low.
I am sorry to say, dear, you just had to go.

The last bottle's gone, I'm back on top form,
My depression is better, my weight is the 'norm'!
The dieting helped, it's made me feel better...
Wine will depress you - but only if you let her!

It FINALLY dawned on me that me and my friend Alcohol, don't really get on!  It has been said, it's not the second or even the third glass that causes the's the first.  So I have spoken to myself - quite severely and had words too...and resolved not to go mad again!

Karen ( x

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

Saturday, 8 August 2015

What's happening here?

"Dear, dear! How queer everything is today! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night?"...said Alice.

I identified a new form of activity that I was engaged in - make believe! I noticed that by wishing, I kidded myself that my thoughts were real. I projected what I wanted to happen into my brain and my brain made it feel real. Obviously losing touch with reality is never ideal. It meant that I was constantly disappointing myself, hankering after something that wasn't actually there.

"Have I gone mad?" Asked Alice.

"I'm afraid so, entirely bonkers but let me tell you, the best people usually are."

I thought this was so weird, but like everything these days you can look it up on the internet! And hey! It's not just me. This sort of behaviour is quite common. Apparently it's to do with not living in the present, probably harping back to some fond (or imagined) memory that made me happy.

It's also stopping me getting on with my life.

Things I should be doing to help myself - eliminating the word 'should' from my life. (Did you see it slip in there?) Asking for help - not something I've ever found easy. Getting some perspective into what's really important rather than getting anxious about stuff that I've made up! I felt that that's what I really needed to do is... get real.

Said Tweedledum " know very well you're not real." "I am real!" Said Alice and began to cry.

In the "Power of Now", Eckhart Tolle says that I should watch/observe objectively what is happening in my mind, as it is happening, to distance myself and to discover how unreal it really is in relation to the reality that is now and to deny rather than feed my mind (my words). To live in the NOW, not the remembered pain of a past that has gone or anxiety about a future that hasn't arrived.

And that seems to be working.

But I am at a point where I am questioning where I go from here. I am in danger of isolating myself whilst living within myself and growing to understand life. And I am concerned. I am not a hermit and that is not the way I want my life to be. I do tend to be extreme and maybe I have 'gone over board' in chasing the rainbow. I want the happy life, the underpinning and that is my mission. But at what cost?

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above, please feel free to post a comment on the blog on the Moodscope website:

Friday, 7 August 2015


My name is Leah and I am a compulsive apologiser.

If people bump into me, I say sorry, if I bump into furniture I say sorry. If something goes wrong whether it is my fault or not, I say sorry. If someone drops something I say sorry. When people are upset with me, I say sorry even if it wasn't my fault. When people tell me I say sorry way too much, I say sorry.

The lower my mood the more I apologise. When I feel down I feel I have to apologise for everything, but even in a good mood I still seem to say sorry all the time. I have tried so hard not to, but the words just seem to come out automatically.

The funny thing is when I hear others always apologising I can see how annoying it can be yet I can't seem to stop myself.

I am not shy and am reasonably assertive yet I have this compulsive need to take responsibility for any disagreement. I am sorry if I am making things difficult for you, I am sorry if I did something to upset you even if it was an accident. So much to be sorry for, so little time.

I think at the core of it all, is I really want everyone to be happy and everyone to like me. I hate conflict and I try to avoid it all costs even if it means aplogising when I know I did nothing wrong. If saying sorry makes people happy again I will do it.

By now you are either nodding your head in agreement as you recognise yourself or sighing with exasperation because you know of a friend or loved one who has similar traits.

To change, one has to acknowledge what the problem is and I am doing this. I have tried to limit myself to five sorry's a day but it is so difficult. Some days I have used up four sorry's just saying sorry for uttering the first one!

Of course once I have said sorry I realise it was mostly not necessary. So I am aware of what I am doing. The hard part is changing the behaviour. Now if only there was a category in the Guinness Book of Records for saying sorry.

There are times when saying sorry is required, but I am not talking about those times.

I hope I haven't wasted your time. Sorry. Oops - You see I have a long way to go - any ideas to help?

A Moodscope member.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Thinking is not living.

My friend Martin Stepek wrote this the other day – I think it is worth sharing.

"We are often consumed by our thoughts: concerns, planning, worries, anticipating, daydreaming.

Thinking is not the same as living. It's more like a commentary on a film than watching the film itself, or a guidebook to a city than being in the city itself.

So what is living?

Living is the raw experience we can only ever have in the present moment. And it can only be experienced in six ways – through our five senses and the immediate, undiscerned mental or emotional reaction to the events of any moment.

We know our five senses well even when we ignore their power or potential – and they do have power.

I was walking in Chatelherault Country Park yesterday, enjoying the views, plants, raindrops that were still settled on leaves. Then I noticed that my mind had wandered to Switzerland, to where my son is, newly out of hospital after a major scare.

This was me unintentionally thinking, ruminating on the ups and downs of his life in the past two weeks.

I let those thoughts and feeling evaporate by placing my attention to the raw sensations around me, and I was immediately hit by a beautiful smell of wet grass.

This instantly triggered a sense of raw pleasure which I was able to just be with, followed by a sense of appreciation that it was mindfulness practice that enabled me to move from serious thoughts to a lighter joyful real life sensation.

This doesn't mean it's wrong to think. That would be absurd: unhelpful in our lives, and moreover, impossible anyway as they come so thick and fast.

Instead we should think when we choose to think, when it's appropriate or helpful to think.

And we should choose which thoughts and feelings and moods and emotions to have rather than be pulled around in every direction, good and bad, at the volatile random whim of our minds.

Those unasked-for thoughts and moods so often remove us from being aware of our real life, the visceral tangible power of what our five senses and immediate mental response can bring to us.

This is why mindfulness is so important and helpful in our lives. It literally brings us back to the moment and all that is full and present for us in that moment. It is where joy and appreciation reside.

Think when you need to think. Thinking is a remarkable tool, but like any tool it is only useful when you use it at the right time and for the right purpose. And don't lose life through overthinking."

When could you let go thinking today and 'be' in the moment?

A Moodscope member.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Thank You For The Music (Room).

We all have a favourite teacher, don't we? Look back. Remember that teacher who believed in you, when everyone else wrote you off as hopeless? Remember that teacher who went the extra mile with you? Remember that teacher who wrote on your report, "I have enjoyed having (insert your name here) in my class this year"?

Yes – we all have that teacher who was – special.

I was lucky, I can name half a dozen or more (and I may blog about them in subsequent posts), but today I want to talk about Mrs Brougham, my music teacher.

I grew up in the 1970s. Outside London and California, the 1970s was not a decade in which to be "different." Mrs Brougham and her music room provided a sanctuary for the "different".

Mrs Brougham unashamedly had favourites. If you were one of her "favourites" (and you didn't necessarily have to be good at music to qualify) then you could go to the music room in breaks and at lunch time and be assured of a sanctuary. A sanctuary from teasing, from bullying, from the constant pressure to conform, to be like the rest, to march to the beat of the communal drum.

At lunch time we would congregate, the boys and girls who would be gay (once we understood what to be gay was – at the time it was just being "different"), the terminally introverted (we didn't play well with others), the depressed, the bi-polar (we had delusions of grandeur), the shy, the dispossessed... We all had a place in the Music Room.

Even once we had moved onto the senior school (age 14-18 and 500 metres away across the no-man's land of the hockey pitches) we still had a place of sanctuary should we need it. Oh, and I did need it, frequently!

Yet, at the time, I didn't quite appreciate it, and I certainly didn't appreciate what it must have cost Mrs Brougham to keep her room as that sanctuary. I now understand the fights she must have had in the staff room, the times she must have gone head to head with our head master (a conformist, albeit a rebel conformist, if ever there was one). Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you, Mrs Brougham.

You taught me that it was okay to be different; that it was okay for others to be different. It meant that when I understood what it was to be gay I said, "Oh, yeah, now I understand," as opposed to, "Yeuk, that's disgusting!"

You taught me how to give others space to be different without compromising my own space. I honour you for that. Where ever you are now.

And I hope that each one of you Moodscope readers has that special someone in your life who accepts you (and others) just as you are, depressive, bi-polar, schizophrenic, alternative sexuality, ethnicity... Just. As. You. Are.

Because we all need and deserve that acceptance.

A Moodscope member.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Moodscope is getting better…

The Moodscope blogspot is going from strength to strength with more and more members commenting and supporting each other. There's a great community spirit and some excellent advice and shared experiences – if you haven't visited it yet, why not give it a go, I think you'll find it helpful and interesting.

But, although the blog is published on the Moodscope web site every day, if you'd like to add a comment you have to go to the Moodscope blogspot which is hosted elsewhere, which is obviously not ideal.

So, we've been working really hard and on Saturday 8th August we're launching our new blog on where you'll now be able to add your comments.

Members and non-members will be able to view the new blog, but you'll only be able to comment by logging in to your Moodscope account. You can add a comment using your own name, a pseudonym or anonymously.

You'll still be able to view all the previous blogs, and over the next few months we'll be tagging the posts so that you'll be able to quickly find blogs on a subject you are interested in.

From Saturday, the daily emails will contain a link to the new blog.

We hope you find the new facility more user-friendly and for those of you who haven't visited the blog, why not come and join in the daily conversations.

Kind regards.

Caroline Ashcroft
The Moodscope Team

Monday, 3 August 2015

Breaking Associations.

I was editing some video today. Couldn't really get it to do what I wanted it to do when I realised that two tracks were linked together. This association meant that I couldn't edit the tracks individually. It was a simple matter to break the association and then I could achieve the transformations I was seeking.

Walking back from my local shop, it struck me how my own life had been unnecessarily brought love by false-associations. When my business fortunes had shifted dramatically, I had allowed that downturn to remain associated with my self-image. The business had failed, ergo I was a failure.

I hope you're laughing, or at least smiling, at how absurd that link is. I am not my business.

The subject, however, is serious. How many of us have associated our self-worth with our relationship to someone special? If that relationship ceases for any reason, we can allow that loss to impact our self-worth. The loss of a job can have a similar effect... if we let it.

Today, I'm recommending that we break such associations. It's time to separate the tracks in the great Editing Software of Life, and assign new value and meaning to each distinct part of our lives.

I am not defined by the success of my business.
I am not defined by my bank balance.
I am not defined by the success of my relationships.
I am not defined by my employed status.
I am not defined even by my health.

I am something beyond all these links.
And so are you.

You are beautiful because you are simply beautiful.
You are lovely because you are distinctly lovely.
You are worthy because you have worth in my sight, and, I hope, in your own sight too.
I value you.

A Moodscope member.

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.

A Moodscope member.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Think before you speak.

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

A Moodscope member