Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Oh yes you are!

You are amazing.

Granted you might not feel it. Yet right now thousands of incredible internal processes are occurring so that you can be here. Such as those allowing you to read even this simple sentence. Wow. Remember not everyone has YOUR abilities.

I got up for work recently. Tired (from being up with my sons that night). Unenthusiastic. Full of a cold. My husband paid me a compliment: "You look good today". I replied that "I might look good, but I feel like sh@x!". A simple thanks or a smile would have sufficed! My words didn't help my mood. Or possibly his?

But, after dozing on the train, I had a good day. A phone call and a meeting I'd been dreading both went reasonably well. My boss, who commented I looked nice (I said thanks!) gave positive comments about my work. And although I'd accidentally pre-bought wrong train tickets, station staff gave me the benefit of the doubt. Twice! At home-time, when I told a colleague it was good to see them, I genuinely meant it.

It's 17 months now since my pregnancy-related psychosis. I'm often still consumed by feelings of self-doubt. But I know how lucky I am. Thankyou Moodscope for being part of my help as I continue this journey.  

How do you receive compliments? What praise or thanks do you give to others or yourself? What good thing/s might just come from today if you kept open to the possibilities?

A Moodscope member

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Monday, 30 May 2016

Is It Time To Go Down Your Drawers?

This morning, I took Lady Penelope up her coffee, only to find her surrounded by the contents of her memory drawer.

There were many treasures paradoxically forgotten since they had been hiding too long in the memory drawer.

Her Dad's cross. An auntie's bible. A picture for the Virgin and Child from another relative. A purse from our dear friend, Azmi (who we recently lost to cancer). An unopened Parker pen bought from Woolworths years ago. Every item was a catalyst that demanded a flood of memories, each with an emotional response. All the emotions were good – you don't get into Lady Penelope's memory drawer without a good reason – but many were 'sad-good' if that is possible.

I pointed out to her that, sad or not, these were important and significant emotions and memories. Those minutes spent mining her memories this morning were minutes well spent. We were also struck with the fact that when we move on up to Heaven, these items will mean virtually nothing to those who follow unless they invest some time in them too. We realised it was time to say, "Thank you for the memories."

So I'm wondering what treasures lurk down your drawers?
(Yes, I know, I'm laughing... mischievously!

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 29 May 2016


You appear at my door and barge through without as much as a 'Hello' or 'How you doing?'
You are my omnipresent shadow
That disappears, lulling me into a false sense of security.

And then wham, bam you return,
With no real notice,
Unwanted and yet...

You are essentially always there,
A presence, sometimes abhorred, sometimes tolerated and sometimes just ignored,
A dark spectre that years of treatment has failed to dissolve.

What now?

I live with you, you vile stalker,
But I will not be reduced to your level.

If you insist on accompanying me on my journey
Do not expect any gratitude,
Because I may acknowledge your presence,
You may make those things I wish to do feel like lumpen weights,

But I will still do them!

Tea with a friend, the warmth of the child who insists on sharing my bed 'just to get to sleep', the crisp January air...I will feel them all and more besides.

So,You, GET THIS, Go home when you want,
But I will make sure I win.

A Moodscope member.

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Saturday, 28 May 2016

Retrain the Brain.

I have been working with a wonderful holistic therapist who has taught me that thoughts are nothing and have no substance: they are just air.

However my brain does not know this fact.

It attaches powerful emotions to my thoughts. To my brain, negative thoughts can be as real as the computer I am writing on and feel as heavy as 100 pound weights. I can take one simple thought and work it into a drama worthy of an Academy Award.

Why does my brain not know that these thoughts are not real? One of the answers might be that my brain stopped growing emotionally at the point of trauma when I was seven years old. I think I lost my personal power and the ability to love myself at that age.

At first I lost my power to my parents. I now give it away unconsciously in relationships with men. I didn't know I was giving away my power. I forgot I had it. Now I am trying to remember what it feels like to have personal power. Right now I feel weak, terrified, ashamed, defensive, defenseless. I cannot move forward because I am waiting for someone's approval. I am not getting his approval so I feel like nothing and the thoughts are debilitating and paralyzing.

But he doesn't have the power. It is an illusion. My brain though fights the idea that I have power and that I can take my power back. My brain wants me to stay in this victim mentality I guess because it's familiar and I did get some protection out of it along the way. But I am learning though my therapy that that is an illusion.

I have done some deep meditative work and gone back and talked to myself when I was seven. My therapist always asks me: what would you say to her as a loving adult? At first I didn't know. But now I am starting to tell her that no one can take her power away. That she is strong and beautiful and well worth loving and being loved. If someone cannot see this in her then it's his stuff, not hers. I am still the same person that I was when he first met me. I will miss him. But I can do that and let go and still hold on to my power.

So today I am working to retrain my brain to let go of the old thoughts I gathered about myself when I was seven. The adults in my life then were my mirror, but the mirror was cracked. What would life be like if I knew I had power? What would my life be like if I knew I could do and be and have everything I wanted?

A Moodscope member

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Friday, 27 May 2016

Personal Victory.

"There comes a time," my mother said, "when you go to many more funerals than weddings."

She was right. These days I find myself reading obituaries because these days the names actually mean something to me.

Sally Brampton is one such name. Because my day job is all about clothes and fashion I recognised the name of the woman who was the first UK editor of Elle Magazine, and later Red.

What I didn't know was that she struggled with depression for much her life and that eventually this caused her death by drowning.

Her obituary contained a brilliant quote from her 2008 book Shoot the Damn Dog. "Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer," she wrote. "We don't kill ourselves. We are simply defeated by the long hard struggle to stay alive."

Which brings me onto some more wise words, this time written by a fellow writer and blogger, Chuck Wendig, in his recent blog Winning, Losing, And Participating: Shut Up About the Trophy. In this blog he attacks the grumpy people (among the ranks of whom I was recently included) who cry,

"You shouldn't just get a trophy for participating. When everyone gets a trophy, nobody wins. If everybody is special, nobody is special."

And yes – the grim reality is that in life there are winners and there are losers. We remember the people who get the Olympic gold medal, not the also rans.

But you can bet that if your friend got as far as even competing in the Olympics you'd be proud of him/her. You would remember that achievement – even if no medal was brought home. We remember our local heroes. They are special to us.

The other reality is that, without participation, then there is no victory for anyone. Losing means rejection but, as Chuck says, "Participation is everything. And rejection is vital to that. Rejection is a battle scar. It's proof I'm in the arena. It's two gladiators showing off their injuries: "I GOT THIS ONE WHEN I FAILED... I LOST THE FIGHT THAT DAY, BUT I HAVE THIS COOL SCAR TO SHOW FOR IT. AND I LIVE TO FIGHT AGAIN." Rejection (failure) is a sign of doing the thing and surviving."

Many of us have days of frustration and failure. We have tasks we have failed to accomplish; relationships that have floundered; jobs we have lost and a list of rejections as long as your arm.

I recently wrote about becoming perfect. It's a process which often feels like failure. Chuck's slant on this is, "Get shut of the illusion that winning is everything, participation is nothing, failure is the end. Failure is more important to us than victory. You will fail a lot more than you win, and you learn a lot more when you lose — you don't improve through victory. Victory is a plateau. You improve by capitalizing on your loss."

But if we're still here, still alive, that's our very personal victory. Tomorrow we fight again.

A Moodscope member.

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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.

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


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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Monday, 16 May 2016

The Thief.

I watched, with some delight, a small child emerge from my much loved local TESCO Express, with an ice lolly. His father was attending to some more serious financial needs at the cashpoint outside.

The child announced boldly, "I am going to have an ice lolly!" The amusing part was the time it took for the father to realise his son had just helped himself inside the store while the dad was distracted. When the truth struck, the father was horrified and you can imagine the drama of woe that flowed from the revelation and return of the stolen goods.

The child didn't understand. His was a world-view where abundance was the norm and provision just happened naturally. In fact, for him, abundance was within easy reach.

I sensed a profound 'moment' here as I walked back to the house. Thinking, I wondered at the way we take fish from the Oceans without payment. I thought about the way we claimed the harvest as our right even though the soil and the seed and the sun did much of the work. I pondered on the way we cut down the rain forest without fair exchange.

And before you are tempted to assert that many industries do put as much back in as they take out, let me agree with you. My point is that we all take from the Universe without payment – and that's the way it has to be. You cannot pay for the Sunshine (though you can rent a sunbed). You cannot pay for the Air (though you can buy Oxygen). Somewhere along the journey we all realise we can never pay back what we have received, the Universe is way too generous – it will out-give us every time.

So what could be our response?

Firstly, "Thank You!" I am genuinely grateful for so much beauty and free provision in my life. From the Cherry Blossom to the emerging Chives and other herbs. They are my delight.

Secondly, remember. The Universe does give freely, in abundance. When we are working hard to 'earn' a living, it is too easy to forget that ice lollies are there for the asking, if not for the taking!

Thirdly, pay it forward. Whilst we can never pay back the Universe for all its gifts, we can play a meaningful, purposeful and deliberate part. We can choose to create, to build, to make and to grow because that's our role, I believe, to be stewards of the good things we freely receive.

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 15 May 2016

I love Moodscope.

I love the daily emails and yet I rarely comment or feedback.

Today, instead of just taking all your help and inspiration I thought I'd drop you a wee note to say I'm out here.

I've made my own 'silent' connections with the regular contributors. I genuinely connect to something every single day. Even if it's just a sense of oooft but for the grace of god I'm not facing that challenge you've shared about, or I remember I felt like that. Or, gosh that's exactly what I'm dealing with. Or sometimes it's a nudge and a reminder to stop or start something to improve my current conditions.

Anyway - I'm sure there thousands of others like me. I'll speak for myself now when I say THANK YOU for being part of my life.

For me, it's about continued recovery. A journey which has seen me make tons of progress. I've learned so much about myself and ways to keep myself well.

You see, I've worked out that there is no coincidence. Doing the right things definitely reaps the rewards. Sometimes it's hard to keep the momentum going but that's only human.

I firmly believe if we honestly and rigorously review things we can see the tools/practices that we have let slip and by putting back in place, with patience, the equilibrium will return.

I have a full and overflowing toolkit which equips me to handle most (if not all) situations life will put in my path. If I use my programme, do my daily readings and meditation and use my other CBT tools I can find my way back.


Sometimes the chemicals get out of balance or there's a blind spot and all of the above just isn't enough to turn it round. And I'm very fortunate to have a support network and a therapist that I'm not afraid to make contact with again to help me find my way.

Sending you all positive hugs for a great day filled with sunshine.

Carol Anne
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 13 May 2016

Playing the Blues...

Q: What happens if you play blues music backwards?
A: You get out of prison, your wife returns to you and your dog comes back to life.

Ah, if only it were that easy, you say! Well, sometimes it is.

I have been going through a period of the blues lately.

Yes – the blues – not depression.

A lot of people can't tell the difference, or rather, they mistook those blues for depression. Because, yes, they were pretty deep and my Moodscope scores took a dramatic dip.

But it wasn't depression. How did I know? Because it was all linked with circumstances and events. My broken ankle had meant a loss of independence; I couldn't even leave the house unassisted, let alone drive. I had done no exercise for a couple of months - and we all know how exercise improves our mood. My novel had got to a sticky patch and was going nowhere. A couple of health issues had raised their heads, so I was in pain and worried. My daughter was distressed about her SATS (she's 11 – and the exams this year are vicious – just vicious). My husband and eldest daughter were stressed and irritable and to cap it all, I fell out with a close friend (and I never fall out with my friends).

That was a couple of weeks ago. Since then I have been given the all clear to drive. I have started back at the swimming pool most days, I have written another two chapters of my novel and have renewed faith in it. My daughter is now actually doing her SATS this week and, having revised all she can, is now philosophical. My husband and eldest daughter are now less stressed because I can do more and my friend phoned to apologise and make up. (The apology was unnecessary – but the making up was!)

The result is scores back in the seventies! Yippee!

I'm not saying that it's never depression if your mood is linked to events, because I am sure that has a lot to do with it for some, especially where grief is involved. But for many people, our depression is utterly unlinked to circumstances; there is no reason at all for us to feel blue.

And often we don't feel blue – we feel grey. We feel disconnected from the world and as if we are experiencing that world through a fog bank and all we can do is smile thinly at the people who say, "But what have you got to be depressed about?"

The answer is nothing. Because our depression is not the blues. A change in circumstances will not reverse our condition, and as far as I know you can't play depression backwards.

We just have to hang on and ride it out. And music does help. Quite a lot sometimes.

Anyone up for playing the twelve bar depressions then?

A Moodscope member.

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Thursday, 12 May 2016

Sailing Solo.

In my year of healing wounds from Cupid's arrows, and while I dare not surrender to any more, I've noticed something in my own arsenal that has been growing sharper by the day.

Let's say I'm on a sailing boat. I've been swept up in a combination of racing and battles for longer than I care to remember. There have been times when the sails are perfectly trimmed, the boat is healed right over and I'm slicing through the waves at speed, my hand on the wheel, the sun on my face and my boat on top of the world. There have been storms. Times when all I've been able to do is batten down the hatches, head down below and crouch there waiting for my boat to either sink or be smashed against the rocks. There have also been times I have willingly entrusted others with my permission to board, only to find that they were pirates who would leave me for dead.

This year I've sailed out into the calmest waters I could find on this eventful sea I inhabit, meaning I'm no longer racing and I'm no longer giving anyone permission to board. What I've noticed is that away from all the chaos, I'm refining my ability to read the weather.

I see clouds coming in and I react. Quick as anything. I notice my boat getting pulled into a coming storm. One turn of the wheel in the wrong direction naturally leads to another but I stop it. I'm learning how to turn away from it before it overpowers me.

The more I practice this in calm waters, the easier it gets. Now I even notice the waves, long before the clouds even come in. Some days little flickers on the surface of the sea become ever so slightly disturbed. So I trim, I turn I consult my charts and I plot my course accordingly.

This week, however, an almighty storm blew in from afar that I was unable to navigate away from. It shook my little boat to it's core and I was terrified it would do some lasting damage, but it didn't. When it hit I let it shake me. I stayed at the wheel, let the salt water flood over my face and rather than giving in to it I simply observed how it affected me: There was a bit of damage to my boat and what I noticed was that my habitual reaction was to smash the whole boat up a bit more in order to make it even – to punish myself for the storm.

For the first time, from my new place on the sea, I realised what a crazy notion that was, and how that has been my habitual reaction for decades. How ever I learnt that reaction or whomever I learnt it from doesn't matter. What matters now is that I'm aware of it and I can change it. This is my boat. It's all I've got. I need to look after it in every way I can.

It's a little bit lonely out here on my own but I know it's what I need. Right now I've just dropped anchor and it's calm again. The sun is out and I'm eating a sweet, ripe water melon as I listen to the waves lapping against the sides. I might even go for a swim later.

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Cursing, Therapy and the D word.

It was the first time I cried (and cursed) with my therapist.

I was railing about my former husband and the stress of rearing my children alone and not having family support and not being able to buy a house and getting stuck on the career ladder and wondering why my life isn't the way it's meant to be and... then she said... she said that word... she said; 'You sound disappointed'.

Now this was an understatement. I was angry. I was frustrated. I was sad. I was lost. I was overwhelmed. I was depressed. I was self-pitying. I was jealous. I was (I will admit) cursing.

But she didn't say any of those.

She said I was disappointed.

And believe me, I fought those tears.

But they came. One by one.

Trickling down my face.

I couldn't speak.

She didn't ask me to.

I let them fall and plucked a tissue.

And I said 'Yes, I am disappointed. I feel so (insert curse of choice!) disappointed. I feel bereft with disappointment. The way my life has not gone according to the plan.'

The plan I carefully constructed. The way my life is not like my sister's/friend's/cousins's (insert name of the person you love but also envy).

I am disappointed that the person I loved and married turned out to be incapable of loving and being married.

I am disappointed with family, with friends, with loved ones for caring but not understanding.

But most of all I am disappointed with myself. I have not forgiven myself yet. For what? For failing. I look around at others and I ask 'How do they manage to get it so right?' How did I manage to get it so wrong?

Then my therapist asked if I could think of three things to be grateful for.

That's when my gratitude diary started.

I do not allow myself write my children's names down every time now - it's a cop out.

Plus I have to think of three things to be grateful for from that very day.

Some days are hard. But there is always some bright moment. Some funny or cute phrase. A random compliment. A kind gesture. A chocolate treat. A laugh-out-loud moment. A paddle in the sea. An affectionate hug. There is always something or someone to ease the burden, to quell the sadness, to lighten the load of disappointment. Even momentarily.

My most recent entry -

"You look pretty mum. Your hair is actually quite nice today." (high praise from my pre-teen!)

"I want one hundred and forty two hugs right now please." (from my affectionate ten year old!)

I have a found a therapist who is not a magician but who is teaching me how to move from disappointment (slowly!) to gratitude.

And, for now, that will do nicely thank you very much...

Salt Water Mum
A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 10 May 2016

That Perfect Moment.

Spring sunshine warms us
Soft scent surrounds our senses
Ah – cherry blossom!

It's sometimes said that we remember not perfect hours but perfect moments.

I think we certainly remember moments of pure happiness and the Japanese poetry form of haiku is perfectly structured to express those moments.

Just at present cold winds and hail have stripped the cherry blossom from my life. I am left shivering, under bare branches, feeling unloved, unwanted, unneeded, and desolate.

Oh, don't waste your sympathy or pity - I can provide quite enough self-pity of my own, thank you; the point is, not that I am having a severe attack of the blues at present, but what lessons I can glean from it and pass on.

Sometimes it takes hitting bottom, or being able to see bottom at least to set the alarm bells ringing. For me it's usually thoughts of, "I'm such a failure at everything: why don't I just take myself out of it completely?"

But, for one thing, I have promised my children I won't kill myself and for another I've implanted that alarm. The alarm goes something like, "If the thoughts get that serious then for goodness' sake talk to someone!"

It could be anyone. I have good friends who won't panic if I go to them with this. It could be the Samaritans – they're trained to deal with people at the bottom. In the end, it was my husband – who can always be relied on to keep his head and to come up with a game plan – even if the game isn't the one I want to play or the plan one I like.

The most powerful weapon I have against the blues is my brain. It takes an immense effort of will to raise my head from the morass of churning emotion and to categorise all this as "just" feelings. Because they hurt – they really do hurt. But if I take a step away, and then another step away, I can see that most of these feelings depend upon subjective thoughts of failure and rejection.

So – okay – I can't actually twist my thoughts round from their entrenched viewpoint, but I can intellectually understand that there may be other points of view. My own perspective may not represent the total truth.

"But it's MY total truth!" wails the small child inside me who will not be comforted.

"For the moment," my older and wiser self replies. "For the moment your happiness and joy have been stripped away. Just now you are feeling bereft.

"But hold on. While life remains in you there is still the cherry tree. The blossom will come again next year. And the year after. And the year after that.

"There will be many more perfect moments. Just hold on and see."

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 9 May 2016

The Metaphor that answers the question, "What Am I Here For?"

I am interested in people – after all, I am one myself! I'm a person, with a person-ality.  So are you! And, frankly, you are unlikely to be consciously aware of how you describe yourself and your personality to others. You see, you will use metaphors to describe yourself, your personality and your life.

So let's begin with 'Life'.

How do you see your life? Is it a race? Is it a roller-coaster? Is it a game – perhaps of cards or of chance? Is it a party? Is it a drama? A comedy? A farce?

These metaphors help you find and define your purpose in life.

If your life is a "race", the purpose of life is to win the race in the fastest possible time! You'll discover that you never have enough time because everything is so urgent.  You will also need to compete all the time.

If, instead, life is "a walk in the park" – your pace and what you pay attention to will be rather different!

If your life is a "roller-coaster", you won't be surprised when it has lots of ups and downs – in fact you'll be expecting them!

If it's a game of cards or chance, you'll seek to play "the hand you've been dealt" and "take a chance" here and there. Risky? A gamble? Or just fun?

If it's a "party", your purpose will be to enjoy yourself – a life focused on pleasures.

Those of us who describe our lives in dramatic terms, as a comedy, a romance, a farce or even a tragedy, will seek out players to fulfil their roles in our life's drama. We may even be able to discern each Act in the play.

Or perhaps, for you, life is a "battle"?  If it is, you will experience conflict everywhere.


Here's a such a poorly kept secret that you know it already: you write the script.

Ergo, you can change the script.

Fancy a change?

Write it into today's script then start using the language of your new metaphor. I'm torn between "A Walk In The Park" and a work of "Romantic Fiction"!

I wish you bonne adventure!

A Moodscope member.

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


Sunday, 8 May 2016

If you are missing.

I remember sitting in the shower, many years back, letting water pour over me. I felt more desperate than I can ever explain and so alone. My children were downstairs with their dad. Such was the intensity of my feelings, I wondered if I had enough of any type of drug to end myself. It upset me but I could see no other option with my burden, and of feeling like a waste of space.

I don't know what changed but I made it out of the shower, dried, got into clothes and on with the next ten minutes. I'd won. For that moment, I had won. It didn't feel like a win, there was no victorious feeling or smiles or cheering. But a win is a win. You don't need a witness.

I have a friend who is missing. He has been missing over 10 weeks.

For anyone who is feeling those feelings just remember that how you feel now is not always how you will feel. Trust that it will change. Know it will.  Just think of getting yourself ten minutes into the future and then this ten minutes will be part of your past.

I haven't felt how I felt that day in the shower for some years. I can now see that my feelings and I are quite unrelated. I can feel very down but deep inside I am not that person. Just remember that who you feel in this ten minutes is not who you might be in the next ten.

And if you need to disappear for a while, whether its shower or hillside, that's ok. Because sometimes disappearing is what saves us. But do come back. Be safe my missing friend and know that when you come back there is always someone who cares. There is always someone.

Love from

The room above the garage
A Moodscope member

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Saturday, 7 May 2016

How will you change your day?

So having smugly scored 70s for several months, the bubble has burst...

I've shouted at the kids, gorged on Chinese, failed to exercise and burst into floods of tears. So what am I going to do?

Well, on past history I get depressed, but that's old news. What can I do?

I have spent the last few days looking after everyone else... my kids, one with a broken arm, a friend who is building her life after divorce, a cheating husband and my friends who are students who are desperate to be reunited with their daughter aged 5 who is in a refugee camp in Turkey.

What I failed to factor in was PMT. Yes pretty simple and apologies to male readers, as I get older, it gets worse and my moods are monumental.

So what is going to be done differently?

One, let's face it, it won't last long.

Two, it's not been the best weekend, but I have managed to plant a silver foxglove, peony and clematis and enjoyed pottering round the garden when my kids were still asleep in bed. So - I can appreciate the good things I have done.

Three, tomorrow is a new day. It's going to be grim so I will have to rejig my plans. I wanted to climb the local hills (yes, we do have hills in Birmingham), but maybe just a trip to the gym?

So dear reader, how will you change the day if it's not going well?

Did I fail to mention the hour I lay in bed sulking? That was good for me too!

Well, you need to know - it's not all plain sailing but it is doable....

Brum Mum
A Moodscope member.

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Friday, 6 May 2016

How to nudge your way to happiness.

Caroline here, with some news about our original co-founder Jon Cousins, who moved on from Moodscope in 2013.

It was Jon's personal battle with depression that led him to devise Moodscope. Jon has maintained his pursuit of tracking (and lifting) mood, and has just written a book called "Nudge Your Way to Happiness," that cleverly combines these two ideas.

I asked Jon to tell me a little about his approach to writing it. Here's what he said:

"First and foremost, thanks so much for allowing me back onto the Moodscope blog for a day. I also want to say an enormous "well done" to your brilliant team of contributors who keep it running seven days a week. I have to say, it's a huge pleasure to read the posts, which I still do just about every day.

Looking back to when we started Moodscope, it was mainly because a hospital psychiatrist asked me to keep a record of my mood for three months, but gave me no way to do so. I therefore turned an existing and respected mood test into a kind of playing card game I could carry round in my pocket, using it to rate my mood every morning.

In the book I tell the extraordinary story of taking these cards to an appointment with another psychiatrist at the same hospital, only to be initially greeted with what I can best describe as hostility. He implied I was doing something dangerous.

Wait, what?

Apparently he believed patients couldn't be trusted to play a part in managing their own mental health. I know he was the psychiatrist and I was the patient but quite honestly, it made me wonder who was the crazy one.

If you suffer from low mood, OF COURSE it makes sense to look after yourself.

Sorry for shouting, but if you don't do it yourself, who else is going to?

I've kept up my mood tracking now for nine years, and it still really helps. I've also been able to build up a range of actions I can take when I need to give myself a lift, and others that help me maintain my mood when - for once - it's better.

"Nudge Your Way to Happiness" is a 30 day workbook that combines a tracking system that enables you to rate and record your wellbeing every day with "nudges", some of those simple and practical actions I've learned. You can take them immediately and they're designed to really help you. Best of all, a bit like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, you're directed to a nudge that's been tailor-made for your current level of wellbeing.

With three possible nudges for each of 30 days, I've calculated that there are over 205 trillion combinations possible, just about guaranteeing that everyone who uses the book will get their own personalised experience."

We think Jon's book is great and could help many of our members. It's now available on Amazon:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/24pBj3A
Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1WLUzCC

Kind regards

The Moodscope Team

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


Thursday, 5 May 2016


I came across this word the other day and was immediately attracted to it – for reasons I know not.

Senescence comes from the Latin word senesere, meaning 'to grow old'. It is all about our gradual deterioration as organisms.

What this radio programme highlighted was that senescence can be slowed and delayed and some were predicting a future where there is no reason why we should not be living over one hundred years!

Now...did that strike fear or hope into you?

My work often uses the four quotients, in order to make people aware of what they can do to make themselves healthier and more balanced to also improve their families and organisations.

PQ – physical – Human Living – To Live
IQ – intellectual – Human Doing – To Learn
EQ – emotional – Human Being – To Love
SQ – spiritual – Being Human – To Leave a Legacy

Most organisations, I believe, falsely focus on their IQ (the cognitive ability to memorise facts and solve puzzles) almost to the exclusion of the other three.

This follows on 'schooling' from the age of five – and we see the present rebellion against yet more IQ tests in primary schools presently.

I believe it would be far better if education was far broader than almost solely IQ schooling and included, in some way, the other three quotients (health, relationships and meaning) i.e. the whole person and not just the brain. In this present 'system', our bodies are simply mechanisms for carrying our brains around, with our heads tilted to one side - the left – to grow our rational abilities!

As far back as 1934 it was discovered that too many calories not only made us fat but also doubled the speed of our senescence!

So we have the clear IQ understanding that calorie intake can half our lifespan and yet last month was the first month in the history of this planet, that there were more obese people than starving people!

There is also the latest research that not only does exercise keep us more mentally healthy, it actually increases the size and ability of our brain. This is clearly shown by halving senescence in degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

So my question on senescence, on a mental health web site is, 'What are we doing in all four quotients to ensure we stay as healthy as we can and while like me, not avoiding mental health issues, reducing them to the smallest effect on our lives and the lives of our families?'

"When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down 'happy'. They told me I didn't understand the assignment, and I told them they didn't understand life." John Lennon

A Moodscope member.

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Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Playing Your Part.

I am privileged to be part of an interesting musical project. Music inspired by chocolate! How great is that?

Let me explain. A while ago I met up with Cheryl Brighty who owns a chocolate shop. She makes the most wonderful chocolates and has awards to prove it. It was a Christmas Fayre and she had dark chocolate with frankincense and gold leaf. Well – who could resist trying that? An utterly amazing taste sensation.

I have synaesthesia so for me this chocolate had deep cello notes, a wild violin line on top and chromatic xylophone scales around the sides (I taste in sound and hear in colour: it all makes sense to me even if it sounds weird to you). Cheryl was fascinated and said her daughter Emily, who was studying music, would be interested too.

So a few months later I found myself with a box of chocolates and instructions to write down the sounds they made as I tasted them. Emily then wrote the music, arranged an orchestra of assorted volunteers and last Saturday we met up in All Saints Church, Newmarket to rehearse and record the piece.

It was awe inspiring for me to hear how Emily had translated my thoughts into real music. And amazing to hear how close it was to what I had "heard".

But this blog isn't about that.

You see, each of we musicians and singers had received only our own parts. None of us (other than Emily) had the full score. None of us knew what the whole piece would sound like, or even what the piece we were playing in would sound like. Some of the chocolates needed only the string section; some percussion; others woodwind; some needed trumpets and horns. The piano was only needed for two chocolates and the singers for three.

It was not until we were all together with Emily conducting us, bringing us in at the right time, that we could begin to hear how everything went together. I could then clearly hear the timpani of the   Madagascan white chocolate. I could hear the cranberry and popping candy and the intense bitterness of the 100% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs.

But we could only hear a little at a time as each piece was recorded in isolation. We won't hear the full piece until we receive the CD.

It occurred to me that life is like that. We have only our part to play. We must play it as well as we can and trust that the composer and conductor knows how it all goes. Occasionally we hear how everything comes together; sometimes we play our line, pack up our instrument and go home: we never hear the finished piece.

If we try to play a part other than our own, we will spoil the composer's piece. Just one more reason to be ourselves as well as we possibly can. Our little triangle may be the popping candy that absolutely makes the music really sing.

Oh – and if you'd like to find out more about the project, or indeed the chocolate – here is the link: http://bit.ly/1W3pVWC 

A Moodscope member.

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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

A question of balance.

A few weeks ago while I was going on my daily walk in the bush, I tripped on a rock and fell on the dirt, scraping my hand, knee and leg. After I had cleaned my wounds, I thought how little it takes to make one lose one's balance. Whether one is walking or in life, maintaining a balance can be tricky.

Most of my life I have tried to maintain my balance but sometimes like when I fell over, I need to look at what caused me to lose my balance. This time, I was not looking where I was going but was looking at my watch. Something very simple that can be remedied easily. Sometimes it can just mean having breakfast, or remembering to have  a walk, or even to call a friend. Once these things have been done, I am usually fine. That is easily done.

The hard part is when one finds oneself out of kilter, off balance, but cannot find a simple reason. I go through my check list - enough sleep, enough exercise, eating well, writing each day, but somehow I am still very tired or more irritable or impatient that usual. Sometimes it can be something very small that is enough to upset things. Wouldn't it be simple if it was just a matter of looking out for a little rock or a misplaced twig but in life simple things are sometimes harder to spot.

So can you identify a small stone or twig that may have tripped you recently and caused you to lose your balance?

What did you do to restore your balance. Did it work?

A Moodscope member.

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Monday, 2 May 2016

The A to Z Guide to Life: Letter S for Songs and Stories.

One of the most simple songs by The Carpenters is also one of my favourite. It is called, "Sing".

I suspect that, for copyright reasons, it's not wise to quote the whole song here, so let me lift the themes and you can check it out on YouTube or Spotify... then sing along.

Karen encourages us to sing out loud and strong – which suggests at the top of our voices – with all our heart and soul.

She also suggests we sing about happy and good things, not the sad and bad – there's enough of the latter in the news.

What really struck me, though, was the encouragement to make your song (hats off to Sir Elton) simple enough to last a lifetime – your Signature Song. And, if you really won't bring yourself to sing, your story. What's your song, what's your story, what's your simple message?

I often ask people this question, occasionally framed as, "What's your noble purpose?" It really does need to be simple. I've known mine since I was 18 – to change minds in order to transform experiences. To swap old patterns of thinking for new patterns that offer new choices. Not the catchiest of lyrics but I'm sure I could write a song about it!

What I didn't realise at 18 was that I needed to sing my song to and for myself first – I'm the one who needs to change first. And Karen says that I shouldn't worry about whether my song or my story is good enough for anyone else to hear – it begins with me.

My belief, however, it that when you and I find our song (or make it up) and tell our story in a way that is true to ourselves, then the World will indeed sing along. We know there are over 7 billion people on the Planet now – and many of them, perhaps millions of them, can echo the sentiments of your song – resonating with your message.

Let your story and your song reverberate down the corridors of time, telling of your history and defining your future. I finish with a small direct quote from the song:

Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and for me.

Here's to singing happy songs this week!

A Moodscope member.

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Sunday, 1 May 2016

Building blocks.

Piles of paper
Piles of socks
"Piles my dear
Are caused by blocks!"

Block the doorway,
Block the desk,
Block the phone and to do list.
Block the freezer,
Block the car,
Block the garden, don't go far.
Block the people,
Block the door,
Block the cupboards and the floor.
Block the noise out
And the stress,
It's safe inside
with all my mess.

That can go,
It's worn out now,
Sentimental, lost somehow.
Hold on to love,
Hold on tight,
Hold on to nothing with all my might.

To comfort me,
My "precious"stuff
Lies all around and with a gust...

It's stuff and nonsense,
Stuffed myself!
Stuff old books from dusty shelf.
Stuff the rubbish
In the bin,
Recycle out and not within.

Just one corner,
Just one shelf,
One small step to help myself.
Make one call,
A little space,
Take my time, it's not a race!
Take a moment,
Take a rest,
Take a breath and do my best.

It's ok to step outside
Once I've started,
Love the ride!
Around the block,
Or to the trees,
Bubbling brook
And air to breathe.

Release my fists.
Release my pen,
Let all flow out and in again.
Relax my grip
on useless things,
That memory,
The pain it brings.

Be more gentle,
be more kind,
Relax clenched teeth.
Release my mind.

Look at just how far I've come,
I'm stronger now,
No need to run,
To hide within the past, old me,
There's hope ahead.
For now
Just be.

A Moodscope member.

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