Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Autumn Days.

Here in Blighty we have not had the best summer. There's been too much rain and here in my part of the world a bin strike which means we literally have bags of rotting rubbishy piling up on the streets...the stench is not pleasant, I can tell you.

But Autumn is my favourite season and I found myself humming the tune to a song I learnt at school in the late 1970s called "Autumn days." The first few lines go as follows:

"Autumn days when the grass is jewelled
And the silk inside a chestnut shell
Jet planes meeting in the air to be refuelled
All these things I love so well"

Does anyone else know it?

I'm not so sure about the jet planes refuelling but I just love Autumn. The last few days have involved getting my wellies out for dog walks as there has been dew on the grass. The conkers and acorns seem particularly large this year and I have enjoyed picking blackberries to have on my morning porridge.

I love crisp, cool Autumn mornings when the sun is out but you need a scarf and gloves and the warm glow you feel as the sun comes out and eventually warms up. I love blackberry and apple crumble and Bonfire night. No doubt some of this is nostalgia from my childhood days long ago but I genuinely love the feeling of coming into a warm house on a Saturday afternoon after a walk or some shopping and enjoying a cup of tea and listening to the football results or expectantly await the new season of 'Strictly Come Dancing".

The Autumn song continues...

"So I mustn't forget,
No I mustn't forget
To say a great big thank you...
I mustn't forget".

Now I have checked it out today on You tube and it doesn't appear to be a particularly religious song....but as I write about Autumn it gives me a warm glow inside. It is indeed as if the cerebral cortex in the brain is smiling with those splendid thoughts!

I guess one aspect of mindfulness is to learn to love the little things, whether it's conkers and Apple pie in Autumn, snow and then the first snowdrops in winter and so I could go on.

What is your favourite season? And what are the things that enable you to rise above the detritus? My negative thoughts are as unwanted as the piles of rubbish in the street outside so I have to find ways of replacing them. What do you take comfort with which makes you feel good inside?

Brum Mum
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/autumn-days

Monday, 25 September 2017

I know what your Super-Power is.

Would you like to know what your super-power is?

OK, lean in closer.

Closer still.

'Cos this will be our secret.

Your super-power is the choice to build bridges or build barriers - this is totally within your power! And the two look VERY different. Bridges find a way to connect 'between' and barriers find a way to block that inbetweeness.

I've just offered to mow my neighbour's lawn again (for free). I like mowing. I pointed this out. I said ('cos they're a time-poor motivated seller),

"Adding stripes to a beautifully kept lawn will add £5000 to the value of this property."

Her response?

"I don't believe that."

And she didn't wrap that 'Empathy Blocker' in a smile or a joke. She was serious. What a joke (or something that sounds like 'joke'.) Result? I don't wanna mow her lawn for free no more!

Rapport or Crapport? That is the question!

Any idiot can break rapport (a state I call 'Crapport'!) It takes a master builder to build a bridge of empathy, of integrity, of authenticity, and of love.

I've decided to love my neighbour regardless (and, yes, I mowed the lawn anyway.)

Why? Because I'm supremely grateful. I got a blog out of it!

Next time you have an opportunity to disagree with someone or show 'n' tell them they're wrong - use your super-power instead. Choose to build a bridge of rapport instead of a barrier of crapport.

Love never fails.

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/i-know-what-your-super-power-is

Sunday, 24 September 2017

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose.
By any other name would smell as sweet;"

Shakespeare's quote implies that it isn't the actual name that matters or characterises an object or person.

Some years ago, when I worked at a till, a customer brought a book to my counter. He told me proudly that he was mentioned in the book, but one couldn't tell as the author had used a synonym!

Of course, he meant a pseudonym, which have been challenged lately in Moodscope comments. I think the consensus is that for Moodscope purposes; where many write so honestly about very personal or sensitive subjects, pseudonyms are used as a protective measure, either for ourselves or for our families.

There are some brave keyboard warriors, aka trolls, who hide behind pseudonyms on many social media platforms so they can anonymously spout vitriol.

My point is that they, and we, have chosen our alter-ego. It hasn't been forced upon us.

While we were in no position to choose our 'given' names, these were generally bestowed upon us at birth, and chosen out of love. I do acknowledge that there are exceptions.

Our names can very much be a part of our identity. Some people love their name, others intensely dislike them, and yet others are quite indifferent: it's just a name.

I always think my name is so 'of its time' and a bit ordinary. My mum is the only person who ever called me by the full version of my name and, even as an adult, I often felt like I was in trouble! Since mum died, even that unloved version of my name has taken on a certain poignancy.

But what if someone else decides we must address ourselves in the manner that they want us to? In a recent 'friendship', that I have now painfully emerged from, I was told that I was 'so sensitive', so felt I must acquiesce to prove otherwise and refer to myself in the suggested way. Because of the nature of this correspondence, which was ostensibly for my benefit, I did occasionally protest and was grudgingly addressed by my own name 'if I preferred'.

Nevertheless, I convinced myself that this form of address was one of endearment and friendship. This ultimately turned out not to be the case and was cited as a means of keeping a distance from me; not to become overly-involved. Even though there was much to suggest otherwise.

So along with losing my sense of self and identity in trying to conform, I felt as if I wasn't worth knowing as 'me'. I wasn't sweet enough by own name, and the alternative was a means of control.

The harshest of lessons that I have learnt from this is to be true to myself. No matter my thoughts on my name or my struggles with being me, these are not for anyone else to disrupt or determine.

With love

Dragonfly
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/whats-in-a-name

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The dark wolf and the light wolf.

My first boyfriend was called Jerry Hyde. He's a therapist now (that's the effect I have on people!)  I recently enjoyed reading a self-help book he has written called "Play from the f***ing heart".  In it was the following story, which touched me very much so I thought I would share it with my fellow Moodscopers (not verbatim as I can't lay my hands on the book, but here's the gist):

An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandchild about life.

"A fight is going on inside me between a dark wolf and a light wolf. The dark is evil; the light is good."

The child looked at him with solemn eyes and asked, "Which wolf will win?"

The chief answered, "The one you feed."

So remember:  Feed the light wolf.

OK, you may, like me, wonder what the dark wolf likes to eat. Possibly some of these:  Anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self doubt...  Feel free to make your own list! But if you catch yourself indulging in any of them and feeding the dark wolf, stop!

And what does the light wolf thrive on? How about joy, peace, love, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, faith, resilience and tenacity, hope...

So if you can find any of these within yourself, stay with it, build on them and keep feeding the light wolf.  What would you have on your list? Can you add anything that would help strengthen the light wolf?

Marmaladegirl
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-dark-wolf-and-the-light-wolf

Friday, 22 September 2017

I never promised you a rose garden.

I have never read this book – for others who do not know it, a schizophrenic girl of 16 creates another world in order to escape. Her parents struggle with the stigma of mental illness, then she is lucky enough to meet a brilliant therapist who wins her trust and gives her the courage to fight the illness.

My life has been full of physical (as opposed to metaphorical) roses. A picture exists of me, just walking, under lovely rose arches. I still have roses, every garden has had roses, so that is eight decades of roses! But the path has been decidedly thorny at times, none more so than at the present.

I have just had an hour talking to my only niece. Her brother is schizophrenic (so they say) but his father never talks about him, and his sister is scared of him, he has been violent in the past, and now is scary – luckily, perhaps, for everybody, he has become very withdrawn. Her father, 91, is in hospital – she has had to cancel her holiday to be with him. He treats her in the same way as his brother treats me, like a servant. When his second wife had cancer, his daughter was there, propping him up in any way she could, although she was a full-time teacher. Then her own mother (the divorce was bitter, and the children suffered) had cancer, and off the poor girl went again, commuting by train at least every fortnight.

My friend who I have often cited here has been treated (for depression, in theory – she is also a true hypochondriac while being as fit as a fiddle) on and off for 30 years – she goes from GP to faith healer to devotion (she is Catholic), many charlatans, now she doses herself off the Web. She has drained the sympathy of most of her family and friends.

My husband goes to the excellent Alzheimer Day centre here. I am well known – my car, my shop, my chignon – and I have loads of 'pals' among the inmates/patients, I don't know what is politically correct. The unit is the last and most modern added to a hospital which started in 1347. It houses all types of psychiatric illness. My 'pals' are those who are out and about. They all have mental disorders. Do they, like the girl above, have a world to escape to in their minds? Peopled by fairies? An alter ego? Hobgoblins? I think of these people in the light of the Peter Sarsted song 'Where do you go to my lovely?'

In the depths of depression, is everything black? Or have you had your 'rose garden' dreams?

The Gardener
A Moodscope member.

P.S. I lay no claim to the roses in the picture. The church is famed because it has had continuous colonies of bees for four centuries. It is in the Mayenne department, calm and beautiful.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/i-never-promised-you-a-rose-garden

Thursday, 21 September 2017

The Pressure to get Motivated.

Hands up if you are always reading or buying books about motivation, success, willpower, goals, productivity, in the hope you will be inspired to action. Are you often reading more lists and posts about how you need to be better?

Do you sometimes feel, if you can read enough articles and enough Facebook quotes, suddenly your brain will put it into action?

Keep your hand up if you have not read any of those books you have bought or borrowed.

My hand is up, I keep buying books but not reading them, finding articles, but not reading them, all in hope I can be motivated, find my true path and follow my dreams. I feel under pressure that I have not achieved enough. These books rather than motivating me make me feel I am not focused enough.

I know people who have read the motivational books, and gone to the "You can be a success" workshops and made endless notes and lists about achieving their goals. Most of them do not get motivated or reach their goals.

What is happening?

Why is the reality different from what books promise us?

Is it maybe that we change when we want to change? Humans cannot be programmed like a robot. I feel it is difficult to create motivation when there isn't any. Sometimes it is not the time to change.

Maybe the book you want to write is not able to be started since you have not worked out the idea for your characters.

Sometimes we are sad and can't motivate ourselves till we have made sense of the sadness.

Some of us use so many tools to be more productive and make so many lists that every minute of our day is programmed.

What about instinct and natural impulse and gut feeling?

Many of us want to control timing in our lives.

For many, unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are. All the books and workshops tell us we should be successful, we can be successful, if only we are determined and become more motivated and organized.

Self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we need to be able to change our lives, that we must be richer, smarter, or happier.

There needs to be less guilt around the notion that you're not doing your best.

Is it time to stop comparing ourselves to people who are in very different life situations and stages.

Is it possible to start liking who we are now and not thinking about we will be happy when: when we get more motivated, when we achieve our goals, when we realize our dreams.

Imagine what may happen then.

We may motivate ourselves when we are ready and the timing is right.

Do you find motivational books and speakers helpful?

Do you feel pressured by motivational books?

Can you motivate yourself in your own time?

Leah 
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/the-pressure-to-get-motivated

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Getting it Out There.

[To listen to an audio version of this blog please click here: http://bit.ly/2w4RFzP]

I gave my friend an elephant.

He thanked me.
"Don't mention it," I said.

(Boom, Boom)

That was a joke, by the way.

The elephant in the room: I'm sure I can't be the only one who prefers to ignore him. I can't be the only one who lets stuff build up emotionally, who prefers to act as if in ignorance of issues I just don't want to deal with.

I don't want the confrontation. I don't want the anger. I don't want the answers I fear I might get.

So, I put the elephant in a (large) cardboard box. I can ignore him better that way.

Yes, I carry on in fear and worry and in denial which isn't denial at all. And it takes its toll. It's like a medical condition which won't get better by itself. It's something that time won't heal. It can really drag me down.

Experience tells me that, when I do finally face the elephant, he proves not to be so scary after all. He proves not to be that mad African bull elephant with enormous tusks, but a well-mannered Indian elephant; he's rather embarrassed to be found in my living room at all.

But it doesn't get any easier, does it?

Last Summer I had a family issue I had to bring out into the open and address. It turned out to be much, much simpler than I had expected. What I didn't know, was that for my long-suffering husband (who dislikes confrontation even more than I), the elephant was not only bigger, but multi-coloured too. In fact, so gigantic and hideous was his elephant, that we both ended up in slightly hysterical laughter, and banished it with giggles from our room.

Yet – recently, I wimped out of asking a close friend about our own personal elephant. I still haven't. I don't know if I ever can; I'm scared of the answer I might get.

So often our elephant is imaginary, however – a bit like the Heffalump in Winnie the Pooh.

The trouble is, we don't know if he's imaginary – or at least bigger in our imaginations than in reality, until we deal with him. A bit like Schrodinger's cat, we must open the box to find out his state.

I don't have any easy answers. I know that last Summer I had to make a plan and schedule the conversation. I had to choose a time for that conversation when we wouldn't be interrupted. Then – I just had to draw a deep breath and launch in. "I want to talk to you about something..."

In most cases, the other person is pleased to have the conversation. If you get met with a frosty, "I don't want to talk about it," then I suppose you just have to let that elephant be. If you force the issue, you might end up squashed.

But on balance, I think it's healthier to open the box.

And much kinder to the elephant.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/getting-it-out-there

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Go with the flow – Part 1

My previous boss was forever saying "Just go with the flow, Frankie" – and I never could...

Try as I might, I couldn't relax until I had ticked off all the items on my "To do" list, and knew what I was doing the next day, the next week (and preferably the next month too!)  On the plus side, things got done, I kept the family going and life was busy. On the minus side I never put time into recharging my batteries which meant that I was often stressed, irritable and not very relaxing to be around. Another consequence was that when major family crises occurred, I simply rushed around even more frantically to fit everything in.  Dropping anything to free up more time was simply not an option.

Why did I live like that?

Lots of reasons; lack of self-confidence, guilt and fear are the top three on the list.

1 Lack of self-confidence: I have long believed that everyone else is cleverer, more organised, more interesting, a better parent, a better colleague (this list is endless!) than me. So I was always worrying about whether I had done things "the right way" (whatever that is).

2 Guilt: I was top of the class with this! I always scored a "3" on this card. I never finished my "To do" list, you see.

3 Fear: I think my greatest fear was of losing control. How would the whole show keep going if I was no longer in control?
   
The trouble with this was that I lost sight of me, Frankie; take away Frankie, the mother, the wife, the sister, the daughter, the daughter-in-law, the friend everyone turned to, the supportive colleague, and who was left? Who was Frankie without all those hats? I had no idea... No surprise then that I had two nervous breakdowns in ten years, that  my body decided to take over and said "enough is enough – you will stop, like it or not".  

I have learnt the hard way; it is not selfish to take care of myself – it is essential. I need to have some "me" time frequently, preferably daily, so that I can support those around me more effectively. And, you know what? Doing so makes me more relaxed, so everyone else is more relaxed and life is much more harmonious as a result.

Today I will choose some music and sit down to listen to it properly.

What will you do during your "me" time today?  (I would love to know!)

Frankie
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/go-with-the-flow-part-1

Monday, 18 September 2017

Are You Ready To Commit Your Next Offence?

Are you offended easily?  I am.

Let's see just how easy it is to offend me:

• Not using your left-indicator
• Not saying 'Please' or 'Thank You'
• Not smiling back when I smile at you...

Actually, the list is almost endless. But taking offence never brings me pleasure.

I know that you and I are only offended when our 'Code' is violated. We have a rule book in our mind that defines what is good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable. Unfortunately, breaking the rules is only fun for those who do the breaking!

I want you to be happier.

You can be far happier than you have ever been before - starting today. How? By relaxing some of the rules. Specifically, by relaxing your own rules that you expect other people to play by. Trust me - they don't care - it's only you who is suffering.

Is it really the end of the world if someone cuts into my lane without indicating? If they leave enough space, and don't force me to slow down, I think I could let it pass, don't you?

And if someone doesn't say 'Please' - surely that's more a reflection on their lower evolutionary state, isn't it? I'll be content with being such a spiritual giant.

But what about not smiling back when I graciously offer my gorgeous grin? Who knows what sorrows they are facing. Let's face it - I can let them off, can't I?

Yes, all of the above is firmly tongue in cheek, but I know if I have a little voice in my head that says,

"Which rule are they breaking?"

...this gives me enough pause to regain my poise and enjoy the exhilaration of forgiveness instead.

I want to break free... wanna join me?

Lex
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/are-you-ready-to-commit-your-next-offence

Sunday, 17 September 2017

A Moment of Calm.

There's a beautiful bay tucked away in a corner of the world, surrounded by impressive, rocky mountains.

My favourite walk, along a wide paved cliff path, looks out over a panoramic view of nothing but sea.

Protected by a sturdy barrier, it's a safe path for me, who without one, has become anxious and panicky from vertigo if I even glanced towards the edge (I have been known to get down on all fours, even on a seaside sand dune!)

Gazing out at the vast ocean, I'd avoid looking at the dizzying sheer drop, on to the rocks and waves, as if it would somehow be tempting fate. A fleeting, irrational, almost superstitious glimpse of doom, enough to cause a sharp intake of breath and an about turn back to safety.

In the past, I'd enjoy this daily walk to the next town and back before the daytime heat set in.

On this trip though, I was encouraged to take a higher path.

The houses at the top seemed so distant. It had never occurred to me to even consider going up there.

So up for the challenge one hot afternoon, off we went.

It was surprisingly possible to stroll, one step at a time, discovering an abundance of unfamiliar and beautiful sights.

Teenagers had often scrambled beyond the path onto rocky slopes, to make their names in hearts out of stones.

My photographs don't seem to capture what is breathtaking about nature. Whether it's tiny white buildings deep inside a valley, magnificent, dark, mountainous rocks towering above them, the alerted face of a small lizard peeping out of it's rocky dry home at strangers passing by, or speckled sunlight glinting between brilliantly coloured tree leaves, shading it's delicate flowers.

A snapshot photo of a moment like that for me is both irresistible and futile.

Enthused by our achievement, we later explored the high path west of the bay.

Approaching the top, we realised that a wonderful stillness and silence had surrounded us.

It was truly serene.

I knew that if I visualised that place, above the sprawling buildings, in the peaceful open sunlight, with sea and mountains in the distance and the purest sense of nothingness, I'd be able to recall that soothing moment of calm.

The path flattened out onto arid, dry, dusty ground, offering weary souls the space and time to just be.

I did go back on that favourite walk.

Somehow I now found myself able to lean comfortably on the barrier and watch the waves washing over the rocks without a care in the world.

I also tried Tai Chi in the open air.

Eyes closed, I breathed in that sense of calm, as my hands lifted and drifted in unison. Peace and harmony from outside in.

I experienced new treasures about a special place, that I wouldn't have if I'd remained in the comfort of my routine.

Discoveries made about myself.

Having not returned to yoga or any kind of class for a couple of years, I'm looking forward to trying some more Tai Chi now that I'm back home. A new class has coincidentally just started locally. Thank you universe!

No commitment, just to see if it might be a way to find some peace and moments of calm.

Lillipet
A Moodscope member.

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

https://www.moodscope.com/blog/a-moment-of-calm