Tuesday, 23 May 2017

"What the World Needs Now is Love"

I am determined to stay positive, and to see the best in this world - we can make it better for our children - and our children's children. Be kind. That's all it takes. Be kind. 

Sharing a moment of joy from my life - have you got a moment to share?

Love Mary x

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Blogs that I love

I came late to the party .... typical me. And I would argue that I don't like reading using the new technologies, preferring a real book in my hands, but here I am contradicting myself in just a few days. Of course. That's me too, full of contradictions.
                  I don't know how to put a list of the blogs I follow in a side bar on my blog so I am hoping to point you, dear reader in the right direction. Blogland is just so much fun. People are just so much fun. Behind every blog is a unique individual, who has put themselves out there.
                 I have just spent every spare moment of three days reading through the archives of a blog going back around 5 years and it was every bit as intriguing as any novel or biography. The quality of writing is superb, drawing me in until the characters became so real, and the photography is first class. The humour.....
so for your consideration I give you

         Rusty Duck                    https://www.rustyduck.net

              Today's Stuff             http://todaysstuff-leanne.blogspot.co.uk

             Spitalfields Life          http://spitalfieldslife.com

              Kate Davies              https://katedaviesdesigns.com

             Little Cotton Rabbits  http://littlecottonrabbits.typepad.co.uk

             Old dog, new tricks    https://olddognewtricks.me

             Planet Penny             http://planetpenny.co.uk

          Jenerally Speaking       http://jenerallyspeaking.typepad.com/blog/

            Licht Years                  https://lichtyears.com

           Posy Gets Cosy         http://www.posiegetscozy.com

So some of these blogs are about gardens, or art, to creative textiles, or family life, or travelling - and many contain all of the above. Hopefully, you'll find something of interest.

Let me know your favourite treasures, posts and blogs too. I am always up for something new. 

Enjoy your weekend ....

Love Mary

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Mental Health Awareness Week or am I just mad?

I can't watch the news at the moment. War and bloodshed, murder and disease. Flood and pestilence. First world problems can suck you down into the mire, and I finally see that it's not just me. I can now see and understand that there are many people out there who struggle with depression, and maybe that recognition is a sign of my own recovery. People who say "I'm fine" and just get on with things, but the struggle is there if you know the signs. 

I get warnings signs through sleepless nights, tossing and turning 'mind churning anxieties'. I don't want to go out, interact, avoid the phone, get dressed even. Despite those triggers that foretell a period of depression, it's not just a case of mind over matter. I cannot force myself to "get on with it" no matter how much I may want to. I LOVE walking with my gorgeous dogs, LOVE being outside, in all weathers, but sometimes I just can't drag myself. Don't get me started on the guilt. 

It's not a bad life, just a bad day. Looking for the positives, practising gratitude. I kept up a personal diary for more than a month, well 38 days to be exact. Found ten 'things' to be grateful for each day. Ten.... multiplied by 38, so Three Hundred and Eighty fabulous, heartwarming events to cheer me along. 

  • waking up in my own bed - priceless
  • day stretching out ahead - promising
  • coffee in my favourite cup watching birds in the garden
  • the virginia creeper is changing colour as I watch
  • shower and fresh clothes, smelling sweet, clean hair
  • Ikea, getting lost, but hey, got there in the end
  • a frame for my textile piece
  • autumn walk with the doods, loving my orange coat
  • catching up on Downton Abbey
  • blog loving

I wish I could tell you that's the answer - hey just write a diary. But my diary was written well over eighteen months ago. The feel good did not last. Relapse is painful, all the more when you feel it coming on, that black dog on my shoulder, ever present. Medication helps, sometimes, supportive and loving friends and family helps, sometimes. Talking therapy helps, sometimes.

For me, exercise helps, sometimes. Counting my blessings helps, sometimes.
Gardening helps, knitting, crochet, craftwork all help, sometimes. And sometimes it just doesn't. The chances are I will be grumpy, and tired and unable to do even simple things. The last few days have been like that. Grim, and miserable. Endless cups of coffee, games of patience, daytime television. Sweaty pj's and ratty hair. No concentration, no purpose, no sleep. No joy. No appetite. 

I write this at 4.17am, another sleepless night. But despite that I am determined to get up at 7am, shower and dress, drink hot water with lemon and walk my dogs in the woods listening to bird song, and then crack on with the day, energised, revitalised, self confident. I KNOW I would feel better, that the first step is the hardest, and that for me....that's the way forward. Get out there, get on with it. Live my life. My one and only precious life. 

If you suffer from depression how do you get through it? What are your secrets?
Some people seem to be able to cope, the wonderful Stephen Fry for instance, but others, well we are all saddened by the deaths of people who can't cope. I loved Robin Williams, his genius, his sheer personality. 

I have often been described as having a "bright personality" in the past, and certainly many people would not believe that underneath the friendliness and chatter, lies a depressive. Bluff and bluster, I really do try to stave off the awful feelings of worthlessness by concentrating (very hard) on making the best of situations. Waiting for a bus? I chat to people. I try to have a laugh, and show real interest in my fellow human beings. We are all in this together. 

I have tried to read myself through depression, trying anything on offer from Paul McKenna's books to the bible, but really it's just not that easy. My doctor suggested a book recently, Sunbathing in the rain : A cheerful book about depression by Gwyneth Lewis. I wish I could tell you it solved my problems, but it didn't. However, it did describe depression really well, better than I've heard before and that was comforting, because I am beginning to understand. At last, I'm not the only one, this is MY normal.

Whether it's a chemical imbalance, or life events, or even genetic disposition who knows what causes depression. One cannot snap out of it, but I am aware that sometimes I can give in to it, when maybe, with support I can hang on, to.... well to life I suppose. Eating properly, sleeping well, looking for the positives, avoiding stress and taking on too much, lots of exercise. Doing lots of the things that make me happy. Little things. Listening to music, reading poetry, visiting art galleries and museums, gardening and growing plants and helping the people in my life have some fun. I am enjoying going to "the pictures" more recently, and can honestly say spending a few hours immersed in other worlds is  beneficial. 

My normal. It's not a bad life, I am very lucky. I am loved. It may be a bad day, but there is always tomorrow. It will get better. I hope I haven't left you, dear reader, with a bad taste after reading this post, but I hoped to say, we are not alone in this. The politicians seem to be making a mess of things, and the world news is frightening, but if I can help anyone realise we are "normal" to feel down sometimes. We are, normal. Or mad as a hatter which ever you prefer!

Love Mary Xxx

This post was written a long time ago, but stayed on my hard drive - I decided to publish now to share my story in recognition of Mental Health Awareness week. Actually I am quite well at the moment but it really doesn't take a lot to change that. 

PS please feel free to leave a comment or contact me through email as I would love to hear from you. 

Sunday, 7 May 2017

What's Going On?

I love reading blogs, really enjoy the snippets of other lives I discover, often through sheer accident. I am inherently nosy, of course, and that helps. My overflowing bookshelves are full of biographies and autobiographies and at the moment I'm reading "Trouble man - the life and death of Marvin Gaye" by Steve Turner. It took some perseverance to get into, as it seemed full of names at first. What makes it so difficult to get into a book? The writer has to hook you in on the first few pages or it's a lost cause. I need a shared experience at the very least, or even better a photo.

                      Several hours on a plane gave me the time to concentrate and now I'm beginning to find some elements of interest. Reading about the circumstances around the recording of the iconic album "What's Going On" Motown Records 1971 for instance.... I so remember the moment in a record shop when I had the single of the same name in one hand and Cotton Fields by the Beach Boys in the other. I chose What's Going On and embarked upon a musical journey that enriched my own life and has cascaded down through another generation.

                      The book is on loan from my son, who has as many vinyl records on his shelves as I have books, which is rare amongst his generation who down load (or stream) their music. I shall reserve judgement on this book until I finish it, but am grateful for the glimpses into another life, so very different from my own experiences. An article I read and found fascinating recently, was on the topic of streaming music and how services like Spotify and Apple Music have changed the way people are exposed to different styles of music, and have changed the way we share music across the generations. Sharing is good thing I think, but allow me the real thing in my hands, be it book or record.

                     I have discovered that I like to have a physical thing - the LP, with it's sleeve notes and cover art work, but acknowledge that turning the LP over to listen to the second side can be annoying.  Do you remember when we even had to get up to "turn the tv over!?" How life has moved on. I still have all my records and even got a new turntable recently, and love to spend time listening to my favourites, and the What's Going On album is absolutely my favourite. I have learned that I enjoy the album in it's entirety as it was first recorded, because there's nothing so annoying than the random order on an iPod shuffle! My iPod has made it easy to take music with me, rather like my first musical experiences with a transistor radio. I love to plug in on a long journey and enjoy my favourites. So Marvin, what do your lyrics offer to us today? What IS going on?


                     So what is YOUR favourite music? Do the lyrics comfort you, or remind you that time may pass but issues remain. I never saw Marvin live and his early death meant that many of us were denied that privilege. Last year I experienced something I'd always dreamed of, I saw the amazing Stevie Wonder in a live concert in Hyde Park. Four hours of heaven which I will NEVER forget. He sang his "Songs from the Key of Life" album which was just incredible. Maybe his lyrics from 40 years ago, will speak for me, in that Love is in need of love today.


So what are you reading at the moment? Do you use a Kindle or tablet? Or like me, prefer a real book. The smell of a new book, or a dusty old one, the well thumbed pages of a favourite. These all add to the experience for me. Sometimes I come across a pencilled note in the margin, or an old love letter, postcard, ticket stub or receipt being used as a bookmark. This new technology feels dry to me, like music I know I need the physical thing, if only to be reminded that I have it in my hands. I read the list of music on my iPod and am often surprised....I'd forgotten that song. And yet.... to have the world of music at your fingertips, to type in a song title and listen within seconds. My son, a DJ, will say it's easier than lugging crates of records around (but he still does it!)

                    Down loads just don't cut it. Where is the snippet of real life I need to hook me in, the photos and art work on the cover, the sleeve notes, the references to the studio musicians or bibliography? What's Going On?

                   Oh well, this is the first post in more than 2 years, and I hope it holds some interest to people - I am determined to find my writing voice. I will be happy to respond to any comments.

 ............and one of these days I will find out how to improve your experience as a reader with links (and one of my favourite parts of blogging) I will point you in the direction of other blog writers you might find interesting.