Melancholy Blues

It’s been a fairly quiet week; I’ve had one of my melancholy moods where I haven’t really been the life and soul of the party. But you know I’ve an epic battle of depression to beat – there’s bound to be off weeks.

I’ve still tried to do some new things this week though and stretch myself. Following on from a conversation at the previous weeks knitting club I started a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days. There are several websites out there that help you create these lists. The one I picked has the above 101 things plus several others such as Things to do by so-so age and in the next 10 years. Have you ever tried to set yourself 101 goals? I have enough problems normally trying to work out what I want to achieve that day! However with a bit of thought and with a bit of stealing other people’s ideas (it’s allowed!) I’m up to 71. I’ve got a few new crafts to learn like crochet and soap making plus exercise goals like running a charity race. Plus reading Stephen Kings Dark Tower series and Watch 26 movies beginning with each letter of the alphabet that I haven’t seen before. Should be fun so your goals can be whatever you wish them to be. I’ve 994 days left and completed one target – the 50 questions from my last post. It’d be nice to say I’ve completed the lot in the 2.5 years I have but who knows where life will take me in between that time??

This weekend should have been a pamper day at the local spiritual centre but the first day of spring in England brought a weekend of heavy snow and lots of bad jokes about it still being winter. There’s currently a Merry Spring postcard doing the rounds of Facebook complete with Santa’s sled. I hate the cold at the best of times even more when it interrupts my Spring!

I’d been looking forward to the pamper day, several treatments such as Indian Head massage and Reiki plus some tarot readings. But as my little housing estate was completely snowed in there wasn’t much we could do. Still the day wasn’t a total waste as I got to finish making some Easter gifts and watch a load of taped TV  I normally wouldn’t have the chance to do. There’s a lot to be said for PJ days. I don’t do them enough either.

My spiritual story has been printed for people to vote on. Feeling confident I’ve also entered a Knitting writing comp – just a tale of knitting with someone and some pictures. Plus the rabbits I made yesterday are also up for a competition to win some balls of wool. Maybe one day I’ll have the confidence to enter something for a bigger prize! But everyone has to start somewhere.

Week off work this coming week and possibly linked to that my mood is already better than this time last week despite the snow. I’ve lined up one or two things to do which should give me lots to write about next time including trip to the home of Shakespeare – Stratford Upon Avon

Oh but let’s end on an uplifting note. While typing this up the sun has come out & under the dulcet tones of Bruce Springsteen on my iTunes I can hear the birds chirping. Happy Easter!!

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50 Questions

I found these questions on another site and thought I’d try and answer them

These questions have no right or wrong answers. Because sometimes asking the right questions is the answer.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

I think I would be about 25. Despite depression and life’s little issues I tend to be young hearted and I think it reflects on how I interact with people.

Which is worse, failing or never trying?

I think failing would be worse. You will never know if you actually may have succeeded if you don’t give it a shot

If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?

I’ve no idea and I have been guilty of this as much as anyone. I think we, as humans, feel the need to fit in and if this means going with the crowd rather than standing out and doing our own thing then so be it. My aim going forward is to do the things I like more and the things I don’t, less. It will take time to fully make the switch but I will get there.

When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

Up to this present moment in time yes my words speak louder than my actions but again I aim to change this and start doing more

What is the one thing you’d most like to change about the world?

World peace?? An end to poverty and universal suffering?? Let’s all love each other? There are so many choices.

If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?

My crafting. It’s coming along nicely and I hope to one day do it as a full time job. I don’t do it to make a million pounds rather I love the joy I can bring with a handmade gift

Are you doing what you believe in, or are you settling for what you are doing?

Same as mentioned several times above. I’ve been settling for a long time. It will not happen overnight but the plan is to do what I believe in and work for myself.

If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

As I’ve just hit 40 would this mean I shouldn’t now be here?? I aim to start living life differently and live my life for me. Too many of the pre-40 years have been spent in sadness and frustration. This needs to change

To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?

The questions all have the same answer! I haven’t but I aim to take more control.

Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?

I would rather do the right thing.

You’re having lunch with three people you respect and admire.  They all start criticizing a close friend of yours, not knowing she is your friend.  The criticism is distasteful and unjustified.  What do you do?

I would speak up. My friends are very important to me, some more than my actual family. I would not stand for them to have any kind of attack.

If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?

Do what makes you happy. You only get one shot at life so make the most of it

Would you break the law to save a loved one?

I think I’d have to say yes. I doubt if I could commit a murder but who knows what you are capable of under duress

Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity?

Yes every time I see some of the modern art that is about 🙂 but insanity to me is someone else’s perfect creation so who cares really as long as it’s done with love

What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

I don’t know. I have a great level of empathy that I think may be stronger than most people’s but it’s just an opinion and others may disagree. Maybe I should ask others what they think I do differently

How come the things that make you happy don’t make everyone happy?

Because no two people are the same. As long as what makes you happy doesn’t hurt other people then c’est la vie

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? What’s holding you back?

Work for myself. I would love to work from home and make a living selling things I love to make. I’m not always sure if I have the talent to do this so I think fear is why I haven’t done it yet. But I’m slowly getting over that fear

Are you holding onto something you need to let go of?

Probably. Up until last year I had an issue with memories. Due to depression I’d blocked out so many and last year my teenage memories came flooding back after I’d learned to let go of one or two issues. I thought I’d let go of everything but I still struggle with my childhood ones. I think some work is in order to see what’s left to let go.

If you had to move to a state or country besides the one you currently live in, where would you move and why?

Well as England has had 3 months of snow and rain I would want to live somewhere warm! The most perfect place other than God’s own county of Yorkshire that I have ever seen is Huntington Beach in South California. I spent a glorious day there once doing absolutely nothing except sitting on the beach watching the surfers. I also have a fondness for Barcelona too.

Do you push the elevator button more than once?  Do you really believe it makes the elevator faster?

Of course! There’s something childishly gleeful in pushing the button several times.

Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

After years of sadness I could live with being a simpleton is I was happy

Why are you, you?

I am me by nature rather than nurture. I take after a man (my natural father) I barely know.  I am now me because this is how I want to be

Have you been the kind of friend you want as a friend?

Not always but I try to be the best friend I can be nowadays

Which is worse, when a good friend moves away, or losing touch with a good friend who lives right near you?

When a good friend moves away it makes those meet ups all the more special because of the time and effort that goes into it. I meet my high school best friend maybe once a year and it’s always a joy. Losing a friend that is close by is harder because there is usually a sad reason behind it.

What are you most grateful for?

My health, happiness, my son and my mother

Would you rather lose all of your old memories, or never be able to make new ones?

I’ve touched on this above and have a further blog dedicated to memories that I will post soon. Losing your memories is a frightful thing.  It’s very hard when a potential memory is just there out of reach yet you cannot access it. I carry notebooks everywhere to try and make sure my current adventures are recorded

Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?

Truth is subjective dependent on people’s opinions sometimes. I know myself and an ex-friend will both tell you about the falling out and both are right and are telling the truth but judgement makes the stories different.

Has your greatest fear ever come true?

My greatest fear is to be alone. I was worried for a while but I believe I have the right people around me for that not to happen.

Do you remember that time 5 years ago when you were extremely upset?  Does it really matter now?

No it doesn’t. Being upset about things ruined my life for a long time. Now I know how to let it go and never try and go to sleep on a bad feeling

What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?

See above about memories. I can barely remember any of them. My mum will show me photo’s of me laughing and playing to prove I was happy but I can’t pull the memories from the pictures. I hope to one day

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive?

London, Oct 2012 – I went to visit the Royal Observatory. Despite the normal chilly weather for a few brief hours the sun came out, the clouds went away. I feel most alive on clear blue sky days and this was one of them. And all I did was sit and enjoy the views and let the day float past

If not now, then when?

I have learnt from past mistakes that it should always be now. When may never arrive

If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?

Absolutely nothing. That’s why I am playing the Yes game. If I don’t try how will I know whether I have achieved or not???

Have you ever been with someone, said nothing, and walked away feeling like you just had the best conversation ever?

Yes but not for a long time. It’s on my list of things to do to find that again

Why do religions that support love cause so many wars?

Religions like government have their own agenda. Everyone has the right to their own opinion and religion is a touchy subject. For me I would rather believe in Mother Nature

Is it possible to know, without a doubt, what is good and what is evil?

Nope because our actions may be bad to others but done for the greater good.

If you just won a million dollars, would you quit your job?

Yes but I would use the money to try and set up my own business (after the obligatory trip around the world of course!)

Would you rather have less work to do, or more work you actually enjoy doing?

More work I enjoy doing. That’s why I would like to be able to work for myself.

Do you feel like you’ve lived this day a hundred times before?

So many times. Hopefully for not much longer.

When was the last time you marched into the dark with only the soft glow of an idea you strongly believed in?

I am doing it now, building up my stock to go marching bravely into self employment and the possibility of being responsible for my salary and pensions and all the grown up stuff my employer currently pays for.

If you knew that everyone you know was going to die tomorrow, who would you visit today?

Well as my son lives with me, I would grab him and go see my mum

Would you be willing to reduce your life expectancy by 10 years to become extremely attractive or famous?

NO. I am happy with the way I look and have never had the desire to be famous.

What is the difference between being alive and truly living?

Truly living is the enjoyment of everything you do. Being alive is just existing and achieving nothing

When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards, and just go ahead and do what you know is right?

Right now. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?

Fear!

What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

I’ve spent ages on this question and can’t think of anything. I’m sure when I’ve posted this list I’ll think of 5 things J but for now I’m stuck.

When was the last time you noticed the sound of your own breathing?

I never notice it unless I’ve just run for a bus!

What do you love?  Have any of your recent actions openly expressed this love?

I love life and am trying to prove it by doing all the things that make me happy

In 5 years from now, will you remember what you did yesterday?  What about the day before that?  Or the day before that?

If I ever fix my appalling memory then possibly. I’d like to think my actions will be memorable

Decisions are being made right now.  The question is:  Are you making them for yourself, or are you letting others make them for you?

It’s a mixture of both. I have a plan of action but for at least a year I need to rely on the decisions of my employer from a financial point of view. From a personal point of view I make more and more for myself every day

 A lot of my answers ended up being every similar but it’s nice to see in writing your plans and gives you something to work towards

Storytime

I’m descending the stairs in Costa Coffee trying to balance my tray and 2 bags. Going downstairs I see two other people in the group I hope to join and suddenly get terrified and almost go sit upstairs, drink my tea and then run away. What am I hoping to do?? Speed dating? Chess club?? Nope I’m about to join a knitting group! Knitting is something I loved as a youth, suffering from a form of Childhood Arthritis it was a way to keep the suppleness in my fingers and I used to love making teddies and dolls (and for some odd reason cable patterned cardies). I stopped when after breakdown number one the doctor told me to grow up! Back in the early 1990’s there was less knowledge of Mental Health issues including depression. The result being that my poor messed up brain decided that growing up meant stopping all the things that made me…me and spending years pretending to be someone else and being thoroughly miserable.

After breakdown number two (and hopefully the last) things are different and I spent the summer of 2012 re-visiting all the things I loved to do before the Dark Times. So I got the knitting needles out again. I started to make beads again. I started to write again. Somewhere around that time I got invited to a knitting club. And I had every intention of going but either life got in the way or I bottled out. But not last night! This time I was going to do it and it turned out to be a fab decision. They were having a quiet night. The usual group of 10 was down to only two. I’d taken an easy scarf pattern to work on while I got used to how things worked, the others far more experienced at this knit & nattering were making jumpers and lacy blankets. I spent the next two hours knitting away and discussing everything under the sun – the awesomeness of Firefly, Circus of Horrors, Hello Kitty theme parks, Disney, tracing your family tree (see my other bog – hint, hint) and telling stories. It was the best chilled out chat I’ve had since…well since last month in the pub actually…

OK maybe the best chilled out chat with strangers I’ve had in years. I recommend finding some group of choice and just diving in. You never know what you might find and who you might meet.

The rest of the weeks adventures were around stories. Keeping with the saying “yes” theme my good writer friend has asked me to read her manuscript and give construction feedback. The thought terrifies me. What if I don’t like it??? I’m thinking I will though as I’ve liked her previous tales of ghosts and vampires. I’m about a quarter through so far and wondering what on earth she was worried about. Another thing to recommend then – try a new author especially an independent one. You never know who will capture your imagination and stay with you.

Which brings me nicely onto my own writing. It’s very much at the beginning stages. I’ve built up so many ideas since the summer and now I have to find ways of bringing these ideas to life which in itself is turning out to be lots of fun. I picked up a copy of this months Soul & Spirit magazine at the end of last week and discovered a competition to write 500 words of a spiritual story. So I had a go. Apart from my published friend this is the first time I’ve shown work to anyone. I almost again pulled out. Trying to be positive and grow in confidence turns out to be a scary thing sometimes but in the end I hit the send button. It should be on the website anytime soon and the winner is chosen after readers vote for their favourite. After sending I went into a blind panic – What if no one likes my story? What if no one votes for me? What if I just stop flapping and let it be. As one rather sensible person told me that of all the people that will come across their website I should get at least one like.

So it’s been a good week of trying new things but at the same time I feel like I’ve tested my nerves a bit. But it always works out in the end and if you don’t like something then, simple – you don’t do it again.

Til next week….

Be creative

Read my other blog –Family Ties

The Yes Girl

Two and a bit years ago as a way of healing from a breakdown and as a way of getting back into the ways of the world I decided to take a leaf out of the Danny Wallace book “The Yes Man” and say yes to as many things as possible. There were only really two rules unless it was illegal or immoral or would make me feel uncomfortable then I should give it a go. Moving out of my comfort zone is good, leaving me in a quivering heap from a panic attack – not so good.

It’s amazing how the simple change in thought can bring about huge differences to your life. I did things I’d previously never had the chance to do. Some, like bowling, were the norm for ordinary folks but for those suffering from crippling depression a venture out into a scary but exciting world. I went to karaoke, the opera, on so many meals. I went to Barcelona and tried squid. I even ended up on a weekend away with several work colleagues and a few strangers resulting in lots of drunken conversations, avoiding the hot tub but then feeling smug while the others compared chemical burns after way too much time in the bubbles.

I joined the Open University and started down the route of an English degree. Then things came to a crashing halt late last year. My second OU course was a huge mistake, rather than start an English module I foolishly thought that I could learn about the Enlightenment and Romantic periods through Humanities. For me I found it dull, difficult and very stressful. Dropping out of the module should have been a blessing but resulted on a career & study crisis that sent me trying out courses in counselling and retreating into my little house and hiding away.

I decided this week to start the Yes game again. And it’s ended up as the craziest week. I don’t know if playing the game you give out an aura of positivity that makes people ask you things or that enables you to see opportunities you may have missed but it always seems to bring these things out in abundance. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on the stress things come along to remind me that I still have some work to do on myself.

A Facebook posting about starting a book club has brought the start of two new friendships and links to a Mental Health charity that I need to follow-up as well as the actual book club. I’ve got links to interesting people to read their stories and use them for their knowledge of Leeds. I’ve been invited to a birthday meal which will always get a yes answer. And most importantly the career/study crisis is over.

I feel like I went on a huge journey to end up in exactly the same place as I was. But that’s ok. I like my job and I like my degree path. I should stop trying to creating possible careers just because I think other people would want me to. I think I sometimes have very warped ideas of what is expected of me, forgetting that the simple answer is people want me to be happy and I want to be happy.

I love what happend when you open your mind to what is out there. Bring on next week….