Beating the Well and Climbing the Stairs

I’m having a grey day. And before you look out the window and decide it’s the weather’s fault (it’s raining here) I want to explain a few things. My grey days come from lots of different places and unless I pull myself up somehow, they rapidly descend through the shades into black, which can be dangerous.

So I have worked out several different ways of pulling myself up; depending on the place that the day has come from.

Today the mood has come from TOH’s absence.

He’s been away for a few days, spending time with his ninety year old grandmother and making up for the weekends he hasn’t been able to spend with her. I understand his reasons and agree with them, but that doesn’t stop me from missing him.

So I’m feeling grey.

To pull myself back up, I start with music – this is one of my favourites to shake me up.

Pink has an amazing voice and I can completely lose myself in this song as well as the others on the album – and I always listen to the whole album.

My next choice tends to be something to pick my mood up out of the grey area.

Katy is one of my favourite female artists – she has this way of laughing at herself that reminds me that life isn’t supposed to be so serious ! Firework also reminds me that I have something to add to the world, there are people in this world that would miss me and (possibly) my writing…

Then there’s Shakira. Anything that gets me up out of my seat and moving is bound to make me feel better, so I tend to play this song a lot – it makes me dance…

So having reminded myself that I’m female, I start looking into the sexier end of my playlist… and this next song is the one that does it every time!

So I usually finish up my ladies list by visiting my past. When I was a kid, Eurythmics / Annie Lennox was the one voice that stood out to me and hearing her sing really does take me back to happier memories…

Once I’ve picked myself up off the floor and I’m listening to the music, I throw myself into working on something – it doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it takes me away from how I am feeling.

Yes, that’s what I’m doing right now.

Why am I doing this? Explaining how I get out of the grey and back to feeling colourful again?

Well, I started on this path a good two and a half years ago.

Losing my baby was the trigger that dumped me down the deep well of depression. Not being able to work because of it  – I had panic attacks when I went for job interviews, stepped into a classroom or tried to exercise my teaching skills – dug the well deeper and when I managed to deal with the initial cause and come to terms with it, I was still depressed because of the inability to get back to work.

You see, when you’ve had a lot of sick time, you’re considered unreliable. And I couldn’t get anymore job interviews, so I went for Supply Agencies. I’m still not sure that was a good idea – I can’t drive (legally that it – I’m still learning) so I have to rely on public transport and the good will of others, so while the agencies all said “It won’t stop you getting work”, I suspect that the lack of personal transport combined with my “unreliability” record, have meant that I haven’t been able to get supply work either.

Yes, I know, I don’t know any of this for certain, I’m assuming a lot of things and while I know that I’m a good teacher, but it doesn’t stop me analysing things that have or have not happened.

Anyway,  I reached the dubious milestone of being “officially” out of work (ie: claiming JSA) for a whole year…*sighs*… and this combined with having had no supply work to get myself back into the swing of teaching and being in a classroom dropped me back down the well a little. I dragged myself back up a bit, but despite finding jobs to go for, I still couldn’t get interviews!

So I started volunteering at Brownies (over a year ago now) to make myself feel as if I am worth something (it’s worked a little) and I’m now almost to the point where I have completed my training.  Going to Brownies each week makes me feel wanted and that my skills are being used, rather than going to waste.

Starting the Art & Design course makes me happy as well – I love learning and I’m hoping that once the course has finished, I’ll be able to get back to teaching properly again.

But I still have the grey days and I don’t want to drop back down that well, so I learned coping strategies… are you still with me? Good. I haven’t bored you to tears yet.

So, let’s recap, To cope with grey depressing days I:

1) Listen to music that will lift my spirit (not drop it further back) and remind me that there is still a way for me to make a difference, no matter how small.

2) While I am listening, I throw myself into doing something that will absorb me and take me away from how I am feeling.

3) Remind myself how I got here and how I have lifted myself out of the Depression Well – recount my achievements if you will…

Now we come to the hard bit. 

Once I have got back to the Contentedness platform outside the Depression well, I have to start lifting myself up the steps. I’ve already come a long way in a short time, but I want to lift myself up towards being happy, not just content.

While I am listening to the music and working, I start forming goals to aim towards. This time of year, it’s easy enough because I have NaNoWriMo looming on the horizon. I also have the monthly goal of getting the webzine out as well as the coursework on my Art & Design Course to sort out and “The Tower and The Eye” to write…

So here are the goals I am setting myself:

1) Meet all my coursework deadlines for next week – that’s Ceramics, Textiles and Graphics, as well as having done further work on Fine Art and the Art Context Essay.

I’m pleased to say that I have manged to finish Ceramics (as far as I can – just the Evaluation and Final Product photos to do – can’t do those until I get back), I’ve progressed on my Essay and Fine Art and I’m now working on my Graphics (it has the most to do…) – I’ll do the Textiles tomorrow.

2) Get November’s Edition ready to go live on 1st.

I have all my submissions and just need to put them up on private pages to schedule their publication.

3) Get ready for NaNoWriMo

I’ve already got a rough plot, the world and updated my NaNo profile, so I’m in a good position to start on 1st Nov – my word count goal is 2,000 words a day.

4) Finish Book 4 of TTATE

I’m almost to the fun bit in the story (the dungeon raid) so that shouldn’t be too hard to get going on!

Ticking at least three of these off the list will take me up the Happiness Stairs, so having stepped up one step already by being in a good position to start NaNo, is a smile worth having.

Thank you for reading – I hope that you’re having a colourful day and if you aren’t, why not try some of my steps… it can’t hurt to listen to some upbeat music can it?

Image Change Experiment – Week One

On TV, Gok Wan is always going on about changing how you look at yourself.

The people he works with start out looking and feeling fat and frumpy (for example) and after eight weeks of education about clothes and body shape (not to mention a top hair stylist and makeup artist), they have blossomed into a shapely, feminine figure who feels great about themselves and looks fabulous.

Click Image to go to the How to Look Good Naked Page...

I am mid thirties and having had two children and several crises in the last ten years (I comfort eat), I am carrying about two or three stone too much weight. I have a definite hourglass body shape (that plays havoc with buying clothes), my skin is pale and doesn’t like taking a tan. I have thread veins all over my legs and even when I wax them, because I have dark hair, I have thousands of dark little dots on my legs…

And don’t even mention my hair…Okay… I will mention my hair. Normally, my hair looks like this:

Is she 30? She looks 50...

Granted, that’s not a brilliant picture of me – I call it my “Mad Woman with Cats” portrait (no sniggering in the back there) – but my hair is normally a dark brown with red streaks in it from the sun and you can see that in this picture.

I’m also rather lacking in the wardrobe department – plenty of clothes, I’m just not sure if they are what I should be wearing

Today, because it’s so grey and un-summery, I was feeling a bit grumpy and down, so after I had dropped the kids at school and shoved TOH out the door for college, I decided to do a little experimentation with my hair colour.

Now, don’t get too worried, I never go that far with this sort of thing. I tend to stick to colours that only change my hair a little. I think the brightest my hair has ever been was a deep purple colour that washed out after six weeks.

The colour I chose was one that I won from John Frieda – a dark Red Brown.

Having followed the instructions to mix the colour:

  1. Open Developer bottle.
  2. Open Colour bottle.
  3. Pour Colour into Developer.
  4. Gently tilt the bottle several times to mix the liquids.
  5. Change the screw cap for the foamer cap.

…I slipped on the pair of “professional” Colouring gloves. Black rubber, very kinky looking (and a little too tight – I have big hands) and started applying the foam to my hair. I had ¼ of the bottle of liquid left when I decided that I had enough. I don’t think I put enough foam on though; when I compared the picture in my mirror to the one on the leaflet, I didn’t look foamy at all…

I spent the 20 min developing time playing Puzzle Quest. The Arke Liche had defeated me four times by the time the clock rang.

Washing it out was as easy as shampooing my hair. The dye left my scalp cleanly and the conditioner provided smelt quite nice. I decided to style my hair for a change, so about twenty minutes later, after wielding brush, hairdryer and straighters I looked in the mirror and blinked.

The colour had definitely changed and when there’s light on my hair, you can see that the colour is there. It’s just rather subtle.

Strangely, I feel different.

I’m not sure if that alteration in emotion is because I did something for myself, or because I’ve changed my appearance slightly.

What Gok does isn’t just changing the clothes of the woman he is working with; it’s about changing the attitude of the person to herself. The clothes are almost a symbol of that change.

Gok throws out the wardrobe they have at the beginning and replaces it with a brand new one that suits the personality and body shape of the woman. By the end of the show, the woman (or man, sometimes he does men) has transformed and I am green with envy.

I’ve tried hard to change my attitude to myself. I’ve gone from looking at myself in the mirror and seeing a fat, lumpy, old woman to seeing a thirtyish woman with a great body shape, gorgeous eyes and lovely hair – the flabby arms, rolls of fat, saggy boobs and bloated belly, mar it though.

And no, I am not posting pictures… I wouldn’t want to make people feel sick.

Sometimes I can see the woman I should be in the mirror. I saw her this morning after I finished doing my hair. However, she doesn’t stick around for long and I really wish that instead of getting that glimpse, I could see that woman all the time.

So what is next on the experiment agenda?

I just checked my stats on the Wii Fit. I’m back to being almost 14 stone. It’s an unhealthy weight, especially as I’m getting older rather than younger. So that needs to be sorted… and the easiest way of doing that is to get into an exercise habit.

And as normal, I just had to set up a timetable.

However, this time I am going to take it a week at a time and not plan an entire month’s worth in one go – it always makes me feel bad when I don’t achieve what’s on the timetable when I do that. I’m going to do exercise that I find fun, uplifting and that I can fit into my life, rather than try to target a particular area or anything like that. As well as getting into an exercise habit, I need to get out of a failure habit. I have to motivate myself – I can’t rely on anyone else for that, it’s an attitude adjustment.

Right, here we go.

I am going to take this uplifted feeling that I got from colouring my hair, and use it to spur myself on for this week’s exercise. At the end of the week (well, beginning of next week) I’ll weigh myself etc again and report, right here on my blog. Then I’ll plan the next week’s exercise and carry on from there.

>Ah… so that’s what the week had in store for me!

>Memo to me – NEVER finish a blog post with “I wonder what next week has in store for me?”

I ended my last post with that. I started this week with the full intention of working properly on my writing career – blogs, online presence, WIP, short story, housework, e-mail etc – everything was prioritised and went down on my To-Do-List.

Maybe that was a mistake as well?

The To-Do-List, I mean.

Ah well…

The Terrible Twosome (aka my kids) had a wonderful week to start with – they got to go to their childminder on tuesday (I swear they love her more than me) and it’s the end of term, so their school has been doing all sorts of fun things!

Unfortunately the Princess-Terrorist (my daughter) appears to be going through a bit of a phase. She’s arguing with anything and everything. I love her dearly, but when she is constantly arguing and being cheeky / talking back to me and the Other Half (aka my partner) it gets a bit noisy…
Especially as Number One Son is also having problems. He seems to be sliding back into being eight, rather than going forward into being ten like the rest of his class.

So combine those two phases with a lot of “being out of work” stress from me and “I don’t know what to do with my life” stress from the Other Half, you get a pretty good picture of what this week has been like in the Tiger Princess Household…


I had hoped that everything would calm down today. Then I remembered that we are due to visit the Grandmother-In-Law (hereafter known as GIL) in Bristol today. That’s not a bad thing, you understand, but it’s always a tiring day.
GIL is ninety. She loves her grandson and her great-grandchildren, but as Grandfather-In-Law (hereafter known as Bampi – mostly so that I don’t get confused) is also ninety and has Alzheimer’s; he can’t be left alone with the simplest task (Bampi gets confused easily and forgets what he is supposed to be doing), so GIL has to supervise him almost constantly.

Add the Terrible Twosome to the mix and you have a Very Tiring Day for me.

VTG’s mean that I often don’t get much done. This is why I started writing at 8:00pm on a Saturday morning, when I should be snuggled under my duvet with OH, listening to the rain hit the window pane and contemplating a late breakfast…


I need more coffee before I do anything else today – I’ll see y’all tomorrow…