Creating My Odyssey

Quirky artist / writer / explorer / wild west, steampunk & ghost nut /renaissance soul / mental health & lifestyle blogger

Sunday, 28 May 2017


There's an open air concert in Alton yesterday and today, featuring rock and heavy metal bands, and I really enjoyed it! I wasn't there yesterday, I was at home, weeding,  and the sound of it carried on the air. Could hear it indoors as well - the back door was open on the hot day. Not keen at one moment - bit too Sex Pistols
(definitely- just found them on YouTube!) but they'd had some really energetic drumming and guitar while I was being brutal to weeds, and I was starting to head bang. Not good for my brain don't you know. Explains a lot.

Today I'm still hyped! A band were playing in Market Square in Alton this lunchtime just as I was passing through. A rock band were playing and they were absolutely fabulous! I ended up staying and watching them for about an hour. I tried uploading a video onto Facebook but failed dismally. (Well, the quality's pretty rubbish anyway.) Never mind - it was fab-u-lus! I stood close to the stage and my chest was reverberating.

It's just what the doctor ordered - for the likes of me, anyway. It was so exciting! I was really going for it, man. (Except that's passe with a thingy above the 'e'. It was awesome, dude). The fact that I could really enjoy it is saying something. I fully recommend something like this for those who suffer depression, or any mental health illness, cuz it takes it out of you, distracts you, and it's bloody exciting!

I will profess that it ain't everybody's bag, man (there I go again...), but those of us who enjoy all kinds of music - yesterday's and current - go for it!

Saturday, 27 May 2017


I've posted this before but felt it was time for another sharing. 

     Last spring I spent a delightful afternoon in my sunny, hot back garden in the shade of our plum tree with a lovely friend. She's creative too - she's a musician and writer and enjoys art. Since my  recovery from depression, I began hosting art afternoons in my house. Very successfully, considering that once upon a time I hated being in the house for too long. (I ground to a halt this year hosting these events, so must return to it). Unfortunately the other attendee creatives couldn't make it this day, so it was just we two. Didn't do a stroke of art but t'was good to natter.

     The subject raised was families - parents, siblings, and the parting of the ways. Both of us had had to 'divorce' a family member or two, for the sake of our sanities, and boy - does it feel good! Since both of us could remember, certain close family members had been unpleasant or indifferent, ignoring our trials and tribulations and emotional health, or teasing or challenging. No sympathy. More a case of 'Pull yourself together.' If not actually said, certainly implied. Both my friend and I had grown up with these problems, and not just occasional problems, but problems that blighted our lives, although we may not have realised it at the time. And you certainly put up with it while you're growing up, because you have to, to a certain extent and you didn't know any different. I used to have double whammies. I'd be teased about something. I'd respond emotionally and unhappily, as you would, particularly when young, and I'd then be told off for whining about it. It's only in retrospect, or with age and a bit of wisdom, do you acknowledge that this happened and now know that this was wrong. In my case this contributed big time to my future depression and anxiety.

     My friend told me there came a time when her relative went too far, negatively affecting her daughter. Something had to be done, and that 'something' was to split from this person, and only see them when absolutely necessary, if ever. Many people may say: 'But you can't do that! They're family!' My initial, emotional response was/still is: 'Yes, you bloody well can. You're  not obliged to them (emotional blackmail), and even if you are, you shouldn't care if they were the Queen of England. They're not your friends and you don't want them in your life! They're nasty and not in the least bit supportive. You're adult, in charge of your own life, and you can choose who your friends and supporters are. If the toxic people just happen to be family members - too bad!' Looking back at the issue in calm and studied fashion, I still feel that way. Even more so after I completely recovered from depression. As for obligations - if these people cause real toxicity, obligations can take a flying leap through the nearest window - hazzah!

     They say families are thicker than blood. That doesn't mean that you have to associate with them through thick and thin, just because you happen to share their genes, you have the same parents or surname. Not if they're unpleasant and non-supportive. You can choose your friends, and that should include your family, particularly if they cause you pain and always will do.

     A year after I began the recovery process from depression, both my parents died within days of one another. They'd been devoted, and my father had suffered for ten years after my mother's severe dementia caused her admittance into a specialist nursing home. I loved them dearly despite their approach towards my emotional health during my upbringing. We had been good friends - dad and I were particularly close - and I had, on the whole, found them easy to talk to. But neither of them had a clue as to how to raise me.
My mother had had no problem bringing up my two older brothers, who were virtual strangers to me, always (it's only in latter years that I've grown a little closer to the older, more understanding, one), but a sensitive, creative daughter? What do we do with her and her moods? The cutting remarks mother said to me over the years scarred me emotionally, on top of my troublesome hormones. She spoke from the hip. Couldn't help herself. 

     We - Husband and I - have learned something new since I wrote this, gleaned off Mind, the mental health charity. We had assumed that my brain had been incorrectly wired since birth, exacerbated by childbirth, but, according to extensive research that Husband read about recently, years of the kind of treatment I had endured at the hands of family can result in negative mental wiring. Fascinating. Here's the Mind link.

     My mother reached her eighties and proved her physical health when she and I took a two mile walk near her home. Towards the end of the walk she jumped nimbly over a ditch and asked me if I needed a hand! I was so proud of her. Shortly after this, dementia began to destroy her mind. She became nicer (a fact commented on by a sister-in-law), and more sympathetic and willing to discuss subjects that she'd dismissed in the past - 'Haven't got time for that. Must get on.' I couldn't believe it. It didn't last. The dementia grew severe and her final ten years were spent in the nursing home, being wheeled into the courtyard for tea. Tragic. I felt so sad for dad. He didn't deserve this. They'd been devoted, having met during the war and marrying immediately afterwards. 

     Dad grew more biting towards me towards the end of their lives.      'What's the silly cow done now?' And barked at me. I 'should' do this, 'shouldn't' do that. He'd been the softer of the two of them. No wonder I suffered.

     I didn't put up with this treatment as I grew older and wiser. I answered my mother back when I'd reached my forties. Yes! *Fist pump*. And when my father barked at me once too often in later years, I told him what I thought of the family and walked out on him. I couldn't stay angry for too long. He was in his nineties and might drop dead tomorrow, and I didn't want to end on a row. I became the wise adult in this situation - I rang him and we smoothed the path.

     There're many instances of rotten treatment within my family.  Husband and I weren't invited to a family wedding (hated weddings anyway, but that wasn't the point). Snotty nosed relative had always judged me. Who the **** did she think she was? I didn't give a doodah about her holier than thou opinion, anyway. Frankly, Ma'am, I don't give a damn, then or now. But of course it hurt, and I was furious initially. Our friends were gobsmacked to learn this. My older brother, stressed to the eyeballs at one time, told me to shut up and that I ruined everything when I tried to explain my medication to a relative. When later, I enquired after his health and that explosion, instead of apologising, he uttered: 'Oh, that. Water under the bridge.' Great. I was gobsmacked, as was Husband. 

     So yes, I've been envious/jealous of people's close relationships with their families, and felt awkward when people asked us why we never visited mine (because we had no desire to), or they never saw us.

     Then I had a medication crisis five years ago and the brilliant mental health team put me on a medication combination and gave me Cognitive  Behavioral Therapy. Thus armed with the tools to self-help, I began to feel better than I've ever felt before, and nothing and no-one was going to get in the way of that. The parents had died. There was nothing in the way of my quitting family. Husband had tried to convince me that my family was largely at fault, but I'd always defended them: 'Just the way they are.' I think part of my cure was the final admission that they had been hugely instrumental in the growth of my depression and anxiety. 

    In the last few years, I've heard tales of friends and similar situations. Thank God! I'm not alone! A friend had had to 'divorce' her mother. Another friend had done the same with her parents. And of course, my creative friend confided with me her own story. I do text a certain couple of family members occasionally. I do care about their welfare. But socialising? No thanks. 

     Of course, this applies to toxic 'friends' as well. We reach a stage in life (and it should be sooner rather than later, certainly when you have that elusive confidence) that any toxic person - the people who you can't count on as a real friend - should be removed from your life. Not as in the Queen's words regarding President Trump at the London Olympics, 2012: 'Make it look like an accident, Mr.Bond.' That would be just plain wrong. *sulk*. Make it a simple case of non-communication. In the case of those of us who suffer from depression, it's even more essential to our fragility.

     So - I dare you. Don't put up with it if you don't need to. Quit that person, then see how it feels. Good, innit?
Me and Him

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


Actually, that was fine. Husband and son set off for a week to take part in the Birmingham Canal Challenge, leaving me on my tod for the third year running.

The story is that three years ago The Crisis hit me. Then came the literal cure. Shortly following that, Husband had the opportunity to take part in the challenge in Dotterel, our 62' narrow boat moored up in Warwickshire, the Midlands. The idea being that you and crew start on a given date from any point within the Birmingham navigation canal system, and arrive at a named point on another appointed date. The most points are earned using lesser known channels and underused sections (thus opening up these areas for other boaters). Not certain what the prize is, but the point is the challenge, the number of locks to get through, the camaraderie, and the fun. And see how long it takes you to do it.

The first year I ordered Husband to do it. He's been a narrow boater forever, at least ever since he watched The Flower of Gloster (wrong spelling!), a kid's telly series back in the seventies about a bunch of kids getting their father's boat to a destination to be sold after dad had an accident. The series captured Husband's young imagination like you can't imagine.

Into Birmingham

I've boated forever, my father's wooden dinghy back in the sixties, then our own narrow boat, Dotterel, and now our Canadian canoe. So when the opportunity for Husband to take part in the challenge, I said: 'Thank you for the past thirty years, honeybun, now off you go.' No, I didn't say that, but it's close. I was looking forward to it. A whole week to watch any crap on the telly I wanted. To scoff chocolate without feeling guilty. To glug wine every night and go to bed at two in the morning. The washing up doesn't get done. The washing moulders in the laundry basket. The floor turns into a rubbish heap. I exaggerate. Of course I do.

That first year was good. I remembered to feed the cat and was delighted that Husband was now free to do this thing instead of continuously caring for me. His crew consisted of our adult heavy- metal, hilarious son, two hippies - one of them being Hub's niece, the other, the daughter of close friends - and our close friends' daughter's friend. Husband surrounded by all this young company. Fab! And Hubs regularly texted me to tell me what was happening. Fab. Especially when he 'deaded' close friends' hippy daughter (picture of her lying on lock beam, dead. Well - knackered. Not really dead). Then last year happened. Not so many crew. Son, Husband's sister, brother-in-law for part of the trip that involved umpteen zillion locks. Sister and son nattered non-stop. That's what they do. Very good trip. Apparently I became lonely. I vaguely remember that.

Husband's sister

This trip - poor ol' puss had copped it, poor love - consisted of son, both hippies, both hippy's mums (sister is one) and bro-in-law. Good stuff. I was fine about it, in fact looked forward to my alone-ness. But the day before they left, I gloomed. Don't know why, exactly. We went for cup of tea in town and thought about it. Did I feel guilt left over from my parents days: 'You should be doing this or that?' No. All that's gone. Did I feel a sense of freedom with family away? Not having to be concerned over Husband's welfare when he's around? I don't know.

But, as we talked about our writing projects and stories on the way home from town, I began to cry. Hooray! We've snagged it! Me crying means we've hit it. The problem. It's my novel. As always. This is the only sometimes negative thing I feel these days. Wanting so much to get my novel 'out there'. Husband sat me down and went over what was happening with it. I'm printing my chapters out. I'm posting them on Facebook for critiques and Gmailing them to friends for the same. All very positive. Just got to keep at it. 😣

In the meantime, in sculpture, which I drove to in my roof-off convertible Mini Cooper with the sun shining and my hair flapping all over the place, I've started sculpting an Easter Island head in clay. Inspired. Feeling fine now.

And yes - no cat. That's fine, too. She's in pussy heaven. And I'm not as disgusting as I thought I was. Actually doing the washing up and keeping the floor not looking like the aftermath of a hurricane. Anyway, all good. Good for Husand. Good for me. He asked if I might consider joining him next year. What? How many locks did you say?
I might be in. Let's wait until next year.

Sunday, 21 May 2017


The Thames at Chertsey, Surrey.

During the summer we gave our Canadian canoe an outing Swallows and Amazons* style. We paddled up - or down, I'm navigationally challenged - the River Thames (UK) along Chertsey Meads, Surrey, around forty miles north of Hampshire, our neck of the woods (is that a British saying? 😄). Bonkers. Brilliant! It was a case of: 'Get the machete out, I'm going in!' Definitely the most bonkers trip ever.

     During his student days, umpteen years ago, Husband and his mate rented a riverside bungalow/hut and  owned a Canadian canoe, too. They paddled stretches of the Thames in Weybridge, south of Chertsey, just as we were now. They never did anything quite as barmy as Swallows and Amazons, although they did collect firewood in their canoe to heat their riverside bungalow/hut in the depths of winter. Freezing as brass monkeys (another British saying?) at that time of year, although very backwoods frontier style.

     Some of these images, taken in the neck of my old woods (I was brought up in Sunbury-on-Thames, a village literally alongside the river nearby), appear idyllic, bucolic even, in places. Willow trees grace the banks and floating lily pads dot the water. But they are deceptive. A busy motorway runs slap-bang next to the river at one point (you can glimpse cars speeding past through the trees at the perimeter) and Heathrow airport is a spit away, so the air traffic, which due to its close proximity flies fairly low, and, particularly at that time of year, frequently.

     That said, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Husband had discovered this stretch of water on the interweb (God bless Street Google!). A decent car park with ease of access for canoe launching from a sandy beach onto the main river was all that we required. Furiously paddle past a heavily watered weir to steer clear of the currents, and onto a calm stretch of water towards a historically listed red stone arch and bridge over the old boat rollers. 

     Stop for coffee next to the rollers (we've had coffee in worst places)! Then onwards, past that bucolic scenery, heavy motorway noise and aircraft, then the Swallows ambience. Amazing. The channel grew very narrow near our turn-around point, where both banks were covered in stinging nettles. Bugger that, let's head back for lunch at the rollers.

     What fun!

     From the sublime to the ridiculous. The drive back through the traffic there was pretty horrendous, the start of the rush hour, but didn't last. Approaching Hampshire, it eased off. Back in Hampshire, it's LOVELY! But we loved this trip!
The rollers (the central tunnel)
The motorway is behind the trees in the background
The Hubs


Rusty tressle bridge

Back to civilization!
(For non-UK folks, here's a link about the book, Swallows and Amazons, by English author Arthur Ransome:

Friday, 19 May 2017


Here's my Aussiepals, the visit my brain was dreading. As you can see, it was terrible! 😆 Lovely!! I knew it would be, but my brain didn't. He's lovely and so's Rosie. She's as lovely and bonkers as I'd expected. Actually I felt I'd known her forever, which I have in a way.

The other thing I was concerned about is the western event we're going to soon. I'm not too bad, just a frizzon of apprehension but I will be fine.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Blog Links

I'm now adding links to other blogs. They're going to be a variety, so lifestyle blogs, of course mental health, and creative. I'd love to add other links, but - this is my first:


Elise & Thomas - Our Life Together

Depression and Mental Health Sites

 When my daughter was born in 1985, there was zilch as far as organisagtions/associations/groups went. No-one really to contact to give you help as far as depression or mental illness went. And I went a year without anyone knowing about my state of mentality. It wasn't horrendous, but it wasn't fun, either. I learned to tolerate taking care of my daughter (a little like I learned to tolerate school – you just had to do it. Mumble/moan...). But by the time my son was born in 1988 and depression swamped me again *sigh*, matters were improving, and I approached a number of organisations. The first gave you a list of possible penpals you could write to (don't forget this was the time of snail mail!) so it was a very slow, time consuming task. Today it's so much better, and with the advent of Facebook and various other social media platforms (note the technical term – posh, eh?! :-D ) things are so much better! Anyway, here follows a list, with possible additions to come.

Sick Not Weak
Twitter @SickNotWeak  

Mental Movement (magazine)
Twitter @MentalMovement

Councillors Cafe
Facebook The Councilors Cafe
Twitter @CouncillorsCafe
Mind                                                                                                                                                           15-19 Broadway, Stratford,
London E15 4B
020 8519 2122                                                                                                        

Mental Health Foundation                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Colechurch House, 1 London Bridge Walk, SE1  
44 (0) 207803110                                                                                                               @mentalhealthfoundation     
Depression Alliance                                                                                                                                           (Depression Alliance has merged with Mind)

The Blurt Foundation 

Kind Over Matter
Twitter @kindovermatter  
Mental Health Matters

PO Box 9090,

Depression UK

PO Box 10566
NG13 8LU
Uncommon Knowledge Ltd
Boswell House
Argyll Square
PA34 4BD
Tel: +(44)0 1273 77 67 70
Depression Helper


Monday, 8 May 2017


Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend I haven't seen in around three or more years and the apprehension is creeping in, and yesterday I watched half a hilarious western on the telly!
     These two totally unrelated events might not mean much to most folk. Meeting an old friend? Delightful. Watched a western with an exclamation mark? Huh?
     Let's start at the beginning and all shall become as clear as mud. First, the friend...
     I met my Aussie mate, Colin, in a bus queue outside Disneyland, Los Angeles – as you do – back in 1978. Colin is delightful. Funny, tall, rangy, looks like he lives outdoors – as Aussiefolk often do. He sported long fair hair back then, but had it all chopped off years later. Shame. Loved that hair! But he's still funny, tall rangy, looking like he lives outdoors. We've kept in touch all these years and all through my depression. He's been over here many times, a number of them on business, and we always met up. Luckily he and Husband get on like that proverbial house on fire. My parents loved him, and he even attended our wedding. Shows how close we were.
     But when depression gripped me in that evil way it did, seeing Col was hard, but he understood, bless him. I was shy, the confidence was sapped, I didn't know what to say to him. I couldn't cope with the idea of him staying with us. Even now I'd find that hard. Last time we met was in London over three years ago and we had lunch and wandered around a bit. Thankfully, Husband and Col talked and talked, and I listened a lot. I was a tad jealous, but that helped because I was nervous being alone with him, and I stuttered.
     That was before my medication crisis three years ago, and now I'm building up a life I've never had before.
     Colin, in the meantime, ran a business, has a lovely partner and sons, has built a house and grown a rainforest – again, as you do – hosts band get togethers at his pad, motorbikes with mates, and travels the globe. So you can imagine how I've felt when talking to him. And now he and his lady are globetrotting and popping into London and driving down to see us tomorrow. Business or pleasure, I asked? Definitely pleasure, he grinned back, virtually.
     Now I'm apprehensive. The night before last he messaged me, live, which involved me actually talking to him (yikes! - I hate phones) in the middle of me playing four-suit Spider Solitaire which I was actually winning. I promptly handed him over to Husband. We were on speaker so managed to discuss stuff, including our meeting, which will be here, in Hampshire, tomorrow afternoon. I am looking forward to meeting Rosie, his lady, who's lovely, judging by our chats on Facebook, but apprehension is definitely creeping in. I'll be glad when tomorrow's over. Except that I really, really want to visit their pad in Aussieland.

My first wild west camp

     Now, westward ho! I'm funny about the west. Next to art and writing, it's my big hobby, and I've grown into adulthood wanting to be that gun-totin', cigar munchin', saloon-goin' n' cursin', prospectin' frontiers woman in buckskins and stetson. I joke that I'm reincarnated from Calamity Jane but hopefully better looking – hadeha - but then I wonder if it's in the genes/jeans. But, apart from my dad's great-uncle emigrating west to British Columbia during the 1890s, being burnt out of his homestead and heading south to join Sunkist in California, there's no-one else with the genes/jeans. The other ancestor, who went gold prospecting in Dawson City in Canada, wasn't a blood relative.
     But that's all another story.
     This story, the one about my hobby v my brain, is a pain in the proverbial buckskinned butt. Just as I was starting to write my western novel, and beginning to join western clubs, our kids came along and kaboom! went the hobby. Years and years later, after embarrassing embarrassible daughter by turning up at the school gates in buckskin fringed jacket, and proving myself at western events by doing the fast draw (which Husband and me hated), depression began, irrevocably, to distort anything to do with the west in my head. I had to prove myself. I couldn't watch westerns without sadness creeping in and I couldn't read western novels for the same reason. I was just about okay visiting western events, because I was dressed a la Calamity in gun and pants and doing my Kitty Le Roy thaing (although I had to stop this due to extreme anxiety...growl). I even became Hampshire Deputy for the British Westerners Association, began Kitty Le Roy's Wild West website, joined umpteen wild west Yahoo groups (which became Facebook pages) and formed Kitty Le Roy's Wild West Saloon on Facebook (rather pleased about that). So, yes – I'm a wild west woman with bells on.
     Three years ago my brain began the journey towards wellness with bells on too, and I began, ve-e-ery slo-o-o-wly (deep voice) to rebuild my creative life and life in general. Last year we managed a wild west living history camp – after the inital nerves I felt... fab!
     Now. Last night they broadcast A Million Ways to Die in the West on the box. Husband suggested I have a go at watching it. It's hilarious. A whole buttful of swearing and stupid, slapstick humour. Fab! The humour and ridiculousness made it so watchable. So I chortled and played four suit Solitaire so I wasn't totally concentrating on the film. It was great fun, and the sharp-shootin' heroine was a brilliant role model, slightly reminiscent of Sharon Stone in The Quick and the Dead, my other role model.
     But then I began ruminating on Aussiepal Colin's visit at the same time and my brain went on overland and the tears emerged. Fabulous Husband turned the telly off, sat by my side, and together we CBT'd (cognitive behavioural therapy) the situation. Remember – I'd watched half the western without a problem. We're seeing Colin tomorrow and I'll be fine (son Tom reiterated). It's all in me head.
      I am getting there. It will take time - these things always do. After thirty years what else do I expect? But having voiced (or typed) these thoughts, it can actually make a difference.
     So – I'll be in touch in a couple of days, post Colin, and give you all the gen on what happened. Squeek...

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Kitty Le Roy's Wild West  

(My alter ego)

Working on it - bear with...

Working on my online art gallery...
For anyone who watched Miranda - 'Bear with...bear with...'