Creating My Odyssey

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

Monday, 19 November 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : IT'S OKAY TO IGNORE CHRISTMAS - HONESTLY!:       I briefly chatted with a friend recently.          'How are you?' I asked.          'It's that time of year.&#39...


      I briefly chatted with a friend recently.
         'How are you?' I asked.
         'It's that time of year.'
      'Ah...' I nodded. 'That time of year.'
      According to her mother, if she didn't do the right thing - i.e. All the family get together and 'have fun' - she would be a selfish so-and-so. Hang on a pickin' minute...! I did suggest she tell her mother... But my friend is far too nice to tell her mother... and there'd be all the repercussions to follow.

     It took me years to finally admit to my dear old dad that I hated family get-togethers. I quite liked them as a kid, but felt judged and out of it as I grew older. By the time I made my admittance to dad all those years later, my mother had been in a home for severe dementia for ten years and hadn't a clue. Dad, being shy, felt largely the same about family get-togethers, but, again, was far too nice and polite a person to acknowledge it because he wanted to do the 'right' thing, whatever the right thing was. On his birthday, all he wanted to do was have a quiet day sitting at home reading a book and drinking red wine. But no - relatives would be dropping in.
     'So-and-so is bringing a cake.' He said, 'I don't want to spoil it for them.'
     Honestly! It was his birthday! He couldn't even have his quiet day. 

     I loved Christmas when I was a kid. It was magical. Then I grew up and the expectations and commercialisms popped up. I began to not like it anymore. Jollities were forced on Husband and me by my family. Being sociable. (That was a biggie for them). Many, many people enjoy it. That's great, but for those of us who don't want to be jolly at the click of a Christmas tree light switch and who can barely tolerate other people (not me, but I know one or two folks like that...), Christmas is four months too long, starting after the summer hols have ended. Haven't even tricked or treated yet! 

     After I had kids and depression I began to detest Christmas. If I'd been well I might have tolerated it. Just. We put our feet down with a firm hand and refused all family requests to attend the wretched get-togethers. We did our best for the kids and hoped that they had reasonable festivities. Just cuz we hated it didn't mean they should. 

     So we plodded on, until five years ago and my depression cure. Our kids were grown-up, we had small grand-daughters and we could do the hell what we wanted. My parents had departed the mortal coil so no obligations there and I had - for the sake of my new found happiness - 'divorced' my family. 

     So - we spent the last three Christmases in Looe, Cornwall, in the Black Towers apartments overlooking the sea and the estuary, eating Christmas dinner cooked by Husband and drinking wine while watching the seagulls do their thing. Now that was MAGICAL

     This year we've decided to stay home for Christmas because we're beginning to like it again. Even enjoying it! We're having a Christmas dinner with our writing group and we're going to Birmingham Christmas Market. We are beginning to like it again. Took a long time coming. In the meantime, I do it every year. Whenever folk talk about the pressures of Christmas, the family obligations, I say: 'Don't do it! Say no! Be selfish!' 

     But I'm a fine one to talk. It took years for us to refuse to celebrate or socialise, and we used my depression for that, so I know it's not all that easy to do. But, if you are suffering mentally, you must do what's right for you, for your own sanity's sake. 

     It's four years since we absconded to Looe for Christmas. This year we're going to have a conventional Christmas tree and decorations and all. We have a mini pink, fluffy glittering tree with Rudolph the reindeer sitting underneath surrounded by Turkish delight, dates, cake, pudding, little pressies and wine for company, as long as Rudolph doesn't scoff the lot. It will be nice and we'll probably meet up with our daughter and her family after the day. That'll be absolutely fine. 

     How are you going to manage Christmas? 
     Or will you be brave and abscond?

Looe, Cornwall, at Christmas


Friday, 16 November 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : THE SPARKLING HIPPIE: Haley Hoover. Impassioned creator.  Flower Child born in the wrong decade.  Teaching you Creative Confidence. I am a creativ...


The Sparkling Hippie

Haley Hoover.

Impassioned creator.  Flower Child born in the wrong decade.  Teaching you Creative Confidence.

I am a creative who was totally born in the wrong decade.  I listen to Fleetwood Mac, Joe Walsh and Tom Petty.  I read books about the Summer of Love.  I watch docos on Woodstock and San Fransisco in the 1960's.  
Aside from studying the counter-culture generation, I spend lots of time in my painting room painting bold, playful objects such as guitars and Volkswagen busses.  >>>Check out my hippie art here.

I believe there are no rules in art, life or business -- and so that must make me some kind of anti-artist or something.  But who says it has to look a certain way? Shouldn't our creations be as unique and as personal as each and every one of us?
My story is about finding the ultimate happy ending, no--not a soulmate-- but a soul.  I believe creativity, spirituality and travel are tools we can use to help become the most authentic version of ourselves. 
Perhaps you too, have a voice inside you telling you to go do something brave.  What's it saying?  Take that first brave step by writing it down in an email and sending it my way.  Together we can shake the crummy dust off our boots and change the world! Learn how I can help you get over your fears of judgement, perfectionism and not feeling “good enough” to promote or share your creative treasures right over here >>


Monday, 12 November 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : FIVE YEARS LATER - HOW I FEEL NOW: I look fine in most of these.  And I probably was,  but I'm putting on my 'cheerful' face in some,  and many times in...


I look fine in most of these. 
And I probably was, 
but I'm putting on my 'cheerful' face in some, 
and many times in between, I wasn't fine.

I wrote a post 'Five Years Later' before, and that covers much of what happened over the years that led to now. This one will relate how I - largely - feel today.

Since starting on my new medication combination of Venlafaxine  and Mirtazapine (known in the biz as California Rocket Fuel *chuckle* ) five years ago, I gradually grew calmer. Less frenzied about everything. Less hysterical (historical, I called it!). Life gradually became lighter, better. I became excited about some things. My new medication brought me to a happier place.

The next step...

I was given Cognitive Behavioural Therapy by my brilliant mental health team. My psychologist took me, over a period of months, through thoughts that had been distorted over a lifetime of negative thinking, and challenged them. Husband saw my bedtime reading for this and said: 'Makes absolute sense! We can do this!' Apparently I was the right 'candidate' for this. I responded well to this therapy, as well as the medication. (Although, it has to be said, there is a downside to the medication, and that's how it can effect the love life, as it has mine. We're working on that as we speak.).

Psychologically, the great big factor that caused my general moody state of mind over the years, apart from one's hormones (*so we thought - more on this below), was my upbringing. My parents and siblings. My parents  - the practical wartime generation - had no clue as to how to bring me up. Depression and anxiety was something to either 'pull yourself together' like a pair of curtains (our words) over, or to be patronised over: 'Ah, you'll get over it.'. Or to be teased over. I grew up being judged and lectured, particularly by mother. *Years of this drip-fed treatment had highly likely changed the chemical make-up of my brain, causing depression in later life. We discovered this from the mental health charity, Mind, .

A year after my medication crisis my parents died within days of one another. Their deaths precipitated a major decision. Sadly I had to 'divorce' my family, but because I now felt better than I'd ever felt before, I decided that no-one was going to ruin my new found happiness, something I'd never felt before, and I would be at risk in their company. No-one needs negativity in their lives.

Our own family - daughter and her family, and our son - Husband's family and various friends, have been fabulous, sympathetic and understanding about my depression and Husband's welfare. We have had nothing but support from all of them. This has contributed hugely towards my healing. I can't state that too highly. Now I'm able to pursue, or work towards, all those activities Husband and I want to do, and enjoy the process.

How do I feel today? One enormous change was my mornings. I was never a morning person. *Bluurgh...* I gradually - I use that word a lot because that's what it was - began to feel good on waking up. I'd never had that experience before. Of course, not having to go to work helps, because, even after the kids grew up, I was never well enough to go to work, although I did a lot of voluntary work and part-time jobs. But, being of retirement age now, we're free to do as we please, more or less. Today I'm able to get up reasonably early (8am? That's early for me!) and not mind, even feel perky. Poor Perky. Such novelty!

Two of the last issues I had to get to grips with was a) being at home for any length of time and b) My novel. Both would depress me. I'm slowly getting to grips with them, with the help of Husband and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Being at home for lengths of time left me with past associations of being trapped in the home, caring for children, which I'd hated. It's taken time to convince my sub-conscious (because that's what it is) that being at home now is actually safe, pleasant and pleasurable. Gardening always helped initially, but I'd grow low being inside. So, I am growing happier in the house - any part of the house - at any time of day. It helps that we're redecorating virtually the whole house. Hooray!

My novel
. We know all about that. Againcognitive behavioural therapy, with Husband's help, is getting me through it. I can report that some day sooner rather than later - don't ask me when! - I'll have the first three parts finished and self-published. Again...hooray! 

So, here I am, bang up to date. Obstacles remain, but not insurmountable ones. We're working on them as I type.

Today I feel better than I've ever been. Yesterday I helped Husband vacuum bilge water out of the engine bay of Dotterel, our narrow boat in Warwickshire. I enjoyed that and felt productive. He said: 'Great! That's definitely a two-wo/man job!'

So inspiring!

If anyone else has a similar story, I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : DEPRESSED? SOME OF THIS MIGHT HELP...: It's that time of year...when many of us who suffer from depression and anxiety or SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are afflicted most....


It's that time of year...when many of us who suffer from depression and anxiety or SAD (seasonal affective disorder) are afflicted most. So here's an extensive list of coping strategies I've accrued over five years of getting to where I am now...

Talk to your GP - Change your GP if s/he isn't sympathetic.
Seek councilling.
Talk Therapy - group or individual. (Mental Health Charity). Counselling Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This challenges negative thought patterns.
Meet up with friends and/or family.
Educate yourself and the people around you about depression. Show them scientific evidence and research.
Don't neglect your hobbies and interests  
Join associations/groups specialising in mental health and depression.Eg. Mind, Depression Alliance.
Go outside every day. Fresh air and daylight are essential to wellbeing.
Visit the coast.

Explore your neighbourhood by foot. Or just explore - anywhere, anyhow.
Buy a lightbox (particularly helpful if you suffer from SAD - Seasonal Affected Disorder).
Antidepressant medication. There are so many on the market you may find one to suit you.
Alternative therapies - 
Clear clutter in the home. Clean your house. This can contribute towards depression big time.
Get organised! I'm the world's worst!
Creativity - very good for psychological problems. Scribble. Doodle. Clay modelling...
Learn something new. It'll give your mind something fresh to think about.
Take a bubble bath.
Do some exercise. Move yer body!
Try yoga
Or mindfulness
Go for a run. Not my thing - I hate it - but some love it!
I enjoy gardening.
Eat sensibly.
Try being more loving towards your partner.
Listen to upbeat music.
Record your mood from hour to hour. (Doctors love this! It gives them a good idea of the situation you're going through).
Record your medications - dosage, when taken etcetera...
Write. (I used to write what I was thinking when I couldn't put it into words. Very helpful).
Write for the fun of it.
Try adult education. 
Visit art galleries.
Pet your dog/cat/guinea-pig. 
Watch a favorite TV show. 
Go to the cinema/theatre/concert.
Do some puzzles (crosswords/wordsearch)
Play a musical instrument. 
Punch a punch bag.
Redecorate your home, or perhaps one room. (We're doing the whole shebang, neglected for years).
Try aromatherapy (candle, lotion, room spray).
Go shopping.
Read a good - funny? - book.

Pray. Visit your local church.
Study the sky in daylight and on a clear night.
Write a letter or send an email to a friend or family.
Face your fears - but don't be too brutal to yourself!
Paint your nails, do your make-up or hair. If you look good, it can make you feel good.
Banish toxic people from your life, even if they're family. (I had to do this.)
Surround yourself with positive, supportive people.
Don't drink too much alcohol.
Hug a pillow/stuffed animal/your partner/mum/dad/friend.
Build a pillow fort. 
Be childlike (not childish!).
Do something adventurous. (We go canoeing and occasionally cycling and lengthy walks). 
Take a trip abroad.

And I'm sure there are more. If anyone has any further ideas, do let me know! 

Tuesday, 6 November 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : I NEED TO IMPROVE THIS BLOG, DEAR READER/S... IDEA...: I'm struggling with technological issues with this blog. I love doing it, but I'd love a bit of help. I need you guys and any other ...


I'm struggling with technological issues with this blog. I love doing it, but I'd love a bit of help. I need you guys and any other potential readers to give me a hand!

For a start the blog doesn't work properly. The links at the side aren't working. I tried them out and none of them - with the exception of Kitty Le Roy's Wild West -  link to their subjects. Infuriating. I'm still learning about Blogger, which is fine, but Googling the subject brings up many thoughts on 'How to...' but often the tech speak and instructions are so obscure I'm left thinking 'Whaa....?'. And I need images, not words!

So, one - fix technical problems. Two - how to get readers to interact. That's a big one, and apparently one of the biggest problems bloggers face. I've had a few responses in the comments boxes, but not many. Most of my comments have been via Facebook or other social media channels. Which is great, but interaction on the blog itself would be fab-u-lous. This problem is common and a tad lonely.

So, two - interaction. Am I writing the right stuff? Am I boring the pants off potential readers? Is there a reasonable balance between mental health subjects and my waffle? Is my content too varied? I would love to hear everyone's views.

Three - design. Is that okay? Is it attractive enough to want to peruse? Given half the chance I would really up my design game when it comes to my renaissance soul subjects. Blogger makes that hard to do when you're artistic and would love to go to town on some posts, such as the quirkier ones where I'd love to place photos at a slight angle say, or frame them with a silly border. There might even be a design feature on Blogger to do just that, but I've yet to find it. But - I hear you say - it is free! True. I have signed up to Canva, which is a design platform bloggers and designers use, but I've yet to try it. But I must, I must!

Anyhoo, any suggestions and comments would be fabulous, so, follower - yes, you, I'm talking to you! - respond and tell me what you think.

                                                      CREATING MY ODYSSEY