I’m on day two of my week of house-sitting, the main duties of which are in fact dog-sitting. I would never describe myself as an animal lover. Quite the opposite, in fact. As a child, when we found a lost rabbit in our garden, I suggested that we eat it. I never wanted to be a vet, nor begged for a pony. In recent years, though, I’d thought I’d detected a change of heart. A former beau had a dog that I adored. I’m a big fan of Springwatch/Autumnwatch. I’d even convinced myself that I wanted a dog of my own. It’s probably a good thing, then, that I’ve had this week as a kind of “work experience” for dog ownership. “How lovely,” I mused last night, “Bank Holiday tomorrow – no need to set an alarm, can have a leisurely breakfast then can go for a lovely long stroll with my charge.” Only pets, like children, have other ideas. At 8am, I realised if I didn’t take him for a walk soon-ish then I’d have a serious clean up job. I looked more bag lady than County Set as I stumbled along behind him down the lanes. Ditto this evening, as the sheets of rain came tumbling down on us. It’s not so much that I minded walking in the wet – it was actually quite refreshing. What bothered me more was how the realities of dog ownership have bought my carefully constructed fantasy crashing down so quickly. It’s seems that old habits die hard, and perhaps my conversion to animal loving isn’t as complete as I’d imagined. Although I was still super duper excited that three weeks of Springwatch started tonight. Time to dig out my nature related brooches in homage.

It’s the weekend. Two days. And on both days I’ve read a statement about depression that speaks to me. One’s short, one’s long. One’s comic, one’s poignant. The two resonate equally. The first quotation comes from an interview in Stylist magazine with Ruby Wax, a comedien. The second quotation comes from Quaker Faith and Practice, a passage by Bernard Brett, described as having “severe cerebal palsy; he joined Friends in Colchester & worked tirelessy to help others”. Both experience/experienced depression. “Having depression is like every day deciding whether to have a manicure or jump off a cliff.” “At some times I have felt very definitely the guiding hand of God, steering my life in certain directions & this is a very wonderful & rich feeling. Yet at other times, & for quite long periods, I have known the empty loneliness & even despair that comes from depression. Everything seems dry & arid, & friendships which at other times are a source of joy seem empty & meaningless. These are frightening times, because the work or activities I seek to do have no apparent value or reason. Life seems an endless struggle & the prospect of having to live within the extreme limitations of my disabilities, with the knowledge that with the passing years they will become worse rather than better, is a daunting thought. There are some mornings when I wake up during times of depression when I simply want to cease living.”

Today I went shopping. Proper shopping – a trip to a place designed specifically for shops with the dedicated purpose of buying clothes. This is now a rare occurrence in my life. Aside from checking out my local charity shops when I’m out & about & my first (& so far only) foray into buying clothes online, I haven’t been shopping since just after Christmas. It hasn’t always been this way. As a huge fan of fashion & “dress” as a concept, I used to assume that lots of shopping was part of that. It took me a long time to realise that ain’t necessarily so. When I stopped having a regular income a couple of years ago, I stopped shopping as a hobby. The less I shopped, the less I wanted to shop. I’ve found that I don’t need shops to show me what to wear; instead the people & things I see in the world around me (and the fantasy world in Vogue) have inspired and encouraged my sense of style with what I already have & only occasional purchases. Removing myself from the shopping arena, I discovered that I actually really like wearing the same stuff more often – like when you’re a child and you have a favourite dress, I love having my most treasured outfits that I literally wear to death. It’s so satisfying. But the shops didn’t want me to make that discovery; it’s bad for business. I’ve also found lots of other things to do with my free time, things that I enjoy far more. Gradually, thanks to less shopping & various other factors, like renewed politisication (probably interconnected: less shopping = more time for thinking about other stuff as well as doing other stuff), I’ve come to resent the way that our primary public role & identity is as consumers. It seems inescapable, but I don’t want my purpose in life, my definition of self, to be dictated by the stuff I buy. I am what I do, not what I put on my credit card. Even if today that included some lovely new things.

Two or three times each week, I listen to “The Daily Service” on Radio 4 LW. The programme is a fifteen minute Christian service consisting of prayers, hymns and a message. My reactions to the broadcast are often mixed. I don’t like it when I don’t know the hymns (having a hymn sing-a-long is definitely part of its appeal). Furthermore, I often feel a sense of alienation from the kind of god that the presenters (ordained ministers from various churches) talk about. As a Quaker, I’m not sure whether I identify as a Christian or not. The term is loaded with such baggage & assumptions. Listening to “The Daily Service”, I struggle to relate to the understandings of “God” & “Jesus” that they articulate. At the same time, though, the programme often contains interesting thoughts, little snippets that get one thinking about life – just as “Thought For The Day” does. This week, the theme for all the services has been about public figures & our attitudes towards them – a timely issue with all the current debates about privacy & expectations about standards of behaviour. One of the messages I heard on the programme suggested that those in the public eye serve as a distraction from our own weaknesses; that we judge them harshly against standards that we do not maintain ourselves. Rather than fixating on footballers or politicians or any other “celebrity”, maybe we should reflect on what our expectations & views say about us. What weaknesses of our own do we project onto them? I certainly know that I can be a harsh critic of perceived vulnerability in others – well known or not. As much as I’m loathed to admit it, I sneer at their fallibility as I place unrealistic demands on myself. I seem to expect that I can do everything, all the time, without needing any assistance or support from others. But sometimes we all have to admit that we can’t manage. I find it hard to say that I need help.

If this week were a horoscope, it would say something along the lines of “Interplanetary collisions create a sense of uncertainty and self doubt for Cancerians. Decisions and responsibilities may seem overwhelming, but through the tumultousness will emerge a series of profound revelations that will help to shape your future. Although firm action may be difficult amidst the turmoil, rest assured that what you learn this week can be put to good use in the months ahead as Uranus causes a total solar eclipse.” All this and it’s only Wednesday.

Blue mood – horrendous hormonal surges.

Blue chair – new addition – just the right height for my desk & very plush.  My previous desk chair has been re-homed on the landing & looks very cosy there.

Blue shed door – on the card containing a letter from my lovely friend & penpal Clare, who blogs over at http://passthepattern.tumblr.com/

The card with the blue shed door was part of a beautiful parcel that Clare has sent me, containing news of what she’s been doing, a copy of Making and lots of amazing bits for crafting.  The latter were all contained in fab envelopes, complete with hand-drawn pictures, as shown in the photograph.

The blue shed door card & the parcel cheered me no end, as did the sight of the parcel’s contents in the blue chair.  I am now sitting in bed, looking happily at the blue shed door card, the envelopes & the blue chair.  I’m no expert in colour therapy, but this very unscientific series of observations has led me to conclude that maybe the way forward is to identify one’s bad moods as a colour, find objects of the same colour that make you feel happy, see what happens. 

Blue + blue = no more blues.