“People are just as wonderful as sunsets if you let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don't find myself saying, "Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner." I don't try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds.” (Carl Rogers)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Reasons to be cheerful

Trying out some things from positive psychology as a way of not slipping into black despair due to the fact that life's hard fucking work at times, so I celebrate that I fasted for two days, serving to give my system a rest, break my festivus bingery snack habits and get rid of antibiotic sludge feeling. Go me! Also, I've been limbering up in mornings and exercising regularly and increasingly vigorously. On top of that, brisk walks with audiobooks (after Tracy Thorn on the Today prog). So, that's the temple of the soul, my diet and fitness regimes on track.

More Pos-psych, I learnt the words of two protest songs on guitar and learnt my Blake songs on keyboard - which I enjoy singing more than on guitar, funnily, it feels freer and I feel more able to improvise melodies. Also, I found out that my book review has been published, tho i havent' received a copy of the journal yet. An enormous Yes, Dasein!

I really desperately want to get my doctoral writing going again, but it stays just out of reach - I won't give up reaching and I will get there. I do think accentuating the positive and capturing it for review can be helpful, but, of course, not everything can be spun in this way.

My Aunt May died. May's story is not a very happy one, really. She grew up with dad and her other sister in a back-to-back terraced house (knocked down as 'slums' later) and experienced something in her very early twenties (in the late 1940s or early 1950s) which knocked her life off course. It's all very sketchy, because nobody talked about nothin' back then. The secrets that destroy, or what? Well, I guess it was some kind of mental breakdown. This from Wikipedia:
Mental breakdown (also known as a nervous breakdown) is a colloquial term for an acute, time-limited psychiatric disorder that manifests primarily as severe stress-induced depressionanxiety or dissociation in a previously functional individual, to the extent that they are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis until the disorder is resolved. A mental breakdown is defined by its temporary nature, and often closely tied to psychological burnoutsevere overworksleep deprivation and similar stressors, which combine to temporarily overwhelm an individual with otherwise sound mental faculties.
Something happened to May when her caring brother was away in very distant Egypt on his National Service. And, whatever it was, they put her into a loony bin as everybody used to call it - Bracebridge Asylum at Lincoln, a very long way away from Grimsby in those days. I can only guess, but I always felt that any chance of her situation being time-limited was destroyed. And she was in that rather alien and scary environment until 'Care in the Community' came along and they found her a shared and monitored house in Lincoln itself. And then dementia came along. For fuck's sake. So, her last ten years were in a care home and the last year or so has been mostly spent in her bed - each visit saw her slip further and further away from even the barest communication and her body was a bag of bones.

Is there something positive from this? I don't know. I felt very low. Given that May was never really able to play a full part in anybody's family life, and she essentially held the status of visitee to my dad and me (the only people who did visit her), I have been taken aback by how much her going has affected me - I felt somehow that the world had shifted somehow. It makes me awfully sad to think of her absence as I'm writing here. Perhaps a couple of months back, dad was unable to visit, so I went and I sang her a couple of songs and then as I was leaving she spoke what - to me at least - were her final words before she was unable to communicate any more. I told her I loved her very much and she said 'Thank you, Dear.'

May, thank you, Dear.


  1. Haven't been very present of late , weighed down by my own woes but feel very sad reading your post here Billy , sounds like life is a bit of an uphill struggle for you right now looking for Reasons to be Cheerful when life is fucking hard work and then Dear Aunty May, what a life , carrying the secrets that destroy...
    Sounds like Aunty May dying has affected you deeply, the world before not quite the same as the world after in her absence. But here in it all Billy in all the sadness I hear that you are singing, singing to Aunty May ( how wonderful) and singing protest songs accompanied by your guitar and key boards. Thank god Aunty May had someone to love her very much and sing to her, there may not have been many blessings in her life by the sounds of it, but to be loved and sung to by Billy Miller must be right up there amongst her greatest blessings on this level ...

    Hope the doctoral writing finds its way towards you soon Billy without you having to stretch yourself too far to meet it :O)

  2. Not sure why I am anonymous but can't see how I sign in and too tired to work it out so should have signed this Kat :O)

  3. Thanks for these beautiful reflections, Your Majesty - for Kat (I knew!), you are now officially the Queen of Positive Psychology. Wear the mantle well, with genuineness, empathy and trust (natch), but also with resistance and eternal good cheer :-)

    1. Hi Billy how goes things today? I really really hope that I am not the Queen of anything let alone PP. Rather be the peasant of NOTHING to include both/and/and more than :O)

  4. Having a great time today, O Regal and Most Pleasant Peasant - took advantage of a London trip to tour the National gallery. Nourishing.

  5. How wonderful , a place brim full of nourishment and reasons to be cheerful . Oh to be a great master or would I be a mistress :O) Best keep this post Anonymous :O)


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