What a Relief!

16 Aug 2022
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Last Friday, a friend invited me to see the modern tapestry exhibition at the cathedral of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk. It is a wonderful exhibition: ten enormous tapestries depicting the creation story, Eden, and the fall of Adam and Eve. If you are anywhere near, I would heartily recommend it; the tapestries are not only beautiful, but awe-inspiring when you think of the amount of work and love that has gone into them.

My friend and I wandered around the town and through the Abbey Gardens – very brown now, with the drought – and lunched outside among the market square flowers, listening to a talented busker. It was a lovely day.

Inevitably, nature called, and we had occasion to use the public lavatories. I’m sure we all have rather negative expectations of such places. But the loos in Bury St Edmunds were clean, with no graffiti; there was soap in the dispenser and the hand-dryers worked.

I was reminded of another loo, many years ago, in London.

Those of you who have seen the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, will remember the heroes enter the Ministry of Magic via an old-fashioned Public Lavatory. I don’t know if these wonderful Edwardian conveniences exist now, but back in the eighties, they still did. One descended into the bowels of the earth (pun intended) to an unpleasantly scented world of green tiles, white enamel, dark wood and brass pipes. There you would find a lavatory attendant: some dour and miserable wretch earning a miserly living from the city council and whatever tips the relieved public gave.

The time I remember was very different. I entered a room smelling fresh, with flowers above the wash basins, and brass pipes gleaming so bright, they were nearly blinding. And, down on her hands and knees, polishing for all she was worth, was the happiest woman I think I have ever met. She explained she had looked after that loo for twenty years and it was obvious she loved it and it was her pride and her joy to keep it clean, fresh and sparkling.

Her tips saucer was full of silver, as you might expect, but I honestly don’t think she kept that lavatory so beautiful just for the tips; she cleaned and polished from a place of service and love. That humblest of jobs was elevated to art because of what she brought to it.

It may seem odd to compare a lavatory attendant with the artist who created the glorious tapestries in the cathedral, but the same passion and dedication is common to both.

As I remember that lavatory attendant, I am humbled, and wonder if there is any area in my life I attend to with such a sense of service, dedication and passion?

Do you have a place of passion? Something into which you pour yourself, no matter how small or unconsidered?

I think we all might be the richer and happier for it if we do.

Mary

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Comments

Ruth

Aug. 17, 2022, 7:06 a.m.

Hi Mary I felt much better after last weeks' comments. I thought people might think I was a nuisance, but no, I felt so loved and cared for. The advice was fantastic. I thought, I have to listen to me and how my body is feeling. It has worked. This week I have done what I needed to do. I have concentrated on the books again, stayed in the house. 10 boxes sold for charity. The rest going to the charity shop, It has felt to good to be so focused on something. To do what I needed to do this week. Thank you everyone. This really is a place where I feel welcome and valued. XX

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Sally

Aug. 17, 2022, 7:42 a.m.

So glad to hear that, Ruth. I wasn’t part of last week’s conversation, but sympathise with your plight. I am pleased Moodscope members came to the rescue. In my experience, they always do. Moodscope is a place where you are not only listened to, but helped. In small ways or ways we hadn’t expected. It’s a place of comfort imo. Yes, I agree that you do feel valued on here.

Mary Wednesday

Aug. 17, 2022, 11:03 a.m.

Oh, Ruth, I am so, so pleased. I have just come from a conversation with my business coach where we concentrated on the importance of boundaries. What he said was, "Every time you say "No," to someone of something, you say a resounding "Yes," to one one or something else." That has made me think. What am I saying "Yes" to because I feel guilty or pressurised. And what am I saying "No" to because of that Yes? I honour you for saying No and saying Yes.

Teg

Aug. 17, 2022, 11:25 a.m.

Hi Ruth Great news. To be grateful is sublime. Txx

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 17, 2022, 4:30 p.m.

You are valued here Ruth and all of us need a lift from other Moodscopers at some time or another….glad you felt cared for. Love and gentle Bear hugs x x x

Sally

Aug. 17, 2022, 7:57 a.m.

I talk. A lot. I learn from others out and about. Last week, the trolley man at the supermarket whose story I heard , the terrible accident at 19, thrown off at motorbike and in an induced coma for 4 weeks. Then the elderly couple, he in a motorised scooter, “ only 4th time I’ve used it , whose story turned to “ We lost our daughter on Saturday “ . It was only Monday. Oh, how I felt for them in their sad, sad loss. Luckily, there are joyous stories too: “ We got ( puppy) 4 months ago, and it’s totally changed our life , for the better.” The young couple are beaming . My dog's tail is wagging, and puppy and he are scampering around. The good life. Stories stay with you. You hope you gave the right answers, and properly heard them…. It’s a very small and reciprocal thing, and we can all do it. I feel better always for listening and learning. I love it.

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Mary Wednesday

Aug. 17, 2022, 11:05 a.m.

I too love people's stories. My husband jokes that MI5 should send me in, as I find people pour out their life stories to me. It's confusing, because I always feel it is I who have done the talking, but somehow - maybe by osmosis - I get their stories too. Being able to listen is a great gift.

Teg

Aug. 17, 2022, 11:28 a.m.

Hi Mary Being able to give and receive in equal measures is a gift. Txx

Teg

Aug. 17, 2022, 11:32 a.m.

Hi Sally People's lives are full of the bad and good. We need to empathise with the bad and show our appreciation for the good. Listen and learn; I like this. Txx

Lexi

Aug. 17, 2022, 12:42 p.m.

Sally your response made me smile. I'm a talker and listener too. To my daughter's embarrassment whenever we're out - oh no mom don't stop and talk to that person - :) But I feel like it's one of the little ways I can contribute something good to the world. xo

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 17, 2022, 4:32 p.m.

Ditto Sally and Lexi - and I learnt this from my lovely Mum ;-)* xx

Sally

Aug. 17, 2022, 4:55 p.m.

Lexi, thanks so much, you get it 100%. And Bear, you too. Your Mum does sound lovely.

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 17, 2022, 6:37 p.m.

She was - sadly no longer with us ;-( xx

Orangeblossom

Aug. 17, 2022, 10:59 a.m.

Thanks for your blog Mary. Your story about the lavatory attendant reminded me of my experience in Germany which we were travelling through in 1981. Only this person wasn’t friendly & refused to give me change so I could use the facilities. My OH thought that she may have considered mea Turk & didn’t mind if I burst. We did solve the matter by hiring a room in a pension or boarding house with an en-suite bathroom & I was saved from having a very unpleasant accident.

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Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 17, 2022, 4:34 p.m.

Oh OB - that’s dreadful! How can someone be so unkind - we use these ‘facilities’ cos we are in need! Sometimes desperately so!! I hope the attendant gets a good dose of….karma when she needs to spend a krona or euro!! Bear xx

Sally

Aug. 17, 2022, 4:58 p.m.

That’s awful. Poor you! This kind of person , a little bit of power over people, it goes to their head. Little dictators.

Mary Wednesday

Aug. 17, 2022, 8:11 p.m.

There are times when I wish I believed in karma. But perhaps she was just having a bad day. And, how wonderful you could hire that room with an en-suite!

Teg

Aug. 17, 2022, 11:23 a.m.

Hi Mary What a lovely piece of writing. You at your best. It is heart warming, amusing with an important message. You and your friend obviously had a wonderful, very successful day out together. In fact I would say your visit was flushed with success (another intended pun). The principal message is one of passion. Being passionate about something comes from enthusiasm that is enhanced when shared with others. It oils our happiness hormones. Having purpose and passion are so important to our MH. To be engrossed with an interest in anything is a marvellous gift and certainly worth nurturing. So carry on with your craft work! Thanks for sharing this wonderful day. Txx

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Sally

Aug. 17, 2022, 5 p.m.

Wonderfully put, dear Teg!

Mary Wednesday

Aug. 17, 2022, 8:14 p.m.

Thank you, Teg, for your kind words. Losing oneself in any form of creativity is excellent therapy, always.

Lexi

Aug. 17, 2022, 12:45 p.m.

Hi Mary, I love my work. I can lose hours working on a design. It's not always that way of course - some days I cannot bear to even look at my to do list. But I do try to always give my best to a client and more often than not I think I could/should have done more/better, but ever once and awhile I feel good, very good, about working for myself and creating design for others to enjoy. xo

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Mary Wednesday

Aug. 17, 2022, 8:16 p.m.

We may have different areas of professional skill, dear Lexi, but I think we each bring to our jobs, that sense of pouring out, of giving everything we have to give. So often we feel we could have done more, but it's wonderful when we can - as *** did in the Creation story - look at our work and see it is good.

Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 17, 2022, 4:45 p.m.

Hi Mary - sounds like a super trip out and something so worthwhile going to see. I do wish Mr. Bear enjoyed exhibitions as there are artists I would love to go and see at galleries in London etc…but he’s not that keen and when you add in the cost to get to and from the City, meals out etc - it would be a waste of money for him, so we don’t tend to go. However, I do have a friend who would go with me so I shall just have to do it!! I remember seeing a snippet about a public loo in London being so beautifully decorated and clean - it was years ago. What a woman she was, to pour her energies into making it a pleasurable experience for all the visitors and for herself. A passion? Helping people if I can. I like talking with people, as Sally says above, you can chat to people and find out all sorts and it’s been lovely meeting so many new people where we have moved to, finding out about them and the village’s history. I often have a creative passion, but it can wane when I’m busy or don’t have the inspiration. Wild swimming has become a passion as it feels like I’m healing from the waters and the friendship with the other swimmers and I am often happier and grin from within from the end of one swimming session until the next. Keeping fingers crossed I can continue into the winter once more. Brr!!! Ha ha ha! Thank you Mary, Love and Bear hugs x x x

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Mary Wednesday

Aug. 17, 2022, 8:18 p.m.

I must get back to the pool again! I keep thinking about finding a local wild swimming group. I swam in the Nene the summer of lockdown and it was wonderful!

The Gardener

Aug. 17, 2022, 6:08 p.m.

Hello Mary - just survived one of the most hellish journeys of my life. UK France, 4 trains, disorganisation rife, but the kindness of strangers really inspiringng, there is humanity. My taxi driver Gare du Nord even carried my case to the-trrrrr

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Bearofliddlebrain

Aug. 17, 2022, 6:39 p.m.

…are you back home safe and sound TG? Feet up and a lovely drink then retire to bed utterly cream crackered!! Hope you’ve had a wonderful time at the wedding and seeing family. Love and Bear hugs x x x

Mary Wednesday

Aug. 17, 2022, 8:19 p.m.

There is a saying, **** is other people, but sometimes the kindness of other people is a glimpse of the other place. So glad you're back safely, despite the nightmare trip.

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