Blog: Mel's Muse

Showing posts categorised as 'Self Help'

Mental Health Issues: Part 2 – Have You Ever Felt Useless? Or Unheard?

Have you ever felt useless? Unheard? A waste of space? As if nothing you do has any meaning or purpose? Ever thought you didn’t fit in? In your family? At school? At work? Or that everyone else was more successful? While...

Posted at 12:33pm on 8th November 2023

Mental Health Issues: Part 1 - My Story

We hear, repeatedly, about the number of young people suffering from mental health issues, but little about any means of reparation. This, despite being told that 'Your mental health is just as important as your physical health'. One of the causes, however, is listed as being 'childhood abuse, trauma,...

Posted at 17:20pm on 15th October 2023

Misinterpreting The Specification: Two Halves Don't Make A Whole

Most marriages don't add two people together. They subtract one from the other.

From: Diamonds are Forever, by Ian Fleming

This cynical view of marriage, once considered exclusively a male bastion for bachelorhood, is fast gaining credence amongst post-feminist women - if certain American TV chat shows are to...

Posted at 17:53pm on 6th August 2023

The Building Blocks Of A Stable Stepfamily

AS A SCHOOLGIRL, I loved history. Not the dry dates and wars of my school books, but the vital characters that strode out of their pages straight into my imagination. People like Henry VIII of England, for instance. His marriages particularly fascinated me. How, I would ask myself, did he...

Posted at 18:22pm on 31st July 2023

Filling The Void

Have you – or perhaps a loved one – ever had to face the problem of addiction? How on earth, if you're desperate to do so, can you go about giving it up, be it sugar cravings, alcohol, or even drugs? Or, better still, how do you prevent an addiction...

Posted at 14:32pm on 18th June 2023

Writing The Rights & Wrongs Of Life

Are you as fed up with the negative concept of society as I am? Every day we’re bombarded with news about failing governments, education, health and housing services, marriages, families and kids – and that’s without all the heartbreak of drug and alcohol abuse, and 3 million children starving to...

Posted at 12:44pm on 31st May 2023

Who Inspired You To Be You?

Who inspired you to be who you are? And how did that come about? Being a bestselling author, this is a question I've often been asked. But whether or not you're a writer, secretary, nurse, or whatever, this is a question, and answer, that could apply to any and all.


Posted at 12:34pm on 27th April 2023

Who Inspired You To Be You?

Who inspired you to be who you are? And how did that come about? Being a bestselling author, this is a question I've often been asked. But whether or not you're a writer, secretary, nurse, or whatever, this is a question, and answer, that could apply to any and all.


Posted at 15:24pm on 22nd April 2023

People Pleasers: Your Choice? Or The Expectation Of Others?

Trying to please everybody frequently results in pleasing nobody - least of all yourself. The old maxim: You can please all of the people some of the time; some of the people all of the time; but you can't please all of the people all of the time is one,...

Posted at 15:50pm on 13th March 2023

Diary Of An Introvert: Laid Low By Day

I recently wrote a post on the subject of wearing a 'mask' to convince others that we're feeling fine when, in fact, we are not - Facing Up To The Face Beneath The Mask. And I wonder, is the 'new normality' brought on by Covid 19 having a good...

Posted at 07:56am on 4th August 2020

Three 'light Bulb' Insights From The Screwtape Letters By David Trim

What follows are the 'light bulb' insights from The Screwtape Letters, written by David Trim, a much valued member of the Book Club I lead.

1. To consciously direct our prayers to God "Not to what I think thou art, but to what thou knowest...

Posted at 07:46am on 25th July 2020

Following The Funeral: Living With The Loss Of A Loved One

With nearly 40,000 deaths due to Coronavirus in past years, and more to come with the junior doctors' and nurses' strikes, there must be hundreds of thousands of friends and family having to live with the reality of loss. You may have been through Coping With The Initial Shock, learned,...

Posted at 07:37am on 3rd June 2020

How To Plan A Funeral In The Coronavirus Era

Before the days of lockdown - due to the coronavirus - planning a funeral following the death of a loved one might have been perceived as a positive and constructive experience. Although not intentionally so, making funeral arrangements, whether for burial or cremation, could be seen as a welcome...

Posted at 09:54am on 18th May 2020

Bereavement: How To Deal With Denial, Grief & Anger Following The Death Of A Loved One

In these times of Coronavirus, many of us are suffering the death of a loved one. I wrote last time about Looking After Yourself following bereavement, and pointed out - from my own experience - the trauma of having to break the news of that loss to another family member....

Posted at 07:14am on 17th May 2020

Bereavement: Looking After Yourself

Last time we looked at Bereavement: Coping With The Initial Shock, using my own experience following my daughter's death, and quoting from the book I wrote some years later. What I learned was that numbness and denial, disbelief and a wandering mind, are common experiences when we first learn...

Posted at 07:27am on 12th May 2020

Bereavement: Coping With The Initial Shock

"The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our separate ways, I to die, and you to live. Which of these two is better only God knows." Socrates

On this VE day, when we commemorate the courage of those who gave their lives in WW2 so that...

Posted at 04:51am on 7th May 2020

Excerpt From My Latest Book, Picked For A Purpose - Showing We All Have A Worthwhile Part To Play

Are you wondering what your life is all about during the lockdown due to Covid 19? Then read on. My latest book, Picked for a Purpose shows that whatever the adversity, we all have value, and a worthwhile part to play. Here is a complete chapter for...
Posted at 03:40am on 6th April 2020

Blossom In Season? A Guest Blog By Helen Elliott

"Why am I getting angry at a tree?"

A question definitely worthy of consideration, I decided, as I stared out of my window for the third or fourth time that week.

It was a huge tree, surrounded by apartments, all in facing and it was Springtime.

The tree was supposed...

Posted at 04:35am on 16th October 2019

Creative Writing Workshop: Characteristic Conflict

In the last Creative Writing Workshop, we looked at the way in which we can go about Creating Credible Characters. Now I'm going to show you how you can bring creativity to the way you construct conflict. This is crucial when it comes to writing fiction and memoir...

Posted at 10:43am on 3rd August 2019

Can Drama Be An Aid To Wellbeing?

Oh, yes! BAFTA winning actress, Jessica Hynes, who starred in the BBC Comedy Drama W1A, with Hugh Bonneville, is campaigning for drama to be given greater prominence in schools. This, she believes, can boost mental health and wellbeing in young people. I'm convinced that she is right....

Posted at 09:37am on 30th May 2019

Creative Writing Workshop Introduction - Are You On The Right Track?

Right, let's see. Are you on the right track? Is it that you want to write a book but don't know where to start? Or that you've already written your book, but don't know how to get it published?

From past experience, over many decades, I think I...

Posted at 07:42am on 30th March 2019

Inside Out

'Making clean-eating a dirty word gets my vote', so says Bryony Gordon in The Daily Telegraph. Quoting the Duchess of Cornwall, who was speaking at a reception for the Royal Osteoporosis Society, she warned young women against 'fad diets' which have the potential of making them ill. Lack...

Posted at 08:10am on 26th February 2019

Thomas's Story: Overcoming Physical & Mental Struggles

My next book, Picked for a Purpose, with the strapline Bearing fruit through times of hardship, was written at the request of my publisher. Each short chapter contains a story from my life, followed by a page or two of reflections, in which I look back, with the wisdom...

Posted at 08:08am on 20th October 2018

World Mental Health Day: Don't Chase The World


Why do I feel such a waste of space?

Why is life always such a race -

To emulate, or, better yet

To surpass the success with which others have met?

Is this the world in which I live?

Is this the future I wish to give

To those who follow on...

Posted at 00:33am on 10th October 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Who Are You & Where Have You Come From?


You pick up the phone, an unknown voice asks: 'Is that the owner of the house?' Indeed, sometimes they may address you by name. And what is your immediate response? Mine is never to affirm the query but to ask, 'Who are...

Posted at 09:55am on 10th September 2018

Suicide Prevention Day: The Trauma For Those Left Behind


I spent the morning speaking with a male friend, of longstanding, whose mother took her own life when he was in his mid-teens. Coincidence? I had no idea that today, Monday 10th September, 2018 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Nor that my...

Posted at 08:04am on 10th September 2018

Book Club: Sensible Shoes - Whose Do You Walk In? Who Are You?

Who are you? Whose shoes do you walk in? Is this a question you've ever ask? No. I don't mean do you ask it of other people. That's not British! Downright rude, in fact. So - who are you? Is this something...

Posted at 04:27am on 13th July 2018

Picked For A Purpose 3: Seeds Sown


Sometimes people of faith speak of coincidence as being God-incidents. So while a coincidence might be described as random - an accident, chance, luck, fluke, or twist of fate - a God-incident is thought to be an unexpected occurrence in which God is perceived to have had an...

Posted at 09:34am on 8th September 2016

Picked For A Purpose 2: Seeds & Weeds


Have you ever felt useless? As if nothing you do has any meaning or purpose? Ever thought you didn't fit in? In your family? At school? At work? Or that everyone else was more successful? While you . . .? ...

Posted at 05:49am on 6th September 2016

Picked For A Purpose 1 - Me And Daddy, Daddy And Me


I suppose it was the letters that were the trigger - first for my depression, then for my understanding. Small blue folded airmails that bore my mother's name on them, plus whatever address happened to be relevant at the time. She had kept...

Posted at 04:52am on 6th September 2016

Break Loose (2015) Fly Free (2016)

What are your New Year’s resolutions?  How likely are you to achieve them?

I read an article recently, which said that 95% of diets fail.  Why?  Precisely because they are diets!   Counting calories or eliminating certain categories of food focuses your mind on the very thing you want to...

Posted at 04:34am on 4th January 2016

A Hint Of An American Romance Blooming In Time To Shine?

And another excerpt from my latest novel, Time to Shine, which has gained more 5* reviews since the last taster on my blog.  Sorry that the photos of the sky don't quite match the description in the book.

Here, Evie Adams, with a broken marriage behind her, takes some time out...

Posted at 12:28pm on 17th July 2015

Time To Shine - A Taster Of My New Book

I thought you might like to read a taster of my new book - a gentle psychological mystery - and see a photograph of the setting in Exeter.  The protagonist, Evie Adams, is the narrator in this passage, taken from Chapter 2

Arriving for work early one morning soon after my...

Posted at 04:20am on 29th June 2015

Big Book Sale: Stepfamilies - Practical Help To Build A Stable, Happy Stepfamily

How do you tell your children they are going to have a step-parent? How do you handle disagreements about access and money? How do you deal with past hurts and fears?

All families have their difficulties, but stepfamilies often face special problems. And with nearly a million of them in the...

Posted at 13:22pm on 7th February 2015

Dealing With Depression Caused By False Accusations

Photo: Desolation: An Empty Beach

In Dealing With Depression: An Author's Look At Life I stated that, as an author, writing is not what I do but who I am.  I went on to say that while writing and publishing a book is quite beyond me at present because I'm battling...

Posted at 17:30pm on 15th July 2011

Teen Drug Abuse: Peer Education Training Challenges Misconceptions


My novel, A Painful Post Mortem, has been selling now for sometime, and has raised a substantial sum of money for the two charities I chose to support with the proceeds. This month, in addition to the print edition, I decided to make it available as an e-book....
Posted at 12:07pm on 30th March 2010

Negative Personality Traits: How Do You Confront Them?

Many of you have taken the free Personality Test here, on my website, so I hope you will understand when I tell you that I woke up this morning feeling somewhat at the mercy of my Type. Actually, what I thought, was that I must be turning into my father! He would tell you...

Posted at 20:45pm on 27th March 2010

If You Can (write) Do; If You Can't, Teach!

I came across an article, recently, which stated that creative writing courses for aspiring authors are a ‘racket’ - and I wondered what you think?


The author of the post pointed out that among hundreds of writing tips offered by dozens of authors, not one suggested taking a...

Posted at 11:05am on 9th March 2010

Transactional Analysis: Getting Off The Drama Triangle Part 2

The Drama Triangle is a model of dysfunctional relationships, in which I might see myself as occupying one of three roles: Victim; Rescuer; or Persecutor. As Victim I require you to become my Rescuer. If you don’t comply, I may become a Persecutor, accusing you of neglecting my needs. If you choose not to...

Posted at 18:33pm on 4th February 2010

Conflict Resolution: Relationship Psychology - And Creating Fictional Characters

What I’m about to tell you will revolutionise the way you perceive your personal relationships. It will also give you immense insight when it comes to creative writing and publishing a book and, in particular, when you’re creating fictional characters. So, whether you are attempting to make sense of your own relationships, or looking for...

Posted at 17:28pm on 6th January 2010

Family & Parenting: How To Love Yourself - And Difficult Elderly Parents

Dear Mel,

My parents have always had a very explosive relationship. There were always shouting matches when I was a child, and I grew up fearful that they were going to get divorced. My dad had a very fiery temper, whereas my mum would be tearful. Inbetween the rows my dad...

Posted at 14:52pm on 17th November 2009

Authors: Tellers Of Tales, Weavers Of Dreams? Tap Into Your Childhood To Reveal And Nourish Hidden Emotional Creativity

Why do writers exist? What is it about the human race that makes us want to be authors and readers? Tellers of tales, serialisers of stories, weavers of dreams: what compels us? Scriptwriters, dramatists, actors, theatre-goers, radio broadcasters and listeners? Why? What inner compulsion urges us on – those of us who share our inner...

Posted at 01:00am on 23rd October 2009

Free Psychometric Profiling Switch On As The Power Of Positive Thinking Is Unplugged

The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, has electrified society for over half a century as the means of feeling valued and attaining success in life. Now, it appears, to have been unplugged – or at least to have suffered power failure and fizzled out! Despite an epidemic of positive thinking for the last...

Posted at 09:53am on 22nd July 2009

Public Speaking As A Means To Enlarge My Vision: Part 2 - Receiving

I wrote, last week, about public speaking as being an act of investing in people, and suggested that it had a three dimensional nature: I give; I receive; I am filled. Having put in the effort to find out something about your audience, assembled your public speaking ideas and arranged them into a coherent...

Posted at 17:52pm on 13th July 2009

Public Speaking As A Means To Enlarge My Vision: Part 1 - Preparing To Give

Public speaking for the dedicated communicator is so three dimensional. I give; I receive; I am filled. Or perhaps that should be: I am filled; I give; I receive. Let me explain.

Setting up a keynote address requires a huge effort. Especially if it includes visuals such as a Power Point Presentation. Hours of work...

Posted at 19:01pm on 5th July 2009

Marriage And Remarriage: When Two Halves Don't Make A Whole

Following is an abridged and revised excerpt from Mel’s book Stepfamilies, which the BBC recently asked her to debate on the Richard Bacon show. In previous posts, the inference has been that unless the two people embarking on a second (or subsequent) marriage get it right, there is little chance of tackling other blended family...

Posted at 15:02pm on 22nd May 2009

Fact, Fiction Or Fable: Is This A Sorry Story Of Fault-finding?

I wrote a few weeks ago about Friedman’s Fables, which my daughter gave me for my birthday. The book is a collection of short stories – very short at times – each of which highlights a specific pattern of human behaviour. Because of events in my family, one of the stories particularly caught my...

Posted at 16:21pm on 15th March 2009

Modern Morality: What Is Its Place In Contemporary Fiction?

See, also, my post titled: Does Glamorising Abusive Sexual Relationships Adversely Influence Society? written in response to a recent BBC discussion about the merits (or otherwise) of a book like 50 Shades of Grey.

What do you learn about life, characterisation, plot or theme from what you read, or watch on...

Posted at 18:24pm on 25th February 2009

Partner-pleasing: Styles Of Communicating

For those who have just joined this series on Partner-Pleasing, let me bring you up to date. The aim is not simply to illuminate ways of improving communication in a relationship, but to enhance the overall experience of couples with each other. The exercises are based on those used by...

Posted at 18:47pm on 11th February 2009

Partner-pleasing: Different Ways Of Communication In A Relationship

Last week I began a series of blogs which are intended to be more than simply a swift read by an individual. So if you are part of a couple, read on. My aim, today, is to show you several ways of improving communication between you. And, in the coming weeks, to see how...

Posted at 14:35pm on 10th February 2009

Stroke Survival: How To Recognise The Signs & Save A Life

If your Mum or friend had a stroke would you know what to do to ensure their survival? No? Nor me! So when I received the following by e-mail, I thought it was so important, I’d put it up on my blog.


During a BBQ, a friend...

Posted at 12:59pm on 7th February 2009

Partner-pleasing: Do You Have Different Expectations Of One Another?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, if we go out for a meal, I find myself people watching. It’s fascinating! There’s the middle-aged couple sitting at the table over by the wall who have said nothing to one another since they sat down and who, now that they’re tucking into their first course, make...

Posted at 20:05pm on 4th February 2009

I Am Not A Doormat! Are You?

What do you do when you’re faced with other people’s problems, you’re expected to help, and you’re almost certainly being manipulated, or taken for granted? Do you simply fail to notice the way people are treating you and fall into line? Do you have a vague suspicion that you’re being exploited but get on with...

Posted at 18:46pm on 31st January 2009

Building Sustainable Relationships For Stepfamilies

I hope you’ll forgive me! I’m afraid I’m going to take the easy way out today and simply upload part of a chapter from my Stepfamilies book, on the topic of building effective relationships with somebody else’s children. It’s been a difficult week; as I tweeted only today: my mother has fallen and broken her pelvis....

Posted at 15:37pm on 24th January 2009

Ten Tips To Help You Avoid The Breakdown Of A Relationship

When you look back on an argument you’ve had recently with someone close to you, do you sometimes feel it was a squabble over nothing? That what seemed like a major misunderstanding at the time was, actually, nothing more than a petty clash of opinion; or a state of affairs where the two of...

Posted at 09:51am on 17th January 2009

Reviewing Techniques When Resolving Conflict

This is the first Post on my shiny new laptop. As I wrote, yesterday on my Twitter wall (I think that’s the correct jargon) setting up a new computer is a nightmare of mistakes, misunderstandings and misapprehension. Hence the lack of time to add anything to my blog for a few days.

So I thought, today,...

Posted at 22:22pm on 15th January 2009

How To Recognise The Signs Of Relationship Breakdown

Boy, did my last post on Children In Divorce & Separation provoke a response! Not in comments, because it’s a painful subject; but in more hits on my website than ever before. There's obviously a lot of hurt out there, especially at this time of year.

That article dealt with the effects of family breakdown...

Posted at 00:00am on 11th December 2008

Step Parenting Advice: Don't Do It Unless You're Prepared To Work At It!

Can A Step Parent Ever Replace A Real Parent? This was the topic under debate on the Richard Bacon radio show on BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday evening. As the author of a book titled Stepfamilies, I had been invited to participate to put the positive side of the case, whilst Philip Parkin, General...

Posted at 12:19pm on 4th December 2008

Advent: A Time To Reflect Between Thanksgiving & Gift Giving - Ten Tips To Happiness

I woke, yesterday morning, feeling bad-tempered. This is a rare occurrence and is almost alwaysas a result of my husband’s snoring! There’s something deeply offensive about lying next to someone whose somnolence – loudly and bed-tremblingly declared - is the sole reason for your inability to sleep. Don’t you think?

Posted at 10:37am on 2nd December 2008

Assertiveness Training: Ten Tips To A Stronger You

I’ve written, previously, about people pleasers and how we can go about managing conflicting priorities in specific situations. We talked about our need to expect respect, and how to promote dignity. Today I want to write about the art of assertiveness as a life style choice.


A number of years ago,...

Posted at 18:18pm on 29th November 2008

Successful Step Parenting: Do You Know What It Takes?

I’ve been asked by BBC Radio 5 Live if I would take part in a debate, arguing the case for the premiss Can A Step Parent Take The Place Of A Real Parent? The e-mail was from one of their producers, who said he’d found my book, Stepfamilies on a Google search. During the telephone...

Posted at 17:21pm on 26th November 2008

Youngest Child In The Family: Paragon? Or Pain?

Where, in birth order, do you come among your siblings? Are you the youngest child in the family? Do you see yourself as different to your brothers and sisters? Are you aware of a gulf between them and you?

Having previously written about eldest child syndrome and middle child complex, today I’m going to begin...

Posted at 18:59pm on 14th November 2008

Healing And Forgiveness

An article in The Times, last month, contrasted, without condemning, the reactions of two families who have recently been in the news. First was the story of the two young boys killed by footballer and drink driver Luke McCormick, whose family was unable to forgive him. And second was Carolyn Todd, the widow of Michael,...

Posted at 18:46pm on 6th November 2008

People Pleasers: Managing Conflicting Priorities

Trying to please everybody frequently results in pleasing nobody - least of all yourself. The old maxim: You can please all of the people some of the time; some of the people all of the time; but you can't please all of the people all of the time is one,...

Posted at 14:12pm on 5th November 2008

The Art Of Forgiveness - Is It Achievable?

My daughter passed on to me her copy of The Times from a couple of weekends ago. She thought I might like to blog about an article to do with modern grannies, but my eye was caught by another – on healing and forgiveness. Time enough for grannies at a later date, I thought!

Posted at 11:39am on 21st October 2008

Sex Or Chocolate? Chocolate Or Sex? How Would You Define Happiness?

Revised: NEW YEAR'S EVE, 31st December, 2009 Much has changed since I first wrote this article, so it seemed to me that it deserved to be revised, amended and added to, with quotes, suggestions and advice. I hope, that in following some of the ideas, you might find yourself stumbling on happiness, without, perhaps, ever...
Posted at 12:20pm on 15th October 2008

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