Have you ever sat with someone, words tumbling and spinning through your mind - trying to find a way out of your brain and into the vast space between you? The tension builds inside of you to the point that you're sure they must feel the electricity in the air. So many phrases begging to be uttered, yet not a single word you can think of speaking out loud. So you muddle through - awkwardly talking about the weather or some other mundane topic. Anything but the existential, philosophical, murmurings of your soul. Because you know in your heart they don't want to hear those. Or silence falls heavy - not the comfortable kind either, but the thick, stifling, "Someone say something!" kind.
You can feel that they have avoided bringing certain topics up around you precisely so they will not have to hear what you have to say about it. So you struggle - do I say something? Or so I respect that they don't want to talk about it? It's like you are holding onto a beautiful gift that you are afraid to offer and even if you did would not be accepted.
I've felt this way.
And then I heard this Sara Bareilles song today:
(You can see the original video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xwTr_CRw3GY - I'm not able to show it here on weebly - it's very inspiring!)
Whoa, if that's not powerful inspiration to speak our truths, I don't know what is. "LET YOUR WORDS FALL OUT!" I love that - makes it sound so easy. That's what I do here. I still believe knowing when our words are welcome and helpful is important. When they are not it may be more respectful to wait - till a better time and place. But I think it's so important for us to let out our truths. Bottling them up is not good for us! I dream of people feeling confident enough express their dreams, desires, needs, and truths in a compassionate way - and for more of us to become open, receptive listeners. Because it takes two to have a meaningful exchange.
What about you? Do you struggle with sharing your deepest desires, goals, and values? Or is it easy for you to share?
In Hypnobabies our students learn to create and use a "Bubble of Peace" (BOP), to let only positive words, ideas, thoughts, and feelings in about birth - and to keep the negative away.
One (of many) things that I adore about teaching Hypnobabies is that most of what I teach applies to everyday life - not just pregnancy and birth. After last week's madness in Boston, we could all use our Bubbles of Peace reinforced.
My bubble is pretty big and beautiful. Unschooling creates another large, strong bubble around me and my family. Peaceful parenting adds another iridescent layer. Sometimes our bubbles get little pinholes (or large gashes) in them though and they start to deflate and let more rubbish in. Last night I read some really disturbing things that animals do to each other. Then right before bed I read some stories of humans doing unimaginable, hurtful things to one another (who am I kidding - we are animals too, we just like to put ourselves in a different category.) I thought about linking these stories here, but I don't want to spread those ugly vibes this morning when so many people are still reeling.
Somehow I went to sleep last night - I attribute it to "Peace breathing" (yep, more Hypnobabies' awesomeness), deep breaths with some mantras to still my mind, and, oh yeah, it was really late by the time my kiddos fell asleep so I was tired! But this morning Marisol sat up in bed and said she had a bad dream, and the first thing I thought of were those sad stories. And I wondered if I had given off bad energy that affected her. I literally woke up feeling sick to my stomach. So I worked (again) on shifting my thoughts to the positive.
I know some people think that living in a "bubble" is unrealistic or even wrong. I disagree. Because choosing to focus on the good in the world doesn't mean that we are denying the bad. We already know that bad things happen. But focusing on sad, horrible, awful events does not make us or the world better. And more importantly the good IS REAL too! I've written before about whether Hypnobabies is realistic - and I think that this same message applies to life in general. We will not make the world a more beautiful, loving, peaceful place by dwelling on things that are not. It's up to us to choose differently. Because you know what? The majority of the "bad things" that happen are created BY US. Yes, there are the inexplicable accidents and illnesses, but most of our suffering is self-made. So please, reinforce your bubbles today! See the good so you can be the good.
The mug I had my coffee in this morning - an active reminder, "Life is Good!" Also reminds me of the amazing friend who gave it to me. And the band-aid reminds me of my sweet daughter. I woke up NEEDING to write this morning. Now the only things I plan on doing are cleaning and connecting with my family. Sounds like a good Saturday and way to mend my bubble.
I'll end with one of my favorite quotes that is making the rounds lately - spread by hopeful people all over the world:
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let the pain make you hate.
Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
- Kurt Vonnegut
Sending you all so much love and peace today.
I'm on week three of starting a new habit: waking early several mornings a week to walk, before the kids wake up and Mike leaves for work. The first week was awesome. Monday April 1st I woke up and it was barely light when I headed out. Mother nature decided to make this morning extra magical for me by shrouding our neighborhood in a misty fog. Even the moon was out to cheer me on. It was so wonderful.
Twice more that week I rose with the sun and got my walk on. My favorite part of this new ritual is stepping outside into the fresh, cool, morning air and being greeted by the joyful sound of birds singing. A friend even joined me one day - what a great way to start the day!
Spring finally has sprung around here and the trees were showing off too.
Week 2 Life decided to throw some challenges at me. Monday went off without a hitch, but Wednesday Gerry woke around 4 am and didn't go back to sleep. I tried convincing him to join me in the stroller for a walk as the sun peeked up over the horizon, but he wasn't going for it. I was exhausted, so I didn't push it.
The good news - my parents were coming through town that day. That evening the kids, my parents, and I went on a walk and climbed the stairs at the Masonic Temple which is a couple blocks away from our house. The view at night was so beautiful and the kids loved climbing the steps.
On Thursday we went downtown to go to the Natural History museum (Gerry had been wanting to go to "our dinosaur museum" since watching an episode of Team UmiZoomi that has dinosaurs ;-) and we saw the blossoms. Lots of walking done that day too! So I still got 3 good walks in that week even though only one was in the morning. I also walked to Mike's work after my last Hypnobabies class on Saturday - so that's 4!
Sunday night I had that feeling in my head, "ugh, do I really want to get up early tomorrow?" That made me laugh at myself - it's so easy to get off track! So I reminded myself how amazing I felt the last two weeks and how much I enjoy walking as soon as I'm out. One of my favorite blogs, Zen Habits written by Leo Babauta, talks about how to change our lives and make things regular habits. One idea that helps is going "public" with your intentions - with your family or friends, or even on your blog or social media. Once you know that others know you said you are doing something, you are much more likely to do it! I've definitely found this to be true. I know that there is something magical about "21 days" too - I'm not sure how this will apply to me since this isn't something I'm aiming to do every day, but I know that the longer I do it the more deeply ingrained in my every day life it will be.
Leo's recent post, The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers, has been really helpful to me too. So many people said that they schedule their exercise into their lives and it just is NOT an option to miss it - only a TRUE emergency keeps them from keeping their habit up. Remembering this has helped me keep on when I feel a bit tired the night before. The cool thing is that I've been waking up before my alarm on most mornings that I plan to walk.
Here are some pictures of today's walk. I decided to head over to the temple again and do some stairs to get my blood pumping.
If there was a soundtrack to put to this post it would be birds singing. I decided to take a little video while I walked to capture some of the early morning sounds. I just happened to capture two crows squawking at this cat! Haha, not exactly the most beautiful sound, but it was kind of funny. (btw - do you have an opinion on keeping cats in the house? The past couple of years I've heard several people voice the opinion that cats should NOT be let outside because of how many birds they kill. My first reaction is, huh?? I think most carnivores kill other animals and I don't see how cooping cats up inside is fair or the answer. But maybe I'm missing something?)
This new habit has been a long time in the making. I've wanted to get back into some kind of routine for a while now, but have struggled to find a way that works for our whole family. Right now turned out to be the perfect time. Gerry recently started sleeping from roughly 7:30 pm to 7 am or so. So I knew that getting up around 6:30 am wouldn't disrupt any of our sleep too much. Even so it's been a bit of an adjustment, but the benefits are so worth it! With Spring, more light, and nicer weather, it's been a great new beginning. I feel energized and accomplished now by the time that I used to be just rolling out of bed. Keeping it to every other day has been smart though, so we don't get too tired or sleep-deprived.
My other inspiration is the book, The Blue Zones. I plan on writing more about it in the future, but I really am thinking of walking and exercising as a life habit - something that becomes as natural and essential to me as eating or breathing. Ideally it is something that I will do every day eventually, even more than once.
Have you started any new habits lately? Has spring inspired any fresh starts for you? What helps you stay on track?
The other night I read an article on Positively Positive, called "5 Rules for Life-Altering Dreaming". The only thing I didn't like about it was the word "rules" (me and rules don't mix so well anymore ;-)
I thought it was actually really relevant to my last post about telling kids you "can't always get what you want". I have lots of thoughts on the word "realistic" too, but that is for another day.
Anyways, the "rules" are actually outlining steps to a really powerful process for clarifying and declaring your dreams. So I did it right away.
The first time I wrote it in my journal this is what I said:
I dream of living in a vibrant, supportive community filled with loving people who share my values. I dream of working together, growing food, raising children, playing together, cooking and eating together, laughing and crying.
As I read through the 5 steps outlined I realized that I was missing a very powerful part of the process. Writing my dream in the present tense. So I rewrote my paragraph to this:
I live in a vibrant, supportive, growing community. We value peace, the earth, and compassion. We work and play together, cook and eat together, laugh and cry together. We grow together.
Whoa. Just reading that makes me feel so good. When I was looking for a picture to add this to I found this one of my kids raking leaves with our best neighborhood friends last fall. It felt like the perfect image to add the words too. Writing my dream in the present tense was so powerful. Remembering that I already DO have many of these things is even better. I am a powerful creator in my own life. I can create the community I crave wherever I am. Yes I dream of even more - more community, more togetherness, more support, but appreciating what I already have while creating "more" feels even better.
I highly recommend trying this! It's fun and powerful. And letting others know what your dreams are is an essential step towards actually achieving your dreams. If you don't let people know then not only are you stopping yourself from taking steps towards your dream, but you may also be keeping away people and opportunities that you haven't even imagined yet.
So go big! Declare your dreams. It feels good, I promise.
Ok well let me begin by saying that my hands are clammy (yet cold) as I type this, and I certainly have some reservations about writing this publicly. But I'm also giddy and almost giggling out loud. AND I really believe that when we feel like we are about to jump off of something really high (like a cliff) and are trying to talk ourselves out of something... well that might be the most important time to do something.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking (just a little bit) about what some people might think about this post. But I'm guessing (hoping?) the most scandalized (or judgmental) will be too embarrassed (or polite) to bring it up. And in the end there are bigger more important reasons for this post then myself and what others think about me. Besides, it's my blog... and they're my boobs, so there. (grin)
Deep breath. Ok so here we go.
I took a shower this evening. It was necessary - it had been a couple days. And as I looked in the mirror I looked at my breasts and I thought, "I love my boobs. I wouldn't change one thing about them... I wouldn't 'enhance' them (even if my husband might like that), or erase the stretch marks, or take them back to their pre-nursing days..." Ok, well I didn't think *all* of that, but it was more like, "I love my boobs, I wouldn't change them" and then I just *felt* the rest.
So then I wrote some more in my journal a bit later thinking maybe *some day* it would make a fun blog post. Here is some of what I wrote:
My breasts have helped feed my babies for 6 1/2 years now - for 1-2 years they alone kept them alive.
I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted to! Kids are so funny.
Back to the deep thoughts (about boobs). I was thinking as I showered how weird it is that in our culture we are all worked up about breasts. I mean it is skin. They're part of our body. And they do something really amazing. In a way, I kind of wanted to put an actual picture of my breasts in all their glory at the top of this post. But I'm not quite there yet (and as it is, my husband may think I've lost my mind!) But really, it's just so mind-boggling to contemplate how our culture regards breasts, breastfeeding, and women's bodies in general. And women want to change themselves all the time. Why?!
So this is my way of fighting back. With my boobs. Some may think I'm looking for attention (by using my well-loved, very-used mammary glands) but really this just struck me out of the blue tonight. And I'm going with it.
And now I'll probably go to bed and not get any sleep because I just posted for the world to see that I love my boobs. And I'll wake up to find that everything is just going on as it always does... but that's ok.
I hope some day all women can love their bodies for the amazing, wonderful, life-giving and sustaining entities that they are. Love your boobs ladies. They deserve it.
Today was such a nice day. It looked quite boring from the outside, but it was calm and relaxing. We didn't even step outside (the kids and I anyways). But I was thinking tonight how it was a good example of "Loving What Is" and not letting any expectations get in the way of embracing life fully. We didn't have any big plans for celebrating New Year's Eve and we didn't try to make any. But I'm not disappointed at all. It was so wonderful to reflect on the past year the past few weeks. I also began thinking about 2013 a while ago, so I really feel ready to start another year - I didn't need any big bash to affirm that.
I have several sources of inspiration for the New Year. At the beginning of December I had an exchange with a friend on Facebook who is starting a project to make 2013 extra amazing. She and her sister are calling it Counting By 12's (check out the website or their Facebook page!) Anyways after she told me their idea I was all hyped up and immediately started thinking of my own 12 things that I wanted to do every month in 2013. Seriously, I couldn't sleep that night (this is how my brain is... I really need an off switch!)
I made this poster within the week:
The coolest part was that December was kind of like a "warm-up" month. I probably did 6-8 of the things on my list this past month - so I feel like it's totally do-able and I'm so psyched about it!
Then I watched Danielle LaPorte's free video when she launched her Desire Map and that was AWESOME too. I recently read her book The Fire Starter Sessions and loved it (so much I think I'll buy a copy of it since I had checked it out from the library and had to eventually return it). She is so amazingly inspiring. Anyways, her idea of identifying how you want to FEEL resonates so strongly with me. I've never been much for goals, resolutions (or anything that feels like rules or obligation really) and this just feels so right. I didn't buy her product, but between reading her book and devouring all the stuff she has for free on her site I have a good grasp on the Desire map. At first it was hard for me to identify how I wanted to feel... so I started with how I DON'T want to feel then worked on the opposites. The first 3 came pretty easily - I want to feel Connected (to myself, my loved ones, to nature etc), ON FIRE (inspired, energized, passionate), Peaceful (kind of my thing... and it balances the fire out) but I struggled to pin down a fourth and final desired core feeling. So I googled some words (how did people get in touch with their feelings before the internet and google?!) and finally settled on Valuable. So here is my Desire Map:
On the outside I put other words and feelings I associate with my four core desired feelings (like "subfeelings" haha). Then inside in black I wrote concrete actions and things I can do to feel this way. (I like that I wrote PLAY twice... this was not intentional, but maybe my subconscious is trying to tell me something! More play for 2013 it is then!)
I can't even begin to tell you how powerful this is. For one, my first identified feeling, "Connected" is so huge for me. I'm realizing that when I'm not feeling good it's because I'm not feeling connected - usually with my kids or husband. When I *am* feeling connected everything else flows. Once you know how you want to feel you begin to make positive, practical choices - it's amazing! If I'm not sure exactly what I want to do in a given moment I've begun to ask myself, "How do I want to feel?" Then I think of my core desired feelings and make my decision from there.
Finally, my beloved Tara Wager, akaThe Organic Sister, inspired me to choose the word "Embrace" last year. This year my word is "Listen". I can't tell you exactly how I got to this word. Only that it feels right. It feels like slowing down, and loving more, and dropping out of my busy mind and into my heart, and really being with my family. Oh yeah, and the other day the kids were watching a show and Marisol missed something and wanted me to clarify and since I was on the computer I didn't know what was said. She said, "You're never listening", and my inner voice said, "aha! I told you LISTEN is the right word for the next year." So Listen it is.
There is just SO much inspiration out that! I invite you to check out any of these three sources to see if they spark something for you. I love that they all overlap for me - if you look at the words on my posters they both include "LISTEN" and many other words and actions are the same on both posters.
I'm ready to dive in to 2013!
What are your intentions and desires for the upcoming year?
That's a lotta "Ps"! I love it! (I know, I'm a dork - but I've learned to embrace my dorkiness, I can't help it if I love alliteration!)
I've been thinking about perfection and the pressure to be perfect (more "Ps"!) a lot the past few years. It's one reason I love Mayim Bialik's book so much (the one I'm giving away this week!) - she does not paint a picture of perfection (haha, I'm not even doing it on Purpose anymore!) in her life or family, in fact she admits that they are anything BUT perfect.
I stumbled across a post this week about how photographs posted online can give others the impression that a person is leading an idyllic or "perfect" life. If we were being rational we would know that of course NO ONE'S life is perfect and everyone struggles sometimes. Just because beautiful pictures are posted publicly, that doesn't mean that there aren't less-than-perfect moments in the person's life.
This is the reason that I posted my "Ultimate Confession" right at the top of my website - I don't want anyone ever thinking that *my* life is perfect or that we never mess up here. I don't want to contribute to competitiveness, guilt, jealousy or other destructive feelings in the world. I was thinking about this last night and then the irony struck me hard - I chose to use beautiful, professional photos at the top of my "confession" page! Ha! What a juxtaposition - my confession of how we are human with real flaws, coupled with the happy, "picture-perfect" moments captured of my family (next to a cornfield at that!) ... wow. Kind of a huge visual/literary oxymoron. But my point in choosing those pictures is that even though our lives don't always look like a professional photo, I do *choose* to focus on the good times and happy moments.
Of course we share the happy, sunny, smiling, moments on Facebook. We put pictures on our blogs of cute kids holding hands or hugging each other tightly. We instagram kids throwing leaves into the air and running freely with wild abandon. I hope that pictures of shiny, wide-eyed children and beautiful walks next to sunset streaked oceans are inspiring to others - I know they are for me.
I have a few pictures of Marisol crying miserably when she was a baby. I don't think I have one of Gerry. Does that mean he cried less? (well... maybe! haha) More likely, it reflects a change in myself as a parent. I don't even think of grabbing the camera when he is in a state like that anymore. My first thought is to comfort, offer my arms and presence - not to pick up the camera!
Remember, what you see online are snapshots. It doesn't mean anyone is "lying" or trying to deceive their audience - it simply means that they are choosing what they present to the world. No one, no family, no life is "perfect". But it is true that some people are happier then others. Why? Because they know that true Peace and Happiness comes from within and is of their own making and choosing - no matter what imperfect circumstances arise in their life.
Synchronicity - after having drafted this blogpost a few days ago I read this post from Glennon over at Momastery. I guess these things are on people's minds.
Also, when I started this post and as I posted my latest give-away I had no idea that Mayim Bialik had filed for divorce. Mike brought it to my attention last night and it I definitely have a lot of feelings and thoughts about that. Mostly compassion for her and her husband and kids as they go through a tough time. Mayim has really put herself and her beliefs about attachment parenting "out there" and now she is under even greater scrutiny - of course people are questioning if their style of parenting contributed to their split.
I will just say that the book is awesome, regardless of her marital status, I promise! Head over to this post and leave me a comment if you want to enter the drawing!
1) *I* like to share and *you* like to be (choose any of the following): inspired, entertained, challenged, interested, and engaged.
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.
All of the above are things I've posted on my new Together Walking Facebook page. And let's not forget links to interesting articles like this one about The Island Where People Forget to Die or 12 Unconventional Habits of Highly Productive People. I'm also posting some of my own thoughts like these:
Did you know? You can do a lot for yourself AND others in a day. Today I meditated, got outside and walked, drank tea, and had a bubble bath... all in the company of my wonderful kids :-)
Random Ramblings: Today there's no "I can't wait for..." Today I fully appreciate that everything I need is right here, right now, in this very moment.
2) It would make me so happy! I found out that yesterday was World Kindness Day - maybe you didn't know either? If you're upset that you missed out on it, you can make up for it by heading over right now to my Together Walking Faceook page and clicking "Like". Now you've done a kind thing for someone else (me me me!) And doing kind things for others is actually good for you! Win, win! It may not be on this list of 237 Kindness Ideas - but I promise you it will make someone happy (me me me!)
I've found that I actually *do* feel freer to "be myself" and post many more things that resonate with me - even more than I have on my personal page in the past. I've also found that I am posting less to my personal page, so if you have found any of the articles, quotes, or pictures that I've posted interesting or inspiring in the past, I think you will enjoy what I'm posting at my new page.
I know some people have negative feelings about Facebook, but I have to say that I love it! I view it as a tool - and yes tools can be misused or even abused - but tools can also be used in powerful, positive ways. I've found so many people and pages that inspire me every day - and I really love the idea of doing that for others!
Even if it's not for any of these reasons - maybe you're just nosy and want to see what nonsense Susan is going to post next - I don't mind, really!
I imagine some people may wonder, why is she pushing this? Is she trying to sell me something? Is this a trick of some kind?
And to be honest, I still wonder why I'm so into this blog thing myself. The best answers I can come up with is that it is helping me become more completely myself and to live my best life, that I love to share because it inspires me, and I love hearing that I inspired someone else, that I love to think about life and how to live it in a meaningful way and writing helps me do that.
As for selling anything - for the time being, nope, nothing to sell here. Just me and my wild ideas. But I want to spread love and peace, compassion and kindness everywhere. (And someday I may actually get around to writing a book, and then yes, I would love to have people buy it!)
So I think I've been completely honest with you... no tricks, promise. I learned earlier this year that begging sometimes works. Sometimes the best way to get what you want is to ask.
See you over here soon!
There is an event this weekend in the DC area called, "Heads Up! Breech Conference". Although it didn't work out for me to attend the whole thing, it came to my attention that there was a panel tonight open to the public - and it included Ina May Gaskin!
Well, since my mom flew in this afternoon I figured this was a great opportunity for me to take advantage of! So off I drove in heavy traffic, through the heart of DC, north to Maryland. The drive took just about an hour and included several horns honks (possibly one - or two - directed towards me!), one slamming of the breaks, deep, calming breaths, good music and loud singing.
I arrived with 10 minutes to spare - only to wait half an hour for the event to start. I didn't mind though, the energy of the room was life affirming - chatting women and quite a few cute babies.
It was definitely worth the drive and the $15. In addition to Ina May, Ibu Robin Lim, Betty-Ann Daviss, and Jane Evans all spoke about their experiences with breech births. They were funny, touching, and of course oh-so-wise. I laughed a lot and cried real tears when Ibu Robin Lim read one of her own poems about losing a baby.
Dr. Nancy Salgueiro was the facilitator - the same woman who gave birth live just over a year ago - streaming on the internet! I stayed up late watching her in her birthing time this time last year then when I woke up the next day watched the video - amazing.
I'm still not certain what role birth is going to take in my future. I love teaching Hypnobabies and I know that being a doula is something that might work really well for our family too. These midwives are so inspiring to me because they are living out their ideals, even the face of massive resistance, ignorance, and even hostility. Regardless of my future path, I know that their messages are crucial to moms and babies everywhere - and by extension, the whole-wide world. I felt a powerful synchronicity today, as I finish up my last Hypnobabies series of the year tomorrow, and just published Gerry's birth story this week.
Magic. Birth. Life. Babies. Miracles.
ps don't forget to comment on my post here if you'd like to win a book FULL of inspirational birth stories!
I began the week with a heavy weight sitting in my chest. Like a dense, flat stone wrapped in achy despair, I could physically feel Depression getting comfortable inside of me, making breathing difficult, much less any other activity. You know the feeling - when you have zero motivation or desire to DO anything, and the voice in your head (the critic, censor, gremlin - whatever you call it) gets louder and harsher every minute - especially because you didn't *do* anything all day (more accurately, you feel like you didn't do anything even if you did a lot). "You are a terrible mother", "Every choice you've ever made is questionable..." and let's not forget, "What's your problem - your life is amazing and you have nothing to complain about!" and on and on and on...
What triggered this emotional despair? Why did I have this unwelcome guest living inside of me?
The house felt small, confining... and very messy. Of course I had my period (again?? really? didn't I just have it last month?!) - so maybe it was hormones? My parents visited the prior week - a very, very fun day, but also too, too short - was it the normal sadness I almost always feel after seeing them? Of course the house was a disaster. The weather was cool and gray, so maybe it was a seasonal thing. Or was it the less than supportive exchange between me and my husband the other night? The sadness I felt soon amplified by my own thoughts, even after he apologized. And - did I mention my house was (I mean is! it's kind of it's normal state) a MESS?!
But I decided it mattered little why I was feeling this way. And being no stranger to the feeling, I took matters in to my own hands the best I could. Monday night I was slouched low on the couch surrounded by chaos, toys littering the floor, and no dinner to be found when Mike got home from work (this is often the case when he gets home, it was only my *internal* environment that had changed). I could not think of one thing that I wanted to do even though I knew there were plenty of things I "should" do. I looked up at him and said, "I'm going on a jog." He didn't argue, only asked, "Can we come too?" And so we all went on a family jog/bike ride, bike trailer and sneakers ready to go in a few minutes.
I don't know why I was so inspired (as exercise is still not even a weekly habit yet, much less a daily one), only that I was thinking of the runner's high I've gotten before and how amazing that feels. And I thought afterwards I will be motivated to do other things. And it was just as I expected! After that short jog and some fresh air I returned home re-energized and ready to tackle the dishes in the sink.
Depression wasn't quite ready to give up so quickly though, and Tuesday morning the dull, heavy ache returned, as did the dark thoughts of how my life could be better if only this or that were true. (Oh and did I mention that my dear son stayed up till after 1 am the "night" before?) Again that evening we laced up our sneakers and temporarily I shook the big "D" off my trail. That night I reflected on the last time he wasn't so easily shaken and stayed for several months. I remembered how I finally got him to take a long hike - it was a good conversation with my husband. I made a mental "note-to-self".
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday brought beautiful fall weather, time with good friends, and a new, inspiring book. I'm feeling like I may have evicted Depression from his comfortable bed in my chest so I distilled my experience from this week into a list: 10 Things to Do When Depression Tries to Settle in For a Stay:
Take Care of Your Basic Needs:
1) Move! Exercise is always important, but never so much as when you are feeling down. The natural feel-good hormones released and rush of adrenaline you get are enough to expel bad feelings for at least a little while. Lethargy is "no more", and you often have enough pep afterwards to tackle a few other things you didn't even want to look at before. And even if you don't want to do "other things" you can feel good, because, hey - you exercised!
2) Rest - This is really important if you haven't had enough sleep. Make time to rest. Of course this does NOT mean lie around on the couch watching soaps or in bed under the covers all day. It means if you are drained to take care of yourself and not run yourself further into the ground.
3) Eat well - take the time to prepare healthy foods for yourself even when you don't feel like it. The act of cooking alone helped make me feel more accomplished this week.
Beyond the Basics
4) Don't think - This is especially true if you are tired - and often sleep evades us when we are depressed. Tired thinking is NEVER helpful (and I NEVER use the word NEVER!) Our thoughts often become cyclical and more negative with time when we are down so we spiral farther and farther down into sadness. Best to just recognize we are tired, sad, or whatever else and that now is NOT THE TIME TO BE THINKING!
5) Breathe, Meditate and Mantras - this is especially helpful if you are having a difficult time with numbers 2 or 4. Deep breathing is very relaxing for our whole selves. Meditating is a powerful way to rest your mind, body, and spirit and get to a calmer, lighter place. Another way to evade those negative self-defeating thoughts is to have a few handy mantras to repeat with your inhale and exhale - "Breathe in Peace, Breathe out Love", "Rest my mind, calm my heart", and "Be here, Be now" are a few of my current favorites. And of course don't forget Affirmations! If you're having a hard time stopping the flow of thoughts at least you can redirect your mind with some kind, loving thoughts towards yourself.
6) Vent - Let those closest to you know how you are feeling. Get the feelings OUT of you. Of course you don't want to constantly be talking about your woes either, but it doesn't do you good to bottle them up. Find a couple (or in my case a few more than that!) of trusted loved ones who you know will listen and honor you.
7) Connect - similar to number 6 yet different. If you're a parent with young kids - plan a play date with friends that you all love and feel comfortable with. Call your mom or best friend. We are SOCIAL beings and being alone with dark thoughts and feelings only exacerbates loneliness. Of course when we are feeling depressed it is often the hardest time to reach out - and this is why it is imperative that we do.
8) Get out! Get outside or at least out of your house. If the weather is nice go for a walk. If you have kids get to the playground. Fresh air and a change in scene is so crucial to the health of our spirit.
9) Listen to music - For someone who was pretty heavily involved in music in the past I've really gotten away from it since having children. But this past year I've begun to have music be more a part of my daily life again and it is such a powerful mood-booster. I love me some Pandora!
10) Plan a party! I'm not kidding. Tuesday Marisol started planning a party, and all I could think was, "Really?! I do NOT want to plan a party right now." But by Wednesday I had embraced the idea and we are in full on preparations now. There is literally no time for me to wallow because I have to get ready! If not a party, plan something in the near future that you have to work on.
Usually when we are feeling sad, lonely, or depressed we don't "feel" like doing many or any of these things. Sometimes we just have to make ourselves pick one and just go for it. I know for me it made a huge difference to try all of these things this week.
What things do you do to turn things around when you are feeling blue?
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.