Winter is coming, the temperatures are dropping and so is the amount of daylight we receive each day. When I was a kid, my dad would come home from work into our Upstate New York living room, stomping the snow off his boots and taking off his layers of added warmth, and would say, “I feel like a Mole; I leave when its dark and I get home when its dark.” As a child this just produced giggles- thinking of my dad as a Mole 🙂 As an adult, I realize that this is the reality of many people. 😦
There are a lot of studies showing what produces the winter blues and the SAD effect in a percentage of the population. As a psychology-research-counselor person, I really enjoy them. But for the purpose of sharing tips on how to break out of the blues- probably not necessary to get into all of them 🙂 Please be sure to read the bottom of this blog though to discover a bit about the differences between the blues and depression! It could save a life-seriously. One is like having a small cut on your leg that needs some cleaning and a band-aid. The other is like having your limb hanging off and trying to convince yourself that it’s fine. BIG DIFFERENCE.
These tips are for the Blues Only. Here are some ways to shake out of that cabin-fever feeling:
Okay, I could go on but it is almost 1am and I need to go get my butt on tv in the morning so I should probably jump in bed! Say you’ll join me and give me a dopamine rush for the show, would ya? 😉 In all seriousness, knowing that you all like the show is the entire reason why I do it. I mean, it’s hard to stay in hibernation season when you get pulled in front of the camera! LOL!
**Notes on the Winter Blues vs. Depression: You NEED to be sure you are only experiencing the blah’s of weather changes and NOT something more serious, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other type of depression/mental struggle. A big indicator for the blah’s is that you may feel down and a bit lethargic as the weather changes, but it DOES NOT STOP YOU from enjoying life. On the other hand, if you are becoming uninterested in things that you previously enjoyed, are breaking off planned appointments and get-togethers with friends, etc., and are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, despair, frequent periods of crying or anger, deep sadness that won’t go away, increase or decrease of sleep, appetite, etc. than it may be more than the winter doldrums. In these cases, I highly recommend a counselor. There are very high success rates of overcoming and handling feelings of depression by seeing a counselor. If you need a counselor, I have an office in the Roanoke, VA area (you can find my info on psychologytoday.com). If you are out of the area, you can use that same site to find someone nearby that is suited to what you need. Please keep in mind that if you are experiencing feelings of wanting to hurt yourself, someone else, are feeling unable to take care of yourself and/or those you are responsible for, contact 911 right away. Do not pass go, do not collect $100.00. Make the call.
Whether it’s the blues, depression, or any other feelings that just feel overwhelming, please know that it CAN get better. There is help. Just call up a licensed counselor and get in the office for your appointment ASAP.
Make this Fall and Winter the best yet 🙂 Come along with me, the best is yet to be…
My friend has cancer. Not just any cancer but Stage 4 breast cancer that has spread throughout her entire body. And not just any friend. She is my soul sister, my mama hen, my bff. She is the kind of friend you always feel comfortable with no matter what.
She has been fighting stage 4 cancer for almost 17 years- can you even believe it?! This woman is a fierce warrior. The doctors have recently finished trying the last strand of chemo that they can give her. They are out of options. What awful words. Unacceptable.
I know she is in pain. Not because she tells me-she has never ONCE in all our years of friendship complained to me about having to go through all of this. She amazes me. I know she is in pain because of tumor markers, doctors appointments, how much hair she has, the way she may walk/her gait, her level of energy and how much she is able to move about.
In life, most of us have a small circle of people that we are truly close to and within that circle, there are one or maybe two people that we consider our soul sisters (or misters). It is that person you meet and you know almost instantly that you both are kindred spirits. You click. You gel. You understand each other without even having to speak. You just “get it”. This is my friend. You don’t get many of these in life, so when you find it, don’t let go for all the money in the world.
My friend does not ask for anything. She is a giver to the extreme. Her heart is so kind and her thoughtfulness in a selfish world is such a breath of cool, fresh mountain air. So when she asked me a question about getting her some kettle corn if I came across some at any Fall events, you know I was going to do whatever it took to be sure she had that treat.
We all have this desire to want to fix or make things better for those we love. I can’t fix this. I can’t make it better. But girl, you want kettle corn? I’ll move mountains!
Today we went to an event where there was kettle corn.
We decide to get it on the way out so we don’t smoosh it while apple picking. As we are heading out of the orchard, we see that the vendors are beginning to shut down. My hubby knows this vendor though so he says, don’t worry, he pops extra.
We get over there and my husband says hello and asks him if he has any kettle corn. The kind elderly man standing by his copper kettle says that he sold completely out. Internally, my heart dropped. This one thing. This one simple thing. And I want to do it so badly for her. To say, “here, I helped!” (in some tiny way). But in that way I hope that maybe, just maybe, that it will be a balm to her tired and beautiful soul.
Just as my heart is moving down the elevator from my chest to my gut, a girl shows up and says “Here you can have my bag; I haven’t even opened it.” I could have cried. I asked her a couple times if she was sure and she confirmed that she was certain. She didn’t know the story. She didn’t know why we wanted kettle corn. She simply came by and gave us hers.
I am so excited about this bag. I placed it safely in the front seat of my blue mom van. I gave the kids a different snack so they wouldn’t be eyeballing “The Precious”. And home we went, where that bag now sits on my kitchen table until it goes over to my friend’s house tomorrow where I will excitedly present the bag of kettle corn and tell her that I know without a doubt that God saved this bag just for her.
I am pretty sure I talked in my sleep last night- and by talked, I mean urgent yelling. I had a dream that I was on my way to the airport. I kept trying to tell Google the address so I could get the directions, as I knew I was drawing closer to my exit but I wasn’t sure which one it was. Every time Google would repeat back to me what I said, “OK, find the airport…” it would be full of fuzzy background noise like a radio station that isn’t tuned and it would give me the address to someplace with a similar name but in the wrong state.
Since GPS was letting me down, I knew I had to figure this one out on my own. I was almost certain that last time I drove to this airport, there was a sign off the interstate indicating which exit to get off for the airport. Well surprise, it wasn’t there anymore. All the signs seemed to be in the wrong places.
I ended up having to turn around in some busy parking lot and backtrack when I figured out that the signs were nowhere to be found. I go up this hill and there it is- finally I find the airport. It is a hot mess. People everywhere, all with somewhere to be. The airlines are in alphabetical order- easy enough, right? Yes, if they were in a straight line. But instead they sort of zig-zagged throughout the parking lot.
I don’t even know which plane I’m on or where I’m going at first but as I’m running through the zig-zagged airline portals, it comes back to me that I am looking for United Airlines and I am heading to Hawaii- no wait, San Francisco. Yes, that’s where I am going. San Francisco. (Though I have no idea why I am going there and I am pretty sure I would prefer Hawaii…) I do know, however, that I have 30 minutes before my flight boards. For some reason my parents are suddenly at my vehicle (well hello there, how did you sneak up on me again? 🙂 ) when I arrive to the airport and as I take off into a run to find the airline, my parents are supposed to be getting things settled with the car and bringing me my luggage.
So there I am at United’s counter, and the lady is trying to sell me this one-way ticket that is way over my price range. I’m racking my brain thinking, didn’t I already buy one- a round-trip one?! Finally she finds my ticket and I am paying to stow my bag. As I am leaving the Kiosk, my father comes up with a smaller version of my purple Liz Claiborne suitcase that could easily be stored on the plane. Thinking that he must have put it all in an easier-to-manage bag for me, I feel filled with good feelings of the cozy sort that someone is taking care of me, and I run back to the counter and tell the lady that I won’t be needing to stow my bag after all. She says no problem and begins typing on her computer to get things switched. I unzip the bag and find all my husband’s dirty clothes and shoes in my bag. Dang it, dad. Didn’t you even look?? It seemed like such an easy task- just bring me my suitcase. Sending my dad back again to the vehicle with those instructions, I head toward my gate.
Remembering I still need my bag as I arrive to the gate and the airline attendant begins boarding call, I run to the escalator and look down to see if my dad is there with my luggage. I know I can’t go down there or I will have to re-go through TSA and there is no time. I see my dad and I yell to him. He is waving a turquoise cooking pan that looks like a Rachel Ray. Though a nice cooking utensil, it is NOT my suitcase! At this point, the frustration builds to explosive emotions and I begin yelling that the pan is NOT my suitcase and I have to board NOW!
I am pretty sure I yelled this into the real world because my kids are suddenly waking me up in real life and asking me if it is time to get up. My voice fells a little hoarse. I feel exhausted. Tired. My body feels like lead. And I’m irritated.
Getting up, my focus turns to the kids and getting them ready for school, though in the back of my mind, I am feeling pretty dazed and feel like I need to go back to sleep since that entire dream felt like pure stress, extreme pressure and nonstop running.
The signs are all so unclear. The road signs are not in the right places. The Kiosks are in some semblance of order but not really. Everyone around me is doing something but seemingly having trouble getting it right. I am getting through by the skin of my teeth but I don’t have what I need.
In my rational, awake mind, I know I can’t blame anyone for me not having my suitcase or being late to the airport or even the airport’s crazy set-up. It is my life to live and if my father brings me my husband’s dirty work clothing and then a cooking pot as luggage and the airport is set up in cartoon proportions, I should have planned for that… right? I should have just brought my bag with me instead of trying to save time, right? I should have planned for missing signs and crazy airports… right? But… can you ever really plan for some of these things?
But on the other hand of that same statement is the insinuation that you can only trust yourself to get it right and that somehow there is a way to get things “perfect.” And we all know that’s a farce because none of us get it right all the time. And if we think we do, then we are wrong a whole lot more than we realize. Thinking only we can get it right is like having mud all over our face and thinking that we look amazing. The only person we are fooling is ourselves.
What a dream. Missing signs. Stress. Oddness. Unplanned craziness. People who let you down. Letting yourself down. Maybe I made the flight or maybe I didn’t. I don’t think the flight was ever the point. The process was.
Life is unpredictable. Sometimes stressful. Definitely crazy. Sometimes the path we are on makes complete sense and we are filled with such clarity. And sometimes we can’t find any signs, we can’t find the road, everything is zig-zagged, out of place and we don’t feel like we have what we need for the journey ahead of us.
Sometimes the path will be smooth and it will feel like we are gliding- maybe even gracefully waltzing, through life.
Other times we will be at an airport with a pan and no plan. I think it’s fairly easy to see which path I am on right now. 🙂
I suppose I could always find the courage to put that pan on my head (without being mad at those around me for “getting it wrong”) and waltz my way onto the plane, where I will fly into the unknown with grace and humor. It would be way more fun than grumbling and being stressed. And it looks like I’m going for a ride either way…
This thought has been nipping at my heels for awhile now. There are so many things that we think are “needs” when NEWS FLASH, they aren’t. Almost all of us in America live better than the Pharaoh’s did in ancient Egypt… let that sink in.
We think having to pass on a Starbucks means we’re paupers. Most of us have debt up the wazoo because we “needed” something. And of course I understand that there are true emergencies that can also put us in debt and in those instances, I am grateful that we can “charge it”.
I think of my Great Grandmother. She was born in 1911. She lived through the Great Depression. She worked day and night, saving every penny she could and never complained when she was exhausted with not much to show for it- that was just life. She always told me, “have a penny, save a penny.” But do I ever save a penny? Not really. I justify everything, thinking, well of course I “need” this… but do I?
My Great Grandmother worked so hard to provide for her family. She saved enough money to pay for multiple weddings and funerals in cash, as well as owned her home. She never drove, never had a license. She walked everywhere. She lived in a small little pink home with plastic all over the furniture and photographs. She preserved everything to make it last. She had a tiny stove. In fact, her whole house looked like a Barbie doll playhouse compared to what we live in today. She didn’t live beyond her means. In fact, she lived under them so that she could save for emergencies. She called it her “rainy day fund”. She didn’t have a closet overflowing with clothes or shoes and she didn’t waste anything. She, her husband and children did not go out to the movies or bowling for fun; they played cards at their small kitchen table and her kids read books from the library. My Great Grandmother even made her own card holders out of plastic food lids and a fastener in the center. She was the ultimate DIYer!
My husband’s Grandfather and Grandmother also lived in a humble home. Grandfather went to work and labored every day of the work week. Grandmother stayed home and took care of family and the house. There were no HGTV remodels. In fact, she didn’t even drive. It wasn’t because she was disempowered; it was because they were living within their means! They had one car and Grandfather took it to work. On the weekends, he would take his wife out to go peruse the town but they never got spend-happy. Grandfather and Grandmother saved all their lives and when retirement came, they decided to use ALL of their savings to build a big family home to grow old in with their only daughter and her family.
We live in that very home today. What a legacy to leave! There is so much to learn from the hardworking generations of the past. They weren’t frivolous. They didn’t have shoes to match every style and outfit and they didn’t order pizzas and buy subscriptions to Amazon Prime (guilty!) or Netflix.
I’m not saying any of this is wrong or right. What I am saying is that for me and my family, I want to go back to the basics. And it is going to be so stinking hard! I LOVE Starbucks! And Italian Restaurants! And Halo Cookie Dough ice cream! And movies! And going out on the town! And chocolate truffles! And Torrid!! And cute shoes! And ALL THE CLOTHES! And books!!! Man do I love books! The list goes on and on because I LOVE BEING COMFORTABLE!! I love yum and fun! I am always drawn toward glitz and glam and I DREAM of an HGTV home (the “after” not the “before” 🙂 ).
I think of organizations like World Help, Compassion International and the D. Gary Young Foundation, all with countless ways we can help those who TRULY “have not” . I am assured by trustworthy friends that have been onsite at all of these organizations and mission fields, that these are legitimate and 100% of all donations go straight to the people in need. If we don’t feed the starving and get people out of sex slavery, who will?
How often do we think beyond ourselves? And for how long? It’s sad, isn’t it? Most of the world still doesn’t have CLEAN DRINKING WATER (that’s right- they have muddy holes filled with animal poo and disease and they GET THEIR WATER from there because there are no other options. They try to “boil” it first but there are not many resources for them to have that “luxury”).
Yet here in America, people on government assistance have access to all the food, clean water, baby supplies, healthcare, help with electric bills and yes, even cell phones. We could split hairs and talk about what we think is working and what isn’t, but the point is, there is help from our country!
Did you know that most countries do not have those resources available for its people? Babies starve to death and die of preventable diseases while we scroll Facebook. That’s hard to hear, isn’t it? I sponsor a little boy who is 7 years old in Haiti named Dawens. He sent me a letter the other day talking about his home. It is made of blocks and has a piece of metal over the top. He is one of the blessed ones who gets food and education to get himself out of poverty because he has a sponsor in America helping him. He has hope and no price could ever be put on that.
We have all changed the channel when the “bleeding heart” commercials come on, asking people to sponsor a child and they show a hungry face with a bloated belly. We tell ourselves it’s a fraud or that we just don’t have the money (while sitting on furniture in a house with a roof and a remote in our hands). We tell ourselves whatever it takes to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
I am challenging myself as much as I am challenging you. What are your true needs? And what could we put aside to help others? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that life is all about you and your family and your comfort and your fun times. It’s not.
Don’t live inside the box of delusion or denial.
There is a world out there that needs us and if we won’t help, who will?
I don’t want to be a product of the “Me” generation. I want to be a product of selflessness. I want to forfeit my comforts to help others. I want to stop convincing myself that my needs are greater than your needs. I want to discontinue the story I tell myself that I don’t have enough money to ________ (fill in the blank) and that someone else will have to help those in need because I have too much _____________ (fill in the blank) to take care of. I don’t think I could ever be Mother Teresa. But I could say “no” to a few more luxuries to save the life of one more child in need.
You will leave this world one day. And you will find out that these few years on earth were supposed to be for much more than “building your Kingdom.” What short-sighted thinking we all fall for. “Just live for today”…. “Get yours”… “It’s all about me”… “I deserve”….
Yeah, whatever. Look beyond yourself. You may find that you feel a whole lot better when you’re not stuck on yourself. I know I do. We will never do this “perfectly”. But we can make progress everyday toward helping others in whatever way we can and making someone’s day a little brighter, simply by putting ourselves aside and thinking of others.
All these people with cancer- friends, family… it’s breaking my heart on a most personal level and I know it is breaking yours too. We all know someone… I don’t know if it is 100% avoidable with all the radiation floating throughout our world and the hidden ingredients in our food and products. Labeling lies, false advertising, even the healthiest shoppers can unknowingly fall into some junk because of it. “Organic” used to mean something important. Unfortunately, that word means less and less to me everyday. Companies interested in making money, not making a pure, healthy product, saw that they could charge more for the label and if you’ll follow this through to DC, you will find lobbyists and changes in what “organic” now means.
So many things in our food and in our products are linked to cancer and it’s still being sold and purchased liked candy in our stores (speaking of candy… huge linkage). Why? 1. We don’t know what we don’t know.
2. Affordability; yeah, we may know that the $20 bottle of shampoo is the best for us and will keep us the healthiest, but sometimes that price just isn’t feasible. But I promise you, we don’t “look smart” like one cheap shampoo company boasts, when we settle. No one looks smart when they settle for less than what’s best for them and their family. And lastly is:
3. We know and we JUST. DON’T. CARE. This one is the hardest for me to see, personally. We bury our heads in the sand because it is temporarily easier but the long term effects of that decision can be catastrophic. It’s the last one that breaks my heart the most.
If we don’t know, we can learn; if we don’t have the income, we can still find ways to live as healthily and affordably as possible. But if we don’t care? If we choose to ignore it because it is easier in the moment…. (or tastes better)….well, there is nothing that can be done for that person, except to keep loving them and hope for the best.
I get it. The junk in food makes the food taste way better. It does. That’s why companies use it- to sell more cheaply and get more sales. I get it. There is no tasty, healthy replacement for some of the foods we have grown to love because they don’t come from any natural source. These companies aren’t playing fair.
It’s a lot of work to figure out what is and isn’t good for you, all the way down to your toothpaste and toenail polish. I get it. I do. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”
And then another question comes to mind, “How do we know who is lying to us and who isn’t?” I totally see where the confusion lies. Advertisements and amazingly cute packaging consume us from all corners and it’s hard to believe that the list of ingredients doesn’t have to list the actual ingredients, right? I know. From someone who truly wants to believe the best in everyone, it is hard to hear about what is really happening because WHO WOULD DO THAT TO SOMEONE?! How do they sleep at night? Girlfriend, I have no idea. But I do know that there are thousands of chemicals in our food and toiletries that do not have to be listed on the “Ingredients” list in America.
This past week was an extremely hard week for me. And during this week, I fell off my farm-fresh, sunshiney. non-GMO wagon. And it tasted pretty good. I mean, I had one of those PB Squared Snickers… and some of those sugar-laden organic treats and… you know what? They all tasted pretty DANG amazing. But you know what else? I am paying for it with my health at this very moment.
It started as a headache yesterday that just would not go away, no matter what I tried. Then overnight, it turned into a migraine that woke me out of my sleep. Then throughout the day, it hurt so bad I had to stay hidden in the dark with my eyes closed, etc. NOTHING would knock it out. And I still have it but it’s back to a just a bad headache again (thankfully). And you know what? Suddenly those unhealthy things that I chose taste like dust in comparison of how I have been feeling for almost 48 hours. My mood was way worse this week too. Tie together the up’s and down’s of sugar crashes and harmful chemicals that my body isn’t used to anymore, and it made for one crappy mood on top of an already difficult week.
The more detoxed you become from toxins, the quicker your body responds when they re-enter your system. Because it is foreign to our bodies and they actually don’t know how to process it. Because it’s not something natural that our body was created to recognize. Most of us don’t even realize how crappy we actually feel because we have accepted it as our normal. But what if it isn’t?
I’m just a normal person, guys. (In case you thought anything different! LOL!) I LOVE the taste of Reese’s (now switched for Justin’s brand) and I had to do A LOT of research to figure out why on God’s green earth I would pay that much FOR A BOTTLE OF SHAMPOO!! All I am is somebody who- because I was getting sick from everyday products- took my head out of the sand and figured out what was happening. And now that I know, it would be nothing short of wrong to not tell you too. …Even though I keep kind of wondering if some major company is going to come by and pop my tires! LOL! (Which, granted, would seem far-fetched if this little fish in a big pond hadn’t already received a 6-page letter from a huge company trying to dish me an [ineffective] rebuttal).
Ok. Well. I have already written a ton today and I know most of us don’t enjoy reading huge blogs and just skim for the “good stuff”. 🙂 I will share in my next post and also in my class this Saturday the most affordable and doable ways to make better choices in the land of things so tasty, they kill. So next time you eat something and think, “This is to die for”, ask yourself… is it really?
DUN DUN DUNNNNNN……. (but seriously)
Are you good at waiting? … I will admit… I’m a work in progress. 🙂 On a good day, I’m a trooper. 2 hour line for a rollercoaster? No problem, I’m here all day. 1 hour delay in Pennsylvania? (it’s always Pennsylvania…) Still, not a problem when I’ve got my trusty, rusty good mood cap on.
But change to the bigger stuff… yes, yes, I know, you’ve read or heard of the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (and it’s all small stuff).” It’s a fantastic book- I’ve read it too. Actually, I listened to it on CD (before Audible, people!) because I wasn’t patient enough to sit down and read it! Just tell me what I need to know and I’ll be on my way, buddy…
Under what I consider the perfect circumstances, meaning people are waiting the way I think they should wait, no one is rude, everyone is fun to talk to, the weather is beautiful, I’m not tired, hungry, thirsty, in a hurry or in pain… when I have everything I need to wait comfortably, I’m a trooper. (That’s probably what I should have said in the first paragraph… 🙂 )
But give me someone running their mouth, CUTTING THE LINE, or taking what I think should be mine and Houston, we have a problem. Especially the latter. AmIRight?!
So how do we remain (or go back to) patience in a world that is so high paced and instantaneous? I mean, my kids think that boxed mac & cheese takes “too long” to cook and will be like, “Ah mom, don’t you have something you can microwave for us?” (They are 4 and 6!) Seriously?…
Now that I’ve admitted to being a work-in-progress, I will tell you how I work on making progress:
This is how my husband won my heart. He traveled from Virginia (where we met) to Massachusetts where I was running a camp for the summer to see me – a 15+ hour drive. This was in 2008 when the economy was doing a plummet. He paid huge prices at the gas pump, tolls, housing, etc. And since the camp was in the middle of nowhere, he ended up staying at a campground- yes, camping so he could stay near where I was because there were no hotels!!! He had creative dates planned and though it was July and 100 degrees, that goof (<3) wore the sweatshirt with the camp logo on it that I bought him all the way home But he got what he wanted – me! We were married 6 weeks later and will soon be celebrating year 10 of marriage.
Moral of the story? If you want it, you will do what it takes.
What is something in your life that feels impossible but you really, really desire?
I am practically positive that if I asked my husband right now what gave him the motivation to drive all the way to see me, when I left Virginia as his friend, he would tell me that he wanted that kiss LOL. But how was that motivation strong enough? As a counselor who loves CBT and Motivational Therapy, I am going to offer a few quick ways to motivate yourself to pursue your dreams.