Ben got me a pack of Starbucks’ Instant Pumpkin Spice Latte, so I can have this bad boy at home. And I’m good.
If you have ever met a poet, you will either notice that they are stupidly euphoric, or a bit on the tormented soul side. Either the sun is beautifully shiny, or the sun burns their skin. They are writing about the idyllic nature of nature, or they are writing about the hell that is the very air that they breathe. I tend to swing both ways (on a milder scale than, say bipolar scales), and I try to balance myself on either side.
It is hard to push the swing when you are feeling distraught, and I do think it is important to feel it when you are over there. Get that feeling of lead in your chest that is keeping you from moving. Feel the hurricane in your mind that is keeping you from relaxing. If you are a poet, or a creative of any kind, you want to see what colors these feelings bring, what emotions it is bringing up, and how you are responding to it. These things are raw and not only are you getting these experiences first hand…but you can use them later. So you wrap your fingers around the threads of despair…
…so you can firmly yank that sucker out. Because you don’t want it, you don’t need it, and you have things to do. I don’t have time to be depressed…Let’s get this show going.
One very easy way to get out of the hurricane of funk is to make a list. Lists are awesome.
“At various times in my life, I’ve found myself in a state I can only describe as a funk—not depressed, but listless, purposeless, unable to motivate myself and caring about very little. Words like “flat,” “empty,” and “disconnected” also come to mind. It’s not a particularly pleasant state, but it is often surprising: it usually occurs immediately after I’ve accomplished a goal.”
And this is very true! When you are busy and focused on a goal, you have things to accomplish and the drive to finish them. It doesn’t even have to be a big goal, like completing a marathon or a project. It can be a little goal, like getting homeschooling agendas going, or finishing the laundry. Maybe you finally got caught up on all of your reading.
But once that goal is over, you can find yourself listless. Drifting. Unfocused. Depressed and in a funk.
Alex Lickerman, M.D sums up what I’ve been doing to get out of my funk much better than I could put it:
- Connect with people. As I wrote in a previous post, How To Pull Good Things Out Of Others, who we are and how we experience ourselves often has more to do with who surrounds us than anything else. When feeling low, one of the fastest ways to pick yourself up is to connect with specific people you know bring energy out of you.
- Commit to a new goal. Sometimes my listlessness is purposelessness in disguise. Human beings are not only intrinsically driven by a sense of purpose but also seem to require a sense of purpose to lead a satisfying life. It needn’t be a grand purpose, but it must be a purpose that feels important to you.
- Read an engrossing book or see an emotionally powerful movie. Both have the power to transport us, to provide a perspective far removed from our own, and in doing so, unlock emotions we want to feel: joy, hope, warmth—even sadness. When in a funk, what we feel doesn’t seem to be as important as finding a way to feel something.
- Travel. Though travel has never been one of my favorite things to do, it does accomplish something important when I’m in a funk: it takes away familiar environmental cues and replaces them with unfamiliar ones. And as most of our behavior and emotions are cued by our environment (from turning off lights when we leave a room to the sinking feeling we may get as we approach our place of work), if we want to act and feel differently, changing our environmental cues is a good place start. Not that you can escape yourself by relocating geographically. But you can be helped to access different parts of yourself.
- Wait patiently. No mood lasts forever. And life won’t leave you alone but will eventually present you with new challenges that activate you. And even if such challenges are difficult, they will often bring out your best self.
1. I am connecting with Ben and the kids more deliberately today. I just finished working with Nova on her math one on one, and it was lovely. I spent time with Conrad working with reading and math today. I talked to Glenn about all of his world domination projects. I watched Sheriff Callie with Alice this afternoon. I have helped Eve find all of her pretty socks and put them in her backpack with her. After work I am splitting a Stone IPA with Ben and we are having spaghetti for dinner. That is today. Tomorrow I will find ways to connect with them in new ways.
2. I made a list of things I want to accomplish in October. I am going to sew myself an autumn apron, and I got the fabric and ribbon today. I got new containers for the pantry so the rice and beans won’t get moths breeding in them (ugh). I have 20 lbs of peaches to can, and I got Clear Jel for it. And I am still working on my poetry manuscript.
3. I am reading “A Tale of Two Cities” with the kids, and I am actually really getting into it! I love history, so we are getting into the details of the French Revolution, and it’s fun. No, really…we are really enjoying it! Listen, it’s fun for us.
4. This weekend we went up to our favorite (favorite) place, Fallen Leaf Lake. It was peaceful, dynamic, powerful, awe-inspiring, quiet and breathtaking. And it was 3 hours away, so it was long enough to be a trip, but not far enough away to have to stay the night. It was a perfect day for us.
5. Finding peace doesn’t happen immediately. It never does. It will take minutes, hours and days. But this is a goal. So be patient, and make it happen…slowly.