Every so often, I get into a funk, the doldrums, a sad bad mood. Sometimes it passes off on its own. Sometimes the judicious application of self-care waves it away. Sometimes not. But I always try.
Until this week, I hadn’t noticed what an impressive array of bad-mood busters I’d accumulated in my repertoire. This week, I tried them all in various combinations:
- vigorous exercise
- dressing up
- dressing down in my schlumphiest pajamas
- one-minute dance party
- cheerful music
- meaningful work
- frivolous work
- cheerful idle chitchat
- earnest loving chitchat
- send out postcards (or any other small tangible act to brighten someone else’s day)
- eat and drink conspicuously healthily
- eat and drink delicious junk food
- a bit more caffeine
- a bit less caffeine
- make friends laugh
- analyze my feelings
- make someone laugh
- laugh myself
- laugh at myself
- read a good book
- take a hot bath
- peel (and then, y’know, eat) citrus fruit
- bake bread
- practice gratitude
and the number-one all-time break-glass-in-case-of-emergency cheer-up method:
- pretend to be a mighty dinosaur by stomping around waving my arms and saying “GRAR.”
Places I managed to drop bits of avocado from this sandwich:
- onto the countertop
- onto the cutting board
- onto the other-than-intended sandwich half
- onto the the plate
- onto the napkin
- onto the floor
- onto the MacBook trackpad
- into my cleavage
- down the front of my hoodie
- onto my chin
- I don’t know; I never found that bit. Uh-oh.
updated to add: I stopped typing, hit post, and went back to the second half of my sandwich, only to find a bit of avocado on the sofa next to the plate. And no, that was not the missing piece from the list.
Even if you don’t feel tipsy during the Halloween party, look for these dead giveaways:
- A complete inability to remove the foil from the champagne bottle, or to figure out how to uncage the cork without removing the foil.
- Taking the stairs down from the hosts’ apartment ever so slowly, getting both feet on each riser ever so carefully before moving on to the next.
- Your partner saying “You’re doin’ great!” at least three times during the five-minute walk home.
- Shucking off your bra and tights from under your costume in front of a (curtained) window while cheerfully giving the finger to the hypothetical neighbors who might be offended by the unintentional display.
- Being ever-so-proud! that you remembered to wash your face before bed.
- Waking up late the next morning ravenous for every smeary, fatty mass-market food being trumpeted by TV commercials.
- When your partner reveals that he brought home a frozen pizza last night, you rush wordlessly to him, fluttering your hands, and finally manage “I’m so glad we got married!”
Things I learned to appreciate later in life:
- sour cream
- Mexican food of all kinds. Now consider that I spent my formative years in Texas and only discovered Mexican food after I moved away from it. Awwwww, so sad.
- a sponge to wash the dishes. I still prefer a brush for most things, but The Fella introduced me to dishwashing with sponges and I have to admit, they’re better for some items.
- flip flops. I was a Dr. Scholl’s kid all the way.
- Matt Damon. I only started reeeeeally appreciating him during the first act of The Informant!.
- Barkeepers Friend. Boy howdy, everyone who told me this stuff was miraculously perfect? They were understating it.
- the gust of wind that sometimes blows, puffing out the curtains and stirring the air, in the seconds before the rainfall starts.
- making a balanced, delicious dinner seemingly out of nothing when the cupboard seems bare.
- when the season changes from sandals to boots, or vice versa. (But honestly, mostly sandals-to-boots.)
- cocktail glasses.
- wooden matches, the bigger the better.
- the heel off a loaf of homemade bread, still warm from the oven.
- the mute button.
- ginger jam.
Let’s see: I got our always-problematic TimeWarner account corrected & reset (and got the direct number for the very helpful local supervisor dedicated to fixing any future difficulties), made a cogent argument against portraying the small benefits available to women within a marginalizing sexist system as unearned privilege, danced for 10 minutes (the first 3.33 minutes of music embedded for your convenience), formed a small personal philosophy for sweetening my inevitable dealing with sour people, and cleaned the kitchen.
Not bad for a Saturday in pajamas.
I’m 12 days into the abundance project, in which I empty out our clutter, give away what’s more useful in other hands, throw away what’s not useful to anyone, and appreciate the things that I keep. Continue reading
-clementines. I love how easy they are to peel, how tiny they are, how each segment is just the right size to pop into my mouth.
- spinning kids around: grabbing a child by the wrists and twirl twirl twirl, that little face beaming and giggling up at you, until you both get wobbly-legged and dizzy. Yesterday I spun the smallest child at a family picnic; by the time I set him down, all the rest had lined up for a turn. When you spin more than a few children in a row, you can feel it the next day in your shoulders, arms, and back. It occurs to me that I would get more than enough exercise every day if I could just spin children for 30 minutes or so, including the breaks so I don’t whoops.
- clear wine bottles. I soak the bottle in cold water so the glue softens, the label peels off, and I can easily scrub the glass clean with a sponge. Wash well inside and out. I use clear bottles to store grains, to fill with fruit-infused liqueurs, or to serve chilled water.
I came down with a cold just before New Year’s Eve, and it persisted until, ooooh, yesterday. That’s more than two weeks of snotty, sniveling sickness — and two weeks of experiencing The Fella’s shining example of unconditional love. Some simple acts of love:
- insisting I sleep cozied down in the bed with him instead of confining my coughing, hacking, restless, contagious self to the hard sofa.
- gazing at my slack, shambling frame as I change from a sweaty, baggy pair of gray PJs to a clean, baggy pair of gray PJs and saying (in a voice ringing with sincerity), “You’re so pretty!”
- driving to the restaurant whose name and address I don’t know to order the soup I can’t pronounce.
I’m not a big fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions. Too often, I see friends commit to punishing life changes and ascetic regimes. This kind of self-denial is designed to fail, which only erodes morale.
I’m especially resistant to weight-loss resolutions. I’m frankly tired of hearing people deplore their bodies, and I’m sick and tired of them assuming that I feel the same way about mine. As I’ve mentioned before, my own relationship with my body is complicated, but it’s mostly a mixture of appreciation and tender protectiveness. I try not to deride my body despite the messages of inadequacy that bombard us all, and I try to take positive steps, not negative ones. When I exercise, I focus on getting stronger and feeling good, not on losing weight or looking different.
When it comes to resolutions, I focus on pleasure and self-care, not punishment and self-abnegation. Some of my oft-repeated resolutions from previous years: drink more champagne*; sing more; eat more eclairs.
I think I will make a resolution this New Year, and it’s one of celebration, not denial: dance more.
* I’m doing verrrrrrry well with this one.