Friday, May 2, 2014

Beatin' the Blues

I did something yesterday that I typically try very hard not to do -- I vented to other people. In the past, my journal was my sounding board when I was feeling blue, but now that I've put away (at least for awhile) my journal, I vented here instead. It wasn't easy; in fact, it was downright scary.

What would anyone stopping by think? Would they consider me horrible for whining publicly? Would they never return? Hours after I hit "publish", I these questions still ran through my head, and more than once I almost deleted the post. I'm glad I didn't, though. I remember how alone I felt in the first two years after my husband passed away; even though I knew there were other widows "out there", nobody I knew, nobody I talked to had been in my shoes, and I felt so alone in everything I was feeling. So if even one person finds yesterday's post and is comforted even a bit by the fact that  another person feels the way they do . . . well, that would be absolutely wonderful.

I wish I could say that while I slept last night, the various situations I vented about magically resolved themselves, causing me to wake up to a grand and glorious day in which not a negative thing could be found. But I can't. Instead, I woke up today, kicked myself in the pants, and resolved to do what I could to set at least some things right. Yesterday, I vented about the crummy stuff going on in my life; today I'm going to share with you my personal tested-and-proven method for getting over the blues, the very method I employed this morning.

First, I begin implementing tried and true strategies for lifting myself out of the doldrums. I pray. I turn on uplifting music, I very intentionally add at least a few items to my gratitude journal. Sometimes I take a walk or watch an episode of a favorite television program that makes me laugh. Sometimes I lay down and cuddle with my dog or fix myself a cup of hot tea and read a chapter or two of a favorite book.

Then I take stock and determine what the problems are. For me, taking stock is best done through writing. Sometimes I journal, other times I just list items in a concise -- even blunt -- list. The practice, not the specifics of the form is what's important. I didn't have to take stock this morning; I'd already done that when I wrote yesterday's blog entry, but I did go back and read again what I had written.

I next consider which, if any, of the items are within my control, even if only to a small degree, and I brainstorm things I can do to change each of those items. The key word here is "brainstorm"; in other words, I jot down all the ideas that pop into my head without censoring them. One of the items on yesterday's list was, for example, that I miss my son; when I brainstormed this morning, I wrote down "quit my job and move to Texas". Of course, I'm not going to quit my very good job and move to Texas. BUT because I didn't dismiss it out of hand and actually articulated it, I had some internal dialogue ("I'm not going to quit my job. But is there an in-between measure -- something that's not so drastic but is a mid-way point? Hmmm . . ."). And that internal dialogue led to a few more ideas that are more doable.

It's finally time to implement at least some of those more-doable strategies. This morning, for example, I visited a local gym, discussed my fitness goals with a personal trainer, and signed up for a very basic gym membership that is (at $10 a month) well within my budget. He looked at the list of exercises I had put together, made a few suggestions, and shared with me that while my goals are reasonable, it's going to take more than a few months for me to see the progress I'm looking for in my arms. Rather than feeling discouraged by that, I appreciate his honesty and feel ready to get to work. I also visited the shop where I'm taking the knitting classes and discussed the sock-class situation with one of the ladies who works there. She offered a few strategies and, after discussing how I feel with my colleague and discovering she feels the same way I do, I've decided (as has my colleague) to drop out of the class. Sometimes, I've found, it's best not to push and pull and force a situation but instead to cut my losses and walk away -- this is one of those times.

I'm implementing other strategies as well, and I feel better already. It feels good to attack the very things that were attacking me, that were making me blue. I'm not going to fix everything -- I know that. But I'm addressing what I can, in the best way I can, and that's really all I can do. And that's enough for me; I can live with that.

How do you get past the blues and deal with life's circumstances that are dragging you down? Please share via the comments below or email me at 


  1. Hi Patti, So, did writing that piece and posting it on your blog help? I can see that the following day you rolled up your sleeves and got to work, but did anything else in your perspective or mood loosen?
    I did the same thing on one of my blogs a few weeks' back, questioning almost every aspect of my life, and I found that the rant did help me, in unexpected ways.It framed the situation, gave me a reference point, and a launch pad.
    Maybe it is too soon to ask, but I'd be interested to hear more about your post-vent experience.

  2. I admire the way you "got to work" to change your mood! I think it's ok to rand from time to time, especially if, as you did, one takes actions afterwards.
    I think quitting the knitting class was the right thing to do, and re your son - how about packing a special care parcel to send to him? Or just a beautiful post card? I lived and live more or less far away from family and my best friends, and I love to get surprised by mail - and do so in reverse.

  3. Funny you should ask -- I came sat down just now to write a bit more on the topic and found your comment! :) I will have to go back and read your post; I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who has felt the desire to vent. But even more, I'm glad it helped you.

  4. I love your idea about the care package, and I have a few other ideas as well. The care package is an especially good one, though, as he will be taking the Board Exams at the end of this month. Thank you for sharing that idea!!