Stop and reflect: October

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One day you’re waiting for the sky to fall. The next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all.  – Bruce Cockburn

The start of October 2017 was full of tragedy. The world felt very dark. As the month went on, more cracks of light started shining through. Here’s some short reflections from the month:

Music: Switchfoot was my go-to (in particular, their Beautiful Letdown Album was my anthem for the month).

Reading: Rob Bell’s “What Is the Bible?”, Steven Curtis Chapman’s Autobiography & Brene Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection.”

Writing: examples of some of my thoughts shared on Instagram & Facebook that received meaningful feedback:

October 5th – on loneliness being the worst type of poverty
October 8th – a confession and encouragement
October 12th – on getting to know our literal neighbours
October 13th – on allowing people to change
October 19th – forgetting about numbers and helping one person at a time
October 29th – what the heart knows by heart, heals the heart

Travel: we took advantage of good weather days and did a couple day trips. The picture above was from visiting Brockville for the first time.

Theme: Today will soon be GONE (Switchfoot) & am I living scared or brave? The latter has been a new thought that arrived at the end of the month. Going to chew on that some more.

Tip: If you’re hungry for community, be willing to put yourself out there. Example: ask someone new to go out for coffee.  You just never know when it will be the start of something beautiful.

What was October like for you? Would love to hear your reflections. Ready or not, November is here. Together, we can face it and maybe even have some fun.

How to get yourself out of a funk

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Saturday was a bad day for me. While we rarely fight, Derek and I had an argument first thing in the morning. Even though we resolved the insignificant conflict, I remained in a funk for the rest of the day. I’m not at all blaming my husband for this. It was a gloomy rainy day – I could blame the rain! But that wouldn’t be accurate either. It seemed to be everything and nothing that caused my mood to majorly drop. The entire day was a struggle. Sunday was better. Much better.  Here’s what seemed to help me our of a temporary major funk, I’m hoping it can help if you or a loved one find yourself in such a state:

  1. Journal. Writing out your thoughts and feelings can do wonders. It’s like a free therapy session! Also, as a social worker, I understand the importance of being able to identify when significant mood changes first began. Often, clients comes to their first appointment with no timeframe of when they started to go downhill. Writing in a journal can help you to process and cope as well as have a record should you need professional support.
  2. Exercise. For me, this was a walk in the pouring rain with my dog. I walked fast. I enjoyed seeing how much my dog was loving walking (despite the rain). I noticed ducks on the river not at all phased by rain. I may have felt gloomy on the inside but it was encouraging to see animals enjoying the rain. And the change of scenery + exercise was good for my mood as well.
  3. Read. I picked up a book that I had hoped to finish before baby arrived (and I didn’t!) and read a few pages. It was helpful to “escape” in a good book. To put aside feeling glum for several minutes.
  4. Get a break. For all of the above to happen, I needed a break from caretaking. My husband and I traded off caretaking for our daughter though out the day. I haven’t left her for more than 1 hour but if the funk continued into the next day, I may have had to get in the car and go somewhere for a couple of hours to see if that helped.
  5. Sleep. During my funk, I wanted to go and hide under the covers but I refused to go there. Sleep is necessary for survival but can work against us if we use it to escape. My advice would be to anyone in a funk to try and use sleep to recharge your batteries and not to as a way of hiding from the world. Also, remember that tomorrow’s a new day. Even if you don’t sleep great, things often seem better the next morning.

The above list if fairly biased re: what has been helpful for ME when experiencing low mood or being in a funk. I’d love to hear what you’d add to this list. Remember that just because you’re in a significant funk today doesn’t mean that it will be just as bad tomorrow. It could be MUCH better. Take good care of yourself. And if the funk lasts for 6 weeks or you experience any thoughts of suicide (no matter how fleeting), seek professional help. Funks can come and go. They can be very short lived. Or they can last awhile and turn into clinical depression. Taking good care of yourself as soon as you notice mood changes can sometimes turn what could have been ugly into a short lived episode. In your experience, what’s been helpful for you?

A review of 2013: The good stuff!

As I reflect over the past year, several highlights come to mind. Here’s a re-cap of the positives of 2013:

1) I can’t seem to choose between financial health and physical health. What I mean is that I’m grateful that in 2013 we were able to pay a little more than just the minimum for our mortgage. Also, in 2013, I advocated for my health (hypothyroidism) and have seen improvements as a result. Running a client group on assertiveness and presenting at a conference re: teaching assertiveness skills must have paid off! 🙂

2) I joined a small group @ church called, “The Daniel Plan”. This 6 week small group series taught me a lot about sugar, processed foods, and eating for health. “The Daniel Plan” was the push I needed in the right direction. Looking back now, I can barely believe the results! From June to November of 2013, I lost the weight I had been trying to loose for over 4 years!  I will be forever grateful for the health and nutrition that I gained in 2013.

3) We took a vacation in the summer and saw Colonial America (lots of former presidents homes, Williamsburg/Jamestown) as well as Washington DC. From Baltimore, we flew out to California and drove from LA to San Fransisco stopping along the way. Then we drove back to LA via the desert to see Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. This was a CHECK off of our travel bucket list and a great time together.

4) Summer of 2013, I rediscovered my love for reading. It had been a couple of years since I read a book cover to cover. I forgot how much I enjoy reading and how greatly it nourishes my soul. Since the summer, I have read 6 books cover to cover and started a book club!

5) Derek and I have grown in our relationship in 2013. Our communication has improved, patience with one another has grown, and our love has deepened. I can honestly say that our relationship has never been better than it was in 2013.

Another year has come and gone. 2013 will be no more. I am glad to document the positives of this “blink of an eye” year. It wasn’t a perfect year as loss and joy seem so intertwined to our human experience. But there was gratitude, self-improvement, and love. And there was always a roof over our head with plenty to eat. 2013: Thank you for your many blessings. Please give 2014 the memo to be kind. Au revoir!