Here it is October 1st, the leaves are falling, the temperature has dropped radically, and most noticeably, it’s getting dark at about 5:30 PM. No doubt about it, the summer of 2014 has come and gone. Before we know it, we’ll be bundled up in winter coats, shoveling or snow-blowing our driveways, freezing our butts getting into frigid cars, sliding around on icy walkways, looking at a grey and white landscape and hiding out indoors. I love it!
When I admit that, everyone I know, (except for one sleepy client today), looks at me like I have two heads. They freely complain about all the above developments, expecting me to commiserate, and when instead I get all warm and fuzzy about the upcoming six-month winter, they probably begin to wonder if they’re sitting with a sane person. Some never come back for another session…
I’m convinced that I have the opposite of Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) – the condition in which some people’s brain chemistry shifts into depressive mode around the lowered level and duration of light in the colder months. For me, I get happier as the skies get grayer and the weather gets murkier. I call it “sultry” weather – nice and cloudy and real chilly. It reminds me of happy adventures in Ireland and England. It may also be some nostalgic fragment of genetic memory from my slavic ancestry, harkening me back to the cold, dark weather in Russia and Poland where my grandparents grew up. Or, maybe I really am psychotic. But whatever the origin, I’ll share some reasons why you too might look forward to the six month “winter” we’re famous for here in Maine, instead of getting all bummed out about it:
- If it was warm and sunny all the time you’d lose the excitement about seasonal changes
- When it’s murky and cold out there’s no pressure to do fabulous things outdoors
- Grey, cold days give you space to be still and contemplative, less busy and frenetic
- There’s no need for air conditioners, fans, and other costly energy hogs
- You don’t have to tend to your garden or your lawn when there’s 2 feet of snow outside
- Without the chill of winter you’d never have an excuse to wear all those groovy boots
- Baths and hot tubs are much more delectable when you’re freezing your ass
- You have much more reason to tuck in with a good movie, book or instrument
- How would you ever experience the joy of skiing or snowshoeing without the snow?
- Without winter there would be no savoring of good soups, stews or comfort food
- There’s no earthly joy like climbing under a cozy down quilt when it’s frigid outside
- Monotone landscapes rest your eyes and brain from all those vibrant summer colors
- You pet your thankful dog, cat or hamster more when you’re hanging out indoors
- You have more time to read deep, thought-provoking blogs like this one
What more can I say?
So, if you have S.A.D. and are starting to get depressed facing the arctic blast, get one of those special lights to reset your brain chemistry, sit back and relax!
I am fondly referred to in my family as “Zippy” because I do everything really FAST. They call me the “Nazi Walker” because nobody can keep up with me. I’ve been known as the “speed gardener,” famous for a few inadvertant self stabs in the eye with thorns when rushing through hedge trimming. (See blogpost “Speed Gardening and the Revenge of the Sandcherry”). I talk fast, I eat fast, I write fast, I even do Yoga fast. I can’t help it – I’m from New York, and many people there are the same way. But today, Zippy went down, trying out a new pair of running shoes in the house at full speed going around corners.
You might ask: “Are you an idiot? What’s the rush?” But it’s the way I’m wired, and I figure I save loads of time zipping through laundry, dishes, bills, workouts, etc. I’m entering my “last chapter” of life, so there’s no time to waste – I have too much to do!
The side benefit of this injury today, (I probably fractured my ankle), was that I had to STOP everything, laze around, resting, icing, compressing and elevating my foot. No removing brush for my husband who would be chopping down mammoth trees, no uprooting unsightly bushes, killing Japanese beetles, cooking for the next few days, folding laundry, buying another router from Best Buy, running in my new sneakers, nada. Just vegging out, nursing my injury and spending nine hours (!) online setting up my new Amazon Store. So you, lucky reader, now have the benefit of lazy shopping for good reads from your couch on my Amazon Store page! If you’re in too much of a rush to look for it on this site, go to: http://wp.me/P1ayQF-Vc (I’ve been wanting to set it up for months, but I’m usually zipping around doing everything else). Sometimes sitting still has it’s benefits…..
I think that procrastination and lack of action get a raw deal in our culture. In Latin countries they extol the virtue of “Mañana,” the concept of getting to things tomorrow, another day. They seem to live in a more relaxed way, not as stressed with the immediacy of the “to-do” list as we are in the U.S. So, I’ve developed a handy mechanism borrowed from that mindset, to solve some problems in a more carefree way. Here are some examples:
- Going through the mail: Instead of sorting through all the obvious junk mail to see where you’ll get a great deal, just ignore it for a few weeks. You’ll then notice that all the coupons for $1. lattes, $15. oil changes and $1. burgers have expired! Dump it all and problem solved!
- Responding to emails: Instead of scrupulously answering the hundreds or thousands of inbox communications, do nothing with the ones that aren’t from loved ones or creditors. You’ll be amazed at how the rest of the pile just seems to fade in importance and relevance. Again, most of the “deals” which seemed so compelling a few weeks ago, will likely have expired, and somehow you’ll go on living.
- The TV remote, your answering machine, your fax and your printer going haywire: I’ve found that if I ignore the malfunctions for a few weeks, it not only forces me to engage less with my devices, but it also gives them time to fix themselves, which they usually do!
- Folding the laundry: Instead of stressing about the enormous pile of towels, sheets and underwear in the clean basket, simply pull out what you need each day. Before you know it, the basket will be empty and nobody (unless Martha Stewart is visiting), will know or care that you’ve done nothing in the folding department. If they do care, maybe you should re-think that relationship…
- Cleaning the garage: Instead of making weekly dates with yourself to thin out all the junk you’ve collected, do nothing and let it accumulate until there’s a hurricane or snowstorm predicted. Then you’ll be amazed to see how quickly and efficiently you clear out the debris in time to save your car from total destruction.
So, I say “Don’t worry, be happy! Do nothing, and sometimes you’ll accomplish a lot!”
PS. If this attitude creates a lot of guilt for you, or you suffer from perfectionism or compulsivity, feel free to contact me for some in-person or remote sessions. Call my office at 603-431-7131 for an appointment.
I’m a very regimented person. I get up at the same time each day, do the morning teeth and face cleanse, make a cup of coffee, balance my accounts, pay some bills, answer my voicemail, check my email, do some dishes, dead-head the garden flowers, make my lunch, do a workout, watch the news, eat the same breakfast, take a shower, get dressed, drive to my office, see some clients, return more voicemails, grab the same lunch, see more clients, answer more voicemails, schmooze with colleagues, drive home, make some calls, change clothes, go for a garden walk, have some dinner with my husband / son, watch more news, do some writing, do some reading, and go to bed. Then it all starts and ends the same way the next day until the weekend when it’s a different, slightly more exotic routine.
I’m also very governed by “shoulds” like, “I should keep appointments”, “I should work out six days a week”, “I should be more patient”, “I should always be learning”, “I should write in my blog”, “I should write another article”, “I should finish my book”, “I should finish my membership site”, “I should finalize my trademark”, I should prepare for my radio show”, “I should get my finances ready for the accountant and Quickbooks”, “I should go to more plays and concerts”, “I should answer my Facebook messages”, “I should volunteer”, “I should go back to Italy”, “I should lose twenty pounds”, “I should be a better friend, sister, mother, and wife”, “I should exfoliate more often”, “I should talk more slowly”, “I should stretch daily”, “I should clean the refrigerator”. (On and on, and on, and on…..) It’s a wonder I’m not depressed! It’s also a wonder that for the first time in six months, and after thirteen radio shows I’ve produced and hosted, that I decided to forego the June 29th “Communication Problems” episode, reschedule it to July 13th, and put up a sign saying, “Gone Fishing”!!!!!!!! So if any of this “good girl” routine sounds familiar to you, remember that sometimes, for some of us, goofing off is, (as Martha would say), “a very good thing!”
I should go to bed,
Many people here in the Northeast are getting severe “cabin fever” with all the arctic weather we’ve been having. There are now also new things to worry about, like: Have you shoveled your roof, so you won’t get “ice dams”, and risk a collapse? Have you insulated your pipes so they don’t freeze and burst? Have you become a couch potato, bursting out of your “fat” clothes? Have you left your pet enough water, so it doesn’t die of thirst when outside? Have you de-iced your walkways, so you don’t break your neck going for your “healthy power walk”? Have you moisturized your skin, so you don’t look like you’re ninety when you’re 45? Is your ionizer working, so you don’t die of black mold? (etc.)…
How can we possibly stay calm and relaxed? With Mind-Body tools to beat stress! For a primer on the subject, go to my BlogTalk Radio show, The Couplespeak Relationship Forum, episode: “Chill Out! Easy Mind-Body Tools To Beat Stress”, with expert Katherine Frick at 9PM EST: 877-497-9046 (toll-free).
If you’re too STRESSED, and can’t be live on the call, then get into your pajamas, grab a glass of wine (if you’re not an alcoholic), curl up in your favorite chair, and listen to the recorded show through the BlogTalk Radio button at the bottom right side of this blog.