Inspiration

Being Prepared for the Next Funk

be prepared for next funkSo, we've talked about fighting the funks and also how to know when one is coming your way. But you can't always ward them off right? So what do you do when the inevitable happens? Most of the time (if we're honest) we give up, freak out or implode. But what if you were prepared, not to keep the funk from happening, but to deal with the funk when it rears its ugly head? I've said it before and I'll say it again: no one is exactly the same so what works for me won't work necessarily work for you. But, my experience may be able to clue you in to what you need to do to help yourself. When you're in a funk, it's a lot of work to just function let alone fight off a funk and get back to normal. But the easier you make things on yourself, the easier it will be for you to deal with the funk and ultimately move past it.

Instead of a step by step list of "here's what to have on hand and how to be ready", I've divided my thoughts into categories so that you can figure out what might work for you personally.

Personal Health

The first thing that slips is, not surprisingly, physically health. Making sure that good, wholesome foods are on hand and easily accessible is one way to help curb the unhealthy tendencies that generally pop up during a funk. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is also important as is physical exercise. The more you can get into a routine with sleep and exercise when things are good, the easier it will be to keep those habits when the crap hits the fan. Yes, it will be hard and it will be rough. But it will be worth it.

Put Good Stuff In, Get Good Stuff Out

Just like with physical health, your mind requires "nutrition" to be able to be at its peak potential. We are absolutely bombarded with messages on a regular basis, many of which we have no control over when and how often we see them. But there are moments when you do choose what your brain consumes. Moments like listening to music in the car, relaxing on the couch at the end of the day or how you occupy your time while waiting in line or at a doctor's office.

Make sure you always have positive options at your fingertips. For me, this means having specific playlists on Spotify for various moods, a number of motivational books on my kindle and even uplifting quotes or images on my phone and as my wallpaper. A friend of mine, Angela Mager, talked about this in one of her latest posts and how you can strategically place motivational items around your house to keep you focused on goals and contribute to a healthy environment for yourself. The more good stuff you put into your head, the more good stuff will come out of your thoughts (and then your words, emotions, and actions).

Getting Your Pity Party Crashers on Speed Dial

I have some wonderful friends and family in my life and let's be honest: I know who to call when I want to indulge in a bad mood and those that will pull my head out of my ass and get me back on the path where I should be. I intentionally put my friends who love me enough to tell me the truth and hurt my feelings at the top of my favorite list in my iPhone because they need to be the first ones I call. Otherwise, I'll just be spinning my wheels. Again.

Know Thyself

I can't stress how important it is to pay attention to your moods, thoughts, patterns and behaviors. If you don't, then your funks will always surprise you and you'll never see them coming. Trust me, that's not the way to live. It is a good way to drive yourself crazy.

There are a ridiculously infinite number of ways to get to know yourself, but the first step is just to pay attention. Most people go through the day and never give a thought to what they're doing or why they're doing it. Even if once or twice a day you stop and ask yourself why you're doing something or really investigate how you feel, you're going to be ahead of the game.

What are some things that you do that help you prepare for the funks?

6 Ways to Tell When You Are Heading for a Funk

heading for a funkRecently, I talked about how I was in a funk but managed to get out of it fairly quickly. We all know the best medicine is prevention, right? That's not a surprise and to be honest it shouldn't be. Want to be healthy? Then don't get sick. The true is for your emotions. I am not a psychologist nor professional therapist and I certainly don't pretend to be one. I also am not a big fan of the term "expert" because I believe that implies that you know pretty much everything there is to know on a given topic and I am a self-proclaimed life-long learner.

But I do know me, at least to a certain extent. I am constantly learning more about myself as time goes on and that's because I've become more and more proficient at paying attention to what's happening. You and I are not exactly alike, nor should we be. Everyone is different. But I have found a stunning number of similarities between myself and the women that are constantly placed in my path.

So, let's get back on topic, shall we? When it comes to fighting the funk, the best thing you can do is not get into one at all. Boy, that would be great, wouldn't it? It's not exactly realistic because no one is in complete control of their emotions. (But imagine that for a second: what if you could control your emotions and feel what you want to feel when you want to feel it all the time? Mind = Blown)

So if you can't be in control of your emotions, the next best thing is to recognize what's happening with you so that you can be aware of it and take the appropriate actions necessary to bounce back. When I am heading to a funk, it's something I can feel. But undoubtedly, there are a number of tell-tale signs that pop up in the days leading up to the fall that can clue me in. Here are my big six:

  1. My eating / sleeping habits change - Most often, I notice that it's harder for me to wake up in the morning. I feel more sluggish and more inclined to hit the snooze button. When this persists, it's my top indicator that something is coming that I'd rather not have happen. I've also noticed that I stop eating in my generally healthy manner. I don't get crazy about being healthy, but I do try and take care of myself. That starts to go out the window and it's always gradual. If it's abrupt, I'm dealing with  more than a funk.
  2. I hear myself say "I don't want to talk about it" more often - I don't share a lot of personal information with the people around me, but I do have a strong support network that I turn to when I need guidance or advice. There could be minor things going on like stupid issues at work, or an annoyance with an acquaintance and when someone asks me what's going on, instead of talking through it to find a sound solution, I start brushing it off. A lot. When I start consistently doing this, I am beginning the process of isolating which is very dangerous for me.
  3. I start dreading social obligations that I generally enjoy - I am not what many would consider to be an extrovert. I like my quiet time and professional networking events tend to leave me exhausted, even when I genuinely enjoy myself. But I do have an intimate group of friends that I like to spend time with and some hobbies and interests that I can really get lost in. When I start dreading an upcoming knitting class or get-together, that's a clue that something is a bit off-kilter. For me, the next phase would be to cancel those engagements for no good reason, so I have to watch that.
  4. I stop daydreaming - I am a dreamer. I have no problem admitting that openly. Envisioning an exciting future is an enjoyable pastime of mine and it can encompass my personal life or my professional aspirations. If I notice that I haven't been doing that or that the thought of doing that is overwhelming or exhausting, something is up.
  5. I feel different (physically) - I don't know about you, but my funks FEEL different. I feel weighed down, pressured, sometimes even deflated like a balloon. I feel sapped of energy even when I'm motivated to do something that I enjoy. It's hard to explain, to be honest, but I know it when I feel it.
  6. My choice in entertainment changes - My preferences for entertainment are widespread. I like television, movies, music, reading, knitting... and I frequently change what I'm looking at or doing depending on where I am mentally. But when a funk is coming, the music that I listen to is different as are the types of books and shows I watch. It's worth mentioning that I could be in a good mood and if I start listening to aggressive or "downer" music or watch a depressing or particularly intense show, that can impact my mood. But when the funk is coming, it is reflected in my entertainment choices.

So, there is my list. There are so many other signs out there, but these are the ones that I experience most frequently and consistently. What are your signs that tell you that you are heading for a slump? Have you ever paid attention to that before? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

 

Fighting The Funk

Yesterday was not a good day. At least not emotionally for me. It really started on Monday. I could feel it coming. I knew it was coming. I'm familiar with these kind of days. They just sort of happen. It's most likely a chemical thing for me because these are the days when life is truly good and nothing is really triggering it. But there it is: a down day. fighting funkI've been having "down days" for years. They come and they go. They usually only last a couple days at most and if it goes longer then it's something else and I have to deal with it. But yesterday was a down day. I had no motivation, no focus, no drive. I was just sad. And I had no reason to be sad which just made it even worse.

It took all my energy to NOT go back to bed. Like I said, it was just one of those days. Having depression and anxiety can do that to a person.

But today, I'm good. In fact, I was much better starting at about 6 pm last night. A lot of times, these funks can last a while and I have to really push through them to function, to do anything that shows forward movement. But not this time. This time I bounced back and I was good.

So what happened? I thought about what I would tell a friend or a client. And then I took my own advice. Here's what I did:

I acknowledged what was going on

I didn't try to fight the issue. I just let it happen. I accepted the fact that it was a down day. I took it a step further too. I told a couple people so they knew what was going on with me. There's nothing like crashing a pity party by inviting some friends over.

I got moving

I got out of my seat. I got showered and dressed. I packed my laptop and I got out of the house. I went to a coffee shop and I got to work. I made a list of things that needed to be done. I let the overwhelm hit me. And then I kept moving.

I transitioned with music

This is something new for me. Instead of playing "happy music" to try and instantly boost my mood, I started with something a little easier and let the boost happen on its own. I have several different playlists on Spotify for different moods or activities. I have a mellow(ish) playlist that I call "Writing Music" that includes artists like Muse, Death Cab for Cutie and Mutemath. I let that music pull me up a bit and then I could listen to "happier" music.

I accomplished something

I have a ridiculously long to-do list. But I don't hate it. I love to be busy. On the down days, that list can be incredibly overwhelming (like yesterday) but it gives me a focal point. And I attacked it. I crossed off a few things (I'm talking less than 10% of what was on the list) but damn did that feel good. They weren't huge projects. They weren't monster tasks. But they were accomplishments.

So, now I'm good. Things are back to even keel. Will this work every time? I have no idea. But it worked this time. And that is what truly matters.

Life Beyond the Pain

It can be more than a little difficult when you are sitting in the pain and the hurt to see what is beyond the immediate life beyond painmoment. The pain is so big and so... just... THERE, that it is hard to even think about looking around it to see what else might be coming. These are the times that you shy away from the clichés, the quaint sayings, and the adorable signs that you see at craft shows. These are the times when even the thought smiling and trying something new seems so ludicrous that it's laughable. The times that scream "nothing is ever going to be the same" and "why bother?"

I know what that feels like. I lived in it for a long time. But I found a way out. And so can you.

I want you to take a second and imagine what life can be like when the pain has subsided. I didn't say when the pain is gone... let's be realistic, shall we? But it can die down a bit and recede into the background of life. It can become part of the landscape rather than the focal point. And it doesn't have to beat you.

Take a second a imagine what your life could be if that happened. What would change?

Would you sleep better? Maybe sleep less? Would your energy bounce back?

Would you see friends again? Make new friends? Be ok without old friends?

Would you try new things? Resurrect old hobbies? Take a risk? Settle into comfort?

Would you take better care of yourself? Of others?

Would you express yourself through art? Through physical exercise? Through your professional life?

Would you get up and move? Or would you finally sit still?

Pain and grief affect people differently so the absence of them will also create different effects. What does freedom look like to you? What does it feel like? Because that is what we're talking about... FREEDOM.

What does being free from the pain and the hurt that follows you around and that has you under its constant scrutiny sound like to you? Is it terrifying? Exciting? Does it sound like a fairy tale? Yes Virginia, freedom from pain does exist. And the best news? Everything you need is inside of you. You just need to bring it to the surface.

Imagine your perfect day, free from pain and worry. Hold on to that image. Keep it close to your heart. Now take a deep breath.

You are one step closer to getting there.

Welcome to the journey.

 

Why I Write

why i writeThere is a hidden beauty in a blank page, a new pen, a freshly sharpened pencil. I experience a sense of utter and complete joy when I just sit and write. It can be about something or nothing or everything and yet it is satisfying. There is an instant gratification in watching the words appear right in front me. To think that only seconds before, the words I have just created were only thoughts floating around in my head and now here they are... on the screen... for the world to see. It is damn near miraculous.

My lovely friend Nyamka has nominated me to participate in a blog hop and I am only too happy to take her up on it. Because it is about writing (if you haven't guessed that part yet) it's only fitting that I write it, right? Nyamka recently wrote about why she writes. If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend you take a look at her content and see what she has to say. Having gotten this little bit of housekeeping out of the way, let's get going, shall we?

What Am I Working On?

Right now, the biggest thing that I am working on is this blog. Rediscovering the joy of the publish button has been a wonderful journey and I am reveling in it. I have found that the entire process is getting easier (again) and no longer feels like a burden or an overwhelming task to me. The ideas are coming more easily and the urge to write is incredibly strong. So a lot of my time at the moment is being spent here which is a good thing.

But, as is generally the case with me, it is not the only thing I'm working on. I actually have a couple of writing projects happening as well and since my interests are so varied, so is my writing. I have one fiction and one non-fiction project happening concurrently. Both are in outline form right now, but they are real things and that in and of itself is very exciting.

Why Do I Write?

There a lot of reasons why I write and to be honest, there are too many to list here.

I write because it soothes.

I write because it ignites.

I write because it feels like freedom.

I write because it hurts when I don't.

I write to get the stories out.

I write to make more stories.

I write to tell you that I get it.

I write to show you you're not the only one.

I write to say you're not alone.

I write because that is what I do.

I write because I am a writer.

What Does My Writing Process Look Like?

Oh, there's supposed to be a process?

Just kidding... kind of.

I wish I could tell you that I do this every day. I want to do this every day. A perfect day would be to wake up much too early for the rest of the world (translation: 4:30 or 5 am) and spend at least an hour just writing whatever came into my head. That would be bliss for me. I read books like Daily Rituals with a certain of jealousy and an equal level of admiration.

But alas, that is not my life at the moment. I grab times to write when I can. Sometimes it is first thing in the morning, sometimes it's during a lunch break. Sometimes it is a break from the everyday at 2 in the afternoon that becomes my writing time. I pride myself on being organized. But my writing, oh my poor writing, is not.

Not right now, anyway. Like most things in my life, this is a work in progress. And it is work. A true labor of love.

For blog ideas, I love Evernote. I use it to record ideas that pop up during the day. I never really "got" this tool until recently. And now I'm hooked. When I have an idea ready to go, sometimes I'll just sit down and write. Other times, this requires me to brainstorm and draft notes and get things down on paper. It just depends on where I'm at (physically and mentally). From there, I do high level edits and publish.

For my bigger projects, I use Pinterest secret boards to pin inspiration and ideas. I use those visuals to come up with outlines and notes. I use those notes to build the story. I use the manuscript to edit and expand the content and develop my idea. When the item is ready, it gets shared. Sometimes widely. Sometimes just with my closest friends and family.

How Does My Writing Differ From Others in This Genre?

Like Nyamka, I'm not really in a "genre." But what I do try to do is have art imitate life. I use my life lessons and everyday a-ha moments to convey my life education through stories, metaphors and common beauty that can overwhelm you and make you realize what you've been missing. My writing is very real and often, very raw.

My writing is different because it is a reflection of me. More than that, it is me, on screen, on paper, read aloud. And no one is like me, right? Sure, there are a lot of people who are similar to me, whose voices sound like mine online, but no one is me. I have cornered the market on being Angela.

Passing the Baton

Now comes the fun part, right? Time to nominate others to participate. Three others, in fact.

  1. Joseph Garlock - little brother extraordinaire and another gifted writer that I miss terribly since he now lives farther away than a quick car drive. If you haven't seen his 50 in 50 by 50 blog, I promise it will be worth your time.
  2. Mary Boyer - A long-time blogger friend who writes at Everyday Baby Steps who continues to inspire me to keep writing even when I don't think it's worth it (not often, but it does happen).
  3. Kate from Filled to the Brim - One of the blogs that I never want to miss a post. Her journey with her beautiful children is something that will make you just want to hug a little one (but make sure that you know that little one first).

Thanks again to Nyamka for nominating me! Glad to have been a part of it.

If you want to participate, feel free to do it on your own and share the link here in the comments so others can follow along.

One Sure-Fire Way to Celebrate National Anti-Boredom Month

It's summer here and that means that it is one of the greatest times of the year in my opinion: summer vacation! While I'm not on vacation, the kids are and that means lots of activities (and mom working outside next to the tennis court / swim lessons / lacrosse camp or wherever else we happen to be that day).  I was doing a little research on July events and I found out that this month is actually National Anti-Boredom Month.

How freaking cool is that? A whole month dedicated to not being bored!

I am not one of the those people that have to be entertained all the time. I'm pretty good at entertaining myself. Being an avid reader, it is (ridiculously) easy for me to get into a book and get lost in the story. But I also like to read a lot of non-fiction so learning something new is definitely on my "things to enjoy" list. 

So do you know what I'm going to do this month to not be bored? LEARN NEW STUFF. I have a list of several things I've never learned but would like to. Things like how to change a tire, how to play bridge (no, really), and how to do new knitting techniques.

So who's with me? Who wants to learn something new and not be bored this month? Share your plan in the comments below!

 

Makes Me Happy Mondays: New Beginnings

There's nothing quite like getting a fresh start on something, is there? There's just something about that first moment, when everything is new and there is no planned outcome and the possibilities are endless. It's like that first page of a new notebook, the first truly fall day of the season, and as someone I care about deeply likes to say, that first scoop of peanut butter in a new jar. (It always tastes better, doesn't it?) Over the weekend I started brainstorming a new personal project that I'm going to work on. Its focus is, well... I guess you could say the focus is me. It's a lot like the Happiness Project I've had in the back of my mind for two years now (which, quite honestly has been a stop and go proposition even though being happy is always a priority for me).

This project is a little more focused, a little more structured and a lot more exciting. The goal is still the same: self-improvement in one way or another. But I'm easing up on my definition of "self-improvement" this time around. Sometimes, just enjoying life more means I'm improving. I want to be an incredible role model to my kids just like my parents are to me.

So, a lot more details to come, but let me say this: I haven't been this excited about a blog-related project in quite a while! I'm still trying to think of a "title" for this introspective journey so any suggestions are greatly welcome. "The Angela Moore Project" just sounds too blah.

Stay tuned!

 

Simple Tip Tuesday: Focus on the Solution

We all know the type. They are the person who seem to LOVE complaining. And quite often they complain about the SAME thing over and over again. You see them approaching you or their name appears on your caller ID and you cringe a little. I will admit that I have been "that person" from time to time but I got sick of hearing myself whine. So I started paying more attention to the behavior. From there, I implemented a few little things to make the behavior stop.

  1. I determined simple solutions to the issue that was nagging at me. Things like "stop talking about it, stop thinking about it" and "change the way you respond" are examples
  2. I asked my closest friends and family to stop me if I started complaining about whatever topic I was trying to get over
  3. I made a concentrated effort to carry out the solution and focus on a good outcome
  4. I would vent and then ultimately write about my progress in a private journal

The point is I stopped focusing on the problem and started paying attention to the solution. Do you have something in your life that you can apply this to?

Makes Me Happy Monday: Office Supplies

When I was seventeen, I got my second retail job at Office Max as a sales associate. I was part of the customer service team that wandered the floor and asked customers "Are you finding everything all right?" I cannot tell you how much I loved that job.

Pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, binders... the inventory made me beyond happy. A lot of my paycheck went right back into that store on a weekly basis.

Looking at my adult life, it makes sense that I have a love of office supplies. I love to plan and I prefer being organized on a daily basis. Yes, it is a quirky thing on my part, but it's the quirks that make me Angela.

What is a quirky thing that makes you happy?

Forgetting the Unnecessary "Shoulds"

Last night was one of those nights. I sat on the couch, my older children playing together on the floor and the baby in her bouncy seat next to me. The stress of the day hadn't melted off my shoulders yet and I kept replaying events in my head, filing away some thoughts as I went. All the kids were content and no one was demanding my attention. Instinctively, my head then turned to my never-ending to-do list. The unfinished tasks of the day loomed large and my immediate reaction was to run through my "shoulds."

I should be doing laundry. The piles in the basement and the bedrooms are getting out of control.

I should empty the dishwasher and hand wash the bottles.

I should pack the kids' lunches for morning.

I should be drafting up notes for a project plan. We have a huge initiative coming up at work and I'll be managing the implementation.

I should be jotting down ideas for that new creative project I want to start.

I should... I should... I should...

You know what I'm talking about, right?

Well last night, I didn't do any of the shoulds. I sat on the floor and I played with the kids. I snuggled the baby and let the peace of her breathing wash over me. I let the laundry and dishes sit, knowing the other tasks could wait until morning.

I didn't need to "do" anything. I just needed to be.

I needed to be Mom. I needed to be Angela.

So I did. And it was wonderful.