Friday, October 10, 2014

What Do You Do?

What do you do when you're having a bad day she texted.  I took a nap but I don't feel much better.

I thought about it, knowing that she needed an answer, needed to know that I was out there.  I wanted to offer her something useful.  I wasn't sure if I had anything useful.  It wasn't so long ago that I would have asked that question, if I'd even been brave enough to ask that question.  Which I wasn't.

I take a walk, I suggested.  I take a deep breath.  I eat something I like.  Do something for someone else that makes them happy, which makes *me* happy.  Take pictures of things I find beautiful.  Write to a friend.  Write down what I feel, and either publish it on the internet or crumple it up and throw it away.  I listen to music that makes me feel better.  I listen to music that makes me feel worse, and then better.

I paused.  And then: What do *you* do?

Text you, she responded.  Maybe I'll try writing.

Later, I added: Maybe drink a cup of hot tea.  Something about inhaling the warm steam makes me feel better, too.

I'd always thought that I wasn't very good at mindfulness, but in that moment, looking at that list, I realized that I've gotten very good at it after all.


She'd asked me, the other day, what I like to do, too.  "Yoga, dance, baking, cooking, writing ..." It sounded like a very housewife-like answer.

"What do you write?"

"Well, I used to write poetry ... I'm not very good at fiction.  Now I write ... life essays, I guess."  I didn't want to tell her I blog.  It's too easy to find me.  If she wanted to, she would.

"Life essays."  A curious half-smile.

"It's sort of like ... it's like what you like about science research.  You like to look at small things under a microscope, and figure out how life works.  I take small things, make them larger with language, and try to figure out how they work."

I'd never thought about it that way before, but as soon as I said it, I knew it was true.


Later, I pulled up at the farm to pick up my share.  When I got out, I took a deep breath, and felt my whole body relax into the dusk.  I took out my phone, almost sent her a picture.  And this, I would say.  I do this

But even if I wanted her to feel the weight drop away, as I just had, it wouldn't have been useful advice. This wasn't something she could do.  I couldn't send her the crisp air, or the sweet smell of hay, or the chill dusk that crept over the fields.

Instead, I'm sending it to you.  Through my mindful magnifying glass.

What do you do when you're having a bad day?
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  1. What's worked for men when I have a bad about it. Not talk myself out of it...tried that, it doesn't work...but let it out somehow :-)

  2. Your list looks a lot like my list.

    Where can I get one of those mindful magnifying glass doohickeys?

  3. I like this. I need to make a list, so I can refer to it on the next bad day. Generally, getting outside is the best thing for my whole family. If one of us is "in a mood", we are urged to go for a walk. If its a child, obviously, we all go to the park or around the block. Something about fresh air, nature, exertion. For me, accomplishing something---feeling productive---is often more refreshing than resting or indulging. I do a lot of stress cleaning, cooking, decluttering. Unfortunately for the state of our home, I've been pretty happy recently!

  4. I've just taken up yoga and meditation, and I've been really surprised to find how much they help.

    Your list is quite similar to mine - but I'll add "remembering my happy place."

    Reading inspiring blogs helps too - I loved this sentence - "I take small things, make them larger with language, and try to figure out how they work."

  5. I "get small" when things are tough. I think about the feel of water when washing my hands. I deeply appreciate my soft sheets. I count my beautiful old son's freckles. I nuzzle my younger son's fine hair. I tilt my head to bask in the sun. I focus on small things that are good and they weigh well against the larger things when added up.

    I am so happy to be reading your posts.

  6. Thank you for the description of a blog as "life essays." I'm a new blogger and still in the process of figuring words to describe it.

    And as for the question, I like your list and would add watching my dog sleep, calling my best friend and writing my gratitude circle (we write 3 things a day we're grateful for).


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