Some of my friends and family have called me a “Pollyanna,” a naive girl who always sees the positive. (An old Disney movie for those of you too young to know who Pollyanna is.)
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. I can go an entire day without speaking to a single person if I want to be left alone. I bite my tongue when confronted with rude people in public, I snap at my kids when they are sassy and I sweat and worry over money and how to pay the bills. I spend my share of time grieving over my health and the life I am missing when forced to withdraw from the world due to pain or fatigue.
However, I feel I have a choice, I can be miserable and make everyone else around me miserable, which would eventually have people shying away from me. Or I can take care of my own pain, body and moods and be pleasant and uplifting to those around me. (Even I have to admit this plan only works about 90% of the time, we all have days when we are just crusty, tired and impatient, just like all humans.)
I also cling to one good friend who listens when I need it, takes my side whether I am right or wrong and supports me. That outlet for my emotion is vital. We can tell each other anything and often work out our problems together.
Being a “Pollyanna” isn’t something that comes naturally. I work hard to recognize my moods and find ways to deflect them. I try to actively engage in silly activities from earlier times. Those times when our biggest worries were getting a new box of crayons or being late for dinner. When I am ready to scream, I revert to the joys of my youth, the things that quickly help me forget my troubles, give me a much-needed boost or some quiet reflection time. Sometimes just breaking the routine is enough to change your day.
My list of favorite things to do on crappy days are:
1) Buy a coloring book and crayons. One crappy day a few weeks back I was stuck in line at the local drug store. I spotted a display of jumbo coloring books and before I knew it I threw one in the cart, then ran over to get the 96 count box of Crayolas with the built-in sharpener. (Nothing smells like a brand new box of crayons!) An unexpected eighty-degree day in March was all the excuse I needed to head out back to my sitting area with some music and my new crayons. I lost an entire hour as I colored just like the old days. I found myself relaxing despite myself.
2) Don’t ignore an impulse on the basis people may feel you are nuts or immature. My latest impulse resulted in my bringing home a new box of peep’s, explaining to the family I heard it was cool to nuke them in the micro. So…we all gathered round and watched them swell and morph beyond recognition. We had a blast.
3) Swing! I found myself dropping off a group of girls at the park after a zero to sixty day filled with doctors and teachers. Spotting the swings I parked the car and spent fifteen minutes on the swing, letting the breeze wash over my face as I watched the clouds and birds. Swinging was so fun, why do we give it up as adults?
4) Climb a tree. I know this isn’t for everyone. Aging can take its toll on joints, but if possible, give it a shot. I climb a tree in the woods behind my house now and then, just to listen to the sounds of the neighborhood, marvel at nature and gaze at surprised squirrels when they notice me on a branch.
5) Put your feet in the water. If I am near a pond, lake, pool or fountain, the impulse to take off my shoes is strong. Give in now and then! Abandon your shoes, sit down and dangle your feet in the water.
6) Watch a cartoon, if you don’t like the new ones out today, a quick trip to youtube will provide you with cartoons from any era. Revel in the simplicity and try to relax.
Be silly let go of your routine now and then, revel in life as you did as a child. Sing out loud, dance and let others worry about what they think about you. (Unless you happen to be in the office at the time.)
This is a short list of what takes me outside myself. I would love to hear what others do to feed both their inner child, and their soul.
c2012 Jane Kohler