Missing October Soup Nights and So Much More

Here’s what’s on a yard sign in my neighborhood.

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Do we really want a return to normal? Isn’t it time we build something BETTER?

Totally agree with that. Yet I do miss parts of my pre-2020 life, and it does feel like it takes more effort to stay positive than it has in the past.

Big social events, parties and potlucks were never a huge part of my life. But October Soup Nights, when neighbors from our block gather every Sunday in October to share soup and catch up after the busy summer season, are greatly missed. I miss hearing about the summer adventures, seeing how the kids have grown, learning what the older kids are doing with college and jobs, reconnecting with neighbors who have moved (they are always invited), sharing a nice, warm soup on a cold fall evening, sharing new ideas, and learning new recipes.

If we’ve learned anything in the past months it’s that life is short, and can change in ways we never imagined, faster than we dreamed possible. In order to maintain happiness I’ve had to be very intentional about doing things that increase rather than deplete my energy, and improve my sense of well being, and add joy and meaning to my life.

I keep this quote in mind.

“Sometimes just one small project can help right the ship.”–Bobby Berk, on Queer Eye

So when I get up in the morning feeling a sense of doom and despair, I might be able to right the ship by making the bed, taking a shower, starting a load of laundry and eating a healthy breakfast. Might. That will only work if I can summon the will force to do any of those things.

But if the funk persists, I keep a handy reminder of small things I can do – the small day-to-day things that make me smile and spark some joy (and don’t cost money). These things can break the day-to-day monotony and shake the malaise that comes from having no parties or travel adventures to look forward to.

Connecting

Time with my daughter, husband, and pup.

Picnic lunch outside with friends.

Reach out to catch up with a friend.

Creating

Getting an inspired idea for a new project.

The excitement/enthusiasm/energy of starting a new project.

The flow from engaging in the work of a project.

The sense of satisfaction in completing a project.

Taking a good photograph.

Putting together a new playlist.

Taking online art and writing classes.

Creating a photo collage/inspiration board.

Seasonal decorating.

Take an extravagant ball of yarn out of the stash and make it into something beautiful. Ditto with fabric.

Time Outside

Taking a walk to look for unicorns/dinosaurs/gnomes/dragons/Buddha statues.

Walking with my camera.

Noticing sunsets, clear blue sky, flowers, trees, plants, and the change of seasons.

Weeding the garden.

Simply sitting outside or opening a window when I don’t have energy for more.

Doing something nice for myself

Laughing at late-night TV.

Wearing something I’ve made.

Wearing something gifted to me by my daughter.

Using something made for me (thank you Ralph for my new desk),

Shop my house and redecorate (which is just moving furniture and accessories from one room to another for a fresh perspective).

Fresh flowers.

Movement – all types – dance, walk, exercise.

Doing something nice for somebody else

Leaving a generous tip on take-out.

Donate.

Reach out to check in with a friend

Share something fun with a friend.

Cleaning

Clean absolutely any room or space in my house.

Feng Shui/Marie Kondo the crap out of something (closet/drawer/shelf/bookshelf/mantle/coffee table/desk top, room, etc.).

Rest/Relax/Rejuvenate/Indulgent Pleasures

Chocolate truffles.

5-minute journaling.

Watch YouTube videos on thrift store decorating,

Queer Eye episodes.

Marionberry pie.

Home-baked bread.

Take a nap.

Read.

When I’m trapped in my head with nothing good rattling around in there, I check my list and try a couple of things to reverse the depression before it really gets a grip.

And maybe I should also share what doesn’t work. I have tried these. These do not work. These are all a bog of quicksand that will suck me down and keep me struggling to breathe.

Skipping bathing for an extended period. Emotional spirals. Stress eating or drinking. Boredom eating or drinking. Isolation. Apathy. Rage. Hopelessness. Seeing only the dark and despairing side of things. Never leaving the house. A perspective devoid of gratitude. Nonstop news. Avoiding what needs to be done. Perseverating on things I can’t change.

Change is tough. It’s a struggle to maintain balance in the midst of it. Yet, I absolutely embrace the need for change. Current social structures built on greed, inequity, exclusivity, and disrespect for nature – these have to break down for something better to emerge. It may be a painful process, but I chose to be here for this time.

One last tool I use is this quote.

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairing, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”–Agatha Christie

Take care of yourself and find something in life to enjoy as we journey through the last months of 2020.

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