January has seen very few days of blue sky and sunshine in Indianapolis. Along with the endless gray days and cold temps comes Seasonal Affective Disorder.
S.A.D. has knocked me up side the head, to use an old ghetto phrase. I have slept like a bear in hibernation this month. I have ceased to exercise, regardless of my newly purchased running shoes pouting at me from the corner of my closet. I have eaten like a stray dog lost in an alley. Well, I haven’t gone so far as digging through the trash, but I have consumed more than my fair share of Whatever-I-Can-Find-Within-Paws-Reach. And I lack the motivation to do most things.
Not only am I blowing off the things I should be doing, I’m blowing off the things I love doing – taking walks, hanging out with friends, volunteering at the kids’ school, painting and writing.
The other day, I spent three hours at one of my favorite coffee joints, Henry’s on East. I tried to write. As many of you know, I’m in the midst of writing a book. I have about one third of it finished, okay maybe one fourth, and my writing mentors keep asking me to finish it. So I tried adding more to it. But I have been S.A.D., and the words would not come to me. The brilliant words, that is. Nor the witty words, the enlightening words, or the descriptive words. Not even semi-entertaining words. Only boring, juvenile, straight-forward words. I was in desperate need of inspiration.
Inspiration came today. Yes, the blue sky helped. But my inspiration did not come from the sunshine or the beautiful, historical buildings I passed on my way to the public library. My children didn’t inspire me, nor did the delicious tea I consumed earlier today.
Inspiration came in the form of a Goodwill bag. An empty, bright green Goodwill bag.
As I write this, my nine-year-old son and I are sitting on the top floor of the architectural wonder that is the Marion County Public Library. We gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows toward Monument Circle. We can see a couple playing with their dogs on the lawn in front of the War Memorial. All the flags are waving as if they are just as happy as I am to see the blue sky once again. The sun has spared a few patches of snow in grass, and the joggers seem to have an extra bounce in their strides.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see something floating up toward the window. The Goodwill bag. It has been caught in a draft that sends it sailing right up to our window. It looks as if it will be plastered to the window for a moment, but a light wind blows it to the east and it starts to descend. It catches on the top of the slanted atrium rooftop below us and rides down the edge of the roof as if its on a slide at the park. When it reaches the bottom of the roof’s edge, a light gust lifts it one more time before it disappears inside some sort of cylinder on top of another part of the library’s roof.
Funny how all this activity is happening around us, yet it was this bag that held our attention. We wanted to see where it would land, or where the wind might take it next. And that’s when it hit me. I am like this bag. I have been at the mercy of the gales (as well as the soft breezes) these past few weeks. One day I can float up high on the gleeful moments of life, but then a force pushes me back down. Sometimes I don’t even realize I am swirling downward because I am caught up in the ride. I don’t even see that I am heading south. But then I get to the precarious precipice and I hang on for dear life. I freeze. Unable to move. Unable to serve my purpose. Unable to even recognize myself. But then by God’s great mercy, another breeze comes and gently lifts me just enough to lossen my grip from the edge of disaster. And somehow I fly again until God sees fit for me to softly land in the exact place I am meant to be. In the place where I can do what I am supposed to do, and where I can do what I love to do.
So here I am. Writing. Doing what I love to do because I have landed. At least for now. This next week is going to be a hard one. I’m not trying to be a glass-half-empty girl. I just know. And I want to brace myself for the next galestorm that hits. But I can only control the actions that I take. I cannot control the external circumstances, much like that bag cannot control where the wind will send it. So, I live today knowing a few simple things which will help me get through the next wave of cold, gray or emotionally draining days:
1. Pray and trust that God will do for me what I cannot do for myself
2. Reach out to friends and family
3. Rest (but not hibernate)
4. Exercise (more than just a walk to the fridge or the car)
5. Eat healthy.
None of these are magic tricks, and I know that this is not some recipe for a magical cure toward happiness. But I do know, because I have tried and tested these steps, that they provide a way to sound living. And if February is anything like January, sound living is more than I can ask for.