How to Survive Bad Work Days

  1. Remind yourself that it is only a temporary badness. Nothing bad lasts forever.
  2. Acknowledge that you do not deserve to feel bad just because something bad is happening around you. Your feelings are valid, yes, but it’s not somehow ‘coming to you’ to feel that way. You do not ‘have’ to feel that way.
  3. Love the good things in your life. Count them. Say ‘thank you’ to them. Focus on them.
  4. Find something to do with your hands. Whether it’s squeezing a stress ball or doodling or writing, move your hands and focus on that instead of the world.
  5. Once it’s done, let it die. Tomorrow is another day.

Self Dare [An Anthem]

There are a lot of days when you will wake up and say,
“I think I’m really awesome, and I’ll love myself today.”

But there are just as many nights when you’re lying on your back,
Determined you’re a waste of space and a super-duper sad sack.

These are the times when you have to make a list
Of all the things your inner critic overlooked and missed.

Like how good your hair looks when you blow it dry,
Or how easy it is to bake a cake, like you don’t even have to try.
Then there’s your awesome penmanship, the way you write your name,
Or your collection of books or trinkets – no two are the same!
How about the way your dog looks when you get home from work?
Or how when you meow at her, your cat’s ears always perk?
Don’t forget all the kudos and compliments people give you,
Refer back to them frequently — see, there are more than a few.

You are really awesome, you deserve your own love and care.
Take it out of your day right now. Come on, that’s a dare!

Chill

If there is one thing I always feel like imparting to people, that I try to tell people that they can do, that I wish I could have told myself some number of years back, it’s this: chill.

It’s December, and I live near a very popular mall in the Pittsburgh area. As I was driving home from getting my car inspected, I watched a long line of cars get progressively longer on the way down the highway, heading toward the exit. I could read in the way people were driving – with stiff jerks, quick breaks, and wiggly swerves – that tensions were growing between two groups: the people trying to get to the mall and the people trying to get away from it.

If you let people get under your skin, you’ll never survive. Not right now and not in the future.

If you allow the persnickety voices in your head to snipe at you, you’ll lose your mind.

If you refuse to take a breath and remember that none of this will kill you and all of this shall pass, you’re going to die.

Okay, that last one is a bit dramatic. But have you seen the studies about getting stressed to death? Scary stuff!

And don’t think me a paragon of virtue (or do — and tell me all about it, in flowery detail!). This topic came to me because while I sat in the Ford waiting room – one of my favorite waiting rooms; does that sound crazy? – I took out a notebook to try to diagram out what was making me feel so overwhelmed recently. I had been feeling aimless. Stuck. I didn’t know why. So of course I was expecting needing some great amount of time to dissect all my inner turmoil and problematic scramble of ideas, mismanaged priorities and opportunities that had fallen to the wayside.

I was done in about…twenty minutes. And I was left, laughing to myself as I loaded up Hulu, going, “Uh. I was really built up over nothing.”

None of it is a big deal.

So there we go, folks. Which are you going to be? The serene Ford Focus that passed its inspection and is taking its time heading home while listening to Pinkerton, even if it make take an extra ten minutes? Or the honk-happy Buick who almost slammed into an elderly couple because if it had to wait through the light one more time, it was going to have a hernia?

Your choice.

Trundling

I’ve started walking again. I’m trying to do it every day. And it’s awesome, actually. The animals I’ve seen on my treks around my neighborhood have included:

– A bunny
– Groundhogs — I startled one today as I was walking on the sidewalk, and as I was passing a bush I heard this rustling…I thought it was a cat. Big guy was running off into a meadow. No, not running. Trundling. A wibbly, wobbly badump badump badump, his long body trying to slink along but having such stumpy legs that it can’t happen. Do I look like that, out here?
– Several deer — these are my favorite. Last week I saw a doe with her fawn and I swear I felt like I won the lottery.
– Dogs
– Many cute sparrows

Some days, it doesn’t feel like much. The ritual of getting dressed in clothes you don’t mind sweating in, finding socks that won’t get eaten in your shoe, lacing the shoes so you won’t get blisters…it can feel like eternity just making it to the other side of the front door.

As I’m sure you’ve read I have started my 500 words per day for the Clarion Write-a-thon. I wrote on Twitter a few minutes ago:

Aiming at 500 words per day is like rehab. But it’s something, though, and it feels good. Every night is a little easier.

Walking and writing: they go hand in hand. It’s all a matter of not thinking, not letting those crippling thoughts stop you from just showing up. It’s simple to give in to gravity, to not fight against it, but at the end of that mile, at the end of the night, the feeling of being so alive is worth the baby steps.

It’s not a marathon…yet.

It’s not a book…yet.

But it all adds up.