finding joy when stuck in rut

stuck in a rut

I’m in a rut.  It happens every year at about this time.  The problem with this year is, I’m really noticing it because of that pesky little word I chose:

JOY

Being in a rut does not bring a whole lotta joy.  After a 3-day crap sugar binge, I realized it was time to put pen to paper to figure out what it was I really needed.  [Laffy Taffy was clearly not the answer.]  Here’s a list of “needs” I came up with:

1.  I know that after spending time in groups of people (cropping, social gatherings, workshops/classes, bible study & photo sessions) I need time alone to process and refill.  For me, this alone time is best spent reading or in my journal.  If I fail to take care of myself in this way, I become crabby, impatient, and detached.

2.  I need time in nature.  I am not very good about filling this need when the weather turns cold, but it is something that brings me peace and allows me to slow down.

3.  I know that I do well when things are planned ahead of time.  I am working at becoming more flexible with last-minute changes and being spontaneous but I have a need for planning.  This is one reason that planning our family meals in advance helps.  I feel less stressed when I have ingredients on hand for dinner and when I know exactly what we will be doing each night.

4.  I need to surround myself with authentic souls.  I thrive in relationships that are deep and meaningful.

5.  I know I have a tendency to revert to unhealthy patterns when under stress.  I need to be mindful of my thoughts and actions to make sure I am processing things in a healthy way.  I know that relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms (shopping, alcohol, abusing food or exercise) puts me at risk of relapse.

6.  I know that God is first, and must always remain first, in my life.  I need regular time in the bible.  His word is the filter by which I process everything in my life – my guide for a healthy me, marriage, mothering, finances, friendship, and purpose in life.  Without it, I feel lost and scrambly and chaotic.

7.  As the only girl in a house of boys/men, I honor the girl in me by taking over the television once in a while to watch a movie just for me.  (The latest girl craving I plan to indulge?  Reading the Little House in the Prairie series.)

8.  I need to take care of myself inside and out, applying the same thoughtfulness and care I did prior to marriage and motherhood.

9.  I take care of myself by building margin into my life and calendar.  I need margin.

10.  I take care of myself by serving others.  Reaching out to others who are hurting takes the focus off of me.  I learned this poignant lesson years ago during the time surrounding my first pregnancy loss.  My husband was working late one night, when I heard a knock at the door.  An elderly woman had gotten lost in our neighborhood and needed directions to a location several miles away.  I was knee deep in grief at the time, waiting to lose the child that had died inside of me.  As easy as it would have been for me to give her a list of directions and close the door, I felt a nudge to really help.  I pulled our two young children out of bed and loaded them into the van so I could show the elderly woman where to go.  Her sense of gratitude was overwhelming.  It was a relief to have my thoughts somewhere else for a brief amount of time.  Helping that woman took the focus off of me and allowed me to experience JOY during a painful, painful time.

11.  I need free time to create, explore my thoughts, and explore the world.

12.  I know I need to take responsibility for my feelings and my feelings.  Others are not responsible for making me feel better nor am I responsible for making them feel better.

I also made a list of everyday things to shake things up – to turn routine on its side for a bit.  And I feel so much better now.  🙂  How about you?  How are you managing the mid-winter blahs?

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