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the #1 thing i do to get out of a funk.

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Oh it’s not this.  But this recipe does make me happy. I just wanted to share how much I love this apple crisp recipe…the link to it has completely disappeared but basically you melt coconut oil (2 tbsp), honey (2 tbsp), and cinnamon (a shake), and nutmeg (1/2 a shake) in a saucepan and then toss chopped apples in it. Put apples in a dish. Add topping which is 1/4 cup of butter at room temp (or you can use palm shortening), coconut flour (2 tbsp), coconut flakes (1 cup), a little honey, arrowroot flour (2 tbsp), and coconut sugar (1-2 tbsp?) if you want it on the sweet side….you will need to fiddle with measurements as I just eyeball everything!

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  Ok, now read on to the point of this post.

Before I reveal the one thing I do to get out of a funk, let’s first define “funk.”

It’s when you are at a low point.  It’s when you feel lost and uninspired.  It’s when you are banging your head against the wall after making the same mistakes over and over again.  It’s when you are stunted creatively.  It’s when you feel like you just don’t belong anywhere.  It’s when nothing goes right.  It’s when you just don’t feel comfortable in your skin.  It’s when optimism has left the building. It’s when you feel frustrated, irritated, and just plain old angry at yourself and at the world.

(Note: A funk is not depression.  Depression is another story – a very serious one. Here, I am just talking about a mild case of unease and the blahs.)

So what to do when you are in a funk?  I have many tools that I try but there is one that always manages to work – sometimes very slowly, over a few days, and sometimes instantaneously.

Be grateful.

That’s it.

Gratitude, my friends. It’s the ticket out.

The G word is thrown around a lot.  Saying the words, “I am grateful for…” is easy. But the question is, do you really mean it?

That’s the key.  You can say you are grateful for your children, your loving husband, and your home until you are blue in the face and through gritted teeth, but if you don’t actually feel it, it’s just words and you will remain in the Land of the Funktified.

So how do you transition from just saying the words to really feeling gratitude?

Fake it until you make it.  Lately, I have been writing the words in my morning pages, trying to fake it until I make it.  I am grateful for my family.  I am grateful for the opportunity to homeschool.  I am grateful for my, gulp, decaf coffee…Kind of.  I am grateful for not having to brush my hair today. Yada, yada, yada. (Now at this point, I am scanning the room trying to fill in more grateful blanks and stretching myself to come up with things like being grateful for that one little spot in the corner that isn’t cluttered.)

It’s been tough to really feel it.

Sometimes faking it works.  Sometimes I often am hit with an overwhelming sense of gratitude as I look around at my very “lived-in” house – the fingerprints on the wall, the paint splatter on the floor, the scattered pencil crayons, and the twenty balloons that the children decided to blow up yesterday (which I think they did to celebrate the end of week 4 but they aren’t admitting it).  I soon find myself fast forwarding my life 10 years where all these things will come to an end.  Gratitude for today (and my messy munchkins) hits me like a ton of bricks.

Make gratitude a practice and a priority.  Just do it every day.  Write it down. Say it first thing in the morning to yourself. Every time you feel there is not enough, train yourself to think about what you have that is enough. (I know that it’s easier said than done but that’s why I say practice.) My cousin nominated me on Facebook for the Happiness/Gratitude Project where you list 3 things you are grateful for each day for a week.  The problem is that I am not on Facebook daily so I didn’t participate. I decided to make it a practice for myself not just for a week but for every day for the rest of my life.  You don’t need a fancy journal or a lengthy dedicated time slot.  You just need a small break in your mind to recognize what is going right for you right now. Writing it down feels more powerful but saying it to yourself can be enough for now too.

Go outside and find nature.  Use your senses. Pay attention to everything around you. Breathe in and out.  Sit, walk, play, move, stand still. Connecting to our earth is a surefire way to feel grateful and to be a part of something bigger – a collective history of our planet and all living things.  (This may take some practice too.)

Look at pictures from 5 years ago, 10 years ago. Or if you have kept an online journal or written journal, read from it.  I read this today and felt grateful that I had documented it all.  I really feel the movement of time these days and I am grateful for the chance to stop and look around to see how far we’ve come.

Ask your children and your partner what they love about you. I know that this sounds conceited and a bit of a self-absorbed activity but sometimes it’s important to hear your value in this world.  You can also make it a roundtable discussion at dinner where everyone talks about another member of the family and what they love about them. A brief conversation with the kids about what I do right can take me out of  a place where all I see is what I do wrong.  They can also shed light on things that you may have overlooked.

I find it difficult to teach children to be grateful.  It’s something that needs to be slowly cultivated throughout their life.  I think it starts with the feelings of awe and wonder and then empathy and compassion follow.  Asking children to list what they are grateful for tends to read like a grocery list of stuff.  Asking a child about what amazes them or about something they love doing or getting them to talk about a positive experience leads them to feel gratitude.  When you are conscious and reverent of the world around you, your children will start to be too.

Help somebody and ask for help. Helping someone out feels good and opens your heart.  Inevitably, I always feel grateful to the person who I have helped because by accepting my help, they themselves have helped me shift perspective. And when you ask for help, you are directly lead to instant gratitude. Asking for help is harder for me than lending a hand.  I know everyone is going through their own messy stuff and asking for help seems like I am adding to the burdens of others.  But then I remember how good it feels to help.  Helping others is another way to cultivate gratitude in children.

If I am having a difficult time, my older children often ask me, “How can I help, Mom?” Part of me wants to tell them not to worry but I always remember how good it feels to help so I will ask for a cup of tea or time to go for a walk on my own. I encourage them to help each other.  We are all part of a unit and sometimes one of us may need more support than others. Small gestures mean a lot – a handwritten note, a bouquet of flowers, a simple email saying, “How can I help?”

M Drawing for Me

My child’s “get-well-soon pic” that she gave me yesterday. This and a hug really helped me remember to be grateful for the little gesture.

Have a glimpse of how your life can be very different. Empathy and compassion are gateways to gratitude. Read this post – this is my reminder if I need a swift gratitude kick in the butt. It’s in my bookmark folder labelled “Perspective.” When I was feeling quite sorry for myself this week, I saw an Instagram post that promptly booted me out of my pity party of one.  My cousin, Francis, posted a link to what he does and why he loves it (you might want to grab tissues for this). I always knew what he did and what it involved.  I always wondered how he could do it. But seeing the impact of his work, up close, helped me see my own life with my family as a miracle in and of itself. And I am GRATEFUL there are people like him in this world that are called to do this. (If you are reading this, thank you, Fran.)

***

Here is my gratitude entry for today…

I am a better mother in the mornings.

Mornings used to be difficult for my family.  Difficult because of me.  I was grumpy.

Mornings used to be about rushing, running here and there, hurried, and hairy.

Mornings used to be about rolling out of bed and being stunned by the noise and the immediate chaos.

Mornings used to be frantic with people looking for things at the last minute.

Mornings used to be stressful.

How to start the day definitely affects the rest of my day.

A morning conversation about the wind howling the night before as we were about to sleep.

A hug and a cuddle on the couch as a few trickle down early.

A morning playlist to get everyone in a happy mood. Dancing in the kitchen.

A morning to myself means I can ready myself physically and mentally to welcome the children back from dreamland.

A morning coffee can be enjoyed now.

A morning can be received with an open heart and an open mind.

A morning signals another chance, another try, another opportunity to be better than yesterday.

A morning can begin with gratitude.

***

It’s thanksgiving weekend here.  Tell someone you are grateful for them.  Tell a story of kindness and helpfulness to your children.  Go outside and feel astonished at the wonders of nature.  Ask yourself, what unexpected miracles happened today?

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