Making The Best Of Difficult Times

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I’ve been so taken up with our unsettled world and what is happening in our own country that I’ve gone over the edge once again … waking with the dreads, a general malaise, and a burning need to break away from all that unsettles me. It’s also been raining here … a lot. I’ve sometimes wondered if the sun is still up there. When I lived in Vermont I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder from November until April. The way I’m feeling right now is very similar, but I think it has more to do with what is happening around me than the light. As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person), I easily pick up on the vibes out in the world and need to take action to get myself out of the dumps. It’s exhausting to allow myself to get so involved in things I cannot control.

So what do I do about it?

I meditate. I let myself cry if I need to. I turn off the radio and the tv and turn on Pandora to listen to classical guitar while I do my Egoscue exercises, or jazz it up with Dave Brubeck, David Sanborn and others when I need to add some energy to my day. I’m also a fan of Yo-Yo Ma, Frank Sinatra, and the likes of Ella Fitzgerald. For me music is a cure-all and a necessary part of my days.

I’m watching for signs of spring.  Since I have the smallest garden I’ve ever had, I’m thinking small and am beginning to plan a container garden mostly for herbs. I do have space for the helebores, irises, and peonies I dug up from my last home before we moved. My friend and garden helper, Maria, has been overwintering them for me and she will be coming soon to get them in the ground. I can’t wait!

Keeping my creative energy flowing is also important so last week I pulled out a beading project I had started a couple of years ago and then forgot about. It’s been sitting in a plastic storage bin since then and I’ve been anxious to get back to it, especially since it will take a good while to finish it in time for the fall. It’s a styrofome pumpkin that I am covering with tiny seed beads using Peyote Stitch. I started a collection of fruit and vegetables using this technique a while back. I find it quite relaxing. And the shifting and mixing of slightly different colored beads makes for imaginitive brain work.

I’ve also started setting aside one day a week and labeling it “MY DAY,” on my calendar. I do not plan anything ahead of time. It’s simply a day when I can do whatever I want to do rather than what I have to do. When I began writing my memoir, I did the same thing, but at that time the chosen day was reserved for writing and activities geared toward getting it published. It quickly turned into several days a week and then a rigorous work/writing schedule. This time around I’m using it just to get my creative juices flowing and I’m looking at getting a canvas set up and slapping paint on it sometime soon.

So while I’m still paying some attention to what’s happening out in the world, I’m happier, more relaxed and feeling more positive than I was just a few weeks ago. And I continue to remind myself that in order for change to happen, sometimes things have to get very ugly and depressing before we notice the light at the end of the tunnel. It is happening whether we realize it or not. It’s what life and being human is all about and I’m trying to make the best of it.  While I’m still paying attention to what is happening out there in the world, I’m spending more time in the present and worry less about changing what I can’t.


  1. I like your strategy for coping with the unsettledness in the world around us, Joan, especially the “My Day”. We all need to take a day away to do whatever nourishes us. It’s sometimes easy to neglect that. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Thanks, Linda. Last week “My Day,” consisted of visiting the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts to see the exhibit, Terra Cotta Army, Legacy of the First Emperor of China. Then Lunch with a friend I haven’t seen in a year. Delightful!

  2. MY DAY — brilliant!

  3. I love your action-oriented strategies in the face of these tumultuous times, Joan. My favorite one is MY DAY! Thanks for this valuable reminder about the importance of self-care.

  4. I feel you! (As I sit here by the window and looking out at another rainy, cold day. Wasn’t it just 70 a week ago?) Subject to SAD and all vagaries of HSP symptomology, winter is the most difficult time of year for me. And, it seems each winter gets a tad harder. Still, like you I am buoyed by music, color and creativity. Shutting off the news, cutting back on social media, and walking more helps balance out my day. It’s truly been a nightmare for us all and a growing feeling that it will never end takes its toll. I’ve been wondering if that’s why the flu season was such a rough one. People’s immune systems have been compromised by the unrelenting stress of it all. I love your beaded pumpkin. How do you do that! (I would love to see a tutorial on it.) Looks like a ton of work. My first grandbaby is due in May and I’ve taken up quilting (as in quilt as you go) and deep in the middle of building it. It’s given me a whole new stream of energy and reignited my confidence in my ability to learn and do something new. Thanks for sharing a piece of your world. It’s good to know that we’re not alone.

    • Thanks Dorothy, for echoing my words. It sounds like you have a handle on this crazy time. Guilting is a great way to settle in and take care of yourself. And congrats on expecting your first grand baby! Oh, you’ll have such fun. As for the beaded pumpkin, I don’t know of any tutorials but when you come to C’ville next I can show you how. It is work, but like guilting and other crafts it’s well worth the effort.

  5. Donna Dickt says:

    Omg! I remember your pumpkins! I love them. Your colors are magnificent! I’m so glad you are beading again. Let the creativity flow! Sending hugs…

  6. You have many creative outlets including beading. I can imagine a blog post featuring artifacts from this season of your life. Hugs to you, Joan!

  7. Oh, I love it, Marian. Artifacts, indeed. My kids will have to clean out a whole 10′ x 10′ storage room when I’m gone! 😉