I began feeling pretty low mid-September. Therapy was helping, but I don’t go often enough–I could never go as often as I’d like, given how good I feel when I leave there. I needed something more, something I could carry with me throughout the hard days. I thought back to my early twenties when I was depressed, and I remembered this little leather journal I carried with me everywhere. I must have had a name for it, which I can’t recall now.

In it, I listed all the things that made me happy then (eventually the list exceeded 100). I listed things I want to do in my life. I scribbled song lyrics, quotes, and passages from books. I doodled with markers. That book went everywhere with me during those dark days. Opening it made me feel better, comforted. And, because I have always been a writer, it made me feel good to put pen to paper. Writing has always been my go-to tool for working through my emotions.

This past September, as the days grew shorter and colder and my mood changed with the weather, I decided to start another book. This time, I chose a cheap (but colorful) notebook from Target–less pressure to keep things pretty inside. I referred to it out loud one time as my “positivity notebook,” knowing my struggle to overcome my negativity and pessimism was causing, in part, my depressed mood. The name stuck, even though it isn’t very creative. But sometimes, simplicity is best.

I began writing in it within minutes of coming home from Target. Here is the first page:

Opening page of the positivity notebook

For a month, maybe slightly longer, I carried the notebook with me everywhere, and if I wasn’t feeling well enough to write things down, I’d simply flip through what I’d already written and find some solace there. There is nothing painful in the book, nothing that isn’t uplifting to me in some way. I haven’t written many of my own words inside, but rather I have relied primarily on things others have already shared. This is because I couldn’t trust myself to not write a page-long rant about whatever is bothering me, combined with my fear of someone reading my deepest thoughts.

This is part of a poem by my favorite poet, Frank O’Hara. I love it, so into the notebook it went!

By the end of October, I’d stopped carrying the notebook around with me because I was feeling much better, far less negative. I don’t know whether the positivity notebook should get all of the credit for that, but I feel that it helped me through a rough patch.

Lyrics to “No One’s Gonna Love You” by Band of Horses, which I was listening to nonstop for a while there. Not exactly positive, but beautiful.

Now I toss the notebook in my purse when I start feeling heavy again or when I suspect the day might be hard for me. And sometimes I toss it in there just because it’s never a bad thing to carry a resource full of inspiring reminders about how life can be. Sometimes I just crave the positivity notebook.

This is part of an exercise I learned in therapy that I find soothing and helpful. I wrote it down as a reminder. Don’t you just love the word “unstuck?”

I think this weekend I will dig out that little leather journal from a decade ago and reflect on the things that made me happy back then.

Do you write down things that inspire or comfort you? Or do you use Pinterest (or something else) for this? I’d love to hear about your method!

 

This is a page from my “positivity notebook” (for lack of a more creative, less hokey name).

I’ve been paying attention to:

What Jax eats. Fiercely. I’m trying to find food he will actually enjoy, not just tolerate, besides chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. At least I buy the healthy versions of these things (although he prefers processed nuggets shaped like dinosaurs or cars over the ones I like to buy). But this constant attention to what he’s eating–or, more realistically, what he isn’t eating–is getting to me.

TEDx talks. Today, I’m listening to this one as I enter author corrections at work: Shannon Paige – Mindfulness and Healing Try the exercise around the 12:30 mark and the 7-day challenge around 15:50.

Elephant Journal, which my friend Jen introduced me to today. In particular, I’m scouring the articles in the Wellness tab.

Marc & Angel Hack Life. Always a favorite site of mine for reminding me what’s important in life.

Hype Machine blogs on Spotify. I love them! Here’s one I’ve subscribed to. This is sometimes how I discover new bands! I can’t get enough of Spotify when I’m at work. Here’s my Starred songs, if you’re on Spotify and want to check out what I love.

My Google Reader. I can’t bear to let my unread posts get past 100. I feel like I’ve been a bad blog reader lately, and my Google Reader typically reflects this. So I’ve been trying to do better, reading a few posts each day instead of waiting until there are 300+ unread posts in there, which I skim and then feel bad about marking as read.

Twitter lists. When you follow over a thousand people, creating lists is necessary. That way, I can be sure to not miss tweets by my besties (who are on one list). I even created a list called “Feel good,” where I’ve lumped together all the accounts I follow that are positive & uplifting.

I’ve been ignoring (or trying to ignore):

Facebook. Too many graphic images in my news feed lately. Too much negativity. Too much passive aggression. It’s just all too much sometimes and I need to take a break from it. Except from my groups. I love the groups to which I belong, so my Facebook activity, for now, is limited to checking posts within those groups and updating my blog’s page.

Candy & coffee. But I need to try harder! I’ve always had really great willpower–until lately. As for the constant need to pick at the candy leftover from Halloween, I suspect it’s simply stress eating, although I’ve never been a stress eater before. I think tonight I will dump what remains of the candy. Nobody needs all that sugar! It isn’t even tasty. I’d much rather have a second helping of dinner than a candy bar! (But hopefully I forego that, too.)

My positivity notebook. Not by choice, but because I haven’t had time for it. And I’ve noticed a negative effect on my moods as a result. So I need to do better at making the time to doodle in it and jot down uplifting lyrics, quotes, and messages to myself using all my pretty pens. Writing things down, even other people’s words, always makes me feel better.

Television. I just don’t really care about it at all right now. I’ve been playing with Jax & reading more to fill the (very minimal) time I used to watch tv.

Well, this concludes this totally random post I banged out in about 5 minutes while on a work break. I’d love to hear what you’re currently into or not into! Leave a comment & share!

 

Earlier this year, I had a brilliant idea (for once) and set out to remind myself of the special bits of each day to help me get through not only the unspecial bits but also a big fat blogging slump. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, I am in another blogging slump! So it’s serendipity, perhaps, that I somehow stumbled onto that post this morning, titled What’s So Special About Today, Anyway?

So, even though the day has barely begun (well, for those of you without kids or jobs maybe), let me ponder all of the things that have been memorable or exceptional about today so far.

I drank hot coffee alone.

I took a cue from Scott, from This Daddy’s Blog, and I woke up a little earlier than the alarm clock in order to steal some much-yearned-for alone time, since I can’t seem to find any these days. Even though I did not get up quite as early as I’d intended, it was a major self-care win: I was out of bed and on the couch with my coffee with about 30 or 40 minutes alone. It was soul-gratifying to sip coffee while it’s hot, without my husband or child making demands requests. What a nice way to wake up–slowly–and prepare (ok, brace) for what the day may bring. I’m going to do this again tomorrow, but instead of watching tv and catching up on social media, I might read my neglected book or even do some writing.

I have to tell you a funny story before I get to the next special thing that happened today. Last night, I blew a fuse when I tried to make dinner with the oven fan on while I was rocking out to music. Note to self: Find a new home for the iPod docking station, far far away from the oven! My husband reset the clock on the oven–incorrectly. While I was reveling in the wonder that wow, my new morning routine meant I could possibly make it to work on time, it was actually 15 minutes later than the clock indicated. In other words, I thought I had time to sit down with Jax while he ate breakfast, but in reality, I was late to work and just didn’t know it yet!

Oh well, it was a peaceful morning while it lasted!

I got a girlfriend hug.

So I darted off to work, realizing along the way that I needed to stop for cash. Since I take the highway to work (hence, no ATMs), I decided to stop at the Rite Aid across the street from my work and pull my usual purchase-something-for-two-dollars-and-get-cash-back routine. I know you’re curious what I bought, so I’ll tell you–Dove dark chocolate. The pharmacist was at the front door, knocking to be let in because the store hadn’t actually opened yet.

The thing about this pharmacist is that we’ve come to kind of be friends. I’ve mentioned her before on this blog–I am so grateful to have met her exactly when I needed her! (Thank you, universe!)

Anyway, I got to talking to her this morning about the depression I feel setting in with the changing season, and she hugged me. She called it “a girlfriend hug.” Of course this made me cry, but it was a release kind of cry. It always feels good, even when it doesn’t feel good to cry, when someone gets what you’re feeling. And she made some helpful recommendations that I am seriously considering.

What have been the special bits of your day so far? Please join me in my quest for positivity!!