Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Good Life

Some days, I feel great. I'm grateful for life, enjoy my daughter, love my friends and family, I enjoy what I'm doing. I get things done but don't freak out.

And then there are the many other days when I just want to crawl into bed. I resent everything, I'm overly grumpy, etc.

Sounds like depression, right? True. But I'm on an anti-depressant. What I've found, beyond medication, is that there are certain things I do that can contribute to or detract from my contentment. Here are my rules for creating the good life:

1. Limit TV. I love TV. And I am highly skeptical of people who want me to live without it. But I have found my joy level falls if I watch more than 1-2 hours of TV. Mindless TV viewing is a joy-kill for me. I do it sometimes, because I'm tired or lazy or just can't handle much else. But it never makes me feel better. In fact, if I'm feeling good, it will seep the energy from me.

2. Same for the Internet. Too much time online = discontented me.

3. Too much caffeine. I love coffee, but some mornings now, I have decaff because I've learned even one cup of coffee can jack up my anxiety level. Other mornings, one or two cups are perfect to perk me up and help me get going. But if I drink even half a cup more without thinking...I get very edgy, and that makes for bad parenting.

4. Doing anything makes me feel better. If I can get just one thing done each day, I'll feel better. Even if it's just a load of laundry or one room cleaned. Small accomplishments help me feel useful in the world.

5. I need work. I'm a stay-at-home mom. I work sporadically, mostly when we need money. But I've learned I feel better when I'm doing some work - as long as it's not keeping me up with long hours. I like to work. I like to make money. I like to use my brain. When I don't, I slowly lose my mind.

6. Do not finish the bottle of wine. Sometimes, I get a bottle of wine for my husband and myself. Sometimes, I get in an "I don't care" mood and will finish the bottle. This is rare, but it's always bad. Having a good glass of wine now and then adds to the richness of a simple life. Having too much makes me feel icky and grumpy - then the next day, I want to slip into "do nothing" mode, which means I'm missing out on life experiences.

7. Don't overplan. I get in these moods where I decide we're going to go out more, do more, etc. I make huge lists and big plans. And then I just don't have the energy to throw a big dinner party or drive to another city for a special event. Now, I write down events by date - so today, we can go to a local festival, go swim or go listen to a book reading at the book store. We may not do any of these, but I know what's going on if we do want to do something. If I want to have someone for dinner now, I just plan an easy meal - spaghetti, etc. - and invite them that day on the spur of the moment.

8. Rather than talk on the phone when I'm lonely, go visit someone - or just take my daughter out for some fun. I tend to want to stay at home. Going out for even a short shopping trip helps me stay in the flow of life. My daughter is old enough now that it's actually fun to take her places. Sometimes, I forget this and get stuck in that baby-mode, where you have to worry about hauling around heavy baby equipment and naps.

9. Make time for my family and friends. This may sound like a weird thing from a SAHM, but sometimes I get so busy in accomplishing goals or cleaning, I forget to spend time with my husband as a spouse, rather than a roommate. I forget to go out with my friends and enjoy them as complex women, not just mothers I can meet for an easy playdate.




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