Five Ways to Deal With Sadness

Let’s be real – we don’t always bounce out of bed with a smile and a feeling of invincibility. Even if we do wake up singing, those zipadeedodah feelings can be gone by the time we sit down to breakfast. Emotional ups and downs are something we all struggle with, and sometimes the leap from one to the next can be sudden and dramatic. The highs are great, but we have so few tools for living with the lows. For any of you who are feeling as heavy as a January snow cloud, here are five ways to deal with sadness.

1. Embrace it – Denying your emotions and trying to bury them only makes them burst through the soil like ravenous zombies when you least expect it. Accept the fact that you are feeling down, and give yourself permission to be okay with that. Trust that sadness is only one of many emotions you will feel today, and allow yourself to hope that it might not even be the strongest feeling you have in the next 24 hours.

2. Share It – You deserve to open up and be vulnerable about your sadness. Tell a trusted friend or loved one that you’re sad. Post a simple message on your wall without being too cryptic or personal. Allow yourself to be open to the love that you will receive, and try to see that light, whether it is a funny post sent your way, a hug, a cup of tea, or a sympathetic nod. I promise that someone else you know is also feeling sad right now, so you are not alone.

3. Be Kind To Yourself – Take time today to slow down, and shift your schedule and any demands you may feel in order to take good care of yourself. Don’t feel guilty or ashamed of your sadness. Don’t beat yourself up if you have to make some changes to your plans. If you have to cancel in favor of staying home, promise to use that time for an act of self nurturing like a bath, or a good book, or some fresh air.

4. Get Moving – Even 15 minutes of physical activity will help shift your mood, and add some light to your day. Do something you enjoy, try to lose yourself in your breath and the activity you are engaged in. Ground yourself in your body and feel your connection to your physical self. You are strong and you have the power to grow stronger every day.

5. Stay Here – Somebody loves you and needs you right here, right in this moment. As you catch yourself drifting to the past or worrying about the future, gently pull yourself into the right now. Breathe, make a mental list of the things you can see, hear, taste, smell and feel. This moment, right now is your reality, and the one you need to focus on most closely. What can you shift or change right now to add more light to this moment? Do it, and then take a breath and trust that the next moment will be waiting for you, with new sensations to experience.

You are light, you are loved, you are part of the vast wonder of the universe.

Do you have any tried and true ways to help move through moments of sadness? We’d love to hear them, please share in the comments below!


Last night I slept for nine solid hours, yet this morning I’m exhausted. My eyelids itch, perhaps from my seasonal allergy to ragweed, (we seem to be growing it the way some people grow corn) or perhaps from the crying that ushered in my nine hours of oblivion. There are so many moments on my parenting journey where I truly don’t know what the hell I’m doing. The last two weeks have been prime examples of parental wtf.

I like our new school. It’s charming, and cozy, and grassroots. The teachers seem like good people, and they seem to be happy to be teaching. It’s almost the kind of school I would run, if I were crazy enough to try to run a school of my own. The joint was created by a fierce, passionate, no-effing-around kind of lady who was raised on an organic farm and Waldorf schooled through her formative years. She started the school mostly for her own kids, who were left without a decent place after a series of unfortunate events with other institutions. The head of our school wears glitter on special occasions. She’s my kind of lady.

Grassroots means this school is run mostly on a lot of our leader’s own steam. Her partner seems a wonderful support, and he’s very active in the community, but our community is small. The class sizes are small, which is both a blessing and a curse, at least for Ayla. She can’t “click” with any of the kids in her class, because I think they are a little less mature than she.

Her poor sister needs her own space desperately, and Hannah’s new friends don’t really have much in common with her often over-exuberant and in-your-face little sister. Ayla can’t figure out where to fit, and with all things Ayla this comes with much drama. The sadness and frustration obliterate any possibility of a better outcome. The suggestion that perhaps she try to initiate a new game with her peers, or perhaps roll up her sleeves and try to enjoy Barbie is met with outrage. I don’t know what to do, and my heart breaks to imagine her feeling lonely and out-of-place. She was so in place at our old school.

Noah is a mess. His second day at nursery seemed promising, but it’s been a losing battle ever since. He’s going full days for three days a week, but under the advisement of his teacher, we’re scaling back to half days until further notice. We drop him off, he cries, he wants to be held, and this continues for a full six hours it seems. His teacher can’t hold him because of a back injury, and because it’s pretty damn inconvenient when you’re trying to run a full daycare. This week, I didn’t feel confident leaving him there on Monday because his teachers seemed frazzled. On Wednesday his daddy took him, because he’s stronger than I am, and when I picked my little man up, he clung to me. He was shuddering and exhausted and seemed utterly defeated by the day. His teacher didn’t seem much better. I know how frustrating it is when he’s extra clingy, and on those days I get very little done. She has five other babies to take care of, and even with a second teacher there, I imagine it’s hard to move through the day if one of the kids is having such a hard time.

She informed me that he’d been “like that” all day. I wondered why they didn’t call me, to see if I might want to pick him up, but I said nothing to her. Maybe I don’t know what I’m doing, and the best thing is to let him figure things out on his own. That feels so wrong to me though. My senses are telling me otherwise. My senses are telling me it’s not okay to leave him there when he’s this upset because he’s not even two years old yet. It seems contrary to my instincts as a mother to leave him feeling so distraught, and frankly when even the teacher seems stressed out by this, it does not inspire confidence.

I’m not planning on having other children, so as far as I know, this is my only experience with transitioning to someone else caring for my baby. It felt good the first week to leave him there, even though he had some protest. It doesn’t feel good this week.  Are my emotions interfering with my ability to be rational here? Is his teacher burnt out and not up to the task of managing with confidence? Is he not ready to take these steps?

Our Waldorf community felt like a Utopia of gentle nurturing and loving, reassuring, confident hands. I’m crying as I type this because I miss that place so much. I so wanted to see Noah reap the benefits of such a beautiful environment, but our circumstances have made that impossible. I resent the hell out of our circumstances, and it’s incredibly hard to see a light at the end of this tunnel. Sure, I realize that Noah might have had an equally hard time adjusting to that school, but I knew it well and it felt really good to me.

Nekky tries to encourage me to be positive. He says the children will pick up on my positivity. I can’t find it when I feel like the mountain we are climbing to get back on top is forever towering over us. I want us to have choices. I want us to have freedom. I don’t want to feel stuck like this, and powerless to make change happen.

School seemed like a simple solution – with the kids there my time would be free to help earn. Perhaps it will all shake out, and I can contribute to our family in a way that we sorely need. If it doesn’t, if I have to keep Noah with me for another year, I don’t know what we’re going to do.

We have our health. That’s huge. We have a roof over our heads, and it’s a pretty spectacular roof. I am well aware that there are problems that are certainly worse than ours, but this is where I live and the reality of these challenges is all-consuming. It’s making me a horrible mother to my other kids, it’s making me a distant and angry partner. It’s making me the kind of person who doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning.

I want my old life back. The fantasy where I thought we were living an urban life rich with art, and friends, and a fancy private school. I don’t even know who I am anymore, and I don’t like who I am becoming.


No! Vember

Picture 1

I had a bad day at work. Here’s one thing to know about Leos; we’re great at success and terrible at failure.

I had a bad sleep last night. Three people DO NOT fit in a Queen sized bed, no matter how much they like each other. I’m getting night sweats like you wouldn’t believe, and I’m in the middle so there’s no place to go. This was the second night in a row of bad sleep.

I’ve had the blahs for about a week, which is so unusual with a full moon. Usually I’m bubbly and creative and filled with energy.

This morning I packed my overnight things and my computer, deciding that my bad mood and I were going to seek refuge at the Fortress of Solitude where I have not slept since August. I don’t have words to talk about what I’m feeling, and my new family does not need an Eyore moping around our apartment. My poor partners were surprised by this, but made a real effort to give me space.

As the bad day at work wore on I started to imagine myself alone in my former apartment, now piled with boxes and costumes that desperately need sorting, and this began to feel pathetic.

My family headed to their old suburb today to get the girls their H1N1 vaccine, and are having dinner with their old neighbours. This only added to my misery, and I began to feel sorry for myself for being left out. I’m not sure what kind of crazy person feels left out of getting a giant needle, but there you have it.

Then, at 1:45 I had a reality check.

I’m allowed to have growing pains, and I’m allowed to be under the weather sometimes. Even if it’s an extended period like the month of November. (I hate you November).  I can accept that, and since my moodiness mostly manifests in a more somber Schnoo, I think my partners are fine with this too. What I can’t deal with is not understanding exactly what’s wrong with me, and so I attempted to figure this out on my crisp bike ride home:

1.)    Residual pain and anxiety surrounding fertility and the trauma of a miscarriage

2.)    Displacement – although my partners make an effort every day to make me feel at home in their apartment, which though currently a bit cluttered is actually really gorgeous, it is not my home. More importantly, it is not OUR home. In “conventional” relationships it’s hard enough to move into someone else’s space. Try to imagine, if you will, living in a space where you have no room for most of your personal possessions, and where you are surrounded by larger-than-life reminders of a whole world that happened before you were around.  I don’t know exactly why this should bother me, but it does. Maybe because this seriously unique relationship is so new I sometimes feel threatened by the strength of all of the history my partners have together. They share over a decade together and two gorgeous children. I’ve arrived with some feathers and sequins. And some serious baggage. When I’m in a funk, I think of the one and only time I got fired from a job – they had to make cutbacks and I was the new girl, so I was the first to go.

3.)    Fear. Wow. I said it. Another thing to know about Leos; we don’t admit to this very often. I’m afraid of EVERYTHING that isn’t related to work right now. My recent relationship history has taught me many lessons – many lasting life lessons. I cannot settle into a comfortable groove that lasts more than a week or so because I am terrified. Of what, you ask? Let’s see; betrayal, imbalance between the three of us creating a world of heartache, not giving enough, my own feelings of jealousy that sometimes arise, that I will be left behind, that something horrible will happen when my boyfriend talks to his parents about us, that these two beautiful little girls will grow to resent me because adding me into their family will come with some stigma, that I’ll always feel like I’ve latched on to someone else’s fully-realized life, that one or both of my partners will no longer find me attractive, that one or both of my partners will get tired of me, or tired of our circumstances. Wait. That’s it. I’m afraid that someone is going to decide this whole thing is a bad idea. Oh my god. I have abandonment fear. I’m afraid of being left behind, and so I am examining every single fissure with a fine lens to find excuses to be unsettled, because settling in means that I am vulnerable to shock and surprise when the bottom drops out of my nest. Holy god, I’ve become one of those people.

4.)    I don’t have a four right now. I think that numbers 1 through 3 are more than enough.

When I was a little girl, my mother used to always tell me how impatient I was. This hasn’t gone away, and in fact, might be one of my biggest issues. I don’t trust process, or time, but I think I’d better resolve this because ONLY with process and time will I be able to see that I have little to fear from this relationship. I mean. we’re talking about finding OUR place together in the New Year. That’s only months away! And grumbling about missing my old apartment is only a reflection of my control issues. I don’t feel like I’m in control of my home environment. I realize it should be a shared control, but I also realize I’m subject to the occasional foible. Since I’ve started working from home, I’ve dealt with a broken dryer and a mountain of laundry, and have now started taking on organizing the place one room at a time. When I walked my bike into this place tonight, and turned on the lights, loaded the dishwasher, grabbed a perfectly crisp McIntosh apple and sat down to write this, I felt completely at home. What’s more, I also felt loved, and like there will continue to be light at the end of the tunnel, as long as I’m choosing to look ahead towards it, rather than down, or backwards from where I came.

Backwards from where I came. That’s it too. I know on some unconscious level choosing a relationship that is ENTIRELY different from any that has come before in my life was a way to protect myself on some levels. I also believe it’s a product of my own personal evolution. This is a classic case of easier said than done, but I have to make a promise to myself to start each and every day recognizing that these two people are new, and are in no way, shape, or form comparable to the people who have caused me pain in the past.  We three are all making huge compromises to make this work because WE LOVE EACH OTHER. Loving people should be so much simpler, no?

And so, here is a list of things that will buoy me up and get me over this late autumn hump:

Crafts with the girls in preparation for our home made Christmas tree
McIntosh apples
Crisp bike rides
My girlfriends and their babies
Weekend farmer’s markets and then cooking dinner with my family
Creating the Les Coquettes holiday show
Bubble baths!
Organizing OUR home
TV – renting a stellar HBO series and watching it curled up on the sofa with my tribe and a glass of red wine. I’m craving Deadwood, which neither of them have seen
The winter fair at the girls’ school. I’m actually making crafts for this!
Dinner with my family – my bio family AND my new family all under one roof
Letters to and from Alexandra
Pumpkin curry
The gym (I don’t know how I came to like this, but I really, really do)
Writing, writing, writing (I feel better already!)

I think that’s a good start. I’m sure there’s more, and feel free to send suggestions. I refuse to let a month on the calendar overcome me. I’m a lion for heaven’s sake.

If you’re reading this, it’s because I’ve had a long, lovely talk with my partners. I think I owe it to them to explain why I attempted to run away from home before I share it with the rest of the cyber universe.