January 12, 2010

Marmee's Idea for Counteracting the Winter Funk

Lots of people are in the Winter Funks and I am too. There is NOTHING WRONG, and in fact lots of things are GOOD right now, including Paul getting a promotion and raise that involve no extra time/duties (he got the promotion because he had gradually worked up to doing all the parts of the job he was promoted to), and also that for Christmas my brother and sister-in-law gave me a gift certificate for air travel so I can plan to another trip to see Niestle this spring.

But still, I am befunkified, and I know a lot of you are too. I'm doing my usual remedies, such as using the expensive face lotion and drinking coffee and turning on extra lights, but I've had another idea. It seemed like a great idea to tell you about when I first thought of it, but now I am feeling shy because when I think of putting it down in actual words, it sounds like a really cheesy idea, the kind we ought to consider putting on an inspirational plaque in swirly gilt writing.

Oh, no---I know EXACTLY what it sounds like: it sounds like an idea Marmee would have come up with in the book Little Women. And while I love that book, and love Marmee too, she really was kind of an overflowing bowl of treacle, with her Big Shameful Confession being that she had a bit of a temper that her husband had to help her rope in, which he did so effectively that her children DIDN'T EVEN KNOW SHE HAD A TEMPER. Which, uh. I mean, that doesn't seem like it could have been much of a temper problem then, does it? I don't think Marmee would ever, EVER have snapped at her children or said, "Oh, god no, I can't hear even ONE MORE joke today"---at, um, 6:30 in the morning.

Anyway, here is my idea. ...No, I can't, it's TOO cringey. Here is MARMEE'S idea, which I am going to try: Marmee recommends doing something nice for someone else that is also fun for us. For me, I'm thinking along the lines of putting together a small care package of treats, but that's because care packages and treats are my thing. It's a good idea because it involves the happy work of making treats and packing them up, and also there will be extra treats for me.

I think any idea would work if it uses a skill that's typically enjoyable for you and can be used to benefit others (knitting? embroidery? baking? shopping? drawing? writing? woodworking?), ideally something that will take a little time and effort and perhaps the fun of going to the store to get ingredients/materials. And then there's the fun of choosing who the recipient will be.

This small thing isn't going to CURE the winter funk, of course, but one of my winter funk symptoms is thinking there's no point to doing anything unless it 100% solves the problem, so I'm counteracting that kind of thinking at the same time.

46 comments:

Hillary said...

I like the idea ... and as for Marmee, I think she would have been more helpful had she given more specific instructions for conquering said HORRIBLE temper so thoroughly.

Dr. Maureen said...

I think that literally IS Marmee's idea. They gave away their Christmas dinner to the poor family, did they not?

Also, I have been reading "The Curse of the Good Girl," and thinking of Marmee a lot, because of how it's not healthy to deny you have a temper. LIKE MARMEE. I've been even thinking of writing a post about this! About how Marmee was kind of messed up on that point, and was all, "Jo, you have to PUSH DOWAN YOUR ANGRY FEELINGS. Deny them. It's the only way to be a good woman!

But I think THIS idea of Marmee's is a good one. It really does make you feel better to think about how to help other people. It distracts you from your own problems and also gives you a warm glow to make other people happy. So. Good idea, Marmee.

Swistle said...

Hillary-- I seem to remember it was a combination of two dynamite tips, one of which was her husband raising his eyebrows at her or something, and the other of which was pressing her lips together. See? We can ALL conquer our tempers!

Anonymous said...

I only discovered your wonderful blog a few months ago, so forgive me if this has been discussed previously.... I have friends whose winter blahs have improved so much using a special light box. I don't think it cost much and doesn't take much time each day either. Food for thought....Speaking of which, the care packages sound great!

Sarah said...

I like that idea.

I just did something similar. I knit my sister in law a dishcloth out of a fun cotton/linen blend yarn. It was a small, but fun thing to do that totally surprised her. It did help. Though I've been so down lately that I may need to knit a few more dishclothes to really get perked up.

Caitlin said...

Marmee is so smart and wise and thoughtful!
Friends of ours recently had a baby, and hired my chef husband to cook a bunch of meals they could freeze. I knew I wanted to do something extra and friend-ish for them though, to bring when we dropped the food off. So because you can't have all those meals and no dessert, I made them some cookies (a sampling of three different kinds!), and brought some nice bread to go with some of their meals. I also picked out some soothing lip balm and lavender lotion for the post-surgery, post-partum mama, It was so nice to do a little something extra like that. AND I got to hold the newborn for about 45 minutes. HELLO, dream afternoon complete!

Amanda said...

This is a great idea and does work. Just this weekend I spent more time than usual making my brand new not even born yet niece one of those adorable knitted elf caps - in Steeler's colors because her Momma is a Steelers fan (boo hiss). She's going to love it!!!

pickles and dimes said...

I'm with Sarah: I just started knitting dishcloths (quick and fun), and I'm going to give some to Jason's grandma when we see her in a few weeks. My crappy days are so much better when I have knitting to look forward to.

I also found some really cool patterned dishcloths (with hearts, stars, ducks, etc.), and I'm going to knit some of those and maybe do a giveaway later.

Anne said...

I think Marmee has a great idea!

I'm an accountant, and as such I work something stupid like 60 to 90 hours a week between January 15th and April 15th. I KNOW. Add in a 45min commute each way and it is a wonder I survive. But ANYWAY, to help my winter + chaos funk, and the winter funk of those around me, I bake like a madwoman nearly every Sunday and bring cookies or brownies or some other such thing for my coworkers. Dozens upon dozens of cookies. By late in busy season it gets to be not so much fun for me, but I like making other people feel good enough that I make it through.

Lawyerish said...

I think GETTING a care package and treats would definitely help cure my winter blahs!

Seriously, your/Marmee's idea is a great one. It carries some of the warm fuzzies of all the Christmas present buying and giving and baking into the ooky, dark winter, which makes everything better. I'm doing it!

Kate@And Then I Was a Mom said...

Seriously. Where is the enjoyment in having a temper if you can't use it on your kids? Pshaw.

Hmm. I'm so crabby that the idea of doing something for someone else is daunting. But perhaps I will try this week.

Jen said...

I was reading your archives the other day and was thinking I might start a pay it forward thing in January to combat the January blahs. So I totally think this is a good idea.

I also just bought a pound of coffee this morning for my fellow coffee junkies at work (because my company recently switched coffee brands and the new one is awful and, obvs, cheap) and when I did so, I bought the pound that the coffee place would donate a pound to a local pantry. So I feel doubly warm and fuzzy this morning. Except I'm still sort of meh. It's January.

jiveturkey said...

Great idea. Please thank Marmee for me. And then tell her that my temper can kick her temper's ass.

Annika said...

That Marmee. So clever!

Lola said...

Your idea is a great one. I would also add that Vitamin D helps enormously with the winter blahs. My doctir just gave me a little lecture on how those who live in climates that are cold this time of year (basically everywhere except FL and San Diego) don't get nearly enough Vitamin D, and that our bodies and minds need it. I've tried it and it makes everything much more tolerable.

Lola said...

Uh...that would be doctor. Apparently Vitamin D does nothing for my spelling skillz.

Shelley Malone said...

Rock on Marmee! I bet this will work. I gave blood on Saturday and it cheered me up 100%. Well, technically the free cookies and juice helped, but STILL.

Carolyn said...

You have just rocked my socks off with your Little Women references. Hilariously awesome. And great idea!

may said...

Although I thought LW was boring (...sorry if that's blasphemous...), I think your idea is excellent. It seems good and right and an intelligent thing to do. Now, doing it - that's a different matter.

Hooray for the raise and tickets!

Jess said...

Fun! I think this is an awesome idea. And actually, not cringey at all.

Nicole said...

I think that's an awesome idea. Frequently I bake extra cookies and then take them to my yoga studio, and it always makes me feel good (Thanks for the cookies! Your cookies are so great!). I just reread that and felt kind of lame, sorry.

Also, Little Women was my very favourite book as a kid and I actually forgot about how Father cured Marmee of her temper. How...nice.

Erin (Snarke) said...

I think this is a very good idea. You get to do something you like to do, which will cheer you up and then you get the added happy fizziness that comes from making someone else happy. :)

(Incidentally, Little Women is still one of my favorite books!)

parkingathome said...

I like it. I want to do a care package on my blog, in fact I'd like to do another contest. I was thinking some sort of wonderful inspirational "best thing that ever happened to me in my whole life" story share time and I pick a random person and crochet them a hat that is as silly as they can think of...puppy? giraffe? rainbows? Long stocking cap that is reminiscent of dr. seuss? I'd like a crochet challenge, and I'd like some feel good stories. Maybe if I get it written you could send some of your swistle army my way to share their stories and perhaps win something? Or is that whoring myself? I can never tell the difference.

And I wish I could be cured of my rage as easily as marmee was, wouldn't that be nice?

Swistle said...

Parkingathome- I would totally send people your way! Silly hats make the world a better place.

Sarah said...

Pressing one's lips together to cure anger! Ah ha ha!
I feel like I have the winter Grumps. I don't feel sad, or depressed, like I usually do in January. I feel Pissed Off. I hear myself snapping at the kids all day long and I just want to smack myself. THEY'RE LITTLE, YOU'RE BIG. SHUT UP OR GIVE YOURSELF A TIME OUT, MEAN MOMMY. Is what my brain says. A lot, the last few days.
So this is a very good idea. So was creating a two week meal roation for the winter, because I find myself at my most grumpy right around dinner time when I once again have a house full of random ingredients but no actual MEAL in sight.

Taylor said...

LOVE THIS!! Good ol' Marmee.

We don't have a lot of money and typically limit our giving to church, but I felt motivated to give to an awesome non-profit earlier this month (Water4.org). I was so struck by the thought of how little it would take to give clean water to a whole village. I usually overspend at the grocery store, and had been meaning to cut back there anyway, so...I decided to cut WAY back and give away everything left in my grocery budget. I am not only SUPER CHEAP but I LOVE A GOOD CHALLENGE. Its actually been fun trying to figure out how to spend the very least I can! Its much more motivating and rewarding to think of the good I can do by my cheapness instead of just being cheap for cheapness sake. (haha)

Shelly Overlook said...

Gah, this winter is kicking my ass!!!

Kristi said...

Lovely idea! Although it's 74 degrees right now - what's my excuse?!

Rima said...

MARMEE HAD a TEMPER???

Get out of town!!!

Chrissy said...

I just lost my temper completely with my family. We have been in the house ALL together, for two weeks. Winter sucks. Maybe I need to learn to knit? or send someone a surprise package? Or just run far far away?

therextras said...

Brilliant!

Barbara

Barb @ getupandplay said...

Ugh. It's pretty nasty here, so I feel your winter BLAHs pain. I live in SLC where there is an awful inversion every winter- picture a giant smog cloud trapped in the valley by the mountains and the cold air. It's disgusting and gray and choke-y.

Great idea, um, "Marmee", about cheering oneself through service. It's cheesy, but it works!

H said...

It is only Tuesday and already I feel like I've been through the wringer at work. I'm testy and need a new attitude. I think this will help and I'm going to try it. Thanks for the idea!

sherilee said...

Brilliant. You can give Marmee the credit if you wish, but I'll always think of this as Swistle's care package concept in the future!

I can't tell you how many times when I've been feeling blue or down or what have you and made a point of reaching out to someone else--a handwritten note or card, or something baked--it's provided me with more of a lift than the recipient, I swear. Like magic!

Good thoughts. Now off I go to do something with them...

sagessa said...

This winter is totally kicking my butt; I'm tired all the time and just dragging out of bed in the morning is a challenge. I love the idea of giving a gift to perk myself up; maybe I'll do a pay it forward and we can get a chain of giving started. If I get one going would you mind sending people over? I don't think the 3 regular readers that I have would make for much of a contest. lol

Hobo Mama said...

I remember that raising-the-eyebrows thing and thinking that if my husband did that to me, I'd get angrier — directed right at his sorry head!

Clearly my temper problem is more advanced than Marmee's. Much as I love her, I will never be her. Sigh.

Swistle said...

Sagessa- Yes!

Household_Deity said...

I like the pay it forward idea. :)

marybt said...

I'm doing something similar. I'm having a play date with a twist at my house on Monday. It will be a craft day! I'm even dying pasta noodles for the kids to string! :)

It has perked me up a bit so obviously I think your idea (I mean MARMEE'S idea) is wonderful! :)

Anonymous said...

This is completely unrelated...but everytime I read your blog I say "swistle my thistle." Why I do not know...I guess I like to rhyme.

bramey said...

Swistle, I have an idea for a small something good that people can do. I'm a'sending it to your inbox, just in case putting it here would ruffle feathers.

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Sounds like a good plan. I'm working on a care package for a friend right now.

Jaci said...

Marmee would be a good friend--like a friend you hang out with maybe once a month and feel inspired by. But to live with her day in and day out as her daughter? Ugh. We would have killed each other.

Shelly said...

I love this idea. I'd love to do another "Pay it Forward" like last years', if you'd be interested in getting that started again.

Nowheymama said...

I've been cheering myself up making gifties for my two winter babies' birthdays.

parkingathome said...

The contest is up if anyone would like to come play
here