Bad Mood Rising

Had I been wearing a 1970’s mood ring earlier this week, I know what color it would have been. I won’t get into the specifics, sufficed to say I didn’t have to clean the cat’s litter box one particular morning—because she opted not to use it. The ensuing treasure hunt to locate the offending nugget, the cleaning, disinfecting and subsequent banishing of the culprit (Gizmo) to the basement for the duration of the day, made my morning unpleasant, to say the least.

Not a good start.

And yet on the drive in to work, with a scowl on my face, I confronted my bad mood, arguing my day need not be ruined because the cat in the hat, shat (for the second day in a row). The passionate debate raged on, fueled by anger, countered by logic, and by the time I arrived at work, my scowl had dissipated—somewhat.

Despite the science behind thermochromism (the change of color due to temperature), the multi-colored spectrum found in a mood ring’s instruction manual, is misleading.

Mood falls into two categories.

Good or bad.

There are no shades of grey, no greens, pinks, or purples, no middle ground. You’re either in a positive mood, or a negative one.

The more I pondered the concept, the more I realized moods are configurable, a conscious choice. Good moods are simple, when you find yourself in one, stay there, ride it out, spread the love.

Conversely, when the ring darkens, pause and take inventory.

Count your blessings.

Simple also, but not quite as easy.

Bad moods dissolve in time, they always do, but when allowed to fester, they devour the present, drain joy from the moment, and spread like an airborne virus.

The trick is to recognize the ensuing darkness, pause, regroup, and change colors. Don’t let the voice of rage and ruin convince you otherwise.

Two weeks back I was editing some fiction when I inadvertently overwrote my file with an earlier version, thereby deleting two hours of work. Attempts at retrieving the lost data proved futile, Microsoft Word had no magic elixir to counteract stupidity. The changes were lost.

My metaphorical mood ring turned as black as a raven in a mortician’s hat.

But that was two weeks ago.

This week, Gizmo—the cat who shat—prompted some introspection.

She taught me to recognize that every moment counts. Being miserable, waiting for the fog to clear, is counterproductive.

So I encourage you, the next time you sense a Bad Mood Rising, don’t hunker down waiting for sunshine, embrace the earthquakes and lightning, and change your color, tout de suite.


 

About the Author

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Mike Senczyszak is a writer, blogger, procrastinator, not in that order. He’s from Southern Ontario, occasionally Cape Breton Island, and more recently, a regular at Disney World. He’s a dabbler in screenwriting, children’s books, fiction (horror). Currently, editing his first novel.

 

You can find him on his blogFacebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, & Google+


 

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Graceful Bad Mornings

Some mornings suck, no one’s going to argue that.

Maybe you’re sick, or depressed. Maybe it’s raining or you’ve had to get up too early too often. Maybe you’re just going through some stuff.

I had some of those mornings recently. Some personal stuff in my life has been getting me down for a little while, stressing me out. But I still have to get up and do my job. I still have to be the adult and take care of my kids, even if I’m not feeling it.

First off, I’m still a mom, even on the days I don’t want to be an adult. My kids are depending on me. Second, if I’m unproductive I’ll just sink further into depression. Even if I’m sick, I have a tendency to sink into a really bad funk because I feel like I failed, somehow. Yes, I know that’s wrong. That’s part of how depression works.

I’m not going to tell you that I have a surefire way to get through a rough morning and come out smiling. But I do have some things in place to help with the bad mornings. Here’s my tried and true list of do’s and don’ts for bad mornings.

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Don’t

Touch the snooze button.

Not even once. You’ll just feel bad about it and have less time to work with. Being rushed is not going to make your morning better. And you’re not going to get anything out of those extra ten minutes. It’s going to be just as hard to get up the second time the alarm rings, trust me.

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Treat yourself to something expensive

If you normally don’t stop for a coffee on the way to work, don’t do it today. First off, if you’re suffering from depression, it might make you feel guilty. Besides that, this sort of coping mechanism leads to an unhealthy relationship with food. It’s fine for a good cup of fancy coffee to be a treat, but it shouldn’t be a reward for doing what you have to do anyway.

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Skip your self-care routine

Don’t skip your face care, don’t skip your teeth brushing. It will just make you feel worse in the end if you don’t look put together. Besides that, these actions can help you feel better about the day. Wash your face, put on some moisturizer, whatever you normally do to care for yourself in the morning. It might not make your morning all better, but neglecting to do it will surely make it worse.

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Turn on the news

I’m the last person to tell you not to be informed about what’s going on in these dark times. If we don’t know what’s happening we can’t fight for what we believe in, and then the bad guys win.

BUT we don’t need to deal with that first thing in the morning. We’ve got our own personal world on our shoulders already, we don’t need to add the rest of the world as well. At least, not before coffee.

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Do

Plan in advance for bad mornings

They’re going to happen. Having a strong evening plan is going to help any morning, but especially a bad morning. I can’t be the only person who’s ever just sat down and cried because they didn’t have any clean jeans in the morning.

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Have something beautiful to look at.

While I think you should stay off of social media in general, I am a big supporter of Instagram. Especially if you follow topics that are inspiring. I follow several foster cat homes, a few hedgehogs, several inspirational business people, lots of people who like to take gorgeous pictures of their travels and lots of bullet journalists. I don’t follow people who post anything negative. I do follow Steve Burns (Steve from Blue’s Clues) and this person who posts videos of slime. When I’m starting my day with pictures of adorable animals, inspiring messages, fantastic makeup and funny comics, I’m a little more okay with getting up.

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Do what you can to be happy about how you look

I love my makeup, but on mornings when I’m depressed I don’t even want to look at it. However, I know that I’ll feel better with a little eyeliner and some mascara. So, I have a basic look plan. Concealer under my eyes and at problem areas. A little bit of black eyeliner. A little bit of mascara. Red lipstick. (I don’t know what it is about red lipstick, but it makes me feel fierce.)

I’m not saying you have to wear red lipstick. Maybe you need your favorite sweater or that pair of pants that makes your backside look nice. Maybe it’s something no one will even see, like cute underwear. Whatever little thing you can do to feel good about your reflection, do it.

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Eat a healthy breakfast that you feel good about

Avocado toast takes less than no time, and it’s delicious. It’s also healthy. But it’s not your only option. A bowl of cereal can also be good for you, or just some toast and jam. Yeah, I know you’re probably not hungry. But you will be before lunch, and it will make you feel worse. So eat something.

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Give yourself some grace if you’re still in a funk

If you’ve done everything on this list and you still feel down, remind yourself that it will pass. You don’t have to be happy every day. You don’t owe anyone that. So maybe just give yourself the grace to feel quiet and sensitive today. Don’t apologize for it, don’t you dare. Just let yourself feel how you feel.

A lot of times, when I’m depressed, I feel like I’m doing something wrong. It’s my fault, I’m just being a baby. If I’m not happy now, with a loving family, a good job and several published books, what the hell will ever make me happy?

When I managed a shoe store, I used to tell myself I’d never be happy if I wasn’t happy there. I thought that because I had a good job and a good relationship I owed the universe happiness. But that was a load of shit. First off, my job wasn’t good. Better than I’d had before doesn’t equal good. I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t allow myself to feel it. And if I’d listened earlier, maybe I could have left my shitty job earlier. So don’t put it on yourself to be happy all the time.

I’m going to repeat it one more time, so everyone hears me. You don’t owe happy to anyone. You owe yourself grace, good care, and patience.

Especially on the tough mornings.


About the Author

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Nicole Luttrell is a speculative fiction writer. That means she writes about dragons, ghosts and space. Sometimes about ghosts of dragons in space. She writes a fantasy series called Woven and a Science Fantasy series called Station 86. You can follow along with the insanity at PaperBeatsWorld.com

You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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Chunky Smoothie Kind of Morning

Confession: I am a morning person. I keep my blinds open all night so I wake up to the sunshine instead of an alarm, and I look forward to getting up and drinking a cup (or 5) of coffee. I enjoy morning chats and I sing (badly) to old Britney Spears songs while getting ready. I’m THAT person.

On any given weekday, my morning routine looks about the same: get the coffee brewing, attempt to make myself look presentable, blend up a breakfast smoothie and hustle out the door.

THIS particular morning, everything seemed to be going fine—until it wasn’t.

The culprit behind the sudden turn of events? THE BLENDER.

Now, I’ve got a pretty badass blender, and it doesn’t usually give me any grief. Everyday I throw in a mixture of frozen fruit, almond milk, spinach, and protein powder, and out comes a delicious and healthy kickstart to my day.

Every. Day.

So I don’t know WTF the deal was on that morning. Maybe my freezer went all macho overnight and made the fruit too frozen? Maybe the sharp little dudes inside the blender decided to take the morning off? Whatever it was, MY SHIT WOULD NOT BLEND. More milk? Nope. Higher speed? Nice try. Stir with a wooden spoon between blending attempts? Adorable, but no.

Note: If you’re planning to stir your smoothie with a wooden spoon, be sure the blending has completely ceased before doing so. Otherwise the wooden spoon WILL chip and you WILL end up with unwelcome splinters inside your mouth.

After what felt like hours of struggle, I resigned to the fact that it would just have to be a chunky smoothie kind of morning. So, I dumped the contents of the blender into a mason jar and ran out the door, 10 minutes behind schedule. As I got in my car and started my hour-long trek to work, I let out a frustrated sigh and hoped the rough start to my morning was not indicative of how the rest of my day would go.

LOL. If only that were true.

I had to speed racer drive (sorry, Mom) in order to have any hope of getting to work on time, but my lane weaving and sharp turns proved too intense for my lid-less mason jar. That’s right folks, chunky green smoothie, all over my passenger seat. With colorful words spewing out of my mouth, I stopped at the next red light and searched for something to (sort of) clean up the mess. I settled on an old softball T-shirt (RIP), and begrudgingly used it to soak up my breakfast.

Note: Long work commutes make for a lot of time spent in my car, so it regularly serves the dual purpose of transportation and a second closet. This would prove useful…more than once…on this single morning alone.

Now hungry and thoroughly irritated, I reached for my sunglasses to shield my vampire eyes from the suddenly too bright sun. Spoiler alert: they weren’t in my purse.

Cue the mascara monster.

I already have severely sensitive eyes to begin with, so having to stare into direct sunlight my entire drive to work sent my non-waterproof mascara running down my face like Lauren Conrad’s tears in The Hills.

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Fueled by road rage and starvation, I arrived at work 2 minutes late looking like the very definition of a hot mess. And even after I wiped as much of the black streams of death off my face as possible, this hot mess only got messier, as I quickly realized that my sunglasses were not the only important item I left behind. Spoiler alert: I also forgot shoes.

Note: I love being barefoot, and it is not uncommon for me to drive that way (is that still against the law?) I usually set a pair of shoes next to my purse and grab them both as I’m walking out the door. Obviously, however, that did not happen on this particular day.

I laughed out loud in that frightening and completely unamused sort of way, then ravaged my car (closet) for something to put on my bare feet. My options were a pair of metal cleats or some bright red converse. I’m a diehard New York Giants fan and I was wearing blue, so I opted for the converse and pretended like I was channeling some sort of team spirit. I mean, at that point, why not make lemonade, right?

And even though I walked into the classroom of children as a brightly dressed disheveled mess, they all still smiled and greeted me with a lovely, “Good morning Miss Natalee!” and suddenly all was well again. Chunky smoothie kind of morning and all, they were happy to see me, and I was happy to see them.

At some point during the day I also spilled my coffee on my light wash jeans, but that happens on the daily so I won’t act like it made things any worse. The bright side of the morning? I totally pulled off the blue and red and even received some high fives from my fellow Giants fan coworkers. Go big blue!


 

About the Author

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Natalee Koehn is donut lover, dog worshipper and grad student pursuing a Masters Degree in Speech Language Pathology. You can often find her studying, hiking, watching football, or inquiring about tacos, all while soaking up as much sun as possible.


 

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The Morning Tangle

I walk and meditate and I’m famished.

My husband returns from swimming laps.

With synchronicity

we take our places in the kitchen.

He hoards the cutting board,

slices a peach and banana.

I prepare coffee. We pivot for a

choreographed collision at the refrigerator,

him for almond milk, me for an egg and jam.

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We exchange no words, for

we are dangerous before we eat.

I covet his bowl of cereal and fruit,

and he eyes my lightly-over egg and toast.

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Safely seated in a no-chatter zone,

we take favored newspaper sections.

Earlier I meditated on wherever I go, there I am.

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My mantra shifts: Wherever I go, there he is.


About the Author

Jeannie Greensfelder

Jeanie Greensfelder is the author of Biting the Apple (Penciled In, 2012). Her poem “First Love” appeared on Garrison Keillor’s The Writers’ Almanac, and her poem “Sixth Grade” was featured in Ted Kooser’s column, “American Life in Poetry.” Her latest book, Marriage and Other Leaps of Faith (Penciled In, 2015), reveals life during a 40-year marriage. She lives in San Luis Obispo, California.

You can find her at: http://jeaniegreensfelder.alhteam.com/


 

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Damsel in Distress


Monday morning.  President’s Day.  I SHOULD have off from work, but I don’t.

I step outside my apartment building around 8:30am and immediately feel the biting, piercing cold.  I cross over 1st Avenue and within seconds I hear a quiet yet commanding voice: “EXCUSE ME!!!!!!!!!!

I look to my right and there she is – a very old woman, sitting in her wheelchair outside of the senior center across the street from my apartment.  ”Can you give me a push?“  I look around and yep, I’m the only one there.  She is talking to me.

I walk over to this woman, who is tiny and wrinkly like a little shriveled up raisin, and am prepared to move her wheelchair slightly for her.  Maybe the sun was in her eyes and she wanted to have her back to it.  Maybe she wanted to face a different direction.  I don’t know.  As I place my hands on the wheelchair handles she asks me where I’m going.  I tell her I’m headed to the subway.

Perfect,“ she says.

Whoa, wait.  Perfect?  Does this little old lady expect me to push her three avenues and three blocks to my subway stop?  And then what happens?  She’s getting on the 6 train with me?!  Where exactly is she headed?  I don’t want to commit to this.  I immediately look at a man in a janitor-type uniform who is sweeping around the area for guidance. He shrugs.

HELP, let’s go – I’m FREEZING!!!!!!!!“ she screams at me.

IT IS WAY TOO EARLY FOR THIS SHIT.

It then immediately dawns on me that it’s totally strange this elderly woman is lounging outside on a freezing cold morning, unattended.  Is she a resident of this senior center and plotting her escape?  Am I her accomplice?  Even worse, is she some kind of scam artist?

I pictured me innocently wheeling this woman around the Upper East Side and then getting put in ‘cuffs for ‘Attempting to Steal an Old Person.’  And I assure you, I do not want an old person.  A puppy, maybe, but not an old person.  And ESPECIALLY not this one; she seems cranky.

I know the man with the broom has observed my encounter with Granny, so I call him over and explain to him that I don’t feel comfortable taking this random old lady for a joy ride, and that I don’t feel comfortable just leaving her, either.  She now changes her tune.  “I HAVE TO GO TO THE FOOT DOCTOR!”  she demands.  OK, enough of this.

I head towards the senior center and barge into the front door to find a woman sitting at the front desk, conversing with a man who appears to be an orderly of some sort.  I begin to explain my situation.

Hi, so there’s a woman outside in her wheelchair –-”

Yep, Francis.”  The woman at the desk interrupts me.

OK well she is asking me to take her somewhere in her wheelchair and I felt bad just leaving her –

Yes, I know.  She does this every day.  She actually can walk you know, she just doesn’t want to.  She’s fine, don’t worry about her.

(WELL I HAPPEN TO HAVE A GOOD CONSCIENCE SO SUE ME)

Uh, okay.  It’s also about 15 degrees out and she said she’s freezing, so…

The woman turns to the orderly and says, “Bring her back in here, will ya?”  He obliges and walks me out, giving me the back story on my friend Francis.  “She’s 100, you know.  She refuses to walk but she can.  She also always tries to get random people on the street to take her somewhere.

Yes, I gathered that.  So as Francis was getting wheeled back inside, I said goodbye to my new friends and continued my walk to the train – all while thinking to myself, I hope I drop dead before getting to that point in my life.

And for added measure, I made it to my subway stop (still frazzled from earlier events) to find a ton of signs everywhere:  ”NO LOCAL DOWNTOWN TRAINS TODAY. PLEASE WALK TO 59th STREET.“  (Which is another 10 blocks away).

So I took a cab, and entered a desolate, deserted work building – because every other company was off today.


About the Author

Allison A

Allison is a 30-something New Yorker who blogs over at (her initials/nickname; not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous) about dating/relationships, women’s issues, pop culture and the hilarious shenanigans she often gets herself into. When she isn’t writing she’s working at her day job in digital media/advertising, photographing EVERYTHING and thinking about how she can become friends with Beyoncé.

You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and her blog.


 

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Gravel in the Knees, Garbage in the Air

This morning I woke up 30 minutes late.

30 minutes.

That’s an entire episode of Friends. An entire high school lunch period. An entire bake time of a thin chicken breast. Kids could have safely swam after eating in the time I slept past my alarm. Traffic on a downtown freeway could have cleared up after a small roadside collision.

You’d think I would have noticed. That my body would have jolted awake to say, “hey! It seems like we should be up by now! The sun is touching us, that’s a bad sign! We haven’t done our morning pee yet; our bladder is still full! We’re so hungry! We’re too rested! We’re late! We’re late! We’re late!” But alas, I rolled over casually, as if I was on vacation or had successfully Ferris Bueller-ed my way out of a math test.

I wonder what time it is, I thought to myself, sure I was going to find a wee hour on the clock. I wiped my eyes, clicked the power button on my phone and the numbers shouted up at me: it’s 6:30, bitch!

Suddenly, everything went to shit.

I jumped out of bed—my hair sticking up straight and one eye still half shut. I tried to tell myself I didn’t have to make the bed, that we could go one day without making the bed, but my OCD thought not.

I don’t have time to make the bed.

I can’t leave without making the bed!

But I don’t have time to make the bed.

I made the bed.

In the bathroom, I brushed my teeth for far less time than a dentist would recommend, then washed my face so rough I coated my hairline in Proactiv solution. I ran to my closet, grabbed the first pair of pants I saw—which I’d soon discover were the still rank pants I worked out in the day before—pulled the first shirt I could reach off of a hanger and stuck my arms through a jacket I found hanging on a doorknob. None of these matched, but I forced myself to count non-nakedness as the morning’s first win.

I scraped foundation over my face with my probably should have been cleaned yesterday makeup brush, and then wiped mascara into my eyelashes. At first glance, I was relatively impressed with my efforts. I didn’t appear to look drunk, hungover, or My Boyfriend Did My Makeup ­tutorial-ed. But then I found mascara all down the side of my hand, deodorant on the bottom of my shirt and a big, uncovered pimple just under my chin.

My brain: Just breathe, it’s going to be alright.

My watch: It’s 6:45, bitch!

I flipped off the bathroom light and ran downstairs.

I had planned for a nice, slow breakfast. The night before I’d pulled out a few things to try a Pinterest recipe said to be both healthy and delicious. I even thought about making a double batch to share with my roommates. Night me is always so thoughtful…

Meanwhile, morning me shoved two pieces of bread in the toaster. It would be burnt wheat bread for me, and my roommates would have to fend for themselves.

I scraped together a sandwich. This will have to be enough, I said to my morning self. She believed it, too. She understood the time crunch. My lingering lunch self however, threw up middle fingers. She was already starving.

The toaster popped. I pulled the blackened bread out, then buttered and honeyed them up. I wrapped both pieces in a paper towel, stuck my sandwich in my lunch bag, filled up a Nalgene bottle with water and a coffee cup with some chocolate milk. I put a granola bar in my purse, slid my sunglasses over my eyes, then walked out the door, arms full, and threw everything into the front seat of my car.

As if on cue, chocolate milk began to spill on my seat, leaving a dark brown stain in the grey cloth. I nodded my head as if to say, “seems about right,” then I got in the driver’s seat, peeled out of the driveway and down the street towards work. Halfway there, I ran over a trash bag and it hooked itself to the underside of my car. Glass and plastic began to shoot out from under me, causing cars to flash their lights, honk and yell.

“Why are you doing this?!” they asked with darting eyes, as if my morning routine always consisted of towing a bag of hazardous garbage behind my Saturn Ion. I tried to keep my eyes on the road ahead, knowing full well I was leaving a Mario Kart obstacle-esque street behind me, desperately hoping I could find a place to pull over in the middle of morning traffic.

By the time I found a driveway and ignored the bright red sign that probably said, “definitely no stopping here, not even if your spewing glass shards at neighboring cars,” my Saturn smelled as melty as a church sanctuary at the end of a candlelight Christmas Eve service. I squatted down on the sidewalk, then kneeled, then crawled halfway underneath my car to retrieve the melted heavy weight trash bag—which was now completely empty—and threw it on the side of the road, adding littering to my morning’s list of sins.

When I finally got to work, I was 15 minutes late, had gravel in my knees and a crazed look in my eye.

“Good morning,” a coworker said. I smiled, completely disagreeing, and made my way to my desk.

No, it wasn’t a good morning, I said to myself as I opened a comfort snack I brought for my lunch self, and how dare you say otherwise. I was dead set on proving them wrong, but then, as I started to decompress, that thing happened. The thing where after you’ve made it through something non-life threatening, grand-scheme meaningless, yet undoubtedly and outrageously shitty, you lean back in your chair and just laugh. So instead, I held my cup of chocolate milk up to the universe in a cheers. Because no, it wasn’t a good morning, but I suppose it could still be a good day, and an even better story.


About the Author

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Kimberlee Koehn is a writer based out of Los Angeles, CA and is extremely passionate about telling stories and spreading positivity. When she’s not writing, you can often find her reading, hiking, watching sports, and most likely talking to herself.

You can find her at kimberleek.com


 

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