There May be Snow on the Ground, but there is “Spring” in My Step!

First day of Spring 2015

It seems that Mother Nature got the wrong memo on Friday. Instead of sending sunshine and flowers for the first day of Spring, she delivered around 5 inches of snow. While the snow won’t stick around for long, according to the forecast colder than normal temperatures will be here for a while.

In spite of the cold temps and Spring snow showers (which by the way were beautiful), I have emerged from the season of Winter blues earlier and stronger than ever before. First day of Spring 2015The seasonal feelings of sadness and depression arrived right on schedule in late October, but unlike previous years, my spirits began to lighten toward the end of February instead of the end of March. There have been years in which the black cloud of seasonal depression didn’t lift until well into April.

If you’re not familiar with Season Affect Disorder (SAD), it’s a mood disorder which is characterized by depression and it happens at the same time every year. It zaps your energy, makes it a challenge to get out of bed, and turns the world into a “glass half empty” kind of place.

There seems to be a direct correlation with the lack of sunshine and shorter days and the onset of the feelings of depression. For me,they seem to creep in so slowly that I don’t recognize them until it’s too late. I find myself thinking, “wow it’s not going to affect me this year,” then the hammer falls and I find myself almost physically unable to get out of bed in the morning.

Last year I discovered the value of light therapy in the morning and the evening. And I stumbled onto the benefits of having a creative outlet to occupy my evenings. Even with these tools to fight the negative feelings and lethargy, the winter of 2013 was one of my most difficult bouts with this condition.

This winter I decided not to wait and see whether or not the inevitable would happen. I began using my lamp that mimics natural outdoor light at the beginning of October (before the feelings of depression started to hit me), made a conscious choice to do something creative every day, and registered for a drawing class to make sure I got out of the house.

For the most part it worked. While I still experienced feelings of sadness, they were nowhere near as severe as in previous years. I believe one of the major benefits of my early and consistent treatment approach is that the cloud lifted sooner.

A few weeks ago I added a new tool to my arsenal, a natural light “Wake-up Light.” I very quickly became a fan.

Wake-up Light

The light simulates the sun rising. The light starts to illuminate 30 minutes before the alarm is set to go off and by the time the alarm chirps, it’s fully lit. The theory is that the emulation of sunrise releases certain chemicals in the brain that say “it’s time to wake up.” I don’t know about the science behind it, but I do know that it works for me.

Since day one of using it, I’ve found it easier to get up in the morning and I absolutely have more energy throughout the day. Over the past three weeks I’ve moved my wake up time from 8 am to 6:30 am and am beginning to fear I might be in danger of becoming a morning person. 🙂

I honestly believe that it’s helped to accelerate the earlier than normal exit of those pesky winter blues.

The “Spring” in my step has motivated me to register for a half-marathon in June and exercise is once again a part of my daily routine.

Hello Spring!

One Thing I Know….

As many people do, I struggle with seasonal depression – sometimes referred to as SAD. Mid-December when the days are short and the temperatures are cold the world around me becomes heavy and it becomes increasingly difficult for me to get out of bed in the morning. I’m fortunate because I understand what’s happening to me and can take action to lessen my feelings of sadness and anxiety.

This winter has been more difficult than most; its extra cold and snowy and the sun seems to have run away to the Caribbean for the winter. I’ve no doubt that major life changes such as becoming an empty nester are also contributing to my feelings. The good news is the days are getting longer, I discovered light therapy, and a new outlet for sharing and engaging my creativity.

A month or so ago I bought a lamp that mimics natural outdoor light and have been using it daily. I do believe the light therapy is helping. At first it seemed  little strange to have a bright light shining directly on me for 30 minutes every morning and again in the evening, but now I’m used to it and almost look forward to it.

I stumbled onto the creative outlet quite by accident on Google+.  It’s called the #onething creative challenge and was started by  Katherine Tattersfield and Drew Myler (you can learn more about it here).

It’s self paced, anything goes and the goal is to create one thing daily, weekly, or whenever you get to it – it can be drawing, sculpting, writing, taking pictures, knitting, cooking…. etc. Then you post it in your feed using the#onething  hashtag. I was inspired by the wide range of entries and the camaraderie among the participants.

My first contribution to the challenge was my most complex and intricate ink journal entry so far. Undulate is the word that comes to my mind to describe the movement of colors and patterns through the middle of the drawing.

hearts and tears_7

My second creation was a simple drawing in my journal accompanied with my sentiments about creativity.

One thing I know
is that we are all creative
it just takes a while for some of us
to realize and accept our gifts.

onething

The #onething challenge has already made a difference in my life. There’s a great energy among the people who are participating and it’s prompted me to once again take out my camera and take pictures of things that catch my eye.

Many people don’t see or understand – is that there is inspiration everywhere, and often-times in the least expected places, like the pavement in front of the gas pump.

I’m not sure why there was this lone shoe-string curled up in the shape of a heart and abandoned in the asphalt – but it caught my eye and I’ve no doubt that it’s the inspiration for some really fun drawing.

photo 3 b& w

I took a deep breath before posting the picture from the gas station. The positive and supportive comments about the picture made my fears of being rejected, laughed at, or even worse ignored seem almost silly. But we all know how real those fears can be.

Yesterday was my fourth day of participating and the snow covered ornamental grass in my front yard was my contribution for the day. One person said it made her think of cotton candy.

snow covered natural grass

Today’s blog post will by my #onething for today. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep up the pace of contributing something every day, but it’s been a great spirit lifter.

I’m thankful the days are getting longer, the sun is shining today and I’ve found one more thing to help me through the season and feel less sad.

Hurry and arrive spring, I’m ready to take my camera out on the towpath again.

this makes me smile