The Strange Unraveling: Getting My Mojo Back

Deliberate intentions informed my decision to take a week long break from writing and blogging. I was to be here again, well-rested, calm as a Buddhist nun, organized to within an inch of my life. Alas, it is not to be. My mojo may still be missing – my inspiration as arid and barren as a river basin during drought season, despite the fact that it’s gray and wet and cold outside.

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Life happened as usual this week, but I let my mind drift. I didn’t hold on as tightly to the to do lists and the shoulds. Physically, it was challenging returning to a workout routine after being hijacked by the flu and the holidays. Weight training left me a walking bruise, taekwondo reminded me once again that I am not necessarily ninja material and running – just an exercise in masochism. But I did it, I’m back into training.

The sheer physicality of my activities should have left my mind a free and fertile creature running wild. Instead, I was anxious. I cried a little. I was grumpy and snappy and wanted to be alone. I completely unraveled. One of the side effects of stopping, of resting, of caring just a little less, is that everything you’ve held off dealing with comes crashing in unexpectedly.

I had a weird anxiety attack the first day I took my daughter to school after her break – more delayed reaction to the Newtown murders. I felt unexpected sadness over my family of origin’s estranged relationships, which usually hits me during the holidays. I cooked and baked and read books – all nourishing activities in their own right. But I was restless, unnerved by my inability to sleep through the night.

I barely read the news, hearing only in passing about crazed gun lobbyists and JAVA vulnerabilities. I stared off into the distance when people talked to me. So much chatter, so much noise, so little actually being communicated. I had bite-sized conversations with friends which made me realize that winter malaise, which I could usually hold off until mid-February, had decided to visit earlier this year.

Everyone I talked to was suffering or recovering from the flu. Many people are depressed, despite the fact that the days are getting longer and at some point, we’ll see the light of day beyond 5pm. Everything feels off, lacking purpose and synchronicity.

This strange unraveling is important and necessary, but unnerving. I have stayed in motion, on task, focused, and disciplined for so long, that I ran roughshod over many thoughts and moments of rest. It’s hard to switch gears without dealing with those thoughts and moments. And I’m in the midst of it still. I’ve had some moments of clarity and I imagine this unsettled feeling will resolve, if I give it time and let it be.

Inertia is not only a force that keeps us still, it is also a force that keeps us in motion, unable to stop ourselves, unable to give our minds and our bodies rest. Ofttimes I’ll push my way through a day and only realize how exhausted I am when I sit down. Sometimes I’ll avoid sitting down for fear that I won’t be able to get up again and get more done.

One realization emerged from this last week. I took a break from the wrong damned things. I love writing and blogging – it’s the high point of many days for me. It puts order and structure and meaning to my life. What I should have given up was laundry and dishes and driving about endlessly on errands. Instead, I made the jackass decision to stop writing.

I assumed that I was drained and tired and lacking in inspiration because I was writing and thinking too much out loud. I thought if I were just quiet, I would refuel and breathe more life into my writing. It was a faulty premise and has, in this last week, been soundly disproved. Writing is my mojo, my personal power, my way of seeing and making sense of the world around me.

Next break, I’m wearing dirty clothes and eating take out and running out of milk. It’s good to be back, baby.

56 Comments on “The Strange Unraveling: Getting My Mojo Back

  1. glad you’re back πŸ™‚

    I’d like a dirty clothes holiday from myself too…instead I’ve been dealing with the family of origin stuff for weeks, while smiling through the ever ghastly holiday season, and now back to work without so much as smelling a single rose….need to slot in some ‘me’ time but it seems I’m always waiting for something..

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    • I’m so glad to be back!

      I think the trick is to find moments. If we wait for expansive blocks of time to take care of ourselves, it might never happen. Even if you carve out 15 minutes in the morning or evening. Sometimes for me, it’s something as simple as soaking my feet or even a short lie-down. The hard part is making it happen, but what’s worse is the complete adult meltdown that can happen if you don’t find those moments. I’ve discovered that it’s easier to stop for a few minutes, than to feel ashamed for hours when I’ve lost my mind over something little!

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  2. Good to have you back. Great post. January is always a downer. It’s an anti climax after all the Xmas craziness. But the days ARE getting longer! Just the other day I realized ut was not yet dark at 4:45!!

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    • Thanks! I’m glad to be back writing. Even if winter malaise is setting in, there’s joy to be found in griping/writing about it – that seems to relieve some of the grayness!

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  3. Welcome back. Not sure if I find writing energizing, and I know that at times I find it exhausting. I need to think about this some more.

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    • I assumed that it was writing so much offline and online that had really tapped me out, but it was just everything else on top of it. The day-to-day grind, holiday craziness and recovering from illnesses and injuries wore me out. Maybe it’s that writing is a reflection of life and that one cannot be impacted without affecting the other.

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    • Thank you! Doctors make the poorest patients – mostly because of the potential for misdiagnosis, which I think I am guilty of this time around. There was a lesson in it, though and I am glad of that!

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  4. I can relate. It’s been rainy, foggy, and gross outside all week. Normally I love this kind of weather, but I’m sick of it. It sucks the cheer right out of me!

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    • Normally, I love this kind of weather, too. During a Minnesota winter, which can stretch out over a 6 month period, sunshine becomes critical!

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      • I lived in the north/midwest for a while, and was told over and over again by several different people to take vitamin D in the winter because the lack of light gets so depressing. I’m not from around those parts, so I couldn’t believe that was just something everyone (or so it seemed) had to do! I left before winter hit, but it was already getting dark at 4:30 in October. Yikes!

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        • I have a tendency to avoid supplements, since I never remember to take them consistently, but as soon as the sun pops out, getting outside is at the top of my list. And as I am typing this comment, the sun is peeking out and The Green Study just filled with morning light. You might be my Vitamin D mojo!

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    • I have no intention of giving it up, but I’m still at the stage of understanding its role in my life, learning what inspires me and just the logistics of when and how. I tend to take the long way around things! Glad to hear you’ve found your “it” in life.

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  5. I loved reading this – clear and honest and flowing. Whatever else is going on, your writing mojo is just fine.

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    • Thank you – I’ve also been really silly since using the word “Mojo”. I’ve been running around all morning with Muddy Waters’ “Got My Mojo Working” running through my head!

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      • Got my mojo working is a good mantra to have πŸ™‚

        I’m having trouble with WP personal-domain sites which I think yours is. All v slow to open, can’t “like”, and have to login to comment even though I’m already logged in. It’s the same for my husband on his computer so problem might be systemic. Have contacted WP but no solution so far. Just to let you know.

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  6. You’re so right–I think writing begets more writing. When we stop and let the trivial stuff intrude, it’s like stopping weight training. Those weights feel like they’ve doubled next time you go to lift them!

    Just found your blog, and I’m looking forward to more posts.

    Karen

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    • Perfect correlation. I’m so sore I can barely move from weight training – fortunately my writer’s brain is recovering a little faster! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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  7. Nice post.

    Your advice to me was helpful. I decided to post less often, and devote a lot more of my energy — rather than to my blog — to my income-producing work. Even a week of that feels good. Things are coming together and I don’t feel as tired. I had the flu (or something) for three weeks and that sure didn’t help.

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    • I’m glad I could help out – obviously I’ve been dealing with my own demons this week. I think you’ll find that not holding yourself to such a rigorous blogging schedule will be a surprise – same great readers, but less stress from being dogged about posting.
      Everybody is getting this damned flu bug and for each person, it seems to bring on different arrays of symptoms. Glad to hear that you are bouncing back and I look forward to reading more of your posts whenever they pop up on my reader.

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  8. I’m glad to see you back! I like the idea of taking a break from laundry and the tedium. I find my world gets a little cockeyed when I can’t make time for creativity. It refreshes me like nothing else.

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    • I haven’t figured out anything that refreshes me at this point in winter, but I know not writing wasn’t the trick!
      It’s good to be back and I’m glad you’ve returned as well. I hope your holidays were enjoyable!

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  9. Glad to hear you’re back. It’s funny how we often think that taking a break means we will get the “everything” parts of life done and then be rejuvenated and refreshed and start fresh after we get back. I think the stuff that piles up continues to pile up when whether we work at it or not. That’s life.
    I think your post made the astute point that when we take a break to focus on other things, we may not be internally refreshed just because we completed something.
    I think your mojo is working just fine.

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    • Thanks – you’re absolutely right. There’s always going to be more of the day-to-day tasks. It’s important to retain those things that give us a boost. Lesson learned!

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  10. I’m glad you’re back.

    It’s always so disappointing when we finally have a chance to relax and the anxiety (or sickness) creeps in.

    Blogging and reading blogs are my guilty pleasure. I’m “pre-employed” right now, and blogging is helping me feel stimulated and connected. It’s giving me a sense of meaning and structure. It’s making me feel like I can become some kind of professional writer, like I have other options besides what I’ve done the past decade for a career. But it still feels like something I shouldn’t be doing. The laundry and the dishes are what I should be doing–getting them done is how I “make up for” blogging. So many nagging doubts, and they all come from inside my head.

    P.S. I was impressed how you “maintained your presence” through what must have been scheduled posts.

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    • I wasn’t so much disappointed as I was surprised. Once I figured out that being so tightly wound for months would inevitably lead to me being a little nuts when I relaxed, I got on board with the program and let myself just “be”.
      I don’t have a sense of guilt about blogging. I actually feel pretty driven to do it, but I also want to blog for the sake of writing and not just blog for the sake of connection ( although that’s been a wonderful side effect). In fact, I just got another idea for a post today – thanks, Kylie!
      I loved the ability to be able to schedule posts!

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      • Yes, I did it for the writing too, and the connection has been a nice surprise πŸ™‚

        Glad to be a-muse-ing.

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  11. Glad to see you’re back. Writing is a wonderful outlet, I think it’s often more important to us than we realise. I had writer’s block for a long time and got really down on myself, but as soon as I steam rollered through it I felt better. I know it’s not quite the same thing, just meant I could relate πŸ™‚

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    • I’m glad to be back! I agree that steamrollering is sometimes the best way to get beyond feeling uninspired. If writing is a way of seeing the world, something always emerges.

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  12. Good to have you back! My reader has been empty without you! πŸ™‚

    Before December, I might have posted one blog entry per month, but now that I’m devoting myself to a regular schedule, I find myself more energized and happy! (And apparently using too many exclamation points…)

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    • Thanks for the welcome back – I appreciate it! I do have to write more frequently than I did initially. Exclamation points are more energized and happy, so exclaim away!

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  13. You are so right about how a mind in motion stays in motion. Often it cannot let go of thoughts that keep us locked in a bad place. Been there too. So glad you have pen ( or keyboard) in hand again. Welcome back to the world!

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    • Thank you – I’m glad to be back! I actually looked up the word “inertia”, never realizing that it was also a force that kept things in motion. I learn something new every day! And was apparently asleep when they taught the concept in science class.

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  14. Great to have found your blog, lol re the masochism – especially if there are pressups involved !

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    • Always plenty of those! My arms are still aching. Just a very acute lesson in why I need to keep with the program – the rebounds are too painful!

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  15. It takes quite a few days for the direction from “getting shorter” to “getting longer” to change, but it’s starting to be visible. In the last few days the sun can now make it past the deep well of my skylight into the living room.

    The tradeoff is that, once the sun gets high enough during the summer, it can no longer reach the crystal pendent hanging in the window (can’t make it past the eaves). So,.. rainbows on my walls in the winter, sunlight in the summer. (One of the reasons I picked the place was its light exposure!)

    Speaking of which… are you getting enough bright light? For many, it really does make a difference in the winter months.

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    • Always in search of sunlight, but with these bitter cold temps, it’s full gear for a walk. Thankfully I have a south window in the Study that fills up with light whenever the sun shows itself, so that helps.

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      • When I was house hunting this last time (in 2003) one of my criteria was “has southern exposure” in as many rooms as possible. The bedroom absolutely and preferably the kitchen. My kitchen is actually tucked away back from the living room windows, but the open architecture allows enough light in. Sunlight is very important to me!!

        One of the places I looked at was four levels (lots of stairs) stacked high over a small footprint. Worse, it was common wall on the west, south and east, leaving only a north-facing exposure. And it had only a few windows. It was nice inside, but all those stairs and no natural light!

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      • I remember the days of dog walking in weather like this. I had it down pat! Thermal long johns top and bottom, sweat pant and jeans, and tee-shirt, sweater and then jacket.

        Even the dog had her booties. Great for protecting their paws from the ice and, more importantly, the salt. Sometimes after we’d cross a street poor Sam would try to lift all four paws off the ground at once. Their paws are basically open (to emit scents), so the salt really stings. We’d stop and I’d use clean snow to help.

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  16. Welcome back. You had me from the moment you mentioned the nuns. I’d like to be that calm too. Perhaps in my next life, cause it ain’t happenin’ in this one.

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    • Thanks – Buddhist nuns are always the first image I have in my head when I think of calmness. I can be that calm – if I’m sleeping.

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  17. Everyone on earth knows this feeling. But I think you really expressed it wonderfully. Your words put me right into that mindset. You drag us right through that rut with you and even though it’s unpleasant, since it’s in your writing, it’s very insightful. I usually like to quote my favorite lines when commenting but I liked so much of this that I couldn’t possibly pick only a few.

    Recently a few of my writing friends mentioned that they’d been disinterested in writing due to personal emergencies. I’ve tried to explain to them what you’ve figured out, that writing is always the greatest weapon against negativity. It’s a powerful tool and I’m happy you’re back in the swing of things. Best wishes and thank you for sharing.

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    • You’re absolutely right – whatever your “thing” is, whether it be writing or playing music or running, it should be the thing that you hold onto most during times of trouble. It’s like a life raft. Thanks for your kinds words and for taking the time to comment!

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