Vita Allegre (Joyful Living) is Ramona’s goal in my novel Dating da Vinci. While getting your groove back after a big loss (death, divorce) takes some time, I’ve gathered up 7 Joy Boosters that work for me to shift my energy and keep my spirits up. I’d love to hear yours in comments.
1. Singing really loud and dancing like a crazy person. People who ride with me know this. If you are easily embarrassed by a singing/car dancing driver, then by all means, Uber yo’self. But when I’m in a down mood, I seriously crank it. Current car dance favorite: Hood Go Crazy. May seem like a little thing, but a great road trip partner feels like hitting the jackpot. Going on dance competition road trips with my girlfriend Jill made all the difference and shopping with her for decorating clients is so much for fun than going alone. And I’m never, ever bored on a car trip with my guy. I think if you find someone you travel well with on both short and long trips and don’t feel the compulsion to open the door and leave them on the side of the road, that’s a very good sign.
2. Coffee and/or drinks with a girlfriend and one-on-one time with my kiddos. I love a great cup of java and a good red wine so adding in a girlfriend for a venting/laughter sesh turns that frown upside down. If it’s not possible to meet in person, a quick phone call can also do the trick. I also make an effort to schedule one-one-one time with each kid so I can tailor the activity for just them and give them undivided attention. (Which also means putting our phones away.) Since my kids are boy/girl/boy and spread apart in ages, it’s even more important I find that time to connect with them individually. My 17-year-old will watch the nerdiest documentaries with me on Netflix while my 15-year-old daughter says, “Mom! This isn’t health class!” Ha. So with her, it’s best to go shopping or find a ghost story or rom com to watch together.
3. Getting my nature on. It’s really hard to stay upset when you’re looking at a stream or standing in the path with a deer or looking out at the horizon from atop a mountain. Seriously, go try it. I dare you.
4. I work out. Getting my heart rate up is a complete no brainer to shift the brain chemistry and get the good feelings flowing. If I’m feeling anxious, I know 20 minutes on the stair master and treadmill will kill it. Feeling tense? Barre3 or Pilates provide a tough workout but also completely relaxes my mind with all the stretching and breathing and whatnot. Concentrating on those small movements keeps you in the present moment while kicking your ass. Love it. If you’re feeling angry, might I recommend kickboxing or lifting weights? Seems to work out my Hulk moods jes’ fine.
5. Kissing. My nerdy side loves the scientific reasoning behind a good lip-lock. In The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, author Sheril Kirshenbaum tells us, “The cascade of biological reactions during a passionate kiss plays a role. Research shows that kissing boosts levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine (which is involved in craving and desire) and serotonin (which elevates mood and can help spark obsessive thoughts about a partner). It also causes a jump in oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone,” whose release during orgasm triggers attachment between couples. She says kissing helps us evaluate the suitability of a partner, both in the beginning and assessing the health of a relationship long-term. I discuss the language of love in my novel, Dating da Vinci, but it’s way more fun in real life. Anyhoo, more please.
6. Change your scene. Those of you who have read Family Charms know I based the novel on my estrangement with my mother for twenty years. Our relationship has been a rubber band that stretches over the years and she reached out to me after hearing about my divorce. She’s been a very healthy and helpful presence in my life since last October and we get each other. Last December I was lying in bed on a Friday night in my studio apartment feeling lonely when I called her and she told me to get dressed and go to the mall just to change my scene and energy. I did and shopped for a gift for my daughter and bought a dress for a client’s holiday party, which prompted me to reach out to a guy I’d met earlier that week. He asked me to meet him at a restaurant in front of the mall. So my glum Friday turned into my first date and first kiss with a great guy who likes that I sing and dance like a crazy person in the car and goes on big and little adventures with me. So, yeah, change your scene, change your mood. You may even get a passionate kiss at the end of the night.
7. Try something new/go exploring. I thrive on change and learning so I probably have to do this more than the average bear, but I’ve found it’s not just big new adventures that can keep my spirits up, but those everyday adventures, too like taking the back roads to get to your destination. I also found out I get a high from other people having new experiences. When we took my kids to Carlton Landing and they kayaked for the first time and then to Grand Lake and my oldest learned how to drive a wave runner and when I met a friend for her first paddle board yoga class – it’s the same feeling I get when it’s me having the new adventure. Being an everyday adventurer means exploring wherever you are. When Chris and I stayed at the Waldorf in NYC, we explored the empty ballrooms and got to see much more than if we’d just segregated ourselves to our room and lobby. So reach out and invite someone to do something new with you. Of course writing about someone else’s new adventures works for me, too. In my brain, it’s as if I’ve lived it out. It’s still trippy to me how that works! I often tackle new writing challenges for this reason. Instead of writing from one woman’s point of view, I wrote about four women’s life transitions in Oklahoma City in my novel Something New. Now I’m working on my first mystery.
What about you? What works to keep your spirits up?