Mental Health Monday, Motivation

Rainy Day Blues

Number one rule in life: Make your own sunshine.

My grandfather taught that to my mother who taught it to me and I’m teaching it to you. It’s underestimated in its strength and it’s weirdly deep. For me, it has a history rooted in my childhood but its importance came through my own discovery and application of the phrase.

Buzz the Bee tip no. 7: Make your own sunshine!

When I was a kid, I thought it was silly but listened to it anyway. Something about the statement resonated with me. Unlike some of the other things my parents may have said on a loop, this stuck with me. And I’m really glad it did.

It started with the rainy days. And boy did we have a lot. The statement always surfaced on these rainy days because of the obvious lack of sunshine. I couldn’t go outside and run around, explore the pond, or play in the grass. I was inside (and I liked it inside) with no choice in the matter.

But where did my attachment start?

I vividly remember standing in the breakfast area of the house which has big windows looking west. I must have been about 4, if that. It was pitch black, the clouds were scary, and it was clearly going to storm…big time. I felt sad. The storm was going to ruin my play time. I couldn’t go outside and the trees might get hurt (yes, I was that kid). The deep worry mingled with fear and sadness strikes me to this day. I was so young and felt that dreary day darkness so vividly. My mother was there, as mothers always are, and changed my perception. She smiled down at me and said, “Well, looks like we’re going to have to make our own sunshine.” And just like that, the dark days of my life changed. If it was dark and dreary (rain optional) you could bet I was making my own sunshine. My mom and I built forts, we played games, we watched movies, ate popsicles and watched the storm, you name it, we did it. All in the hunt of making our own sunshine.

If it was dark and dreary (rain optional) you could bet I was making my own sunshine. My mom and I built forts, we played games, we watched movies, ate popsicles and watched the storm, you name it, we did it. All in the hunt of making our own sunshine.

The days without the sun stopped seeming dark. They were exciting, unplanned days where I got to explore the ways I could make my own sunshine. If it was dark and dreary (rain optional) you could bet I was making my own sunshine. And it was beautiful.

Now, none of these things make light, I know. Though the forts did glimmer with the dull rays of a lost flashlight and the flicker of the TV did illuminate the vaulted ceilings, none of the activities could physically be substituted for the sun. In my mind’s eye, however, those dark and rainy days are some of the brightest.

To this day, I still get overly excited when I wake up to a cloudy day. Or better yet, a series of very dark, very stormy days. They’re special to me. They’re my happiest days.

It sounds silly, right? Well, how is an adult going to make their own sunshine? Can’t build forts. Can’t just sit around eating popsicles. Can’t just “play”, there’s work to do.

First of all, who told you that adults have to be so boring? Why can’t you do those things? Theoretically, work does get in the way. But you can build a fort when you get home. Or you can have popsicles when you wake up (it is to a breakfast food, shh). Or you can brighten up your workspace with stuff that makes you smile and happy.

Honestly, adults have more options to make their own sunshine. You don’t have to be at the whim of a parent’s suggestion (though my mom made some AWESOME suggestions).

There are a couple things that help in making your own sunshine, and it’s why kids are better at it.

1. Don’t take yourself so seriously.

Kids are amazing at this. And it’s a skill a lot of adults lose, unfortunately. It’s pretty easily remedied by having fun and relaxing the boundaries and rules you put on yourself. If you take yourself crazy seriously, all you’re doing is limiting the happiness you’ll feel.

2. Open your eyes to the world.

There’s a big, big world out there. It’s easier to make your own sunshine if you can see different things to inspire you. It’s not just, get up, eat, work, home, sleep. It’s the flowers along the way. The smell of the rain, the clouds marching above you, the aliveness of the Earth. And everything in between.

3. Imagine. 

This is hard for adults a lot of times. It comes from taking yourself too seriously, chiding the imagination (that’s just kid stuff), and from losing the ability over the years, amongst other reasons. When you haven’t done it in awhile, it’s hard. You look at a blank canvas and are completely overwhelmed. But that’s okay, that’s a step. Remember, when you’re imagining anything is good enough.

These helps open you to learning how to make your own sunshine on dreary days but leaves you with the question, “How do I make my own sunshine?”

Easy, like this.IMG_20170501_115128_150.jpg

It’s been windy and rainy the last few days here. While I was walking my puppy, I saw some blown down lilacs (my absolute favorite flower) and scooped them up. Lilacs make me happy. Their scent calms me and simultaneously makes my heart skip. I love them and I can’t be miserable with them around. I brought them into the house and arranged them on my desk. All day, I’ve been able to smell them faintly, or lean over and breathe in the full strength of the scent. Just looking over at them inspires me and keeps me motivated throughout the day. Granted, it’s not a big production of making your own sunshine, but it is a production none the less. It’s a lilac sun created to make me smile all day long.

It doesn’t have to be big.

You can buy yourself some flowers to keep at work, to smell when you get stressed (you get a bonus deep breath too). You can get some chocolate or color in a coloring book (those are super popular right now). Dance to some music! Put up Christmas lights around your room (I have them up).

The idea of making your own sunshine is not about making actual sunlight. It is about making yourself happy.

It’s self-love.

That is something we don’t get a lot of and practicing making our own sunshine on cloudy days, helps us prepare for self-love and self-soothing techniques on mentally cloudy days. If I’m really stressed or upset, I know dancing, building a fort, or eating candy and watching the sky will cheer me up. And it’s important that we know what helps cheer us up.

On dark days, physical or otherwise, make your own sunshine. Do something that makes you happy, makes you laugh, makes you calm. Love yourself and watch the clouds not seem so dark.

1 thought on “Rainy Day Blues”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s