- On November 26, 2019
- 16 Comments
- empowerment, enclothed cognition, holidays, mental health, mojo, vulnerability
I lost my mojo
So this has been a heck of year. The precariousness of our nation. The undeniable effects of the climate crisis. The hatred and inequities that are ever more apparent. The unrelenting feeling that the world is pretty much falling apart.
Then there is my mother’s death and the changes in my father’s life. Other unexpected situations, serious illnesses in our families, and aging – including our sweet dog, and most recently, the passing of my very dear friend, Hanna Cooper, after she courageously lived with pancreatic cancer for three years.
Hanna was strong, wickedly funny, straightforward, and crazy smart. She ran her own business as a leadership coach for 10+ years, and was an invaluable mentor to me in the journey of entrepreneurship and one of my biggest cheerleaders. She faced cancer with dignity, persistence, and determination, and fiercely loved her family. I miss her. So many people miss her.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” – Ian MacLaren
Our regular life is hectic by nature (a lot of it good, some challenging) all on its own. Add the events of this year, and honestly something has to give. You know the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” It’s true.
I know I’m not alone in the struggle of the “sandwich generation,” where many of us in middle age are addressing the needs of both our parents and our children at home, along with facing our own aging and responsibilities, and the increasing frequency of loss and curveballs. Everyone faces challenges – it’s part of life. And some challenges and some times are much more difficult than others.
Keeping it real
I think it’s important to keep it real, and we can support each other if we acknowledge (even on social media – GASP) that life isn’t all wine and roses and fake-perfect. Feeling low, losing your mojo, suffering, grief, depression, and all the hard things – whatever its name is, it’s hard.
I work to practice mindfulness (that phrasing is deliberate – it is very much a work in progress). I am truly grateful for the abundance in my life. And there are days where I’m slogging to get through. At the beginning of the year right after my mom’s death, there were a lot of those. Distracted, sad, stressed, and anxious were the norm.
One area that was particularly difficult was the non-client aspects of my business – social media, the blog, business development, and marketing. The hard stuff for me. The stuff that requires focus, persistence, and energy. My client relationships are what saved me – working with amazing people to have their clothing reflect their amazingness and authenticity. They are what give me energy, especially this past year. They are what keep me going, because I can’t imagine not doing that work.
Seeking the professional help of a good therapist and working with my nurse practitioner and acupuncturist have helped tremendously. I feel like I’m back. I can’t say it enough to seek help if you are feeling low. No one should have to bear that – we only get one life, after all. And there are many ways to seek help – find what’s right for you.
At the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, the expectations and inevitable disappointments, and the envy we can experience if our situation seems – or is – less than others’. Mental health issues can feel bigger during the holidays, and many in our northern cold and gray climate, including me, are managing Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Again – transparency. And vulnerability. Hanna strongly believed that we should speak our truth, even when it feels vulnerable – perhaps most importantly when it feels vulnerable. When you feel like something is at stake, that is where true connection lies. I’m talking openly about managing low-grade depression because it is a part of my life. There shouldn’t be shame in that. Will it make people want to run away from me, or lose faith in my abilities? I sure hope not. I know I don’t have that reaction when I hear or read about others’ journeys – I find it inspiring and comforting. May this be how you see it as well. And if my story in some way helps even one person, it’s well worth the risk.
Finding your mojo through your clothes
I’m not going to lie: clothing doesn’t fix everything. That said, it IS a powerful tool that can be transformative. It can take you from feeling horrible to feeling, at minimum, intentional. And sometimes, that single step of intention can make all the difference in the world. Putting on clothing that feels authentic and fits you well – no matter your body type – fosters feelings of confidence and strength.
Dressing with intention impacts how you show up in the world, which impacts your sense of wellbeing. Read about it in detail in this 2017 post about “enclothed cognition,” which serendipitously also includes a beautiful reflection exercise I learned from Hanna. Over time, the results can actually rewire your brain to feel more confident about yourself overall. It’s happened with me personally, and I’ve seen it happen with client after client. Feeling good on the outside helps you to feel good on the inside.
As the holiday season begins, first and foremost, treat yourself with kindness. Tell yourself how awesome you are, in your imperfect human-ness. I know I’ll be telling myself this and trying hard to listen. Dress UP! It will feel good. And remember, everyone is carrying a burden of some sort, even if they don’t express it.
If you are feeling symptoms of depression, please don’t be afraid to seek help. And if you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.