Posted by: susanideus | April 17, 2011

Ban the Funk!

For some time now, I’ve been in a writing funk. No inspiration, no enthusiasm, no words put down on paper. Writer’s block? Perhaps, but the funk seemed to spill over into other areas too. Depression? Maybe, but I’ve dealt with that before and it didn’t quite feel the same. The “fibro fog” that goes along with my chronic fibromyalgia? Might be part of it, and yet… No label or self-diagnosis seemed to fit. Until now.

I have been living in the grip of fear, in fact, paralyzed by it. Not the acute terror of imminent danger or death, but nonetheless fear.

Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future. ~Fulton Oursler

The past few years have been tough ones, personally in terms of illness, financial woes, unemployment and so on–and the world at large has been in constant throes of wars and natural disasters.

I’ve never been fond of change and these years have really packed a wallop. So much has turned out differently than I had envisioned. Plans went awry. Some dreams were never realized; some may be gone for good.

Serious back surgery that left me with a still lingering muscular problem and resulting weeks of unpaid leave from work.  Followed not too much later by my husband’s unforseen extended unemployment. Finances crashed. Savings gone. My car repossessed. Nothing that could have been planned; nothing that, in the end, we could have prevented. Certainly nothing we would ever have imagined or dreamed would transpire in our life. Sometimes stuff  just happens. Month after month of stress and worry. Something needed to change.

It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear . . . . It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.  ~Marilyn Ferguson

We made the decision to move back to New Mexico, something I’d wanted for a long time. We visited first, and hubby found a job we thought would be ideal. So good, in fact, that the decision was made for me to retire and go on Social Security. We moved in early June and life seemed good.

Scarcely three months passed when the job went sour. The ownership decided to sell the property in the next year or so, and their priorities changed. Minimum hours except for hubby on salary, no budget to work with, no support from management. Worse, the health insurance we’d counted on turned out to be prohibitively expensive with the changes in the workplace causing changes in coverage. So, for the first time in the 40 plus years we’ve been married, we are uninsured. Truly troubling.

Friends and family members have experienced some truly trying times. Illnesses, deaths, hard times that I know are all a part of living, but some days it just seems like so much to take in, doesn’t it?

I’m also exposed to a lot more news since I no longer work outside my home. Very rarely is the news good–or at least what is reported is not. From shootings to catastrophic storms to wars to earthquakes. I am concerned about what happens in the world and I do care what happens to my fellow humans, but the coverage has been so intense. It has affected me more than I realized.

So much change so quickly. So many plans and dreams wrecked on the shore of reality. I think I finally shut down. I felt defeated and worn down, searching in vain for the lessons life was trying to teach. I began to feel like a victim, a failure, a fraud.

Change is inevitable, except from vending machines.  ~ Unknown

So what to do? I can’t stop change, nor would I really want to. To not change is to not live.

To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily.  To not dare is to lose oneself.  ~Soren Kierkegaard

Funks are not fun, nor are they funny. I’ve been so stunned by all that’s gone on in my life lately that I found myself unwilling to do anything that involves a risk. So, I ask myself, what in life that is worth doing does not involve risk? Hmmmm……

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live. ~Leo F. Buscaglia

I knew I had to make a conscious decision about whether I was going to stay in the funk or venture back out into life. I’ve mentioned that I seem to be experiencing life in sepia tones, devoid of color and just flat. There’s just too much to see in life for that to continue. I’m tired of monotones! I long for color and contrast and definition. I want to once again see beauty and to be grateful for the good and the wondrous there is all around me. Gratitude seems to have drained from my daily life as well. The desert around me is coming to life and I must as well.

Wait, I’m still in the same circumstances and the same crazy world. What makes me think I can make things different? Two of my favorite quotes point me in the right direction:

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.  ~ Maya Angelou
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. ~Corrie Ten Boom

Perhaps it is that simple. Change the way I think. I’m the only one who has control over the way I respond to what happens to me. If I have allowed the circumstances of my present to steal away all my joy, the very color from my world, all of my gratitude and my contentment, then I must find a way to regain all of that. I feel like I’m fighting for my existence. Maybe I am. Since change comes hard for me, small steps to start…

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Consciously look for sources of joy and color and pleasure and peace and contentment–all of the things I’ve been missing. Shift my focus outward and bring a smile and small joys to others. (Maybe I’ve been indulging in self-pity as much as experiencing a funk. Hmmm…) Turn off the TV news! Begin once again to practice gratitude daily. It’s easy enough to say “I’m grateful I wasn’t in the tsunami” or “I’m grateful I don’t have the problems of…”, but that’s not it at all. I want to be truly grateful for my life and what’s in it, not in comparison to someone else’s circumstances. I need to be here and now, aware and awake.

The happiness of life is made up of minute fractions – the little, soon forgotten charities of a kiss or smile, a kind look, a heart-felt compliment, and the countless infinitesimals of pleasurable and genial feeling.  ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

So it’s forward from here! Ban the funk! Back to living! Maybe along the way, if I’m observant and open, I’ll learn some lessons from all of this–the trials and travails, the craziness in the world, the funk itself, and the fight to get back. Oh yes, and I’ll keep writing.

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. I truly empathize with you Susan – my life’s rhythms have been close to yours for the past 10 plus years! Ban the Funk is a GREAT motto – I am thinking about having a tee-shirt made:) Ed (hubby) has a tee-shirt that says “Age isn’t a problem if you have money. Oh Crap…”
    Thinking of you as you work your way through your funk – I am sure you will come out on the other side with flying colors…

    • You know, Lo, it is a matter of rhythm–it’s like the rhythm is off and I can’t get it to feel right. We’re making it, and I know we’ll be OK. Would love to have a shirt like Ed’s. I also need one like I used to have. It said “Whatever”–not in the smart aleck sense but more a realization and acknowledgment that whatever happens, we are not in control but there is One that is. Thanks for your encouraging words.

  2. Susan, I’m sorry things aren’t going well right now. I do relate to your description of fear and funk. I’m glad you’ve gotten back to writing, and that you’ve let us know what’s happening. And that you’re ready to ban the funk. My best to you and Harold, and welcome back.

    • Thanks for the good wishes, Kathy. Many days, the smiles I get from reading your blog help me put things in perspective. I need to resolve to smile a whole lot more. Enough wallowing! There’s another quote from one of my favorite baseball guys Sparky Anderson:
      “People who live in the past generally are afraid to compete in the present. I’ve got my faults, but living in the past is not one of them. There’s no future in it.”

      Time to pull myself into the present and look forward. Writing is one way I’ll do it. Reading wise words from friends is another!

  3. Sending positive thoughts your way and curses on the funk that’s bugging you.
    Do something pure fun today, just for yourself. And find something to laugh at. That always helps me. Hang in there and good luck

    • Smiling and laughing are good antidotes, Pat. I have to reach some days to be sure I don’t lose my sense of humor through all this. Have a day of pleasure reading planned today. That helps!

  4. Hi Susan,

    I hear you Sister! I have found these times difficult as well. You are brave to lay it out in words to identify ‘it’, and claim ‘it.’ These are the first steps to healing. Practice gratitude, and “Ban the Funk.” I would buy one of those shirts ReaderWoman. Take us through your journey of banning the funk. Love HawkLady

    • I’ve been thinking about the process. I realize I’ve neglected some good habits like gratitude and faith and awareness. I’ve been like a hibernating bear. Time to get movin’!

  5. How is banning the funk going? Love Helen

    • Working on it, sister. I’m reading Swander’s THE DESERT PILGRIM. Seeing lot of desert analogies in what’s going on.

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