Ways to overcome a summer slump

Monday, July 5, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 5:21 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 3, 2008

For a couple of weeks, the dreary weather threw a monkey wrench into my reading program. I had a hard time concentrating, even though the library supplied me with a steady flow of interesting material. My latest writing project was requiring an inordinate amount of research, which usually is enough to spur me onward in my quest for a good read. For some reason, it hadn’t worked this time, and I think I had only completed two books in the past month compared to the two a week I would normally speed through.

The rain had not been conducive to my other normal activities. I still had not been fishing, and the paint that I purchased to paint the house was still in the storage shed. I am one of those people who always seem to be more affected by weather than others. My mood depends largely on the sun. Last week, I met only the third person in my life who absolutely loves gloomy days, and she’s been on a roll while I was just drifting from day to day and barely able to manage a faint smile.

I guess you could say I had the summer blahs, which is pretty unusual for me. The only way I make it through the winter is by looking forward to summer. Just being able to step outside without having to wear a jacket is enough to make me jump for joy. My first inclination was to take on a new hobby or interest. Unfortunately, I have more interests now than I have time to pursue.

I was not one of those millions who waited in line to buy President Clinton’s new book. I don’t own a book written by a U.S. president. I can normally be counted on to run as far away as possible from American politics, and I’m not at all interested in the private lives of politicians. Love trysts these days are so common that buying a book to read about one is something I would consider a waste of money.

A friend suggested that, considering my apathy, I should, maybe, take a vacation. Actually, I don’t think that with the price of gasoline I would find car travel enjoyable, and with the tales I hear about airport security, I’m afraid I lack the patience to endure that kind of experience. Besides, I was sure that once I had the pleasure of five consecutive days of sunshine, my energy level would get back to normal.

In the meantime, in spite of my doldrums, I had to face the reality that the season was sailing past and before we know it fall will be here again. With that thought in mind, I begrudgingly fell back into a habit I acquired a long time ago as a way of getting beyond the moodiness that tends to descend upon me when the weather gets gloomy. It’s something I recommend to others who face the same dilemma.

First, I find a quiet corner and pretend that it’s winter and I’m snowed in. Next, I pick up a pen and paper and list all the things I should have accomplished over the summer. For example, did I strip all the windows bare and wash them inside and out? Did I have all the window dressings cleaned and ready to put back in place when the windows were done? How about the carpets? Next comes the kitchen. What about all those items that have been stored in the freezer for several months? Have I taken them out, checked the dates and examined them for freezer burn?

I move into the office and take stock of that situation. I seem to remember that last winter my daughter-in-law rearranged my office and established storage categories for my papers. Have I checked for progress over the summer to make sure that I’m sticking to that program? Or will I have to start all over again?

After that, I’ll think to myself: Now that I’m back to having to shovel my path to the sidewalk, did I take advantage of all those opportunities I had to start walking the two miles a day that I thought would make me feel healthier? What happened to the yoga class I was supposed to enroll in so that I could learn to exercise at home during the winter?

By now, of course, the list is threatening to become a novella. Some people run marathons, others jog first thing in the morning and some folks swallow a fistful of vitamins as soon as they are out of bed. Personally, I have to write my way out of most situations. So, I say, folks are free to choose whatever floats their boat and gets them moving into the mainstream.

As I sit here writing, the weather is still gloomy, but my disposition has improved. I’ve taken the curtains down and before the day is over the window washing will begin. I’m reminded again of the old saying that the longest journey begins with a single step.

I’ve still got books to read, fish to catch and a house to paint. Somewhere in the world the sun is shining. Maybe tomorrow it will be here.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at

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