It is no secret, I’m sure, to long-time readers that I’ve been floundering a bit the last couple months. My full-time job has been getting the best of me lately, with several project deadlines looming around the end of the year. My Mom’s death in September has made focusing on anything besides grief difficult the last two months, though I have had to try to put one foot in front of the other and get back to a semi-normal routine. Because I am a glutton for punishment, we have also decided to move this month.
“Sadness” by Eric Perrone
While all those factors have conspired to affect motivation in several areas of my life, what has really suffered is my writing. Thanks to a number of close blogging friends, I have had no shortage of guest posts to present here at Frugal Dad (Neal from WealthPilgrim.com is sharing another great one with us this Friday!) since they learned of my mom’s passing. These breaks in the action are welcomed, but I do feel a little guilty for not cranking out material at the pace I once did.
Just yesterday I missed my first Monday post in nearly two years of blogging. I wasn’t motivated to write. I had an incredibly busy weekend of packing and moving boxes, etc, and when I finally sat down late Sunday night at the keyboard there was nothing left. No witty budget concepts. No rants about self-reliance. No new reviews to tell you about. Had I finally run out of things to say?
Fortunately, not yet. I had simply run out of steam. I was losing focus, and not just with my writing. I am not sure if it is depression or just the normal grieving process, but after losing a parent (who also happened to be my best friend, besides my wife), you sort of go through a period of just going through the motions.
I wake up, eat a quick breakfast, kiss the wife and kids and drive to work. I check my email, my to-do list, keep busy, leave in the evenings, play with the kids a while, work on the blog and go to bed. But when I go to bed feeling completely exhausted I can’t recall the specifics of the day. Did I even ask my kids how their day was at dinner? Did I remember to send that status email on the big project at work? Did I remember to pay the utility bill online? And for just a moment, just a split second, I don’t even care. I just want to go to bed to put this day in the books and do it all again tomorrow.
The problem is when you find yourself in one of these funks the days just start to slide by. Life starts happening to you, instead of you being in control. The budget gets relaxed. Old, bad spending habits come to the forefront again. You stray from healthy eating and start refueling on crap from fast food restaurants and vending machines. You distance yourself from loved ones. And the worst part? When you are going through it, you aren’t even aware it is happening.
At some point you snap out of it; like a fog lifting in the middle of the morning. Things start to become meaningful again. It is at this point that you recognize the days have been sliding by, and you start grabbing for moments before they can get by you. Yes, I’ll be at my son’s next football game, and instead of watching alone at the fence down from the bleachers, I’ll be among the other fans cheering for our kids’ team. Yes, I will again be my former productive self at work. Yes, I will balance my checkbook and take a stab at a new budget for the next month. I will re-engage life.
This was really just a long way to say thanks for sticking around during this tough time. I have some exciting ideas for the blog in the coming months, including a few spring projects I think you will enjoy (mostly related to square foot gardening, living off the grid, etc.). I’m going to rededicate myself to getting back to my frugal roots over the next few weeks, and hopefully my writing will reflect that focus.
Finally, if you are reading this and feeling blue, or more than blue, I suggest you talk to someone. It doesn’t have to be a professional holding a psychology degree, though I would certainly recommend one if you are experiencing signs of depression. Go out to lunch with a close friend and open up about what you’ve been feeling. Sometimes it helps to simply get things off your chest, and let someone else know what you are going through. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the symptoms and let too many days slide by.