taking care of me

So, what do you do when your usual fall slump arrives, and then decides to stick with you rather than lifting after a week or so as it usually does?  That is what I’ve been trying to figure out for myself over these past few months.  I hesitate to call it a depression, because that is, well, depressing, not to mention a little scary.  I think it’s safe to say though, that when the act of leaving my bedroom each morning was overwhelming me, insomnia was plaguing me, and happy memories were making me sad, that I was just that:  depressed.  I am owing it to relatively minor health issues that have plagued me lately, really my first time dealing with this sort of thing.  Because when your body won’t cooperate, it’s hard to know exactly what to do, especially when I have so many other bodies to care for.  I also still carry with me a grief that feels new surrounding the unexpected loss of my stepmother in 2010.  It doesn’t go away.  It’s a learning experience, navigating life without one of my parents.

After running around to way too many inconclusive appointments in recent months, I’ve come to some simple conclusions about myself on my own, and I am finally feeling better.  In some ways I am trying to accept the way that I feel, and doing my best to move forward without fear of my feelings.  I am fighting this gently; I am trying to nurture.  Alongside making some dietary changes, I’ve found an important piece to my well being, something that really I’ve known since I was a small child.  I must spend time outdoors every day, even when it’s cold outside.  This becomes tricky when I am wearing layers of wool indoors just to stay warm.  For weeks, I felt that I just couldn’t get warm no matter what I did.  But, I’ve been doing it, cold or not:  I’ve been taking a walk nearly every day.  And our Virginia winter is being kind so far.  This week we have highs in the fifties.  It’s wonderful.  But even when the air burns my lungs, I’ve found that just a fifteen minute walk does something very positive for me, something necessary.  Nature brings my joy to the surface.  At first I was convinced that I needed to take my walks alone, to have time to think, to process, to pray without interruption.  I’ve discovered though, that it’s just as well if I am joined by my children and they often do.  I enjoy the lone walks, the ones in which I can stop and listen to just the birds, but company is nice too.  During a spell of cold days last week, I realized that a hat would help tremendously in keeping me warmer on my walks.  Over the weekend I came down with a cold and decided to drop all plans and knit myself that hat.  I’ve never knit myself a hat before!  I knit this one very quickly, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I like that the pattern shares my stepmother’s name:  Jane.  It’s supposed to slouch, but I’m not good with that sort of thing, positioning and such.  It’s soft and comfortable and warm, and that is what I needed.  I like my hat.  Jonny followed me around on my walk this week to take pictures of me wearing it.  Then, last night, Larkspur and I took a walk at dusk and shared my camera (she wanted to share my hat as well, so maybe I’ll knit her one too.)  I think that Larkspur captured my favorite (slightly goofy) photo of myself ever, holding a fat, (slightly annoyed) Intruder kitty.  I have to say that I look like a different person in these photos than the one I feel I’ve been these past months.  I think I can see myself again.

The other night I dreamt that the dogwoods were blooming, and soon enough they will be.


  1. Andrea N. says:

    I think that cat was smiling when you held him, probably because he likes your marvelous hat!

  2. Hang in there! I’ve just recently found your blog and I do so enjoy it. A daily walk is my vitamin too! As is drawing, painting, knitting and crocheting. Many blessings to you and your sweet little chicks.

  3. Sorry you haven’t been feeling well. These photos are beautiful. You are a beautiful person inside and out.
    I will say I had been in a slump and feeling overwhelmed with it all. I went to see my Dr and she found I am still severely anemic. I am afraid that will mean a minor outpatient procedure, I’m terrified to be under anesthesia but owe it to my family and myself to put on my big girl panties and do it so I can have the energy to enjoy life again! Beautiful hat, I haven’t knit one for myself either. I wonder if I will have enough yarn once I’ve knit these gloves for a hat too?! I might have to go purchase another skein as I am loving the yarn. I’m working with.

  4. I’m wondering whether a quick blood test to check your thyroid might also be a good idea. I know it is cold where you are at the moment but when you can’t get warm deep down in your body sets off a little nag for me. It could be your immune system is just a bit low but worth a check I think, especially if you are feeling very tired and haven’t been sleeping well and you are on the thin side love, no offence. It could also explain the drepressed feelings too. Hope you feel better soon. x

  5. I need to take a daily walk myself for the same reasons but I rarely do. I have no idea why. I just can’t do it. It seems insane to say but usually I just can’t do it. I have no explanation. I have two dogs to walk. They need to walk. I try for at least twice a week but even that is a push.

    What you said about your stepmother really hit me hard. My mother was just diagnosed with advanced stage pancreas cancer. So many thoughts to work through.

  6. I feel so deeply that those who create beauty, those who send beautiful words and pictures and products out into the world are left with a deep hole after the object of joy and beauty is set free.
    What you do in life and in this space is so beautiful, it isn’t a shock you’re left a bit empty. You’re ideas and projects and words and pictures will come and inspiration will fill the space.
    At least it is my beautiful hope for you.

  7. It is freezing here today (10 degrees at noon) and I’ve been thinking of hunkering down with my knitting. And maybe taking a nap. But reading your post has inspired me to bundle up and take the dogs for a walk. Even if it is a short walk, we’ll all feel better by getting out! Hope your alone time walking is helping even a tiny bit. And I absolutely love the picture with you and the kitty!

  8. Ginny, You are so beautiful. Thank you for this post- your honestly is healing for me. I, too, have been feeling not like myself. I have spoken to friends that feel the same. Perhaps there is something going on larger than we know… Perhaps we are being prepared for something? I have been trying to keep a written journal and my entry last Thursday was pitiful. I just feel so much that I feel nothing at all- or maybe I feel so little that it is overwhelming??? Perhaps a nice walk outside would cure that. The desire seems to beckon from somewhere deep but I often ignore it. I would have to strap on the baby and get the kids bundled up (not today, though!!!) and it often seems like more work than I want to do. All the same, I really need to get out. We all do. For our sanity. Sending you much love and well wishes (and a prayer or two:)

    xoxo, Cary

  9. What a perfectly lovely hat! 🙂 and sending love and prayers that you will be feeling better soon…..

  10. Dear Ginny,
    I´m sorry to read you are feeling like that. Just want to send you loads of cheers and love. Take it easy on yourself and give you some time. It looks like you know what to do and sounds right. Take care of yourself and let your self be cared. Thank you for your beautiful and inspiring blog.

  11. I am glad to hear that you are taking care of yourself. I, too, medicate with nature when I feel the world close in on me too much. My resolution is a hike a week for the year.

  12. Wishing you much peace, and hoping you feel more and more like yourself again soon. -Jaime

  13. I like your hat too:)

  14. Kelli Mayhorn says:

    Dearest Ginny,
    Tis the season for these emotions for sure. And you are not alone. Though our situations are different, I can tell you I am experiencing the very things you speak of. It seems a trend of mine to be pregnant in fall and winter…all three have been this way. And though I look forward to new life and the joy of bringing another child in the world, these last few weeks of pregnancy always leave me feeling less than…well just less. Less than adequate I guess. It isn’t enough that winter shrouds us in this dreary, lifelessness sometimes, but then (for me at least, at this current time) I’m plagued with the what if’s and how to’s of being a mommy of three. I hope this doesnt seem silly, as you are a mother of six and I so admire you and your patience in that. I just wonder how it’s all going to be possible…logistically I guess. Mothering three littles, all different personalities and going through their own trying seasons and now embarking on inevitable change.
    Yes…I find myself in a funk as well. But I also see the light at the end…I feel the hope of all things new. And like you, I long for the day that I see me again. Not this dark cloud of a person I feel moping around most days.
    I am certainly praying for you. And I thank you for your candidness in sharing your feelings as well. In our hopes of commenting to let you know you are not alone, you have reassured us that neither are we. And that is a good feeling, my friend.
    I love the hat. I more than love the pictures.
    Here’s to brighter days.

  15. kimberly schildbach says:

    Ok ya know we (all) / me thought you were preggers!! Ok, maybe just me. I figured less posts = morning sickness. I hope you LOVED the Catholicism DVD. I’m watching it again. Feel well friend.

    Oh, and we are beginning the adoption process! A little girl who is blind in Bulgaria 🙂 Love!

  16. You look so cute! I love those pictures and your hair, it looks so cute coming out from under the hat, flipping out as it does. I’m glad your feeling better! Can you believe it is Mid-January? We’ll blink and it’s going to be Spring again. Time to plan the garden! Sometimes I just feel too tired, too tired to do anything other than survival necessities. But getting outside, working in the dirt, it’s a good thing that I need to force myself to do this year. Thinking about giving a couple of beds to the boys and letting them plan, plant and maintain all on their own. Okay, let’s talk soon. Love you!

  17. Ginny – as you can tell from other comments you are not alone in this. I have dealt with depression and have also dealt with big long slumps and have found a few ways to help myself through. A long time ago when it was a horrible depression that affected everything I did a trip to the Doctor was the only help for myself and my marriage. Since then – becoming a Mom, a stay at home Mom and still a wife of a very busy but wonderful man – I have discovered that there are places that simply give me my energy when I feel in that slump. For me it is the mountains or the ocean – being closer to the mountains I take a drive once a week or so with my camera and get re-energized just being there. My grandmother told me once there are energy givers and energy takers both in people and nature – for me the mountains and ocean are the givers.
    The other thing I found recently is flower essences – I use Rescue Remedy from time to time and on a daily basis when I am in a slump Joy Tonic by Urban Moonshine. My Mom has been using very successfully 5HTP a natural alternative to anti-depressants.
    Enjoy your walk today, I will be thinking of you on my next trip up the mountain.

  18. Thank you for writing this, Ginny. It brought me to tears as it expressed so well what I have been feeling for the past months, also due to health issues. I’ve been thinking about getting outside more – even I’ve also being doing everything I can to stay warm indoors. Our winters are significantly colder but today I will pull on my snow pants and head out in it. Your honesty is a gift to so many here – thank you for sharing.
    P.S. I recently heard (in the food doc, Food Matters) that niacin can do remarkable things for depression (although I’ve hesitated to call mine that, also). I’m going to give it a try. Perhaps it would help?

  19. I think we all fall into slumps from time to time. I too find that walks in nature seem to make me feel loads better. I made a quick decision last weekend to load the car up with kids and head to the parks trails even though there was a laundry monster in our bathroom closet. I don’t regret it one bit.

  20. Ginny,

    I am glad to hear that you are feeling a bit better. When the cold months hit here in Minnesota, I desperately miss my herbs and flowers. Not only seeing them, but their scent, touch, and just knowing that they are there doing their gracious job…gives me comfort & joy. If I’m feeling sad, even looking out a window can be a quick pick me up some times, reminding me of what’s to come in late Spring. Garden catalogs, books and creating art work of nature related themes also helps me.

  21. I enjoy your honesty and I hope your spirits are lifted. I’m glad you are finding something to make you feel better. I love that your daughter is following in your photography footsteps. You make a great team.

  22. Just thought I’d pass along an article I read this morning. It says the state of VA will pay people to keep bees!!


  23. I am so happy that you are feeling better and your soul is being nurtured by God’s beautiful creation. I found a little head of rhubarb poking up out of the ground yesterday and, well, you can probably imagine what those crumpled leaves did for me. Fabulous hat!

  24. Such a nice portrait of you and your cat, nicely done Larkspur!

  25. You live in such a beautiful place. I would want to be outdoors too! I love your hat, your photos and your cat. All the best in 2013!

  26. Hi Ginny,

    New commenter! I’ve been reading for awhile — I’m a wannabe-knitter who also lives in Virginia — and knew I had to comment on this post. It’s often difficult to explain to my husband or even others outside of our family why I have such a tough time on days that I can’t get outside to just breathe nature’s air or why I’m so obsessed with our screened-in porch. It means I can sit outside and relish in nature’s gifts, even if it’s pouring. To some of us, it’s not just a way to enjoy time with our children or to get exercise — it’s a necessity!


  27. Oh, I can relate to you through the words you wrote! You put the feelings and thoughts into words that ring true with me as well. And yes- walking outside (or running) every day is crucial. I imagine that some people function OK without connecting with nature every day- but I am not one of them. I must get outside every day.
    Keep walking. 🙂

  28. Dear Ginny, I don’t comment here very often, but today I just wanted to say you are not alone. I will think about you and send good vibes from Romania 🙂
    Intruder seems to be a happy clever boy. Just look at his face when he’s in your arms!! He definitely loves you.

  29. I currently in a new year slump.

    love the hat

    san x

  30. Ginny, your hat is gorgeous and you look beautiful. Love the pic with Intruder cat too 🙂 It’s funny how waves of feeling down can just overwhelm us sometimes and like so many others, I can so relate to how you are feeling. Having lived most of my life in Africa, and being outdoors so much, I now find the UK winters hard – but getting out and having a walk and taking time to be overwhelmed by the beauty of God’s creation and His immense love for us, is a huge step forward. Well done for recognizing that and making the effort.
    Be blessed,
    love Gilly xx

  31. that walk looks so beautiful, no wonder your spirits are revived. i’d agreed with the mention of s.a.d, it affects many mildly, and just 15 minitues a day outdoors can make a big improvement in mood. also experiencing sun rise and setting with minimal artificial light if you can also seems to help. hoping your lift persists x

  32. Your transparency has encouraged so many of us. Thank you for sharing. I prayed that you would not lean on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him and He will make your paths straight. Walking those straight paths in His wonderful Creation is such a joy for me too! I call it Nature Therapy!

  33. I think you need time out from being Mum. You need time to reflect on who you are as a women.
    Us Mums so very quickly give so much of ourselves to others that need it, we tend to save some time to remember the woman we are. I too used to feel cold all the time, and was put on underactive thyroid pills and they work very well. Having thyroid trouble also made me very tired indeed. You may need to get your blood work done and see.
    Please try and take walks by yourself as I think you would benefit from it tremendously. The children can accompany you another time. Just you, your camera, and nature. It will do you a world of good. Perhaps Dad can take over your motherly duties why you are trying to recover and find yourself again. Women can get lost of who they are so easily and quickly once the children come along.
    God Bless

  34. I understand. I SOOOO understand.

  35. beautiful girl, sending hugs and much love. i could have written this too, well, if i were as eloquent as you. good to know you knit yourself a hat, finally. and i do love that photo too, well done jonny and larkspur, these are all lovely.

  36. Ginny,
    You look so peaceful on your walks. And that hat is a beauty, it suits you so well.

    My spirit needs time outside every day for me to feel joyful. I completely relate on that one. This time of year I don’t always want to go out, but I’m trying to get myself to do it even if I don’t feel like it because I know I’ll feel better afterwards. I’ve been feeling so exhausted lately, making things challenging. Walks outdoors would be just the thing to recharge me, I believe.
    I appreciate your open honesty. I keep discovering more things as time goes on that help get me out of funks. Walks are at the top of the list, but I don’t do them enough. Thank you for reminding me!


  37. Ginny I can relate so very much, albeit it being the peak of summer here. Turning 35 has brought upon some interesting health challenges awaiting test results and not being able to eat much at all which affects how I can care for the family. I too need nature and outdoors to function – perhaps that’s why I love reading your blog so! xx Hope you are having a good day today. xx Yes, seasonal affective disorder is interesting too and I have read some articles about family members living with Asperger’s in the home, ‘The Cassandra Affect’ – similar presentation to SAD. xx Some days I don’t know if it is the lack of sunshine or the Asperger’s – or maybe just my head!

  38. Thank you for posting this. It is honest and beautiful and as you can see from the comments, finds so many of us in a similar boat. I am glad to see you have found something that helps you and hope that the returning sunshine helps as each new day adds a couple more minutes of light. You are in our prayers and you made a lovely hat.

  39. xox

  40. Glad to hear that the walks are helping. Hang in there, spring is around the bend.

  41. Hi Ginny,

    I clicked through from Elizabeth’s blog. Beautiful photos of the wedding btw. If you were my friend, sister, cousin, neighbor, whatever, I’d have a gigantic canvas of one of those photos of you. You are so you! Your Jonny must love you very much to follow you around with a camera. I hear ya on the blues. Some passive things that you can do to force your brain to think positive (it’s an upward spiral…negative thoughts release chemicals that suck your whole body in and down-it’s physiological) is listen to podcasts which inspire and uplift you. I’d say the same about blogs but that can make you do nothing for too long. Get them on itunes for free. Your commitment to getting outside every day is great, too.

  42. Oh gosh, Ginny. I could have written this word for word! My turning point was last year…after spending two days crying (and for no apparent reason) I finally said I needed to get this under control. My depression was linked to a whole slew of health issues-imbalanced hormones, vit D deficiency, adrenal fatigue, candida overgrowth… I am much better now with diet changes and supplements, but still have some days where it is difficult to make it through. Thank you for sharing. Hugs to you and prayers for healing, of mind, body and spirit.

  43. Sending warm sunny vibes from Australia to you. It is 109 degrees here today but undaunted I continue to knit my socks. Loved your socks the other day by the way.

  44. I hear ya Ginny. This time of year is hard for this tropical gal. Walks are indeed good!!! I try to do same.
    Love the hat! xo 🙂

  45. I have never commented on your blog before, but I had to say that I’m so sorry to hear that you have been struggling – I have had depression since my son was born 5 years ago, and while sometimes it’s very mild at other times it can really take a hold. I find that a walk every day does wonders for my mood, unfortunately we are having a heatwave in Australia at the moment so it’s very unpleasant – Sydney got to 43C (109F) earlier this week. When I’m feeling down the temptation to stay inside and do nothing is great, but it just makes it worse, you are definitely approaching it in the right way 🙂 Thanks always for your beautiful blog and for sharing so much.

    PS. That hat is great on you, and I love your coat! 🙂

  46. I have been in that state for quite a long time. And I’m happy to read that you are getting better. Thank you for sharing.

  47. Thank you for writing about this. Though I trudge through the winter gray each year, I tend not to realize it until the sun comes out in April and I feel as if I’m waking up out of a deep dark sleep. I think I may try this habit of getting outside every day; having four little kids (who do NOT like being outside) means there are days I don’t leave these four walls, and yeah… I don’t think it’s helping anyone.

    So thanks. 🙂

  48. Thank you for sharing this–I know it wasn’t an easy post to write. I also went through a rough patch and I’m finally grounding myself and feeling better.

    Take good care,


  49. Big hugs to you, Ginny.

    I can sympathize with this post today and I admire your honesty in writing it.

    The months of November through January are very tough for me as well. We lost my MIL (who was like a seond mother to me) on November 18, 2005 to pancreatic cancer; my father passed away on December 9 2011; and the closest thing I ever had to a grandmother (my husband’s grandmother) passed away on January 9, 2002. I have not looked forward to the holiday season for a while. I’m sure it would be easier for me if I had children to distract me from my own sadness.

    In reading your post, I wonder if you, perhaps, suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002499/). I know that one of the things suggested for this is to get as much sunlight as you can, which seems to help.


  1. […] A few years ago I was really struggling, I mean really struggling. I called a friend, a kind soul I refer to as my soul sister. She told me to make myself a scrambled egg sandwich, go sit outside and get some sun on my legs, arms, and face. Being the piglet (and Rabbit) temperament that make me, me…I worried about skin cancer but worried more about me if I did not heed her advice. The above passage reminds me of that day. “…all nature charmed me and lifted my soul to Heaven.” I’m also reminded of a recent post by Ginny at Small Things. […]

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