Pink hearts, dark chocolate, red lace, and black thongs might not be in the cards this year since Mr. Right quickly put himself in the ‘Mr. Oh Hell No’ category after he passed out at your best friend’s New Year’s Eve soiree just after he threw up on your Jimmy Choos. Sure – it wasn’t the ideal way to ring in the New Year, and maybe it wouldn’t have seemed so bad had you not politely been relieved of your full-time status just prior to the end of your Visa billing cycle – remember those holiday purchases (see Jimmy Choo above). What did your boss call it? A “Reduction in Force?” That sounds so much more civil than lay off. Now with St. Valentine breathing down your neck, you find yourself sprinting past Whole Foods where you and Mr. Right used to spend Sunday mornings perusing the aisles for gluten free snacks to eat on game day straight over to CVS to pick up your sinus meds and some Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Sniffling your way past the heart-filled throne of cards and stuffed pink bears, you wonder how life went from good to bad so quickly. Maybe instead of ‘accidently’ pushing a talking ‘Be Mine’ plush pet off the rack and using your heel to crush it’s adorable pink smiling cheeks into the linoleum, you could break the cycle of bad. Plop Mr. Teddy into your cart along with some Godiva and treat yourself to some much deserved love.
It’s been my experience that life comes in waves – an ever moving, ever flowing cycle of ups and downs. It just so happened that most of my downward crashes happened in the December to February timeframe (in my opinion, the most brutal). When the rest of the world seemed to be floating in a perpetual champagne bubble of happiness and love, I was standing alone in my kitchen, beating my fists into my chest yelling “why me, God?” Break out the crayolas, and color me bitter – and maybe a tad bit dramatic – but at least now I understand why bears hibernate. It’s not to stay warm – it’s self protection from all those frickin’ happy, singing chipmunk couples. I wholeheartedly embraced the hibernation theory and locked myself behind the closed doors of my own cave with a stack of Pema Chodron books, a season of Mad Men, a gallon or two of Ralph Lauren paint, and a beautiful leather bound journal to chronicle my woeful life. When life headed south, I retreated into solitude armed with things that made me happy and/or at least provided a distraction. Painting my walls was a great, relatively inexpensive way to inflict my own change on the world. I could spin around and look at any wall in my cave and tell by the latest wall color what perceived catastrophe was playing out in my life. Ralph Lauren Jackrabbit in the living room = job change. Benjamin Moore Lavender Ice in the bathroom = break up with rehab bound boyfriend. Martha Stewart Iced Latte with a faux suede finish = bad news courtesy of the IRS. While I don’t recommend it for everyone, it seemed to be the prescription that worked best for me – it helped me break my cycle of bad.
Bad shows up in everyone’s life. Don’t let their beaming, happy Facebook photos fool you. Your friends who are non-stop posting proof of their happiness (ick!) are probably the ones you should be sending the most Hallmark cards to – for sure they’re the most desperate and miserable. It’s called social happiness, a term my therapist taught me a long time ago, and which most of us have subconsciously perfected throughout the years. Turn that frown upside down! No matter what is going on inside, sing a happy song. Sometimes just pretending to be happy can lift your spirits so I’m not knocking the faux technique (much better on your walls), but it probably shouldn’t be your ‘go to’ strategy for permanently breaking the cycle of bad. Picking yourself up, and preparing yourself for the ‘up’ wave is like your own personal chemistry experiment – you have to try a little of this and a little of that. Unlike chemistry, however, there is no foolproof formula for what will work time after time because the energy shifts and changes. For me, a hot bath, some candles, a cooling masque and a steaming cup of chamomile tea has been known to transform many a bad day. For a bad week, I may need a night of wine swilling with girlfriends followed by a Sex and the City marathon and a pint or four of Ben & Jerry’s. For a bad life experience, i.e., break up or expensive car troubles, you’ll probably find me at Home Depot sifting through the paint cards. Lucky for me and my chiropractor, my walls have remained untouched for the past couple of years. Truth be told – the perfect ‘chemistry’ of breaking bad is a little self love, coupled with some good old fashioned elbow grease and some healthy living. Do the right thing consistently and good things will consistently come your way. You’ll still ride some down waves, but you’ll be better prepared for them, and if you’re like me, you’re house will look great as a result.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be bad; in fact, it can be quite good. Break the bad cycle. Plan a fun girls’ night in or treat yourself to an amazing, extravagant piece of lingerie (in preparation for Mr. Right – build it, and he will come). If all else fails, pick up that ceramic heart jewelry box Mr. Wrong bought you last year, break it against the counter and pour yourself a glass of wine. Then take one of the broken pieces to Home Depot and do a color match. That shade of pink will look great in your bathroom.
Written by: Lori Welch
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