Ask Angus #35: Dancing with Depression

Ask Angus #35: Dancing with Depression February 9, 2017
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Pic from Patheos.com

Jonathan (and others, paraphrased): The whole world seems to be going down the tubes and I feel so powerless to stop it. I find myself in a very dark place. What can I do?

Dear Jonathan,

Well there is certainly plenty of evidence that would feed Depression right now. Most of it seems to center around a narcissistic blunderbuss and a murder of mustache-twirling villains who are gleefully dismantling the Progressive reforms of the past couple of decades like a 6 year old opening their Christmas gifts.

But there are other reasons that are also turning our smiles upside down.

  1. It’s WINTER. Even in moderate climates the time when the sun is fleeting and anemic is cause enough for a slide into a pool full of the Grumpies.
  2. This “Atmospheric River” has brought rain and floods and destruction of almost biblical proportions.
  3. Football is now concluded (with a widely disliked team and leader winning it all [sound familiar?]) and baseball’s opening day is almost 2 months away.
  4. Our personal hoverboards have been delayed YET AGAIN.

So Jonathan, keep in mind that there are more than just the obviouses dragging us down.

So what can you do to help?

You long time readers of Ask Angus will recognize one of my personal mantras: Think Globally, act Locally, start Internally.

The Atmospheric River
The Atmospheric River. (Pic from Wikipedia Commons)

Let’s break that down – to the lists!

Think Globally:

  • International news sources are a great way of seeing just how embarrassing America is to the world right now. They also remind you that there is a big wide world that is getting on with its day regardless of what mischief our Commander-in-Cheeto is up to.
  • I also rely on the perspective of a few personal penpals I have in Europe that I acquired back when ‘penpal’ was still a viable term. Why not make a friend with someone from Madagascar or Mongolia!

Act Locally:

  • Your community has its activists and opposition organizers. Find them online, or seek them out in person. Last Sunday I attended a monthly gab fest called “Faith on Tap” (at a baptist church!) and discussed The Situation with all manner of God-fearing and God-loving folks. And they had beer, in church! Empowering and enlightening and I will certainly return.
  • One of the best pieces of advice I heard that night (from a Polytheist, thankyouverymuch), was to resist the urge to dedicate every single waking moment to fighting for every single cause that you care about. Spread yourself too thin and you will assuredly snap like an old rubber band. Instead find two or three movements that really touch your soul and get involved with them. And know by doing this that you are not abandoning the other causes – other people are stepping up for them.
  • A quick and easy way to make a difference for many causes is to sign up for dailyaction.org
  • Since the election of our Mis-chief I have been making a conscious effort to be nicer to everybody. I mean, this was a real stretch because I am already pretty darned nice to begin with, but the ‘conscious’ part is key. I watch people more carefully, I listen better, I make a sincere effort to get to know the people who help me through my day. I hold doors for everyone. I tip more.
  • One of the best things you can do to fight the patriarchal dunderheads is to go to parties. No, really! At a party you will talk with lots of people, and even if the conversation isn’t political, it will strengthen the bonds of the community. The more people you know, and the better you know them, the better off you will be in the coming fight. Plus, there may be dancing, and nothing will do you more good than that.
  • More about volunteering: What do your chosen groups need? Why, they need whatever it is you do! Are you a painter? A musician? A Writer (Yikes!)? A knitter? Do those things. Do you receive an income? Give them some. Can you transport yourself? Then be a marcher. Bring your mad skillz to the table. Your community needs you. Glorious, quirky you.

Start Internally:

  • Evil has many resources, much momentum and very deep pockets. The Winter will pass, Mercury will go Direct, and the sun will make an appearance – one of these weeks. But this Administration will be around for several years. This
    help cure depression by exercise
    Pic from Healthmag.com – many thanks!

    is not a sprint through the cesspool; it’s a marathon through Mordor. So take care of yourself: Eat good food, sleep as much as you need, take your pills. Indulge in long baths. Mess with your hair. Liven up your wardrobe. Make some kickass playlists. Play with your pets. Take your plants outside for a sun bath (assuming the sun’ll ever shine again). Do the things that make you feel good. And do them guilt-free. Self-care is not denial of the problems of the world: Self-care is the necessary counterweight to the heaviness of the task before us.

  • Also, while fighting for the movement, don’t forget to move yourself. Take a spin class. Learn tai chi. Train for a triathlon. Turn off the box of sadness, get off your ass and move it! Mind-body connection is a real thing! Toning the one is excellent therapy for the other.
  • Speaking of therapy – if you need some, get some. Depression is also a real thing, and there are strategies that can help you. Seek them out, or at least talk to those around you about your feelings. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
  • All acts of pleasure…..
  • True laughter wards off evil. So, get your giggles on! Take a break from being broken and heal yourself with the oldest medicine known to humankind. Best laughs ever? Game night with your friends. (work in a seamless plug for ANGUS-LAND here.)

Finally, Jonathan, it never hurts to listen to the Wisdom of the Ancients. I’ve consulted two, so far: A redwood tree, and my friend Mykey, who are both roughly the same age. They both said the same thing: “This too shall pass.” What we are experiencing is a temporary situation. We can help minimize its time and its effect, but know that the Wheel always turns, and pendulums always swing.

The Big Picture is still bright. The entire History of Humankind has been a long, slow evolution towards Progressive ideals, and we humans will gradually acquire our humanity.

I hope this has helped. See you in the coffee shops, the polling places, the dance floor, and the streets!

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Pic from Patheos.com

Tara: I am in the middle of clearing and fixing up a granny flat in my backyard for a dance studio. Because I will also be using it as a ritual space from time to time I want to cleanse it properly and bless it as a space for creativity. Ideas?

Dear Tara,

Yay! Something fun! Blessing for a ritual/dance space? Well, call me a radical but I’m just going to go out on a limb here and suggest that you do a ritual that incorporates dance.

Shocking, I know. Sit down if you need to.

One thing I always like to do before blessing a space is to find out as much as I can about the space. When was the structure built? What architectural style is it? Was it moved from another site? Who owned it before? Who lived there? Any births or deaths?

How does the space feel? Spend some quiet quality time with it. Is there a different energy for each room, or is there an overall ‘theme’ of the environment? Is this a sad building? A proud one? Is it confused? What does it need? Is it trying to tell you anything? Dance through the place and see how your movements change from room to room.

I always treat structure blessings like they are meet-and-greets. You are formally introducing yourself to a special space in your life. Show some mutual respect.

I’ve attended blessings that had maximum noise making, ones that were elegant and formal, and ones that were grim exorcisms. The one for my new house was “waving shyly to the awkward”. Each house blessing is different, and the space will tell you what it would like.

Oh, and a little black salt across the threshold is always recommended. 😉

~Ask Angus

Send your questions (about anything!) to:

AngusMcMahan@gmail.com

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