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  • Writer's pictureLaura Roeven

Warming the Deep Freeze: A Guidebook out of the Doldrums

“The Doldrums is a place within the lands beyond the tollbooth. It is where Lethargians live and do nothing all day. People who don’t think and/or don’t pay attention often get stuck there. It is a cloudy place in the countryside which has hardly any trees or flowers. The grass is not very brightly coloured. There is no wind and the birds sing only boring songs. Nothing ever changes. To get out of the Doldrums, one must think. To be more specific, we call it daydreaming.” – Norton Juster - The Phantom Tollbooth

The deep freeze does not just include the winter weather. Deep freeze can be a time of the #doldrums or dormancy. What do you do when you’re ready to change the stagnation? When things are not good enough, it’s time to change them. This can feel confrontational and squirmy when we’re not sure how to begin this process within ourselves or with another in relationship. Here are some handy tools to navigate change and the guiding through the doldrums of winter.

People who don’t think and/or don’t pay attention often get stuck there. – Norton Juster - The Phantom Tollbooth

Pay Attention

This requires noticing, being #vulnerable and talking or writing about how things are for you. I feel… I don’t like… I’m ready for change… It might take a few journaling sessions to really define what it is for you. Dig in with rich colors and illustrations for how it is.

Winter is tiring. I feel fatigue with the routine that I am holding. I desire more movement in my life but feel blocked by a stronger desire to stay warm. It’s a little boring around the edges of my life. A little like the laundry cycle of wash-dry-repeat. My day seems to be rise-work out-go to work-get home-family dinner-evening doldrums. It’s like I’m at my favorite restaurant and the menu is serving only porridge.

A deep journaling session can produce more than one aspect needing change. They are all different and might need tending to uniquely. Please don’t be tempted to lump it all together. Pick one to tend to. Name it.

It is where Lethargians live and do nothing all day. – Norton Juster - The Phantom Tollbooth

Lethargian Alert: Where is it growing?

The next step is to dive in where it grows. What makes this unwanted thing stronger? More prevalent? Thought about?

Fatigue. I feel the most fatigue when I feel caught in a mindless repeat of my routine and keeping up with my home and possessions. It grows with auto pilot, not noticing the beauty of the moment, or being cold in the evenings. Fatigue grows when I don’t work out. It grows when I sit too much. “I don’t wanna.” A whiney feeling comes over my shoulders of wanting to shake it off but I don’t. I just sit uncomfortably with it and wait for it to magically pass.

The grass is not very brightly coloured. There is no wind and the birds sing only boring songs. Nothing ever changes. – Norton Juster - The Phantom Tollbooth

What can Color your World?

I feel vibrant colors with field trips, learning something new, feeling cared for, asking for what I need, noticing when I get exactly what I want, and accepting what I don’t like. #Gratitude, #Acceptance, and #Dreaming are all "color” that chases the grey away. What splash of color would change the scene for you? What gives you an excitement of energy when you do it or think about it? Hope and ideas are the one-way tickets out of the Doldrums.

Hope feels like “possible”. Hope makes me want with clarity and not attachment. I want zip, vigor, and vim. Mmmm. What has brought me those things in the past? Poetry, planting seeds in winter, going to an art museum, trying a new tea.

  • What would it be like to fly out of the doldrums? New ideas, daydreaming about trips, reading a good book, making something new.

  • What does scheduling it look like? Library dates, putting joy into my calendar, making time for friends, sitting in the sunshine

  • Define relocating out of the Doldrums. I’ll know I’m out of the doldrums when I think positive thoughts. I’ll be moving in my day and trying new things weekly. I’ll find myself thinking about what I’m looking forward to. I’ll spice up my day with new music, new thoughts, and great daydreams.

Is there a mantra waiting to support you? (the following passages are from the #PhantomTollbooth, I added the emphasis for possible mantras):

So many things are possible just as long as you don't know they're impossible.
What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do.
Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life.
And remember, also," added the Princess of Sweet Rhyme, "that many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you'll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.
Whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else, if even in the tiniest way. Why, when a housefly flaps his wings, a breeze goes round the world; when a speck of dust falls to the ground, the entire planet weighs a little more; and when you stamp your foot, the earth moves slightly off its course. Whenever you laugh, gladness spreads like the ripples in the pond; and whenever you're sad, no one anywhere can be really happy. And it's much the same thing with knowledge, for whenever you learn something new, the whole world becomes that much richer.



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