Stuck in the Doldrums: An Attack Plan
by Jen Hatmaker on April 2nd, 2013

dol·drums
[dohl-druh mz, dol-, dawl-]
noun ( used with a plural verb  )
1. a state of inactivity or stagnation, as in business or art: August is a time of doldrums for many enterprises.
2. a belt of calms and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
3. a dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits.

~
 
Conversation with Brandon two months ago:
 
Me:      Blah.
B:         What’s wrong.
Me:      Nothing. Just everything. Everything is bad.
B:         Specifically?
Me:      Just that our kids are probably all going to hate us and struggle with multiple incarcerations, I apparently will gain a pound a month until I die from diabetes, this house is a craphole of chaos, and my weird quirks are getting worse. I hid in the bathroom at another conference.
B:         Is that all?
Me:      And also, only two of my kids love to read, so obviously, Failure, your name is motherhood, and all I do is put out fires and discipline, so I’ve basically come to hate the sound of my own voice. I can’t stand myself and these kids aren’t faring much better on my Like-O-Meter, and I’m sorry to tell you, but your scores aren’t great either. I cannot even talk about emails. My Bible feels like a useless lead weight. I don’t feel like I’m taking skin care seriously enough. I also ate a tub of pimento cheese. All hope is lost.
B:         But at least you’re working on that melodramatic tendency.
Me:      Just lost another four points, Pal. Feels like a dangerous time to mess with me.
 
I essentially slid into a two-month case of the doldrums, trapped by inertia and overwhelmed by the escape requirements. On my best days, our life is heavy duty, but during my low days, Google search: “fake my own death and disappear,” which Brandon might dub melodramatic, but he is just a dude with a stable mind and can’t be trusted.
 
Here is the bummer about the doldrums: the very efforts needed to lift out are the same things you’ve lost energy for. The simplest remedies feel like weights drudged up from the bottom of the ocean. Your mind knows to do them, but your will refuses to cooperate. Which makes your mind furious and mired in shame, which makes your will dig its heels and wallow, which makes you realize you are turning on yourself, you are your own worst enemy. No one can oppress me like myself.
 
Nothing miraculous happened, except one day I said, this is enough. Virtually nothing changed that day. Or the next. These things aren’t overnight success stories, because if it took three months and 459 lazy, unhealthy, toxic choices to get stuck, it takes some time to climb out. Also, the work required is unsexy, ordinary, boring old labor that lacks the appeal of instant gratification and the pizzazz of an unsolicited miracle. I wish I had better news, but apparently we just have to grab a shovel and start digging.
 
For my dear readers stuck in the doldrums, and may I say that I love you and you are not alone, these are the labors that pulled me through, one teeny moment at a time:
 
First, make a list of everything you are behind on. The amount of emotional energy this steals from me is almost unbearable. Ironic too, because each line item could be accomplished in minutes at best, a day at worst: mail these things, return this, make those appointments, answer these emails (<--- just, omg), scan that contract over, send in the money for that school thing (this, times a zillion, free public school my eye), pick up that stuff, return that phone call (<--- just, omg), finish writing that article. Overdue tasks contribute heavily to my Shame Spiral, and writing them all down in one place and slowly crossing them off is an instant boon, literally. Unbelievable the weight that rolls off when the Behind Pile starts to shrink.
 
Second, the house. For the love of Mary Magdalene, the house. I am one of those annoying people who needs order and declutterfication. Oh to live in chaos and whirl and twirl amongst the piles instead of, say, barking like a seal at the humans who live here and begrudging everyone for being such slobs unkempt people. But no.
 
So, brace yourselves, we launched another chore chart. This one is simple and repetitive. Everyone has one chore a day, and it is the same every week. This is not for pay, because their prize is getting to live in my house for free, oh my gosh. The kids did these tasks before but with no regularity and primarily after I turned into a lunatic. Not allowing the house to slip into entropy is mentally healing. The chart is imperfect, but even loose structure restores order to my inner turmoil.
Yes, I succumbed to chalkboard paint. Next up: Chevron.

Third, parenting. Obviously my five kids are perfect and make straight A’s and speak loving words to each other constantly, but clearly their classmates have poorly influenced them lately, because they’ve turned into savages. (This surely has nothing to do with their mother’s two-month doldrum disorder, because children are never the thermometer simply reflecting the temperature of their parents. I’m sure their digression is just a coincidence.)
 
So this cute thing happened where the kids were horrible and fighting and I went to my room to cry about these terrible children God stuck me with, and He said a little thing to me: He immediately brought to mind six, six lovely moments my kids engineered that very day, and He said, “You are only noticing the bad moments and completely ignoring all the good ones.”
 
God never coddles me when I want him to, GAH!
 
So we started the Brag Board. Anytime we catch someone being kind, helpful, gracious, or awesome, we write it down, big or small. It has to be about someone else, because the first thing my humble offspring would write is It was so incredible how I unloaded the dishwasher. Funny thing: I’m not positive they’ve had more shining moments than before, but I’m sure noticing them now. Evidently we will see exactly what we’re looking for. Does this mean I’ve had to follow a certain child around, searching for one tiny good thing to say? Yes. But catching kids in their goodness totally beats reprimanding them only in their struggles, and the Brag Board has pulled the whole family up a few degrees.
To be clear, Ben was recyling, not resicking, which we frown upon.

Finally, I made a list of all the practices that make me feel healthy. Not surprisingly, I noticed most absent in my doldrums: cooking, reading good books, limiting screen time, eating well, date nights, taking walks, scheduling time with a counselor, being outside, praying, changing out of my pajamas (this is a thing), my friends. All ordinary, nothing new or dramatic. These are mainly things that fit in the gaps of life. But I just committed some time back to my staples, maybe just one a day.
 
None of these were executed at once. Over a few weeks, I just implemented healthier practices, one at a time. It was not revolutionary when I sat down with Alan Bradley’s latest novel finally (“Whenever I’m a little blue, I think about cyanide which so perfectly reflects my mood” ~Flavia), nor did my world tilt back on its axis when I wrote the first entry on the Brag Board. The chore chart didn’t solve the crisis, and neither did catching up on emails.
 
But all together, over weeks, just doing the work, bit by bit, digging deep for diligence and grace and best practices, the doldrums receded. These things make us healthy and whole for a reason, because we are not succumbing to disorder and shame anymore. It’s not fancy or quick work unfortunately, but it is effective.
 
If you feel stuck today, can I suggest approaching the doldrums in a reasonable way, one tiny element at a time? Alone, none of these are monumental, but together they begin to lay small paver stones out of the mire, forging a path back to health. It will be imperfect with incremental steps forward and back, but God can use your brave movement to soothe the shame of stagnation and restore peace to the chaos.
 
Grab my hand. Let’s do this.
 
~
 
Two things: This is not a post for you to tell me my family is awesome, so thank you for refraining. I am writing this precisely because we have been so unawesome. Second, this does not apply to serious trauma or depression. The doldrums are a funk, not a severe crisis. Sometimes our hearts require therapy, intervention, and possibly medication, and the practices I described are inadequate. Readers, how else do you beat back the doldrums?


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237 Comments
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Wendy Hagen - April 2nd, 2013 at 8:29 PM
Oh the skin care comment really made me laugh. We just have to much to keep up with. But lately I've been using Jergens tanning lotion and it has given me a moment away from the pastey white girl. Which is nice. Thanks for the post. I think every mom can relate. Cept for that kind of cheese. Don't know it. Am I missing out? Should I put it on my list?
Kristen S. - April 3rd, 2013 at 6:42 PM
Wendy, it's a southern thing. You could rock your friends worlds in Cali if you introduced Pimento cheese. Just sayin'...
Robin E. - April 2nd, 2013 at 8:34 PM
How can so many of us feel exactly the same way?!! Grateful for your suggestions. Thanks!
Cara - April 2nd, 2013 at 8:44 PM
I so very much appreciate your honesty!! I was just discussing this over lunch today with a sweet friend of mine! We both work at our church and tend to let the life get sucked out of us!! Any who!! Please add Susan Cain's book Quiet to your reading list. or listening list, I love Audible! There is nothing wrong with hiding in a bathroom! It's just part of who you are!! You need time to recharge!
Thanks Again!
Angela E. - April 2nd, 2013 at 8:52 PM
Got my list made. Going to start working on one of the items now... :) Thanks for the encouragement and transparency. There were a few times I thought, oh, I'm not the only one who struggles with that! :)
Rochelle - April 2nd, 2013 at 8:55 PM
Ahhhh yes.. Just as I proclaimed my intent to run away from home today ( that would be easier than getting everything here caught up). Thanks for the reassurance that even though we are in our own spaces we are all together in this battle...
Emily Bennett - April 2nd, 2013 at 8:58 PM
When I get into a funk and feel ready to get out, I generally resort to bribery. It looks something like this: I'm in bed and don't want to get out. So I try to think of a list of good things that are going to happen that day. (My favorite tv show is coming on, It's payday, etc) If there is nothing on the list, or not enough to inspire the necessary getting out of bed movement, I start making a list of pleasant things I will do that day, just for myself. Go to lunch with a friend, call someone to chat, visit the library, make my favorite thing for dinner, etc. It doesn't have to be extravagant, but when I'm having a hard time enjoying life, I'm the only one who can make it better. Usually when I have dug out of my slump, I am better able to tackle any to do list items that have been procrastinated
Rebecca - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:04 PM
Ohmygoodness, YES. I deal with this much more than I care to admit. I'm a first-year 2nd-grade teacher, and sometimes it feels like if I'm throwing myself fully into my job (which I *want* to be able to do) I simply cannot function in any other capacity. Washing dishes takes immense effort. It's always the little things that pull me back and remind me that my life is good--a glass of wine and a good book, dinner with friends, even grading those dreaded math tests and seeing how far my little buggers have come. It's choosing those little things. Every time.
valena - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:05 PM
Word......
Sher Sutherand - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:11 PM
I was have been so waiting for the posts about the ANC Easter service. I told all my friends about what ANC does in Austin on Easter. I told them all I couldn't wait to hear about it on your blog. But you know, life is life. So I'm reading your recent post and totally relating. But you should know that I really loved your CHORE CHART. Even before you gave it a label, I shared it on my FB page because I think it's so brilliant. I want to go back to having kids your kids' age, but that's not going to happen. So thank you for letting me live it, yet again. And hugs to you for making it happen and being the person I want to be when I grow up.

Debra - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:12 PM
Thank you for the reminder that I am not alone! Just needed that simple bit of truth today. Blessings!
Bethe - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:25 PM
This is great advice. I know, because I'm a hot mess half the time. My other suggestions? Treat yourself to a pedicure. And sit on your back porch and drink coffee/eat breakfast. There's something about being outside in the morning that makes me feel like I'm living in a chick flick movie, even if the rest of my house is a total mess.
www.texaslovely.com
Kristen Ramsey - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:30 PM
I love you, Jen Hatmaker! I wish you were my neighbor. You are God's gift to my frazzled heart. Thanks for speaking so honestly about the life you're living.
Brandy - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:34 PM
I literally spent 45 minutes searching online for pink cowboy boots today because I had convinced myself that the reason I can't get my act together is because clearly the secret of success is having pink cowboy boots. Which I do not have. Therefore, I cannot unload the dishwasher or make a doctor's appointment or enroll my child for school next year. And when I realized that there were no boots to be had today, I may or may not except I did cry a little because then I felt guilty about wasting time. I too suffer with a touch of melodrama. Thanks for your words, I can relate!
amber~. - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:40 PM
we've been going through some doldrums here.. two teens. two little's. hating the sound of my own voice? hello. i feel like gumby the stretcho man most days keeping up with these generation apart aged kiddos~ and so i sat on the toilet tonight while my husband was in the shower, shouting to him over the sound of the water all my complaints and "i can't do this another day.." and he shouted back, "all you're doing is focusing on the negative, babe. look for the good!" and then i came out. flopped across the bed. opened the laptop and find this link on facebook. i read it. and laughed. and sighed. and suddenly felt instantly lighter knowing i'm not so crazy after all.. hey, if jen hatmaker has these kind of days maybe i'm more normal than i thought. ;)) my husband came out and i said, listen. read it all aloud to him. "did you write that?" he asked. as if. but if i could have, these would have been the exact words... gaining a pound a month till i die and all!!! i love you jh. thanks for giving us all hoPe!
Kortney - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:55 PM
Flavia!!!
Susanne K - April 2nd, 2013 at 9:59 PM
I love this! I have been in the doldrums lately and am just starting to bring myself out of them but I think my hubby is starting to sink down in them. He even voiced today he needs a vacation. (He never says that.) I think we need to work on him taking some time off soon even if we can't go anywhere with a beach for a while. I also intend to start a brag board. Great idea!
Jennifer D. - April 2nd, 2013 at 10:03 PM
Thank you. Screen too blurry through my tears to write more. Thank you.
Erica - April 2nd, 2013 at 10:15 PM
This blog is so me!!! I am my own worst critic and my inadequacies seep out onto the rest of my family and it makes live miserable at times. I am so thankful I am not alone and I am going to put your practices to the test. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us to get out of these doldrums.
Carol - April 2nd, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Thanks so much for sharing. I'm feeling it also!!
Wonder if it's this crazy Texas weather!! I've been
So ready to get out and dig in the dirt, I mean
Clay, and plant some things. I've been under the
Weather also, so this does not help. Just need
Lots of extra time to organize.
Valerie - April 2nd, 2013 at 11:16 PM
I needed this. Thanks.
Becca - April 2nd, 2013 at 11:20 PM
I read your conversation in this post to my dh and asked if it sounded familiar. He smiled and said, knowingly, "I love you, honey."

Yes, I have been there... Thanks for the reminders to do the healthy things to keep me where I need to be.
Justina - April 2nd, 2013 at 11:32 PM
I have a four year old son with Down syndrome. He is so energetic and ever present that I don't have time for the doldrums. Sometimes I wish I did! :) Many things go undone because I have discovered that they simply aren't as important as I once thought they were. I do love the brag board... I think that I need to incorporate that with my older two. Thanks for you heart and God given gift for communication.
Justine - April 3rd, 2013 at 11:00 PM
Justina,

I was just reading through the comments and had to reply to yours. My name is Justine and I have two kiddos with Down syndrome (almost 3 and 12) plus two "big" kids (who are actually almost 10 and almost 13, so not so much bigger). Anyway, in my life I have met one Justina and about 3 Justine's. It is nice to see a Justina visiting Jen H.
Sally - April 2nd, 2013 at 11:34 PM
Jen, this is so timely for me. Being a working mother of a teenager, a preschooler and a toddler and of course a hot wife to my husband. Okay, really I would say lukewarm wife. I'm so ready to turn my funk into fun. love this post.
Kristal - April 2nd, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Flavia helped me on my way out of the dark, too!! Did you finish it yet? The end!!!! OMG!
MJ - April 3rd, 2013 at 7:10 AM
I've always called it "the hole"....as in, "I'm in the hole....send help." I love "the doldrums" though. Much more appropriate. It is nice to not feel alone while in the hole.
Flower Patch Farmgirl - April 3rd, 2013 at 7:40 AM
My family is such a bunch of arguing weirdos. (They may have learned it from their Mama...) I get this and feel this and relate to this and love this. You're so right about the reading of books and the cooking of real food. But I don't think I can tackle my inbox and I sure as shootin' can't possibly return phone calls. That's just asking too much.

ps - About the good book thing: Waiting to Die in Miami. Oh Em Gee.
Carol Green - April 3rd, 2013 at 8:08 AM
If you're looking for a book to read (since that was one the healthy practices you listed) I highly recommend The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. You basically nailed the main premise of his book in this post--the little things we do everyday will eventually compound and affect our lives. Those small habits can either be positive or negative, but over time their affect will be great. It's a quick and easy read, but so powerful!
Stacy - April 3rd, 2013 at 8:34 AM
I go through seasons where I feel like things are under control. Lately, however, doldrum city. We felt God leading us to pursue adoption through the foster system (we have four children of our own.) I had no idea how quickly those things happen. We were told that we could have a child in 4-6 months. Four months!?! Suddenly, I feel like my house is unorganized and chaotic. The laundry has threatened to bury us all alive (and we are adding more?! huh? what?) I feel like a failure in everything. I have gone into full on panic mode and feel frozen. This makes me feel a little better. A list? I can do that. One thing at a time.Thank you for this.
Sue - April 3rd, 2013 at 9:00 AM
I'm right there with you. Just beginning to get unstuck after 4 weeks. First step was a conscious effort to make something of beauty in a day (sometimes just get outside for a minute to feel the sunshine), this week enough energy to make lists & not lose them & cross things off and started exercising again. Slow but steady in the right direction....
Kristen S. - April 3rd, 2013 at 9:20 AM
I don't ever comment on blogs, especially when there are a zillion other comments. But since maybe you scan them and read them, let me share what a gift you are. Your blog has led to amazing, amazing conversations with so many of my friends since I started reading you. Being a square in the circle of the bible belt and all...you know. Love this post. Love your heart and honesty. I'm old friends with your neighbor Molly D. She commented on the fact that I constantly post quotes from you of FB and told me about y'alls friendship. She's a stud - loved her spunky heart in HS. Hang in there and know you can't be everything to everyone - trying to respond to a zillion, billion emails would drain my soul!
Sally - April 3rd, 2013 at 9:26 AM
Jen you read my mind. Thanks for the humor, honestly and hope. Baby steps with Jesus. Oh and I'm all over that Brag board!
Megan - April 3rd, 2013 at 9:31 AM
A thousand yeses, especially in light of the fact that we're having a nice winter this spring.
Jennifer Cullimore - April 3rd, 2013 at 9:32 AM
Jen, Once again I'm convinced that we were twins separated at birth. This is so what I needed today. Now, my question is...what if my list fills a whole notebook? Should I just scrap it and start over?....Hmmmm. Thanks for being real!
Rachel - April 3rd, 2013 at 9:46 AM
I need fires in the fireplace or a candle lit, a nap, forcing myself to memorize scripture, and as I just read in 31 Days to Better Sex by Sheila Wren Gregoire, I apparently need to be having sex more with my husband - it will naturally cure my doldrums :)
Kris G. - April 3rd, 2013 at 10:48 AM
Can I just say thank you and I love you in one nice gooey cinnamon roll of "oh, I'm so glad I'm not alone in this." God bless your anointing, your faithful vulnerability, your family, and your refreshment, Jen Hatmaker. Thanks for being exactly you.
Sarah - April 3rd, 2013 at 11:20 AM
Wow - I'm so glad to know there is such a world of other "MEs" out there. In an effort to reduce screen time I'm not reading everything, but in skimming I get the sense that there are many of us who face the same daily struggle. Hi to you all and thanks Jenn for your blog. Wish I was back in Texas too.

Ahdra - April 3rd, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Wow...reading this and then all the comments is a boon to my soul like no other. It is nice to not feel alone and crazy! Thank you for the insights and strategies. I couldn't articulate why I was so crabby on Easter...add to that the fact that it was EASTER for goodness sake...but it is making a whole lot more sense now viewing it through the lens of being in the doldrums from the beginning of the year really (I turned 40
Jen Ratzlaff - April 3rd, 2013 at 12:27 PM
Thank you for being "the voice". You say so many things that are in my head in a beautifully eloquent way that never fails to make me smile. You are a voice crying out in the wilderness to make a way for The Lord. I am thrilled for the women who get to listen in and respond. All Glory to God!
Laureen - April 3rd, 2013 at 4:08 PM
Found you from Out of my Alleged Mind. Yoga. That about sums it up. Or. Maybe my daily 4pm tea time. And lots of sleep, 8-9 hours if you please. Chocolate. And did I mention my yoga mat?
Emily - April 3rd, 2013 at 5:22 PM
Thanks Jen!
Thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown with trying to juggle to preschoolers and working full-time. I came up with my plan of attack and feel much better! Now if I can get my kids and boss to go along with it!! :) You're awesome -- keep doing what you do!
Alysa - April 3rd, 2013 at 6:12 PM
Yes to all of these things! When the doldrums hit, I realize I'm letting the list in my head and the "negative think" take control. Writing out a to-do list instantly lifts the heavy weight and quiets my mind. I love the brag board, SUCH a great idea.

Oh yes, and friends, reading, praying, living life away from the screen. All of these things.

hollybird - April 3rd, 2013 at 10:08 PM
Been there too...my husband came home horribly sick from Guatemala, then I had gallbladder surgery...blah blah. Then Monday, my inability to read correctly (otherwise known as rushing through an email), I mistakenly read my son's work schedule for him when I offered to look it up since our home computer is on the fritz. this resulted in his missing work completely and being instantly terminated. Blogged about this very thing yesterday! hollybirdswords.blogspot.com
Bethany - April 4th, 2013 at 8:25 AM
Thank you for your bravery to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. I can't imagine that being easy, but you inspire so many with this. I have been realizing the discipline (by my often lack therof) that should accompany our lives of faith. It is so hard to be a grownup, and it is so good to know that my own difficulty with it is not an isolated condition! :)


Julie R - April 4th, 2013 at 8:47 AM
I'm so glad I waited to read this until I had the time to really read it ... skimming is my style these days. Anyway, here's what works for me, cuz though I'm a relatively stable minded person, I'm also a woman w/ the normal hormonal fluctuations and other oddities that make me occasionally unstable or at least rather unproductive:
1- add to my "one thousand gifts" journal (see book by Ann Voskamp!)
2- make a list that is realistically prioritized and then follow it
3- do what's next and make sure it's on the list
4- keep focused on the "2 degree difference" - "baby step" changes in life will add up (see book by John Trent)
5- clean the counters around my kitchen & home office combo - clean counters = peace for me
6- make a dinner everyone will love
7- play loud 80s or country music while making said dinner
8- grab hubs for a quick dance during aforementioned loud music that is playing when he walks in from work
9- open the windows for fresh air and because I'm now hot from making dinner & dancing, though since it's central IL, so sometimes this also means turning up the heat ;-)
10- have a LONG lunch with a friend - scheduling this should be on the to-do list!
11- spoil my husband (in The Love Dare style), because loving him well is good for our entire family
12- fold laundry on the couch while watching a movie I want to watch
13- send the kids outside for 1 hour
14- paint my toes, because pretty toes are a gift whenever I see them, even though I'm not a girly girl!
Heather - April 4th, 2013 at 11:13 AM
So many times I read your blog and I think "How does she always seem to know what I'm thinking?" I am just crawling out of the doldrums brought on by over-commitment and was just thinking how great it feels to work out again, get all the laundry done in the same week I started it, and eat food that doesn't come in paper sacks with yellow arches on them. And now, thanks to you, I have the new Alan Bradley on hold at the Library. Tomorrow I'm going to go out into my flower garden and mess around with pruners and small spades, which always boosts my mood. Thanks for sharing that you get down too.
Carol - April 4th, 2013 at 11:55 AM
"...but he is just a dude with a stable mind and can%u2019t be trusted."
Love it!! Loved the whole article!

Brandi - April 4th, 2013 at 2:40 PM
Thank you thank you thank you. Funk has been my middle name. You may have given me what I need to pull out of it.
Kristy - April 4th, 2013 at 3:30 PM
"Doldrums"......the word I've been looking for for years. "Funk" just doesn't seem to cut it. I used to think that getting down in the dumps was a reflection on my relationship with Christ. I would think, "Well, He has distanced Himself from me to teach me a lesson." or "If I were just walking closer with Jesus, I wouldn't feel this way." This is so not true. Psalms 139 says that even "if I make my bed in the depths, You are there." I just have to keep reminding myself that EVERYONE gets this way sometimes. The most devoted followers of Christ get the "doldrums". But He's always close!

Thanks for this post! I needed it today!

theredoflife.blogspot.com
Jana - April 4th, 2013 at 6:03 PM
Hi Jen! I must admit I've had a case of the doldrums. I came to your site looking for inspiration and found you in the same place :) I love that you seem so real and that you write from your heart. I did find inspiration from you today. I have things I can implement here at home and that is encouraging. Aside from home life, I also think that when you see so much sadness / brokenness in the world, sometimes it drags you down, knowing you're just one person. And then God lights a fire under your butt and you forge ahead again. You're doing amazing work for God - in your family, in your city, in the world & for your readers. I love it! And thank you!
Jawan - April 4th, 2013 at 9:20 PM
Wow, I had to majorly scroll down to get to this comment box! God is greatly using you to encourage the world of moms out there....including me. Living a life all for the glory of God is an "ugly beautiful". Thankful tonight that is is faithful and never forsakes his own.
Casey - April 5th, 2013 at 12:11 PM
Hi Jen Hatmaker.....I always refer to you as Jen Hatmaker. I am not on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other kind of social media so this is my attempt to contact you. It seems to me that you handle your kids and social media very well. I cracked up at the post today about the text with your son. I feel like everywhere I turn people are telling me to RUN from social media with my daughter but it seems to be a part of the culture now and I check her instagram often and it's just fun communications with her friends at this point. Would you consider writing a blog or a book about parenting teens and pre teens in this new world of technology? I feel like all I get is either "stay away and protect" or "play dumb and allow it all".
Cassandra S - April 5th, 2013 at 1:35 PM
Thank you! THANK you! THANK YOU!!!!! Thank you for putting into words what I have so been feeling. I have had a serious case of the doldrums! I am tired all of the time -- have a doctor's appointment scheduled -- and am going to start doing little things to try and get my clutter in order. Having three special needs children just wears me out and the house is the first thing to go, which just brings me down and I feel like I can't pull out of it!
S - April 5th, 2013 at 1:58 PM
Love this post. Thank you for your honesty and advice.

I am reading Interrupted and it is so, so good. I just finished the chapter "Offering a Tangible Kingdom" and felt like standing up and shouting "YES!". You listed several books as heavy influences. I would like to know if there is one or maybe two specifically that had the most impact on you.

Hoping to finish the book before nap time ends!

Shelly VanB - April 5th, 2013 at 5:51 PM
Ugh, I feel like I wrote this ... except I'm too dang tired to write this. And I haven't any tangible way out of the lethargy yet. My self prescribed answer to more snow this morning was 3 Oreo ice cream bars. So helpful.

So, thank you. For your honesty. And for calling your house bad names.
I feel your pain. I'm waiting to break through and feel the momentum again.
One step at a time.

Bill Garrett - April 5th, 2013 at 8:04 PM
You're an awesome human being just for taking the time to write and post this! Thank you.
Amy - April 6th, 2013 at 6:17 AM
Thank you for this! I've been in the doldrums and needed this!
Pastor Ron - April 6th, 2013 at 11:44 AM
Great article Jen...my first time reading your blog but not my last. I see a good sermon with helpful thoughts coming our of this one, Thanks for your insight. God Bless You Jer. 10:23 NIV
Becky - April 6th, 2013 at 5:34 PM
I can't tell you how much I needed this post. Thank you so much for sharing. Printing this out now and saving for inspiration...
Lucy - April 6th, 2013 at 7:39 PM
Grateful.
Kelli - April 7th, 2013 at 1:37 PM
Once again, I'm left wondering how you got in my head or in my house or whatever! Needed to hear today that i'm not the only one out there who deals with this! And who has convo's like that with her husband. And yes, getting out of your pjs IS a thing- who knew?!
Jill S. - April 7th, 2013 at 6:50 PM
It's so comforting to know I am not alone in all of this because I feel exactly the same way, thank you for putting out there in such a thorough and amusing way!
nic - April 8th, 2013 at 7:40 AM
i'm thankful you clarified on ben's 'resicking'--this allows me to carry on with my day without brainstorming three billion possible intended words (restocking? recessing?), including resicking itself.

i am doldruming, but i think i'm still in the early stages of the descent. perhaps we can stop this thing in its tracks
Christina - April 8th, 2013 at 4:07 PM
I was doldrumming huge and didn't know how to take care of it all the way. I journal, I read, I spend time with family, but something was still missing. This past weekend at a music therapy conference I played djembe while I watched an incredible teacher lead the entire room in a dancing, singing, energy extravaganza. By the middle of the class, I was crying and couldn't stop. Now that I'm back home in Dallas, I've looked up West African dance and drum class and am going to get on it this week.
Karen Snyder - April 8th, 2013 at 4:20 PM
I have a HUGE case of the doldrums. I've got 2 1/2 year old who doesn't talk yet but smart as a whip and quick! Trying to potty train him, he just learned that the longer he sits on the potty the longer he gets to play with the IPAD waiting for him to do his business, so he doesn't go. I also have a 1 year old, another boy, who is quite the little demanding mamma's boy with a scream that could wake 5 generations of dead, which he uses constantly. I can't get enough sleep and so I want to give up. My house is a disaster and I don't care that I haven't gotten myself ready for just the day in so long. I am encouraged by reading this particular post and the comments that I am not alone. Also, that I can get out of it. I cleaned my bathroom today which I have pushed aside in the other things I have to do dail, and I already feel a little bit more free.
Wendy J - April 8th, 2013 at 9:50 PM
Reading this and seeing the 199 others above me makes me feel better already. I love you Jen!
Trish - April 9th, 2013 at 12:19 AM
A cry, a hug (even from a pet), a nap, some lunch or breakfast, some sunshine (even if I have to sit in the car to find it), ticking things off my list (even if they were done before they made it to the list), some silence, some prayer (with tears), some music and my hubby's favorite saying "Smile and wave, boys...smile and wave." All help me fight the regular doldrums of teenage boys, house hunting, lack of finances, winter grey days, too little sleep and PMS. Thanks Jen.
Jessica - April 9th, 2013 at 11:30 AM
Apparently, hiding in the bathroom at speaking gigs is a very common introvert coping mechanism. If you having read tis lady's book, I highly recommend it.
http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/about-the-author/
Carrie - April 9th, 2013 at 2:13 PM
Thank you very much...I needed to read this TODAY! I will take action, a baby step at a time.
Thank you for your words!
Nikki - April 9th, 2013 at 8:42 PM
Jen, I know you don't even have time to read this....! THANK YOU, just thank you! You're just in my mind,.. my house!!! You're such an encouragement and gift from the Lord!! Tonight, in the midst of the doldrums I typed in JenHatmaker.com so I could get off Facebook! Thank you, Lord, for sending Jen to be an encouragement to so many women!!! I love you!!!
Erica {let why lead} - April 10th, 2013 at 9:58 AM
LOVED this! Shared it on facebook this morning. Thanks!
Michelle Lucas - April 10th, 2013 at 4:47 PM
Hi Jen! I am almost done with "7" and I love/hate the way it is challenging my faith and "works". I love your writing...I laugh hysterically while reading :) I feel so normal after reading this book, and reading your blog. Thank you for your honesty! Enjoying the journey....Michelle
Toni Griffith - April 11th, 2013 at 7:26 AM
Thank you so much for being so real. Each day can be a challenge that takes intentional effort but that is where God's Word begins to make sense in a deeper way...like understanding that suffering will be a part of what we all must endure. I appreciate your putting words to this regardless of how big or small we may measure that suffering it is real and raw to touch in our own life and the lives of others. God is our healer though, He brings to mind what we need and He uses people like you to pen the words that make sense of it all. Oh if everyone could know Him in such an intimate way. May he continue to help us as His children become like Him and know His suffering so we might minister and speak aloud the only hope we have....Jesus Christ.
Tamara - April 11th, 2013 at 4:50 PM
How can you know me so well? Thank you for making it okay to be just plain weird. Fearfully and wonderfully weird. The way God created.
Colleen - April 12th, 2013 at 8:36 AM
I just stumbled on this. I go through these same feelings (usually towards the end of winter). In fact, the whole month of February is my down time. This year I thought I was gonna push through it because I'd lined up tons of activities (some part of work--like the fundraiser that I'm unwillingly in charge of every year, some for fun--family parties, dates with the hub) and Feb. flew by pretty well but here in Indiana it's like the never ending winter and March turned into my doldrum month. I need to recommit to a plan of action instead of going home from work every day and taking a nap. Thanks for the encouragement!
Kat - April 12th, 2013 at 1:11 PM
Totally unrelated topic that made me think of you when I saw them... Have you seen this new initiative to get Ugandan women through college by selling leather sandals online? I think you would be impressed, I certainly was :) www.sseko.com
Jeanene - April 12th, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Oh oh oh. Thank you. It is wonderful just to know I am NOT the only one who gets to this place...I got sick in the end of December and it turned into a serious infection that I relapsed with three times! It was late February before I started to improve..and I have been told it will be a year before I fully recover. I have two toddlers(we adopted in November) 17 and 21 months...who has time for recovery?lol. Thanks for sketching us a map out of the mire!
Evelyn @Smallish - April 16th, 2013 at 3:43 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. (And for the laughs!) I'm not actually in the doldrums at the mo (although I know them well!), but what a great reminder for even those of us who do tend to change out of our pjs (most days) that life, living well, parenting well, takes intentional action, loving steps, and painstaking moving forward...sowing seeds again and again and again:
Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6

awesome post.
Tracy Hacker - April 17th, 2013 at 8:55 AM
Your honesty is so refreshing! I am the mom of 5 currently, we are a foster family so the number can change in the matter of one phone call. Life is messy, and hard and sometimes overwhelming. We have two biological daughters, 17 and 20 and two adopted little boys 6 and 4 and our foster daughter is 17 months. Our oldest is in college in Mississippi. Life at our house is crazy on a good day!!! I heard you speak for the first time at the .mom conference in Birmingham and was so blessed by how you tell the truth about life! I feel like so many Christians try to hide the hard times and the struggles and that takes away from Gods glory when He speaks so many times in the valley or the tough times!! Thank you for sharing the truth the way you do!!! Blessings to you!
Kirsten - April 19th, 2013 at 5:56 AM
This.was.awesome. I don't mean you being stuck in the doldrums. But the blog post, of course. I struggled with deep depression many moons ago, so it's important for me to keep the doldrums at bay, cause for me, it can turn down a very ugly road. This was a great reminder to me that I haven't been doing so great at that lately - the funk I feel can be overcome just taking it one step at a time... Right now I have been taking no steps :-)
Rhonda - April 20th, 2013 at 7:41 AM
Just found this via Simple Mom. THANK. YOU. Thank you!!!
Laura - April 20th, 2013 at 10:04 PM
I should know to expect them, really, this time every year...when I'm sick of winter but Colorado messes with your head and keeps snowing until May. So for this week -- the Brag Board and a run every day. A short, short run...but a start anyway
lacey - April 21st, 2013 at 9:18 PM
I've been keeping this marked "unread" in my rss feed reader until I worked up the energy to read the blogs that help me get back on track again. Yes, agreed, it's a cycle. My mind gets too tired and then I can't even make myself hold my Bible open in my lap so I can get some perspective and refreshment. I know the help is there but I'm too tired to get the help for myself. Thanks for sharing.
Nicola - April 22nd, 2013 at 7:20 PM
You describe almost exactly how I've been feeling. Just went away for the weekend with one of my best friends who lives in a different city. It was just what my soul needed, and I feel like I'm beginning to track up and have the energy to do some of the things on my list that have been weighing me down. I've already made three phone calls that I've been putting off for months!
Lisa - April 22nd, 2013 at 8:08 PM
This was amazing timing. I was struggling so much today with the EXACT things listed in this article. It was like you were writing out my exact thoughts. Such an encouraging, real, authentic article. Thank you.
Tami - April 23rd, 2013 at 12:21 PM
So good! I have been in the doldrums, too, and when I am like this, I feel like I am the only person in the world who feels this way. It's good to know that we all have our moments of low energy, irrational hopelessness, pajama-wearing, this-life-is-not-turning-out-the-way-I-want-it-to funk. :)

Heidi - April 26th, 2013 at 11:55 AM
1. Vitamin D. and why stop at one when I can take two? (in all seriousness, you better stop)

2. Oldies. I'll confess, I'm one of those "Christen music all the way, 24/7 if possible" after all, it gets me in the 'Christen mood' ;) But when I get in these funks, I march right over to my computer and change my Pandora station from "Shane and Shane" to "Oldies". I crank up the volume and pull out my cleaning supplies. No one can beat doing the mash potato with "Do You Love Me" and pulling a little "Pretty Woman" of my own!

3. Honesty. I must tell my husband what is going on in my head. Or else he thinks its him. Well, maybe sometimes it IS him, but that's probably the doldrum speaking. Oh and Honesty with my Savior. "GOD, this just really sucks right now." #ohLordhavemercy #maybe-a-Psalm-will-help.

4. Throw worldly expectations out the door. After all, the Lord promises joy not happiness.


P.S. Never heard of you til this weekend. Thanks for your transparency. A few great things I heard from you..
1. "Failure is a fantastic teacher."
2. "Live it or you don't have any hope in leading it."
3. "If we are positioned to reach Christians, then Christians we will reach."
4. "Are people's lives being transformed?" -in reference to our churches
5. "Are we obsessed with our neighbors?"

Keep preaching it.
Suz - April 28th, 2013 at 3:50 PM
Grateful for truth-telling and humor. Stuck in a desperate place - that needed both this entry and your most recent. Wish you lived down the road...
Melanie - May 5th, 2013 at 8:48 AM
Oh thank you for being real and reminding me I am not the only one. Not full on depression but sometimes you get stuck. And when it snowed on May 3 yet again here in MN I just about jumped off a bridge, rock bottom after a far too long winter. I too need order in my home to think, I work from home and need to get out of my pajamas more often and need to remind myself that my children are doing good and I have not abandoned them to doom, which is how I feel when I am in a funk and spend more time ignoring them than parenting them. Slowly working my way out of the hole, the 70 degree week they are predicting should help, along with some of your tips. One day at a time.
Trish - May 8th, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Remembering that I am FIRST, His child. All the other things I am, all the other hats I wear can"t get in the way of knowing...I am His first. Of course, this is something I have to constantly keep in front of me. When anything else takes His place my world begins to unravel.
Angela Parlin - May 14th, 2013 at 9:00 PM
Well, I read all the way to the bottom, so I will not tell you y'all are awesome. :) However, do you want to move to the Raleigh area? Your posts make me laugh so hard, and seeing how my 4 kids sound JUST LIKE YOURS, for no fault of my own, I would like to invite you to be my next door neighbor. Or I could just keep reading your blog. :)
Lindsey - May 15th, 2013 at 10:02 PM
I'm new here, and really thankful for this post! Just the kick in the pants that I needed!
Jennifer - May 22nd, 2013 at 12:14 PM
I bookmarked this post immediately after you posted it (it was shared on Facebook by my sister-in-law's sister), knowing full well that I am deep in the doldrums but not ready to do anything about it. Reading it again today brings tears to my eyes (it might be that I'm six months pregnant. . .) and the encouragement to march forward. Today. Thank you.
Angie - May 30th, 2013 at 2:48 PM
Walked on the treadmill at 5:15am today, I desperately (and unsuccessfully) tried to work off the 4 slices of pizza I had for dinner at 11pm last night. I still gained 2.2 lbs. After I read your post, I realized I took a small step. The doldrums removal started today. Thank you for your wisdom and insight.
Faith - May 31st, 2013 at 10:58 AM
This is WONDERFUL and I can definitely relate. Even the melodramatic part, go figure! This...

" B: But at least you%u2019re working on that melodramatic tendency.
Me: Just lost another four points, Pal. Feels like a dangerous time to mess with me."

...cracked me up! My husband and I have had very similar dialogues. :-) Everything you suggested are things I have done to dig myself out of the doldrums. You're right it doesn't happen overnight but even just making that list and crossing thing off feels GREAT. Forcing myself back to the gym and eating my "healthy" foods helps too. :-) Thanks for sharing. I'm bookmarking/pinning this. :-)
Carisa - June 1st, 2013 at 11:48 AM
A friend linked to you "worst end of year mom" post (hilarious), and as I was exploring your site, came across this post. Thank you for, well, making me cry. And realize its alright to struggle with the monotony of endless laundry and messy house.

BTW: Flavia is awesome! love her!
Pamela - June 7th, 2013 at 10:52 AM
Yes, same as Carisa, I read and passed on the "worst end of year mom" post. Almost died laughing, which would not have been unwelcome.
I've been in a long, long doldrums, which I suspect is more of a depression of the medicate-able kind, and my final stand of taking a year off from teaching to focus on my family, home, and self has pretty much failed (at least hasn't met my expectations in the least). So yeah. I was very encouraged by this. Thanks.
Sarah - June 14th, 2013 at 4:49 PM
I had chronic depression for 30-plus years, and at the end of that time I had 7 years of anti-depressants. Finally, with the help of exercises from Energy Medicine by Donna Eden, I was able to heal myself. I have now been depression-free for almost five years, but I do still struggle with the doldrums. I had a huge breakthrough one day when I was really struggling. I know by now all the right things to do, but I wasn't doing any of them. So I said to myself, "Self? Obviously today you just WANT to be depressed. So okay. Go ahead and be depressed. Let's just go all out and wallow in it." I went to my normal curled-up-and-depressed spot and wallowed for all I was worth. No resistance, no judgement. Guess what: it was boring! I lasted about 5 minutes before I hopped up to find something more interesting to do. Resisting depression makes it irresistible. But giving rmyself permission just takes all the joy out of a good doldrum.
Sarah McD - January 2nd, 2014 at 11:07 PM
I've never responded to a blog in my life, but the past 40 minutes or tears told me this souls be different.....

Despite the unimaginable blessings in my life. I keep thinking, "I suck". More so, " I suck and my husband is amazing and cool. " So.... After googling "Jen Hatmaker advice in low self worth"
I came to this blog. And I think I can dig out of this. Tomorrow morning I will go for a walk alone and enjoy the beautiful (freezing) solitude God has created. I'll take pictures of my proud children tackling their first ski run. I'll remember that as amazing as my husband is, I'm not too shabby myself...perhaps just amazing in different ways. But most of all, I will thank Our Father for this breath and the next and the next and jump at the chance to love like He loves. I will remember that with unspeakable joy comes heartache and ugly moments and mercy. I will especially remember mercy. Thank you for your healing words, affirming that we are not immune from yuckiness....but can dig our way out.

Oh, and red cowboy boots. I will definitely wear my read coyboyboots tomorrow. Because really, red cowboy boots are your soul's signal to "get unstuck.... Or fake it until you make it ".
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%u0648%u0648 %u0648 %u0648 %u0648 %u0648 %u0648 %u0648%u0648 %u0648 %u0648%u0632%u0648%u0648
Cecially - February 19th, 2014 at 2:07 AM
Love your brutal honesty. I need a friend like you in my life ;) haha! Thanks for encouraging words, real life dramas (which help us realize we are not the only insane families), and everything in between!!! We are a family in ministry with six kids hoping one day to adopt--thanks for giving us hope...showing that it can be possible. Love ya!
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