Monday, October 04, 2010


Last week we had day after day of clouds here in Washington, which recently received the distinction of being 5th in the nation for cloudy days. I get up at 5:00 a.m., and it is at least another 1.5 hours before sunrise.

Last Thursday I seemed paralyzed against taking any constructive action. Took a nap—nothing changed. Exercised, ate right, drank lots of water, and wrote in my journal. Then it dawned on me that it was time to bring out my Happy Lite Junior.

A Little Background

Growing up in Tomah, Wisconsin, there was much light in my life. Nothing like the brilliant sun on the white snow that was prevalent in the winter. We have heard of or experienced Wisconsin’s humid summers, yet there was sunshine, too.

After getting married, we moved to Northridge, California, where there were days of 100-degree weather. Most of the time it was extremely pleasant, and we entertained in our sun-filled backyard and swimming pool on a regular basis.

Then there was the move to Shepherdstown, West Virginia, which was a town filled with civil war history and bustling with college students. Many of the activities were outside, for one could pretty well count on the sun showing up each day.

With much joy, we took our next assignment at the University of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas. The first morning on the island I woke up to a brilliant sunrise, banana trees laden with their crop, and palm trees; I felt like I was in heaven. The sun provided warmth—and provided me with unparalleled energy. I accomplished much during the four years we lived there.

The 4,000-mile move to Washington and little sunlight became a challenge. I missed the sun and my energy level didn’t seem to match my former life. One day, I discovered an article about light therapy. My symptoms matched the description of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a form of depression that occurs with seasonal changes.

I ordered Happy Lite Jr. from Verilux. The instructions stated, do not use the light near bedtime. With that in mind, I set the light on my desk and turned it on for 15 minutes each morning while I went through my emails. I waited for an improvement.

In less than a week, I caught myself buzzing around and getting much accomplished. Nah, it couldn’t be the light. I did a test and left it off for three cloudy days—that same lethargic mood was coming back. It was the light!

So as the days here shortened and the clouds rolled in, I pulled the light out from under my bed. I wasn’t about to go through another entirely unproductive day.

I’m sitting here smiling, for it is yet another cloudy day and I have written this blog before 9:00 a.m. Imagine what else I can accomplish today.

The way you communicate to yourself is just as important, maybe even more important, than the way you communicate with others. Make sure you keep your mind and energy sharp. It’s too big of a wonderful world out there to feel like all you want to do is pull up the covers over your head.

It’s the Little Things:

1. If you are not being productive, and you cannot get a handle on the reason why, write in a journal and just let your thoughts flow—you may be surprised at the answer.

2. Ask the question, “If I did know …” Starting a question in this way accesses a different part of your brain and helps bring up the answer. (I asked this question while journal writing and was quickly reminded to bring out the light.)

3. If people say they believe in light therapy, do not knock their belief. How many of you are suffering from lack of sunshine and doing nothing about it?

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1 comment:

  1. Wow, you really move around a lot! I would've stayed in St.'s absolutely beautiful over there (as you describe).

    Interesting thing with the Happy Lite. I know in the Arctic where they have 24 hours of darkness during the winter they need to use artificial lights to stay physically and mentally healthy. It's very interesting stuff.

    By the way, this is KEY:

    "The way you communicate to yourself is just as important, maybe even more important, than the way you communicate with others."

    REALLY good post, I hope to read more from you soon! Stop by my blog and leave a comment if you have the time.