January 20th, 2013
Don’t Like How You’re Feeling? Put On A Jacket.
An old man sat in a corner of Wild Joe’s coffee shop this morning. I could tell he didn’t want to be bothered. He just had that look on his face, legs firmly planted on the ground, with a stance taking up much more space than was actually necessary to be sitting in the cozy corner chair. Coffee on his table to the right and newspaper on the table to his left, his belongings sprawled about, as if to say “this is my spot…all of it.” And had there been other open seats, I would have taken one of those. But since the one next to him was the only one available I slowly walked over there. Careful not to call too much attention to myself, I kept my eyes down until I got to the chair, where I asked if could sit there. He shrugged as if to say, “I guess.”
So I sat down and got out my computer to start writing. After a few minutes, some guys plopped down on the couch across from us and very quickly a conversation began between the older man and the younger guys about how different Bozeman is than it used to be.
This conversation was very typical of most native Montanans I’ve met so far; they don’t like newcomers coming into their state (especially if said newcomers are from California), and they love to talk about how much has changed around here in the past however-many years. They talk of doubling populations, and corporate stores popping up, and how “The Last Best Place” is turning into “The Place That’s Just Like Everywhere Else.” And…no one wants to leave.
But yet, Montana is not for the faint of heart. It is a state of extremes. A place where one morning you wake up to the most beautiful, clearest blue, pink and purple sky, not a flake of snow anywhere to be found, where you go out running in a t-shirt, and then the very next day it is a 16 below blizzard with three feet of snow on the ground.
And the thing I’m struck by the most with this is how not a big deal it is. People still do exactly what they did the day before. They still go out running, they still ski. Their dogs still get walked. And in fact, they’re happy when this happens because it means the ski conditions will be good that week. When it clears up, it just means that the hikes are easier to hike. There is no judgment of the extremes. It’s part of life. Expected, accepted, embraced and appreciated.
It’s like the extremity makes the beauty more beautiful. The harshness makes the views more breathtaking. Nothing here just floats by, passes through, or washes over. Everything is bold, and a big deal. The mountains, jagged, massive, all over the place are unapologetic. They’re here to stay and they could care less what you think. They’re extreme, but that’s what makes them beautiful.
And this got me thinking about emotions. And how extreme they can feel. We have emotions that swing from one end of the spectrum to the other, in a matter of days. Or minutes. One day we might feel like the happiest person on earth, in love with everything, and feel like we’ve got it all figured out. And the very next day we feel like we are in the deepest darkest hole of the unknown and despair. If you’re anything like me, you’ve learned that this is a bad quality. That the mood swings are hard to deal with. They’re too intense to be around. And people would prefer if we were more even keeled (an ex told me all of these…verbatim). And this never sat well with me.
I view these extremes as natural and normal. As a part of life. As a situation to just roll with. When you’re happy, go with it. When you’re sad, let it be there. Not attaching to these extremes creates joy. It’s the fighting of these emotions that makes things hard. Just as if Montanans fought the snow, the blizzards, the drastic changing of the weather, instead of just deciding to put on a jacket and head to the mountain. It makes life harder.
And this is what I want for you. For you to be able to put on a jacket when the going gets tough. Roll with it. Head to the mountain. Allow the snow to come down hard, appreciate that it’s there, and then smile as it goes away. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Don’t forget. Your emotions make you beautiful. Vulnerable. Real. Hiding them hides you. It might not feel fun, in the moment, to allow your full spectrum of emotions be there, but denying them denies the beauty that life has to offer.
Montana has some of the harshest weather you’ll ever experience, but it also boasts some of the most breathtaking and beautiful natural beauty you’ve ever seen. The payoff for surviving the harshness of the winter is the reward of a flawless summer; a few months of sunshine and activities and flowers and bluer blue skies than you can imagine and the puffiest white clouds in the world. Sunsets that’ll make you cry. Rivers that’ll make you feel like you’ll live forever. More activities than you’ll possibly want.
It’s the same for you. There IS a payoff for the extremes. So when the going gets rough, don’t worry. Find something to love about the storm, and know that there’s a summer right around the corner.
I think Jo Dee Messina said it best when she said “that’s the way it is, you gotta roll with the punches. That’s the way it goes, you gotta bend when the wind blows.”
How have you felt like this? Do you have mood swings? What do you do when they show up? Leave a comment below and share this article with anyone you think needs to hear it. And if you’re not already on the mailing list…GIT IN THERE! Click HERE.
I have a wide polarity and range of emotions too. And despite what “even-keeld folks posit, it’s okay to have emotions and be who you are. Some or most of the critics (like your ex) hide behind a mask of “even-ness” despite how they really feel, so their behavior amounts to withholding – which imo is a form of dishonesty.
My policy is this: if you’re happy and you know it clap your hands… (I forgot the rest of the jingle)
Anyways, nice post lady. I just moved to Minneapolis from that “awful” place where we went to school and this city is one of extremes too. I think what really matters is how we deal with the extremes with our actions, and just being honest and being in the moment – or just LIVING.
btw, do you have a mean roller derby handle (nickname)?
Hey Jeremy…I so love what you said about hiding behind the mask of “even-ness.” That’s exactly how it always felt to me, with my ex. Although I do believe that some people just don’t swing as wildly as others, I believe honesty in wherever we’re at is most important.
Thank you so much for commenting and hanging out here with me. :)
Hey hey Sally! I love this post. I love your story-telling and how you tie a simple moment (in the coffee shop) to something bigger. It’s a great trait and I think it’s a powerful way of looking at the world.
As for “mood swings”… thanks partly to you, I’m embracing these drastic and sometimes abrupt changes and really trying to be “in” that feeling. It’s hard because when they aren’t the warm, happy, good feelings – I naturally want to get rid of them or run away – but I’m starting to understand that it’s important that I experience the feeling and understand where it’s coming from. I’ve always been an emotional kind of gal and I’m starting to actually see the value in my ability to really truly feel things and experience life that way.
PS – I wish it were snowing here in Florida. We had a big cold front this weekend though – lows in the 50’s… woohoo! ;)
Hey Miss Dani O…thank you so much for your comment and compliments! I realized I had missed the story telling part of what I used to do around here, so thanks for the encouragement.
I totally hear you about it being hard to feel the hard feelings, but honestly I think it’s one of the secrets to life. Seriously. And that’s really cool that you’re experimenting with it.
As for snow…when you’re in Seattle, you’ll be awfully close to it! WOOOOOHOOOOOO!
And then there’s HRT (hormone replacement therapy) for us slightly older gals! hahaha! Sometimes the mood swings are a little TOO wide for the “put-on-a-jacket-and-your-big-girl-panties” attitude. But yes, personal strength and having the tools to acknowledge and deal with one’s moods is a positive thing in and of itself.
Sure beats getting arrested for road rage (or worse)! ;D
Hahah! Fair enough lady. :)
Oh Sally, I am so happy that what this ex said didn’t sit well with you. That even then, you knew. You don’t want someone to love you even though you have mood swings. You want someone who loves you, your highs, lows and all the mini moods in between. You deserve nothing less.
Scott, is so even keeled he has to tell me “Okay, now I’m mad” when he’s pissed off. It works for us because he mellows me out and I provide a bit of excitement…I guess? Who knows? After 10 years if it ain’t broke…
Keep taking those gorgeous pics. Your grandpa would be so impressed!
Hey cousin…thank you so much for saying all that. You know…it reminds me of a quote. Something like “if he doesn’t like the worst of me then he doesn’t deserve the best of me” or something like that. But yeah, I think good couples balance each other out a bit. So happy you found your other side of the teeter totter. :)
And thank you for saying that about the pics. It warmed my heart.
I love you.
beautiful writing, sally – thank you so much for this post.
i’ve always been an extreme emoter. :)
for a time, i tried to hold back my anger, my sadness, my negative feelings.
until i realized i was also blunting the force of my positive emotions as well.
not good. no more.
emotions are here to guide us, to teach us.
(and i always speak highly of them to my clients.)
i’m truly grateful that i can feel what the world presents to me so vividly and with such passion.