Welcome to Fall 2018 where the snow flies and water freezes before the leaves drop! Such is life here in the north country this year. Last week was a tough week: I was physically and mentally exhausted. Adding to the exhaustion was disappointment after my plans to head to Hogtoberfest 2018 fell apart on Tuesday. I needed a change or pace and a change of environment. In this podcast, I talk about my October doldrums, how I spent the week recuperating and retooling on a number of fronts and overcoming October blues.
To listen to the Overcoming October Blues Podcast, please click the player below (or download the episode and listen to the MP3):
Start of the October Blues
We have had almost two weeks of rain in Minnesota as of Friday, October 12, 2018. The rain turned into snow on Thursday, October 11, and it caught us all off guard (little did we know that we would get more than a few flakes on Sunday, October 14).
It is unusual to get snow this early in Minnesota.As I have mentioned on other Small Scale Life Podcasts, we are usually getting our first frost in Zone 4B on October 10th, not snow. Of course, we have had blizzards late in October like the infamous Halloween Blizzard of 1991. That was a very dangerous storm, especially for some dumb college-age kids going to a costume party and getting snowed in at a house (right, Julie)? At least Jules and I looked fabulous in our costumes!
The bottom line is that everything is confused in the northland this year. I firmly believe the strange weather has had an impact on the trees (many haven’t changed their colors yet), plants and people. I know I am confused at the weather. Are we in fall or winter now? I don’t know. All I know is that this strange weather and early winter mix certainly contributed to my October blues.
Beyond the weather, my week was punctuated by some required FEMA training that chewed up gobs of time and took a lot of concentration. It was interesting to learn about incident and emergency response and organization during events while Hurricane Michael slammed Florida’s Gulf Coast. That Hurricane ravaged areas we used to frequent, and I would recommend people support relief efforts. There is a lot of destruction down there, and some folks don’t have the funds to rebuild their lives. I certainly feel for those folks, and I really encourage everyone to find a charity to help with the reconstruction of the Gulf Coast.
While the weather was truly up in the air last week, my plans to go Hogtoberfest 2018 fell apart. I was completing my FEMA training, and some family obligations blew up my phone. I had to let my friend Greg Burns know that I couldn’t attend, and that really sank my spirits. I had talked about going all year long, and then…nothing.
I really didn’t want to make promises I couldn’t keep, and I apologize to the Burns family and all the Ohio Get Stuff Done Crew. It didn’t work out this year, and I feel terrible about that. This certainly helped contribute to my October blues “bigly.” How can I preach about the importance of small community and not attend something like this? Family is important, however. I just feel bad about it.
At the same time, Julie and I finished the basement project on the weekend of October 6th. We spent the whole weekend hustling on the project, and as I put in the last piece of trim and shelving in the room, I could almost breathe a sigh of relief and relax.
The completion of the project triggered a reconfiguration of ¾ of the house and the garage. It was like toppling over the first domino on a long, long string of other dominoes! We moved furniture into the house, moved furniture around the house and cleaned as we moved stuff.
It was a lot of work, and I was really worn out at the end of it all. We were all worn out: Julie and I were totally exhausted. While we embraced the chaos and got a lot of work done, it took its toll. We needed a break. Exhaustion certainly seems to be a factor in the October blues.
My October Blues
The weather, the long (boring) training, the disappointment and exhaustion came together in a perfect storm. I had a case of the October blues, and I just lost all motivation to blog and/or podcast last week. I needed a break, and I just could not bring myself to be cheerful and happy. I could not get the motivation to do anything with Small Scale Life. I could barely post pictures on Instagram!
I really didn’t snap out of this funk until I hit the road on Friday, October 12th (the date I recorded the podcast). It took getting into the country, stopping at a lake and watching the geese swim peacefully over the calm waters before my spirits lifted. The sun burning through the grey clouds also brought me to smile. It was like a breath of fresh air, and I started to feel recharged and refreshed.
The Old Office Days
I am very thankful for my current job. Back in the old days when I worked in an office, there were days when I would go into work and not see the sun. My calendar was filled with never-ending meetings, and the only break from the cube and meetings were trips to talk to cities, politicians, clients or sometimes a hostile public. Probably some of the better days were taking decision-makers and other interested parties on tours, and even then I would get sneers from pedestrians and cyclists.
Did I mention getting sick in these cube wastelands? Yes, sick employees passing germs around was the norm of this life as well.
Change is Coming
Change is in the air all around us. Seasons are changing, and it is time to get out and enjoy one of nature’s best shows. The crisp mornings and evenings, the changing leaves and quiet nights are meant to be enjoyed.
Our home has undergone a massive transformation. We completed the basement project, and we rearranged the entire house. We cleaned out the garage, and once again Julie can park in it.
The pets have changed their environments: Karma the Wonder Dog stays in the lower level most of the time, and Princess LuLu is based in the spare bedroom/Small Scale Life Podcast Studio. Both share the upstairs living room during different times of the day, and Karma the Wonder Dog is separated from the upper level with a doggie gate.
Recuperating and Retooling: Overcoming October Blues
Going into the country and spending some time around small towns, lakes and streams helped me to recuperate and retool. As Greg Burns told me once in a Small Scale Life Podcast:
“Water is life.”
For me, this is true. I have thought a lot about what I am passionate about and what I love doing, and water is a key for me. I enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking, canoeing and boating. I grew up on the water, and I want this to be part of my Small Scale Life.
Small Scale Life
I started Small Scale Life in 2015 to talk about more than gardening. So far, it has been a solo affair with me doing the bulk of the work with the social media, blog and podcast. It has been challenging at times given life commitments, my job and other factors.
We are going to start retooling Small Scale Life.
Note that I said “we.” I am pleased that Julie wants to help more with this project, and Julie and I have been doing a lot of introspection about the why behind the podcast and what is that important thing behind what we are doing. Why are we doing all of this work? What is the point?
Those questions will be answered in time. We are doing a lot of thinking about where we want to be and what we want to be doing. We are inspired by others who have made the journey and are positively impacting and helping other people. We have stories to tell!
Over time, we are going to slowly improve Small Scale Life. We want this site to work well and function like we intended. There are things I need to build and improve. We want it to reflect the kind of Small Scale Life we want to lead.
I am thrilled Julie is going to be jumping in and helping! We are going to have a lot of fun sharing our adventures and things we have learned from our experiences from running small businesses and operating in the boardrooms of various firms. We might stand on a mountain of failure, but at least we have tried and learned a few things along the way.
Putting It All Together
We all get down on ourselves for choices and decisions we make and the cards that life deals us. Some things are out of our control. Other things are direct results of our actions. These things came come together in a perfect storm and overwhelm us.
I don’t have an easy, fail-safe method for overcoming October blues. Each one of us is different. Maybe meditation, journaling or yoga is your thing. Maybe running, cycling or throwing up weights helps in overcoming October blues. Some might be like me and need to hit the road and change your environment.
The key is, however, finding that THING that brings you joy and helps in overcoming October blues.
Unfortunately, life is a full contact sport, and it demands your full participation. If you don’t, it will make you move one way or another.
Like in our own lives, we feel like we are just getting started. There is a lot of work that needs to be done, and we have many mountains to cross. That is the whole point of learning, doing and growing, isn’t it?
We have a lot of exciting things in the works. I recently recorded a podcast with Drew Sample from The Sample Hour, and we are working on getting Michael Bell back on the show.
At the same time, our son Danny is running an ultra-marathon next weekend, and Savannah, Julie and I are going to be his road crew. This will be an amazing experience, although probably not on the scale as his 50-mile ultra trail run during the April 2018 Blizzard.
I am going to start the Dom100Project soon, and I will have more details on that later. Needless to say, I started this blog with a desire to improve my fitness, and I have once again failed. However, it is never to late to start anew, and like the phoenix, I will rise from my own pile of ashes once again. I believe that starting this journey will help with overcoming October blues or any other blues that come my way. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Finally, I have been working with Harold Thornbro from Small Town Homestead, and I am pleased to tell you that I am a moderator at his forum on his membership site. I am going to be producing threads and content on his forums, and I would encourage you to join us there. Let’s build something away from Facebook and other social media platforms, where a simple comment, photo or video can get you banned from the platform. Let’s build our community together!
As we roll towards our fourth year, the future is bright. I have recuperated and retooled, and we are going places together! Take my hand….let’s go!
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