Grumpy in the seventh-inning stretch

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Stupid groundhog.

I mean really. Would it have hurt him to just blink a little and say, “Naw, that’s not my shadow. Spring is on the way!”

Truthfully, I know I’m in trouble when Punxsutawney Phil is ticking me off.

Maybe “trouble” is not the right word. I think I am joining the group I have fought so hard to stay out of for these past months-and-months-and-months: The “Tired of Everything” club.

I’m tired of cooking. Tired of eating out. Tired of not cooking and eating sandwiches. Tired of television. Tired of Facebook. Tired of Google. Tired of not working. Tired of working. Tired of my office, my family room, my bedroom. I’m even tired of my car, not that it’s seen much pedal-to-the-metal lately anyway.

I’m tired of my husband playing golf. I’m tired of my husband NOT playing golf. I’m tired of looking for hobbies and tired of being bored with what I find.

Mostly, I am tired of inertia.

My mother used to call me Pollyanna. Sometimes she said it in an endearing way, an affirmation of my ability to find that silver lining. Other times, it was an exasperated oath as I refused to accept certain realities.

Today, however, I am just grumpy.

I guess the weariness is to be expected. Face it, it’s been a hard world for Pollyannas. I have fought to keep myself positive, to look ahead, and to believe. I have a very strong faith, and it has sustained me. It supports me still, down deep. The positive surface emotions, however, are waning.

Because I believe that, for the most part, attitude is a choice, I went looking for things to help fight off these doldrums. I started with some affirmations:

  1. I believe this will end, and we will see a return to normalcy. I see progress and steps toward a more familiar world.
  2. I believe I have been blessed during these trying times, and those blessings must be appreciated and celebrated. Losing hope is not an appropriate response.

Building on the psychobabble is the next step. I am a person of action, a problem-solver, so I always have to have a plan. I don’t know if any of these will help you as we traverse these next months, but I wanted to share them:

  • Within your comfort level, act on what choices you have. Don’t be unwilling to try something new and different. Learn to play a new card game, even if it’s online. Start a Zoom book club. Read children’s books to your grandchildren a couple of nights a week. Bake something you have always wanted to try but never have. I am thinking of learning to make pasta, or trying (again) to make a decent pie crust.
  • Push stress away. Do what will make you feel better.
  • Binge-watch something light and funny, like game shows or old sitcoms. Netflix has so many old television shows that you can surely find something to make you laugh: “WKRP in Cincinnati,” “Mary Tyler Moore,” “Fantasy Island,” “Barney Miller.”
  • Give yourself a brief at-home vacation by unplugging and recharging yourself. Breathe. Try chair yoga. Go to and check out the at-home classes.
  • Look forward and plan for better days. Yes, sometimes this just depresses me because I don’t know WHEN I will be able to activate those plans. But, in the long run, having something on the books to do months from now is a positive.
  • Make time every day to do something for yourself that has meaning. Mediate, read your Bible, do your devotions.
  • The last one is always the hardest for me: Give yourself a break. This is hard. It won’t last forever, but today, this is hard.

Even as a grumpy Pollyanna, I believe we are in the homestretch. We’ll make it.

Take that, you silly groundhog.

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.


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