Around this time of year, I think we all get a little cranky. In Maine, we call it cabin fever and it leads to headlines like Woman Grabs Remote, Shatters Slider. (In more urban areas, it’d be Woman Grabs Ax, Slays Six.) What with the snow, the short days, the frost heaves, potholes, high heating costs and the pounds we’ve packed on since November, clinical depression is about one whoopie pie away for some of us.
If you find yourself googling Prozac and buying snack food in warehouse club-sized packages, maybe it’s time that you took a few steps to lift yourself out of this February funk. As usual, I have a few suggestions that have worked for me. While I can’t say that these changes have me frisking around the house like a spring lamb, they have moved me away from muttering “All is lost” and allowed me to unlock the sharp objects again.
First of all, I’d urge you to lose the news. If you have it on your homepage remove it. If your homepage is CNN, MSNBC or even the BBC, get outta there. Change your homepage to Pogo or PBS Kids or the site I use for a homepage now: Good News Network Earth News. You have no idea how much nicer it is to start the day by reading that it was a record year for the Blue Butterfly in England, even though it had disappeared back in the 70’s, rather than that 80 more people were blown up by a suicide bomber. Besides, I already know that people are blowing up people over religion and politics, but I had no idea that Blue Butterflies were back. I am SO chuffed.
I do a lot of research into environmental topics as part of my freelance work. Unfortunately, the news is often grim and discouraging. That we’re still arguing whether human activities are changing our planet’s ecosystem in bad ways is so ridiculous, it’s a wonder that suicide bombers don’t blow up more oil tycoons. Most days, I spend hours sifting through news items about habitat loss, bees dying off, Teflon in rivers and greedy corporations prevailing against good people who are trying to get toxins out of our food and water. By the time I’m done, I’m daunted and ready to throw in my organic cotton, fair trade, sweatshop-free towel, I’ll tell you.
That’s when I turn to sites like Good News Network and Gimundo until I’ve read enough to refuel for fighting the good fight. They have the stories that you hear at the very end of the major newscasts. You know, the heart-warming human interest stories that Faux News shows between videos of dismembered bodies and a commercial for drugs that are “okay” because they’re prescription. Only, instead of focusing on doom, gloom and stupid sheeple, these sites show another side of the human race, one which doesn’t get enough press.
Lest you think I’m an isolationist in denial, I assure you that I keep up with the news still. I know what’s going on in the world probably better than most people do, because knowing what’s going on is part of how I earn a living. (I’m incredibly curious and nosy too.) However, I’ve opted to stop having the news from the giant news corporations in my face every time I sign on or look up a bookmark. Instead, I go to a few sites like TruthDig, Open Secrets, Common Dreams and Alternet.
Then I call up my friend, Carolyn, our town’s version of Reuters, and she gives me the real news – like who the Carlin’s oldest daughter picked up in Portland last weekend when she was supposed to be picking up bargains at LL Bean’s outlet store. (Photos at 11, when Carolyn gets them loaded and emails me.) By the time I get done talking to Carolyn, reading emails from my feminist friends at FSN (pronounced fizzin) and my funny, interesting brother, I’m good to go for another 24 hours and even think that I might make it through ’til spring.
If you know of any websites that I should add to my list, let me know. Now, I’m off to read today’s edition of The Onion, see what the site of the day is at Humor at About.com and then put together a word search puzzle for Daughter. Cheers!