How to Beat November Doldrums

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a view from our window

I don’t know about you, but I struggle to keep my spirits up in November. The cold, damp, dreary weather reflects my foul mood.  I am surrounded by germs a go-go at the school where I teach. The bacterial infection that I seem to breed within my bone marrow attacks every November leaving my body inflamed with a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, tight chest, achy joints and pounding head.

From my attic window, my bird’s eye view of the countryside reminds me to celebrate each season. In the foreground, spindly naked, tree branches bend low in the north wind. Barren fields line the auburn earth, and white caps dotting silver-colored Lake Geneva send chills down my spine. In the distance, the snow-patched Alps loom like a figment of my imagination. Layers of billowy clouds in various shades of grey roll overhead like waves on a churning sea.

With gratitude on my lips, I focus on the positive to help endure the November blues.

  • Birthdays. My beloved son was born 23 years ago. My treasured niece also shares a November birthday.
  • Basketball. Hoop season begins! I can follow my favorite teams again.
  • Harvest. Though I would have trouble growing dandelions, I grew up in a farm rich community and now live beside vineyards, orchards and fields.  Every year, I marvel at the harvest and admire the men and women who work the fields to fill our tables.

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    the fields in autumn with the Alps in the background

  • Thanksgiving. A table laden with turkey and all its trimmings is always a reminder to be grateful for family, friends, and mother nature’s bounty
  • Walk. I lean into the wind on my way to school feeling blessed for the ability to move my limbs. Each step I take I remember to be grateful to have a job.
  • Family. My husband lovingly shows his support by creating a program to keep track of my schedule when I start a regime of antibiotics and anti-viral again.
  • Voices. Once so rare due to cost, long distance phone calls, now offer a lifesaving link. Occasionally, old friends surprise me, my sisters ring regularly, my Big Kids Skype-in and as reliable as a church service, my parents call every Sunday. Support seeps through the lines in the voices that sustain me.
  • People. The best way to avoid a self-pity party is to focus on someone else. I help edit my senior student’s essay, reassure a distraught parent via email, and mail a sympathy card to a friend to acknowledge the pain of her loss.

take a walk on the wild side

When your health falters, bad weather hits and the sad, dark days of late autumn bring you down – go for a walk, reach out, connect, engage, and share gratitude.

What keeps you going in November?

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Posted in family, health, humor, inspiration, social view.


  1. Just lovely Pat, you always raise everyone else’s spirits through your writing about such interesting things. I also used to dread November when living in the northern hemisphere; it was a symbol of the long dark tunnel of winter… it marks the birthday of my eldest brother who no longer is with us… it was always a time when my young kids got sick and I juggled this plus a very demanding role at uni. It’s strange, but now I am heading towards a full-blown summer in Australia in November, my kids are older so they are rarely ill now, my job is more flexible and slows down for the December ‘summer’… I run regularly in the November sunshine and practise yoga on the lawn to banish the blues… So I think November is beginning to not get such a hard time from me. I try to see my cup as half full and not half empty at any time of the year, but it is human nature to spiral down at times. With your health problems, you are bound to feel low, mentally speaking. But in my memory of you, I always saw you as such a wise, warm and positive spirit in the flesh. From afar, you still play that role through your words and glorious pictures here, reminding me of my other ‘home’ in Europe. A sunny hug to you from Australia to keep your inner light burning, love Rach xx

    • Aw thanks, Rach, for sending sunshine and a warm, uplifting hug from Australia. I often wonder if there is something in the air here that plays into my respiratory problems. You remember those days when the mountains trap the cloud cover and smog over the area for days on end and it makes me feel like my lungs are collapsing. But today that ol’ northeastern Bise blew in to clear the air and I am up and at ’em ready to attack the work week. Glad you are enjoying all that Down Under has to offer, but wish you were closer to lead me in the warrior pose.

  2. November is a bummer….at my 7:15 am exercise class, the “perky” instructor sent us Seniors out to do a lap. We all, took it slow and complained about the weather change, the time change and all of our various aches and pains. When we got back in the room, Ms. Perky said, how is everybody. I said we don’t like the weather, the time change and we have a lot of aches and pains. She smiled and said, “Let’s Go”. The music started and so did we! Point Taken…Let’s Go!! Happy November…April is a blink away (I hope).

    • Wouldn’t it be great to have a perky senior leading the exercise class, someone that could understand the aches and pains of age. Good on you for your “Let’s go” attitude. You may not like the situation, but you don’t let that stop you! Up with birds and out the door, indeed. Happy Thanksgiving, Barb. You sure earned that turkey dinner.

  3. My big sister taught me that when I’m blue, just distract myself. Get busy with something even if I don’t feel like doing it. So now I’m all itchy from tearing the dead morning glory vines off my dang fence.

  4. Thanks Pat, reading your inspiring post just lifted the fog hovering about, trying to invade my spirit! And felt the beginning of your post read like a thought provoking short story. Food for thought:)

    Peace & blessings,

  5. Lovely walks in your area. I am so lucky that we got a puppy last month. She is an easy way to beat the blahs. She also gets me walking rain, shine, and even frigid cold. How can a puppies cute face looking up at you allow for any doldrums to creep in? Great ideas from you too!

    • Oh yes, those puppy eyes! If I didn’t travel so often, I would get a dog to drag me out on the cold, rainy,feeling down in the dumps kind of days. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. Sis, I know November is always a struggle for you especially with your health challenges. But no one
    inspires me more than you do with your ability to find the positive in everything and everyone…. and to carry on spreading goodness wherever you go. When I reflect on my Thanksgiving blessings this week, you will be at the top of the list. Love you.

  7. My Dear Pat, You remind us all that our darkest moments can lead us to our richest blessings. In the face of chronic illness, you focus on so many blessings. This post could easily be the seeds for your own guidebook on the power of a positive attitude to heal and bring hope to beleaguered spirits.. The scenery that surrounds you is breathtaking. Blessings and Hugs to you.

    • Thanks, Kathy. Yes, on a clear day, I often draw strength from the majesty that surrounds me. When I can, on those fog filled days, I just close the shutters, crawl back under the duvet, and read a good book.

  8. Pat, November isn’t the “cruelest” month for me — that honor goes to February (which, thankfully, is also the shortest month!). Here, generally, we can count on at least a few sunny days, where I can curl up in a bright window and soak in the warmth. Also, there are visits from family, holiday feasts, and presents to buy, as well as that end-of-the-year blitz to wrap work projects up. But yes, exercise definitely helps — so does a cup of hot chocolate now and then!

    • Unfortunately, Thanksgiving is not a holiday here. I usually try to celebrate it, but this year I just can’t muster up the energy. All schools in Switzerland and France have time off in February -called ski week- so that helps beat the blues that month. Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Actually I really like November. Leaves do not start to turn here in Georgia until the middle of November – and then the colors are stunning. The weather has finally cooled down with no humidity and we can go on hikes and walks to watch the beautiful scenery. Thanksgiving is around the corner and then it’s time to get ready for the end of year holidays. I just read a phrase by an American author, and I agree with her, she says “Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” Lauren DeStefano.

    • Yes, autumn is beautiful, but our fall already fell. We had snow last week. So, “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow” and bring on the holidays. Do you ever see the white stuff in Georgia?

  10. Pat, I’ve not been reading blogs because my back hurts when I sit in front of the computer.I’m so glad I read yours. Thank you for the inspiration and the reminder that no matter what, life is still an excellent adventure. You are truly an inspiration. Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

    • Delana, I was starting to worry about you. Oh la la, the bad back! I could write a book about it. It really curbs our style, but you do you have a laptop? I have taught myself to type while laying down to keep the pressure off my spine. Which part of the back is bothering you? I can send you a bunch of exercises…rehab is my middle name when it comes to the spine. I hope you mend quickly and can get back to your adventures. Happy Thanksgiving back at, dear buddy.

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