Life inertia, depression and why the little things are everything.


I’m a big cheerleader for noticing what some might call “the little things” in life.

I think the cumulative observation, consumption, staring-in-the-eyes-of and basking in the nuances of our daily lives draws us nearer to the hearth of what’s sacred in life. That’s what I think we see when we’re magnetically drawn to another person who is imbued with wisdom, sparkle, openness, and gratitude. The kind of gal that you just want to hang out with and get some of what she’s got, as intangible as it may be.

I don’t come from a place of rah-rahing this stuff just because it’s coach-y or a “technique” to use when you think life’s kind of meh … or that everything’s gone to shit.

The little things are a part of the treatment plan for my life. Ever since I was a young woman, I’ve dealt with occasional periods of depression and anxiety over the years.

My worst time in the ring with those struggles came  to a head a year ago this month. I had come to a time in my life that where I had created everything I set out to do — everything I ever wanted, with room to grow: age 41, amazing husband, beautiful and happy children, my own business, a strong, striking and healthy body, good friends, a loving extended family.

It was all there and there was more where that came from. And it scared the shit out of me. I was totally confounded by this and I was exhausted by thinking about my thoughts and why I had landed in this space where I felt so alone and so afraid in the warmth of my life.

There are lots of conclusions I came to, and am still coming to, as I do the ongoing work to manage my diagnosis. I think some of it had to do with being in a place of near constant action and reaction for many years — the building and rebuilding of things in life (I know you’ve read some of this before, but bear with me):

  • my parents marriage ending and all of us growing into what our family would be in fits and starts (and we are an awesome and resilient people, if I do say so myself)
  • I couldn’t have more babies. In fact, I lost baby after baby after baby (after baby). I was in the several doctor’s offices across the state like it was my job for two years trying to unravel that shit.
  • We had a baby (he’s five now) from Hawaii. We adopted him. I got on an airplane to get him the day he was born. It was an out-of-body, fairytale experience.
  • I couldn’t figure out “my purpose” — where I supposed to be in the realm of career, life’s work and all of that. I’ve earned two graduate degrees and certification through two coach training programs to figure it out.

Those are not little things — those are magnificent, life-altering events. That’s some big livin’ and I wouldn’t change one millisecond of it. But here’s what I’ve learned: the “bigness” of all of that caught up with me when life became less about striving or building and more about inhabiting what I’ve created and being open to what was next.

I think of it as “life inertia” — kind of like when I rode the TARC bus downtown to my high school every day and I had to stand if the seats were full. We’d glide into a stop, but if I let go of the hand strap, I’d sway and stumble to the front. I let go of my grip on things — things that were settled, resolved, completed or in-progress. And I didn’t know what to do. What was the next big thing? Or had I created a life that could be so big and full that I didn’t know how to participate in it?

Here’s what happened: I assembled a good team of people in my field to help me. To help me understand the narrative of my life so far. To help me find medicine that was exactly what my body needed to help me feel better and not like my mind was out of control. And that period also heralded my relationship with what it truly means to slow down more. It is a practice and I’m by no means perfect at it — and I don’t want to be perfect.

Perfect and I have danced for far too long and she keeps stepping on my feet. Maybe it’s like working a program when you’re an addict — you meet yourself where you are every day and go from there.

It is about the little things — savoring, noticing, collecting and appreciating. So along with my weekly therapy sessions, some work with the coaches I love (because coaches are the bomb-dot-com), the big container of my meds I lovingly organize every week and my “Happy Light” I bask in during the grey months, here are some of the little things that I appreciate that let me let myself be well. They are my own beams of extraordinary and they’re all around me.

  • The people I see every morning in the coffee shop starting their day — that one dude who looks like a Samoan body builder and drives a convertible Honda del Sol with primer on it (no matter the weather, it seems).
  • My offices at home and in the building where I rent space: I feel immediately at ease and like myself in those spaces — they are beautiful, inviting and warm.
  • When my son whistles Christmas carols.
  • My daughter’s music playing on her iPad when she’s taking a shower.
  • Those red velvet cupcakes they sell at Panera — I eat at least two a week.
  • My husband telling me  today that he had a dream last night where he was talking with his dad (who died last month). He asked him how old he was in heaven and he said “every age.” And that’s exactly what I knew he would say. 
  • I really do stop, turn towards the sky and look at the moon when I roll the recycling bin out on Wednesday nights. It is so grounding and so peaceful.
  • The snow day Friday with my kids where we ate breakfast for lunch and crawled along the icy streets to get home while Christmas music played on the car radio.
  • Standing by the fire last night with my friend Alice at our kids’ school during Bardstown Road Aglow.
  • Hallmark Channel holiday movies — I’m surprised by how well some of them are written. Pleasantly, merrily surprised.
  • My friend and I going through some big life stuff and circling back to one another with the little things that bring girlfriends together: food, wine, talking and listening.
  • Chai, 1/2  a biscotti and odd patches of conversation while I write this at Heine Bros. I love humanity.

Sunday afternoon

The little things are all around you, too. I’d love to know what your “little things” are — the more we share with one another, the more we lift one another up.  Leave some in the comments. 


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10 thoughts on “Life inertia, depression and why the little things are everything.

  1. Susan Ribar

    My little things are: Long texts with Beth at the end of the day.
    Big, bear hugs from Matt during his lunch break at work.
    Listening to Richard snore at night.
    Listening to music in my car as loud at I want.
    Starbuck’s soy chai.
    Finding a mascara that is truly waterproof and lasts all day.
    The smells of Christmas.
    A good white wine.
    A good laugh with Richard.
    Long afternoons reading a book.
    Love you, girl!

  2. cheri wood

    My little things are…listening to the kitchen sounds when the kids wake before me.
    Finding You can’t always get what you want (stones) when I’m alone in the car and I can rock right into Keith’s guitar riffs
    The kinship at my school..we know that we can, on a given day, face lots of adversity…but we make it a positive ..and thru that we are family.
    My drive to work..turkeys, deer,provincial and owls I thank them for sharing their environment
    My husband and very diverse group of 6 grandmothermother that meet me where I am for the most part
    My grandchildren and the discovery of a love that is so amazing only another grandmother understands
    Anne rice…she just seemed to know my love of wolves had to be set to paper
    And….the joyous pride I have in you daughter….You are amazing and I feel blessed to have had a hand in birthing you

  3. I love these so much! Thank you for sharing all of these — and I love you, too.

  4. Shawna Hickok

    I know of that same guy who drives the primer car! I see him often 🙂 The little things to me, include my favorite coffee barista Kenny at Heine bros asking me about my weekend and knowing my order each morning before work; the drive to the office where I crank up my 80s music or alternative rock stuff and zone out as I start my day, kisses from my dogs when I get home each day and watching their tails wag with excitement as if I’ve been gone for a week; conversations with my mom about God knows what ( I love that woman so much); and random conversations with Random people in random places! I love people and love meeting interesting new ones! This is just a short list, I could go on and on! Embrace the small!!!! And. Laura, you kick ass by the way! Xoxo!

  5. Shawna — my favorite respiratory therapist! I miss you, boo. You celebrate life every day and I notice — that’s the beauty of the connection that Facebook can be — witnessing and being inspired by the people we’re connected to in some way. Music seems to be a common thread for lots of us — I may start accumulating a playlist soon. OX

  6. My little things:
    A fresh bagel from Nancy’s.
    Going for a run with my running partner who happens to be one of my favorite people and closest friend.
    Listening to my 19 month old giggle hysterically when one of us tickles her. While we’re on the subject, toddler kisses are pretty fantastic too.
    Those magical moments when she’s asleep–either napping or down for the night–and my husband and I get to reconnect with one another or enjoy watching a movie together.
    Reading the newspaper, uninterrupted.
    A spirited game of Rummy or Spades.
    Walks. In the snow, in the cold, my favorites on warm spring and summer nights, but best of all–with my husband, daughter and dog-ter.

  7. Beth Blankenship

    Little things are huge and one that amazes me, is how after many many years, you Laura, are still in my life. I am so grateful for your classroom instruction and how you have shared your life and I have seen you bloom.

  8. Elizabeth – I love ANY kind of uninterrupted reading. And I’ve always wanted to learn to play a card game — seriously, I don’t do anything beyond Go Fist.

    B. Blank! – Thank you so much — it’s a joy to watch you in amazement, as well. Big love to you.

  9. Patti Joyce

    My favorite little things that keep me present:
    Reading the Daily Word each morning before getting out of bed.
    Going for a morning walk in nature every day ( rain or shine) with my dogs. My dogs love it!
    Dose of exercise ( Pilates, Yoga, Weight Training).
    Getting to know and understand the game of football with my husband. We watch it together on Sundays.
    Finish the day reading the Daily Word again.
    Review my day for all the good that happened!
    Thank God for all the good , smile and breath!

  10. Patti — thanks for sharing these. I have a few things I like to read from each day — The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie, The Book of Awakenings by Mark Nepo and most recently, a book of daily meditations called Jesus Calling that a friend of mine from high school gave to me after my father-in-law died last month. They are gorgeous meditations.

    And thanks, smile and breathe — that encompasses it all. Thanks for sharing these, Patti — so grateful. ~ Laura