As a writer, letters and words constantly float around in my mind. Sometimes they make sense. Sometimes they don’t. But when the letters and words come together to form sentences, I have the beginning of a story, and I will not rest until that story unfolds under the guidance of my nimble fingers on the keyboard.
Both a blessing and a curse, this phenomenon most frequently occupies my mind when I am nodding off to sleep. It is a constant game of Boggle or any number of word games floating around in the abyss of my subconscious, gnawing and nagging until I doze off.
Occasionally, a word will stick, and I will repeat it over and over in my mind, trying to make sense of it, questioning how I can understand it, or better yet, how I can utilize this word in my writing since it is not going away until I do.
Such was the case with the word rumination. At a doctor’s appointment a few months ago, I had my choice while sitting in the waiting room: select the current People magazine to find out how the Duchess of Cambridge is dealing with the new decade as she turns 40 OR challenge myself by reading Psychology Today to potentially learn something new. I thought I would be smart, google Kate’s dilemma later, and purposefully select Psychology Today.
Inside the pages of this prestigious publication was a brief snippet about rumination; what it means and how we handle it in our day-to-day life. The article was short enough that I finished it while waiting for the doctor and short enough where I could retain the information until I could rid myself of the word. Rumination; it has stuck with me ever since.
According to Dictionary.com, rumination is a noun defined as: 1. The act or pondering or musing on something, or 2. The act or process of chewing the cud, like a cow. For the purpose of this brief discussion, let’s go with meaning Number One (hee-hee). We can all relate to focusing on something perhaps too long (i.e., words in my head!) where it becomes worrisome or obsessive. Hold on. This is where psychology comes in.
In order to keep ourselves from going down the proverbial rabbit hole of turning rumination into a negative obsession, we need to channel that energy elsewhere. If we cannot get negative thoughts out of our head, take a break from ruminating and…go fly a kite! But seriously, get yourself busy with a task that will take your mind away from pondering whether your son is going to make a team at school or if your daughter is going to get into the college of her choice. No good can come from the worry we cannot control.
So…take the negative vibe and turn it into something positive. It doesn’t have to be huge, and it doesn’t have to be all-encompassing; it just needs to be distracting. Fold laundry, walk the dog, write a letter, work on a puzzle, call a friend, shop online, bake cookies, ride a bike, listen to music – whatever makes you happy and cleanses your mind. Simplify. Do not take on unnecessary worry.
Conversely, if you are stuck on rumination, make it positive. Channel images of a long-awaited family vacation or the professional proofs for your senior’s yearbook photo or the glee of Grandparents’ Day for your preschooler. If rumination makes you smile, go for it. If not, find that kite and fly it high!
Oh, and in case you are wondering what I do with rumination overload in my own life, well, you guessed it. Word games. Any and every time I need a break to recharge and refocus. I cannot get away from the words inside my head. Sigh.
Now, go fly a kite!
To view the full Newsletter online, click here