Moody? Me?

Raise your hand if you’re subject to mood swings.

There are two big problems with retirement: 1) Way too much time to think, and 2) Nobody wants to listen to your problems.

So many of today’s issues have to do with the emotional rollercoaster that seems to be a ride that just doesn’t end. Whether it’s COVID-19, politics and the divide it causes, information overload, appropriate behavior versus spontaneity, a lack of sleep, family issues, the weather; to name a few.

Learning how to cope with the ups and downs of our emotions is key to finding joy in the mundane and appreciating the sublime.

How I Keep Mood Swings in Check

  • The most important way for me to remain positive and upbeat, is to sleep. If I do not get at least seven hours, I’m a mess. It means going to bed before 10:00 p.m. and keeping my bed time consistent. For me, the worst culprit for sleep interruption is a thought loop. The same concern or scenario playing over and over, keeping me wide awake at 2:00 a.m. Getting out of bed and doing something, even if it’s a trip to the kitchen for a glass of water, is the only thing that will stop it.
  • Meditation is a big help to curtail moodiness. Even for as little as ten minutes — just sitting quietly or taking a walk in the park can be restorative.
  • Consider what is troubling you and face it head on. I was moody and sluggish last week; woke up stressed, struggled with a trip to the gym (fortunately due to guilt, the gym usually wins), and pissy with Paco (my dog). I was experiencing this without considering the cause. When I sat down and thought about it, I realized it was upcoming travel and my ambivalence about it due to new COVID-19 restrictions. I decided the trip was not worth the worry — imagine paying big bucks to sit in your hotel room and ordering Uber Eats because restaurants can only do takeout. I figured out that I could reschedule most of my plans in Germany and the Netherlands, without losing all of the money I had already laid out. After spending about an hour shuffling around air reservations and hotels/Airbnbs, I felt 100% better. I realize of course that this simple exercise does not work for all matters of the heart and mind.
  • Gratitude — I’m not sure when I learned this, but I know for certain is wasn’t in my home growing up; however, considering all the things that you have in your life to be grateful for, it is a great way to put things into perspective and cheer yourself up.
  • Treat myself to dinner out. Living alone is my choice and I enjoy the solitude; however, a nice dinner out with or without friends, is more often than not, a pleasurable experience.
  • Cut back on alcohol. I find that more than one cocktail or several glasses of wine will interrupt sleep and make me moody during the day. Instead of pouring a full glass of wine, I pour half and sip.

It’s Not Fair to Other People

I didn’t have to have someone else tell me that I was sometimes moody. I figured it out on my own. I was tipped off by a question that I am often asked: “Are you okay?”

My mom was bipolar. We never knew what sort of mood she’s be in; I hated it so much. No doubt that everybody has a bad day, but keeping people guessing about whether you’ll be smiling or biting their heads off, isn’t fair. For me, this is something I should be aware of and do something about. The receptionist at my gym seems to be the most in touch with my moods and she calls me on it. Considering I walk in by 7:00 a.m., it’s a good gauge for me — I can power up the positive energy or take it down a notch; nobody likes a person who is over the top cheerful. Haven’t you had this thought: “What kind of drugs is he on?”

Clinical Depression

I don’t know a whole lot about clinical depression and other illnesses/chemical imbalances that cause mood changes. I do know that there are prescription medications that can help. Some people have no choice but to take medication. Meds should be monitored by a professional on a regular basis. I know a few people whose lives were saved by meds.

I’m trying to keep chemicals out of my body; therefore, at least for now, I’m sticking with the more holistic approach (see above). My particular situation has more to do with unrealistic expectations and being way too hard on myself; neither is uncommon.

7 Causes of Mood Swings, A. Vogel

Four Tips to Ease Your Mood Swings, Centerstone

Quotes about Moodiness (31 quotes)


I am not including my travel schedule because it keeps changing. Rather than frustrate myself with modifications, I’d rather leave it up to the universe. I think the media is sensationalizing the Omicron variant; waiting it out is more prudent. The good news is that I got the Pfizer booster and I’m fairly well protected . . . I think.

I’m going to stay local for a few days next week and spend some time on the Algarve coast. Looking out on the ocean and long walks at the beach, keep me grounded.

Alvor, Portugal at dusk

The Power of Your Smile

“Always wear a smile because you never know who is watching.” Gracie Gold



I want to smile more. I do. One would think that this would be an easy goal, but trust me, if you’re not inclined to smile, deciding to do so, just like that, is a difficult objective. I was born cynical, but coming up in my world, how could I not be. I also believe this is one of those nature/nurture arguments. Was I cynical because of my genetic makeup or did growing up in a tortured household make me cynical. For the purpose of this piece, let’s call it a draw and say that both factors are the cause. The point is, I have to work at smiling and how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.

“Love yourself for who you are, and trust me, if you are happy from within, you are the most beautiful person, and your smile is your best asset.” Ileana D’Cruz

Some Ways/Places to Practice Smiling

  • Tell yourself to smile every morning. You can do it when you’re brushing your teeth. It won’t take any more time out of your busy day. Soon it will be as routine as brushing; you won’t even think about it.
  • Add a little caveat to practicing your smile:  make it so that you cannot smile unless you add something you’re grateful for. For example:  this morning, before I brushed my teeth, I thought about how grateful I was that I slept well and then I smiled.
  • Practice while you’re doing something mundane — like when you’re on the treadmill at the gym or while you’re riding in a bus or on the subway.
  •  Look straight into a mirror and keep smiling.
  • Practice with a friend or family member. Let them tell you what they think of your smile and accept the feedback. Is it genuine? Too broad? Too big?


Be Your Own Motivator

I have a friend whom I met at a gym in Portland, Maine. He was struggling on an abdominal machine near where I was working out. He saw me watching him and asked me if I knew how to use the machine. I hopped on and did a few reps (gym lingo for repetitions just to show you how cool I can be). Chomba is from Zambia, he studied in Europe, he’s in his 20s and he’s quite a specimen; naturally I was pleased to show him how to use the machine correctly. Like any normal man, I preened and walked away triumphant. A few days later I saw him using the same machine and he was smiling ear-to-ear. Honestly, Chomba has the most genuine and beautiful smile I have ever seen. I noticed him using the very same machine on a regular basis. I finally approached him and asked him if he used any other equipment at the gym. He shared a big laugh and thanked me for showing him how to use the machine. I said, “Chomba, because I always see you on this ab machine, I am naming it the Chomba Machine.” From then on I when I would see him I would ask if he had done his ab reps on the Chomba machine that day.

Weeks went by of just saying hello in the gym and I thought it was time to become friends outside of Planet Fitness. I approached him and invited him over to my place for dinner. I was having a dinner party and I thought he’d be a great addition to my guest list. Chomba was delighted and came to my place with a nice bottle of wine. Everyone at party fell in love with him. He’s the kind of person who lights up the room and makes everyone feel special. That night I learned that he was a motivator working out of Boston. His firm was hired by companies to motivate their staff (Chomba if I’m getting this all wrong I apologize). What I loved more than anything is that he did not boast about his work or his life. We had to poke and pry before he came clean. Chomba is a modest fella. By the way, Chomba models now and always stays in touch. I’m grateful for his candor, his loyalty and his beautiful smile.

What Chomba has taught me is invaluable. Essentially, you can be your own motivator. You can do what he does, but in your own head. You can get yourself charged-up and energized whenever you feel yourself needing a little boost.



Having been a sociology student in college, I often love to go back to my roots and do human interaction (behavior) experiments. I like to occasionally spend the day smiling all day just to see how people respond to it. I also enjoy seeing if it affects my mood.

I have to say that I get pretty amazing results:

  • People almost always smile back.
  • It sometimes feels like you’re waking someone up and suddenly they seem to come alive.
  • It makes me feel lighter.
  • The results make me want to do it more often.
  • Sometimes it makes strangers laugh; especially when I smile really big. I’m thinking, they must think I’m crazy, but who cares.
  • There is a reason for the saying “A smile goes a long way.”
  • I am in the middle of a very frustrating experience with an upgrade to my apartment. The person responsible for getting the work done has been slacking off and it’s sort of driving me crazy. The project began 14 months ago. I decided to give him an ultimatum knowing that he might walk away from the job. Instead, when I saw him I smiled. It appears that is not what he expected and I believe he may be close to finishing the job. Yesterday, I received a call from a man who will hopefully complete the job this week.


Current Mood

One of the interesting things about blogging is how your mood and thoughts change as you work through a particular thread of thoughts. I woke today in a non-smiling mood. You may relate to what I’m feeling, except that I don’t quite know what I am feeling. What I do know, is that I don’t feel like smiling. I had an interaction yesterday that was troubling and it’s still on my mind. I’m pissed to put it bluntly.

I am going to work through these feelings and thoughts by forcing a smile and see where it takes me . . .

The next day:  the left home for a bed & breakfast about 90 minutes away. Sometimes it helps to be away from your familiar environment. I found myself smiling just as soon as I boarded the train.


Smiling is one of those things you can do to brighten your day and/or someone else’s day, and it cost nothing! Nada! Zip! Zero cents! In fact, studies have shown that it’s good for you too.

The act of smiling activates neural messaging that benefits your health and happiness. … The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released when a smile flashes across your face as well (4). This not only relaxes your body, but it can also lower your heart rate and blood pressure.Jun 25, 2012


 There’s Magic in Your Smile


Definitely more of a kiss than a smile, but we’re both happy 🙂