Tricks My Mother Taught Me

My sister has never been an early riser. When she was in junior high and high school, she had a particularly tough time of it getting herself out of bed in the mornings to get ready for school. Now and then when my mother would go to her room to wake her up, my sister would complain that she wasn’t feeling well and thought she should stay home.

Mom’s response was almost always the same: “Well, get up and take your shower and then see how you’re feeling.” Call it mother’s intuition or whatever but she knew that more often than not once my sister got up and showered she would feel miraculously better and she would find the energy needed to start her day.

I was reminded about this recently as I was giving some thought to what picks me up when I’m dragging or feeling down physically or emotionally—and specifically, to the idea of there being routines or rituals or actions I can take that reliably lift my spirits or help to restore some sense of balance when I’ve been feeling a little off my game . . . so I asked the Shower Team about the idea of tricks or gimmicks that somehow work as triggers. Do we have switches that we can learn to throw that can reliably and effectively snap us out of our doldrums?

Your mother’s accurate understanding of how to respond to your sister in that situation was based as much or more on attentive observation as it was on any special intuition. She did with your sister what many of you do too little of with yourselves and that is, pay attention to what gets energy flowing and then apply that knowledge in a deliberate way. It was a thoughtful response based on repeated observation rather than a knee jerk reaction. She could have taken your sister at her word and called in a physician to examine her. She could have searched for symptoms and probably would have found something that qualified and immediately prescribed some remedy. She could have ignored your sister’s complaints or dismissed them out right but instead of any of those responses, she offered one that invited your sister to move into a place of releasing resistance and allowing her own energy to resume its flow, even if it was done somewhat begrudgingly.

It’s a simple example of a profound truth about the way that any of you can at any time utilize what you’ve observed about yourselves in order to get your own energy flowing and to allow yourselves to begin to feel a little better relative to any topic. If you pay attention to yourselves over even a fairly short period of time you will easily come to see “what works” for you in terms of actions, either external or internal, that in effect, recharge your battery or give you a much needed boost of morale or offer you a bridge to a better feeling train of thought.

What you are essentially doing in any of those cases is clearing or cleaning up your own vibration . . . as though you were literally standing under a cleansing shower and letting the thoughts or patterns of thought clinging to you that weigh you down, rinse off, and leaving you feeling lighter, and cleaner and more easily able to see yourself and your circumstances from a fresher and more energized perspective. When you succeed at this, you’re allowing yourself to be reminded of what you always know on some level—that all is well. You’re actually allowing yourself to once again be the remarkably resilient and innately optimistic and buoyant beings that you are.

These ‘tricks or gimmicks” are as varied and diverse as you are. It can be any game you like to play. Any music you love hearing. Any scene or vista you love looking at. Any uplifting book you like to read. Any physical exertion that increases your pulse and in the process, pumps vitalizing blood through your veins. It can be a fragrance that reminds you of something or someone you cherish. It can be a connection with someone who stimulates or soothes you. Or in your case (and your sister’s) . . . some time in the shower . . .

It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that you notice. What’s important in this as in so many other things you want, is to pay attention to what brings the feelings you want closer to you . . . When are you happy? When are you content? When are you
satisfied? When are you stimulated? When are you feeling alive and eager and optimistic? What are the conditions that lend themselves to these feelings for you? When you notice the transition from down in the dumps to feeling on track again . . . also observe and make note of what helped facilitate that shift.

The key is to pay attention to how you feel and to what moves you in one direction or the other. When you understand better what facilitates those shifts for you then you begin to have the tools—the tricks, if you will—to more consciously and more deliberately orchestrate or engineer those shifts for yourself, just as reliably and effectively as your mother managed to get your sister up and out the door to school on those days when she could just have easily stayed in bed.

So apparently tricks aren’t just for kids who don’t feel like going to school in the morning. And apparently it’s never too late to learn something else from one’s mother. Clearly my sister wasn’t the only one getting the message that jumping in the shower could be good for the old attitude. Nevertheless, I think I’ll start trying to expand my list of tried and true triggers. In the process, perhaps I’ll manage to remind myself more often that all is well, and that I am, in or out of the shower, one very capable and fresh-scrubbed trickster who is, for the moment, buoyantly complete.


About Dan

Published novelist, poet, essayist, copywriter, photographer and college educator. Visit me at

Posted on May 21, 2007, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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