How Anne of Green Gables helped me get my groove back

I’ll admit, I’m in a slump. This Haiti thing has sort of made me sick to my stomach, and last night I made the wretched decision to watch a foreign film in German on Netflix. My husband is out of town, and if there is ever a movie he would never consent to watch, it’s a romantic chick flick that takes place in Hungary where everybody is speaking German. I figured a nice, interesting, subtitled foreign film love story would not only feed my starved intellectual soul, it would shake me out of my rut.

And I suppose it worked, if shivering under the covers over a story of untold tragedy involving Nazis, Hungarian Jews, Auschwitz and sickening betrayal counts.

So in my emotionally exhausted state, I turned to Anne Shirley.

She did a remarkable job of pulling me out of my rut. How can somebody be grumpy when you are reading about Anne baking a cake with liniment instead of vanilla (not that I really know what liniment is, but I imagine something medicinal and sour, and not at all like vanilla), and almost drowning until Gilbert Blythe comes to the rescue? And how can you not get giddy with delight when you imagine a Gilbert Blythe who looks like this:

I wonder, though, what causes these slumps to occur. Following the horrors of Haiti hasn’t helped, and the overwhelming sense of helplessness mixed with the image of standing before my maker at Judgement Day and having no good answer to the question, “Why didn’t you do more for my people in Haiti?” further compounds my particular sense of ennui.

But even without spectacular natural disasters, there are times I find myself practically crawling out of my skin with restlessness, and I’m hard pressed to find a reason for it. I blame all kinds of things–being a SAHM, keeping a house together while a husband does a crazy amount of traveling, lack of exercise, lack of spiritual study, the weather, watching Aladdin on repeat. Perhaps it is all of these things. Perhaps it is none of these things. The lack of a reasonable explanation makes the solving of it all the more perplexing.

So I wonder, what do the rest of you do? How do you get YOUR groove on? What helps you when you find yourself in these loops of languidity? (Can you tell I’ve been spending time with Anne Shirley? She’s made me remember all kinds of words I haven’t used since I was studying for the SAT.)

I stayed up well past my bedtime finishing the book, and then immediately put the miniseries into my Netflix queue. I also related my experience with the German movie to my husband, and he told me that I should have known better to think that any love story where Jewish people are speaking German would end well. I so hate it when he’s right.

About Heather O.

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

50 thoughts on “How Anne of Green Gables helped me get my groove back

  1. I get my groove on by talking with someone until the wee hours of the morning. It can be a phone call, with a group of friends, or with my husband.

    I also find my groove when I slow down. Treat myself to lunch, a good haircut and style, or a pedicure. It reminds me that life isn’t about getting more done, that how I feel is important. Having some alone time is probably another reason why these things work.

    Surprisingly, last week I found my groove by cleaning the house. I didn’t think it was what I needed but when I prayed that morning that was the prompting I felt. Reluctantly I started in and by the end of the day I did feel better.

    Then there are other days where all I need is a good nap.

  2. I think it’s helpful to remember that slumps are NORMAL. There’s nothing worse on a bad day than beating yourself up for having a bad day. I think a movie is a perfect solution, if you can find time. Some that I return to lately are “Dan in Real Life” and the Masterpiece Jane Austen series. Or a feel-good book, as you mentioned (love Anne!). Or reading your scriptures, of course.

  3. I’m not really going to answer your questions, but my latest experience with Anne Shirley was somewhat disheartening. Have you finished the series? I read the first two books (and watched the first two movies) many times in the last 20 years only actually reading the final books last year.

    The final book (Rilla of Ingleside) delves into the horrors of war. It’s like Montgomery wanted us all to understand that despite the simple joys and sorrows Anne experienced throughout her life, she was not spared the tragedy of a huge awful world event that forever scarred her.

    So it’s likely I’ll be unable to let Anne help me get my groove back again. I hope to again enjoy the books, but knowing what the character will later experience is, as I said, disheartening.

  4. Rilla of Ingleside is actually one of my favorite books of the Anne series. I don’t know why, it is sad, after all. But still, there’s a strength there that I love.

    Also, whatever you do, don’t watch the last Anne movie (came out sometime this decade.) It’s TERRIBLE.

    Oh, and good luck getting your groove back.

  5. EmJen, I haven’t read past Anne of Green Gables. I’ll admit to getting tired of hearing the same voice again and again. I loved LM Montgomery’s Emily series also, that begins with Emily of New Moon. Emily is really just a shadow of Anne, but still a lot of a fun, and there is a love story that is similar to Gilbert and Anne’s story, and that’s a lot of fun, too. But I think I read the second book of the series, and left it at that. What can I say, I have a limited capacity to focus on a single person’s life. I almost never finish series, and the ones that I have finished, I’m almost always sort of disappointed. The exception to this, of course, is Harry Potter. Not sure why, but I could have stayed in Harry’s world forever.

  6. As an Emily, my parents gave me that series when I was young. It actually took me awhile to finish it, and must not have been too memorable since I can’t remember many plot points. Hmm, maybe I should try it again…too bad I just bought the Mistborn series yesterday. Now there’s some books that can help me get my groove back!

  7. I’m going to have to agree with The Wiz. The last “Anne” movie is wretched! It should come with a “Do Not Watch This Swill” warning sticker on its cover.

    I got my groove back today just by reading this post and seeing that lovely picture of Gilbert Blythe (Jonathon Crombie). Sigh… Thanks for that! :)

  8. What is it about Anne that revives one’s spirits? I have turned to Green Gables for emotional support for years-after moving to a new place, kids leaving home, a death of a loved one, and it always brings comfort. Sometimes with tears and often with a longing for more, more joy and simple goodness in my life.
    All my copies (from the 60’s) are packed away in storage, so I guess it’s time to get some new ones! Thanks for the reminder, it’s just what I need to get me through this last bit of winter!

  9. Anne has helped me MANY times get my groove back! It is almost like I have to connect to the self I was when I first read the books. I have a whole collection of books that I re-read to reconnect. I love finding “kindred spirits” in the blog world. and Amen and Amen to the last movie being a ridiculous waste of time and an affront to the Anne legacy.

  10. Last summer my groove was so far gone (i.e., I was depressed) I was sure it was never coming back. Eventually I had an epiphany: Satan was out to destroy my happiness. In the months since that day, I have tried hard to recognize when Satan is infiltrating my thoughts. When I recognize his efforts, I thwart them with activities and thoughts that bring light into my life. The most effective methods are spiritually focused, but doing things that make me happy, like exercising, being with people, reading a good book, mopping my kitchen floor, etc., are also productive. Even though I don’t feel 100% “groovy” all the time, I feel like I’m finally fighting a fight I can win.

  11. I like to watch the Lord of the Rings when I feel down. It reminds me that now matter how bad things get, I can still find hope and that my life has purpose, even if I can’t see it in a difficult moment. Also, I get my groove back when I set myself a daily task to either help me take care of my own needs or to help me take care of my spiritual needs. Sometimes those tasks are reading the scriptures and at other times those tasks are doing puzzles and giving myself some structured down time.

  12. I get my groove back by forcing myself to make sugar cookies with my 5 yr old and to heck with the dishes. Then I let my 5 yr old decorate them and we put them on plates and take them to random neighbors. There is nothing for getting a groove back like the look of shock when you smilingly hand someone a plate of the ugliest sugar cookies you’ve ever seen and they have to smile and look pleased since the child who obviously decorated them is standing on their front step. Lifts my spirits every time!

  13. I too turn to Anne Shirley. She 100% inspires me to be a better person. She can do so much, she writes, she cooks, she sews, she enchants, but she’s still always looking for ways to improve. That’s what I want to be like.

  14. I too realized that I was in a slump lately when all I wanted to do at the end of the day was watch TV. Every day. Just waste my evenings away. I knew I had other things I wanted to do more, but they took motivation I didn’t seem to have. So I thought about it—why was I watching so much TV? Then I thought–could this be my replacement for social interaction? And bingo….it hit me. We moved to a new city about 6 months ago and while I’ve made some good friends and hung out with other women during the day with our kiddos I have yet to have a girls night out! Luckily there have been books clubs and other things–but a real girls night out where I talk and socialize and just be a girl. That’s what I needed. I sent out an email and everyone was on board. We have yet to do it–but it’s in the works.

    Also–as a short term fix I put on music and dance. All kids of music and just dance, dance, dance until I’m spent.

  15. Music always helps me too, as does girl time with other women that I love. I spend my days at work reading and while I love fiction, I have not been able to bring myself to read any since I graduated from law school in May. (I didn’t have the time or inclination to read any while IN law school either). I think Anne is such a draw because of how human she is and how easy it is to feel connected to her, she is someone we all can identify with and would want as our friend. The girls from Sex and the City are the same way for me, they were some of my best friends through law school, when I would allow myself to take a half an hour each night between getting the kids in bed and studying to have some “girlfriend time” even if it was just through the TV.

    I also agree with whoever said pedicures. I love to have my feet rubbed. It is so physically and mentally relaxing, and your toes get painted too. All good :)

  16. I agree that sometimes Slumps are just Slumps and happen. But I know that right here where I am – no SUN is not helping a bit! For that specifically – “Endless Summer” surfer movies really help – “look, look it’s the SUN I keep saying to my DH.

    I try and see what my schedule is, what am I missing in my routine and push myself to put it back in. I cook, and cook and cook. I allow myself to do some needlecraft. I also read familiar books. And then sometimes I realize that I just have to wait it out.

    And I ask my DH for some “mommy – daddy time”!

  17. This morning I woke up on the wrong side of the bed (to put it mildly), so I’ve spent the morning in my basement reading a favorite book while my daughter runs around and entertains herself. She also has watched two full episodes of Sesame Street on the computer, which is a testament to how really out of it I am feeling. In a few minutes I will put her down for a nap and then try to catch up on some of the sleep I didn’t get last night. I’m also planning on throwing something in the crockpot before I take a nap so I don’t have to worry about making dinner later.

  18. And as a side note, liniment is actually a topical ointment made from rubbing alcohol or acetone–it’s supposed to be rubbed into sore muscles (I sort of wonder if the liniment itself is actually helpful, or the backrub you get to apply it). My guess? Probably not the best flavor.

    I also like the A&E Pride and Prejudice or music by Celtic Woman. Naps and mani/pedis are also helpful.

  19. My favorite L.M. Montgomery book is “The Blue Castle.” That book is my comfort food and the one I go back to again and again. I don’t know why, but I just love it. I adored the whole Anne and Emily series as a middle schooler.

  20. If I’m in a slump, I use tough love on myself. If I haven’t been exercising, I go for a walk, or do some yoga. If I’m not sleeping well, I set an early bedtime no matter which book is calling to me. If I’m pent up emotionally, I let myself have a cry. It mostly comes down to looking at what I’ve been doing/not doing to see what may be the cause, and work to fix it.

    Music played loudly helps, as does watching a fave movie. It was interesting to learn that it’s actually GOOD for you to play sad music when you’re feeling sad – it acknowledges how you are feeling to yourself, and gets the yuck over with faster. I thought I had just been indulging myself, but in fact I’d been helping! Slumps ARE normal, just no fun to endure.

  21. Dr. Suess reminded us in his book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” that hang-ups and bang-ups will happen to all of us.

    I find that these hang-ups and bang-ups arrive at moments when we feel we are already being squeezed. They occur in the opportune times of motherhood and wifehood. They happen while we are down. Yet, as we continue to live and do our best, we are once again riding high.

    I am sorry for your pain. I understand having a husband absent. It is rough on the psyche.

  22. I’ve been reading Anne of Green Gables (and now Anne of Avonlea) to my daughters at night while they’re in bed since this summer. Although I’d seen parts of the miniseries I’d never read the books but wow, they’re great. Perhaps not so much in a literature sense (although as you point out there is a lot of good vocabulary) but in a wonderful, life-affirming way.

    More often than I admit I find myself a bit misty-eyed at the end, good thing the lights are down and my girls are pretty sleepy at that point. Anne is just such a believable character, true-to-life but somehow just the best parts of life. The kind of person I hope my daughters become.

  23. A friend referred me to a quote supposedly attributed to Sister Bednar. She said that you can’t really go wrong as long as you’re reading your scriptures, praying, eating decently, sleeping enough, and exercising. The slumps aren’t quite so bad if I’m doing those things.

    How to get out? No idea. Sorry.

  24. I get out of the slump by going outside. When I am walking or just sitting outside–even when it’s cold and snowy, just 10 minutes can do it. I can think and pray and feel less slumpy. Anne is great, too. I re-read all those books when I was pregnant with my first child. And I actually liked the third movie. I really did. But maybe that’s just because I am a sucker for anything Anne of Green Gables.

  25. Sometimes, I blame hormones.

    Anne Shirley once brought me back from some baby blues, and I love her forever for that.

    Also, a good run sometimes works, or doing my hair and makeup when I’ve gone a little too long in my housewifely costume.

  26. Women are especially apt to jump from feeling sad to feeling inadequate. I do not for one second picture meeting my maker and being accused of not doing more for Haitians or any number of shortcomings.

    Sister Julie B. Beck said “Most women have many responsibilities and never have sufficient time to do everything their hearts and minds want to do.” Yes this life is a test, but what we do her on earth is amazing. No matter what may cause the slumps we sometimes feel we are in, it’s Satan, not our Heavenly Father who encourages us to feel like we aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough.

  27. My slumps usually come because I’m tired, the house is past my threshold of allowed mess, and I’m not exercising. So, of course, it is a big deal the first year after childbirth. God bless that L M Montgomery and her darling Anne!

    I love Marilla. She may be blunt, but she speaks with so much wisdom! And I love that Anne even brings HER out of her slumps. :)

  28. Anonymous #26. I saw that talk by Sister Bednar on BYU-TV. It was from the Bednars’ days as BYU-Idaho heads. She talked about being discouraged with all the difficulties of a young family and a busy overworked husband and seeking a particular blessing for guidance and answers. And the list you quoted was her very particular answer. Initially, she said she was bummed because that didn’t seem like much of a revelatory lightning bolt–it was all stuff she “knew.” When I heard that talk, it did hit me as a particularly revelatory lightning bolt, as a bit of a checklist: if I am in a funk, am I doing these basic items of self-care? If not, what can be changed to make sure they happen and if I am doing these things, what else needs to change in order to get my groove back? It was a lovely talk.

    Reading Anne, or any book of fiction I’ve been waiting for helps me because it is self-care with a binding.

  29. I usually turn the iPod up loud. It drowns out crying, whining and my bad mood most of the time. I have a “happy music” playlist just for when I need a pick me up.

  30. Go drive somewhere. No destination in mind. Just stay on one road so you don’t get lost, but make it a road you haven’t been on. Take snacks. Just drive for a half hour and see what you find. If you find a place that looks interesting, stop and check it out.

  31. I like to pray and ask for someone to serve. Then I just go and do what ever I am inspired to! You can also pray to know how God can use you to be his hands. I’ve never had a prayer of how can I help go unanswered!

  32. Actually, Anne almost always helps me too. A friend of mine is aware of my obsession and sent me to your blog to read this nice article. When I’m not in an Anne mood I write to-do lists and look for someone to serve.

  33. Once when i was feeling that “restless” feeling and prayed about it, the answer I got was – it’s menopausal hormones – just roll with it and don’t try to analyze it too much, it will pass – and it did.

    Anne does make me smile and that’s a good thing

  34. After reading everyone’s comments about how awful the third Anne movie was (and I agree, it was terrible), I think everyone should write to Sullivan Entertainment, pleading with them to make another movie that is true to the books. I wrote one letter like this, and their response was that I should check out the new Anne cartoon movie. I was not pleased. But maybe if they got enough letters, we could see Anne and Gilbert all grown up with all their kids. :)

    Sorry, I know the question was about getting your groove back… When I’ve gotten in a funk this winter, I go for a peppermint hot chocolate from Starbucks and some time with my very best girlfriend.

  35. Seriously, I laughed when I read the title of the latest post on Segullah. I was just watching “Anne of Green Gables” 3 hours ago while melting some lard on my elliptical. I had not seen the movie in about 14 years, and it was one of my very favoritest things to watch as a sentimental, idealistic teenager. I am loving it this time around. Getting one’s groove back?…hmmmm…lots of good ideas written about already. I’ll throw in my 2 cents. Firstly, January is what I fondly call the “armpit of the year”. Truly, it is….holidays over, back to the same ol’ routine after all the baking and shopping, bad weather, and sick kids definitely make lots of us feel “blah, blah”. I highly, highly recommend “light therapy” during the winter months. It works wonders in how I feel. Just 15-20 minutes every morning in front of my lightbox helps me get going and feel more energized. Yes, it is a little bit of money, but it will last for years. You can set it up by your computer and surf the Web or set it up while you read…very convenient. As others have said, exercise is amazing. Even if you can slip only 15 or 20 minutes in, it will help. Then, the last thing…sometimes, we just need to be kind to ourselves and make sure we’re not running faster than we have strength. Best wishes to you and hope you get energized soon!

  36. I, too, love Ann. And I ADORE Gilbert. Really, really adore him. I can never understand how Anne can hold out so long…he is too cute for words. And when they finally do get together at the end of the 2nd movie (or in the 3rd book) it is almost too delicious for words.

    Sorry about the slump. I myself was sick this weekend; cranky, mean, lously feeling sick. And I felt like I would never be happy again. It was like a miracle this morning when I woke up happy…

  37. “I do not for one second picture meeting my maker and being accused of not doing more for Haitians or any number of shortcomings.” “No matter what may cause the slumps we sometimes feel we are in, it’s Satan, not our Heavenly Father who encourages us to feel like we aren’t good enough or aren’t doing enough.”

    I don’t agree. Sometimes we really AREN’T doing enough. Sometimes Heavenly Father DOES want us to do more. Sometimes I think we are a little too self-indulgent and willing to rationalize away our lack of service. And considering how often Jesus tells us to serve our fellow men, I DO think we’ll have to answer for our lack of service here on earth.

    But that has little to do with the post, it was just a tangent.

    When I’m feeling slumpy, I usually try tough love, like someone else said. If I’ve been especially lazy, spending too much time on the computer, I set a limit for myself. If I’ve been hermity, I go talk to friends. If I’ve been selfish and grumpy, I try to do something not so much focused on ME. And I make sure I’m getting enough sleep. Nine times out of ten, that’s m problem.

  38. Anne of Green Gables is my favourite book in the whole world, and has been since I was a young girl. I can virtually quote most of the first two books. My girls love the films, but the third one is banned in our house, it is terrible and not part of the books anyway. I used to daydream that I was Anne, the beautiful writer who was loved by all. I also fantasised about being an orphan and being adopted, it seemed so much better than reality to me.

    Things that pick me up are, in no particular order:
    reading, long telephone calls with close friends, baking, shopping for new clothes and make up, finishing a craft project (a rarity though), lunch with friends, and cuddles with my husband. Some of these are very cliched, like the shopping, but it helps me to feel good with a new lipgloss and I never go overboard. I usually turn to others for love and listening first, I think.

    Anne will always be part of life in my home for everyone. I really wanted to marry Gilbert Blythe myself.

  39. I get my groove BACK on by serving others. I’ve learned never to complain to my mom when I’m feeling down or blah because the first words out of her mouth are…”Bake someone a cake!” As much as I hate to admit it, it DOES help. When we forget about ourselves and focus on others…we always end up feeling much better. Great post my friend! Reading your words helps too! xoxo

  40. When I moved to Sweden several years ago, reading the entire Anne of Green Gables series (yes, including Rilla of Ingleside–one of my favorites) helped me make the transition from America to Sweden. Strange I know, but just knowing that I had my favorite books and a familar literary world even if my then-current environs weren’t familar helped me tremendously. I think I should reread the books.
    I also think there is a lot of tremendous depth in the books. Anne does go through some hard things in her life, but the unfailing humor and delight in the ordinary things and funny mishaps reminds me that everyday life can be beautiful, ironic, funny and wonderful. That always pulls me out of the doldrums.

  41. When I hit those slumps, it’s usually due to one of two things – I’m desperately sad at the state of the world around me, or I’ve drifted too far in my day-to-day preoccupations from God. Both for me are solved by getting my worldview back in line with His – reading the Bible, absorbing the words of Jesus and committing myself to Him again, and listening to an hour or so of good Biblical hymns on my iPod! (And reading AoGG. Again.)

  42. Interestingly enough, Anne used to cheer up my sweet grandmother. She’s been helping people out of ruts for a long time. There’s another L.M.Montgomery book which I also love and for some reason doesn’t seem to be as well known. It’s called The Blue Castle and it’s so fun. It’s light, fast, easy, and utterly delightful. (Basically the antithesis of your Jewish German film fiasco.) Also it will help you feel the poetic side of winter. (Good, since it’s January.) The other one I love is Gift From the Sea. (Anne Morrow Lindbergh) She delves into all those things in our lives which pull us in so many directions, then manages to help you find a center of calm.
    I’m doing a play this winter–that seems to be keeping me from going into a funk.

  43. I actually just read a prequel to the Anne series that I thought was incredibly well done. It’s called Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson. I’d be interested to hear what others think.

  44. i am so out of my groove that i don’t know where it’s hiding or how to even try and get it back… BUT, i too have been rereading anne of green gables and it does just delight, doesn’t it.

    now i’ll be thinking of you too, heather while i start book #5.

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