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    Are You Secretly in a Rut

    When you're in a groove, you know... continued...

    How she got into her groove: "I learned to let go." —Wendy Marner, 42, Cedar Rapids, IA, stay-at-home mom and crafter
    "A couple years ago, my oldest son was diagnosed with ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder]. Someone with ADD gets distracted if he has too many options, so we cleaned out his room, and — voilà! — we saw instant improvement. It made me realize that maybe we're all a little like that. So I minimized what was in the house and started saying no to some obligations. Suddenly life wasn't as cluttered, wasn't as overwhelming. I had 'me' time. I do floral arrangements now, and two other crafts. I say, try things out to see what it is that you really love to do. And learn to let go of other things."

    How she got into her groove: "I said, 'Okay, I'm going to have some fun.'" —Maria Iriondo, 43, Key Biscayne, FL, journalist
    "When I was home with my daughter when she was young, I used to get obsessed with little things. I would stay awake at night worrying about the roof when I really didn't need to, for instance. As soon as my daughter started school, I said, 'Okay, I need to get out more and do something fun.' I ended up getting a part-time job editing magazine articles, which I enjoyed, and now I write articles part-time. I also socialize more. I get out more in general. I take my daughter to play at the park instead of staying in the house. I've gotten interested in fashion again. I'll go shopping and catch myself saying, 'This is fun. Let me try this makeup.' You could call it silly, trying different hairstyles and makeup out a lot, but for me it's liberating to do that and have fun."

    How she got into her groove: "I connected to others." —Ivonne Moreno, 38, El Paso, TX, administrative assistant
    "One day somebody asked me to help at a garage sale to benefit elders in a nursing home. Doing that gave me a connection to my community that I realized I wanted. I take night courses in social work now, and when I get my degree, I'll do more for elders. The classes renew my soul. I've learned new ways to look at and connect with people — even people I know well. When I'm with my kids, for instance, I don't just fixate on how they're doing in school; now I really see them for everything they are. They've discovered a new side of me too, and they're proud of me for learning to help others. Before volunteering at that garage sale, I spent a lot of time feeling sad for myself. I don't do that anymore. Now I take my classes and I spend time with my extended family and friends every week. We get together and laugh. For a while, I'd lost my motivation to laugh. But it's come back."

    How she got into her groove: "I focused on the good things." —Stefanie Schmidt, 30, Las Vegas, marine biologist
    "I decided to be more positive about things. So I made a conscious effort to focus on all the good things in my life, like how I make a difference in children's lives by helping them learn something new with the marine-science programs that I teach, and how I have really good friends. And I consciously thought about how to make other, not-so-fun things in my life better. For instance, I realized that listening to music is an energy-booster for me. So one day when I was really dreading doing the housework, I put on some music, hoping that I would focus more on that than on sweeping the floors and scrubbing the bathroom, which I totally hate. Well, I started singing and dancing while I cleaned, and it was great. It made housework more of a de-stressor than a chore."

    How she got into her groove: "I got a huge benefit from exercising." —Marisa Salvadore, 40, Cranston, RI, grant writer for after-school programs
    "Joining a gym and finding somewhere to play tennis — places where they had babysitters if I needed them for my two young boys — made all the difference to me. I think part of me had started to slip away while I was trying to be ultra-mom. I got a huge benefit from exercising. I started to go to the gym several times a week, for about an hour each time. Getting those endorphins flowing really does create positive feelings. I did cardiotennis: You do it to music, it's social, you're meeting people. So many women are nurturers, always making sure everyone around them is fine; you have to find what will bring you a little extra joy and peace."

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