Beauty Features & Editorial Health & Fitness Parenting & Relationships

Sourcing the Moxie, Part II: Are You Running on Empty?

According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, the second definition of moxie is of embodying courage and determination. Being chock full of true grit, basically. (We’ll get back to that.) The first definition, however, has to do with energy and pep. And I quote. Remember how in the first installation of this column, “Have You Seen Yours Lately?” I lamented the wild-ass girl I used to be, wondering what in the world could be done to reclaim her? Well, the answer may have less to do with spunk, and more to do with just needing a nap. At least in terms of the first step.

As my friend Laurel once reminded me (to my great outrage), “We’re not 22 anymore.” And the thing is, we’re not. The more I reflected on what was keeping me from clawing my way out of a self-imposed shell of passivity, the more my shoulders slumped and my chin kept snapping forward. And that’s when I realized the problem: I’m freaking tired. Aren’t you?

One of my excuses has to do with too many late nights burning the midnight oil as I race after an elusive deadline that procrastination has edged just out of my reach. Others, with all those heavy, sludgy meals. OK and fine, too much red wine. And, um, the couch. And mindless TV, perhaps the darkest of my addictions. Did I mention the procrastination? Which leads to jamming too many things into an already overcrowded to-do list? Yeah.

Yours may be that you work a full-time job, have three-plus kids, no live-in troupe of nannies (bite me, Brangelina) and a relationship that needs to be watered occasionally.

Or maybe it’s a combination of all of the above. It certainly is for me. The funny thing is this wasn’t really an issue when I was, well, 22. Or 23. Or even into my early 30s. (We’ll stop there because if I go any further there will be tears.) Sure, the pressures of marriage, child-rearing, job-juggling and a challenged metabolism were but dim shadows on the horizon back then, but the harrowing truth of the matter — despite how hard we try to deny it — is that with age comes a diminishing of those great stores of energy we had when we raced through our 20s on too little sleep and too much (gag) pep.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t benefits to getting older. There are many: Not having to worry about getting carded when you’ve left the I.D. at home; finally owning furniture you didn’t drag in off the street; settling into a deeper, more profound sense of yourself, at least in theory. Those are just a few. But one thing’s for sure — we don’t bounce back from three hours of sleep and not enough fruits and vegetables the way we used to. At least, I don’t.

When I was 27, I had a boyfriend who clocked many a shift in the ER as he staggered his way through medical school. The way he broke it down for me was that three was the critical number when it came to necessary hours of sleep time. “A minute less than three, and you’re hosed.” Ah, to only need three. As for fruits and vegetables, those were served on the rims of my cocktails, although as another friend once said, “A girl cannot live by olives alone.” Of course, she’d just turned 32.

So, I think the first step in sourcing those shiny sparklets of moxie may require some back-to-basics self care. I hereby propose the following experiment for myself, although everyone is invited to participate. For the next solid week I will endeavor to pack in a minimum of eight hours of sleep a night, knock back eight 8-oz glasses of water a day, eat at least two (different!) kinds of fruits and vegetables a day, carve out at least 15 minutes of quiet time (phone off, lights dimmed, eyes closed, door locked), and turn off the damn TV, God help me. Oh, and maybe no red wine. Or at least, not as much. Maybe just once a week. Fine, maybe that’s for next week.

I know this won’t be easy for most of us. There are the jobs, the social obligations, the kids, the too-much-stuff-to-do-and-not-enough-time factor — it all adds up, doesn’t it? How can we possibly make the time? True, but how can we not at least try? It’s hard to feel inspired when you’re tired. So, no, maybe we’re not 22 anymore, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do our best to feel a little less like we’re closing in on 82.

Next time: Self Care Part Deux, aka Stoking the Fires with some exercise. (I know. I know.) You may want to prep for this by taking a gander at CC’s Editor-in-Chief Tara Hall’s story on “Finding Your Fitness Niche.” I, meanwhile, am off to dig up my moldering yoga mat — which I’ll probably just glare at for a while.

About the author

Melissa Henderson

With a "See ya, hate to be ya" to the giant parking lot that is Los Angeles, Melissa Henderson sold the car, stuffed her husband into a suitcase and moved back home to Montreal, Canada, where they both now happily roam the streets by foot. She is also Very Busy not working on several unfinished novels.

Trained in journalism and linguistics at UCLA, Melissa has worked as a journalist and editor (news and magazine) since 2001. Her writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Brand X, Up! Magazine, Soundspike and Greater Long Beach, among other publications.