The S-therapy

Desperate expat wife or not, we can all be hit by the gloom of everyday life, and a few tricks to get us out of it might come in handy. Nothing fancy or extraordinary, we’re talking about simple – possibly banal, but at times highly efficient – everyday forms of therapy. CLEW introduces the S-therapy:

Shoes. I don’t have a shoe fetish, not even a shoe fad, but sometimes there’s just something about a new pair of shoes. They don’t have to sparkle like Cinderella’s glass shoes, and they don’t have to dance at a ball. It will do if they make a colourful contrast to and feel soft against hard, grey asphalt. That might just make your feet want to dance all by themselves. If that happens – just do it! Dance in the street (discretely if you prefer)! If somebody sees you, chances are you’ll make their day.

Shopping. Now, if you don’t have a pair of happy shoes, I suggest you go out and buy some. Shopping is a therapy form that needs no further introduction or explanation, although it can seem quite irrational. Most of us have experienced the sheer joy and satisfaction of swinging shopping bag(s), preferably paper ones with a silk ribbon, and then carefully laying out and inspecting each item when you come home. When I had my children, I discovered you can actually get the same sensation shopping for somebody else! Now that’s what I call altruism!

Sound of Music. I am not suggesting that Julie Andrews is therapy. What I am suggesting is that you make your own lyrics to  “My Favorite Things”. Again banal, but it could work. And if you’re not into words, use the original like Björk does in the magnificent movie Dancer in the Dark. And if you prefer no words at all, try listening to Dave Brubeck’s version.

Raindrops on roses...warm woollen mittens...brown paper packages...white dresses with blue satin sashes

Raindrops on roses…warm woollen mittens…brown paper packages…white dresses with blue satin sashes

Soul food. First, listen to the sound of silence in an empty house (relevant mainly if you’re used to a whole lot of noise in the house). When you’ve listened long enough, then change from silence to music. Make sure you choose music that turns your mood around, because music has that power. However, if you’re in a melancholy mood, you might want to put on music that enhances that feeling.

Melancholy is the happiness of sadness. -Victor Hugo.

Then, get your best kitchen knife, blinking at you like a glass shoe, and go for …your favourite risotto. Cut those shallots and let the bad energy out with every swing of the knife. Oh, and don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of dewy Sauvignon Blanc and admire it while you contemplate…well, preferably nothing.

Steps. Where are your steps? The smooth ones where you can sit and think, doze, look at people, have a coffee, and basically be. We all need steps like that, real or figurative. My real ones are in a small village in Southern France. They will take me all the way up, to peer at the sun, smell the pine trees and see Corsica on a clear day. They will take me all the way down, to the harbour, where I can sit and dangle my feet and watch the boats nodding lazily at me. I walk them, run them, pant them and skip in them, one step at a time or two. But I wonder if I sit enough on them? I have other places, in geography or in my mind, that I could call steps as well. I should probably spend more time in them too. What about you?

Mediterranean steps

Mediterranean steps

Spring. Works best if the need for therapy occurs during a certain, short time of the year. It would probably help if spring lasted longer, but sometimes, waiting for it can do the trick as well.

Stay in the emotion. If swinging shopping bags or kitchen knives doesn’t help, and if neither shoes nor music make you feel like dancing, and if waiting for or savouring spring, perhaps sitting on steps, doesn’t do the trick – then try staying in the emotion. Don’t run from it or fight it, that might make it stronger. Feel it and stay in it, and you might find that it disappears – like dew on a wine glass.


Text and photos by Unni Holtedahl, Spring 2014


  1. Lovely list! I would add “Sipping on tea”. I find Slowly Sipping a cup of nice tea can comfort me in almost any situation. 🙂


  2. Thank you, and agreed! “Sipping on tea” is hereby added to the S-list :-).


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