Tip Tuesday: get back to basics with lifestyle design

Welcome to Tammy Talk!

This is a platform where we share ways to build a healthy, happy life because happiness is built not bought. On Tip Tuesdays, I share one tip a week related to a common theme.
Our current theme is, "How to Be and Breathe," but this week we step back and take a look at the bigger picture.


Get back to basics with lifestyle design at tammytalk.com
Photo by Zachary Kadolph on Unsplash

If you are experiencing stress, anxiety, addiction, insomnia, etc., there is no single fix. Sure, breathwork, meditation, and movement will help, but chances are, there is more at the root of the problem. Your time and energy are being sapped, and there are already not enough hours in the day, so adding more responsibility (even if it is self-care) only adds fuel to the fire.


For years, I worked and raised a family. My days were filled with writing, editing, teaching, deadlines, school functions, sporting events, housework, homework, and multiple miscellaneous errands.

I enjoyed my work, loved my family, and wouldn’t have changed a thing, but I was tired and frustrated. I longed for a vacation full of adventure and excitement but didn’t have the time to plan it nor the energy to prepare for it. I needed to anticipate more than a weekend shopping trip or date night, but there was hardly time for a shower, much less adventure. I had no energy for excitement, no purpose for passion. I was stuck.


Ennui – a mood of deep weariness and discontent – is caused by overindulgence, not in food or alcohol, but overindulgence in all the good things life has to offer. In other words, my discontent was a side-effect of having it all. I was living the American dream and it was crushing me, sapping my time and energy, leaving me drained and dispirited. I was so busy maintaining my lifestyle, I didn’t have time to enjoy my life. Little did I know, I was not alone. More than 70% of Americans report physical and psychological symptoms related to ennui. (Source: American Psychological Association / American Institute of Stress.)
  • Low energy/ fatigue
  • Anxiety/ stress
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased motivation
  • Lack of passion and purpose
Historically ennui was a cousin of boredom and angst, but modern-day ennui has evolved into a much more pervasive, destructive force.


Modern ennui is characterized by what I refer to as the “tail-on-fire” syndrome. When in the grip of this syndrome, we run around day after day with our tail on fire trying desperately to put it out while struggling to enjoy all that we have: the job, the family, the house, the pets, the car, the wardrobe, the phone, the toys.


Many of us believe that in today’s world, we don’t have to choose what we want. We can have it all. I myself am a victim of that mindset, but I assure you it is inherently flawed and simply not true. By trying to “have it all,” we are actually giving it all away. Our time, our energy, and our passion are valuable, limited resources and easily depleted.


This notion of having it all presented itself in the late 1960’s and 70’s when millions of women made the transition from wife, mother, and homemaker to working woman, wife, mother, and homemaker.

We were told that we could:

“Bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never let you forget you’re a man, ‘cause I’m a woman,”

By Enjoli Perfume in an incredibly successful 1979 marketing campaign based on a song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1962.

With lyrics such as,

“I can rub & scrub this old house til it's shinin like a dime. Feed the baby, grease the car, and powder my face at the same time…

Lay down at 5, jump up at 6, and start all over again, 'cause I'm a woman,
songs, advertisements, and television programming encouraged women to take pride in being a “24-hour woman,” an attitude that has persisted for more than 50 years.

But this level of responsibility is both self-defeating and self-destructive. For me and millions of others who lived by the Super W-O-M-A-N creed, there are simply not enough hours in the day to honor all those commitments. I finally realized that I had to do something because I could not keep doing everything.


I invited inspiration. I uncovered and discovered my goals. I say uncovered because some of my goals had been sitting there covered in dust for years. I got them out, brushed them off, and made them a priority in my life. 

I communicated my intentions first to myself and then to others. I knew that if my goals weren't a priority to me, they certainly wouldn't be a priority to anyone else. So I had to learn to say no to things that didn't support those goals.

• I got organized. I learned to structure my time and energy in a way that brought me closer to those goals every single day. 

Like most bullies, ennui flourishes in fear and darkness. Bright, shining light diminishes its ability to control our lives and affect the lives of those we love.

My personal battle with ennui reached critical mass at the same time I inherited a class from a fellow professor who was experiencing a family emergency. I had never heard of “College Success,” but had to begin teaching it within hours of accepting the challenge. I even had to borrow a book from a student for the first class because mine had not arrived from main campus.

As fate would have it, College Success class is a group of personal growth and development principles designed for college students. During that first semester, I realized that the tools and techniques featured in the textbook could be applied to any situation, not just the college classroom.

That experience led me on an adventure of discovery through the realm of personal psychology and development spanning decades. As I began to recover my lost time, energy, and passion, goals that I had once believed unachievable, crept closer and closer, passing one benchmark after another with passion and perseverance.

Since then I have:

  • Written two books and started a third.
  • Traveled the U.S./ Puerto Rico, Mexico, Belize, the Caribbean, Canada…
  • Been skydiving.
  • Started learning to surf.
  • Become a certified scuba diver.
  • Started painting and drawing landscapes.
All things that I wanted to do but never had time for until I broke the grip of ennui.


Now, more than a decade later, I continue to collect tools and techniques from a wide variety of genres in a quest to understand and treat modern-day ennui. What began as a journey of self-discovery and treatment has evolved into a mission to compile information, tactics, and strategies to help everyone suffering from ennui and its multitude of related symptoms.

Every student during the ten years I taught College Success contributed to the cause. They taught me as much as I taught them, sometimes more. And today when I see them around town, they often say,

“Mrs. Kearce, I hear you in my head.”

And I respond,

“Good, that means I taught you something.”


Come join the conversation in Tammy Talk's Social Circle:

Let's help each other because we're all in this life together.
Visit Tammy Talk's Social Circle to join the conversation and contribute your tips, tools, and techniques for living a healthy, happy life.

We look forward to hearing from you :)

Everyday Vacay at TammyTalk.com

If you are generally tired and frustrated, click here to receive a free e-seminar that details the causes and the cure.

Or explore the entire Everyday Vacay Series :)