Asking Questions When a Groove Becomes a Rut

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I’ve been in a rut lately. I imagine this is not something I have to describe but just in case there is someone reading who is new to this planet, I’ll elaborate so we are all on the same ratty-tatty page. It’s starts out as a groove. I’m doing a routine because it gets me through the day and then sooner or later, I forget why. The longer it goes, the deeper the groove becomes and before I know it, I’m walking in a channel that is so deep, I can’t see to either side. I just doing the same old things on auto-pilot – get the kids to school, work, pick them up, plan for the weekend, repeat.

Fortunately, this is somewhat of a cyclical thing for me. A combination of winter weight that gets me down. Not just the extra pounds that collect in my middle during these months when I’m too sedentary – it’s the psychological weight on my shoulders, and the pressure that builds up when I forget to pick my head up to look around.

 Following a vague memory of what worked last year, I come back to asking questions. Not questions like “Why did you do that stupid thing?” But wide open questions. Because when I’m in the groove, I’ve forgotten what the question is, not to mention that there could be other questions.

I dug up a quote from a post I wrote last year Beautiful Questions. On an On Being podcast with Krista Tippett, Irish poet David Whyte describes beautiful questions as inspired by poet John O’Donohue:

John used to talk about how you shaped a more beautiful mind; that it’s an actual discipline, no matter what circumstances you’re in. The way I interpreted it was the discipline of asking beautiful questions and that a beautiful question shapes a beautiful mind.

And so the ability to ask beautiful questions — often in very un-beautiful moments — is one of the great disciplines of a human life. And a beautiful question starts to shape your identity as much by asking it as it does by having it answered. You don’t have to do anything about it, you just have to keep asking.

Before you know it, you will find yourself actually shaping a different life, meeting different people, finding conversations that are leading you in those directions that you wouldn’t even have seen before.

David Whyte

Here are some questions that I came up with:

What part of me feels old and unable to change and how can I thank it and then let it go?

If the earth was my garden, where would I take care of it today?

What self-limiting belief is keeping me from loving more?

Who should I be listening to more to keep a sense of the magic of this journey?

Why have we forgotten that we can ride the wind?

How can I change my perception of time so that I don’t need so much patience or hurry?

I don’t have any answers. But that’s part of the trick for me – to experience the openness and possibility of the questions. The moment I start believing I have “the answer” is the moment I get in trouble with the groove. It’s the not knowing that keeps me attuned to the magic, wandering and discovering.

“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

Roald Dahl

What are your beautiful questions?

I’d love for you to check out and follow my latest project – The Heart of the Matter. It’s a blog of fantastic writers and thinkers delving into what matters in life (and also what doesn’t). You can find it at

For most posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at You can also buy my book about my father on Amazon: Finding My Father’s Faith

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32 thoughts on “Asking Questions When a Groove Becomes a Rut

  1. I have discovered that my instinct has asked questions in every moment of my life, that it then answers. Because I never learned not to trust my instinct it has learned more than I could teach myself. By paying attention to life I get what it needs me to get.

    1. What an interesting point about listening to your instinct. Funny that we have to learn to do that too. Thanks for reading and commenting, Dave!

  2. Love the questions – I can see them being elevating and helpful, although “why did you do that stupid thing?” is also a very valid question (for me) at times :)..

      1. I was actually kind of kidding…sorry, that was lost in translation..I ask that more when I’m completely annoyed with myself 🙂 so I loved the humor

    1. As long as the question doesn’t have “again” embedded in it, you’re way ahead of the game, methinks 🙂

      One of my favorite questions comes from a George Bernard Shaw quote “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”

  3. So lovely, Wynne. Self-reflection…so good with pointed questions. I admire all of the queries you’ve posed to yourself but none more so than “Why have we forgotten that we can ride the wind?”. When I’m feeling out of sorts, I need to get my feet on the ground…not my carpeted cush indoors 😊 I need Earth under my feet and if my sojourn is accompanied by a simple breeze, I imagine it conveys peace, love and reminders of those we’ve lost but miss. Something about the soft embrace of airflow, nature’s smells. Whatever heaviness I’m feeling, it seems to waft away. Thank you for the reminder. 💕

    1. I love how you’ve extended that question, Vicki! And you’ve done it so poetically. Yes, to waft away the heaviness so we can fly again. Thank you for this beautiful comment, my friend!

  4. Excellent post that will lead all of us to new questions, Wynne. Thank you. The first thought your words prompted is that I have discovered I have to ask the many of same questions every few years. The process of aging puts me in a different circumstance, thus requiring that me to revisit the possibilities, both new and old.

    1. Oh, what a wise addition to the practice to ask again the same questions. It’s so easy to forget how much we change so the questions then seem almost new again. Beautiful reflection, Dr. Stein.

      And I like the picture that goes with your comments now! Very nice!

  5. The routine, the groove, the rut… all part of being a responsible parent who adheres to schedules to get things done, but for a creative spirit, they are weights that can drag us down! Add to the mix the Seasonal Affectation Disorder, that drains our energy and zest, that’s a time bomb waiting to go off. As much as you are a wonderful mum, how have you been taking care of your spirit lately? Have you gone to any shows or exhibitions that stir you, and just go solo or with a friend who gets it the way you do? You are very busy with writing and creating podcasts, but when do you get to go off by yourself to replenish your batteries? This is a good time of year to do so, when nature is coming out of hibernation in many areas and Spring is starting to flow through our collective veins. Dissatisfaction with the same old, same old becomes distinct during Spring Fever! Don’t fight it, it is a force of nature! Instead seek out fresh experiences or revisit those you haven’t been able to participate in over the winter! Kick up your heels a little!

    1. Ah, such great wisdom and compassion, Tamara. You are right about a lot of what you’ve inferred about my routine. Love what you say about not fighting Spring – just seek out fresh experiences. I’m up for that! Thanks, my friend!

      1. Or maybe it’s one of those sayings that could painted on a wooden sign and sold at gift shops. 😁That type of thing I very popular in my area

  6. Asking questions, and asking good questions, is such a key activity. I appreciate how poetic these are! Often, good questions are in very direct/mundane/abstract “just functional” language.

  7. I like my routine, it gives me clarity about my days and a sense of security of what I am doing of my time. Sometimes, when I am in a groove, I ask myself why 5 times. The answer to the fifth why is not only the reason but also the motivator. Most of the times, the reason/motivator is linked to something or someone I love. Thank you for this inspiring post Wynne!

  8. Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way, suggests that one way of blasting out of stuckness is to take yourself out on an artist’s date. This means: taking YOURSELF out (no kids, no friends, no dogs) and do something that makes you happy. Take a walk, go shopping, see a movie, go for a ride in the country, sit and suck your thumb on a park bench, have a coffee at an outdoor cafe, go to a museum—whatever! But do it alone. I always feel like a new person when I allow myself this self-care luxury. It boosts creativity, and wrestles me out of whatever rut I’m stuck in, Maybe once a while after you drop D&O at school . . .

    1. Oh wow, Julia – what a cool suggestion. I can see why this feels like a self-care luxury (love that phrase by the way). Thank you for adding this to the conversation. I’m going to try this – I can just see myself at lunch and movie!! Thanks, Julia!!

      1. Lunch and a movie! You’re talking my language here ! Whatever you choose to do, just be sure to do it joyfully, gleefully, and guilt free! Are you up to the challenge? 🤔

  9. Up until about a decade ago I was a busy “self/no partner” person – I was a volunteer, a student and life was so busy I had very little breathing space. If I was away it was for something to do with the life I was part off, as well I wasn’t a well woman. And then a medical break through and I changed a little. I gave up all this volunteering and student stuff, I needed to retire me.

    Around 3 years ago when Covid/lockdowns were a “thing” here in New Zealand, a bit like a seasonal addition. A friend suggested I needed to get out and do things. And maybe I should join xyz organisation. I did but the lockdowns closed it’s gatherings…and it was again difficult.

    Late last year, I decided I was in a kind of “rut” and the question was “what now?”

    To that end found more things to occupy some of each month – so as a retiree, I’ve got involved in areas I’m not familiar with. Including something that I finally signed up for this year…which will kick start Monday week. So at least one if not two “meetings” each week…with a lot of people I hardly know, but it’s good to get doing things outside my comfort zone.

    take care, Catherine

    1. Love this walk through the places where you’ve felt in a rut, Catherine. What you say about doing things outside your comfort zone – that makes so much sense. Thank you for adding this to the conversation!

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