Archives for category: Sleepless Nights

It’s hard to call it “waking up early”, when on a different day of week, under other circumstances, I’d just be… still awake. lol I woke around 1:30 am. I’m not sure what woke me, and initially I had every intention of simply going back to sleep. That just didn’t work out. I’m awake. Wholly and completely awake, and quite alert, and ready to begin the day… only… it’s not time for that.

I finally gave up on trying to sleep; it’s not an endeavor that lends itself well to vigorous attempts, and it had become clear that I wasn’t going to be sleeping again any time soon. I’m too familiar with the enduring grogginess that comes of finally falling back to sleep, less than an hour from the alarm going off, and then having to more or less drag myself through my day. Wasted effort. Never able to fully wake and enjoy my day with any sense of purpose. Trapped in a dream-like state. I just have too many other things to do with my time, heading into the weekend, and getting things ready for my Traveling Partner to return home. So – awake it is. I showered, meditated, did some yoga, and made coffee.

…So far it is a lovely morning. πŸ˜€

There is some sort of cosmic, comic, betrayal in my experience of sipping on this excellent cup of coffee; I am immediately sleepier than I’ve been since I woke up! I laugh it off; the clock keeps ticking, and I’ve committed myself, at this point, to starting the day a bit ahead of schedule.

As if mocking me, this also ends up being a morning on which I have little to say, as I sit here. I’m sort of just… here. That’s okay, too. There’s no requirement (or real potential) that every moment of living life be somehow spectacular and richly fulfilling. Some moments are just moments – quite enough as they are, and nothing noteworthy or fancy. It’s that sort of morning, only with extra minutes. πŸ˜€

I put on my headphones, and hit play on my favorite playlist. It’s tempting to read the news…but… I don’t need to fill my head with outrage machinery and Other People’s Drama, certainly not this early on a quiet morning. Music seems a better fit to this moment. πŸ™‚ I smile into the day ahead, and let the moments tick by, contentedly. This morning, it’s very much enough. πŸ™‚

Perspective is sometimes about the view from a singular moment. If I stand somewhere else, doesn’t my perspective change? πŸ™‚

It took time, and still requires regular practice, and I can’t stress enough how valuable it has been to learn to shift my perspective. Getting hung up on one element of one moment of one experience can really wreck a day (or days, or weeks, or a lifetime…), and there is so much more to consider, to appreciate, and to incorporate into totality of this human life. I’m definitely a fan of a change in perspective in stressful times. Sounds easy – isn’t always. It’s easier with practice, though; we become what we practice. πŸ˜€

How though? I mean, in practical terms, how do I “change my perspective” on some hard moment, or other? Well… sometimes I play “The Multi-Verse Game”. πŸ™‚

Every window potentially a different human life in progress, a different point of view…

To play The Multi-Verse Game, I consider my challenge from the basic assumption that there is variety in human experience. Given a large number of human beings, each potentially sharing some slightly different version of a similar, potentially very common, experience, how could the subtle variations play out? What different results would play out, based on differing choices, and subtle differences in experience? I imagine many different sorts of human beings, having this experience that is challenging me so very much, and I allow the scenes to play out, one by one. This person, that choice, these details – how does the story end? That person, other choices, different details – and now how does it go? I extend this into various versions of my own experience; if some one choice or detail were different, in my own life, how would my experience change, then? If nothing else, it becomes entertaining narrative craft, a little internal theater – and often, it allows me to more easily let go of bullshit assumptions I’ve made, and failed to notice are needlessly driving my stress. Sometimes the game serves to alert me of alternatives, and choices, that could work out well for me, that I had not previously understood with clarity, but are revealed in the story-telling.

Another great practice in dark times is making a point to test my assumptions; so much of my anxiety turns out to be caused by my assumptions, rather than by any solid truths or realities of my circumstances. πŸ™‚

…I think of a friend. One of those old friends that is somehow “always there”, even if we’re out of touch for years. Still… sort of a dick move to not make at least some effort; people matter more than that. I pause to send him an email. Just a greeting, really, and a reminder that we exist on a shared journey, separated only by distance. πŸ™‚ Dropping off of the social media landscape has been a little odd in this regard; I’d grown very dependent on it to maintain friendships and associations across vast chasms of geographical distance, and even across time. Now? I’ve got to actually work at those – and occasionally find myself “trapped in the now”, far away, and less than inclined to do so in any practical way. I contemplate my great-grandmother’s letter writing, which I can recall from the edge of adolescence. She was still living, and it was the focal point of her life. She wrote letters to friends. They wrote letters to her. It’s a habit worth cultivating. The world changes – will social media (and the internet, or even electricity) always be available? I sometimes wonder…

The music plays on.

Yeah… that’s the stuff I listen to “in real life”. lolΒ  What about you? Aren’t there details about who you are, the you that you, yourself, know so well, that all those “non you” people seem regularly surprised by? πŸ˜‰ I grin to myself, content to be who I am, in the wee hours, half-aware of the time as it passes, song by song, minute by minute. I notice that my coffee, cold now, is almost gone. It’s well past 3:00 am, already. Feels like a new day, and not the “middle of the night”, now. I guess it’s time to begin again… πŸ˜€

Early morning quiet, interrupted now and then by the sound of a passing car – a pleasant enough start to the day. I’m groggy. My sleep has been poor for a couple days now. Short nights. Wakeful. Restless dreams. It isn’t what it once was, to have such nights; they lack the stress I would have also experienced years ago. I let go of that, and so, a few nights of poor sleep are merely that; just a few nights of poor sleep. The weekend is almost here, and perhaps a night that isn’t followed by an alarm going off will be just the thing I need. πŸ™‚

I found myself missing my Traveling Partner quite a lot yesterday, and also feeling a hint of playful-but-serious envy for his travels, themselves. I didn’t need any of that to be a thing, and I’m not feeling haunted by regret that I did not make it out to see my Mom in person, before her death. I am, however, feeling something… a certain restlessness, a yearning, a need to “get away” from “everything” for awhile. I need to be out among the trees. πŸ™‚ I haven’t done much camping in the past year, and it’s something I really get a lot out of. Healthy time away. Time to reflect, without distractions. Cell phone becoming, instead, a camera. Just thinking it through got me excited about doing it.

One possible future… and one beautiful now.

I sat down in the evening, after work, and made a plan. Found some likely dates. Booked a favorite camping space in a favorite state park a few weeks from now. Booked a camping space out on the coast even a bit further out, on the calendar, as well as on the road. One trip for the peace among the trees, listening to the birds, hearing the deer step by daintily before I wake, hiking forested trails, and spending time meditating, and writing. The other trip? Beach-combing, and star-gazing. Nice. I smiled all evening, and woke up smiling this morning, too. I feel a certain sense of accomplishment in the background; it feels good to take action on personal needs in a constructive way. Not only that; I managed to plan almost-last minute, and still got a good camp site near the beach in the mid-September (still summer, in Oregon). πŸ˜€

It won’t matter about the weather, anyway… it’s about the journey.

…I’ve got to remember to get more Deet (mosquitoes) and sun-screen (omg – what do I do about that now?? I guess shop for a safer sunscreen. lol) Oh, and make a list… lol

I giggle with excitement over my coffee; truth is, I’m fairly well-prepared without lifting a finger. A routine check of my gear (unpack it, look it over for wear & tear, missing essentials, that sort of thing, and repack it), and I should be more or less ready to hit the highway. I like to hike – and I like to hike trails I can’t easily get to, trails that are too remote to be crowded, but still safe for me to hike solo. I end up camping a bunch to get to such places. lol It’s not about the camping, and as a result, I tend to camp fairly efficiently, and purposefully, most of the time. I don’t like to fuss and waste time looking for this or that just to load the car. πŸ˜€ I keep my gear ready-to-go, from about mid-March to the end of October. (I still hike in colder months, and talk long walks on nearby trails, but I don’t like sleeping/waking in the cold, so I rarely camp in winter, by preference.)

…I still catch myself musing about what I need, what I’ve got, what I may need to change about how my gear is packed, and making a mental list (or several). I’m looking forward to the time away.

I catch myself thinking about things I reliably always pack and don’t use. It’s so tempting to reduce weight by not taking those things. I already travel pretty light; I can generally carry my gear – all of it – in a single trip from the car to the campsite, if not backpacking it, then coming pretty close with a backpack and my hands full. It’s helpful to keep the load at a minimum (age, fitness, pain management…). So, why the heck am I carrying stuff I don’t use?? That sounds dumb…

…First aid kit? (haven’t needed it yet, still gotta carry one – not dumb) That’s the sort of “extra weight” I tend to carry; safety gear. A spare headlamp. Solar lights. Water filtration (state parks usually have potable water on site). Bottled water (heavy, and generally left behind in the car, once I confirm there is on site drinking water). Emergency blanket. My gear looks like I expect, at any moment, to be stranded unexpectedly in the wilderness, with no clear date of likely rescue. lol Realistically, that’s a thing that could happen, and I’m solo hiking most of the time. Why not be prepared to look after myself with some measure of preparedness and skill, in the event I am injured on a trail, or get stuck, or lost? Just saying… my “extra” weight stops being extra, when circumstances become more challenging.

Life works like that, too. Being prepared for contingencies, having a “plan B” (or C, or D, or E) can make a huge difference to our personal success in life. Being ready to pivot with new circumstances can make the difference between “getting there” at all – and “getting there” comfortably. Still, it matters to “keep the load light” and not carry so much baggage that we can’t really travel with any ease – and again, it’s a metaphor; works in life, and in camping. πŸ™‚ Just saying; it’s worth it not to carry extra baggage. It’s worth it to bring what it utterly necessary on our journey. Having (and using) the right tools is a worthwhile investment in our time, our effort – and our preparedness for circumstances.

What’s in your tool box? Will it get the job done?

What’s in your backpack? Will you be able to reach your destination, with what you can carry?

I notice the time. Finish my coffee, and begin again. πŸ™‚

 

Okay, more of the “funny/not funny” variety. I woke abruptly to the persistent beeping of my alarm, ready to drag myself into a new day, just barely. It only took about 10 minutes to clear the fog from my head enough to fully understand that the reason the clock said “1:00 am” was because that was, perhaps, the actual time – and the alarm, for some reason, was set for then. Weird. My watch was confusing me; it didn’t match. It rather insistentlyΒ  pointed out that the time was something like 11:36 pm… so… not “1:00 am”, at all. I double-checked with the clock on the stove… yep. 11:36 pm. Okay… definitely not time to get up. First – reset both the time and the alarm on my alarm clock. So groggy…

…I went back to bed.

I woke ahead of the alarm. Restless, unsatisfying, interrupted sleep to begin a new work week… great. I sip my coffee, and frown into the cup. Not my best cup of coffee. I let that go, and just keep sipping on it, trying to fully wake up. The shower didn’t help. Meditation almost turned into a nap. I’m clumsy, and out of focus. I am fatigued. Lacking the rest I need, today may have some challenges to work through. A huge yawn splits my face, while I decide whether to go into the office a bit early to make up for the likelihood that I will be a bit cognitively slowed down. My decision-making skills are obviously impaired. I stare forward, sipping coffee. Writing in near-real-time. Stream-of-consciousness. lol Yep; this is it. Best I’ve got, this morning. πŸ˜‰

A different perspective; the view from my Sunday walk.

The weekend was lovely. Productive, satisfying, and infused with contentment. I got a few things done around the house, and enjoyed a very restful weekend. I struggle to remember what all I actually did do… but I’ll leave a tidy home this morning, when I head to the office, and I’ll feel welcomed when I come home to it. πŸ™‚

It was most definitely summer, although we’re not feeling the impact of the blistering heat wave happening in eastern states. Even with the A/C, that’s misery I don’t need, although thinking about it reminds me to water the garden before I head to work.

There are signs of summer everywhere, and blackberries begin to ripen on wild vines.

Coffee almost gone. I’m almost, mostly, awake. Still time to water the garden, before getting myself together to make the commute across town to the office. I briefly contemplate driving in, then rethink that thought in the context of recollections of summer construction. (One of many “signs of summer”) Lightrail is fast enough. I’ll just do that. lol

I made sure to keep fresh water out for visiting creatures, too.

I jot down a couple reminders for myself for later, and head to the garden to water plants, and fill watering stations. I remind myself to drink plenty of water, too. Self-care nearly always makes it to the top of every “to do list” these days. πŸ™‚

I miss my Traveling Partner, and wish him well from afar, wondering what he’ll be up to, today. I think about exes and smirk at myself, quietly, reminded of relationships in which there was almost always a fight or an argument leading up to any time apart, the petty squabbles, and weird possessive or jealous interference in any solo activity, the constant pinging and fussing during time away… Fuck, I am so glad to be done with all of that bullshit. lol I sit grinning quietly for a few minutes, happy to be in this partnership, appreciative of this human being who is so dear to me. He suits me. I miss him, right now, in the morning, over my coffee – and there’s nothing that needs to be done to ease that. It’s appropriate, as feelings go, and my emotions aren’t hurting me, or anyone else. πŸ™‚ I go with it, and take time to fully savor this love we share, and enjoy a few grateful appreciative moments with my coffee.

Damn, this is one fairly dreadful cup of coffee… lol. Fortunately, it’s just about gone, and I can just begin again. πŸ™‚

I woke up abruptly, some minutes ago. I woke feeling frustrated, irritated, vaguely angry, impatient – a host of less than pleasant feelings crowding my consciousness. I felt as though I were in the middle of an argument. I felt as though I were not being heard. Definitely awake. Definitely “in the wee hours”. I laid awake awhile feeling my heart thump, hard, fast, as though I had been exerting myself. Breathless.

I got up, finally, to pee, to get something cold to drink, to “walk it off”, to “get some air”… I got up to breathe. To exhale. To let this shit go.

Initially, the house remained dark – suitable for the “middle of the night”, and avoiding waking anyone else. At some point, I remember I am alone right now, and turn on soft lighting, once it is clear sleep is not immediately at hand. I sit down to write, when it is also clear that “letting it go” wasn’t effortless in this moment – and was reminded of a conversation with a friend, earlier in the day. Human beings struggle. It’s not always an easy experience. We are beings of both emotion and reason; either one can be “a tad off”. Emotional wellness is important – as is our ability to reason in a rational, healthy way. They balance one another. They feed on each other. They inform each other. I experience feelings that source with my thoughts. Some of my thinking has its foundation in how I feel about an experience. Connections. We exist in context.

I breathe deeply. Exhale evenly, slowly. I relax, deliberately, willing my shoulders to drop back down where they belong (and wonder, again, what pulls them up so tightly, so uncomfortably). The experience of “hearing my heart thump” slowly diminishes, until what I am hearing is my typing. Some of this is about focus – what I pay attention to, becomes a larger part of my experience. We become what we practice. Doesn’t make it effortless. In fact, quite the contrary; it is the effort, the practice, itself, that creates the change being sought. Do the thing. Do it again. Keep repeating it. Eventually, it becomes part of who we are. “Easy” is not part of the process.

Another deep cleansing breath. Something icy cold to drink, seeking to cool off from the very subjective sense of being “too hot”.

…What the hell was up with my dreams?? I woke when I did, straight to being fully awake, no lingering in a dream, no recollection of the contents of my consciousness, before that moment when I woke, frustrated, irritable, and frankly a bit angry. What was that about? I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let it go – again. It’s literally not relevant to this moment, here, now, in the quiet and the darkness.

I look at the clock and wonder if I will return to sleep… it’s not quite 2:00 am, on a “work night”. I’d rather not be awake right now… but I clearly am. What to do about it matters less, for me, than not getting stressed out by whatever that outcome ends up being. The thought of returning to sleep causes some anxiety. Nightmares? Possibly. I take a moment of consideration and gratitude that I don’t remember them, if that’s what woke me. Could have been a noise… but the world seems quiet, now. Lingering on the “why” isn’t helpful, and obsessing over that holds potential to drive additional anxiety. Another breath. I exhale. Relax – again. Let it go – again. Have another drink of cold weird liquid – what the hell did I grab out of the fridge? I look more closely. Oh. A sugar free sports drink in a flavor I don’t care for. Hilarious. I continue to drink it eagerly; the cold of it is more soothing than the flavor matters at all.

…I could just stay up. Have a shower. Meditate. Do some yoga. Make coffee… The time would pass quickly, and it would soon be time to head to the office…

My mind sifts through various recent conversations with assorted colleagues, friends, family members, doctors… aimless fussing and wound-picking, unproductive, and not especially healthy. I let that all go, too. I have a thought, properly relevant to experiences of anxiety and wakeful nights, and grab my vape – works for my daytime anxiety, will it work now? I watch the cloud billow around my face, and dissipate. There’s a loveliness to it, illuminated by the glow of my monitor.

I frown, irritated by the recollection of a recent visit to the VA. New doctor. Young doctor. “Have you tried Tylenol?”, she asked (about my literal decades of chronic osteo-arthritis pain in my spine). I’m still annoyed. Seriously?? Was she fucking kidding me? Potentially one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever been asked about pain management, by a doctor. Have I ever tried _____? Lady, Doctor,Β if it’s over the counter, I’ve fucking tried it – or read the contraindications and recognized it isn’t for me. For fuck’s sake, really? Damn.

Oh. Is that what woke me? I’m still processing my anger and frustration with that appointment? Admittedly, I’ve avoided dealing with it. I keep trying to “let it go” without having to deal with it. That, folks, is called “skipping a step” and it tends not to be very effective – but grinding my gears over it, ruminating endlessly frustrated by it, is also not effective. Running from the emotions does not put them to rest – it just results in feeling as though I’m not being heard. (Because I’m not.)

There’s a solution here. I hit my vape again. I shift gears and head to my meditation cushion. Whether or not I sleep is no longer my concern. It’s about a bigger picture of self-care, and “feeling heard” is something that needs to begin with me.

Here’s a brief musical interlude to pass the time… πŸ˜‰

Some time has passed. There’s still time for more sleep, if it comes to that. I’m not worried about it. I’m not worried. I feel relaxed. Content. Centered. I’m okay. This is one moment, of many. Just that. It’s not a bad moment, if I pulled it from life’s deck like a playing card; relaxed, content, safe, hydrated, secure in my home, secure in my relationships. There are no longer alarm bells going off in my head, and I am at ease, and comfortable in my own skin. The moment is altered and I change the music. I think of my far away Traveling Partner, still sleeping. I laugh, reminded that I am at home alone, and stream the music to the stereo in the living room, I turn it up, still mindful that the world (and my neighbor) sleeps. My thoughts travel briefly to a younger time in my life; I’d have run from this moment, pursuing any available distraction. Tonight? I pull myself back into my body, back into this “now”, and let the bass wash over me. “…Free the history…” I pick up my buugeng, and begin to dance, feeling my contentment mingling with the music, and the movement. (Your results may vary.)

Unexpectedly, in the middle of a moment, grief washed over me, unsolicited, unwelcome – and too real. It has been just 25 days since my mother died. So much has happened since then to distract me from that experience. I dropped to the floor weeping like a… like… well, like a grown ass woman, grieving the loss of her mother, honestly. It’s okay. There is no shame in these honest tears, and I am okay right now. This is real, and it is what it is. I needed this time alone, I suppose; real life has some things to tell me, things I need to hear. My heart needs to be heard – and I need to take the time to listen.

I cried for some little while. I’m okay with that; tears dry. As they do, I think about a shower, and coffee. It’s almost 3:30 am. The alarm will go off in an hour, and there’s little point in going back to sleep, now. πŸ™‚ It’s already time to begin again. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee and reflect. I’m not a perfect person. I have hard days, like anyone. I sometimes choose poorly. I go wrong, now and again. This path, as with any other, has some rocks, and tripping hazards. The entire experience of living life seems to be about learning, growing, and making mistakes.

This morning, my head aches. I spent too much time crying last night. Not grief; the aftermath of …”an argument”? It wasn’t exactly. Words went wrong in a moment. Mine. His. I walked away before things developed into raised voices; I just wasn’t up to any of that. He felt hurt, even mistreated, that I walked away, without further discourse. We gave up on enjoying a shared evening. It sucked. Hours later, we found ourselves in shared space again. I apologized – it wasn’t about being right, or being wrong, or any of that; I simply whole-heartedly regretted hurting his feelings. No way to roll back the clock, so apologizing unreservedly was all I had to offer. It wasn’t a particularly satisfying moment, I’m not sure it did any good, or that things are “any better” now, and although I slept when I finally called it a night, I woke feeling dried out, head-ache-y, and heavy-hearted. Shitty start to the morning.

So basic.

I give myself room to be human. I take time for meditation. A cool shower helps, too. I sit now, getting ready for a work day that holds no enthusiasm, wondering if I’m even up to being an adult, at all…? Tooth extraction, tomorrow… Fourth of July the next day. I struggle with ennui and anhedonia, this morning. I struggle with tears that want to come, without any particular cause. Sometimes shit’s hard. I sip my coffee, frowning a bit. “This too shall pass” seems a fitting thought. I don’t find it particularly comforting, in this moment, maybe later? The pain shifts. Headache, now spine. I feel twisted and uncomfortable.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let things go. Pull myself back to “now”. Right now? Right now, I’m okay. Right now, he sleeps quietly. We live gently, without any hint of violence; a few terse words and some hurt feelings seem a small, fairly ordinary, human experience. We’ll get past it. Right now, the world feels new. I give myself another chance – that’s what that phrase “begin again” is all about. Reset the clock. Start over. Take a fresh approach. Let go of a bit of baggage and bullshit, and take a step forward on the path. “Growth” isn’t easy, or without effort, or free of error – and sometimes our mistakes are painful, for us, for those dear to us, to random strangers… but we do need to grow. So. A new beginning, then? I guess so.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Feel the tension in my shoulders begin to release. Feel the headache begin to dissipate. I drink more water. Sip more coffee. Do some yoga. I start building a fresh start, and a new perspective. No room to cling to personal narrative here; I’m often wrong. We all are. We make too much up in our heads to be reliably correct about what someone else is going through. More coffee. More time. More breaths. Fucking hell, today feels hard already. A deep slow breath. Another moment to exhale, relax, and feel my shoulders drop back down where they belong. Again, and again. “Practice”.

I look at the clock. Although I’ve no significant enthusiasm for it, it’s already time to begin again. There’s a work day ahead, and a chance to do something positive. More verbs. More choices. More beginnings. For now, that’s enough.

Well, sure. This.