Archives for posts with tag: a good night’s sleep

I woke this morning from a deep sleep. It took me some seconds longer than is typical to understand the sound that woke me, to find the alarm clock by feel in the darkness, to understand that electric lights exist…and to wake up. I went to bed fairly early last night, unsure whether sleep would come easily, but very much aware that an investment in healthy rest and quality sleep would be needed after the interrupted night of poor quality sleep the night before. A leisurely fun evening of South Park, pizza, and good company provided quiet entertainment between the end of the work day, and my early bedtime, and I enjoyed it in the good company of my traveling partner. Good communication and self-care practices for the win, yesterday! I woke with some effort this morning, in good spirits, and well-rested.

The day-to-day investment in exceptional self-care matters a lot for my continued well-being. There are verbs involved, and continued practice. Yesterday, The Big 5 was relevant; I communicated my fatigue openly, considerate of the possibility he may have also been short-changed on sleep. He demonstrated consideration, respect, and compassion regarding my fatigue. I made choices regarding my self-care and the shared evening to come that leveraged respect for his time, consideration of his tastes and needs, expressing appreciation for his support. Our conversation set clear expectations, the support offered was reciprocal, and the affection demonstrated was unreserved and without conditions. We had a lovely evening together, and ended it pleasantly. I crashed out early, and got up early with the alarm clock. He was, I’m certain, up later – and at least so far, I have managed not to wake him prematurely this morning. 🙂

I have missed this day-to-day intimacy and his presence in my everyday experience. I enjoy living alone – I may even, perhaps, prefer it – but I have missed this man’s presence, his scent, his humor, his warmth, his good-natured concern that I treat myself sufficiently well, his support for my endeavors, his willingness to share his own with me, his strength, his vulnerability, his sense of honor and consideration. I have missed having love by my side in moments of ‘bad weather’ emotionally. I have missed having the chance to share the lovely ‘climate’ of my great wilderness within, as I have improved my quality of life, understanding and awareness of myself, and skill at enjoying this amazing journey. I am making a point, every day, of taking time to appreciate what I am enjoying now, that I have been missing, hoping to fill up on love’s delights and wonders while circumstances are such. I suspect I am a far better lover than I once was, and hope that this is true. I keep practicing. 🙂

Speak with love. Act with love. Be love.

Speak with love. Act with love. Be love.

Today is a good day for love, for loving, for all the verbs that doing so implies. There is surely ‘time enough for love’, but I don’t think there is sufficient time to waste on choosing not to.

This morning my arthritis pain is…well, it is. But it isn’t as much so as yesterday, and the improvement is the foundation on which my smile is built, this morning. My coffee is hot and tasty, and the morning is chilly – this seems a pleasant combination, and tends to reinforce the smile. On my way to make coffee, I spotted my rather shy clown pleco (Panaqolus maccus) scooting out of view and I grin from ear to ear to have seen him at all. He has his favorite hiding spots and generally only ‘comes out’ when he’s pretty sure no one is watching.

The only picture I've gotten of my clown pleco since I moved.

The only picture I’ve gotten of my clown pleco since I moved.

So far, a basically pleasant morning, filled with small things to smile about, and some arthritis pain. I start to think ‘not bad for a Monday’ and catch myself rolling my eyes rather dismissively; there’s nothing ‘wrong with’ Mondays – and setting those expectations, even in a back-handed way, is no way to treat myself, particularly on an actual Monday. I find my thoughts wandering to ‘how did we find our way to a place where Mondays are given such a poor reputation?’ We can get pretty worked up about how shitty Monday’s might be (or tend to be, or seem to tend to be, or are rumored to seem to tend to be), but in practice, are Mondays actually any worse than any other days? Maybe Mondays are worse for people coming off a weekend bender and having to drag themselves through an ugly commute into the office to commit acts of servitude in corporate purgatory…but even that…I feel kinda bad for poor Monday having to listen to people talk shit on her all the time. Pretty good that she’s not a person.

This particular Monday seems to be starting well, at least for me. I am not reading the news – even the articles linked by friends on Facebook get no attention from me this morning. They’ll be there on Tuesday, no doubt. I am enjoying my coffee, my yoga, my meditation, my writing. I am enjoying an email from a dear friend. I am enjoying a pedicure, and a foot rub – oh sure, I know as well as anyone else that a foot rub I give myself doesn’t feel ‘as good’ as a foot rub given to me by someone else…but living alone doesn’t mean I simply go without everything that feels good. lol. That would suck, wouldn’t it? (I assure you, a foot rub I give myself still feels pretty damned good.) I woke a little ahead of the alarm this morning, and feeling well-rested, I got up. There’s more time in my morning, and on a Monday I suppose I could go to work early…but damn, what does the job ever do for me that I didn’t straight up earn in the first place? Nothing. I do verbs of a variety of sorts, for a variety of purposes and persons, all the time, and certainly I am worthy of investing in my own needs and pleasure on a Monday morning; the job will still be there at the usual time. I choose to put my time and my effort where it will be most appreciated this morning – in myself, and meeting my own needs.

The sun rises noticeably later each Monday. It is still summer, but this morning is not a hot one, and I am pleased to wear something less…sleeveless, for a change. The morning is comfortably cool. I smile, noticing the time; it’s only now the time I usually wake up, a leisurely Monday morning, indeed – with plenty of smiles.

I spent much of the weekend, in spite of pain, puttering around the apartment continuing to ‘move in’ – smaller tasks, now, but the details are part of what makes this place “home” for me. In the rush of having to move ahead of schedule (my safety is more important than financial concerns, honestly), details that I would have handled quite differently got…’managed’ hastily and without much forethought: paperwork stuffed into drawers, unrelated items packed into boxes that were not well-labeled, and on moving in some cupboards were stuffed with things that “don’t really go there”, just to reduce visual clutter enough to create a sense of order, and momentum to continue unpacking.  I love creating order from chaos. I love the sorting process of figuring out where things most ideally go for both storage and use. I love creating this space that “feels like I live here”. The small details of moving in delight me – my comfort, built on my choices. It’s lovely to have this autonomy after so many years of conversations resulting in me compromising what works for me so that someone else can have what works for them. I guess that sounds pretty selfish… for now I am okay with that. I have lived a lot of years making do in living arrangements not well-suited to the issues I have, or set up such that daily life is an impediment to therapy, or rehabilitating this injury. I’m overdue to enjoy things “my way” for a while. (First, I’ve had to figure out what that is…) 🙂

Monday? It’s a good day to spend time with the woman in the mirror. It’s a good day to take a ‘no compromise’ approach to treating myself well. It’s a good day for simple pleasures, and for bringing a smile into the office – and into the world.

I spent yesterday taking care of me: getting some rest, treating symptoms that had flared up, meditating (not at all the same thing as getting some rest), and putting some gentle distance between myself and Wednesday. (It wasn’t that Wednesday was so terrible, it was that small things about Wednesday found me very reactive, and got my PTSD going, which wrecked my sleep…etc; it’s a spiral that has to be interrupted as quickly as practical.) Real sleep was a challenge and other than a very restful nap in the late afternoon, the construction work nearby kept sleep just out of reach until evening. When evening came, I slept easily. I slept well. I slept deeply.

I was so tired I don't remember taking this picture.

I was so tired I don’t remember taking this picture.

I woke this morning at 4:59 am, just ahead of the alarm – my honest preference is to wake on time without the alarm going off. I dislike the sound of it, and hearing the noise of an alarm first thing before I am even awake does indeed ‘alarm’ me. I did not have to hear it this morning, and I woke feeling alert and… ‘ordered’. I don’t have the right word for that. I need a word that means ‘the opposite of disordered’. It would be more easily pursued and goal-worthy with its own name. 🙂

My coffee is a treat this morning, brewed from a blend of Latin American beans in a medium roast (“Pamplona“) it is a departure from my usual morning preference, which is generally for darker roasts. I am enjoying it without expectations or assumptions, and finding it quite pleasant, with rich, complex flavors. There’s really nothing much else going on right now. It is very early, the sky only beginning to turn shades of blue, and even the crows are quiet for the moment. There is no movement outside, beyond the open patio door, there is no sound besides the trickle of the aquarium and the hushed hum of humanity’s existence, and the rhythmic tap of middle-aged fingers on a mechanical keyboard. It’s quite lovely and still.

A bit at a time, I am getting to know myself on an entirely new level – the ups and the downs take on more meaning; I face them alone these days, most of the time. I am learning not to run from the difficult moments, which are often more manageable than my fears tell me they will be. I rarely cry. That’s a strange realization; I do not know what dried my tears. Is it really so hard just living side by side with other people? Has that, all by itself, been so much of the difficulty all along – more than hormones, more than being the older one, or being the one working, or being the one not sleeping, or… well… or any of it? My PTSD flares up less often, and less severely lately. My headaches are somewhat less frequent, and often less intense. I sleep more soundly, more of the time. Wait…am I right about this? Or is it merely the perspective of the moment?

Perspective matters. Is it a forest, or some trees?

Perspective matters. Is it a forest, or some trees?

I frequently make generalizations, and sometimes keep them. I’m quite human. From the perspective of this lovely moment, it is easy to reach back in time and connect it to other moments, create trends out of memories… Is there ever a way to be more certain of the truths on which my perspective rests? I give that some thought, and smile. For me there is; I write that much. I’ve kept a journal since I was a ‘tween; I still have every volume since I was in my twenties, although older ones were lost between moves at some point. I paused my journal writing in 2012; it had degraded into obsessive rumination and was doing more harm than good. When I picked it up again, about the same time I went into therapy in 2013, I focused on observational writing: simple, aware, nonjudgmental [at the request of my therapist, and often in a ‘homework assignment’ or ‘question & answer’ format] – and I continue to write, here in this blog, there in my journal, every day. I make notes about my life and my experience. I can ‘fact check’ myself – and regularly do. I don’t use my notes, or my journal, to attempt to correct the misunderstandings or perceptions of others; it is not my role to build, manage, or maintain someone else’s world view, but I have my own, and it is not easily shaken by argument. I have data.

Coffee and journals.

Coffee and journals.

I recently had a conversation with a friend, about a former associate. He said “she remembers things very differently than you do…” I don’t recall the context, but I recall smiling a certain knowing bitter smile. “I’m sure she does.” I said, preferring to move on without further discussion. There is no argument possible on the details, not only because was I there the first time; I made notes. Simple notes. Observational notes. Notes about actions taken. Notes about things said, and behavior in the delivery. Notes that detail chronology very clearly. I have rather a lot of notes, taken daily and summarized weekly. I can refer to them any time. I make a point of doing so because I am on a very particular journey to become the woman I most want to be. Understanding and perspective on who I am are valuable tools. I make a point of checking my notes when the risk of being mistaken is also the risk of hurting someone who matters to me; I am human, and fallible even in my own memory. Human beings rewrite their recollection of events to best suit their own understanding, and generally, more often than not, to make themselves the good guy, regardless how damaging their actions may be. Cognitive dissonance exists. I know where that bitter knowing smile of mine comes from, and it isn’t a happy place; I know people rewrite the how and the why of their actions to excuse mistreating others, because I have chronicled my experience with being mistreated. No stone throwing from me, I’m also human. Bottom line, it is not possible to rob me of my perspective of events, or persuade me to change my view…unless you bring data to the table.

In spite of the note taking, the study, the archived emails, “being right” is not important to me as an experience, and I dislike arguing. It is not a successful way to build an intimate connection, or to enjoy my experience, and my perspective is not subject to outside persuasion in that fashion. We are, however, each having our own experience. That doesn’t take anything from the underlying facts, and whether any one human being can or does acknowledge a fact does not alter the existence of the fact, itself. (More easily expressed as “science does not care what you believe”.) The point I’m making is… of course we each remember things differently than each other, even when we share an experience; our perspective is our own. My violent first husband didn’t consider himself a bad guy, or that his actions were ‘wrong’, generally. I certainly know how damaging his actions were, and the lingering damage definitely suggests he wasn’t ‘a good guy’. Perspective is a very big deal – I rely on my own these days, although I am also learning to listen deeply to the perspective expressed by others, whether I agree or not – it improves my understanding of that human being, what they are capable of, and the relationship we share.

People get very invested in ‘being right’. It isn’t for me to decide that is a mistake for anyone but me – I know my stress level went down a lot when I let go of that baggage and allowed myself to be open to change, open to new understandings, open to learning new information, open to being wrong, and to being mistaken. Being open takes so much less effort than being ‘right’, and it is so much less likely to find me being factually incorrect while demanding that my error be given validation as a truth. Being ‘wrong’ turns out not to be particularly scary, and it opens all sorts of doors to new knowledge, improved perspective, growth, and perhaps at some point, wisdom.

Walking my own path, finding my own way, seeking illumination.

Walking my own path, finding my own way, seeking illumination.

Today is a good day for perspective, and a happy genuine smile; my perspective is my own and can’t be taken from me, even by force. Today is a good day for growth, and just being, instead of ‘being right’. Today is a good day to embrace authenticity, and take ownership of my journey – we are each having our own experience, and I am my own cartographer. The map? Yeah, it’s still not the world.

I slept well again last night. It’s wonderful. I definitely needed the sleep. By midday yesterday, after a great night’s sleep the night before, my body and mind were pretty certain sleep was the thing, and I wanted more than anything to go home at lunch time for a nap. 🙂 Instead, I went home for a sandwich and some yoga, enjoyed a walk in the fresh air, and got back to work. It was a long day, but a short ‘commute’ home – I was ‘in for the night’ by 7:00 pm , and by 8:00 pm I was fed, showered, and curled up under the covers teasing myself with the promise of reading for a while. I went straight to sleep and woke to an alarm clock I had fortunately remembered to set.

This morning, my pour over coffee is luscious, warm, and crafted according to my preferences. I didn’t have to ask, or compromise, or go out for it. I can count on me for a good coffee in the morning. I am learning how much I actually can count on me, for all sorts of things. The last two times in my life I have made an attempt at living alone were characterized by fairly chronic anxiety, insomnia, and poor decision-making, and like living with an ill-tempered child. This time is rather like an idealized version of living with my best friend. It’s still just me, here; I  have learned to treat myself fairly well. What matters most [to me] is clearer, and what to do about it seems more obvious [to me].

Although I am having my own experience, I am still a human primate; intimacy, connection, and contact are important to me. I thrive on love. Affection matters. Touch matters. Feeling valued matters. Being visible is a big deal, emotionally. Adjusting to how those things fit into this new context is taking some time, and firm adherence to good self-care practices; I rely on myself to take care of me almost entirely now. I’ve been here before, but this is my first shot at doing it skillfully, effectively, and achieving notably good results. I still want, need, and count on the positive interactions I enjoy with others to fill emotional needs for connection, and contact. I am a social creature, and even at my most reclusive I thrive when I enjoy close connections with others. There are, of course, verbs involved. My choices matter; interactions are not all equally valuable, or equally pleasant. My results vary. 🙂

Yesterday I went to the mail box after work, I’m not getting much mail here yet but I know bills and statements will be coming to this address now. There is a certain loneliness in an empty mail box, living alone. I opened the box…nothing. Oh, wait…there at the back…an envelope. I noticed happily that it appeared to be a real letter, and from someone dear to me. A ‘welcome home’ card! The handwritten note inside commented that she thought I might like to get some mail that isn’t a bill. I felt understood, valued, and loved. It was a nice moment. I am peculiarly sentimental about such things; I will keep the card for some time.

A smile came in the mail today, wrapped in a plain envelope.

A smile came in the mail today, wrapped in a plain envelope.

I still write letters on paper, and send cards, myself. I do it because of how I feel when I get one, at some moment when I am feeling distant, disconnected, or alone. A few minutes, the price of a stamp, the effort to address an envelope, and the consideration it takes to put the words together and follow them with a 🙂 and a signature are a small price to pay for the powerful moment delivered in a plain envelope. I find myself thinking about sending sweet notes, pictures, drawings and cards to my traveling partner – a sort of love delivery service. Living apart I do miss those small moments of connection, and finding new ways to connect over distance is something I consider often. (Consideration being one of my Big 5, this makes sense to me.)

In moments of great hurt or anger, I find value in letter writing, too, although of the sort I would not generally consider sending; there is clarity in seeing words on paper, and it can be a calming perspective, allowing me to take a step back from the moment, and see things through new eyes. I find writing a good self-care practice, generally, and the act of writing to an individual, about relevant things shared between us, can often soothe my heart in moments of hurt, or ease my anger or doubt, and sometimes helps me gain perspective or understand something better than I did before I saw it in words. I can’t point any fingers at my TBI on this one – I have no idea whether this is a shared experience that many people value, or unique to  me. I am learning to doubt ‘uniqueness’ on a number of levels. 🙂

There is power in our words. We choose them and express what we can. Our lies can affect someone else’s reality. Our anger can do real damage to someone else’s heart. Our lack of consideration, or disregard, can tear down a relationship. Our support and compassion can tear down walls. Our love can change someone’s mind, or heart. Hell, our love can change the world – it just takes a lot of it to overcome the chaos and damage. Even the words we direct at ourselves, in the privacy of our own minds, have enormous power over how we understand our experience, and how we experience ourselves.

I had observed, hanging out with my traveling partner over the weekend, that living alone I miss the welcome home greeting each evening when I get home from work. It’s a poignant moment these days; I unlock the door content and smiling, and there is this instant of pain when I step across the threshold into silence, alone. It’s a hard moment for me.  I wondered last night what I could do, myself, to meet that need. If words matter…can I throw words at the problem? Last night I explored that a bit with a sticky note in the bathroom, on the mirror, reminding myself of some task I didn’t want to forget…and at the bottom of the note I drew a wee heart, and added “You are loved, and thanks for taking care of this right away. You matter.” I had forgotten about it completely when I woke – and seeing it first thing made me smile in much the same way getting the nice card from my aunt did, last night. I don’t know that I have more to say about it, right now. It doesn’t quite rise to the level of a practice, but it was interestingly effective and thought-provokingly so.

I have plans to hang out with my traveling partner this evening after work. I am eager for the day to pass to get to that point; our time together is precious, and pretty wonderful. Living apart highlights the value of the time together, and small things stay small; we both put more into ‘now’, and appreciate the time together in a more willful way. It’s lovely. I don’t waste time wondering why it took living apart to feel this secure about love; I am content to act on what I observe, and I am eager to be in his arms, feeling the warmth of his flesh, and his smile.

I bloom when conditions are right, and in my own time. Don't we all?

I bloom when conditions are right, and in my own time. Don’t we all?

Today is a good day to enjoy the company of a ‘best friend’ I can count on every day, every moment, without ever wearing out my welcome [me]. Today is a good day to appreciate love and lovers, and the value of a hug, and a welcome home. Today is a good day to treat myself well, because it is the best way to treat me. Today is a good day to enjoy the journey.

 

This morning I woke feeling anxious. There’s nothing wrong, as far as I can tell. I am not in pain or struggling with difficult circumstances. It is a lovely chill morning, nearer to summer than to spring. I slept with my window open to cool the apartment overnight; it had gotten quite hot after the heat of the day, yesterday. The community of crows that lives in our neighborhood wake much earlier than the people tend to, and they woke me to join in the delights of morning – or perhaps they just didn’t realize I had hoped to sleep in? 🙂

Life is full of lovely moments, and beauty - I have to choose to see it.

Life is full of lovely moments, and beauty – I have to choose to see it.

Once I was up, and sipping my coffee, the anxiety had passed – although like a bad tooth, I could feel it any time my consciousness poked at it. I take a moment to appreciate the time I had taken to put to rest any unrealistic expectations about mood management and ‘happily ever after’, while I was moving in. Waiting for anxiety or disappointment to set in to take care of unreasonable expectations and unverified assumptions is an exceptionally efficient way to make things so much worse when they go wrong – and things do go wrong now and again, regardless of how ideal life may seem in some other moment. This morning isn’t so bad. I’m just experiencing some feelings of anxiety – and they are primarily very physical feelings, rather than being a wholly emotional experience. I sit back with a smile as I write those words – the physical feelings of anxiety are very like another emotion, a generally positive one – excitement. Eagerness, too, feels a bit similar to anxiety, on the physical side of things…and this morning I have plans about which I am quite excited, and eager for the morning to wear on such that it becomes ‘time to go’.

Recognizing that my ‘anxiety’ is actually ‘excitement’ and ‘eagerness’ allows the pieces of that experience that drive stress to dissipate; without the perception that something is ‘wrong’, these feelings are no longer ‘anxious’ at all.

Sometimes taking care of me is as simple as enjoying a flower in my garden.

Sometimes taking care of me is as simple as enjoying a flower in my garden. Sometimes I am that flower.

I continue to enjoy my morning coffee, and to watch the sun rise, filtered through the blinds of the ‘dining room’ window. (Trust me, this small space that is so heavenly to me doesn’t really rate identifying the ‘dining room’ and ‘living room’ as separate spaces. lol) I smile, thinking about yesterday. It ended well; I sold a painting, and bought a comfortable chair for my apartment, and a modest, practical set of pots and pans. It still delights me to observe how conveniently money works to simplify the conversion of art into needed goods. The transaction was a very practical demonstration of money as a spendable form of human effort. (From my own perspective, it has no other legitimate value or purpose. I suppose that says something about who I am.)

"Sunset Silhouette" 12" x 16" acrylic on canvas w/india ink 2014

“Sunset Silhouette” 12″ x 16″ acrylic on canvas w/india ink 2014

I enjoy this small place that is my own. I feel content here. It is strange to be so aware that the good feelings associated with living alone cause some anxiety, themselves, and a certain feeling of uncertain restlessness – particularly when things are going especially well.  As a result, I am more aware this morning that even the very good feelings I enjoy so much may take some practice to handle skillfully – perhaps as much practice as managing feelings of anger, despair, grief, frustration, or hurt.  When I am over-eager, or excited to the point of fidgeting and bouncing through my experience, I tend to make poor decisions, and may lack needed awareness of consequences; there are opportunities to improve through meditation, and mindfulness that are as powerful as learning to comfort myself when I am hurting. When I am content for longer periods of time than I am used to, I am prone to taking that experience for granted, and becoming unreasonably frustrated and disappointed when things go wrong; here, too, practices that improve perspective, self-compassion, and mindfulness also ease the rather mundane and unnecessary stress of a challenging moment on a lovely day.

Awake and aware, each day is a new experience.

Awake and aware, each day is a new experience.

This morning, I am both content, and excited about my morning – and I am taking time to care for this beloved darling broken self that is mine, before I head into the world to face what is real about what is also delightful. I stick with my self-care practices, instead of allowing excitement to drive me forth, unprepared for the day. It may seem a small thing, and in this lovely moment it may even seem unnecessary – it will matter very much later, when I am tired, or frustrated over something small, that I took time to take the very best care of me this morning. Yep. Even living with less stress, and more contentment, there are verbs involved. It is still a journey, and an exploration – I am still my own cartographer.

Today is a good day to enjoy my self – and enjoy the world.