I have nights when I sleep beautifully, and other nights when I toss and I turn. Either I cannot sleep on one side, I get hot, or I have to pee multiple times. Some nights I toss and turn because Chris is snoring. I have to either deal, or pat him and ask him to roll over so I can actually go to sleep. Other times I ponder life, and eventually fall back asleep, or I get up and read and when my eyes can no longer handle it, I snuggle up next to my warm husband and fall back to sleep.
When I found a new way of approaching falling asleep, I thought why not try it? It actually works (from what I have found so far). It is the 4-7-8 principle outlined here:
“She happens to be a licensed wellness practitioner who studies meditation, stress, and breathing techniques, and told me it would change my life. You simply breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. She explained that the studied combination of numbers has a chemical-like effect on our brains, and would slow my heart rate and soothe me right to sleep that night. “It works,” she told me. “It’s crazy.”
I have tried it a few times and since I do not remember what happened next, I think that means that I have fallen asleep. Breathe in for four seconds, hold for seven seconds, and exhale through mouth for eight seconds. When I do it I can physically feel a difference in my body. When you hold your breathe for seven seconds, and then exhale, your body has to go through a moment of relaxation. You would exhale out in a different way if you had not held your breath. While it feels a bit strange, I feel my body relax and release in ways it probably would not if I did not do: 4-7-8.
They are right that is slows your heart rate. It somehow slows my mind, which is just what I need to let go and let my mind and body relax and allow a few hours of sleep to get me to the next morning where it all starts over again. Take a moment to read the above link to see more detail on mindless breathing, and how it can help you sleep better. ZZZZZzzzzz…
Allowances. I cannot remember for the life of me if we got an allowance. Somehow what I remember most is that my dad sometimes paid us in candy bars. Not your normal candy bar, the kind you sell for school fundraisers. He would buy a case (or maybe we had some left over). I distinctly remember the ones that had caramel in the inside. If we ever did get paid (even with candy bars) it was for chores we did around the house. Did doing chores and my parents never following through with an allowance teach me good ideals about working, money management, or spending money? Not really.
I started working when I was nine years old. I babysat, cleaned a neighbor’s house, polished their silver, and had a paper route. Yes, crazy to think I did that at the age of nine. I guess I worked just as hard then as I do now. My parents would have me put my earnings in a savings account, so I guess you could assume that they taught me about saving. The problem? My dad usually “borrowed” from my savings account never paying me back. I did not have the best money role models. Kids should be taught about money early on, and not be graced with everything with no knowledge or conversation that money does not grow on trees. Which is why I especially love this article from Slate.com titled: “You’re Doing Allowance Wrong.”
“Spending is about modesty, thrift, and the prudence to shell out (and even splurge) for things that bring kids the most joy while avoiding mindless outlays for plastic junk they will quickly break or forget. Saving instills patience in a world that increasingly conspires against waiting, delivering television without commercials and movies without Blockbuster. And giving is about generosity as well as gratitude for how lucky you are to be able to help others.”
The article goes into depth about giving an allowance, a budget, and a list of things they want or need and let them make the decisions on what to purchase. It means letting them fail. As the article states: “Better now then at age 24…” It teaches critical thinking skills, how to rationalize why one purchase makes more sense than another one. Many adults today do not have these skills. What if we started early on learning these life skills? We have gone away from being a saving culture, instead we spend, and rarely give. If you have kids what are your thoughts on this article + topic?
I do not really think about the idea of feeling mothered too often. Until a few weeks ago. I met a woman who calmed me. It was not anything she really did, but I wondered if the vibe she gave off was one of a “mother.” Random I know. This woman is slightly irrelevant to this post as I may never see her again, but the hour I spent with her began a chain of events in my thoughts over the course of the next few days. Mothers. Mothering. Lack of a mom. My mom passed away 20 years ago. I have lived more of my life without my mom then I did with her.
Yes there have always been individuals in my life that have “mothered” me in different ways. I have tears in my eyes as I remember the ones that had a lasting effect on me. And, while many of those that mothered me are not deeply present in my life today, they are still in some ways always present with me. I saw how they mothered their own children, how they loved me, or how they taught me to love. It is interesting for me to look back over those 20 years of the diverse mothering in my life.
Jump to today. I am a bit of a hard-core person. I go all into a project. Usually it is hard for me to stop until I am done. You know you can count on me, trust me, and that I will not let you down. But with being hard-core there is an intensity that I exude that sometimes is well: intense. This woman a few weeks ago calmed me for that hour. I have no idea why. I have no idea if I would like her, or if she would continue to have that effect on me. It makes me wonder about all my friends, family, and co-workers who have lost parents, siblings, friends, co-workers in their life. How do they continue to feel fathered, mothered, taken care of? Why did this women calm me?
Is it that I need more mothering in my life? Do I need to let go a bit and allow myself to be mothered? I guess it depends on what our definition of mothering truly is. Sometimes I think it is knowing that I could pick up the phone and cry, share of my day, or ask for advice. Other times it is to tell me that everything is going to be okay, or to tell me how proud she is of me. Whatever the definition, I imagine a good amount of us could use a bit more mothering in our life.
I found a print over the weekend via the fabulous, Elizabeth Gilbert that sums up what I think about a lot of things. It says: “Own your Shit.” I could never frame it and put it on the wall, as it has a bird on it, and I am not a fan of birds. I like the print because it says what I constantly have running through my head. To me “Own your Shit” means bring yourself 100% to your job, relationship, family, wherever in your life. Know who is counting on you, know what is expected of you, and bring it.
I struggle a lot with others that do not take accountability for their actions. If you say you are going to do something do it. Follow through. Think about the individual on the receiving end of what you need to do. Does your not following through leave them hanging? Does it make them look bad? Does it tell them you do not care?
When you drop the ball, own it. Put yourself out there and communicate that you did not own your shit. Let others know. You own it when you are transparent about when you did not come through. It gives you more credibility. When you do not own your shit, you can lose all credibility.
Whatever story you are telling yourself for why your life is more important, or what you need to do is more important than honoring your commitments, it is bullshit. Do what is your responsibility to do. Do not expect someone else to do it for you. Do not take the easy way out. Own it. Know it. Be it.
I have been thinking a lot in the last week about awareness. Being aware. Watching. Being present. After a few day training session at work, I realized how much more I could be aware of my surroundings, my actions, and how I approach situations. Last Friday I specifically practiced awareness, and while yes I was only in day one, I had a very good day. It could have also been because the sun was out, which means that those I was around were in a great mood. Sunshine in Portland in February does that to folks.
Regardless, I focused on listening in each conversation. I stopped, slowed down, and was aware and I enjoyed the day so much more. Sometimes that means I am more focused in my listening, other times it means I quiet my mind and do not say all the things that are happening within it. I am an extremely direct and transparent person, but I am learning that does not mean that I have to say everything that comes to mind. Part of being aware is listening to see if the person you are interacting with needs to talk and share from their own minds.
As I learned last week, awareness takes practice. Just as an Olympic athlete must train every day, so must each of us as we continue to be better and better, or as we continue to learn how to be our best. All we can do is try again each day. Try to be more aware, more present, and listen more. I love a line from this Fast Company article titled: “How One Simple Change Can Make You A Better Listener.”
“When people feel as though they have been heard, they trust you more.”
As well as:
“Ultimately, the ability to extract what people mean from a conversation is one of the most important tools of any leader. It takes a lot of work. And it requires curbing your natural tendency to jump right to a solution to people’s problems.”
I have a lot of work to do. I need to resist my constant urge to find a solution to problems, and start by listening first. Here is hoping I can keep up with my awareness this week. Listen more. Be more aware. Are you with me?