I woke up at 4:45 am Sunday morning and could not sleep or get comfortable. I thought about just getting up. Instead the thought that came to me was to just lay there and be grateful. A long list of things came into my thought and eventually I fell back asleep. I woke up an hour or so later, not able to sleep and still uncomfortable. So I did the same thing.
I have had pivotal moments in my life when I have woken in the middle of the night and could not get back to sleep with very strong thoughts about another person in my life. Whether I had an intuition that something was not right in the world, or a moment of pause about a specific individual. Early on when I would have these pitch-black-middle-of-the-night intuitions, well they freaked me out. Over time I learned to stop, be quiet, and listen. Depending on how coherent I am I might lay there and pray, or think about how I can support and think good thoughts for the world situation or individual that woke me from sleep.
Waking in the wee hours of Sunday morning was not about a person, but it was a full body reminder for me. Why did I have to lay in bed unwilling to get out of my cozy bed to take moments to be grateful for my amazing husband, family, friends, colleagues, home, work, etc? The list went on in my head. Even to specific worldly pleasures, such as my new favorite sheets that I was laying between. That utter euphoria I felt for all the goodness in my life (does not mean it was perfect) reminded me to take more moments in the day to acknowledge that goodness. Why not before I fall asleep at night? Or at least on those nights when I do not fall asleep the instant my head hits the pillow… Who am I kidding? That never happens to me.
This is a reminder for you and for me. Be grateful. Keep it inside or let it ooze out and tell those that you are feeling gratitude for them. Snuggle in your bed and appreciate the sheets that have you smitten. Watch the video of your niece laughing over and over again. Forget the struggles that you have for a few moments and just be head over heels grateful for all the good in your life.
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…
I used to be scared shitless of our dog, Ginger. I was young, and our German Shepherd was much larger than me and she would often jump up on me, was way taller, and well most of the time knocked me over. When I would leave my room in the morning I would yell out: “Is Ginger outside?” My family sometimes supported my fears and would say yes, and other times they would mess with me and think I was a complete baby, and tell me she was outside, only to be lovingly mauled by her. Ugh. How my family frustrated me. Rather than work with me on my fear, they teased me.
Somehow over time, and maybe just with growing taller, and more mature I got over my fear of Ginger. She was eventually hit by a car while delivering newspapers with my brother. We had many more dogs over the years. Some that tore up our house because they were afraid of thunderstorms, or jumped fences, and some chewed their own fur off. I never feared our large dogs after Ginger. We never had a “normal” dog. My father always brought home dogs that had been abused (thus their strange behaviors).
Fast forward to Chris and my time dating. He had a massive Great Dane, who had also been abused before Chris rescued her. While my dad and brother were great with our dogs, I never saw a connection between a dog and man before Chris and Belle. So when I saw this dog + baby video, I immediately showed him. His response: “That is ridiculous.” He could not stop laughing and smiling.
The baby continues to move closer and snuggle with the dog… What is not to ooh and ahh over?
I just spent the weekend with my niece, Charlie (nickname for Charlise). I am utterly addicted to her. She has not even been gone for 24 hours and I miss her so much. What is it about little munchkins that make our hearts yearn for them?
My sister and I had a conversation during our last visit over a month ago, about being connected to children in ways that our parents were not connected to us. Part of that is about paying attention to their wants, needs and being present. I know it is a different era, but I grew up in one (of which I have said often) where my father felt that children should be seen and not heard. Maybe I was grossly offended by this, tainted, what have you, but I am definitely not going to have my kid(s) nor my niece(s), nephew feel that they should not be heard. Their voice matters. I watch the deep love my sister has for Charlie. It is so clear that Charlie is so loved. My sister does not complain, you can see her yearn for her time with Charlie, it is as if she knows so deeply that this precious time will not last, and she is going to make sure Charlie has a different childhood than she had.
Our childhood story is bigger than just not being heard. My mom had an at home day care when I was very young, and yet I do not remember her ever being (that I can remember) the touchy, hugger, cuddler type. My dad became more of a hugger once I was in college. My grandma was even less of a hugger. So, maybe that was why my mom was not much for cuddles. Fast forward to my sister and me. Before Charlie we were not really that into hugging. Yet, with Chris I am a hard-core hugger. I need my daily…well multiple times a day hugs from him. I love hugs. I want to start my day with one, I want to end my day with one. I would take a deep intense hug over a kiss any day. I strongly believe that somehow Charlie has made my sister and me connect on a deeper level. Almost like Charlie has broken the years of non-hugging brought about by my childhood family. Thank you, Charlie!
I wonder, do we give our kids what we never had? Did my sister and I crave that kind of connection and family that she is now giving Charlie? I love Charlie with a depth and yet I have only seen her a total of three weekends. Where does that come from? Where does that love so deep and so extensive show up and we know we are never the same without this precious munchkin in our world? We want to make them laugh and giggle. We want to cuddle, snuggle, and never forget their smell.
Do you ever have those days that start out all wrong? Your clothes feel tight, or nothing you want to wear is clean, and to top it off you are having a bad hair day? Sometimes your funk permeates your entire day and all you do is dream about doing a few things that will let you unwind and block out the rest of your day.
What would your list of favorite things be to unwind from a hellish day? Would it involve your kids, your spouse, or an empty, quiet house? Does it involve exercise, a massage, or gorging on amazing food? Does your list change based on your mood?
A list of my favorite things to do to unwind (in no specific order):
Going for a long run.
Taking a long HOT bath.
Hugs. Need I say more?
Finding a new journal, finishing a journal, starting a new journal.
Completing a shit-ton of items on my to-do list.
Snuggling with Chris during a movie, on a lazy Saturday morning…whenever I can cozy up with him.
Finishing a book I cannot put down.
Coming home to a clean house (knowing I do not have to clean it).
Salt. Anything with it, most often in the form of chips.
Some days I can come home and pick one of these items off my list, and the mere act of shifting my focus or pampering myself will change my outlook and let me forget my funk. Other times you just have to ride it out, crawl in bed, close your eyes and wake up freshly the next morning.
How about you? What do you do to unwind after a funky day?