Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sleeping Sweet

Of the many gifts I have one elicits hate among my acquaintances. I can sleep anyplace at any time. You are either envious or you can relate. There is no in between. Can I sleep on car rides, bus rides and plane rides? Yes. Can I take afternoon naps? Check. Being able to sleep at night seems one of those nature vs. nurture arguments. It has to do with the status of your soul, the events in your life, and the chemicals occurring in your body.

As a kid I had many nights where sleep did not come because I could not breathe. There was a strong overlay of fear which made the situation even worse. The more anxious I became the harder it got to breathe and sleep became impossible. I would lay in bed and call to mind the type of winding roads found in Dr. Seuss stories and Escher paintings---roads that lead someplace but have no end. I would imagine myself hiking those roads en route to great adventure and peaceful places. Finally rest and sleep would come.

Many people see sleep as interrupting life. This belief leads to a greater failure to achieve sleep. I see sleep as a merciful escape and welcome its coming. When one spends days and nights in breathless agony, the coming of sleep is greatly welcome. The bible speaks of God’s mercies as being new every morning. If there are no new mornings however, there are no new days of mercy. Sleep is a gift.

The gift of sleep doesn’t come easy to all of us. Stress and sickness can steal sleep away from us for seasons. The Psalms speak of being “weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears.” Being quiet and still make bed a perfect place to reflect on life, but brain spinning will rob of rest.

Spinning thoughts at night rob of rest, but spinning on the bike and good diet help establish decent sleep patterns. Numerous studies attest to this many citing such chemicals as Serotonin as necessary for good sleep. On top of that is emotional health. When I can crawl into bed feeling right with God and having a clear conscience the sheets surround and dreams are sweet. Darkness in my life counteracts rich rest.

Though sleep comes easily to me it still remains a battle to get it enough and in good quality. So I write this as a reminder to myself (and you by extension) to watch diet, exercise and conscience and to watch the clock on the wall as well. Recognizing that there will be nights of short sleep and days of duress but that I can take steps to assure sweet sleep. That makes for one less nap I have to take.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Simplify Your Life

"As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness."

"Before printing was discovered, a century was equal to a thousand years."
-Henry David Thoreau

A sample ballot, a letter from a non-profit requesting support, an application for Rite Aids’ Wellness program, a McDonald’s receipt, a paycheck stub, Bicycling magazine, a JC Penney coupon—these are just some of the paper that has come into my house in the last week. While all this is coming in through the door I have been working clean the rest of my house, a Sisyphean task for certain.

A search for ‘getting rid of clutter’ produced 1,590,000 results on Bing, which seems to rank up there with ‘eating well’ and exercise as a challenge we face. It is estimated that a weeks worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century. We have al this mail and all this information pouring into our lives. Technological advances have made it even worse.

I have boxes and boxes of photographs which I’ve taken beginning at the age of six. Prior to Daguerre (circa 1840) people didn’t have boxes and boxes of photographs. It’s not even likely that they had one or two in the living room. Boxes full of pictures, boxes full of magazines, it can get overwhelming. It makes me thankful for whirlwinds and catastrophes.

While away for a weekend the hose on my washing machine blew. With great force it sprayed water to both ends of my garage. That water landed on boxes of magazines, manuals and letters. You can’t undo water damage. Photos stick together and books warp making them useless. I was forced to chuck boxes of things. It was a great relief. I don’t miss them at all. Downsizing dramatically would be difficult though.

Have you heard of this ‘100 Thing Challenge?’ The idea seems simple: whittle your life down to 100 things. Let me just say this; I have a teenage daughter. I think there are 100 things in her bathroom. I couldn’t do it. I like my shirts (maybe twenty tee-shirts alone), I like my shorts, I like my CD collection.

It’s the clutter and the paper I abhor most. I burned out the paper shredder this past weekend. It was glorious. In the end it seems it all comes back to discipline. Organize, be aggressive, be purposeful all apply to the piles in my life as much as they do to my eating habits and my exercise regimen. I wonder if there’s a magazine I could subscribe to that would help me with that?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Letting Go

He’d driven through the night alternating between murky coffee and vivid flashback. The kid was three years old when the fights began, four years old when the court order came to move out. She’d moved out later; new boyfriend, new neighborhood, same old empty soul. They’d kept renting the thing, until, if, the economy ever turned.

The house stood empty now. They were between tenants and he’d grabbed the short straw to fix up the place. Unlocking the front door he found himself staring into the backyard. Flicking up the lock he stepped out onto the brick. Overgrown ivy and trees bending heavy long branches hedged him in. Then his breath stuck in his throat. The one place there should have been branches---there weren’t.

A small sapling of an aspen he’d planted it the first year they moved in. The white branches shaded the yard; the grass greener, colors brighter by contrast in the corner where it had stood. There was no grass now only the blood brown earth where the tree had stood, roots still spread out like veins trying to bring life to a missing heart.

‘Suite No. 1 in F’ was turned full blast and he poured a Guinness as oboes, bassoons, trumpets and flutes celebrated Water Music. He suspected this would all change. The empty walls and the stark bathroom would give ground to colour and perfume.

They’d met over vegetables at Trader Joes. A common liking for water cress giving way to soup and nuts. Fruit and salad to bowls and settings led to discussions of decour, single servings, and what was best eaten over the table vs. in front of the television. Grilled cheese seemed equally suited for both. Now the discussions were all ‘hypothetical,’ what would it look like if they both did the dishes? She right handed, he ambidextrous-could they still use the same paring knife?

He thought about how he liked his music and his kitchen and the preset Favorites on his computer. It was all nice, comfortable, safe and selfish. White, plain, boring and, yes, stark like the walls in the den and the paint in the kitchen. He suspected he was going to have to learn to give up his selfishness, his space; learn to share and die to self. A world of colour seemed vastly greater than the white safety of those walls.

She’d never really touched her mom. Sure there was the occasional hug but those were quick and shallow, lack of touch the norm in the house she grew up in. So she was surprised, really, to be comfortable now—with this touch, in this place.

The sheets on the bed, the cool on the air, the body always on the bed, all made for skin that was irritated, dry and itchy. So she poured the lotion onto her hands and massaged it into toes and feet, ankles and calves, thigh and back, arms and shoulders. She eased the hair out of the eyes and brushed the hair back in place. These were the saddest days and somehow the richest.

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit , He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Monday Disclaimer

The stressful events of this past week (romance-wonderful but still stressful; my father admitted into a psych hospital-5150, not so wonderful; a six-day work week, and losing/finding a renter for the house) have affected me adversely so that I am currently on codeine for cough and antibiotics for lack of breathing linked to the aforementioned cough. The cough medicine strictly advises again both driving and blogging during usage. Therefore, the blog post which would normally have appeared in this specific location will appear tomorrow prior to midnight Pacific Time.

Note that posts will now occur on Mondays due to changes in this bloggers' schedule.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Fall Colours

The days are shorter, shadows longer, short-sleeve shirts are stowed, long-sleeve sweaters unpacked; so begins October. My mood changes as Fall is unfurled. A somber mellowness sets in as clouds billow. The coming Santa Ana winds ignite restlessness and a bone dry hunger. Still the wind is fresh and in the crisp clear sky there is a promise of refreshing to come, things in the air too deep to fathom.

Fall brings the daughters’ birthday; fourteen this year. Fourteen rich years; unique, ever-changing and fun-filled. Two years until she can drive, twenty years until she can date. The cycle of life continues, the trees turn from greens to crimsons, changes deep, visible only in variegation.

Autumn this year is a mix, the usual solemn mood mixed with expectation, hope, longing as God cultivates a relationship begun in summer. Satisfying to the soul as mulled cider on a cold night---delectable, spicy, awakening the senses.

As the calendar marches toward Dia de Los Muertos I know this season will bring with it dark days. Dad dances with his Alzheimer's. It leads him into a psych ward then steps away to dance with another partner. The 18th mom would have turned 82. So we must all taste ‘pan de muerto.’

The swamp cooler covered, the gas furnace lit I reach for another glass of Syrah. Turning down the thermostat I crack the window and let in the chill air. The days come in an array of color complex as leaves in fall, bright as the burgundy sunset, the ‘bread of life’ ever victorious over the ‘bread of death.’

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