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To Add Insult to Injury

I’m so tired, I laughed out loud at this after googling “insomnia”…

Now I can’t sleep! For the first two months of my newborn daughter’s life, I was falling asleep everywhere (as most mothers of a newborn and a toddler are, I’m sure): in the rocker nursing, on the sofa watching Monsters, Inc, on the futon reading the boy a story, occasionally in bed and again, every night, at least twice, in the rocker nursing. Now, insomnia has joined the already amazing party of depression, anxiety and stress. Welcome, old friend.

My nine week old baby (today) slept six and a half hours in a row last night. That should be cause for celebration. I should feel like the most well-rested, happy mom that ever was. Instead, it took me about an hour of that to fall asleep and then I woke up about five times for about ten minutes or so each and then, when she did finally wake up at 4:15, I couldn’t fall back asleep.

FOUR FIFTEEN IN THE MORNING.

Just letting that sink in. I nursed her for about 45 minutes and got caught up with the world (cough. Facebook.), then lay in bed for what seemed like an infinity pondering every conceivable thing I could possibly have on my mind for half an hour until finally, like a grown up, I got up.

This is the first time I have ever gotten up when I had insomnia. Usually I stay in bed hating myself – thinking about how amazing it is that when I open my eyes, my whole body feels like lead and all I want to do most in the world is close them so that I, the most tired person ever, can go to sleep, yet when I close my eyes, I’m solving world hunger and mapping out my whole life for the next ten years and really I should get up and write this down before it’s all gone (Hint: it’s all gone.).

I settled for tea and toast and reading a bit.

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Progress, of a Sort…

I have not followed through with the Abundant Mama Rise & Shine Challenge, regarding which I think I already acknowledged that it would take me much longer than ten days. Perhaps if I were the sort of person who didn’t need some (very nice, I’m sure) lady online telling me how to be a better person/mother, I would be fine within the confines of those days – Hell, maybe I’d even beat her ten days and double down on some of the challenges. However, I am what I am. Part of me accepting this challenge for myself is figuring out how to (finally) accept that, and not just with half-joking regret, but in full and complete understand and empathy of my own struggle and my own dance through life.

That said, I am still fully planning on completing the challenge; it, along with many other things in my life, has made me realize that there is a whole lot of stuff that I need to let go of in order to “rise and shine” at any time of the day. There were some rituals in one of the emails (I don’t even know what day I’m on anymore, but does it really matter?) that got me thinking of intention and how I intend to live my life. I realized, I don’t. I think about shoulds quite a bit: even this blog started out as a should. In fact, I don’t really live. I am alive, of course: I breathe, I laugh, I cry, I love, I feel, I embrace, I fear. But I don’t actually live. And to be honest, I fear far too much.

On days like today – a Thursday, where my beautiful little boy is happily looked after by other people, I wake feeling wonderful, filled with my plans for the day, which are usually a mixture of yoga/blogging/me time, cleaning, and relaxing/doing nothing. I lay in bed reading for sometimes up to an hour (depending on how hungry this little girl gets) and then I get up and make myself breakfast (a prospect made far less enjoyable now that I am gluten and dairy free) and while I eat, I put on the TV. Then I’m hooked and I don’t stop. Suddenly, it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and I haven’t showered or brushed my teeth or barely moved from the sofa. All I’ve done is watch TV and play games on my phone. Today is different, obviously, as it’s currently 12:30 and I’ve already tidied the living room, cleaned the kitchen, done the laundry, read and had breakfast and lunch. Woo-hoo! Go, me!

However, the former is all too familiar. If it isn’t a Tuesday or a Thursday, the instant that little boy’s head hits his pillow and I say, “Sweet dreams” and walk out of his room for his nap, the TV goes on and my phone or iPad comes out. Numb. I am numbing myself. From what, I’m not entirely sure, because my life is pretty awesome. Sure, we live in a country where things are difficult and we don’t want to be here and there are a lot of things I struggle with here. Sure, I have a very independent, outspoken, stubborn toddler and am also currently growing a baby. But those problems in and of themselves are pretty great problems to have. I know this. I am grateful for this. Daily. And yet…

I’ve been doing it for so long, I have no idea how to stop. Ever since I stopped doing drugs, I’ve been doing it with food and TV (which, let me tell you, leads to a far more coherent me, but is much less fun). That means since high school. I’ve not been fully living my life since high school. That’s over half my life (Eek! I’m old!). I’ve had moments, of course, some lasting months even, but something always happened to shatter that bubble and bring me back into my reality. I don’t want that anymore. I know, and have always been aware, that my depression means that I’ll always have days where I question, where I fear too much, where I cry for no reason and every reason, where I feel absolutely useless and heartbroken over everything and nothing. I know that, and I’m okay with that. Right now, though, it’s too close to the surface. It’s too much of a reality. My lack of living has allowed me to become that person always. I am defined by my depression, by my fears. I don’t want that anymore.

I want to change my reality. I want those days just to be those days – where maybe I don’t get the house cleaned that day, maybe I have to get takeout for dinner and maybe I need to lay on the sofa and read an entire book to escape whatever it is I’m feeling. But I want to wake the following day without it holding me back from returning to my reality. I want to go back to yoga, go back to smiling and meaning it, go back to whatever glorious future I will have with my amazing children and husband. I don’t want to be held back by this fear any longer.

How does one change their reality? I suppose it’s a combination of a lot of little changes – a lot of little moments that take a lot of will power to make different choices. In search of more answers, I’ve downloaded an audiobook by Pema Chödrön, hoping that just be surrounding myself with uplifting ideas and sounds, versus the TV, it will become easier and easier to make those different choices in the little things, and perhaps the bigger things will become that much clearer as I go along.

Now, back to this challenge, which obviously plays a key part in my new reality. I’ve worked through a bit of my ideal mornings and what I want to get from my nights – I have my nightly checklist (which I need to transfer to my notebook because while I love the ease of writing my journal/blog online, I am not a person who functions online: I still have a wall calendar and an actual paper to do list) and I’m still working on my bigger rituals and also on IMPLEMENTING these things, as that is key… and I, obviously, have yet to do that.

To encourage my intentional mornings (beyond the bigger picture of figuring out how to start living and change my reality), I need to actually plan for the little moments because, let’s face it, I am NOT a morning person and as I have a husband who is and a two-year old who most definitely is, I can’t imagine myself getting up hours before them in order to accommodate my desire to do yoga, have a long, lovely shower, linger over breakfast and coffee with a good book and then also get all the cleaning, laundry, etc done in order to set myself up for the day. When would I have to wake up? 3:00 AM? Not going to happen.

So, what can I really do in the mornings? Well, I’ve been thinking that the most important thing is banning electronics for the first hour or so. The instant I wake up, I turn on my phone, check my email and Facebook. Seriously. Who do I think I am? Out of the maybe twelve emails I get every morning, maybe one of them is actually for me and even that is never urgent. And Facebook? Ugh. So. Wake up and wake up. Perhaps I should get a coffee machine and have it go off in the morning so I can have coffee – decaf, though, because I’m pregnant and get jittery if I drink coffee before I eat anything. Or perhaps I should train myself to jump in the shower. I’m not sure yet, but I know I need to get up and USE that time, otherwise any time I give myself will fall directly into the Internet void, and that’s is a routine that NO ONE wants.

What I would like is to be ready (physically: face-washed, tea/coffee in hand, dressed) when the boy wakes. That way when he is up, I can put my energy into him and his day and what we are going to do together. So, I suppose, that is as simple as it is: I need to get up, pull some clothes on, wash my face and make some tea or coffee. Perhaps this would be a good time to listen to my audiobooks for the present and in future, when I’m further along in my progress, to do some yoga/meditation (those things are fine to do with tea in hand, right?!?!).

So, my task for the day: copy my nightly check-list and my morning goals into my notebook. Yes, it does seem simple enough for me to remember to wash my face in the morning without having to write it in my notebook and keep that notebook by the side of my bed. As I said, if I were that type of person…

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Night Night

I sort of skipped a few days of the Abundant Mama Rise & Shine Challenge, which was only halfway my fault. For some reason, I failed to receive a few days’ emails, which previously I would have taken as solid proof that the universe was actively trying to keep me from being happy and proactive; I’m pretty sure that’s crazy, though. Beyond that, I think this baby must be going through a growth spurt or something. I have been SOOO tired this week. In fact, I slept until 11:00 AM yesterday. That’s insane. I don’t even remember the last time I slept that late. I obviously needed it and today (after sleeping in until 9:00 AM, bless my husband), I feel like a person again. Still a very large, uncomfortable one, but a person nonetheless. 

Now, I’m ready for Day Two (How many days later? Ah well, better late than never, right?). So, here goes: 

Today, your challenge is to focus on your nightly bedtime rituals as a family. What nightly ritual can you do before going to sleep to really foster an earlier — and more sleepy — bedtime?

I’ve been thinking of this, even without having read the email. I don’t have a very good nightly ritual at all. In fact, once our nighttime routine with the boy is finished and he’s asleep, we basically sit in front of the TV or computer until it’s time to be asleep, or well past that time. And that just doesn’t work. I feel unprepared, sort of cheated and unfulfilled when I go to bed, which leaks into my sleep. I am also prone to insomnia, so all of those feelings don’t help quiet my mind, which is what I need before bed. 

So, how do I quiet my mind and prepare myself for the next day? Well… again, a big part of it is doing yoga sometime throughout the day. I notice that even if I do yoga in the morning, I sleep better at night. Another aspect of the peace I’m searching for would come from having accomplished in the day. Sure, most days I manage to keep the boy alive – and that is saying a lot considering his favorite thing right now is “big jumps” and he will jump off of anything and everything BACKWARDS, but there has to be more than that. I don’t sleep well when the kitchen needs cleaning or the toys need tidying or things on my to do list are not getting ticked off at all. So, my day needs to be more organized (which will hopefully happen as my morning routine gets better). 

The worst thing, though, that TV gives me is a feeling of utter lack of control. I turn it on and boom, it’s 11:30 and I haven’t even washed my face and am exhausted and haven’t done anything I wanted to. It’s like some sort of time warp. But not in a good way. So, unless I’ve gotten a lot done during the day and the kitchen is cleaned and there is something specific on that I want to watch (versus just zoning out to be watching something), no TV at night is my first rule. 

Instead, I’d like to read in bed. It’s something that I love (versus TV, which is just something to do) and it relaxes me. So, you know, it’s a given, really. 

I suppose here is how my evening should go:

8:30 – 9:00 The boy goes to sleep – Daddy (or I) put boy to bed whilst I (or he): 

8:30 – 9:00 Tidying/Loading & Running Dishwasher/Hanging Laundry/Etc

9:00 – 9:30 Stretching/Washing Face/Brushing Teeth

9:30 – In Bed: Reading and/or Talking with my Husband

10:00 – 10:30 Sleepytimes 

I suppose that’s sort of a boring routine, and doesn’t add a lot of “me” time in there. I guess the best thing to do next would be to come up with things that I can do when there isn’t much tidying and cleaning to do. And sometimes, that can include TV. 

Now, though I have to stop because my son has been putting EVERYTHING under the sofa and since I told him that I would stop getting things for him, he decided to crawl under the sofa and he got his head stuck. I guess I need to do something about that. Sigh. 

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Why rainy day gratitude?

I have been trying to find a journaling/blogging/writing style that will result in my being: A, an excellent (and quite possibly published) author and B, a happy, successful and, while we’re at it, thin individual. As you will note, this is my first post on this blog (that I started months ago). So far? Not published. Not successful. Not thin. Sigh.

In 2011, I tried listing three things I was grateful for every day, in the hopes that I would magically turn into one of those people who wakes up every morning beaming sunshine instead of wanting to punch my morning-person husband in the face. I think I made it about 66 days or so, which is pretty damn good, in my opinion. I still, however, want to punch my husband in the face in the mornings (or more so now, my 1 year old child – which I’ve heard is an even bigger no-no). I also noticed a pattern; A slightly disturbing one, if I’m being honest. I would say, generously speaking, at least 60% of the things I was grateful for were food or food related. hmm… Not really helpful for that whole “thin” thing, for starters.

Now, was I grateful in the “Thank you, Lord for this food which nourishes my body and gives me energy to take on my day with zest and joyful intention”? No. It was more like “Yay, pizza!”. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some pizza and am truly grateful for the Domino’s man that brings it to me on Pizza Fridays (Yeah, that’s how we roll around here). But there’s something seriously wrong when your husband takes you on a weekend trip to the glorious city of Milan to see the spectacular Tori Amos in concert and all you can write about is the freakin pasta (mmmm…. pasta).

So, what’s my problem? Well, my issue with the Milan trip is that I was 2 months pregnant and terribly nauseated the entire time (and let me tell you, that bus ride from the Milan airport into the city center is NOTHING to be grateful for). My issue currently is that I live in a country where I don’t have many friends, I don’t speak the language and it rains. A lot. My “bigger picture” issue is that I have battled depression and anxiety for most of my life. (And, after all, what’s the best way to deal with a social anxiety disorder? Why, move to a country where you know no one, don’t speak the language and have to deal with new and horrible situations every day. In the rain. Of course. SMH.)

Am I here, then, in this blog, going to try to rectify all that by again trying to make grandios declarations of my gratitude for all to bask in how wonderful I’ve dealt with this ridiculous situation I’ve put myself in? No. Here, I am going to be real (finally). Sans “shoulds” and “should nots”. I’m going to acknowledge the striving towards true gratitude I have always had, but I’m also going to allow for the rainy days, even if they come weeks in a row (which they do – seriously, this country sucks).

I am also NOT going to feel bad for being extremely happy and grateful about pizza.