Sunday, November 20, 2016

It's Coming for Real Now!

Somehow, the holidays started early for me this year, with All Saints' Day. Obviously, it's going to get real in the next week. I made the mistake of trying to do a quick stop at the grocery store after church today... Dang! Turkey Day preparation is underway!

Most of you already know how I feel about the holidays. I love them. And I hate them. They scare the crap out of me. Talk about emotions all over the map at any given moment! Even things like FB's current profile picture frame "Thankful for us" is a little cringe-inducing for me. Not that people shouldn't celebrate and rejoice in their families! I think it's a good thing. It's just not an easy thing for me.

Then, this weekend, just before I left work, I found out that I may be losing a lot of hours at work. It may not be long term, but I have limited ability to hold out with a small paycheck for even the short term. It's scary and uncomfortable because I like where I work, and I love the people that I work with, and I don't want to change any of that. The reasons behind it also make it feel like my one boss doesn't appreciate the current people. I know that's not it, but it feels that way.

In a few days, I get to go spend time with my family, and there's some tension and drama, not to mention politics. Should be an interesting weekend!

However, this is not really a "woe is me" post. (It would have been on Friday night, but this is Sunday, so we're good.) So far this month and these holidays have been peaceful. While it will be a day by day thing, I have hopes that this may continue. In terms of the family, things haven't been easy, but it has made me do some learning, particularly in regards to listening. I've been reading a book about it, and I hope I can continue to keep learning and applying things! I have been trying to start to apply this, and while I have a long way to go, I am realizing some common shortcomings that I have and continue to perpetuate. It's exciting to try to change some of them and how people respond to my imperfect attempts to be a better listener.

With that in mind, it helped me to see where my boss might be coming from in making some of her decisions. It does not mean that I agree with her decisions. I may still have to do something different, as I do have bills to pay. But it does help me to see how I can have a more respectful conversation and response to her in the moment.

I'm a little nervous for the family gathering, but also excited to perhaps begin to change some of our same old conversations that lead to the same old hurts building up further and further. I'm excited to see if I can listen in a situation where it seems that most of the tensions are coming from not being heard. I know this is a situation that needs a lot of prayer, but I really do feel like it is an opportunity as much as it is a bit of a cross right now.

Then there's this trust thing. I really love the way that God asks for our trust. We want control, even if that just means that we need to know what's coming next so that we can prepare ourselves. In reality, He seems to be asking for us to accept enough for today and let tomorrow take care of itself. (Sound familiar? I know we hear it in the Bible, but I guess I don't always listen very well!) I was a little worried about my hours earlier this year, and then I have had better hours than  I have had in a long time. It may go down really soon, but I have at least another good week or two before that happens. In the meantime, there are some things that I can do outside of my comfort zone to try to work on things to increase my hours. Some of these are things I've been wanting to do but haven't had the time for, so this is also an opportunity. If, in the end, none of that pans out, we'll see where God leads next. Whether things change or things stay the same, it really doesn't matter as long as I am doing what I can, and leaning into Him for the rest. Just one step at a time. It may keep going straight or take a turn on another road, but either may be a great opportunity.

Not only that, but I may get to do a little more climbing in the next month or so!! I am so excited that I can't even tell you. It's a part of my life that I have really missed over the last couple of years, and I have been praying for a way to get back into it. It'll be all indoors this time of year, but I don't care. I'll take what I can get! Not that that really has anything to do with the previous parts of the post, but it is just a part of my current feelings of contentment.

There it is. Here come the holidays, and I am currently excited and optimistic for them. I don't really care that that could change shortly, because if I am only going to take one step at a time, all I have to do now is rejoice in this moment of contentment. I do have two prayer requests, if you think of it. One is for my family to be able to sort some things out, and the other is that I wouldn't have to go to another Mass alone on a high holy day (so, Christmas). As we head into Advent, please let me know in the comments or email (catholicmutt@gmail.com) if there's anything that you would like me to pray about for you!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sleep!

Okay, I have to type quickly, which is going to be hard because I have so many different things that I would love to talk about, but so little time. Maybe I should think about getting on here a little more often, eh? Of course you're right.

The reason that I have to hurry is sleep. Yes, it's only 6:22. But I don't care. I will be off the computer (and all the other screens I have) by 7:00. Because sleep is amazing. I love it so much I can't even tell you. I have always loved sleep. I never pulled all nighters, even in college, because SLEEP! I have tried for a long time to make sure that I tried to leave a good 7-8 hours for sleep. But, y'all, seriously! My sleep game has leveled up and I can't even tell you how freaking awesome it is! You know me, I'll try to explain how great it is, but it's really one of those things that you have to experience. I didn't know it could be this great!

A few months ago, I saw a title of a podcast that was talking about how good sleep starts in the morning. I don't love listening to podcasts, but I do love sleep, so I was intrigued. The podcast was with the author of "Sleep Smarter" (absolutely recommend the book, but unfortunately I can't remember his name right now!) He was talking about how in order to get our cortisol levels going in the morning, we needed to get up and do some activity or movement fairly early, as well as expose ourselves to natural light as soon as we can. (Sheesh! Not like that. Just get outside if you can, or be where there is natural light in the room.) Cortisol, of course, sounds bad to us, because we have chronically high levels of it. However, in the natural circadian rhythm, it is important and necessary at certain times in the day. Morning is one of them. Having cortisol then makes us more ready to produce melatonin in the evening.

That was just one of many things that he talked about. Another thing was the sleep routine. I started a routine and it really does help a lot. I turn off my screens at least 2 hours before I go to bed (and I go to bed early because I get up freakishly early). That means no TV, no internet, no noise (besides my rather loud refrigerator; I better clean the coils soon). I admit that was a little scary to me. TV and/or internet was my way to wind down! I wasn't quite sure what I would do without it. It turns out that there ARE options. My routine involves starting with the dishes, then picking up, then doing some reading (fun stuff only), stretching and the teeth brushing and all of that. As I get to the reading, I start to turn down the overhead lights and read by lamp. Then when I do a little stretching, I usually just have a candle. The gradual darkness also helps. I usually only get a few stretches in before I'm sleepy enough that I go to bed. I'm not so tired I can't move, it's just that my body is ready for sleep. So I listen and go to bed.

My brain winds down better without lots of outside stimulus right before bed. Who would've thought? I do not sleep very many more hours than I did before (except that I wake up a lot less and go back to sleep a lot faster if I do wake up), but the quality of sleep I get! I didn't know it was possible to feel that refreshed after sleeping. And to spend most of the day wide awake and ready to go, until about 30-40 minutes before I go to bed, because my body knows what's coming.

Hmm, I guess it was easy to type quickly. Initially, I thought I had a lot of different stuff to say. I do, but I didn't realize that I was going to talk about this for so long. I guess all I can say is that you should read the book! Your ways of finding routines will likely be different than mine, and some people are like, "that's nice, but I have kids." It's okay. What is good for you will be specific to you. As for the kids, they can benefit from all of this, too. I'm not saying that it will make bedtime perfectly easy (or easy at all), but it's really nice stuff to be aware of, because whatever you can incorporate into your life can potentially make a big difference.

6:44. Not bad. I guess I can stop for now. SLEEP IS AMAZING!