I feel ready to go back to work, although I continue to have some trouble sleeping The Night Before Something Important.
Of course, every day is important, but my brain seems to think that some days are more important than others. (For a great joke about the human brain, by Emo Philips, see this short post.) (And while we’re at it, here‘s another great Emo Philips joke, in another end-of-vacation post, no less.)
Before I went to sleep, a few hours ago, I tried taking a half-dose of an over-the-counter, “traditional” herbal sleep aid I bought in the UK last week. Usually I avoid any kind of sleep aid medicine, just because I haven’t had good experiences with them. And it’s not working (yet).
So I’m going to try another sleep aid, which HAS worked for me before: doing a quick blog post in the middle of the night.
Yesterday afternoon, on my Last Day Before Returning to Work After My Unusually Long, Two-Week Vacation, I went for a long walk, listening to lots of favorite tunes.
As I often do, I found that a joyful experience.
Here are some shots I snapped along the way:
The weather, on that walk yesterday, was “gloomier” than it had been days before, when I took these photos, nearby:
The point I wanted to make, right now, was there was beauty to be seen, no matter what the weather, no matter where I was walking.
I saw beauty in London and Edinburgh, of course, last week. In those places, it was impossible to miss.
But beauty is everywhere, if I’m open to it.
When I return to work tomorrow, there’ll be beauty there, too. My own worries, tiredness, expectations, and “cognitive distortions” might obscure that beauty, for moments. But it’s always there.
I started this blog post, last night, around 1:15 AM:
So I’m going on a great trip, starting at 9:30 PM tonight, with my wonderful 15-year-old son.
Things are going well at work.
I’ve been enjoying writing this blog.
I feel like I’m learning a lot, every day.
I’ve prepared enough for this trip, definitely.
So what’s the problem?
Why am I anxious, fearful, wanting to hide, and irritated? Why am I focusing on worst case scenarios? Why am I feeling overwhelmed by decisions I need to make about packing and so on, when I know there is no right or wrong decision, and it’s all solvable?
It doesn’t make sense.
Although I usually believe that everything makes sense, on some level.
And, as I’ve heard lots of people say, in similar situations, “I don’t like when I’m feeling this way. I SHOULDN’T be feeling this way. I should be happy.”
Well, maybe I could try this: just be with the feelings.
Be pissed off and irritated, for no reason.
Be anxious and fretful, for no reason.
Instead of trying to overcome those uncomfortable feelings with positive re-thinking, maybe I could just be irrationally and unreasonably cranky, right now.
Okay, I’ll give myself an assignment: to have all those feelings I feel uncomfortable with right now:
Then, I put my laptop aside, and was able to fall asleep. (Yay!)
Then, about an hour later, I woke up and text-messaged (!) my bf, who was downstairs:
I didn’t know if he would see the message, but I guess he did, because he came upstairs and we had an amazing talk about topics including childhood experiences, guilt, depression, and people we knew who had tried to commit suicide (and one who had succeeded). That might sound like an awful conversation to have at that particular time, when my hope was to fall back asleep and feel refreshed and ready for the rest of my trip preparations. But the conversation also included another topic. Love. So it was awe-ful, in a different way.
After the conversation, I cried. Hard.
It all helped. And I fell back asleep.
Now it’s morning. And there are several things I have to do, including bringing my car into my mechanic for some unexpected, major work.
So what is it that I would like to write this morning, before I end this blog post?
I am afraid of flying.
Actually, as an old friend pointed out to me a long time ago, regarding my fear of heights: “Ann, you’re not afraid of heights. You’re afraid of dying.”
He was right.
Every time I’m going to fly, my busy human mind goes lots of places (as human minds do). And my mind goes to the possibility that the plane will crash. Which affects my mood. Which increases my anxiety.
And which makes me feel like I need to get everything done, now, because what if I’m gone, tomorrow?
While living each day like it could be your last (something I’m pretty good at, with good reason) has an up side, for sure…
Like most things, it has a down side, too.
Before I close, I wanted to introduce you to a stranger I met yesterday.
I was walking around Harvard Square, in Cambridge, getting some foreign currency, playing with my travel anxieties by “rehearsing” various travel-y things, and pretending that I’d never been to Harvard Square before, when I walked by this guy:
I was distracted by lots of things, so it took me a moment to take that in. When I did, I stopped, took out a dollar, and came back. I told this guy, “I used to be in advertising, and that’s the best ad I’ve seen in MONTHS.” Then, we had a great little conversation, where I ended up telling him that I was nervous about flying. He said, “Oh! I understand! But you know what? Flying is the safest mode of travel.” And he told me that he knew what he was talking about, because he used to work for Delta Airlines.
And as we were having our conversation, several more people stopped, said something appreciative to him, and put money in his cup.
He also told me that he had several other signs he used. He recited them all, with pride. I asked, “Which one does the best for you?” And he gave me the answer I expected, “This one.”
Then, before I bid this gentleman adieu, I took his picture, told him I’d like to put him in my blog, and asked him his name.
“Caspar,” he said. “Like the friendly ghost.”
I like thinking that ghosts are friendly.
Thanks to Caspar, friendly creatures everywhere, and — of course! — you, for reading today. Here’s hoping I’ll be continuing this blog, daily, on my travels with my son.
In Day 148: Dreams I Have Known, I wrote about a dream where I knew I was asleep and dreaming, didn’t like the feeling, and tried to wake up, fighting the typical “dream paralysis.”
Last night, I had a dream that started that same way: that is, I had just fallen asleep and I knew I was dreaming. Usually I don’t like those early-sleep dreams, because I often have a sense of discomfort or foreboding … like there is some danger present. Last night, I didn’t fight the dream or try to wake up, and it quickly shifted into something else. I was in a room that was like a big studio, with mirrors on the walls. I could see myself, and I decided to try some dance moves. Specifically, I wanted to kick my legs way up, to a full extension. Something like this:
And I could see myself, and that reflected image looked like me and dressed like me, and — lo and behold — I could do those kicks.
It was great.
I woke up and I thought, “I want to remember that dream. And I want to blog about it tomorrow.”
I did and I am.
I’m enjoying the memory of that dream, right now. It was fun, freeing, and effortless. I felt graceful and centered. I was surprised by my skill and knew that it was the Dream Me, but the movement and expression seemed to come out of the Real Me.
While I might not be able to kick exactly the way I did in that dream, I know I can kick — in other ways — in real life.
I had a dream last night where I didn’t like what was happening and I wanted to wake myself up.
My father used to have these kinds of dreams. I remember hearing him make these odd, high-pitched noises in his sleep, and my mother helping him to wake up.
This dream occurred for me, last night, soon after I fell asleep. (The typical time for these dreams, for my father and for me.)
The dream wasn’t particularly scary. It just involved my son coming upstairs. But I had a “bad feeling” in the dream. And I knew it was a dream. And I wanted to stop the dream, and wake up.
As always, I struggled to transition out of sleeping into waking. I tried to assist that process by vocalizing — making noises. As I did, I could hear the echo of my father’s sounds.
Then, I went downstairs, to check on my son. I just wanted to make sure he was okay. He was.
When I awoke this morning and was trying to decide what to blog about today, I was thinking about that experience, and remembering that I’ve made a Note to Self about a future blog topic …..
I think it’s interesting what dreams recur for people. And I’ll tell you about a recurring dream that I used to have, a lot.
The dream varied, each time, but always involved these components: (1) at some point, I would need to reach somebody by calling them on the telephone and (2) I would have lots of trouble doing that. Something would always get in the way of my using the phone to reach them. Often, I wouldn’t be able to see the parts of the phone I needed to, in order to make the call.
Each time I had this dream (which was often in the midst of some kind of adventure-type plot), the results were always the same. I would never get through, with whatever message I had to deliver.
I don’t have that dream any more. I haven’t for many years. But I remember what those dreams felt like, vividly.
Here’s how I’m “interpreting” that old dream, right now:
Communication is very important to me. If I don’t connect with people, I feel bad. The consequences of NOT connecting can be dire. Isolation is scary. Seeing clearly is important, in order to connect. And having an urgent message, undelivered, is terrible.
I actually like my old, recurring dream. I like what it says about my priorities.
And I especially like that I’m not having that dream, any more.
I’m wondering: What kinds of recurring dreams have you had? What do you think they might mean?
My writing a blog post in the middle of the night is not exactly novel (see here for my most recent early-morning musings).
Tonight, however, there are some new circumstances contributing to my being awake at 2 AM, including the very loud construction going on nightly in my town. Indeed, I just now recorded, on my iPhone, shocking evidence of the volume of these nocturnal improvements, but I can’t figure out how to drop that file into this post.
To help you join with me in this experience, here’s a canned version of construction noises, which I’ve used in a previous post:
That’s uncannily close to what I’m hearing, outside my window, right now.
As is my wont with these mid-night posts, I like to keep them short, because I have faith, or hope, that I might fall back asleep this night.
And actually, that reminds me of a subtitle I was considering for this post: “Faith and Doubt”.
Because — in these wee hours of the morning, as I was having trouble sleeping — that’s where my thoughts have been going. To faith and doubts about these blog posts: specifically, about how many people are reading.
I know I have written about these kinds of thoughts — How Many People Are Reading? — before (see here).
And while part of me believes that Readership Really Shouldn’t Matter …. nevertheless, these are the thoughts, that are occurring to me, on this topic, at 2:30 AM on Day 142.
On the one hand, I believe that plenty of people are reading. I know that many people — those I’ve met and those I haven’t — have subscribed to this blog. And several people have told me they read this blog and enjoy it — which always warms my heart. All this — plus my experience, in groups, that, for every person who voices something, there are other, silent people who feel the same way — gives me the faith that this blog is being seen and heard enough.
Also, I especially feel good when I put things out in the world just for the sake of expression, letting go completely of the result.
These kind of thoughts tell me that this blog is exactly where it is supposed to be — in terms of readership and everything else.
This reminds me of a sign we had in the large group room at the psychiatric day treatment program where I used to work:
You Are Exactly Where You are Supposed To Be.
A lot of people who saw that sign said they found it very helpful, if difficult to believe at times.
I have found that sign — and concept — very helpful, too.
So helpful that I almost feel ready to end this post, just letting that concept in, again, tonight:
This blog is exactly where it is supposed to be.
Ahhhh. That helps. And I do believe it.
My original plans for this Sleepless in Massachusetts post had included the other side of Faith: Doubt. These doubts would have included the surprisingly low numbers I see here on WordPress about daily readership. I am puzzled by these numbers at times, because they don’t match other data, here at WordPress and elsewhere (data including readership maps, numbers of followers, etc.).
That Doubt-tinged Data — of Lower Than Expected Readership — usually doesn’t worry me. But — like everything else I see and perceive — those numbers stay in my mind, ready to surface (especially when I can’t sleep).
But for now, I am content to let go of those doubts and concerns. I believe, right now, that
I (and everything I create, including this blog) is exactly where it’s supposed to be.
Here’s a list of some areas where I’ve been making some real progress:
I’ve been including taking care of myself as an important consideration, when I’m deciding on my next choice, next step, or next decision (especially when I’m overwhelmed).
Also, I am letting go of some anxiety and fear of consequences when I’m making choices (for example, “If I make this decision, what if it’s the WRONG one?). That helps me think more clearly and make more balanced decisions.
2. Being present in the moment.
Letting go of anxiety regarding fear of consequences (see directly above) is helping with that, too. What’s also helping? The fact that it is so friggin’ beautiful outside right now …
… as Spring has sprung in Boston.
3. Realizing I have “all the time I need.”
This really helps me, when I’m overwhelmed. I’ve been having some trouble sleeping lately, so it is especially helping me to take my time, be careful, and think. I notice that when I take my time, I get as much done as when I’m rushing (and I make fewer mistakes).
Yes, I see progress there, too. For example, I’ve been falling asleep more easily. My sleep challenge, lately, has been waking up in the middle of the night, and having trouble getting back to sleep. Last night, though, I did some things differently. When I woke up (probably around 4 AM), I:
did NOT look at the clock,
noticed my thoughts about what I might blog about today, but let them go, and
noticed my fears about possible disconnects with people, but let them go, and
noticed my guilt about things I haven’t gotten done, but let them go.
Doing this daily blog has helped improve my writing. Also, it’s helped me tell my story in a “better” (more healing, more clearly, more nuanced, more balanced) way.
I’m not as concerned, lately, about what other people think, especially when I’m doing “weird” things, like walking down the street, listening to music and singing. What does “weird” mean to me? Well, I don’t see too many other people walking and singing out loud. However — here’s a thought — when I do see other people doing that — I like it!
What’s help me reduce self-consciousness? Thoughts like that one I just had, above, plus:
Letting go of mind-reading (I don’t know what other people are really thinking)