The following is a guest post from a dear friend of mine. Thank you, Tracy, for lending your talent and insight to the Maven’s Blog.
Saturday night I took my two-year old grandson and seven month old granddaughter to dinner at a nice local restaurant in an upscale suburb. Many families with small children frequent this restaurant so, although the staff is prepared for the ‘challenges’ of little diners, I recognize and appreciate their kindnesses. Our server was a woman who appeared to be about my age (61). She could not have been nicer. After two high chairs were delivered to the table, she lifted one child into a chair and I lifted the other. Children’s menus were provided. She cooed over the baby and caressed the toddler. Orders were placed and she ensured that the food was delivered quickly. Hungry toddlers can be cranky as grandmothers know. Half of the food on the toddler’s plate went into his mouth and the other half, the floor. I apologized. She tsked. I heard about her family including grandchildren in Peru. In addition to being helpful, patient and understanding, our server could also be “labeled” an immigrant.
After a lovely dinner the check was paid, and I prepared to leave. I scooped up the baby and struggled to free her big brother from his perch. An African-American gentleman from an adjacent table rushed to my aid, leaving his meal and family of three. I gratefully accepted his assistance. He looked down at Luke and asked if Luke minded his help. Luke acceded. The gentleman lifted Luke out of his chair and then asked if he could help us out to my car. Having already lent me such gracious assistance, I felt I couldn’t ask for anything further so I politely declined.
I know our country suffers from institutionalized racism and problems stemming from illegal immigration. I agree that we need to first acknowledge and then work to solve these challenges. But on one Saturday evening in Southlake, Texas, a Peruvian immigrant, an old white woman and a nice black man’s interactions showed me that we don’t need to make America “great again.” America, with its varied and serious problems, is already great.
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This morning I am feeling a lot of gratitude for the space I have at home. I’m especially grateful because I have an entire room that’s all mine. It is filled with lots of things that I love: books, magazines, art that I’ve made and art that’s been given to me, photos of friends, my various creative projects, etc. As I write this in my comfy chair, my big dog, Cliff, is taking a nap a few feet away. Every once in awhile he slightly parts his eyes to look at me when I’ve made a bit too much noise for his taste. This is heaven on earth.
If you are feeling wistful or a little envious, then that means you need to make a place for yourself as well. It probably means that you have devoted everything in your house to others and not laid claim to a piece of it that’s just for you. With this post, I hope to encourage others to make their own space and give themselves the time to enjoy it. I realize that, for a lot of people, having an entire room of their own is not practical or even possible. But, that’s not a good reason for not claiming a space of your own. It can be a corner of a room or a drawer of personal items. It can even be a room that is used by the rest of the household, but that you make into your own for an hour or thirty minutes each day. For some, just getting up 30 minutes before everyone else in the house to enjoy a cup of coffee at the kitchen table while the house is still and the energy is low is enough.
Even more important than having a space is allowing for quality alone time. The key part is the “quality” time and not necessarily alone time. For those that live without a roommate, you may find that you spend lots of time by yourself, but do you give yourself some quality time to just relax, nap, take a bubble bath, etc? Living in a society where everything moves at warp speed can make it hard to slow down, but it is good to have some time every day when we can simply sit and breathe.
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It really is amazing the things that keep me up at night. As a light sleeper, I am woken up fairly easily and can usually go back to bed quickly. Yet, if I have a lot on my mind it can prove much more difficult. This has been the case lately. The myriad of noises pulling me out of my slumber range from a cat sucking on her fur, a verrrrry long dog drink out of the toilet, or the neighbor’s dog behind us that loves to start barking at 3:00 a.m. because we have a nest of coyotes living in an abandoned house nearby. Yep, it happens all the time.
In my waking hours it’s a bit easier to analyze the things that are keeping me up, but I start to have anxiety about being up at 2:25 a.m. and thinking about what I’m going to pack for my upcoming trip or whether I’m going to have everything ready for a client meeting that week or what color I want to use for the kitchen backsplash. One night in particular it seemed like I was up for 3 or more hours just lying there with my eyes closed and “thinking.” This makes for a long workday and triggers all kinds of other issues – needing coffee late in the day to stay awake, not feeling good physically so it’s hard to concentrate, and generally wishing the day was over so I could get – you guessed it – some sleep.
The interesting thing about this latest sleeping phenomenon is that it reminds me of when it was a regular occurrence. Years ago I struggled with sleep so much that I would have a very hard time staying awake at work — to the point that I would sleep under my boss’s desk during lunch. I would literally crawl under the desk, get into a ball and nap for about 45 minutes. Sometimes, if I was lucky and got there before anyone else, I would catch some z’s on the couch in the women’s bathroom. Today, I just dream of having a couch in my office. I’ve heard some people swear that their key to success is a short afternoon nap. I believe this. Then there’s the Bill Murray 60-second nap, but I’ve never been able to master that.
Not one to enjoy sleep deprivation, I will try almost anything short of a sleeping pill to sleep through the night. What I have found is that if I am using the tricks that I have been taught to stay centered, I can most likely avoid this brain churning at 3 a.m. The first item of business is to write and write and write some more about what’s bothering me. As I mentioned yesterday, writing morning pages is an excellent way to empty my head. Then there’s meditation – even 10 minutes of it can change my perspective. While I’ve always thought that the “right” way to meditate was to do it in morning, when I’ve done it at night it helps me to get centered before bed. There are a number of apps that are great to start a practice and have some cool guided meditations that include specific meditations for relaxing at night – check out omvana and calm to name a couple. Lastly, talking to someone about the fears (and they are almost always fears) that are keeping me up or just simply taking the action on the list to remove an item from my plate will go a long way toward a restful sleep.
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Recently, a friend and I started The Artist’s Way journey. For anyone that has read and gone through the process described in The Artist’s Way, you are familiar with the “morning pages.” These pages are not meant to be fodder for creativity, but are a “clearing” of the mind – kind of like the foam on top of your coffee – it’s not bad, but the good stuff is underneath. Since starting these pages a few days ago and committing to the artist recovery process, I have already enjoyed a few inspirational moments and ‘getting to the good stuff.’
Part of the clearing is also opening up the creative channel. I firmly believe in inspiration coming once we commit to an idea or path. Some call it coincidence, but I am a bit more into the woo-woo and choose to believe that things awaken in our consciousness when we have finally turned the dial to the channel to the right place.
One of the inspirational moments came yesterday morning while I was listening to a podcast while waiting in the mobile bank teller line to make a deposit. The Beautiful Writer’s Group hosts a podcast in which they interview a writer, agent, or other person working in the publishing / writing industry. Yesterday I was listening to the podcast interview with Glennon Doyle Melton. I am not very familiar with her writing, but her name has been coming up a lot lately. She’s written a few books and is now teaming up with one of my favorite authors and thinkers, Brene Brown. But, before any of this recognition, she wrote blog posts . . . every single day. She would write for about an hour and a half – then publish. She says that it taught her to be done with something. What a great message! How many times have you worked on something and tinkered with it until you were bored and never finished it?
As a result of hearing what she said, I have decided to try my hand at posting something everyday. I’m not sure if I can do it, but I am going to try. It would be awesome to have an hour and a half every morning to spend on writing (in addition to making my precious cup of coffee, walking the dogs with my husband, meditating, yoga, and getting ready for work). Perhaps, if I woke up at 4:00 a.m. then I could do all of that, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Nevertheless, I’m open to whatever changes are in store for me based on this kind of a commitment. The post may be short; it may simply be an observation about the world or a comment on something I am jacked up about. The point is to write and publish without holding back and put it out in the universe. And, for good measure, I’ll throw in some longer posts on travel, the Be List, and the book (yes, I also have a book project) I am working on as promised elsewhere on the blog. In honor of my (other) recent commitment to working on my French, this section will be under “Mots du Jour” for words of the day.
À bientôt, j’espère
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