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.
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.
It’s hard for me to believe that it has been so long since my last blog post. Time has flown by. Choosing a topic to write about given everything that has been going on in the past few months is not an easy task. We’ve traveled to Ireland and had some heavy, beautiful, and fun experiences. It seems like I’ve resolved some big questions in my life. And then there’s just the daily living part of life.
Despite the myriad of topics floating around in my brain, the one that has had the most impact on me is having my path made clear. Over the past couple of years I have been in search mode. It’s the classic “I’m about to turn 40 and what am I doing with my life” theme. One day recently it was like I looked up and noticed that I had become surrounded with messages about finding purpose, stepping out on faith, taking risks, and other jargon aimed at giving someone the encouragement to do something better. Along with these messages are endless stories of (mostly) women that have created a financially successful business. The bloggers seem to have taken over the world. A great number of the innovative app developers are women or the companies are run by women (class pass, Yahoo!, Eventbrite, etc.). An endless number of interesting and creative ideas by women run through my Instagram feed. It is exciting and exhilarating to see what women are doing in today’s world. I can only imagine the triumph in the faces of all of the women in our past who have fought fiercely for this moment in time.
In researching for the book, Get Down (this is what I’m calling the book so I don’t just call it “the book”), I figured it would be a good idea to speak with the “players,” such as the prosecution team, defense counsel, judges, defendant, and possibly the police officers involved. Since this case occurred between 1985 and 1986, I’m quickly running into the age-old problem of researching long past events – death and dementia. At least with dementia, generally speaking, the oldest memories are the last to go.
When I was in first grade I entered into a contest to see how many books I could read over the summer. Ever the competitor, I read like a champ that summer. One of the books that I absolutely loved was Aesop’s Fables, a book of tales for children. The stories were so creative and wove a tale that always illustrated a moral. One of my favorite morals from the Fables is “No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” It is derived from the story about the lion and the mouse. The lion reluctantly spares the mouse who later saves the lion by chewing threw the ropes ensnaring him.
Despite the fact that these Fables are for children, they are instructive at any age. Sometimes it feels like our world is spinning so fast that we have forgotten some of the simpler things in life, such as kindness. But kindness isn’t hard; it’s as simple as a smile or acknowledgement. The dictionary definition of kindness is “having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others.” Simple, right?
Some say coincidence where others say miracle – I fall in the miracle category. Coincidence just isn’t that exciting to me . . . I prefer to believe that everything happens for a reason.
Recently, I had a conversation with the universe about a book idea and whether I should pursue it. (I can’t say my idea because I don’t think it was . . . I believe that it was given to me, not created by me.) Part of the deal I made was that I would do all the work and the universe will take care of the results, whatever they are intended to be. I agreed to stop “thinking about” whether I should do it and just freaking do it. Once that was settled, the tiny miracles started to happen. In fact, one big fat miracle happened the day after my latest blog post about this “turning it over.”
Every since I can remember I have wanted to write a book. I guess that’s not an uncommon goal for us humans. In my daytime career, I read and write a great deal, but it does not satisfy my creative needs. I imagine it’s a bit like trying to scratch the travel itch by just reading about a place; it just doesn’t do the job – the sounds, smells, and experience can only be gained by going there.
A few years ago I moved into a smaller office to cut overhead (it was 2008). I moved into a closet with another attorney – our desks were literally 18 inches from one another. Luckily, he is a criminal defense attorney meaning that he spends more time at the courthouse than he does in the office. So, the place was practically mine. And then I added a paralegal to the closet . . . but that’s another story.
My new friend was / is a storyteller. One day, at my request for a good one, he wove a tale about a man that he represented who was wrongfully accused and almost convicted for a murder he didn’t commit. There are so many amazing and quirky parts to this story that I immediately thought, “This would make a great book, and I need to write it.”