Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sleeping Like a Baby

No surprise that getting quality sleep is important for healthy life balance.  In addition to a direct link between sleep and quality of life, studies show that people who get seven or eight hours of shuteye per night actually live longer than those who get more or less.

So let's talk about sleep baby.

I’m not a doctor of course. Thanks to a series of events in the 80’s, I don’t even play one on TV.

Still, I have an insomniac husband plus my own experiences and theories.

There's nothing worse than being tired all the time. In some cases, depression may be the cause. Difficulty sleeping and/or general fatigue can also be related to a number of other health problems.  As some of you know, I'm in the midst of trying to figure out why my own little body thinks it has chronic mono.   Those areas are slightly beyond the scope of this post so I'll move on.  (No open can; no worms everywhere.)

From what I've observed, there are two primary problems in the world of slumber:
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Difficulty staying asleep

The frequency of these issues may be why I get so much whining from people who say they don't have time to exercise when I suggest that they simply wake up earlier.

But I get it.  If you're not falling asleep until 2:30am, the idea of getting up at 5:30am to do Yoga Booty Ballet is about as appealing as a Brazilian bikini wax.  (Though I have done it.  Yes, that.)

And then there's that joke, "I slept like a baby. Woke up crying every two hours!" *bahdoom-pha*

Personally, I struggle with occasional but severe "midnight anxiety." Usually it's when there's a lot of external craziness in combination with not taking care of myself.  That practice what you preach thing can be a real biotch.  If I go a couple of stressful weeks in a row without watching what I eat and drink plus not meditating or working out, sleep drama is almost guaranteed.

I guess it's common sense that if you're not taking care of yourself during the day, you're going to have some repercussions at night.

That said, I definitely notice that I sleep better when I exercise regularly.  However, sometimes if I work out too late at night, I'm "revved" and can't sleep.   So it's a bit of a catch 22 but that's why working out in the morning is the best solution for me, even if it means waking at 5:30am.  And, as long as I get to sleep by 10:30pm, I'm still getting the requisite seven hours.

Also, instead of having the TV on or trying to fall asleep in complete silence, I recommend listening to a sleep CD or downloading some meditations onto your MP3 player.    (Once when I did fall asleep watching TV, I had dreams all night about making money by putting little tiny ads in magazines.  ACKK!)

My favorite meditations are by Shakti Gawain.  She also has a great book, Creative Visualization which I've mentioned before and have read about 100 times in the past 20 years.  The meditations (which can be purchased alone) aren't specified for sleeping but they still do the trick for me.

I also love the Meditation Station podcasts which I download free from iTunes.  They are short though, so really best when I'm seriously tired and just need my brain to shut off long enough for sleep to set in.

My husband is not much of a "meditator" but he likes the music which is designed to get the brain into sleep mode. Even on a good night, he keeps his iPod next to the bed in case he wakes up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep.

If you have additional suggestions, do share!

The other tip I'll leave you with regarding falling asleep and staying asleep is to buy ear plugs and keep them next to the bed. 

Sometimes noise (like somebody snoring) keeps me awake.  Sometimes normal nighttime and/or household sounds wake me up.  Ear plugs provide perfect quiet comfort. 

I prefer the squishy kind as seen in the picture.  Roll them lengthwise into a short skinny tube; don't try to "squish" them.  Then, pull the top of your ear up and back and insert the plug.  You'll know you did it right if it goes in easily and then expands to create total silence.

If you know someone in construction, they can probably get you a huge pack for free. 

Sometimes at home I only wear one.  I know it sounds weird but this way I can still hear if one of the kids wakes up barfing or something. 

When traveling, I consider my ear plugs a sacred accessory.  If I ever was a contestant on the show Survivor, ear plugs would be my "luxury item."   

So... I might get eaten by a lion someday, but at least I'll be well rested.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Some Girls Like Cars

This may be my first RANT in the history of this blog. Uncharacteristic of me, I know. But here goes nuthin' on behalf of my nine-year old daughter, Miss M.

McDonald's Restaurant (and I use the term loosely) has decided to offer HappyMeals of gender.  Yes - there's a "girl meal" and a "boy meal."  The sex of the meals is of course defined by the toy which is haphazardly thrown into the paper bag.  (BTW, what happened to the box?)

Today for example, the "boy" version included a matchbox car and the "girl" version included a Barbie comb and mirror.

As I ordered two meals and happened to have my son and daughter with me, the cashier loudly proclaimed that we were getting "one boy meal and one girl meal."

After some embarrasseed hesitation, Miss M. politely mentioned that she preferred cars over barbies.  The cashier gave an impatient sigh, then yelled back to the Micky Dee crew more loudly than was necessary, "MAKE THAT TWO BOY MEALS!!"

Do you feel my pain? 

We have a "you get what you get and you don't get upset" rule in my house.  So it wasn't about my daughter getting or not getting the toy she preferred.

What bugged me is that she left feeling like "that weird girl who likes boy's toys" again.

How hard would it be to have a "car meal" and a "Barbie meal"?  Why do these fast food chains find it it necessary to contribute to sex role stereotyping?

What if my son liked Barbies?  O.M.G. - the horror!   Ugh.

People are going to tell me I shouldn't buy their crappy food anyway.  I know, I know.

Anyway, I'm done.  But just had to get that off my chest.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Notes from 35,000 Feet

Look up in the sky! See me waving?

It turns out my flight to San Fran is on Virgin America, not US Airways. It’s a sad tale I’m sure but these are the kinds of surprises you get when someone else books travel for you.

Come to think of it, I have no idea what hotel I’m staying at either. Is it Marriot or Courtyard by Marriot? Something like that. No worries. I have five hours to look at my Outlook calendar where I (albeit absent mindedly) cut and pasted the details under today’s date. There is also the email confirmation which I filed in my “Travel” folder and forwarded to my dear hubby so he’d have it too. Plus, I’m with the co-worker who booked the hotel... and the flight… and the car rental. Like I said, no worries.

Some of my old carny friends may be quite shocked at my laissez-faire attitude today. Just a few years ago, I would have spent a significant amount of time creating a detailed itinerary, formatting it to picturesque perfection, and printing it in triplicate. Additionally, I would have mapped my hour-by-hour plans and corresponding weather forecast to a wardrobe chart and packing list in Excel.

Oh yes, they used to laugh at me. They also used to borrow my packing lists for their own reference.

More recently I’ve learned that not every detail is worth the time or energy of obsessing over. I still do some mental “mapping” and yes, I do check the weather. Goodness knows I don’t want to arrive at a semi-formal event on a hot beach wearing my studded leather jumpsuit.

As in the rest of my life, I’ve learned to pick my battles. I’ve learned that some percentage of the stress in my life was wholly self-inflicted.

For a reward, some of the time which would have gone into obsessing over my itinerary went to doing a conga line with my kids last night. Yeppers. Nothing says happiness like a good conga line.

Next time you’re in a room full of miserable people, give it a try. Either it will be an immediate mood lifter or you’ll be tarred and feathered. In my book, it’s worth the risk.

Now that I am sitting here in seat 16C (with a foot repeatedly clunking into the back of me from seat 17C), I have no worries whatsoever about whether I'll get to my hotel or if I’ll go to my business dinner wearing a tutu.

I am so enjoying the memory of the conga line around my house, the raucous laughter and the cute little buns of my babies wiggling in time to the “dut-dut dut-dut dah DA!”

No regrets whatsoever.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

While I'm Gone...

Things are starting to heat up here in Corporate America.  Busy, busy. So, it looks like I'll be traveling a bit.  Again. 

It's difficult to say whether this will help or hinder my writing efforts.

Hmmmm...  I have done some of my best blogging done whilst sitting in an airplane.  Then again, depending on how my meetings go, I may be spending that time seeing if wine tastes as good from those little plastic bottles as it does at home.  (And then again, I'm also an excellent multi-tasker.)   Please let's pray that US Airways serves something better than Sutter Home.  Blech.

At any rate, just in case I don't get back here for a few days and you need a little something to read, I thought I'd post some of my recent favorite blogs.  You should check 'em out if you get a few moments.  In all cases, you can enjoy them whilst getting drunk multi-tasking as well.

Coltin1948:  A "Superior Scribbler Award" winner and deservedly so.  Well-written and mature in both content as well as delivery; (mature as in "elevated," not in the "for mature audiences/x-rated" way. Sorry.  Maybe he takes requests?)    Bruce obviously spends a significant amount of energy developing each post. It makes me selfishly grateful he was recently laid off and has this kind of time.

Drawing In:   Her profile describes it best, "Caroline Bender is the pseudonym of a 20-year career gal. Once a junior secretary, at a time when such titles were worn with pride, she broke into management and enjoyed a 7 year run before experiencing a spectacular professional breakdown. Miss Bender now observes the work world as a high-tech Mill Girl. Every day that she is not fired is like a little gift."  Fun observational humor about life, the universe and everything.

just kickin it around:  A multiple award winner! Trust me, there's no other blog quite like that of Babblin'bob which he describes this way, "the strange and not so strange things I encounter every day, some political, some personal, some funny and some not worth posting at all."  Read his unique voice once and you'll be hooked.  It's almost too hard for me to describe in a way that does it justice.  Just go.

Life is just like that:   Argentum Vulgaris has a bunch of good blogs so it was hard to pick just one. But this is updated often (if not everyday), very ecclectic and always entertaining.  "...Warts and all, no holds barred." Okay, so I can't pick just one... AV also has a great review site / blog catalog at Blogger's Cafe.  I swear that the 5 Gold Sovereigns Award he gave me has nothing to do with the recommendation!

Read Me Sometimes, Think of Me Often:  This blog was created for friends and family to track this American native's observations, progress, flailings, and other notations as she makes her way in the city of Dublin, Ireland.  Great photos and lots of fab reviews of various Dublin pubs and other sights.  Oh yeah -- she's also my sister; the one who had the "theatre closet" I recently told you about. :-)

The Good Girls:  This is a newer blog for me but I've really been enjoying it. It reads like a novel with each post being a distinctly descriptive chapter.  Often told from the point of view of a young girl, one gets the feeling that there's a little therapy in there for all of us.

The Time Crook:  Another award winner!  I'm always especially excited when I see a new Time Crook post in my blogroll. This blog is about everyday experiences but so incredibly well-written and so effortless, it's literally a joy to read.  Photos and poetry too which is a plus.

There are more favorites of course but I've got to get packing and catch my plane.  I'll have to save them for next time I guess.  Maybe I'll make this a routine when I travel.  Let me know what you think...

In the meantime, if you're anywhere between Boston and San Francisco, look up in the sky and give me a wave!
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Monday, September 14, 2009

What are you afraid of?

This is what I saw when I looked out the side window of my front door last night.  The light of my door lamp caught the little bugger just right so as to make me jump clear out of my slippers.  Scared the bajeezes out of me as I flipped that switch!!  
Mainly I just thought it was a cool photo and wanted to share. 
But also, it got me thinking about irrational fears. How could such a small thing, clearly unable to do any harm to me whatsoever, almost make me have to change my big-girl pants?
Life is funny like that.  Sometimes we are afraid of things which only have power over us because we allow it.  Nothing to fear but fear itself, right?
What little thing are you afraid of? 

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Life After Quantum Cleansing

It's been just over a month since I completed Kathy Freston's 21-Day Quantum Wellness Cleanse and I'm sure you're just dying to know how things have been since then.
Well, looks like I'm going to tell you anyway.  I'll try to make it brief. (For those who are new to my blog, you may want to start at my QW Introduction post; I also posted daily for each of the 21 days.)

So, the two lasting changes have been that I'm officially (still) decaffeinated and vegetarian
I still find people's reaction to the vegetarian thing fascinating.  Just yesterday I was discussing this while getting my brows waxed.  The aesthetician asked me in a bewildered tone, "You don't eat meat?  So you just live on vegetables??" 
Okay, seriously?  People must know that there is more food in the world than meat and vegetables. 
I spouted out the list of possibilities.  Granted, I expounded at greater length than was necessary just to prove a point. 
I told her, "There's rice, rice noodles, all kinds of pasta, potatoes (including french fries and potato chips), beans (I like red beans, black beans, chickpeas and navy beans best),  lentils, quinoa (it's considered the "perfect protein"; there's a red quinoa and a white quinoa and oh, you should try quinoa pasta - it's to die for), plus yes, so many different kinds of vegetables, legumes, fruit, cereal, cereal bars, pizza, various vegetarian asian dishes which are so tasty, vegetarian "meat alternatives" like veggie burgers and veggie sausage. Most desserts are vegetarian and thank goodness so is alcohol.  Personally, I do dairy (which those who are vegan don't).  I'll eat eggs as an ingredient but usually don't eat them as a main dish. And *take a breath* no, I don't eat tofu if I can help it."


Luckily my blood test came back negative for Celiac Disease so I've cautiously reintroduced some of the previously forbidden foods.  That said, I have a follow up appointment on Monday to discuss the rest of my labs (ANA, EBV, RF & SED).  The Doc may order more tests including another one for Celiac which doesn't sound very pleasant at all. My fingers (and intestines) are crossed.  I can't imagine having to go back to justifying vegetarian AND gluten-free. Ugh.
The QW Cleanse is generally advertised as a "diet."  Though losing weight wasn't a primary goal for me personally, I've lost ten pounds; seven during the cleanse and three more since then.  *Happy Dance*

Although the formal restrictions are off, I'm just much more aware of what I eat/drink and am making much healthier decisions overall.  

There was that one party last Sunday where I kinda tied on the feedbag.   I also may have attempted to take a bath in Kendall Jackson.  But that was an exception.  Despite everything I preach, I never claim to be perfect. Besides, a girl can cut loose once in a while.

Bottom line, it's "all good."  The Quantum Wellness Cleanse still has my quantum recommendation.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

5 Paths to Mindlessness

One of my favorite treats in the life balance pantry is made from mindfulness, focused gratitude and being in the present.   

That said... as I examine my current state of mind, there's a big part of me that just doesn't want to focus.  I don't want to think about the present.  I want to be someplace else.  I need a break.

There's always "liquid escape" and trust me, I'm holding onto that as an option.
In the spirit of pure health though, I thought I'd suggest alternative paths to mindlessness which work just as well, minus incriminating photos and hangover.  

Please feel free to share yours too.  (Paths to mindlessness that is; we'll save the incriminating photos for later.)
1. Music:  Whether you like to listen, sing, dance or all of the above - make sure no one is watching and pump up the volume!  Personally, I have really ecclectic taste in tunes.  Mozart, Bach, Journey, Black Eyed Peas, Kate Bush, Gap Band, Bette Midler, Mika, soundtracks from Grease, Les Miserables or Chorus Line. The old "party central" songs which are most complete with a room full of drunkards shouting choice lyrics.   Anything which wipes my mind slate clean as soon as the volume knob is turned to the right.  ("But this one goes up to 11." - Spinal Tap)
2. Books/Audiobooks:  In order for this to be a successful "getaway" it has to be a book which completely transports you.  So much so that if you stop reading, you picture the characters frozen in position where you left them.  Impatiently waiting for you to get back to the story so they can get on with their lives.

I recently had this experience reading the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.  Someone suggested these books to me a long time ago but I resisted, not usually one to get sucked into the hoopla of pop teen lit.  But sucked in I became.  Make that embarrassingly addicted.  I highly recommend the audiobooks in this case.  They are so well read by Ilyana Kadushin et al, that they give you the escape of a movie with line-by-line integrity to the book (since it, um, is the book.)

If you like the Twilight books, go ahead and read The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  I know you're holding off because you think it can't be as good.  Afraid to kill your Twilight buzz, right?  Go for it.  It's just as captivating in a completely different way.  You won't be disappointed.

3. Tickle fights: Not a suggestion you might find on a list in SELF Magazine but it's one of my favorites. For me, there is just nothing better than rolling around with someone I love, playing and laughing to the point of possible incontinence. (Hey! Get your minds out of the gutter!)

4. Running:  A lot of people tell me this a great way to escape stress. (Also a great way to escape a crime scene for example, but that's a different blog.) I'm trying to get into it, I really am.  The theory is nice -- wind in your hair, just you and the road, complete freedom, etc.  But honestly I'm just not there yet.  I have a hard time clearing my mind when I run except to think, "I hate running.  I hate running.  I hate running."  That's just me though.  Maybe my ZenRunner friend will comment.

5. #3 but with my mind in the gutter. 

Related Posts:
Wanna Get Away
Paying Attention
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