Health and Caregiving

Insomnia Through the Years

Iphone May 2011 002

That photo above is from about seven years ago. My daughter was only three. We have since got another dog that looks a lot like that one, but isn’t nearly as well behaved. She likes to sleep on the couch in the same way as that one though. My daughter used to sleep on the couch a lot. When she came home from the hospital, she would not sleep in her crib. She had to be with someone when sleeping. So, she would fall asleep every night on the couch while I worked, watched TV, took care of things. Then, we would have to carry her up to our bed when we went to bed. That didn’t stop until she was about seven. She could sleep anywhere, as long as others were present. I was not so lucky.

Sleep…such a simple concept, but such a difficult achievement at times.  I suffer from insomnia – trouble falling asleep or staying asleep through the night (National Library of Medicine) pretty often.  According to WebMD, I typically suffer from “acute” insomnia, probably caused by stress, but my lighting probably contributes to it (the blinds do not really keep the light out well in our bedroom).  I would not say the insomnia is chronic, although I do have longer periods of time where I have trouble sleeping.  My insomnia usually causes me to wake up really early (4 a.m. or so) and then I can’t really get back to sleep.  Although, I do sometimes have problems falling asleep at night.  So, today’s post I’m going to focus on some solutions – allowing me to sleep, which provides for a recovery and reinvigoration.  It also is necessary for better health, which is a great side benefit!

According to this Women’s Health Mag article, the possible solutions includes Sleeping pills. I am not willing to use these.  I just don’t feel like I’m to a point where I need them. In addition, when I have used anything with those types of products in them, I wake up feeling very groggy and a little hung over. Not worth it to me. But, if someone has severe, chronic insomnia, I can see these being necessary.

So, the next advice I came across in this Prevention article was no coffee after Noon.  Interesting, as I sit here drinking my Latte at 12:45 pm.  But, I have adjusted my coffee consumption to cut it off by late afternoon.  There were a couple of times I got an espresso drink around 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. and was awake until 2 a.m.  So, I started moving the line back on when I can drink coffee drinks.  But, I have not got it all the way back to Noon yet.  I do think that is doable though.  I typically will drink iced tea in the afternoon/evening instead and although that does have caffeine it is much less than coffee and I would even consider switching to a caffeine free version after 5 p.m. to help with sleep.  I’m lucky in that I don’t have a soda habit, so it is just coffee and iced tea for me.  This one is definitely much more doable than the sleeping pills.

The same Prevention article offered up exercise as a solution for insomnia.  This makes total sense to me and it is something that is often lacking in my life.  I was interested to read that studies do not show that exercise at night hurts sleep, but I also realize that waiting until evening to exercise just gives me all day to come up with an excuse for not doing it.  So, I think getting it in during the morning hours would be more likely to work for me.  I just can’t figure out an exercise regimen that works for me.  I don’t like to run, I don’t belong to a gym and joining one doesn’t sound attractive to me because I kind of hate being in public while exercising.  I used to be an athlete and it is really hard to deal with my lack of fitness now.  So, I’m thinking maybe I need to either (1) do Wii Fit with my daughter – she is loving it lately, or find some fun exercise video on Roku and do it (or a few different ones) in the morning in my living room. I have been walking much more lately partially because our dogs have been unable to use our backyard for the last three weeks and will be unable to for the next week and a half, which means more walks and longer walks.

I have been sleeping better this summer. Part of that may be the above items, but more likely it is because my summers are not stressful like the school year. My insomnia is very much stress related and my summers are much less stressful than when I am teaching and leading Girl Scouts and doing PTO stuff and coaching Speech and Debate and trying to run my house (not into the ground). My life is full of stuff and that stuff inevitably causes stress. I am starting to feel it build already. Bean starts school on Thursday. We have our regional coach’s conference on Friday and Saturday. I have my wisdom teeth out a week from tomorrow (!). Our first department meeting is a week from Wednesday. I start teaching two weeks from tomorrow and from there, everything goes off the rails. I know that. I really wish I could make it something else, but it is what it is and I have to figure out a way to manage the ride, not get off of it. One way of doing that is figuring out how to sleep better while I’m in the midst of it.

So, here is my list of things I’m going to try at the beginning of the semester to manage my stress and hopefully increase my sleep hours:

  • Journaling to help with stress. I’m using Penzu for my online journaling to help make accessible wherever I am in the world.
  • Eating more healthy. I often add to my stress levels by eating poorly, which causes headaches and exhaustion and lack of focus.
  • Routine, routine, routine. My weakness is falling into a trap where I just let things come at me and deal with them as they arrive. This is horrible for stress. I need to establish a routine of healthy and helpful items and then MAKE the things coming at me FIT into that routine instead. I have been much better at establishing and keeping routines for my daughter than myself. This school year, I’m on the routine rails instead of the crazy rails.

So, that’s it. Three relatively simple things. We’ll see how I do. Do you suffer from insomnia? What are your favorite solutions?

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10 Changes for the Last 155 Days of 2019

As of today, there are 155 days left in 2019. We are well past the half way mark, with 210 days gone for 2019. I feel like 10 changes is realistic for 155 days. Some will be easy. Some will be more difficult. All of them will be not only good for me, but good for the world (or at least the community). So, here goes my 10 Changes:

  1. Shop local. This will be good for numerous reasons. First, I have been really bad about the easy, breezy Amazon Prime purchases this past 210 days. I buy too much or spontaneously. Plus, Amazon is a wonderful innovative company, but it doesn’t always treat it’s workers great and it doesn’t give much to our local community. So, I’m going to try to raise our local tax base, support local business owners and really think about my purchases before I make them. This will include my holiday shopping. So, it will have an impact.
  2. Decrease my single-use plastic waste. I have been feeling more and more committed to this (note it has been a feeling, not necessarily an action) over the past few months. My family uses a TON of single-use plastics. I know I won’t be able to end it, but if I could just significantly decrease it, I would be happy. I’ve been looking at bulk shopping (we have a few places here where you can bulk shop for things like shampoo and conditioner and soaps) and will be doing that as soon as I use up some of things in my house already. Which are numerous. This brings me to…
  3. Use it up! Seriously. I have food items, cleaning supplies, body wash, lotions, soaps, books, scrapbooking stuff…the list could go on and on. And I don’t use hardly any and then I will actually purchase new stuff! Why??? I can’t explain it. But, I do. Compulsively. I have shampoo in my shower, but I bought a tester bottle at CVS two weeks ago and then bought a bottle of shampoo at Trader Joe’s this week. Why? Who knows? Again, those impulse buys get me every time. So, I’m going to do a thorough inventory of my house and commit to not buying anything new until I use up what we have.
  4. Read it or Rid it! I have so many books. That is an understatement. I have books in my room, the hallway, the garage, the living room, and more. I have not been reading much in the last decade and I go to the library pretty often. The books have just been sitting there on my shelves. I took two pretty big loads to the thrift store today and I’m going to make a commitment to only keep what I truly feel is worth keeping and get rid of the rest. I can get whatever I want to read at the library at some point, so I don’t need to have all these books in my home.
  5. Meal plan. I NEED to meal plan. We are so bad at not using food in our refrigerator and freezer. We eat out way too much, pay way too much for food we don’t eat, and we often have no idea how to make a meal out of what we have in our house. So, meal planning is a must. It ties in to #3 – Use it up. I buy stuff and then end up throwing it away because we don’t have a plan to use it. So, I’ve joined Kitchen Winners at Jessica Fisher and I’m going to try to really meal plan effectively.
  6. Digital Detox. I am on my laptop way too much and I tend to overuse my phone as well. So, I’m going to really try to digitally detox this Fall. I’m going to set firm hours for being online. I haven’t figured out exactly how it is going to work (one dark day a week would be nice, but seems a little beyond possible with my job and travel, etc.), but I’m going to put some limits on myself and commit to following those limits strictly. I didn’t take my laptop on vacation last week and it was pretty spectacular. I used my phone a little too much, but it kept dying, so it wasn’t too bad on most days. But, I’ve been bad on my laptop since returning home. And much like my purchasing decisions, a lot of it is not really necessary or helpful.
  7. Engage in my community. I used to be really active in the community when my DD was a baby. We went to a ton of local events and participated in a lot of fun things. But, since she started school, our participation the community has really fallen off. We don’t go to our Farmer’s Markets on regular basis anymore. We don’t do the downtown events when they happen. We skip museum events. I want to re-engage in these events for a couple of reasons. First, I feel like being involved in our community is important. Second, I feel like going to things like the Farmer’s Markets and museum events gives us access to people we wouldn’t necessarily meet or talk to in our day-to-day lives and those conversations can be important. In addition, it is often very fun! Once it is habit, I crave doing those events. But, when you fall out of habit, it seems like a lot of effort to expend.
  8. Do less. Better. This is my teaching philosophy for Fall 2019, so why not make it a life philosophy? I want to do the things I decide are important enough to do better. I’ve been floating through life not really doing well at anything. I now want to narrow my efforts to a few things and do those really well. What will those things be? Parenting, Home Management (including that meal planning, but also decluttering and keeping house better), Teaching and Coaching, and Leading Girl Scouts. That is not a small amount of things. In fact, it is a lot. Which is why I need to get off the laptop and phone and focus on doing them.
  9. Be hospitable. We are getting our backyard redone. It should be completed by the time school begins and we will have grass, an area for a patio table and plants, etc. I want to host people in our home and have dinner and play games and generally be hospitable. Our house is not great. In fact, it is mostly pretty ugly and worn. But, our backyard will be lovely, so we can use that until the rain comes. And maybe even then if we are strategic.
  10. Plan and implement. Last, but not least, I want to use my planner and actually implement the plans I make there. I am notorious at using my planner to write plans down and then ignoring those plans. I was better at using the planner and calendar in the Fall and I forgot way less things, but I would still not follow through with my daily plan and priorities. This next 155 days, I want to plan my days (at least a bit) and then implement those plans instead of just forgetting them. It sometimes feels good to abandon the plan, until the next day comes and I have even more things to do and still the things I didn’t implement.

So, there you have it, my 10 Changes to Make in the Last 155 Days of 2019. Let’s do this!

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Five Minute Friday – Willing

Well, it is another Five Minute Friday on a Saturday. I had the best of intentions of writing a post yesterday and I have two others that I started earlier this week and never posted. Sigh…I really do write blog posts regularly. I have 120+ drafts that I have started and never published on this blog. But, I’m going to get this one written and published right now.

This blog is one of those things where I am willing to do something, but do not actually follow through with doing it. This is a contradiction of sorts. Willing has at its foundation “will” which is a commitment of sorts. So, why don’t I follow through on things like writing, finishing and publishing blog posts? Why don’t I follow through on things like exercising and eating well? Why don’t I follow through on making my life better? Often times, I think willing comes into conflict with fear and causes hesitation. Or maybe it is less fear and more perfection. What if it isn’t good enough? What if I do all the things and I still don’t achieve what I want to achieve? What if I do achieve what I want to achieve and it isn’t that great? At this point, I don’t even really know what holds me back. I just know that I hold back. I guess I need to focus more on the process and less on the product. Baby steps. Small actions. Willing to act, without knowing exactly what the result will be.

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That’s it for today. It isn’t very long, but it is done and I’m going to hit publish on it. We’ll see how much I’m willing to DO this week.

Five Minute Friday

Five Minute Friday on a Saturday – Take

take

I wrote this yesterday and then promptly forgot to publish. So, here you go…a day late!

Joining Five Minute Friday again this week. The prompt for this week is “take”. Here we go…

Take. It isn’t something we hear a lot about in our society. Not nearly as much as we hear “give”. I was taught about giving at a young age. It was valued and important. On the other hand, taking was something that was often seen as shameful. You don’t take things you don’t need. You don’t take without asking. You don’t take without being grateful and humbled. Taking always came with so many strings attached. And rules were not always totally clear. If someone offered, was it okay to take (the answer is sometimes…because you have to beware of taking things that may put you in a position of owing someone later, you have be aware of whether taking it will mean someone else who needs it more may not get it, etc., etc.).

But, what happens when we grow up and need help? If we are always focused on taking being dangerous or shameful, how do we better receive? Because in order to take something, we have to receive it. It is actually the complicated part. I’m not sure how to overcome the strange connections with taking in order to be a better receiver, an open receiver. The fact that I think there is a “better” way to receive, in itself, is a reflection of the struggle with the idea of taking.

So, I think we need to focus on how taking is receiving. Receiving doesn’t have as many of those unwritten rules and value judgments tied to it.

And, that’s it….the five minutes is up. 🙂

Get Sh*t Done

Get Sh*t Done: July Goals

I am linking to Steph The Bookworm’s Get Sh*t Done post for July and trying to motivate myself in some small way. So, I’m going to set some goals for the month of July.

  • Get outside! For part of the month, this will be very simple. I’ll be “camping” for a week. I put that in quotation marks because this year, instead of staying in a tent like we have the last three years, we are staying in a cabin next to the campground. It is furnished, has a full-size refrigerator, wi-fi and all the amenities, so it doesn’t really seem like camping. But, I’m hoping that it allows us to enjoy things more than we did last year. The tent was fine when it was just my DD and myself, but last year it was all three of us and it stormed one night and we had not put the rain cover on the tent (because when does it rain in July where we were? Hardly ever!) and it was rough. We still had a good time, but It was miserably hot and while everyone else we were camping with had an air conditioned trailer to go to, we did not. So, there was no escaping it. So, this year, we have a cabin with AC that is in the campground the group is staying in and we’re staying in what is supposed to be a cooler area (although with the way things are going, it will be in the high 90s there as well). Anyways, other than that week, my goal is to be outside at least 30 minutes everyday with my DD. Today I went to our local park twice. Once with just my DD to collect some driftwood to make a craft. Then back this afternoon with a friend of my DD’s for them to swim in the river. It was great. Tomorrow, we’re taking a friend to the local public pool to swim. The next day it is a water park in a neighboring community. After that, I don’t have plans, but will be making them.
  • Redecorate the house. I have been wanting to do this forever. I don’t know how much I will be able to do, but I have finally settled on a style of decor I want. Rustic Farmhouse. It seems to fit with all of our animals, our deer head mounts in the living room, etc. So, now I just need to focus on a few key pieces. A new dining room table and chairs is definitely on the short list. I also would not mind getting a new couch. My daughter’s room needs a makeover as well. It would be nice to get some paint on the walls after 10 years of living here. So, I’ll be asking our landlord. I would love some new floors too, but that may be too much to ask. We shall see.
  • Eat at home. I realize I won’t be able to do this every meal the whole month. But, I feel like we have been preconditioned to eat out almost once a day, every day. It is truly ridiculous. I’m a horrible meal planner because I will plan something and then find it too difficult or not appealing when it comes time to cook it. Mostly it is habit. Well, that and doing dishes so the counters and sinks aren’t overflowing with dishes.
  • Declutter the house. Seriously declutter. I got rid of seven coffee cups today, a monopoly game (one of the three or four that we own, all with different themes) and two stadium chairs we used once three years ago and never again. Tomorrow, I plan to continue on the route of getting rid of things.

I will leave it at that. That seems like a lot when I look at it. I plan to track my trips outside, my changes in the house, my meals at home and what I get rid of decluttering. I will do that for the month and report back at the end of the month with how I did. Thanks for the inspiration Steph!

Simplicity Sunday

Simplicity Sunday #16 – When Nothing Much Has Changed

Well, as I jump back into blogging, one of the things I wanted to do was clean up the blog a bit (decrease the number of categories and tags that are present and make them more meaningful, add some links in posts to make connections that are here that may not be apparent for those visiting and maybe even clean out some of the old posts that aren’t really helpful). This is requiring that I go back through the last six years of blogging. Some years, there isn’t all that much to go through. Other years, I was pretty active. But, one thing that I notice is that where ever it is that I jump into a post, it often seems that not all that much has changed in my life. This is disappointing, to say the least. Take for example, the second post on this blog, from July of 2013, the first of these Simplicity Sunday posts, “The Great Purge,” where I have a photo of our entryway closet, which looks much different today, but much the same. What do I mean by that? Well, I don’t have much in that closet anymore. I have a hanging organizer for art supplies for my DD and an umbrella hanging in there. But, my husband has taken it over for storage and it is very full of stuff still. Simplicity Sunday #2, “Purge, Purge, Purge,” has me focusing on getting rid of things and I will say that I have gotten rid of quite a few things in the past six years. But, as I wrote in the most recent Simplicity Sunday, from almost exactly three years ago, “No such thing as ‘simple’,”

So, decluttering my house (I feel like I have rid myself of VOLUMES of stuff in the past six months, but we still have VOLUMES AND VOLUMES of stuff left.  What is with that?!?), decluttering my schedule and establishing routines so I don’t have to constantly think about what I should be doing next is vital. 

It is now three years later and I am still struggling to declutter my house (same task, different stuff). I still feel like I have rid myself of VOLUMES of stuff and still have VOLUMES AND VOLUMES of stuff left. And I still feel like I need to declutter my schedule (again, different things are on my schedule, but still too many of them) and establish routines.

So, here we go again. Maybe this time it will “take”. I hold out hope. I know that I have been better this past year than in the past ten, probably. But, some of that is because I have not had to deal with any major medical issues in the past three years (that last Simplicity Sunday was written write after we came home from the hospital with my DD’s newly placed pacemaker. I can only imagine the tailspin another medical emergency would send me into at this point. I have no plans in place for such an emergency, which if you ask any transplant kiddo’s mom (including me), one should ALWAYS have those plans in place so you don’t have to make a million phone calls begging people to come and feed your animals and figure out how to get them a key to check the mail or coverage at work is easy because you have a plan for each class that someone can easily pick up and run with. Yeah. None of that. I also got an email from PG&E that we may be without power for up to 48 hours because we are located near a wildfire area. This means we should have a 48 hour emergency plan. I could always go to my sister’s 90 minutes away and be okay. But, it would be better to have an emergency kit and a place for my pets to go and have it figured out. I have never been one to plan for the worst, but sometimes it isn’t the worst, it’s just the bad that really gets to you.

So, on this Simplicity Sunday, I am realizing that I can’t just type words, I have to do things. I’m going to start out slow and easy. I have an inordinate amount of coffee cups and I am the only one who drinks coffee in our household. I don’t even like that many of them, really. Some have a memory attached. Some were gifts. Some I just hold on to for some unknown reason. So, I’m going to narrow down my coffee cups. I’m going to keep three at-home cups and three travel cups (well, four if you count my Yeti, but I don’t think of that as only a coffee cup). This will give me less decisions to make in the morning (choosing a coffee cup should be simple) and will give me more space in my coffee cup drawer. And space is a key factor in simplicity, as I discussed in Simplicity Sunday #6, “Making Space,” and Simplicity Sunday #11, “On Space,”. Those two posts were written nearly three years apart and now another three years later and I’m still saying the same things. Those things hold true. I may not have achieved my goals, but it doesn’t make the messages any less true. So, I’m off to create some space in my coffee cup drawer and tomorrow, I will seek out somewhere else to make some space. Each day, more space.

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My Obsession: Ladies Solving Murders

I have talked about my obsession with Murder She Wrote on this blog before, when I visited her house and in my discussion of Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. I am still obsessed with Murder She Wrote (which, by the way, has the first five seasons on Amazon Prime now), but I have also realized that I really just like TV shows and movies with women solving murders. Right now, I’m watching one of my favorites, “Rosemary and Thyme” which is a great British show that doesn’t have enough episodes in my opinion. I love all the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries movies, including Murder She Baked, Aurora Teagarden, Mystery 101, Hailey Dean Mysteries, Morning Show Mysteries, Emma Fielding Mysteries and Chronicle Mysteries. What do they all have in common? Women solving murders! Mostly average women, with regular jobs, solving murders! There aren’t many channels that put women in the leads as often as Hallmark does and on Movies and Mysteries, they not only get to fall in love (as they do on the regular Hallmark Movie channel), but they also get to figure things out that no one else can. They are smart, charming and brave. I love that. PBS and the BBC also have quite a few shows with women solving murders. The aforementioned Rosemary and Thyme, Miss Marple, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (of which there is a new, updated version I have yet to see), and so many more.

I’m not sure why the murder mystery genre is my favorite (I also like men solving murders, just not quite as much as the ladies). I think I like that the loose ends get tied up. I like that there is critical thinking and reasoning going on. I like that the leads have to be smart, read people well and are always on to something that no one else can really see. I also think I like the slight predictability of them. My life is unpredictable enough, I don’t need unpredictable TV shows in my life. I also like the personalities portrayed. And I like the normalcy of it all. They are going about their jobs, like baker or librarian or gardeners or writer, etc. and they are still able to get the information needed to solve the crime. They are able to manage it all, but often with some help from those around them. And most of them are characters who I would love to have as friends.

So, there you have it. My obsession with murder mysteries, especially those with ladies leading the charge.