Friday, June 2, 2017

About Living.Quality Versus Quantity- Sleep Hacks and Hope For The Deviant Evening People of the World. Parenting. The Rat Race. Building A Life that Doesn't Need A Vacation.

I used to worry when I slept in that I was missing out on my life. I felt guilty when I saw early morning risers getting things accomplished or talking about their precious mornings. I have no doubt that their mornings were and are them. My husband is a morning man. He feels awful and deals with headaches, backaches, and stomach issues if he sleeps in past eight. Luckily, he lives in North America, where early rising is a general requirement to life. The majority are early morning people. Yet even in the minority, there are many who suffer because of the typical 9-5 schedule.

Without a certain amount of sleep I wake to nausea, feeling punched in the gut and sore. It's the joy of chronic genetic insomnia (confirmed by a sleep test), having a busy and differently wired brain, and chronic illness. But sometimes I get the ten or eleven hours of sleep that give me an optimal night. The other day, for the first time in weeks, I slept from 11-11. Of course my body didn't allow that twice and the next night it was four hours. I have always been a ten hour girl. My mother said she could tell the difference if I had less.

Technically, if I don't count my lovely evenings, I end up with less time in the day when I actually sleep in. But even if my "aware" time is cut shorter by the amount I sleep in, it's worth it because I feel better and don't drag through the hours awake if I sleep most of the morning away. So then I ask myself the age old question of personal preference - quality or quantity? For some things in life I pick quality, but for sleep I benefit more from quantity in my day to day existence. Which means sleeping an entire morning away, if I am able, is definitely worth the missing hours of the day to "get things accomplished." I'm working on allowing myself to just be ME, without justification or without having to excuse my "deviant" sleep patterns to people who "catch" me. My grandpa has worked since he was twelve years old. It breaks my heart if I think about it too much. But I take this into account when he stops by horrified I just woke up and it's past 8 am. The little teasing lecture about hard workers versus lazy people and stories of people in "his day" fill my ears and I smile. I can see that part of him IS actually concerned for my well being. However, this concern is a one size fits all concern, coming from a certain generational perspective, a personal lack of autonomy and a different life.

Most institutions try to schedule morning appointments. Most days are 8-5 work days and school also follows a similar schedule. I used to feel an obligation to rise and drag myself to these moments. Then I had an epiphany-  It's my life. Why am I giving it to the masses? Yes, I realize the need to work. But did you know that when I did this, and showed up in my way, I made twice my husband's normal wage for my family in one year. I won't be able to repeat that amount again, but it saved us from losing our home and from severe poverty. It took months of hard work to attain this, but yet it happened when I showed up the way I COULD and thought outside the box. 

As for the educational system for my children, regular readers know how I feel about that institution in most regards. While I know it is necessary for many and important for some, stepping out of it was probably one of the top ten best choices of my entire life. (Read Dumbing Us Down*) That decision came at a cost. I hated home schooling at first and felt helpless... Until I found my groove, unschoolery and a fantastic facilitator. I had a tough time when parents who believed so firmly in the system challenged me in this area. But now? Live and let live. Their decisions to enroll their children are great if they are happy. Mine works for me and my children are happier and healthier than they ever were in the school system. One of my children was especially gifted and instead of honing in on that, I wanted them to just be a child. I made sure that they were fed enough information to keep them challenged, but to also have ample time to enjoy childhood. More schoolwork was not the answer for them nor was it the answer for my severely learning disabled child. Why do we put pressure on our children in the rat race to compete? Why are certain gifts seen as weakness? Why is our answer to put more work or install more memorization into our children? The simple answer is fear for their future but the more complex answer involves our own personal stories and goals of our own souls, our personal mishaps we don't want repeated in our children, and our general genuine care that our children be all they can be or be happy in their life. But regardless, life will give them both joy and pain. What they need to learn most is simply to LIVE each moment and to be content with themselves in any circumstance. More joy, free time, learning about emotions, learning about each other, co-operation, individuality, and magical BEING was the answer I was searching for. It paid off in most ways.

Due to my recent eleven hour night, I had a day of clarity. When my kids were younger, the comments usually responded to a statement like that with,"Well I have babies or young kids so it's impossible to have the luxury to sleep in." That was partially true when my babies were screaming all hours of the night. I understand sleep issues and even with the best of hacks, some sleep issues can not be resolved. But when it happens- sleep should be held in high regard. My eldest two were NOT good sleepers but we snatched sleep together whenever we could. As they became older, I began dropping events that required me to get up. I switched my kids schedules to match mine because I realized I am far better with sleep and my largest block of REM sleep happens in the early morning. Thus, they also enjoy a enhanced quality of life due to their dependence on me. I taught them from age two how to get their own food in the morning if they woke before me. The two eldest were highly verbal at age two. My youngest couldn't do this but my daughter took care of him when he reached this age. I left out cereal that couldn't be choked on like cheerios or Go Go Applesauce, the needed materials and water, taught them how to put the DVD on, and how to come lay by mommy if they felt lonely. I locked all doors and made use of gates. My door was open. I woke up at the slightest unusual sound but could sleep through if I heard their sounds in the background. They knew what was safe and I safety proofed our home so that I could sleep.  I made sure to make the most of my time once I woke to focus on them and they stayed up nights with me. That's how I survived the early years and probably why my daughter is so responsible- which is both good and bad. Everything comes with some good and some bad in this world and we choose the choice that balances us the most and hopefully helps us show up in a way we can manage. I might have died if I hadn't have done those sleeping hacks. I had severe post partum depression and who knows what would have happened if I had less sleep.

I'm glad I gave up preschool or any school for my children because getting up alone would have made me the crankier mom. I might not be the best friend to my children that I am today if these circumstances would have changed. I probably would have been like Frankie on the Middle, continually stressed and yelling for my kids to get out the door on time. I know this from the two years my children went to school. Luckily, this didn't turn out for my life because of many counter cultural decisions. 

Our bodies and minds are NOT all the same so our schedules shouldn't be either. I think those that are in high thinking drive also require more down time of the brain to dream. My therapist has said I think more thoughts in a span of a few minutes than most do in hours thus it makes sense that perhaps my mind needs more downtime and dream time to sort through? When I'm sleep deprived I sound like the dumbest person. I have a tough time expressing my thoughts normally anyway, even with sleep, unless I am writing or in a very safe comfortable place. 

It's odd how we praise people for sleeping early in the evening and getting up early. Yet, we do not praise someone for being in their PJ's at eleven in the morning or staying up late getting things done. It's cultural conditioning. Because really, there is not much difference. One is not better than the other. One is just more conducive to our institutional 8-5 work horse mentality.

To illustrate this point, my children are conditioned by me. My world has built theirs. After my recent sleep in I heard my eldest son meet my husband at the door at lunch break with, "Mommy slept in and had eleven hours. She is the best she has been in weeks. She is even going to write a blogpost! Isn't that great?" My youngest son would not stop hugging me, chatting with me, smiling at me and saying, "You just seem so great today. I love you any day but I just like that you look so cozy and happy after sleeping so long." My daughter was jealous and asked how I managed to sleep as long as I did. If I had answers to that I would not have been labelled with genetic insomnia. But, this was their reaction to me "oversleeping" in our world. Applause, gratitude, joy and celebration. Even with that, I have to fight my own mentality of conditioning that comes with guilt, should haves, accomplishments, time for the sake of getting things done, and ableism. These feelings have subsided heavily as the years have passed, plus when I get the sleep I need, I feel FABULOUS so it's easy to wave off the old conditioning with a happy middle finger. Yet, I know for many, this isn't the case. Well in North America anyway. Unfortunately, a lot of the world, due to business, has begun to follow the same damaging model. I admire the culture's that have incorporated siesta's, later hours, shorter work days, optimal downtime...some culture's have more of a balance in this regard than others.

My husband's trade can't get away from "normal hours" completely but we made it work for us. He takes off early every day and has three day weekends unless it's during a catching up on debt time, when for a month he works over hours. But we only allow him to work like that two months fully out of the year MAX. Even if we need the money we find ways to live simply and cut back. In construction this was not exactly embraced. It makes it hard for the times he works with others and it changes a lot of factors. However, once he clearly outlined his needs for those he worked for, most chose to keep him on. Some may not choose him for their job in the future, but we have yet to run out of work, because when my husband shows up, he works harder than anyone on his team. His hours almost double the labour output of those of most normal workers (minus this hard year he had) and most of this is because he has ample downtime and enjoyment of life at home. It took boundaries, negotiations, walking away, being diplomatic, showing up, working hard, and making the most of both work and home, to have this be an optimal arrangement for most involved in the equation. Sometimes we still run into obstacles. Occasionally he stays later if it's crucial. He also had to have a pep talk with his co workers about choices and how he chose this but if they choose to take off at the same time he does, they have to be willing to work harder during the active hours and be upfront about this in their contracts as well. Generally though we make it work. I realize this isn't a possibility for all, but for the majority it's closer than it feels. It require diplomacy, trade, thinking outside the box, proving it can work, and ASKING. Also a lot of confidence and tenacity and bosses or co workers who are not small minded people.

I heard a quote once that said, "My goal is to build a life I don't need a vacation from." I was already feeling this way, and the quote inspired me in my day to day. My husband and I do not take vacations. Because our life has them built in. I'm not anti vacation. I firmly believe if you work a regular job you NEED to take a vacation with your family from time to time. Yet, why do we take vacations? To experience new places is one reason. Another is to have forced downtime without the daily distractions. We hope that another place will give us new perspective, joy or life. Sometimes it does, though truthfully most people I know come home more stressed about their day to day after a vacation. I also remember most vacations of my life being unsuccessful besides a few key moments. But what if I can build moments with the same type of feeling INTO my daily existence? What if our family can find new ways to experience unique feelings, downtime and experiences without travelling far to attain them? We do take day trips to experience different landscapes or towns, but in the the end, these trips are not vacations but educational experiences. We mostly have built a life we do not need a vacation from. We have ample downtime to finish projects or start a whimsical creative project. We enjoy family walks, reading time, game time, watching shows, making meals and listening to podcasts on a regular basis.

On tough years like the one we are currently finishing (hopefully), we still don't need a vacation. We instead use the time to heal, be depressed, and recover. This year has been particularly hard, from death of a mom, to terminal cancer diagnosis within our extended family to a few other non terminal cancer cases, to my husband having mono for months followed by my daughter and I. We have had strep and financial woes, losing a family pet, our truck stolen, our safety threatened, extended family issues, and multiple health scares on top of the crazy current situations of the world at large. Of course mental health has been compromised due to the external and we all look like we have been through a battle. We gained weight even though we were still eating healthy because all we wanted to do was lie in bed some days. But that is ok too, because it is what we needed to do. Having a softer body is also a way of setting an example for our children that worth does not come from a certain body nor a certain way of being. Beauty does not come in a size.

Some years just suck in general, even with the little moments of beauty in between being savoured. Some moments are not meant to warrior through but to slowly find a way out of with a soul in tact. Some lessons are learned while others are unlearned. If happiness and worth or well being were all about working hard, North America would have a lot less illness, suicide rates, and other consequences that come with our current mentality. I don't think most people regret sleeping in on their death beds. Especially if the sleep enabled their life choices to be inspirational in their waking hours. Nor do I think most would only think of their vacations. The day to day makes up life. Little moments. These moments require a certain balance of mentality, perspective, choice, and circumstance to be a life that we do not need a vacation from. I do not view this without gratitude that some of these factors are luck of the draw or being Canadian. I love my country and I love that we are a little bit more laid back in most regards but the mentalities of our surrounding cultures bleed through with the constant influence of social media.

Why do we work so hard? To build the world? To make it a better place for our children? To survive? To grow? To thrive? If it is for all these things, which in the end, simply equal beauty, love, joy, stability, growth, and fulfillment, then why are we not taking the time to also SAVOUR that now? Some are not so lucky and basic survival is all they can try to achieve, but for those of us who have choices...Why are we not taking a life that optimizes joy along with hard work? Who are we working for and why do we make the choices we do? Are we looking at our lives through another lens? Are we asking ourselves the tougher questions that may not fit in with the majority mentality? Some people may take the Stoic approach while others may take the Epicurean or the many paths in between. But both movements and all paths somehow GAVE to the world, enhanced and people became. So why can we not do the same?

*By former educator John Taylor Gatto. Link under Unschoolery on newly arranged Library! I finally organized the books somewhat by theme on my Library page found  HERE.

Song Choice: Good to Be Alive- Meghan Trainor: LINK HERE

I always feel a little conflicted posting this song. We were first introduced to it when we knew our children's Grammy was dying. And we were fully aware that sometimes it DOES NOT feel good to be alive. Seeing pain, struggle, fighting to live... We were careful for a year not to play this around my husband due to his own situation plus the line about telling a mother one loves her...not such a happy song if it's a painful loss of not being able to tell her ever again...but for my daughter who still has her mother- it is something she loves and comes to hug me each time the song is on. So, it really is circumstantial. In another perspective, honouring life means also taking those moments when it DOES feel good. Hopefully, anyone who has ever died had a few of those moments. I have to remind myself that one day I will have my dying moments and I have had my pain moments- it comes to us all- so it is okay for me to feel good the times when I do in MY moments. When my babies are first held in my arms... waking up for the first time with my husband beside me...realizing I had the best friend I always dreamed of...looking at my little starter home and realizing it was the home I could dream of and IN... Date picnic with my husband when I technically dated my food more than him because it was the BEST...Witnessing each birthday that is decorated with care by my extended family and sister for each of my children (Once Upon A Time theme was the most recent) the little daily moments when I look at my life with satisfaction (sometimes in pain and sometimes not) and think, "Yes it does. Sometimes it feels good to be alive...and that is okay too because I have many times when it does not. Understanding that makes those moments even better..."


Ashe Skyler said...

Uegh, those infernal headaches, backaches, nausea, and stomach aches with rising at the wrong time! My flavor of sensory issues means all my senses are heightened, so sometimes the feel of my own breath on my skin can set off a strong wave of nausea. You'd think society would be advanced enough by this point we could work around sleep woes a bit easier!

My little boy just recently started his homeschooling. Still working out the balance to give him enough breaks and time to play so his boundless supply of energy doesn't make him spontaneously combust, but we'll get there. I still haven't quite wrapped my head around unschooling, but in case it's relevant for y'all, here be a link I'm exploiting and finding goodies that help me out ->

Kmarie A. said...

Yea the worst annoyances.:) Mine too...Esp heightened sense of smell for me. I so get this...You think society would evolve but it feels like we are in the dark ages in a lot of senses.

OH YAY! Congrats on the homeschooling. Its a learn as you go process like parenting:) there are some books that you may like in that category on my library. Thanks for the link:)

S said...

How are you ? I have been thinking of you a lot.
You give me courage by telling your stories. Every single word you have said here , I have read very very carefully. I felt sad at times because of this "difference" that we have to accept and endure in ourselves versus the external world, which is so different and which works very differently which makes our lives even harder. There is beauty yes, but also hardships. We need strength and courage from each other and from our tribe, from people like us. You should never stop writing your blog because, "a very important voice" ( i.e. your voice ) would be lost in our community of like minded and like hearted people. You may not know yet but I want to tell you that you give me so much courage and hope in the midst of hopelessness. So don't stop writing ever. I could read this post again and again just to feel you and tell you that I am with you dear, always, in your hard days and happy days.
Sending love and care,

Kmarie A. said...

oh and ashe: Thank you so much for that email and compiling it for me!!!! I really appreciate that!

S: Thank you. You have also been on my mind. I am glad I give you courage by telling my story. It makes me happy that this helps you. Yes that can be sad...and it can make it harder. Yes our tribe helps us along. Thank you. Sometimes I want to close this blog down as I dislike having too many people aware of me, but then I think it's one tiny corner of the world and I like writing and I love that sometimes this helps people. Thank you. I appreciate this valuable and kind comment of yours so much. Courage is something I deeply wish to convey to people and I am so honoured you think I can give it within hopeless situations. Thank you so much. IT is very inspiring to know you are with me. I deeply appreciate that sentiment.

Love and care back to you as well. xoxxo

dojuma said...

I really appreciate for the encouragement i have gotten here.

Kmarie A. said...

Dojuma ; I'm glad u recieved encouragement 😊

Steve Berke said...

I enjoyed reading your article :) PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from beddingstock.

Kmarie A. said...

Thank you. Have a good week.