Saturday, May 18, 2013

Serenity now!

"We can be serene even in the midst of calamities."
-- Swami Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras
"Let reality be reality."
                                                 -- Lao Tzu

Stone garden statue in my backyard 5-18-13

Frank:      "Serenity now! Serenity now!"
George:    "What is that?"
Frank:       "The doctor gave me a relaxation cassette. When my blood pressure gets too high,
                  the man on the tape tells me to say 'serenity now!"
George:     "Are you supposed to yell it?"
Frank:       "The man on the tape wasn't specific."

-- Frank and George Costanza, Seinfeld episode 159, "The Serenity Now"

I am trying a new approach.
Instead of lying awake all night struggling for sleep that never comes, I have decided to stop fighting against my insomnia and start cooperating with it instead.
The first step is acceptance.
Insomnia is my "calamity." It is the card I've been dealt. It is my reality and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon. 
So we're going to have to find a way to co-exist.
I think it's called coping.

I did a dry-run of the new plan last night. It went like this:

I went to bed at 11:30 p.m.

I was still wide awake at 2 a.m., so I got up and lifted weights for an hour. 

I know, I know. Trust me, I know. All the sleep advice says not to exercise late in the day or in the evening, because it might disrupt normal sleep patterns. Well guess what? My sleep patters are already abnormally fucked and I'm not sleeping anyway. Also, I've been wanting to work some strength training into my routine. And, 2 a.m. is neither late in the day nor is it evening. It is technically early, early morning. So I was actually getting a head start. Look at me being the early bird. Getting that worm.

I was wider awake (and sweaty) at 3 a.m., so I baked molasses cookies.

My very wise friend Jill suggested this tactic. In an email (all the way from Chile!), Jill wrote:

"Do you ever cook at night? 
I used to do that a lot. Actually, baking, more often. 
You can just make tons and tons of things, because it doesn't require a lot of concentration 
and it gives you something to do that has a tangible outcome. 
Plus you live with guys, so they can eat your stuff." 

She was right. 
It didn't require much concentration and I wound up with a satisfying pile of 5 dozen delicious cookies that made my not-sleeping seem not-so-futile. Plus, the house smelled amazing -- spicy and welcoming and homey. Jill was also right that the guys I live with would eat my stuff. This morning, my husband went back for thirds with his coffee. Even my paleo, carnivorous, carb-hating weightlifter-of-a-son gobbled a few. As he was chewing one cookie and reaching for another, he told me, "These are really good cookies." Bonus mom points.

While the cookies baked, I watched an interview from 2009 with Jason Bateman on "Inside the Actor's Studio," in which Bateman said there would be a film version of  Arrested Development. Wait, what? Did I miss something or is Jason Bateman just a big fat liar?

At 4 a.m. I was still pretty awake (and salty about Jason Bateman being a liar and all), but I went back to bed anyway. I drifted off around 5 and dreamed that an old friend and I were de-hoarding her mother's house. So it appears as though I accomplished that, too.

I slept about an hour and a half. 
I was awake again at 6:22 a.m. and got up for another day. 
This day. 
And even though my eyes are puffed like Mr. Magoo, and even though I am really tired and will probably be pretty much worthless for the rest of this day, at least I managed to sidestep a lot of the negative, toxic, self-loathing, dark, emotional and psychological turmoil and anxiety that usually shits on my sanity while I'm lying helpless and hopelessly awake for hours and hours on end. 

Also, my shoulders look pretty buff.