Thursday, November 26, 2009

Potato Potahto, Tomato Tomahto

When I think of the Thanksgiving holiday and its origin, I think of the Pilgrims and their harvest celebration. I’ve always sort of thought as the holiday as a reminder to think about the Pilgrims, their hardships and all they did to forge a life in a harsh wilderness. In today’s society, Thanksgiving has become many things: a holiday to gorge oneself with food, a holiday to watch football, a holiday that marks the beginning of the holiday season (and its shopping) – basically it’s a holiday, a day off from work and school. At our house, we always spend a few minutes before our meal going around the table and each saying what we are thankful for, but the overall idea of thankfulness has, I believe, taken a backseat to the Pilgrim images and today’s eating/football/shopping mentality. Even when I think about the reason for the holiday, I again go back to remembering the Pilgrims. Yesterday, my friend Rose sent an email saying, “We are certainly lucky to live in a country that dedicates a holiday every year solely to being thankful for all that we have and enjoy.” No reference to Pilgrims, food or football; just thankfulness (aka gratitude). So, today I am going to celebrate Gratitude Day. We’ll still do our Thanksgiving Day traditions: early morning Turkey Trot, hot croissants for breakfast afterwards, maybe some football on TV, traditional turkey dinner this evening and a mention before dinner of what we are each thankful for – and maybe this is just a matter of semantics: thanksgiving vs. gratitude, but the words evoke different emotions for me. So, today I’m not going to think in terms of Thanksgiving Day; I’m going to think in terms of Gratitude Day. I am going to go through the day truly thinking about all that I have to be grateful for. If you are here at my house, you probably won’t even know that I’m having my own special experience – except, perhaps, for the goofy little grin I’ll be wearing on my face. Happy Gratitude Day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Midnight at the Oasis?

For the second night in a row, I rolled over, looked at the clock numbers projected on the ceiling and, AARRGH, it’s the middle of the night. Whenever I wake-up in the middle of the night with the feeling that it must be morning, only to find that it’s 1:00 a.m., 2:00 a.m. or, as was the case tonight, 12:15 a.m., I feel a helpless, irritated sigh rise within me. Sometimes I wake-up, look at the clock, roll over and go back to sleep; those times I’m not really awake – and I know it. Other times, like last night and tonight, I know as soon as I feel consciousness that I am really awake. I’ve tried simply staying in bed – that rarely works; it usually becomes a rock-n-roll tussle with the sheets. I’ve tried reading in bed – that disturbs my husband who rarely struggles with middle of the night consciousness. I found sleeping pills to be quite helpful – and gained 20 pounds while using them. I found a CD called zMusic that helped lull me back to sleep, but – husband, again. So, I usually just get up. I try not to do anything overly exerting or exciting; the idea is, after all, to try to get to the point of sleepiness again. I usually make myself a cup of decaf tea and then I either read or play computer games (Freecell is my favorite). Tonight, I had the song Midnight at the Oasis running through my head. Maybe I need to look at my house as an oasis to be enjoyed in the middle of the night. I looked up the lyrics – something about camels, sheiks and a cactus pointing the way – that starts to sound like a Salvadore Dali painting and isn’t what I need to get myself back to sleep. I’d blame this on the “M” word, but this has been a lifelong affliction for me; I’ve prowled the house while everyone else slept for as long as I can remember.

Actually, I sort of enjoy the quiet in the middle of the night. Even though I’d rather be snuggled into bed, fast asleep, I feel a sort of peacefulness at this hour. Maybe this is just my normal rhythm and the only reason it’s a problem is because the alarm clock that goes off too early when I’ve spent a couple of my sleeping hours not actually sleeping. I guess the day will come when it won’t be necessary to set an alarm clock, when it won’t really matter that I’ve been up in the middle of the night. Maybe that’s one of the ways that aging will feel comfortable to me; I’ll be able to accommodate my own rhythms rather than fighting them. Maybe I’ll just enjoy this time right now and turn the alarm clock off in the morning. Maybe this really is an oasis in my busy day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fake It 'Til You Feel It!

I’m not the originator of that phrase, but it certainly has been my mantra for the last two weeks. This fall has been amongst the most stressful times in my life; two weeks ago I found myself ground down to the point where I wasn’t feeling joy – and that’s not like me! I had begun my holiday preparations (I like to be organized so that I can enjoy the holiday season), but I was just moving through the process; I wasn’t feeling the spirit of the season. That’s when I decided to just fake it ‘til I felt it. I grabbed my red and green reusable shopping bags and I headed to the mall with a fake smile on my face. At home, I squeezed out some fake creative juices and began working on our Christmas cards. I planned and cooked dinners (real food, not fake) so that our family could sit down together in the evening and I faked it ‘til I felt it!

The stress isn’t gone and I have had moments, hours, half-days of slumping back into the hole without joy, but then I repeat my mantra (usually in my head so that people don’t look at me funny, but if I am with my husband I say it aloud because he is working on faking it, too) and I must say that faking joy feels better than no joy and the more I fake it, the more I feel it.