Thursday, 11 June 2009

Sleep tight...or not.

Okay, so the decaf tea before bed-time doesn’t work either. Neither does the hot camomile, catnip, anise or fennel tea, hot milk, drinking alcohol, not drinking alcohol. Nothing helps – exercising during the day, not exercising, milky drinks, earplugs, a fan, a mask, reading, listening to music. We invested in a Tempra mattress, (the memory foam mattress developed originally for NASA.) It cost a fortune and is very comfortable in a sinking in, sliding, body moulding kind of way. But it doesn’t help the sleep problem.

I never used to have any difficulty sleeping and it’s not actually getting off to sleep that’s a struggle. I’ve developed a habit over the last couple of years - that’s what it is - it’s simply a habit, but I can’t get out of it. I stir in the night. My brain clicks into action ahead of my eyes that are desperately willing themselves to stay shut. But the brain whirrs and whirrs until I have a ‘virtual list’ of worries, two sides of A4 paper, and there’s not a chance of getting back to sleep. By this time, my eyes won’t stay shut, and will continue to roll open like a Tom and Jerry cartoon until I get up.

Top of the list at 2.30 am today:-
- Amending my internet shopping before the 1pm deadline the day before delivery.
- GCSE Science (my eldest is in the throes of exams.)
- My Take That tickets (when will Ticketmaster send them out.)
- Editorial on the Village Newsletter.
- The opening sentence of my novel.
- The plot of a short story I’m working on.
- Chase the electrician.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but enough to get me out of bed, turn the PC on, make a cup of tea (herbal, of course,) and scribble down yet another ‘To do’ list. If not, I would only lay in bed with my Victor Meldrew head on, becoming more agitated and peeved at not being able to sleep, tossing and turning watching the illuminated clock on the barn ceiling flash at me, and waiting for ‘Puffer Billy’ by the side of me to snore so I can brain him.

Try counting sheep, I hear you say. Counting bouncy, little hyperactive sheep leaping over a fence is never going to work for me. I could hear the little buggers bleating on the field in the middle of the night when I got up. Take it from me, counting sleeping sheep is likely to be much more effective, only not for me.

Everyone I speak to about my problem has a suggestion. Here are some you probably won’t have heard of before:-

Sleep with your head facing north - And unless you have a particularly unusual body, your feet facing south. This aligns your body with the magnetic field of the planet, bringing your own energies into harmony with those of the Earth. Bizarre but apparently true.
Don't Watch TV or Read Before Going to Bed - opposite advice to watching TV or reading before going to bed.
Toe Wiggling – aids relaxation. Hmmm.
Stomach Rubbing – Evidently soothes down the digestive system and helps to bring about a deeper relaxation. An extra benefit is that it will help you to lose weight by improving the functioning of the digestive system. As if.
Progressive relaxation - Feel your feet. Feel the weight of your feet. Feel your feet relax and sink into the bed. Feel your lower legs. Feel the weight of your lower legs. Feel your lower legs relax and sink into the bed. Feel your knees. Feel the weight of your knees. Feel your knees relax and sink into the bed... you get the idea. Mentally scan your body. If you find any place that's still tense, relax it and let it sink into the bed. By the time you feel your hands, you’ll be bored out of your head and glad to get to sleep.
Deep Breathing – in through your nose and out through your mouth. Or is it the other way around?
Visualize Something Peaceful
Visualize Something Boring
Quiet Ears - an ancient Eastern meditation as well as a method of falling asleep. Lie on your back with your hands behind your head, fingers interlocked, and your palms cupping the back of your head. Get as relaxed as possible (it may take a little while to get used to.) Place your thumbs in your ears so that you are pressing the outer flap of your ear and blocking the entrance to the ear canal. Lie quietly and listen for a high-pitched sound that you will gradually hear inside your head. Lay for ten – fifteen minutes, concentrating on that sound. Then put your arms to your sides and go to sleep. (Don't worry about the ringing in your ears – its natural.)
Sex - Alone or with others.
Imagine Coloured animals - Sounds silly but it is supposed to work (just not for me.) Visualize animals in the wrong colours. For example, purple cow, green sheep, red pig, and so on. After coming up with a colour and animal combination, actually visualize it and then I move on to the next one. Coming up with the combinations and then trying to picture the animal is supposed to keep the mind occupied and distracted from whatever stressful thoughts were keeping you awake. Or it will bore you to sleep quickly.
Imagine It's Time to Get Up – works every time.

You see, when I told you I’d tried everything I wasn’t lying. Unfortunately, for me, there are only two options left to try. The first is to buy myself a bottle of ‘Night Nurse’ and have twenty mls every evening before bedtime for the next week in the hope that I can knock myself out and break the habit. It’s as good as sleeping tablets and saves a trip to the doctors.

Alternatively, I could give in to it. When I wake up I don’t lie there and toss and turn. Only use my bed for sleep and sex. The trouble is, there’s not much of the latter either, because I’m too knackered.

Good luck! Pleasant dreams.

Until another day
Bye for now

Saturday, 6 June 2009

We're not worthy

Before you read this, I want you to think of ten positive things about yourself. You will see why by the end of my blog.
A friend gave me a beautiful silk notebook as a gift, about five years ago. The cover is rich, reddish-brown, almost the colour of polished copper with a ‘framed’ panel of sinuous, vertical meandering flowers and acanthus leaves embossed in the middle of the front outer cover. For five years, it has lived on top of my piano alongside my metronome. It stays there, gathering dust, each parchment page as virginal and empty as when it was hand bound. It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend, that I realised why.

Apparently, her sister has a gift for writing poetry and in an attempt to encourage and inspire, F bought her a luxurious notebook for her ideas and notes. After a few weeks, she discovered her sister hadn't used it - the reason, her sister told her, was because it was “too lovely to write in...”

Following lengthy discussions with her sibling and others, F concluded that her sister didn't feel that she was ‘worthy’ of the notebook. It was as if somehow, it was 'too good' and too beautiful for her to write in - that her writing did not measure up to the paper.

I smiled as F recounted the tale and told her about my own notepad - how I hadn't defaced it for fear that my writing would spoil it. It was too beautiful to waste it on my scribbling.

As if to further illustrate the point, I remembered this tale whilst clearing my Nan’s house after she died. Nan always liked to keep a pair of slippers, dressing gown and nightdress ‘for best,’ just in case she had to go into hospital. Why then had she squirreled seven dressing gowns, ten nightdresses, four pairs of slippers and three bottles of Oil of Ulay? In her wardrobe, I found rail after rail of lovely clothes, hardly worn and at least ten garments still with the labels on. On the top of her dressing table sat a whole collection of Helena Rubenstein Apple Blossom – four un-opened spray perfumes, matching soaps, talc, and shower gel - all hardly used. Mind you, I can't talk - I still have a hardly used bottle of Coco Chanel eau de parfum that cost my husband a small fortune when he bought it nearly seven years ago. Well, I only wear it on special occasions-maybe his work Christmas party and my birthday.

So why don’t we indulge and use or spoil ourselves if we have nice things or are given lovely gifts? I feel sure that F’s theory is correct-it is about our feeling of ‘self worth.’

Self worth is different to self-esteem. Self-esteem can go up and down. When I was a Bank Manager, for example, if my Branch and staff achieved our monthly sales targets and received praise, recognition and maybe even financial reward, I would feel good about myself. When we did not, I felt terrible. Self-worth is something you are born with and not changeable. You are worthwhile and have a value – it can’t be taken away from you. You can’t lose it. But you can lose sight of it and forget your own value.

Our feeling of self worth comes from the skills we possess; our achievements and successes, and status including our financial position and even our physical attributes. When we find ourselves not measuring up to society’s criteria for 'worthiness’, we can suffer serious consequences, and our self-worth depreciates dramatically. Of course, nothing eats at self-worth faster than regret, anger or fear. Some of us encounter more than others. For example if we are in an unsatisfactory relationship or have a domineering parent.

From my own experience, the pursuit of perfection and approval steadily drove me further from peace and self-confidence. As a child, I had it drummed in to ‘love my neighbour as myself,’ and not to brag or be selfish. As a teenager, there was a tendency to minimise accomplishments to avoid appearing conceited. By the time, I was an adult I always put the ‘neighbour’ first and had developed a kind of false humility to avoid looking prideful. One of Workaholic Hubby’s biggest criticisms of me is that I ‘put myself down.’ He says I am always doing it, but I can’t help it. I don’t even realise I’m doing it sometimes. Maybe somewhere along the road in my sub-conscious – that perhaps I stopped liking myself, and started to believe I did not deserve anything good - Self-esteem suffered while self-worth was forgotten.
Now back to the question posed in the opening line of my blog. Well, how easily did you reach your target of ten positives about yourself? Would the task have been easier if I had set you ten negatives? I know mine would.

The reality is that loving your neighbour as you would yourself begins with you. You must love and value yourself if you are to love others. You have to respect yourself and acknowledge your own self-worth. You must take care of YOU so that you can love and help your neighbour. Be kind to yourself for it does not make you selfish.

Until another day
Bye for now


Preseli Mags said...
Yes, it was really difficult to think of ten positives. Negatives would be much easier, which is very sad really. That's a very thought-provoking blog, Angel. I know exactly what you mean about the beautiful notebook - I have a very lovely silver photograph album that I have never put any pictures in for the same reason. I think I'll take that as homework!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Faith said...
Excellent blog Angel, and I dived straight in without thinking of 10 positives as I knew it would take me ages! It is similar to another good blog I read recently by, I think, Fire Byrd. I am just starting to realise that at over 50 years of age, I might as well use my stuff as there is no better 'best' than now! Your nan's collection of nighties, olays etc reminded me of exhub2's mother - when she died we cleared out loads of unused goodies. I think she was a hoarder because she had come from such a poor Irish family - no shoes to go to school in - that she couldnt believe that she could now have things. It's very sad. Let's all who read this blog use something 'good' or 'special' that we have been 'saving' this week!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Elizabethd said...
Well written Angel.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

LittleBrownDog said...
Very thoughtful blog, Angel, and so true. I think I got up to about five positives before I got stuck, and I know just what you mean about the beautiful notebooks and barely used bottles of perfume - I'm just the same.

Friday, September 19, 2008

snailbeachshepherdess said...
Ouch - cringeing well here - three gorgeous water colour sketch pads kept flat under the matress for goodness what do I do?
Very thought provoking blog Angel.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Working mum said...
Thought provoking! I came up with four, not good, eh?

But, I think I score Brownie points for this one - I have some beautiful Royal Doulton Crystal wine glasses that we received as a wedding present; I do not save them for best, we use them all the time as I think that is the way to appreciate them. Will that redeem me?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Arcadian Advocate said...
Yours is an interesting blog that I first found today.

Saying 'No' is a vital tool easier to do as we get older, and I am sorry about your Gran, we too have lost someone this year and it is still sharp and raw.
However, the list of 10 things will need to be thought about . First attempt:
kind, empathetic, reliable, knowledgable, funny [I guess this depends on your sense of humour], writes a lot, faithful, loyal, honest and well completely myself. Will that do?

Do please come visit my blog, I am rather new to all this: http;//

Hope to see you soon and enjoyed your blog.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Marianne said...
Hi Angel,
Thanks for visiting my blog.

When my life collasped, we lost our home, car and finally the marriage itself disappeared. It taught me to live every day in the present and not to assume that you will have tomorrow what you have today.
Enjoy it while you can.

Monday, October 06, 2008

CAMILLA said...
A wonderful written post Angel.

I have two notebooks that friend has given me as gifts, and they still remained untouched, so I have learned a lesson there.

I have to agree.... I could easily write negatives rather than positives. Totally agree about love thy neighbour.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Tattie Weasle said...
I confess I have a beautiful notebook that I have not written in as well - hating to despoil it.
Very thought provoking...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

angel said...
Lovely post,i also have a notebook that i "may spoil" if i use it, your post has really made me think.
Thank you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fennie said...
Only just caught up. You would not believe how much of this I recognise.
The trick is perhaps to live life at right angles to events and not in parallel with them. If you live in parallel, it's like being on a wave - you are up and down, up and down, with every bit of praise of criticism that comes your way. But if you live your life at right angles you can become detached and realise that how you feel about yourself is how you decide to feel and not how events make you feel. Very Buddhist and Very Difficult

Sunday, October 12, 2008

toady said...
Only just caught up with this and wow did it ring bells. Being the youngest of 4 and a girl I think praise was a bit thin on the ground in order 'not to spoil me'. Now find it very hard to accept it if any comes my way and can't take criticism either.
Funny lot aren't we.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sally's Chateau said...
Lovely blog, I too have a pristine notebook which I hate to 'spoil' and wise words indeed about valueing yourself.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Exmoorjane said...
I tend to dive in and use my notebooks and then feel I have 'let them down' by not writing good stuff in them. So maybe I'm one step on but still not really there!
I loved this - chimed a chord for sure.