I’m a night owl. When I think back, I guess I always have been. The fact that I’m also a teeeeny bit on the obsessive side has a little something to do with it.
For instance, I’ve always loved to read. Normally someone will read until “bedtime”, slap a bookmark in, and pick up where they left off the next evening. Nope. I remember even way back to my grade school years staying up half the night to finish a book I’d been reading.
I don’t like being told what to do. I don’t like rules. And apparently, I don’t like a predetermined “bedtime”.
Having been a single mom who worked from home and had very active kids, I savored the quiet time after they were asleep, and usually extended it into the wee hours of the morning.
Throughout my life, even after my kids were grown and even after I had remarried at 50, I still continued that routine. I’ve owned few online businesses, and discovered that I did my best work after 11 p.m. No phone calls, no texts, no emails that needed immediate replies. I could focus better without interruptions, and my time was my own.
I’m sure you’re asking by now, “so where are you going with this?”. Well, here’s the deal. Lately I’ve been thinking that I may not be able to stay up half the night anymore, and function on just 3-4 hours of sleep. Wha-a-a-t? I know – to most this is a no-brainer. To me, it was a shock.
I’d been waking up tired (a lot of times late in the morning), and was annoyed as soon as I saw the clock because I’d lost half my morning. I’d go through the day in a pissy mood, draggin’ ass, not feeling like exercising, irritable, grabbing a handful of…whatever any time I passed through the kitchen, and feeling every single one of my 63 years. I drug myself through my days only to stay up late again that night. It was a vicious cycle.
Every night I’d make my to-do list for the next day (I’m a major list-maker). It started at 7 am: Get dressed. Walk. Shower. Water plants. Clean up kitchen. Make bed.
During my supposed “focused” time while I was writing my list, it all seemed so doable. I loved that my chores and exercise would be done by 8:15, then I’d start my work day. But like the saying goes, “It looks good on paper”.
Each day I’d get up late, and right off the bat be behind. With emails already piled up needing attention, calls needing to be returned, decisions needing to be made, I was forced to start eliminating things on my to-do list. Guess which item never made the cut? You guessed it. Exercise.
I’d beat myself up for what I hadn’t gotten done, and stress out about what I still needed to do. My mind was very rarely in the present moment. I couldn’t focus on getting one thing done, because I was distracted by the bazillion other things dancing around in my head, or scattered across my desk.
My husband, who’s a schedule person, has been trying to convince me for years that I’d have more energy and be more productive if I went to bed earlier “like most people”, and got up earlier in the morning. I’m not one that’s good with schedules or restrictions. I have trouble doing something because it’s what “most people” do, or because “it’s good for me”. So I basically told him to mind his own beeswax.
In my mind I’m still 40, but this ol’ body hasn’t seen 40 in quite a few years, and I knew that sitting all day at my computer wasn’t doing it any favors. I was well aware that I needed to exercise and take care of myself, and not doing it was stressing me out. I knew I needed to make a change or I was going to stroke out.
So this morning, I got up at sunrise, put on the cool Nike’s my daughters gave me, and planned on taking a quick walk. It was already warm out, but not hot. It was quiet.
When I headed out my driveway and clicked START WORKOUT on my Map My Walk phone app, I had the normal chaos filling my head, but after a block or two, the chatter quieted a bit and I started to actually look around me. As the sun came up, I noticed how incredibly clear and blue the sky was. I could smell the flowers in the yards I was passing. I was aware of the birds and the sounds around me. Even though I was walking at a pretty fast pace, it seemed effortless. That thought filled me with gratitude that I’m physically able to walk without pain.
That one thought started a snowball effect. Instead of the usual mental lists, my head was filled with only thoughts of gratitude. I was grateful for the life I’d been given and that I’m still here to live it when so many others weren’t able to.
And it continued…I was grateful that my kids are all healthy and happy, that I’m still madly in love with my husband who has stuck with me through the good and the bad. I was thankful for my health, for the work that I’m passionate about and am able to do from home… Our home… My determination… My empathy… Our grandkids… My friends… The closeness that I have with my family.
I didn’t want to stop walking. My body felt strong and my mind uncluttered. For 30 minutes, I’d found quiet and peace within myself.
Returning rested and clear-headed, I realized I got more out of my half hour walk this morning than the four hours I normally spend, late at night, in my quest for quiet time. I loved being in the moment. I hadn’t visited it in a very long time.
Damn I hate it when Paul’s right.
So I suggest to you, take a breath today. Look around you. Take a minute and be thankful for what you have. It’s the little things that go unnoticed, the things you don’t see that you take for granted. Acknowledge them. Don’t live so strongly in the past or the future that you aren’t able to see the present. Life is short.
Until next time…