Saturday, June 19, 2010

What We Mean When We Talk About Tired

I've discovered a new trick to aging better, thinking more clearly, and feeling happier.  It's free (if you don't factor in the opportunity cost of late night Internet surfing) and anyone can do it.  In fact, everyone DOES do it.  It's called...(wait for it)...

Sleeping.

After years of telling myself that I did just fine on 6 hours of sleep and then having to pour three cups of coffee down my throat in the morning in order to do more than grunt, I finally succumbed to the idea that I really did need more sleep.  I started sleeping seven hours a night.  I felt so enlightened.

That is, until I told my nurse practitioner about my right-thinking and fine new habit.  She listened and then she laughed at me.  I was so Washington, she told me between guffaws, so out-of-touch with my body.  Then she enlightened me.  Turns out, a woman my age needs -- you'll never believe it -- NINE hours of sleep a night.

When I tell Successful and Purposeful Washingtonians about this, their usual reaction is to ease away from me and roll their eyes sympathetically.  It's easy to read the message in their eyes (once they stop rolling):  Who would waste nine hours of their day away from their blackberry.

I must admit that I was having a hard time with the nine hour rule -- and I still only made that goal about twice a week.  Then, I got my inspiration from Kate, a blog friend who is recovering from a stroke.  One of her main activities in healing her brain was sleep.  Turns out that when we sleep our brains and bodies heal and rejuvenate -- more than at any other time or from any other activity.  In fact, human growth hormone, the thing that helps keep your cells flexible and productive, is only released in our bodies when we sleep.  Sleep is like our own metabolic and emotional personal trainer -- but without the lycra or the exorbitant hourly rate.

So my nightly routine is different:  Instead of climbing into bed and thinking about all the things I should be doing instead or that I should do tomorrow (what I like to call "the mental hamster run"), I have another custom, one that is both friendlier and healthier for my own darn self.  I switch off the light, snuggle into my pillow, and think to myself, "And now I will sleep.  I will heal and grow stronger through the action of rest."

Ahhhhh.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Something About Critter

An industrious robin couple built a fine nest up in the arms of our outdoor table umbrella about a month ago.  Since I didn't relish the idea of eating on the table underneath their nursery, I moved the nest to a potted hibiscus outside our backdoor. It never occurred to me that the robins would actually choose to have their new family there, exactly one foot outside the glass window in our kitchen, but they did.

All four of the bright blue eggs hatched this weekend, and watching these little birds grow and begin to eat and be cleaned up by their parents has been absolutely fascinating.  Every morning, while mama bird is getting breakfast, I take a few quick pictures. This was the scene at about 8AM, in between the regurgitated worm entree and some tasty bugs.  Yum!