Day 8 – Sleepy thoughts

When I can’t sleep, it’s usually because there’s something my brain just doesn’t want to let go of.

Isn’t that always the reason?

It might be some issues lodged in my mind from work, a running list of random to-do items that I’m afraid I’ll forget, or some random line of worry that revolves around the health and emotional development of my kids–like whether the coughing fit that just erupted in Cadence’s room is the natural byproduct of the dry winter air or the beginnings of a bout of bronchitis.

Most nights it’s a damn miracle my brain shuts down long enough to get any real sleep at all.

There was a time when I used to keep a dream journal. Nothing fancy, just a notebook and pen placed close enough to my bed that I could reach out and grab it easily in those moments I hung in that fuzzy space between my dreams and waking, those moments when I could still remember some of the details. It’s honestly an exercise I wish I’d kept up.

I learned a lot about myself by analyzing the patterns and paying attention to the things my dreaming mind bubbled to the surface. I learned that I dream of storms and tornadoes during times of high stress and upheaval in my life. In the dreams, I’m never afraid of the storms. Instead, there’s a heightened and palpable feeling of responsibility and focus. I find myself taking charge, ushering others to safety, and then always turning around at the last moment to stand up and face the storm (or maybe to stand up in spite of it) and get one last good look before it blows over.

Funny what your dreams can teach you about yourself if you just learn to pay attention.

Project Life 365 – Day 60 – You Today

After a long night plagued by bizarre dreams and a few sleepwalking episodes (or rather, sleep-bolting-up-in-bed-and-scaring-the-shit-out-of-myself episodes, including one where I actually sat up and turned on my bedside lamp before waking up completely), this was pretty much me today…

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Three cups of coffee couldn’t even get me up to full speed, folks, and that’s a rarity. But I survived, and it actually ended up being a pretty productive day.

Let’s just hope tonight is a bit more restful.

Project Life 365 – Day 54 & 55

I posted these two photos on facebook, but wanted to share here too, for anyone who is keeping up with my Project Life 365.

Day 54 – When I Grow Up

At this point, I don’t know what Cadence will be when she grows up–an artist, a rock star, an actress, a stuntwoman. What I do know is that whatever she decides to be when she grows up, she’s going to be AWESOME at it. ūüôā

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Day 55 – Good Night

Anyone who knows Cadence knows that this is one kid who hasn’t been able to fall asleep in public (or anywhere other than a dark, quiet room) since her infancy. Seriously people, it’s like she feeds off other people’s energy. This kid can go full speed from the moment she wakes up, all day long, no nap, running and playing and dancing until the early morning hours (like she did at several weddings this past year) and never run out of battery. If I could find a way to bottle that energy, I’d be a gajillionaire for sure.

So, when Cadence crawled up into my lap and surprisingly began to doze, you know I couldn’t miss the opportunity to document it.

Good night my little Energizer Bunny…

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Project Life 365 – Day 44 – Steps

Break it down to its most basic, and life is just a series of steps.

From the moment we are born until the moment we die, we are moving, nudged along whether we like it or not with every second that ticks by on the clock.

Some people fight it, wasting their lives trying to cling to all of the things that inevitably move away from them. Others rush foolishly forward, without even considering the consequences.

The trick is to find the balance and appreciate the journey.

Sometimes, it’s just hard to stay focused.

Life is full of hardships, obstacles, frustrations. We move forward, fall back, stumble. We make dumb choices, start down dangerous paths that take us farther and farther away from our goals and dreams. We backtrack. We burn bridges, and mend others. We find ourselves moving in directions we swore we’d never go.

Sometimes we walk so far so fast we hardly remember where we came from. Sometimes we waste a whole lot of time and energy spinning in circles and making ourselves sick. Sometimes we get trampled and suffocated by the crowd. And other times we have to face our deepest fears and forge a path alone.

The thing I’ve learned about life is that we all have a destination. What we don’t have is a roadmap to get there.

And that’s really the point of it all isn’t it? The journey. The choices we make.

I learned the hard way (the very, VERY hard way) what happens when you get lost. I got so lost, so far off track, that I honestly believed the only option left was to give up. Funny thing about that depth of darkness though…even the tiniest pinpoint of light, even the faintest glimmer of hope is enough to turn around. All you need is one tiny thread to hold onto to begin pulling yourself up out of the abyss.

See, the Universe will always give you the signs you need to keep moving in the right direction. Of course it does! We are all here on this earth to fulfill our own personal potentional, to be the absolute best that we can be. Sure, we’re dealt a certain set of circumstances, and some of us have a much more difficult hand to play. But we all have issues. Every single one of us.

Truth is, we’re all “broken” in one way or another.

Maybe we can’t read as well as someone else. Maybe we’re genetically predisposed to obesity or cancer. Maybe we’re born without something, or with something extra. Maybe we can’t hear or can’t see color or can’t see at all. Maybe we had a shitty childhood or suffered an abusive relationship. Maybe we never had enough to eat. Maybe we always got everything we ever wanted, but never learned how to value anything at all.

The unfortunate thing is that too many of us have bought into this idea that our circumstances are enough to hold us back. We’ve begun to believe that being broken can beat us.

Truth is, the only thing that can beat you is you.

Truth is, we all have a destination. We all have a purpose. We all have a very unique reason for being put here on this earth.

No one can ever live like you. No one can ever be you or take your place. Your potential, your absolute best, your soul is yours and yours alone. So what an unimaginable waste to throw it away. What a waste to give up, to give in, to say “I know I could probably do better, but I’m just so tired.”

Bullshit.

We all get tired. We all get to a point where we feel weighed down by the burdens in our lives. We all sometimes feel like we can’t possibly go on.

And that is the moment when you will take the most important step in your life. That is the moment when you make a choice.

So, take a moment and look around. Appreciate this extraordinary moment you’re living right now. Appreciate the blessings, and the hardships too, for they have taught you so very much. I promise, the Universe will give you a sign, a nudge in the right direction. But it’s up to you to follow it.

Be still.

Listen.

Now, take the next step, and keep going…

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365 Project – Day 275 – Start Digging

Okay, I know I have already posted several pictures of my daughter digging or playing in the dirt¬†in other blog posts, but I just can’t help myself. Every time I see her plop her butt down in a pile of dirt to play, I can’t help but imagine myself as a child, doing the exact same thing.

See, I had quite an obsession with digging when I was a kid too. I fancied myself a Goonie, and just knew there there was some hidden treasure out there just waiting for me to uncover it. After exploring every nook and cranny of the houses my family lived in and not finding anything that resembled an old treasure map or one of One-Eyed Willie’s Spanish doubloons, my adventure seeking often led me to the next logical place where the rich stuff could be hiding–under ground.

Armed with a shovel and a hoe from Dad’s garage, I would begin my excavation. Once I even conned one of my friends into joining my cause, and by the time Mom got home from work, the backyard of our rental house¬†was beginning to resemble¬†the outskirts of Camp Green Lake from the movie Holes.

Yeah, that one got me grounded. And it definitely wasn’t as fun filling those holes back in again.

Alas, I never did find the rich stuff, but I can’t say I didn’t give it a good try. In the end, the thrill of the hunt was probably a whole lot more fun anyway, because I got to create, and I got to imagine, and I got to dream. And never once in all that time did I complain that I was bored. If doing a few extra loads of dirty laundry means that my daughter is being an active participant in life and exercising her imagination, then I would say the trade off is worth it, because there are few things that drive me crazier than people complaining that they are bored.

Bored? Really? Who are you? And what do you do to have so many extra hours in your day that you can actually be bored? And if you truly are, please feel free to drop by my house, because I have about 167 things for you to do that could rid you of that boredom real quick.

If you’re still bored after crossing every item off the list, then it’s time to¬†head out there and start searching for¬†some buried treasure because, if you ask me, boredom is just a side effect of a broken imagination, and what can be worse than that?

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to living a boredom-free life, with an active body and an active mind. Otherwise, isn’t life is just a colassal waste of time? So, get out there friends, and start digging.

365 Project – Day 243 – Do Dogs Dream of Rabbits and Treats?

I’ve always been fascinated by dreams, and I don’t mean the someday I dream of writing more bestsellers than Stephen King kind of dreams. I’m talking about the¬†standing naked in front of the classroom, falling off a cliff, being chased by an invisible monster wearing cement shoes and a technicolor coat sort of dreams. I’m talking about the dreams that haunt us while we sleep, playing behind our eyelids in bursts of disjointed scenes and vaguely recognizable characters, dreams leave us confused and sometimes downright dizzy when we awaken. Sort of like the movies Cabin Fever or The Happening–you know there is something going on, maybe even something important, but you just can’t seem to unscramble the mess and figure out what it is.

My dream obsession likely stems from the fact that one of my earliest memories is a dream I had when I was just 4 years old, a dream that was so vivid that I somehow managed to sleepwalk out of my room, through the kitchen, down the stairs on the back porch to the back door. I remember standing at the back door, looking out into the moonlit darkness, watching a blondish woman walking near our garage, as though she was searching for something. In the dream, she was my mother, and I knew she was looking for me. Frantically, I unlocked the door and opened it. I had taken one step outside when my Mom caught me, woke me, and took me back to bed.

Yeah, that dream stuck with me.¬†Eight years later, I found out I was adopted. And ten years after that,when I met my birthmother for the first time, I couldn’t help noticing that she looked an awful lot like the woman from my dream.

In high school, I¬†studied different theories on sleep and dreams. I even kept a dream journal for several years, where I learned that I often dream of my teeth crumbling and falling out whenever I’m having trouble in my personal relationships, and I dream of tornadoes and¬†tend to sleepwalk¬†and sleeptalk when I am overly stressed.

When I taught high school English, I¬†opened¬†my unit on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with an introduction to dreams and¬†a great little visualization exercise called “The Cube” to help my students better understand the power of dreams and symbolism. I had to smile at the way their eyes widened in shock and disbelief as we worked through the exercise. And I laughed as several¬†of them called¬†me “Miss Cleo” for weeks after.

For anyone who thinks that dreams and the symbols within are just a bunch of hokey garbage leftover from the events of the day, I dare you to keep a dream journal for a few months and keep notes about what is going on in your life at the same time. You just might be amazed at what your sleeping mind is trying to tell you.

That being said, I find myself wondering, just what is it that my dog, Electra, dreams about?

In this case, she may have dreamt that she landed in Lilliput and was being terrorized by the mini-citizens driving their motor cars up and down her spine, thanks to Cadence deciding that our dozing hound made a perfect racetrack for her little purple car.

But what about all the other dreams? I mean, I’ve owned and been around dogs all my life and I’ve never known a dog that dreams as often or as dramatically as Electra. It starts with a huff and a puff and some twitching. Her tail begins to thump rhythmically. Her eyes roll around, and sometimes even open completely. She snorts and wheezes and whines. Sometimes she barks. Sometimes she growls. And, on several occasions, she has scared Steven and I out of a dead sleep by howling loudly and sounding almost human. One night, we both swore we heard her yell, “I need squirrel!” in frighteningly plain English.

Since then, she can pretty much sleep wherever she wants. Because if she knows how to speak coherent English, then we’re pretty sure she has the capacity to gather a canine army and take over the world if she ever gets motivated, and we want to make sure we stay on her good side. If that means occasionally waking up to find her droopy face sharing my pillow, that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

I just wish could get a glimpse what she is seeing behind those tired doggy eyes.

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to our dear dreaming Electra. Sleep well, my pet. May your dreams be filled with slow-moving bunnies and mountains of peanut butter treats.