After a full week of conquering mornings, I got home from work yesterday and discovered that I was one knackered knight last night. This might be the first time in Randy history that I’ve woken up at 6 am every morning for a week. This is definitely the first time I’ve woken up at 6 am and exercised and meditated every morning for a week.
I read an article recently about the behaviors of happy people. It’s a long list and way too much to keep track of if you’re trying to cultivate these behaviors from scratch, but one of the things that stuck with me is that really happy people celebrate the small stuff. Having all of the 5 tasks done, I celebrated a week of early morning action with an evening of inaction—a rest, a night off from the writing.
The subtleties of this are big. I used to get home on Fridays and celebrate just getting through the week with the following actions: drinking one or two bottles of wine, eating some bad food, and other miscellaneous active pursuits of anything sloth-like. What I thought was a reward for survival, though, actually turned out to be something quite different. It was numbing, not rewarding, and it directly contributed to Saturdays being harder.
Something flipped in my head last night, though, when I got home. I still got home and did slightly similar actions, but the nature of the actions changed, as did the reason for them. It wasn’t the action of drinking and eating that was the reward, it was the inaction, the rest. Tons of bad food and liquor would have prevented me from enjoying that rest, from really sinking down into it and using it to recharge. I had two glasses of wine with a reasonable amount of dinner, watched a movie, and was in bed at 11. I rested. And this morning I feel refreshed and ready for the day, instead of hung-over and terrified of the weekend.
On Day 20, I was up again 5-minutes before the alarm and went for a 30-minute run around the park. I’m still using the couch-to-5K method, and this day was considerably harder instead of easier. Not sure why that was. I was a little frustrated, but I decided not to give myself a hard time about it. “I decided not to give myself a hard time about it.” I didn’t even know that was possible.
I meditated for 15 minutes again. Before this week, I was up to 20 minutes, and I felt like this week was a little bit of a backslide. I wanted to get more in today, but needed to get to work early, so I took a couple of 5-minute chunks at work to close my eyes and focus on my breath.
I think the best part of this experiment (if I can pat myself on the back for a moment) has been my willingness to stay flexible. I can be pretty rigid sometimes, so I’m not sure where this spirit is coming from, but it’s been incredibly helpful. Normally the meditation thing would have gone like this, “Randy, you meditated last week for 20-minute sessions, and now you’re back down to 15? That’s not how it’s done. You’re obviously failing at this so you have two options: get up even earlier which will be horrible and you won’t do it, or you quit. Up to you. Either way you suck.” My internal, evil whale loves to tell me that there are only two options to any given situation. Whatever this new creature is that has entered the picture can fortunately think way more creatively. I hope he or she identifies itself soon because I think we can be pretty good friends.
3 things I’m grateful for:
1) Seeing for myself that it’s never too late to change
2) The tiny market down the street that saves me when I’m too tired for the grocery store. Market, I don’t even mind that you’re at the bottom of a steep hill that I have to re-climb after visiting you. It’s ok. You’re worth the effort. And your name is Mama’s. Which fits. Because you provide. Thanks, Mama.
3) Apple TV and access to any movie I could ever want to watch.
Reflect on something good that happened
See my introduction to this post. The thing that happened was good. And I was thinking about it and reflecting on it as it happened, so I could experience the goodness of it all smack dab in the middle of its happening. That’s it. I’m high-fivin’ myself.
Random act of kindness
I’ve been wanting to do something kind for MawMaw. I know this whole experiment is dedicated to her, but I’ve been wanting something more direct. I haven’t really known what that could be until Day 20.
I mentioned in a previous post that she ultimately died from Pancreatic Cancer. What I didn’t say is that she was also struggling with Alzheimer’s before the cancer was discovered. I had a particularly hard time with this. Living so far away, the gradual effects of the disease weren’t normalized for me, nor did they seem so gradual. Weekly phone calls became scary. One week she would forget that I was an adult and talk to me like a five-year-old (complete with baby talk voice), the next week she would think I was my father, and then the following week she’d seem totally fine. I’m ashamed to admit this, but my weekly calls got less weekly. In true depressed-Randy fashion, I wanted to hide and numb. I was scared.
But I also wanted her to know that I was there somehow. My grandmother always loved owls. She had owl brooches, owl blankets, even an owl rug that she hung on the wall. Some serious owl love. During this Alzheimer period I sent her a snow globe with an owl inside of it, and she kept it on a table near her sickbed.
After she died and the family was figuring out who gets what, I declined to take the snow globe. I didn’t want the reminder of that period, so I told a cousin she could have it. This was a mistake. What I failed to realize then was that that owl watched over her; that it was a symbol for me and for her that I was there in those hard, uncomfortable, terrible times. And though I was scared to talk to her as frequently, scared of what new thing would announce itself and take another piece of her away from me, that owl was my proxy, something bigger than my fear.
So my act of kindness on Day 20 is a kindness for both of us. I asked for the snow globe back. I feel bad taking away something I gifted to my cousin, but I feel it’s important to honor the whole of my grandmother and her experience, and the whole of myself – the coward and the mensch.