TV or not TV
If you decide that watching TV won’t be too en-light-ening for you (sorry), make certain you watch something pleasant on TV, not something wild and exciting and action filled that will stay with you, “If only he’d slammed that opponent into the boards, he would have gotten the goal.” Make it something that you know will have a satisfying, soothing, calm (boring?) ending so when you go to bed, you’ll have a peaceful, easy feeling to start with as you begin to file away.
File away? What’s she talking about? “To file away”?
Believe it or not, our brains spend most of the night filing away our day’s activities. (Yup. Our bodies are on their own drugs and our brains are Suzie Secretaries.) Once everything has been filed away to the satisfaction of our amygdalae, we can drift away into sweet dreams.
There she goes again. Amygdalae? What the hell is that?
I like to refer to my amygdalae (singular, amygdala) as the little guard dogs in my brain. We’ve all got them. I wrote about them in my book, How to Write a Book: Park It, Get to Work,* but here, I’ll just provide a link.
The amygdalae like to make their own decisions based on stuff that scared the sh*t out of them when we were little kids. They remember that stuff for.e.ver! That’s why we have dreams. Nightmares! Things get symbolized easily in our heads. Even forgotten. I knew a guy who could shoot the neighbor’s dog one day, sleep on it, and wake up the next morning and it never happened. Yep, his amygdalae were that good.
But most of us are kind, loving people without a single psychotic twitch in our minds. And we can re-program our amygdalae. They ain’t gonna like it, but it most certainly can be done. (Chaos Addicts take note.) This can be done through what is called “breaking our programming.” I did it. Anybody can. Like everything else, we just have to want to. (The magic wand is “want.”)
Now. Where was I? Ah.
What we do when we go to sleep is file the day’s activities and after that’s done, we can drift into calm, healing sleep. If we have watched something disturbing or overly exciting on TV that is keeping us thinking about it, our Suzie Secretary needs to spend time trying to file that. (She might even give up and just bury it in a hidden spot where it will eventually cause havoc to our health. Anything not filed away properly will fester.)
NOTE: If we miss sleep and don’t do our filing, it will continue to pile up and pile up and pile up… But, according to my shrink of old, we can catch up on missed sleep (filing) but it can take days, weeks, even months.
Some of the shows I like to watch before bedtime—and I record everything—are: cooking competition shows and sometimes those shows in which these big whonking tow trucks (“rotators”) haul 18-wheelers out of the ditch in BC or on Hwy 401. Another one I like is American Ninja Warrior. Believe it or not, American Ninja Warrior is rather uplifting. Exciting, but uplifting. There’s little to file away for any of these shows: (1) they always have a happy ending, and (2) I’m not personally involved.
I do not listen to the news before bedtime, or anything like that. Because these things are “real” (high stress levels), it takes Suzie longer to file them away. Even if I want to know the next day’s weather, I ask Alexa: “Alexa? What’s the weather tomorrow?” I rarely go onto Facebook in the evenings for the same reason. Cooking competition shows, tow trucks drivers helping people (and each other), and American Ninja Warrior, etc. are my big girl bedtime stories.
A spiritual counsellor once told me that if something in my life is bothering me, write it on a piece of paper and set fire to it before going to bed. I don’t think that would work because then I’d be worrying all night whether or not I put the fire out. Great concept, though. Perhaps we could write it mentally on a mental piece of paper? Someone else suggested this “piece of paper” could be set on an altar. A “mental” altar.
But I Keep Waking Up
Let’s make our minds plan projects during those times we awaken.
When our mind starts wandering off into Worryland (Amygdalae Land?), our sleep (= our health) is greatly affected in a negative way. It ages us before our time.
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a writer. When I wake up in the middle of the night, I work on the next section of my current work in progress or try to think of what my next book could be about. That always puts me to sleep. Work, eh? 😊
I used to be an avid knitter so I would plan projects in my head. (I liked to design my own patterns.) This might work for the non-writers among us.
Our amygdalae like us to join them when they rehash all those “horrible scary things” we “put them through” during the day. (Nightmares.) They need to exaggerate so they can keep us in Terror Mode. Keeping us in Terror Mode makes it much easier to control what we do; they like to keep things exactly the same way things have always been. “No changes, please! I will surely DIE if you change anything!” Tell them to go take a hike. Or tell them, “There, there. Everything’s under control. We got this.” Maybe tell them you’re busy re-designing the Suez Canal in your head, or something. And then do that.
Oh. One fun thing I like to do is try to spend a billion dollars. And no, you don’t give it away to charity or go on trips with it (right away, at least), you build homeless shelters; you design your new house with its servants’ quarters (mine would require that I convince four of my neighbors to let me buy their houses and tear them down to make room for my gigantic new one—I like my neighborhood, I don’t want to leave it); you figure out how to set up the schedules for the bodyguards—and how many bodyguards—you’re going to be needing 24/7 without having to make any of them work overtime; and they need yearly vacations and sick days and kids-are-sick days; same thing with the chauffeurs you’re going to be needing; you add as many two-, three- or four-bedroom apartments required for your now-enormous staff (and NOT minimum-wage staff, either, right?) and their families to live in… (This is already making me nod off and I’m not even in bed!)
Is It Easy?
We can’t just “get into the habit” of going to bed and falling asleep right away. We must change entire thought processes. We’ve programmed ourselves—been programmed?—to live a certain way. A way we don’t have to anymore. (See, breaking our programming above.)
Remember: For us old dolls, there’s no such thing as weekends anymore. Or “regular” meals that were geared to school and work schedules. Let’s change it up! Let’s celebrate. Let’s spend as much time in the sun (the schedule of the Sun) as we can! And especially, let’s sleep well.
Over the next few posts, I’ll cover more routines that will help free us from routine: little tricks I’ve learned over the years to save time and energy for things other than cooking and cleaning. (Hint: “Cooking” and “Cleaning” are two of the Cs in 3Cs.)
However, I have only so many [I hope unique] ideas to share. There’s no point in sharing hints that every one of us old ladies was trained to do by the time we were twelve years old. But I’ll try.
These routines of mine allow me time to do what I like to do for fun:
I do volunteer work for a dog-rescue group and just received one of their annual, time-sensitive projects a couple of days ago.
I have started writing a new book. (Between Kesk8a books, I usually write something in another genre.) Working title of this one is “Maureen Has a Problem.” Maureen is, like me, in her seventies. Like me, she has tackled dating sites. She finally finds one she likes but she accidentally kills him by sneaking a certain “enhancement” into his wine. And now, with the help of her BFF, she has to dispose of the body. But if Maureen thought that was her biggest problem, she’s got another think coming.
And I simply MUST get back into ancestry. I set it aside a couple of years ago to get Book #3 of my Kesk8a series done and to get going on #4.† #4 is at my editor’s as we speak. (Yay!) I’ll be starting Kesk8a #5 maybe end of December. I have to squeeze ancestry in there somewhere! Since The Plague had folks staying in lockdown, I am seeing many, many more lovely little leaves on my tree. (On the ancestry.com site, a leaf = a hint.) I can almost hear my neglected tree singing the popular song from that now extremely politically incorrect old movie, Rose Marie: How did that go? Oh, to paraphrase: “I am calling you ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh.” And “I must answer too ooh ooh ooh ooh.”
This week’s tip: Nighttime Routines/Sleep Aids, Part 2.
Until next time.
†Book #4 in the Kesk8a series is Hanged for l’Acadie. Two more books in the series to go then no more self-torture researching things done to the Indigenous peoples and to my ancestors, the Acadians, ca. 1680–1755 back in l’Acadie/Nova Scotia. https://www.amazon.ca/Death-lAcadie-Kesk8a-Sherrill-Wark/dp/1511501154/ref=sr_1_11?dchild=1&keywords=sherrill+wark&qid=1625230461&sr=8-11
Illustrations from https://www.needpix.com/
Photos by Sherrill Wark