It’s good to be…sleeping

As a teenager I would sleep until mid afternoon. My mother would watch me saunter down the stairs, my hair in disarray, my eyes bloodshot. As my mother would look upon my disheveled form she would say, in a disgusted voice, “I hope you don’t TELL people you sleep this late.” It never made sense to me. Why would anyone care what time I slept until? Was I taking time away from their snooze-fest? Besides, I finally turned off my light and went to sleep around 4 in the morning. So, I was just trying to get my 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. What is wrong with sleeping?

After some intense analysis I realized that my Catholic mother had two problems with my tardy wakening. First, she definitely believed she had a lazy daughter, which was an absolute disability, a handicap so bad that she would never be able to marry me off. Yeah, it was the late 1980s early 1990s, but in her old-ways European life mentality, her goal was all about selling off…ahem…marrying off her daughter to a good family. The second thing was that “sloth” was (and is) one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Not only was her daughter the epitome of laziness, not only would my mom never be able to find me a mate, but when my life finally DID expire on this earth she knew that her beloved spawn would burn in hell forever which ultimately meant she was a bad mother. Everything in my life somehow directly affected her life. That, however, is a story for another day. Actually, it’s more like a novella, but I digress (as usual).

Lazy. I wasn’t lazy. I was tired. Staying up late when the house was nice and quiet was when I got most of my homework done. HA! HOMEWORK! Yeah right. The witching hour was when I would haul the land line phone into my closet and call my boyfriend and we would whisper chat. Or I’d meet my sister by the tv set in the family room at 1 a.m. so we could watch music videos. THAT was definitely banned. One tv in the WHOLE house and limited viewing time.  There were horrible things like “rock videos” and those were very bad because there was nudity (like bald people) and people dressed weird and screaming at you (like Twisted Sister, We’re Not Gonna Take It which was definitely devil’s work. Hmmm, come to think of it, most of the stuff that was FUN was devil’s work. All this banned stuff made sense (sort of), but sleep…being bad?

Now, back to my original tale of my teenage obsession with sleep.  The reason I liked sleeping so much was that I finally had my very own room which contained my very own double (nowadays called “full”) bed.  There were 4 of us children. We lived in a very large 4 bedroom home. Now here is how bed/bedroom assignments worked in our house.  Parental figures had one of the 4 bedrooms.  That left 3 bedrooms for 4 children. Initially my younger brother and I shared a room, but as we went from toddler to tween the whole boy/girl in same room was not an option. So, my parents put me and my sister together in a room.  It was great!  She is 5 years older than me.   At that time she was so excited that her little sister was sharing HER room and asking questions about HER teenage stuff.  And her little sister would not shut the hell up at night because wee sister came alive at bedtime.  Big sister decided that there needed to be some rules:  No more asking questions about her teenage girl stuff.  No talking at bedtime.  No tossing and turning in the squeaky bed.  No looking at older sister.  No using big sister’s stuff.  Little sis allowed in room ONLY at bedtime.  Oh, little sister must learn not to breathe cause that was annoying too.  After a few days of this sisterly love-fest, I got to vacate.  I went from pauper to princess and got my very own room.

(Sidenote:  My older brother…who is even older than my sister, had to share a room with baby brother…9 years younger.  I don’t think my big brother has ever forgiven me for having him displaced from his solitary haven.) 

Anyway, back to my original tale of the zombie teen in the kitchen.  I thought about the whole “lazy” thing and then thought about how the bible actually referred to this particular sin as “sloth”. Sloths were super cool. I had seen one once while watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. (That was the show we had to watch first in order to be allowed to watch the Magical World of Disney. It was a trade off: Learn, then laugh.) But this day was totally worth it cause sloths are incredibly amazing! They look like they are smiling ALL THE TIME! Like a big teddy bear. And they love hugging tree branches which means they love hugs and I love hugs so I was definitely the epitome of sloth-dom.

I tried to explain this thought process to my mother. The whole laziness = sloth = happy animal = GOD LOVES EVERYONE! That last one was always my go to response when my parents poo-pooed people. I used it if my parents didn’t like one of the neighbour kids, “but God loves everyone.”  Or I’d try this one:  Jesus even said to ‘love thy neighbour’.  I could almost hear their eyes rolling at me.  To be fair, I was trained in Commando Verbal Warfare by the best of the best: My Mother.  In the end, I was informed that God could love these people at their own houses and we could love people from afar and sloth and laziness were still bad.  I would still pat myself on the back for the good effort I had put forward.  I wouldn’t win the battle, but hoped to win the war.  Time passed.

As an adult in my partying 20s, I managed to get, maybe 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night. Not sure how I coped or functioned, but I managed to drive my car, do daily work assignments, and basically function like a normal human being. After aging and graduating into the upper echelons of adult society, thoughts of partying were put the wayside because the one thing I cherished most was once again, the nestling of my head into my down and feather pillow and watching my digital clock on weekends as it went from 6 am to 8 am to 9 am to double digits like 10 am and 11 am. Each time I checked the time I would smile, contentedly.  No guilt.  No thoughts of laziness.  I prefer to call it a luxury.  Get it while you can and enjoy it.  Snuggle yourself into your blankets and dream those happy dreams.  No need to get dressed.  No need to run around and think about errands.  It’s the best de-stresser. 

Tomorrow is Saturday.  I have no plans.  Full disclosure, I have one plan:  Sleep in and be happy.



Perspective…Pollyanna syndrome

As syndromes go, most of them have a negative connotation.  Diseases and abnormalities are the first to spring to mind when someone mentions a syndrome.  Then there is Pollyanna syndrome.  I think it’s a good syndrome to have.  For those who have never heard of it, it’s where you look for the positive instead of the negative in a situation.  This happy syndrome is particularly difficult to find in our adult species as we find laughter in sarcasm and belittling of others.  Our daily news stories focus on the ill luck and devastation in our world.  When talking to co-workers, conversations usually begin with the overwhelming work and stress in our jobs.  When talking to family it usually starts off with a complaint about chores or errands or misbehaving children.  Today I hit up your fragile exhausted mind with “Pollyannaism”.

I grew up in the age of black and white television.  There was one television set for the whole family to share and watch.  I don’t recall watching many shows.  I do remember anxiously awaiting Sunday because that was when “The Wonderful World of Disney” would be on.  I hoped for cartoons, but sometimes there would be a movie that we would watch.  One day we watched a movie called “Pollyanna”.  It had an incredible effect on my life.  For those who did not grow up sitting cross-legged watching Walt Disney, get comfortable as I tell you the tale of Pollyanna.  (Ok, this is the quickie version because you don’t have all day and attention spans nowadays are like the flight of the flitting hummingbird.)

Pollyanna was an orphan.  She went to live with her cranky aunt.  Auntie was a miserable bitty.  Pollyanna drove Auntie nuts because she was always happy and finding the silver lining in everything around her.  Her father had taught her the “Glad Game”.  No matter how crappy something was, find the positive in it.  This started when, at Christmas, the church sent a “toy-box-for-poor-kids” to her and she discovered crutches.  She had wanted a doll.  Pops said “Be glad you don’t need them.”  Get it?  Be “glad”…hence began the “Glad Game”.  (I’m sure most of you got it).  Anyhoo…ol’ bitty kept playing mean tricks on goody-two shoes Polly like locking her in the crappy attic. Happy Polly LOVED the view from the window (silver lining right?).  Grrr.  Ok, WHAM!  No soup for you!  (Seinfeld reference haha).  Polly had to sit in the kitchen with the servant and eat bread and milk.  No problem!  Wee P loved milk and bread AND she enjoyed the servant’s company.  Fast forward to big summation.  (If you want the details watch the movie or read the book.)  Chatty Pollyanna wanders around the town using her rose-coloured view of the world to change everyone’s perspective of their lives.  The grouches become grinners.  The misers become wealth sharers.  Foes become friends.  You get the idea.  There’s a part where Pollyanna gets hurt.  She gets sad and feels crummy and then all the old grumpalumps who are now new grinners come and “Pollyanna-ise” her.  HA!  A taste of her own medicine and she’s good as new.  The end.  (There!  Not too painful right?)

It seems to me that complaining and criticizing has become a fashionable way to analyze and speak about events and people around us.  When we first learn sarcasm we feel like adults because we have watched and learned from our elders how to gossip, criticize and ridicule.  It’s funny making fun of others right?  Teasing is done just to get a laugh even if that person’s feelings get hurt.  When you share distressful news, most people would rather jump on that Bandwagon of Misery and help bring you down further.  Why would someone try to help you find the bright side and a positive resolution?  True friends actually will, but true, honest friends are very difficult to find.  Why?  Well, with all the gossiping and stories being told you’re not sure if they do the same behind your back so who can you really trust?

Today I challenge (or dare) you to work at changing your perspective.  I can honestly tell you it’s not as easy as it sounds.  It’s easier to fall back on complaining about things than to stop, think and find the silver lining.  Let’s work through some examples:

  • Situation:  You’re late for a meeting and you’re stuck in traffic because of a car accident somewhere further up the road.
  • Usual reaction:  FML!  Why does this always happen to me?
  • New reaction:  choose any of the following:
    • I hope that person is ok.
    • At least I get to listen to my audio storybook CD for a bit longer.
    • Wow, look at that beautiful sky!

True, it won’t get you to work faster, but can you change the traffic situation?  No.  So instead of feeling angry or miserable about it, find the positive.

  • Situation:  You come home late from work (thanks to said car accident).  Dinner is going to be late.  The kids are cranky, the dog needs walking, you’re exhausted.
  • Usual reaction:  FML!  I’m too tired to deal with this!
  • New reaction:  choose any of the following
    • I am grateful to have made it home safely.
    • My kids are cranky, but they are safe and I’m grateful that they are in my life.
    • My dog is always happy to see me.

Crazy?  Maybe.  Easy? Heck no!  Start by catching yourself and trying to alter that maniacal evil thought into something that will make you grin and laugh.  I promise, your days will be happier and brighter.  You will find more joy in your surroundings and you will also find, that you will stop hanging out with Negative Nellie’s because you will start attracting the Positive Polly(anna)’s into your life.

Anyone up for a round of “Glad Game”?  I’ll start…I’m so glad I have finished writing this and sharing it with you.

You’re turn.