Get the Backhoe.

by Elizabeth on December 11, 2012

Absence makes the heart…

All the “experts” tell you not to acknowledge the whole lack-of-writing thing on a blog.  They say people don’t care why you’ve gone an unholy amount of time without writing anything, and to just dive in.  (Of course, by mentioning it, I’m mentioning it.  Faux pas: now you can has one. Meta, meta, duck.)

Work got crazy, then got more crazy, then inertia set in.  Because it happens.  (And will probably happen again, because that’s life.)

But there are a couple things kicking around the ol’ headmeats, and I figure there’s no time like the present.

So, hi there.  Long time, no see.

Expert advice thus unheeded, let’s talk about simplicity and sleep.

This past three-ish months have been nutsoballs crazypants.  Two giant opportunities landed in my lap (both for offline, community-based work projects), followed closely by a third (also community-based, but with a digital component).  They were big enough that I had to do some very quick rearranging of the priorities, or risk efficiency in everything.

What this actually meant, to me, was that my personal projects and stuff I was playing with?  All gone.  My big chalkboard to-do-list planner had to be wiped completely clean to make room for work stuff, because even one of the two big honker opportunities would have been a full-time endeavor for most folks; having two and a half plus personal projects was courting disaster.  Or breakdown.  Possibly both.

Long story short, I ended up passing on the first opportunity and taking what was behind doors two and three, and haven’t been all that disappointed by the choice.  It’s been busy, sure, but it’s the good busy, where you get to feel like you’re doing something that matters.  I love that.

What I learned, though, I love even more.

1.  I learned that an opportunity isn’t an opportunity if there’s crappy communication.  I didn’t pursue the first thing because it was a brand-new entity in my hometown, and the communication from the governing body was atrocious.  If someone can’t answer a phone, the chances are probably pretty good that achieving any goals is going to be an uphill battle, and I don’t have time, personally, to chase down approval.  Some people are fine with that kind of thing, but bureaucracy makes me insane, and I’m better off focusing my attention elsewhere.

2.  I learned that not having a stuffed project list with a billion to-dos on it means more time to do what matters. Duh, right?  But finally letting go of a bunch of things that I could only give partial attention to has both made me decidedly uncomfortable and decidedly more focused.  I like being busy.  I’m still busy.  But I’m not crazy-scattered now, which is an awesome side-effect of letting go.

3.  I learned the importance of puttering. When you’re literally scheduled in fifteen-minute increments, it’s hard to work in time for stuff like thinking.  (Or breathing, or eating, or sleeping.)  In these last few weeks, I’ve been finding that that whole balance thing that I’m so not good at?  It’s much easier when you can take an hour to think about it all.  I can see much more clearly where I need to change things or modify methods.

Yay, life’s a process!  Boo, life’s a process!

A year ago, I made the decision to make some changes.  (See also: this entire blog.)  But in typical Me Fashion, I thought I could just decide, and make everything happen at once.  And then, I ended up all surprised when only a few of them stuck.

(I know, I know.  Simple math.)

Koreans have a proverb:  If you want to dig a hole, dig one at a time.

Me?  I got the backhoe and said screw that single hole nonsense.  I’m digging me a canyon.

(And the universe laaaaaughed.)

So now, after some puttering time, some forced-rearrangement of priorities, and a much cleaner slate, I’m looking forward to 2013 as another year of changes…but in a much more sane kind of way.  One hole at a time.

Many of the overall goals are the same, most leading to a simpler, more balanced life.  Just not all at once.  I’m looking for the most basic ones with the biggest impact, and plan to grow from there, rather than trying to dig the canyon all at once.  Dig as long as I need to to make it stick.  (Which I fully expect to drive me batshit insane sometimes, since stuff like that can’t really be scheduled.  Might take a week; might take eight.  Who knows?  Aaaargh.)

First things first:  sleeping.

This entry’s long and pictureless, so I’ll make this brief-ish.

This morning, a friend of mine joked with me that, if he didn’t know me, he’d think I was on meth since I appear to hate sleeping so much.


Here’s my deal, though:  Even when I was a kid, I was lucky to sleep six hours a day.  Most of time, it was more like four.  Less in the summer.  I distinctly remember being about eight years old, and setting my alarm for four a.m. so I could do some kind of nature thing at dawn.  (And, uh, waking up before the alarm went off, too.  My poor, poor sleep-deprived parents…)

These days, I go a few weeks of sleeping four or five hours, tops, and then have a day or two where I sleep for ten. Presumably to catch up.  I’m just not tired at all, even though I’m fairly certain it’s not all that great for my body.

Add to my natural tendency to sleep very little….the fact that I’m a big four-year-old inside. I will fight going to bed.  Even when I’m falling asleep sitting up.  Because, you know, sleep is for the weak.  Or something.  But I can get just one more thing done if I fight it, so fight it, I do.  Sleep is the enemy.  And that’s got to change.

So the first hole I’m digging is learning how to sleep like a normal human being.

There are a ton of studies that say that how well and how much you sleep affects everything from your immune system (mine’s held together with tissue paper and used chewing gum most of the time — I’ve got a cold as we speak.) to your productivity, and a whole range of things inbetween.  When I  googled up healthy sleeping tips, there were a whole range of opinions and hacks, but two were the biggest:

1.  Optimal duration is right around 7 to 8 hours.  Which may drive me nuts.  And,

2.  Going to bed at the same time every day and just laying there until you fall asleep are the two bigg’uns for training  your brain to shut down.  I’m fairly certain that before my brain’s trained, this will be like trying to force a watermelon through the eye of a needle.  But I’m willing to try for the next 30 days or so, in the interest of Science.

I’m also thinking very hard about picking up a Jawbone Up or a FitBit Ultra, both of which not only track your steps and such (which would be nice, though mine would probably read single digits half the time…), but also track your sleeping, to varying degrees.  (The Up actually tracks your micro-movements, which gives you a nice graph of when you’re in REM sleep.  Not sure about the FitBit tracking on it, but I believe it does something similar, but not as accurate.  I’m still deciding which of the two is a better unit overall.)

Other things that might roll right into this:  supposedly, periods of fairly-intense exercise will lead to better, deeper sleep (yikes), and cutting down or cutting out caffeine is supposed to help, too.  Which scares me a bit, since I’m kind of monster-like without coffee.  Monstrous and exhausted, so I just yell a lot while laying on the floor.  I’m more apt to try the periods of intense exercise first, just to protect those who live with me here.

One quickie note, too:

When I started Finer Fruits, I really wanted it to be more about you than about me.  To be all informative and junk.

I’m kind of heading in another direction for 2013.  Blogging experts can go be experts somewhere else…I’m probably just going to babble here about what I’mdoing, for my own records.  You may find some of it helpful, you may not.  Some of it might be entertaining, some might not.  There may be more entries, there may be less.  I really don’t know.  But I figure I have this space and it’s easy enough for me to update when I want to, so…there ’tis.  Less of a resource, more like peeking into my record.

I hope it can still be marginally helpful, even to those folks not wearing my pants.






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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl December 11, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Fitbit is my entire Christmas list this year. I’m slightly apprehensive about what I might learn from the sleep monitor.

I like my coffee, but I have to stop with the high-test stuff about 11 AM, or I will still be restless at bedtime.


Stormy December 13, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I am almost always helped by reading whatever antics you may be getting up yo. It is instructional to see how someone that you respect deals with the insanity of daily life. Whenever and however much you post I will be a loyal reader. (=
Good luck with the “Balance thing”.
On another note I have read that sleeping in 90 minute increments can be highly beneficial as well. Three sets of a full sleep cycle in a row, the way you need a full half an hour for a nap…


goddessjoy December 16, 2012 at 6:34 am

Learning how to do things in baby steps is HARD HARD HARD. The ONLY reason I am able to do it….my body forces me to. If I push it the way I used to (not much sleep, constant caffeine intake, multi tasking to the HILT) my body shuts down and turns on me. Autoimmune diseases will do that too ya.

Here’s hoping you can do it without the aide of a debilitating illness!


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