Successful Shifts in Sleep Schedules

After months of dread and an incredible amount of anxiety based on that dread, I’ve finally made an important change to my sleeping habits and pre-sleep rituals. Previously, I would do about thirty to sixty minutes of calming activities, take my nightly meds, wait fifteen minutes, take my melatonin, and then play my sleepy-time game (currently Animal Crossing) until I felt sufficiently tired. Then I’d go take care of various brushing, cleaning, and pre-bed sanitation tasks, put in my retainer, and then go to bed. It worked about ninety percent of the time, and usually the times it didn’t work involved me getting lots of sleep multiple nights in a row, days of inactivity, or a disruption to the time I usually spend calming down and being inactive before bed. Now, I still do the inactivity time, but I’ve shifted things so that I am taking my melatonin before doing all the “nightly cleanup and preparing myself for bed” stuff so that I hit the pillow about twenty to thirty minutes after taking it.

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Taking A Moment For Perspective

I was taking a break at work, sitting in my chair and mindlessly flipping between email accounts on my phone so I could feel like I got something done (clean out my email inboxes) without needing to really do much (all I really get are ads these days), because I was too exhausted to engage with even something as simple as a sudoku puzzle. After I ran out of inboxes to clean, I decided to text a friend a simple complaint about being exhausted and not knowing why, given that I’ve actually been getting decent sleep this week. As we talked and I went from that general statement to considering the specifics of my past few days, I realized that I should actually be very proud of myself for only being this exhausted. All of the stress of the last two months hasn’t actually gone away, I’ve just adjusted to carrying it and started getting enough sleep that I’m not so tired in the morning that I need to spend two hours convincing myself to get out of bed.

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Beating The Heat Through Extreme Inactivity

As much as I hate humidity and struggle to sleep when it is warm out, I have to admit there is a certain appeal in the sort of languid relaxation I do after going for a hike or something similar on warm summer days. There is a degree of freedom that comes with knowing it doesn’t matter if you’re sweaty. When you know that you can just go change or cool off or rinse the sweat away whenever you like and yet you choose to just be still as the gentle, warm breeze slowly wicks the sweat away while you lay unmoving in the heat. It is more restful and comfortable if the breeze is cool and the sweat has already been cleaned away, but I still enjoy the moments of transition between the two when it is my choice to experience them.

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700 Posts and Counting

The post that went up today (the day I’m writing this and a week prior to this post going up) was the 700th post on my blog (which means this is post 706). I have no idea what the average word count is on my blog posts, but I think it’s a pretty safe bet that my blog is the longest thing I’ve ever written, in both terms of word count and in reference to the passage of time. What an accomplishment, right? 700 whole posts! That’s so much stuff! Probably a lot of interesting stuff and some absolute drivel. After all, they can’t all be winners and I used to have a far less rigorous process for weeding out dumb or bad posts. Still, the sheer volume is worth celebrating. Turns out all I needed to be this productive was a task that had no real end goal other than continued activity. Can’t finish a book to safe my life most times I try, but I can do this without end.

Given how long this past winter felt like it lasted, it feels strange to realize I’ve been updating this blog six days out of seven for nine months. I’ve made it through almost another year of posting without the stress and obsession it took me the last time I tried to update this regularly. My, how I’ve grown. I still wish I had the capacity for more creative work each day, but given the rise and fall of my personal stress levels due to factors mostly at my day job or tied to the world at large, it feels like I should just be grateful I’ve managed to keep this up without falling behind or scrambling to get a post up long after my usual posting time (which happened A LOT the last time I did this). And, you know, I actually am. I feel like I’ve gotten better at working incrementally and applying personal discipline to every aspect of my life except cutting myself off of video games at a reasonable hour when I’m playing something that scratches my “control” itch.

At the same time, it feels like nothing has changed. Which is demonstrably false, given that I’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about myself and my life, resulting in a decision to use different third-person pronouns. There’s more, but I’m not really into sharing personal information on that level these days and honestly the pronoun thing was a pretty big deal given that it took me thirty years to convince myself it was worth considering something that would only serve to make me feel more comfortable and happy with myself and then most of another year to actually take action on it. That feels like enough to be writing about publicly, you know? All the other stuff is my personal business and literally no one else’s.

I talk a lot about how I feel on this blog. I do a lot of processing, exploration, and expression here, putting my feelings out into the world in hopes that they resonate with other people. Who I am, how I identify, my sense of self… All of that is my own business and not something I feel comfortable pinning down by writing it out. As some of my poetry indicates, I’m happy to allow myself to leave most of that stuff without a clear definition. After all, people grow and change frequently, maybe more so than we would like at time, but enough that I feel like codifying myself is only ever going to be a disserve to my future self.

Which isn’t necessarily to say that I won’t ever write about myself in that way or that I won’t ever talk explicitly about identity and myself on this blog, just that I haven’t yet and might never. I’m not committing to anything at this point because the future is a wild, unknowable thing and I honestly couldn’t have imagined being in the position I am now, a year ago. But it sure feels nice to reflect on my blog, the past year, and how much has changed (and, you know, to choose to focus on the positive changes in my personal life, specifically). Maybe a year from now I’ll be doing the same thing and wondering why I ever hesitated on some thing I can barely even allow myself to consider right now. Just about anything is possible.

Recorded and Reposted: At End of Day

When the day is done and the fire’s stoked,
When the night is fresh and the world is cloaked
In star-soft mantle of darkening blue 
I still have one last job to do.
I compile the words I have found,
Feeling out their shape and sound
As I sort them into categories
In preparation for all the stories
I haven’t had the chance to tell,
Until the fire’s down to a sullen swell
And the first glimmers of morning sun
Tell me that my work is done.

I Love Running Dungeons And Dragons Games

I ran the first session of a new Dungeons and Dragons campaign last week. This was the game I was building while I wrote last month’s posts about how to do interesting worldbuilding for your Tabletop Roleplaying Game, and that resulted in me spending more time than usual reflecting on the place that TTRPGs have in my life. It went well, thanks to the efforts of myself and my players working to get everything ready and the world built for an engaging first session. It was a lot of fun to run for such a roleplaying-centric group! It’s not that my other groups aren’t interested in roleplaying, it’s just that they aren’t always super invested in roleplaying at the same time. Which is fair, you know? Not everyone plays Dungeons and Dragons so they can do a bunch of roleplaying. Many people play because they want to enjoy the mechanics and mix in some roleplaying between chances to roll dice. Some people just want to roll dice and do math. All of these are valid and acceptable reasons to play TTRPGs.

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Sunshine Feels Nice And Warm Winds Lift My Spirits

I lack the words to describe how nice it was that the weather had been in the 60s, that there’d been a decent amount of sunlight, and that I’d been able to comfortably wear shorts. Nevertheless, that’s what the rest of this blog post will be about. It just felt so nice, you know? I wanted to exult in it for a while, enjoy the end of my seasonal depression and bask in the gloriously chilly but still comfy weather we had for the few days it was here.

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Recording My Thoughts

One of the most important lessons I learned as an adult was how to create physical representations of the way I think. Not how I track information or go about ordering my mind for effort, but specifically the way that my thoughts move around my head as I explore ideas, consider information, and create. Honestly, I think tracking information and ordering one’s mind is largely the same for most people, given that we are (generally speaking) currently only capable of doing on thing at a time, thanks to our limited number of appendages. Sure, there are people who can do two things at once, but they’re pretty rare once you filter out all the people who claim to be able to do it but are just really good at dividing their attention between two on-going tasks that they pursue by rapdily alternating between them. But where people differ is how thoughts unfold in their minds and how they build these thoughts and ideas.

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I Wear Shorts To Spite The Weather

I used to be one of the people who wore shorts even during the depths of winter. I’m not sure how it is in other parts of the world, but in the Midwest of the US, it is fairly common to see such folk, frequently masculine in appearance (but not limited to that by any means) trudging through blizzards and all but the worst wind chills. It always made sense to me, given that I spent most of the winter indoors, in buildings with their heat set for people who needed a higher external temperature to be comfortable. I didn’t want to attempt to change the ambient temperature for my comfort alone, so I started wearing shorts and upperbody layers that were easy to remove (zippered hoodies, mostly) so that I could be comfortable. It wasn’t that I was immune to the cold outside, just that I was willing to endure a few minutes of being uncomfortable in order to spend two hours in class or at work without needing to fight off sweat or the sleepies.

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I’ve Been Practicing Taking Breaks

While I know that I am the source of most of the pressure I feel to be productive and to do most of the stuff on my to-do list in a timely manner, I can’t help but feel like it is easier to find better ways to work than to address the monumental issue that is how much of my self-worth is derived by being productive. Nothing highlights this more than times like right now, as I’m working on catching up with everything I didn’t do for the full week I was feeling exhausted and out of it due to sleep deprivation and stress caught in a horrible feedback loop that is taking me multiple weekends to break out of. I have a simply massive task list since I wrote down everything as it came up last week (I’m pretty good at recognizing that my memory is going to be faulty once I reach a certain level of exhaustion), and it has been a struggle to ride the fine line between productivity and rest. After all, it won’t do me any good if I get a lot done in one day but wind up tiring myself out so that I’m useless again the day or two after that.

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