Sleep as Self-Care + Changing Seasons

A tree with bright orange leaves next to a bare tree against blue sky.

Can you believe Daylight Savings Time ended a week ago already? I took advantage of that extra hour to do some fall cleaning and also get some good sleep.  And the more I read about sleep, the more important I realize it is. Rest is our foundation.

The change of seasons is the perfect time to reflect on this. We can’t have the beauty of fall, spring and summer without the rest provided by winter. It makes sense that Halloween and the Day of the Dead are celebrated at this time of year. Nature itself is in that liminal space between life and death and we can’t help but feel that change too.

It’s still fall. But with the start of November and so little sunlight, it feels like we are in the winter season. And after my year of examining the seasons, I’m doing my best to shed resistance and fall into winter gracefully.

Peak fall has the ground carpeted with red, orange and so much gold. They shimmer in the sunlight. The trees and ground look magical and otherworldly. Nature is preparing us for winter with an extra burst of beauty. Brightly colored leaves on tree in the fall.

This time of year provides a cue for rest and turning inward. Many animals are hibernating or at least preparing for it. Since we humans are part of nature as well, we can think about how our lives might adjust with the cold weather.

It’s a time for the comfort of warm blankets, hot drinks and candle light. For me, these colder months are also about coziness. Danish culture calls it hygge, and I am all for it. I can’t fight the weather, so I’ll try and appreciate the best of what it brings.

This winter break is something we can cultivate within ourselves. Each day is like a mini-year, where our sleep is the winter. Resting for the renewal of spring and summer during the busiest parts of our day. The end of the day, before we sleep again, is autumn.

Recent research says that deep sleep may rid the brain of toxins that lead to Alzheimer’s. Sleep disruption and deprivation is bad for our health. Yet, it seems like getting enough sleep is a major problem for many if not most people. Sleep scientist Matthew Walker gives some insight.

“We have stigmatised sleep with the label of laziness. We want to seem busy, and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting. It’s a badge of honour. When I give lectures, people will wait behind until there is no one around and then tell me quietly: ‘I seem to be one of those people who need eight or nine hours’ sleep.’ It’s embarrassing to say it in public. They would rather wait 45 minutes for the confessional. They’re convinced that they’re abnormal, and why wouldn’t they be? We chastise people for sleeping what are, after all, only sufficient amounts. We think of them as slothful. No one would look at an infant baby asleep, and say ‘What a lazy baby!’ We know sleeping is non-negotiable for a baby. But that notion is quickly abandoned [as we grow up]. Humans are the only species that deliberately deprive themselves of sleep for no apparent reason.” In case you’re wondering, the number of people who can survive on five hours of sleep or less without any impairment, expressed as a percent of the population and rounded to a whole number, is zero.

Those people, who tell us that they do fine with hardly any sleep. They are lying. To themselves. And to the rest of us. They are risking their health. If they are driving or doing something similar, they may be risking the lives of others as well.

We need sleep. We need rest. We need winter. One of the best ways to take care of ourselves is so basic. This self-care is literally to do nothing. So this season, it’s time to make a change.

News Antidote ~ A Hike In The Woods

Antidote to the news, a hike in the woods.
Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Massachusetts.

The news over the past few days has battered me. Heck. Who am I kidding? The news over the past few weeks and months. It just seems to get worse and worse. Compounding and expanding all previous worseness.

Between the hurricane in Texas and our ruthlessly cruel administration in Washington, it’s just too much.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent time with extended family and friends that has really lifted me up. But also I’m an introvert, so even though I love being with my family and friends, I need to retreat a bit after that, so I don’t get too overwhelmed.

There are some posts that I really wanted to write. But I just don’t have it in me to write them at this point. I don’t want to angry rant and I don’t want to write things that feel frivolous right now.

This post is middle ground, because I wanted to check in here for a bit. This blog acts a diary of sorts, so in the future I can look back and get and idea of what I was doing and how I was feeling about things. After eleven years of blogging, there are a lot of memories here.

Yesterday, I went for a hike in the woods. A friend and I usually do our annual hike in the fall, but last year, she wasn’t feeling well so we didn’t go.

My friend and I met and were deciding on our route, when someone called my name. It was a woman that I had met at a dinner party a year or so ago. She had planned to hike in the morning, but her friend wasn’t able to make it, so she decided to go later. I guess we were all meant to hike together, because the timing could not have been planned better. We had a wonderful time.

Instead of walking around the pond several times, we took a path was a bit more rocky, twisty, uphill and downhill, plus deeper in the woods. It was challenging, but we felt great after and appreciated the serendipity.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend and take some time to take care of yourself. Get away from the news and out into the beauty that still exists in the world.

Happy Arbor Day!

Three white women and one black woman doing yoga standing in tree pose.

There’s more than one way to celebrate a tree. How about with a tree pose?

If you’re looking for a more traditional way, then get some tips on buying and planting trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.

They have some information on the value of trees too. Here are a few.

Landscaping, especially with trees, can increase property values as much as 20 percent. Management Information Services/ICMA

One acre of forest absorbs six tons of carbon dioxide and puts out four tons of oxygen. This is enough to meet the annual needs of 18 people. U.S. Department of Agriculture

There are about 60– to 200-million spaces along our city streets where trees could be planted. This translates to the potential to absorb 33 million more tons of CO2 every year, and saving $4 billion in energy costs. National Wildlife Federation

Trees properly placed around buildings can reduce air conditioning needs by 30 percent and can save 20–50 percent in energy used for heating. USDA Forest Service

Trees can be a stimulus to economic development, attracting new business and tourism. Commercial retail areas are more attractive to shoppers, apartments rent more quickly, tenants stay longer, and space in a wooded setting is more valuable to sell or rent. The Arbor Day Foundation

If you’d like some tree related music, listen to Basia sing about hugging An Olive Tree. After all, with our current administration, we could probably use a few more tree huggers.

+ + +
Image: Flickr photo by Tom Britt

A Study on Sunsets

Sunsets January2016

While doing errands Saturday evening, I truly enjoyed the sunset. The picture on the left was taken just a few miles away from the one on the right and less than a half an hour apart. But they look so different.

The colors. The fluffiness of the clouds. The starkness of the bare branches against the sky versus the lush greenery.

No matter the number of sunsets that I see, they never get old. All sunsets have their own unique beauty and feel. What a treasure. All we have to do is look up to find it!

Have a great week and keep looking up! 😀

Have A Ducky Week!

Duck This duck is a poser. Yup! It walked right up to me, apparently expecting to be fed. I didn’t  have any food, so it just looked me in the eye and posed for this picture. So cute!

If you follow me on Instagram, you can see all the pictures that I took. G and I were in Watertown, walking around the park to burn off some calories from our meal. I don’t know the name of the park that we were in. It was my first time visiting, but there were some beautiful scenes. Here are some more sights for you to enjoy.

duck in water

bird in waterfall