Waking Up to Sleep: A Reflection on Gratitude

This is my year of gratitude (among other things). Really, every year should be a year of gratitude. I’ll probably keep this particular theme around–a lifetime sounds good.

With just 17 days into the new year, I am finding ways to be grateful for things as small and simple as the sunset on a cold winter day–the way pastel pinks and muted oranges mix like an abstract painting in the deepening gray sky. I am also finding ways to be more grateful for bigger concepts like my overall health and the sturdy roof over my head.

I have found that by silently expressing gratitude throughout the day–a simple pause in thought here and there, nothing more formal or profound–that I am increasing my awareness to the abundance that is around me, even if the day might feel a bit colder, darker, and blurrier than others. Each new day has a surprise waiting for us if we only open our eyes, hearts, and minds to gratitude.

Deep shit right there–I know. But it’s true.

With more gratitude and deeper awareness comes more sound fulfillment and joy. It’s not superficial; rather, it’s long-lasting and powerful in ways that no material thing or experience can be. What I find most powerful about gratitude is that it gives you back your own power–you’re no longer putting your happiness into the hands of a job, class, friend, family member, or social norm. You’re taking back happiness and putting it where it’s lived all along–inside your heart and mind. With gratitude–that is, consistently practiced gratitude and an openness to present awareness–you have an ever-replenishing supply of joy. Some days the joy burns more brightly than other days, but it’s always there, saying, “Hey–remember me? I’m here for you. Forget me not.”

I was reminded of gratitude today as I was fighting off sleep at work. I got maybe six hours of rest the night before (and the night before that), and woke up a few times before my alarm officially went off (the worst). Thanks to my persistently playful and hungry morning lady cats and some strong Kroger-brand black tea, I was ready for work in no time. However, tiredness seeped in throughout the day. My face grew warm. My body moved slower. My mind was mush. All I wanted was sleep–something I never really thought of making a priority until more recently.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve found sleep to be instrumental in regulating my mood, appetite, and energy levels. Most of us know this–but I’ve forced myself to become very aware of it so that I truly understand the consequences. I’ve watched myself become sluggish and irritable when I’m low on sleep and grow energetic and level-headed when sleep is in plentiful supply. In sum, sleep is great. It’s wonderful. And I want more of it–or well, enough of it to not be so damn tired and drained during the day.

So what does sleep have to do with gratitude? Because I realized today as I was staring at my work computer and not typing that it is something to be grateful for–this miraculous, natural way we rejuvenate ourselves. I barely paid sleep much heed before–oh, I’ll get 8 hours this weekend, but tonight six is fine. Oh, another almost all-nighter…well, the weekend is coming. Nope. Enough is enough. The more I put sleep to the side, the more I push myself to the sideline. Without sleep my gratitude meter drops, my mood is all funky, and my energy goes from zoom to zilch in a few hours time.

I’d like to be awake and grateful for the things happening in the here and now. So I’m raising my glass to you, sleep–now, time for bed.

Cheers,

KP

P.S. My monthly Inspiration Newsletter is getting a makeover. Check out the before here, and check out the after by subscribing today–you’ll get a copy to your inbox on the last Sunday of every month. Ca-ching!

Feature photo credit: Newport Beach Pier / KP

Starting Over, Starting Again

“We carry these lists near our hearts and finger them like worry beads. It doesn’t matter what is on them. They are the thieves and it is the insidious virtue to have everything in order before we live that is the greatest thief.” -Mark Nepo

My two cats are running over the furniture, from room to room. It’s close to midnight and it’s their daily pre-midnight run-play fest. I love watching them tumble and bounce off everything in their path and then wrestle each other to the floor, grappling for entertainment. Each day, they remind me of balance. Of love. Of joy. And of fun.

I’d forgotten about these things over the past year and maybe even longer than that ( you’ll probably hear more about this in future posts). Sure, I had plenty of good times (I even got married in Croatia–which was a blast!) but much of the year had this icky grey filter over it that I just couldn’t shake. And then it took going into a dark place and then back out again to finally shake free from the shit cloud.

Now, I start 2018 with a renewed outlook–not a new one entirely, just the one I’ve had in me all along but that’s been hiding out under some rock. This outlook has a new dimension though–it’s a reboot, so to speak, but with a twist. Because I’ve decided I don’t just want to paste on some positivity and call it a day. I want to be positive, sure, but more than anything I want to own who I am fully and allow positivity to live out from this true place of being. In this way, the positivity can be genuine, not simply a flimsy filter through which I try to see and live my life.

This means being vulnerable and not shying away from vulnerability–whether in silly or tough situations. This also means believing I am enough and living boldly with this belief. It means not feeling bad when I choose to take time and enjoy something I’ve been looking forward to, like reading an article in Poets & Writers Magazine or going to bed early, even if there’s still one more damn thing to do on my damn endless to-do list. It also means charging what I feel is fair for my freelance services, based on the high quality of my work, my knowledge, and my experience. More than anything, it means being who I am and not being bullied out of it by a situation, thought, emotion, or person.

And so, I’ve decided to start over on this blog, or start again. It’s been a year of not writing here and that makes me sad. I don’t feel bad about it, just sad, which means it’s something I need to do for myself so here I am, doing it. Re-booting this blog is one of my reach goals for this year mainly because I have a whole lotta random goals in different categories like fitness, health, creativity, travel, career, and family/friends. For example, one goal is to read one poem a day and another goal is to try a new recipe every other week (doing well so far).

All of this–and restarting this blog–seem doable now, but I know that once my regular schedule sets in (grad school, work, side projects, etc.) that the goals could be pushed aside. Even if some of them get sidelined temporarily, I know they will be there, waiting for me to come back, and so I won’t feel guilty about letting them go on vacation for awhile. I also know that even making a little bit of progress on each goal will be WAY more than I did before to improve in each category so that’s a big deal and I will celebrate accordingly.

In addition to my 2018 goals, I plan to:

  • Make some more headway on my Top 100 list (i.e. my bucket list which I’ve updated via the link, if you’d like to check it out).
  • Revamp my monthly newsletter, Inspiration, with a whole bunch of fun, new, quirky, and delightful exclusive content that you won’t find on my blog. (Subscribe here to check out the revamp.)
  • Launch a new monthly series called The F That Blog (a blog within a blog) that will feature quirky illustrations (in collaboration with a local artist) along with a spunky, honest post about things that bully us (think: depression, naysayers, evil never-good-enough thoughts, guilt, shame, etc.) out of being our full, cool selves and how we can be empowered to tell ‘em to “eff off!”.

So, cheers to 2018–what I’m dubbing the year of seeking inner peace, embracing gratitude, and finding adventure anywhere and everywhere.

Ciao for now,

KP

P.S. My monthly Inspiration Newsletter is getting a makeover. Check out the before here, and check out the after by subscribing today.

Feature photo credit: Old Town Stairs / KP