Friday, July 23, 2021

Mama Was Right

Like my blogmates and all of you, I've been trying to carry on in this new pandemic world. Yesterday I finally admitted something that even adults hate to admit -- "Mama was right."

 Okay, there it is. I said it. She was right when she said, "There will be days like this one." Meaning some days -- even some months and some years -- are going to suck big time. You gotta expect that, and when it happens you gotta find a way through it. Okay, the past 18 months have proven her right about that. Most of the time I resisted curling up under the covers and whimpering. 

Mama was right about getting something I had to do and doing it. Keeping the puppy I decided to get from destroying the house helped to focus my attention elsewhere. Mama was also right when she said I should eat healthy food, get outside and get some fresh air, and not sit there at my desk all day. She was even right when she said I should go to bed and get some sleep instead of staying up reading or watching old movies half the night.

 I've always complained about getting up early. I've done that since the first day of first grade, and I've designed my adult life so that I've been able to avoid getting up early most days. One of the perks of teaching at a university is that eventually, as you move up the academic ladder, you gain some control over when you teach your classes. Mine are in the afternoon. So, prior to the pandemic, I was staying up late because (a) I thought I was a "night person"; (b) I've always gone to bed late because I thought I couldn't sleep if I went to bed early; and (c) I had planned my life so that I was doing my writing in the evening and after midnight. But it turns out that I may be more my mama's daughter than I thought. 

When I was a child, I used to wake up even earlier than I needed to because my parents were up and chatting cheerfully as they made breakfast and got ready to leave for work. Who could possibly be cheerful when it was still dark outside in winter and barely dawn even in summer? It turns out, there's a lot to be said for waking up at dawn and getting up and getting the day started.

I only discovered this when I finally admitted that if I was going to completely housebreak my 8 month-old puppy (who was still having "accidents"), we both needed to be on a schedule. It wasn't his fault, it was mine. So, on this new schedule, he has to go out last thing at night and first thing when he wakes up. At night, I have to take him out before he tucks himself into his bed or try to get him up to go out when all he wants to do is sleep. To make this schedule easier on both of us, I've started going to bed when he is ready. 

In fact, it's becoming the new norm for our little pack -- including the cat who naps most of the day except when she is following me around -- to be in bed, lights out, before midnight. And awake at dawn and up and moving.

So mama get's another "I told you so".  On the days when I've had a good night's sleep and gotten outside at dawn and taken the dog for a walk in the evening after his day at doggie daycare, I feel better. I feel even healthier when I take my vitamins and eat my veggies and some protein. I'm not as grouchy, and I remember to smile and make friendly conversation.

And this has to do with writing because on days when I not tired and hungry and disgruntled, I'm actually getting a lot more done. When I get to bed early and sleep well, I actually dream again -- not pandemic nightmares, but instead the kinds of dreams I used to have, related to the books I'm working on.

 Last Saturday, up early, I put the dog in the car and we drove out to a suburban park to have a walk along one of the rambling paths. As we walked, I had an opportunity to observe the responses he elicited when he greeted the people we met as if each were a long, lost relative. Happy leap toward them, tail wagging, up on back paws if they reached down to pet him. Those animal-human interactions illustrated a social science concept I had been reading about -- and my well-rested brain went "click" and I finally had the last chapter of the book I've been working on about dress and appearance. I did a mental happy dance. Puppy and I trotted over to the farmer's market and bought blueberries and healthy dog treats. I also bought a mini coconut butter rum cake. But when we got home, I had only one slice before texting to offer the other half to a friend. I put the rest of my half into a freezer bag, and it is still there in the refrigerator, waiting for another occasion to celebrate. Mama would approve.

 And she would nod when I admitted that my healthy life hacks -- including mopping the kitchen floor more often -- are making me a better and more productive writer.

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