Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Hail Mary Pass

Since I started complaining about my lack of sleep, the suggestions have come pouring in. First, I’m amazed at how many of my friends meditate. It’s not something we’ve ever talked about, but now that we’re all learning to live in the moment, it’s a discussion waiting to happen. Meanwhile, I’ll share another friend’s suggestion.

I grew up Catholic. When I was twenty-five, I changed denominations, but you know what they say. You can take the girl out of the church, but…. Yeah, that’s right. Anyway, my friend Maureen read my last blog and had an interesting idea for me. She suggested that I say a part of the Rosary every night before bed. Unbeknownst to her, I had purchased one while at Salisbury Cathedral last fall. I’d been browsing in the gift shop after being softened up by an enthusiastic tour guide who led us up to the highest possible tower where we all peered down and thanked God for sturdy carpentry and conscientious Brits who restore their buildings faithfully.

As I stared at the Rosary, (it was pink, like the one from my childhood) I was seized by a nostalgia so strong that I almost burst into tears. I had left the church, but I still carried that child inside of me. We all do, right?
The Hanson clan was not casual about attending Mass. If we were out of town, we found a church. I remember my dad driving all over these small Saskatchewan hamlets on a Sunday morning, my mom having pulled some decent clothes out of the dress box that accompanied us on our trips. We never missed Mass, and a bedridden teenager in our house had better have a fever and not a hangover, because there were no excuses.

This has stood me in good stead for many reasons, which is probably why you should go to church each week, if you’re into that kind of thing, which I am. But, I digress. I took my Rosary down from the mirror where it’s been hanging since last fall, and stuck it under my pillow. That first night I pulled it out and closed my eyes. I started off with the beads under the cross and said my usual prayers for my family, community, etc. I continued on with the Lord’s prayer and then started saying the ‘Hail, Mary,’ which I remembered, word for word. (If its been updated or modernized, please don’t tell me.)

Anyway, I barely got through three prayers before I fell asleep. I’m not sure why that is, frankly. Is saying the rosary a form of meditation? Was it the connection to my childhood? I don’t think so, because I was a bad sleeper in those days. Perhaps it was because my faith has deep roots, and has always anchored me to the best part of myself. Which isn’t really me, but that part of the Creator that flickers inside all of us, whether we know it or not. 

The desperate long shot Hail Mary play has paid off. It has carried me into the land of sleep for many nights, now, and I am grateful for it. I’m indebted to every person who has shared their sleep secrets with me, and even their despair over their lack of sleep. In these hectic times of social media and late night television binging, we’re messing up Mother Nature’s sleep recipe. But as a community, we can help each other by showing the way back. The word hail means to rejoice. So, hail, all you restless nighttime sleepers. I’m so glad we’re in this thing together. And can I have an Amen?

These Summer Nights

I don’t know if its the long days, or the pile of stuff in our garage that we moved from Winnipeg, but something is keeping us up at night. We’ve been taking turns getting out of bed. Clarence covers the two to four shift, I take over until six. After that, we try to get some sleep. This is a relatively new thing, because in the past we almost never had insomnia at the same time.

We know all the tricks. Don’t turn on lights when you get up to pee. Don’t think about anything as you stumble back to bed. And never talk to your partner. This is my husband’s idea, because I am more than willing to let the complaining portion of the night begin. Faking sleep sometimes tricks my brain, but not lately. We’re thinking of trying my friend’s trick, where you and your partner switch sides. For Sonia and Tom, this is a completely normal thing to do. To me, it’s the wackiest thing I’ve ever heard. And yet, I will probably give it a try.

We’ve had a busy time, lately. That might be part of our problem. Come the fall, I’ll be more than ready to settle into a new routine. The garage, by some miracle, might be empty. Ideally, we’ll turn off all our devices by nine, be in bed by ten. This will leave us a good hour for reading. I know the feng shui-ers frown on books in the bedroom, but it’s a childhood habit I plan on keeping.

The worst part about not sleeping is that every problem gets blown out of proportion. Even the stuff that’s not a problem. Gardening, dentist appointments, weight gains, worrying about weight gains because you know that lack of sleep is a contributor. The brain starts looping from one thing to the next until life begins to feel like a dystopian novel. As John Travolta sings, ‘Summer dreams, ripped at the seams.’ That’s for sure. I can’t even go outside and stand in the middle of our lawn to stare up at the starry sky. It’s always been my favorite thing to do when I can’t sleep. But that’s been stripped away and we haven’t got our new sod yet. Sigh.

The minute the sun goes up, though, I’m able to shake off all the night time wackiness and revert to normal thinking. ‘What was that about?’ I ponder as I prepare my morning cup of tea. The oceans aren’t rising all that fast. Clarence does not have to start building a raft from our left over deck lumber.

Today we started meditating with Oprah and Chopra, free online and very relaxing. I sat in a yoga like position while Clarence rested on the sofa. He started snoring about half way through, but I’m assuming that’s because he was really into it. As we chanted quietly to ourselves, I pictured us having a restful night.

Yes, I’m willing to change from my side of the bed to his, if that’s what it takes. But I’m hopeful that Deepak Chopra is right. Staying in the moment will ‘unstick’ me from this restlessness, sending me into the child like sleep I often experience in winter. As for you, dear friends, I wish you no ripped seams, or floods, no nights of dark planning. Just pleasant and restful sleep. So be quiet, now, and please, don’t turn on the light.