I can get really cranky about the idea of resolutions. Mainly because most fail or are forgotten. However, I’m a big fan of self-improvement, and although it can be frustrating to take on the relentless, slow grind of tiny thought and habit changes that are necessary to bring about real change… This process has become as familiar as an old friend.
This year was about sleep and routine. The real goal of this year was to try turning my sleep schedule around (Something I’ve struggled with since childhood) and to establish a normal, boring routine. Life had been exciting enough recently, thank you very much.
I did a sleep study and was diagnosed with sleep apnea at 30+ incidents per hour. These new-fangled sleep apnea machines are surprisingly quiet, and the masks are smaller, softer, and much less invasive than I would have guessed.
Doesn’t matter, I still can’t fall asleep with a fucking machine attached to my face.
Here is what worked:
- Automated timed lighting in the house helps me rise and wind down at approximately the same time every day, even with the very dark winter’s we get here in Washington.
- A somewhat regular wind-down routine helps automate my mood every evening and become primed for resting and sleeping.
- A reduction in nightly alcohol consumption has improved my sleep quality somewhat.
- A new mattress, nothing too fancy, but at least our new bed is more comfortable than the couch.
- Since I love sleeping on the couch, a hefty body pillow helps me maintain comfortable side positions.
- Just get used to putting the cat out of the room when she decides 4am is family wake-up time.
- Acceptance of not sleeping: if I am doing everything right and still cannot for the life of me fall asleep, simply accepting this makes a big difference. Rather than staying up mindlessly binging something on TV, I’m giving myself a break. “Yeah, of course sleep would be great right now but it’s not happening. Let’s watch an episode of this thing, or read something for 20 minutes and try again.”
- Also, I realized that during my sleep study, the first hour of sitting in bed fretting about not sleeping had actually registered on the machines as light sleep. That made me question… If fretting about not sleeping is sleep, then NOT fretting would probably be even better sleep. In other words, worrying about not falling asleep is just about the most useless way to spend my time and energy.
- A few nights I actually said “fuck it” and went out to the garage to work on my latest project. Two hours later I fell asleep easily and, though I didn’t have a full 8 hours, I still had an easier time getting up than if I had spent that time fretting, tossing and turning.
So what was the point? Why all this focus on sleep and routine? For me this came down to a few things. Yes, health is a factor. My job performance is another. But mostly… I wanted to get bored.
Too many of my years have been spent on survival and reaction to the latest crisis. I want to get creative again, and to give myself the breathing space to see what I could add to this world, rather than simply survive it.
To be honest, I think a major part of the reason was to get writing again. When I made the conscious decision to put down writing for awhile and focus on my programming career, I promised myself I would be back. This was a conscious thing, a proactive thing. I would not let myself become someone who said they wanted to write but made excuses. I wanted to be someone who decided when they were and were not writing.
So am I writing now? I haven’t decided to yet, so no. But maybe I’m warming up for it. Part of that was getting bored. Then, in allowing myself to pursue what interested me, to tinker with my hands.
Some results of this
I made a crown out of foam and acrylic resin:
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Second acrylic pour! Used alcohol ink with fantastic results. (Alcohol ink below, food coloring above for comparison). Also used a new mold that came in for the large gem but it has disappointing lines (from a 3-d printer perhaps?). I may polish it, prime it, and make my own mold with a (hopefully) smooth surface.
I did my first cosplay as the Ice King from Adventure Time:
I restored some things in remembrance of Joseph:
I made dumb props:
I made rickety garage furniture:
I made a cat box shelf thing:
I have cut, ground, sanded, poured, polished, measured, sewn, glued and assembled. I wore make-up. I got into character and interacted with children as a cartoon. I made my apartment more efficient. I poured a lot of love and patience into a little plastic frisbee.
Each time I learned something about the medium, patience, efficiency, myself and the creative process. I am allowing myself, in small scale experiments, to live for something other than the next paycheck, the next fuck, or the next holiday.
I don’t know what my next thing is for 2020. Maybe it will be something new, or maybe it will be a continuation of this. I look forward to finding out!