Tag Archives: sleep

A Day In The Life

11 Apr

I am participating in the Health Activist Writers Month Challenge, in which I publish a post every day for the month of April, based on health-related prompts.

April 11 – Theme song: Imagine your health focus or blog is getting its own theme song. What would the lyrics be? What type of music would it be played to?

I confess that I had no idea what to do with this prompt. My writing skills do not extend to the lyrics of songs. That is my husband’s arena. Therefore, for today, I decided to use one of the bonus prompts:

Daily schedule: Write a list of your daily routine from the moment you wake up until the moment you go to bed. Be honest!

alarmclock

5:00  I wake up to the sound of the alarm on my phone. More often than not, I am on the futon in my living room with a small kid pressed up on either side of me (although it must be said that the small kids are getting less small by the day). Because I’m wedged in between my kids, I can’t simply grab my phone and throw it against the wall like I want to. It takes effort to extricate an arm. Often, as I’m reaching for the phone, I knock it off the table, and then I have to get out of bed – a supreme effort indeed – to pick it up and turn off the alarm.

5:15 I turn on my computer to check my email. I am dressed in my running clothes and I am waiting for the coffee to finish brewing. While I’m reading my emails my younger son wakes up. I get him a cup of milk and start preparing to leave, knowing that I will be delayed by my son’s constant chatter.

5:25  I kiss my older son goodbye. He is asleep, but he will know if I’ve left without kissing him goodbye. I field a gazillion questions from my younger son and eventually manage to escape. I sprint to the bus stop and make it with seconds to spare.

6:30  I arrive at work and head straight for the corporate gym in the bowels of the building. I dump my stuff in a locker, fill up my water bottle, and head out for a run. I’m still groggy and sleepy, but the first kilometre or so takes care of that.

8:00  I get to my desk, all showered and feeling good from my run. I drop my bag on my chair and go straight back out for coffee and a bite to eat. I bring it back to my desk and work until noon.

12:00 Lunch-time! I curse about having once again left my carefully prepared lunch in my fridge at home. I gather up my notebook computer, buy a random salad somewhere, and sit in the common room writing words.

12:30  Back to the grindstone.

2:45 Arrival of my mid-afternoon energy crash. I go out for coffee, and while I stand in the queue I stare at the display of donuts and cookies wondering if it would be OK for me to have one. By the time I get to the front of the line I’m so undecided that I don’t get anything except the coffee. Which is a good thing.

4:00  I pack up, log off, say my goodbyes to my co-workers and leave. I go to the subway station and position myself on the platform just where I think the train doors will end up. More chance of getting a seat that way.

5:30  I arrive home, lamenting the fact that once again, I did not get a seat on either the subway or the bus. I walk home from the bus stop, and stop to check the mailbox on the way home. I do so much stuff over the Internet these days that I hardly get any actual mail.

5:35  The husband and children, who get home before I do, have been standing at the living room window watching for my arrival. The husband opens the front door to release the kids, who run towards me in that joyous, unrestrained way that only children are capable of. I dump my bags, drop to my knees, and open my arms. My boys come hurtling into my arms and almost knock me backwards with the force of their love.  My cup overfloweth with happiness.

6:00 The kids were fed their dinner before I got home, and now the husband and I are cooking up something for ourselves. I enjoy the companionship as we chop vegetables together and chat about our days. I reflect on how fortunate I am to have a husband who supports me in my writing and my running, who accepts me for all of my weird little quirks, and who is the best dad ever.

7:00  Dinner has been cooked and eaten. I clean up the kitchen but don’t start the dishwasher – not yet. My older son, the one with autism, has a lot of angst where the dishwasher is concerned. I have only just gotten to the point where I can unpack and reload it without him completely melting down. Actually running it would be asking for trouble. Best to wait until he is asleep.

7:30  Bathtime for the kids. George goes in first, because he really doesn’t like being in a tubful of water. I soap him down and then, amid panicky cries of protest, I wash his hair. Like many autistics, he has a big problem with having his hair washed. James dives for cover, only emerging when George is safely out of the tub and in his pyjamas. James’ bath-time is a splash-fest. I have to keep a towel handy for myself, and I’m not even in the water.

8:30  The kids go to bed. George has done his homework (and got it right) in about three seconds flat. Bedtime milk has been consumed, stories have been read, hugs and kisses have been administered. I wait until George is asleep and then turn on the dishwasher. I make lunches for the following day and ensure that everyone has clean clothes to wear. I sit down at my computer and do whatever admin needs to be done.

9:30  My day’s work is done and now it’s time to reward myself. I pour a glass of wine, send my daily email to my mom, and waste time on Facebook. I complete and schedule any unfinished blog posts and start one or two new ones. Sometimes I abandon Facebook in favour of a nice soak in the tub. There’s something very decadent about sitting in a bubble bath with a book and a glass of wine.

10:00 I have a cup of tea with the husband and sigh dramatically as he channel-surfs. Why do men do this? Just as I’m getting into whatever happens to be on the channel gets changed.

10:30  I suddenly remember some crucial email or piece of admin that absolutely cannot wait until the following day. I turn on my laptop again to take care of it.

11:00 I fall into bed in a state of exhaustion, and fall into a fitful sleep that will, at least once, be interrupted by one of the kids needing something. Sometimes, I wake up to find one of them beside me. And I’m completely fine with that.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/szift/3196084839. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.)

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January Goals: Laying The Foundation

9 Jan

launchpadSo, now that I have started 2012 off with a week of inspiration from guest bloggers, it is time for me to solidify my own goals for this year. In short, this year is going to be about me. That does not mean that I will ignore my children, refuse to cook dinner for my family, and let everyone go around in dirty clothes. It simply means that I will do a better job of taking care of myself.

Since becoming a mother, I have put the needs of my family first. Which is fine – the truth is that ultimately, everything I do is for my kids. The problem is that I have been taking care of everyone else at the expense of myself. This has led to me being overwhelmed, exhausted, and in many instances, frustrated and unhappy. In a way, I have allowed the essence of me to get lost, to be buried underneath all of the layers of responsibility that I have imposed upon myself.

And so, this year, I am going to find some balance. I am going to pursue some dreams that have been in the horizon of my mind for some time. I believe that being more balanced, less tired, and more in tune with myself will benefit everyone around me.

In 2012, I am aiming to make great strides in my running. With the help of my friend and coach Phaedra Kennedy, I am going to break 2:10:00 in my Run for Autism in October. I am going to make inroads in the world of writing. And come hell or high water, I am going to develop a positive relationship with food that allows me to build good nutritional habits. The old pattern of alternating binge eating with starving myself is going to come to an end. Sometimes I’m thin, sometimes I’m fat, sometimes I’m in between. I’m tired of the yo-yo, and it makes clothes shopping impossible.

My focus in January will be to lay the groundwork for success. This is my plan:

  • I will realign my sleeping habits to go to bed earlier, so I can wake up early in the mornings to run without feeling like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck. When I start my training program on January 30th, I will be used to getting up at five in the morning. My body will have already made that adjustment.
  • I will learn how to do the strength training exercises that Phaedra gave me, so I can incorporate them in my training program right off the bat.
  • I have ordered my Precision Nutrition kit (thanks, Phaedra, for the tip). When it arrives, I will not just dive into it like an overexcited puppy. I will take the time to look over it properly, learn how to use it, and plan appropriately.
  • I will contact a web designer about revamping my site to incorporate both my blog and a general writing component. That will make it easier for me to market myself as a freelance writer.
  • Since I already have a day job, I will start to use my commutes for writing. That’s exactly why Santa brought me this nifty little ’puter that I am writing this post on.

By the end of this month, I will have built myself a launch pad, and I will be able to spend the rest of the year in pursuit of my goals.

Hop on, it’s going to be a wild ride!

Reaching For The Rainbow

30 Sep

George admiring the rainbow

Three days ago, I saw a rainbow. It was big and bright, a perfect arched gate in the sky. I was in the company of my husband and my older son George, for whom the world is sometimes a source of wonder, sometimes mystery, sometimes bewilderment.

For George, the rainbow fell into the category of wonder. In his eight years, he has seen other rainbows, but none that stretched all the way across the sky like this one did.  He clambered out of the car and hoisted himself onto the seat, grabbing onto the roof rack from the open door. He seemed to be trying to get himself as high up as he could go, as if he wanted to reach out and touch the rainbow.

The magic of the rainbow followed George around for the rest of that day.

In the evening, when it was time for him to go to bed, I tucked him in and, as always, spent a bit of time talking to him, asking him simple questions about his day. These bed-time conversations tend to be a bit one-sided: out of all of George’s autism-related difficulties, poor verbal communication is one of the most troubling. Usually his responses need a lot of prompting. On this particular day, though, he had no trouble at all. When I asked him what he had seen today, he whispered, “Rainbow!” and drifted off to sleep with an angelic smile on his beautiful face.

I sat there for a while watching him sleep. I hoped he was having blissful dreams about rainbows.

Sleep Interrupted

18 Jul

Sleep – or lack thereof – has been a big issue in my life lately. I’ve never really been one to sleep for long stretches, and particularly since entering the world of motherhood, I consider six hours to be a good night’s sleep. But these days, even getting that amount of shut-eye is a challenge. There are a number of reasons for the recent sleep deficit, ranging from a run of kids’  tummy bugs to the fact that I’m an occasional insomniac.

Saturday night was particularly brutal. I went to bed early enough, because I was planning a long run early on Sunday morning. The kids were asleep, and James, who had been afflicted with a tummy bug, seemed to be on the mend.

At about midnight, when I had barely been asleep for half an hour, I woke to the sound of James crying his little heart out. My husband and I went to investigate, only to discover that the poor child had had a tummy-bug related accident. I whisked James off to the bathroom to clean him up and comfort him; my husband took care of changing the sheets and throwing soiled sheets and pajamas into the washing machine. James, bless his precious little soul, kept apologizing, even though I assured him that it was OK.

We got James settled and went back to bed. By the time I got back to sleep it was well after 1:00 a.m. A couple of hours later, I was roused to consciousness by a light tugging at my arm. I squinted in the darkness and saw James standing beside my bed. He took my hand, wordlessly led me to his bed, and plaintively asked me to stay with him. How could I refuse, right? So I climbed in and got settled, and James promptly threw up all over me.

As quietly as I could, I got James and myself cleaned up, threw yet another load of sheets and PJ’s into the washing machine, and having run of clean sheets, settled the two of us on the futon in our living room.

We went to sleep, and until about 4:00 a.m., I slept the sleep of the just.

At that point, George started to feel lonely, so he abandoned his bed and went in search of me. His first stop was my own bed, where he apparently found his Dad alone, and woke him up just to say, in a tone riddled with indignation, “You’re not Mommy.” Then he found me on the futon and squeezed in beside me.

There is not enough room on the futon for me and two long, lanky kids, both of whom sleep splayed out like starfish. But my discomfort was outweighed by the fact that I had my boys, one on either side of me. And so I (sleeplessly) passed the rest of the witching hours squished between my two gently snoring kids, with elbows and knees poking into my back, and my head bent at an uncomfortable angle.

Eventually, I gave up on the idea of sleep. I made coffee and drank some, and then, with my body screaming in protest, I went out for a 12km run.

It was not a good run, except in the sense that I actually finished it. By seven in the morning it was already scorching hot, I was not properly hydrated and above all, my body was utterly exhausted.

And because I love being there for my kids whenever they need me, at any time of the day or night, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/doortoriver/2903845014/)

Treadmill Running: Better Than Nothing

14 Jul

Today, for the first time in many months, I came face to face with the treadmill at the gym.

Anyone who’s read my previous posts about treadmills will know exactly how I feel about them. For those who haven’t, I will merely say that I’m not a fan of the lab-rat machines, but regard them as a necessary evil. There are times when road running is just not possible, and running on the treadmill is better than not running at all.

Over the last few months, when I have had to run on the treadmill, I have used the one at home. It sat gathering dust for a few years after my younger son, then aged two,  put his hand onto the treadmill while it was moving, and took off the top few layers of skin. He is now old enough to respect the treadmill, and he knows to stay well away from it.

Treadmill running at home is marginally better than treadmill running at the gym. For a start, my home treadmill has a natural incline to it, so even on its “flat” setting I can simulate outdoor running reasonably well. And in addition, I can watch what I want on the TV without having to plug headphones into a weird little box that may or may not work. So the home treadmill has been a reasonable enough stand-in for “real” running on occasions when I’ve had no-one to watch the kids.

I was supposed to do a tempo run yesterday morning, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t have been a problem. The only thing is that when I do morning runs during the workweek, I have to get out early. I have to be awake by 5:00, outside waiting for my GPS watch to get a signal by 5:10, and running by 5:15. I have discovered that running on less than six hours of sleep makes me feel sick (unless I am racing: I can race on virtually no sleep at all, but racing has its own special set of rules), so I have to be asleep by 11:00 the night before an early morning run.

The night before last, we were having a whole lot of things happening at home. No hot water. Kids refusing to settle. A visit from my accountant. A dryer that wasn’t drying properly, resulting in me having to put each load through the cycle twice.

I did not get to bed until shortly after midnight, and by then my husband and I were so wound up that neither of us could sleep, so we talked until the wee hours of the morning. I did not get to sleep until well after 1:00 in the morning.

There was no way I could run when I woke up. I felt nauseous when my alarm clock went off, and that was before I’d gotten out of bed, never mind attempted to actually run anywhere.

But runners can be flexible, so I decided that it was no problem. I would just move yesterday’s run to this morning, and tomorrow’s run to Friday.

Last night – or should I say this morning – I got to sleep at about 2:30. Fannnnnnn-tastic.

When my alarm went off this morning, I got up, thinking that maybe I should just bite the bullet and run. But as I got up, I felt light-headed. I actually swooned, like they did in eighteenth century novels.

I was left with no choice. Either skip the run entirely (Scandal! How could I even think that!), or I could put in time on the treadmill at the gym at lunchtime. Like I said before, treadmill running is better than not running at all, so the gym it was. I stuck my headphones in my ears and turned on the music, set my training watch, and programmed the treadmill for a 45 minute hill workout.

It was good. I mean, as good as a treadmill run can be. My legs felt strong, my heart rate – inexplicably – stayed in the 150-155 range despite the fact that I was running quite intensely, and I actually kind of enjoyed it. I’m not suggesting that I am going to make treadmill running a regular part of my program, I’m just saying that it’s not always so bad.

So my scheduled run was finally done – albeit a day and a half late – and I have taken another baby step towards my goal of shattering last year’s time for the Autism Run.

And I feel a sense of accomplishment that has me grinning like a village idiot.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mahidoodi/199747855/)

95 Days And 6 Hours

13 Jul

95 days and 6 hours to go…

In 95 days and 6 hours, my heart will be racing and my adrenaline will be pumping.  I will be filled with nervous energy, and all of my senses will be on high alert, even though I probably will not have slept for a week.

In 95 days and 6 hours, I will be one of 20,000 runners waiting for the starters gun to go off, signalling the beginning of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon and Half-Marathon.

In 95 days and 6 hours, I will start my Run for Autism – the race that I do for my son George, who is my inspiration and my reason for running. My son, who has taught me so much about myself, about life, about the things that really matter. My son, who I love so much that I sometimes think my heart will explode.

Up until now, I have had a poor season of training. A variety of illnesses, extreme weather conditions and family emergencies has conspired against me. Not to mention the not-so-small matter of getting married. I did succeed in running an 8km race in the Spring, but I have had to blow off not one but two half-marathons since then, because I have just not been ready for them. I have tried to follow some kind of regular training regimen, and I have been running just enough to keep up some kind of conditioning, but my training has been very much a stop-start kind of thing.

Until now.

Over the weekend, I gathered together pen and paper, the list of races I am registered for between now and my Autism Run, and my calendar. Thus armed, I plotted out a training program, a path to get me from here to there. It is a program that will work. By the time I’m done, I will be able to run the distance and run it well, as long as I stick with it.

My impediment is not lack of discipline. If I have a run scheduled, there are very few things that will deter me. From time to time I may have to shift a run to another time, or even to the following day, but if my schedule tells me to run, then I will run.

The only thing stopping me – barring unforeseen emergencies – is my health. It hasn’t been so great lately. I have been tired, run down, and prone to getting sick. Conventional running wisdom dictates that it is safe to run with a cold as long as all symptoms are above the neck, but practical experience has taught me that it is not a good idea. It might be perfectly safe, but it knocks my immune system down a few notches so that it takes me longer to recover.

So the way I see it, the one thing standing between me and my ability to totally rock this year’s race is my health. If my health is good, my training will take care of itself.

With that in mind, I have a plan. This is all stuff that I really should be doing anyway, but if planning it is what it will take, then so be it.

Here are some promises that I am making to myself (and we all know that it’s wrong to break a promise, regardless of who it’s made to):

I promise that I will hydrate myself properly, and not only during my training runs. And not only with coffee.

I promise that I will take my vitamins every day, because I definitely feel healthier when I do.

I promise that I will see a nutritionist, because my diet is one area where my self-control goes to the birds.

I promise that I will try harder (and “try” is the best I can do at this point) to get more sleep so that I am not literally running on the smell of an oil rag.

Four promises. Anyone can keep four promises, right? And they’re not even hard promises, with the possible exception of the last one.

I can do this. I can totally do this.

In 95 days and 6 hours, I will be ready.

Time’s A Bitch, But I’m Gonna Beat It

25 May

I am having a battle with Time. This battle has been going on for a while, and I confess that for the most part, I have been letting Time win. I’ve decided that from now on, I’m going to stand tall, square my shoulders, hoist up my big girl panties, and KICK TIME IN THE ASS!

I am tired of the following statements being rules of my life:
– I don’t have time to run.
– I don’t have time to write.
– I don’t have time to cook nutritious meals.
– I don’t have time to get enough sleep.
– I don’t have time to relax with my family.

Basically, all I have time to do is commute, work, commute again, and then do a different kind of work when I get home.

This is no way to live. And I’m not going to do it anymore. I’m going to take the time to sort out the logistics of my life, so that going forward, I can do the stuff that matters.

I’m going to systematically go through the stuff in my house and throw crap away so that I can have the physical space to be organized. (I’ve already made a start on that – this weekend I cleaned out my kitchen cupboards and linen closet, and Freecycled three big garbage bags full of baby things).

I’m going to get all of my paperwork filed and up to date, and THEN I’m going to deal with things as they come in instead of waiting for a big fat pile of papers to be teetering over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. (I’ve made a start on that too).

I’m going to prepare kids’ clothing and lunches for the following day, and get my own stuff ready as well, as soon as I get home from work. That way it will be over and done with, and I won’t be dashing around at eleven at night looking for the kids’ socks or trying to find an apple to slice up for a lunch box.

I’m going to go to bed at a reasonable time.

That way, I will be able to get up early to RUN.

I will have time to write, time to cook real food, time to live my life the way it should be lived.

And with all of the crap and clutter out of my way (physical and mental clutter), I will have time for the most important stuff of all. My husband and children.

So that’s the plan, and I am publicly declaring it here.

Now, wish me luck. I think I’ll need it!

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/atportas/329630852)