Get a Life

Yup. I heard someone say that to a girl who looked really resigned and defeated the other day. Clearly the comment was not made to buck her up.

If I were inclined to butt into other people’s business, I’d have had quite a bit to say to that girl. Too much, probably. Maybe I should have. I don’t know.

First of all, I would have said, you have a life. You’re breathing, right? So clearly your “friend” doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He said that to you because the life you have does not meet his specifications. And nothing says you have to meet his specifications. Your life is your own to do with what you will.

Often people will say “Get a life” when someone is intruding upon theirs, though. Just to be on the safe side, you might want to examine your behavior to make sure you aren’t trying to push unsolicited advice onto him. Because he, too, has a right to do with his life whatever he wants.

But expressing concern about someone’s behavior because you care is not a crime. Empathy is a good trait to have. Don’t let anyone quash that in you.

Just be sure you can distinguish between expressing concern and trying to solve someone else’s problem. Give advice if asked. Otherwise just tell the person what is worrying you, in a calm and factual way, and let the cards fall where they may. After all, you’d want the same treatment, wouldn’t you?

But if allowed to butt in even further, I’d suggest that perhaps that girl might want to find a different friend. Because if someone is inclined to be that rude, and wants to shut you down so thoroughly, then you’re not being valued at all. You deserve better, girl.

If, on the other hand, you are reading this because you find yourself saying “Get a life” to others on a regular basis, you might want to a) stop and listen to what people are trying to tell you, and/or b) figure out that you are not the life police. Advising others that they have no life is rude, arrogant, insulting and unproductive. Maybe you should get a life. (See what I did there?)

https _www.askideas.com_media_65_The-older-I-get-the-more-I-understand-that-its-okay-to-live-a-life-others-dont-understand

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21 Sleep Tricks

I worked the graveyard shift for 13 years. I don’t recommend it. Your whole life begins to revolve around the desperate pursuit of sleep, and you turn into one of those people who curse your neighbors for mowing the lawn. It’s not a good look.

When I think about how I used to cry as a child when I was told it was bedtime, it makes me laugh. Now I’m more apt to cry when I can’t sleep. I’d rather sleep than just about anything else these days. It doesn’t cost a thing, and you feel great afterwards. There are very few things in life that you can say those things about.

That being said, I’ve picked up quite a few sleeping tricks over the years. Some of them involve taking supplements or the like. Please know that I’m not a doctor, and I strongly urge you to consult one before adopting any of these methods. Everyone’s physiology is slightly different, and as the saying goes, your results may vary.

So, in no particular order, here are 21 tricks to help you sleep.

Exercise. Often I can’t sleep because I’m full of nervous energy. But I have noticed that I always sleep better on days when I’ve exercised. Even if all you do is take a 20 minute walk, you’ll reap many benefits, including a better night’s sleep.

Yoga. I’ve discovered that a simple gentle yoga routine makes me sleep like a baby.

Raise your legs. I have a friend who swears by this. She says it has something to do with the fact that your blood is pooling in the area around your stomach. Worth a try.

Meditation. Quiet your mind and your body will soon follow. At least that’s been my experience.

Relaxing sounds. You can find all sorts of free recordings on Youtube that are 8 to 12 hours long, and designed specifically to help you relax and/or sleep. Here’s my favorite at the moment: Tibetan Healing Sounds #1.

Sex. This seems to work wonders for men in particular. (Ladies, you know exactly what I’m talking about.) But as a woman, I’ve also found that I have a much easier time falling to sleep if I’m smiling and feeling loved. Something to think about.

Get a Chillow. Sometimes I can’t sleep because it’s just too darned hot. After hearing me grumbling about this, a friend recommended that I get a Chillow, and since I trust her implicitly, I did. And these things work wonders! If your head is cool, the rest of you feels cool as well. They also are great for people who suffer from hot flashes. My friend recommends the Mini-Chillow, and urges you to get the name brand, not the cheap knock-offs, because they last longer, and you don’t really need a large one.

Breathe through your left nostril. This is a yoga trick. If you lie on your left side and hold your right nostril closed, it is amazingly relaxing. You have to try it to believe it.

The 4-7-8 breathing trick. While researching this blog entry, I kept coming across this trick. It seems that a lot of people swear by it. It’s a little too complicated to go into here, but click on the link. I’m going to try this next time I have trouble sleeping. I’m all for a non-medicinal method!

First sleep, second sleep. I’m lucky enough to have a relatively flexible sleep schedule, so of all the methods I mention, this one works best for me. I also happen to find it fascinating. A few years ago I came across several articles such as this one. It seems that historians kept encountering mentions of first sleep and second sleep as recently as the 1700’s. They came to realize that cramming all your sleep into a single 8 hour period is an artificial construct that came about with electric lighting. Once we were able to illuminate more of the day, we started stuffing more activities into it, and giving ourselves ever-shortening windows of opportunity to sleep. Before that, people naturally slept for a period of time, say 4 to six hours, then got up when their bodies told them to, and talked or made love or did light activities for an hour or so. Then they went back to sleep for a couple hours. Ever since I’ve started doing this, I’ve felt a lot more rested in the morning. It’s tragic that the lives most of us currently live do not allow for this adjustment.

Lavender. I don’t know what it is about this smell, but it knocks me out. You can get it in many forms. You can have it in a pillow, or shampoo your hair with it, use it as a lotion or a body spray… whatever works best for you.

Hot Bath. If I’m feeling agitated, a hot bath often calms me down. Sending the message to your body that you deserve pampering never hurts. And if you get some Epsom salts that are infused with lavender, well, that is like a one-two punch.

Warm Milk. Oddly, this has never worked well for me, but I know people who have had great success with it.

Audio Books. When I told a friend of mine that I was writing this blog entry, she told me a trick that she uses. She often can’t sleep because she can’t stop thinking, so recently she decided she needed to distract herself. She began listening to audio books at bedtime. She says it also works when she wakes in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Currently she recommends Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise by Oscar Hihuelos.

Stare at a fixed point. Keep staring at it. Don’t let yourself look at anything else. This is a form of self-hypnosis. If you can do this for any length of time and NOT fall asleep, you are a robot.

Write stuff down. Often, I can’t sleep because my brain keeps going over things I’m upset about, or things I’m afraid I’ll forget. When that happens I’ve found that if I write those things down and then tell myself I’ll revisit them in the morning, I sort of give myself permission to “clock out” for the night.

Tryptophan. It’s not just in turkey, and not just for Thanksgiving. Your body requires it, and it’s found in a wide variety of food, including many nuts (and peanut butter), poultry, cheese, red meats, and on and on. And you can also get it in pill form, although I’ve never tried it.

Melatonin. You can get this in the vitamin section of your pharmacy. I use it as a last resort because while it does put me to sleep, it also gives me really strange dreams, and I wake up feeling kind of groggy.

Vitamin D. Now that I’m in the cloudy Pacific Northwest, my doctor discovered that I was not getting sufficient Vitamin D, so she had me start taking a supplement. She recommended that I take it at bedtime, though, because it can make you sleepy. I’m all for killing two birds with one stone.

Marijuana. Okay, first of all, I’m only recommending this in places where it’s legal. Second, it should only be done in moderation, because it can impact your life and your job prospects and your brain chemistry in unpredictable ways. Personally, pot practically sends me into a coma. But it also throws me into a deep dark depression, so it’s not something I want in my life. But if I could get to sleep no other way, I might resort to this now and again.

Yarrow Root. Again, I’ve never tried this, but I have a friend who swears by it.

So there you have it, the results of my years of pursuing the elusive Sandman. May you have sweet dreams and restful nights. And if you have any other tricks, please share them in the comment section!


The Right to Breathe

When I was about 11 years old, a guy that had a crush on my sister went swimming with us. He was about 18, and his hormones were such that I’m sure he viewed me as a nuisance, just another obstacle blocking his path to the Promised Land. At one point my sister went off to get a snack or take a bathroom break or something, and this boy, who was sitting on the edge of the pool as I was clinging to the side in the deep end, put his hand on top of my head and pushed me under the water and locked his elbow.

I still remember this vividly– watching all my air bubble past my face, feeling my lungs spasm, hearing myself making primal animal-like noises underwater as I struggled and kicked and thrashed and panicked and clawed at his hand  and desperately tried to get to the surface. I got tunnel vision, and the tunnel kept getting darker and darker and smaller and smaller. It felt like it lasted for an eternity. I have never been so terrified or felt so helpless in my entire life. I still have nightmares based on that experience.

Finally he let go of my head because my sister was coming back. I burst to the surface, coughing and gasping and crying hysterically. He laughed. Given his reaction, and her assumption that I tended toward the dramatic, my sister didn’t take the situation at all seriously. I went home crying, and my mother didn’t take it seriously either. But looking back at it from an adult perspective, I’m quite certain that little weasel could have killed me that day. Thank God my sister came back when she did or things could have been quite different. He laughed.

There is nothing worse than not being able to breathe. Nothing. The fact that my boyfriend died all alone while most likely struggling to breathe is something I’ll never get over. I used to help him through his asthma attacks, and the worst part about it was the panic in his eyes. But that last, most critical time, I wasn’t there. He died alone in his truck, clutching his rescue inhaler.

So when I hear Republicans say that waterboarding isn’t torture, or that it’s justified torture, I take it kind of personally. Everyone should have the right to breathe. I don’t think these people understand the waterboarding concept at all. It’s simulated drowning. It’s the same as being held under water. Your air passages fill with water. And when you try to struggle toward the “surface”, that surface is covered in wet cloth.

I once saw an episode of Strangers in Danger where one of the hosts volunteered to be waterboarded to see what it was like. He lasted about 3 seconds, and when he sat up, he looked terrified. He said it was much worse than he thought.

I think every politician who says waterboarding isn’t torture should have to experience it, right in the middle of the rotunda of the House of Representatives. Call it a practical experiment. I strongly suspect that they’d change their minds about the practice right then and there. End of freakin’ debate.

According to The Guardian, a winner of the Pulitzer prize, the recently released Senate report on the torture committed by the CIA includes this description:

“At times Abu Zubaydah was described as ‘hysterical’ and ‘distressed to the level that he was unable effectively to communicate’. Waterboarding sessions ‘resulted in immediate fluid intake and involuntary leg, chest and arm spasms’ and ‘hysterical pleas’. In at least one waterboarding session, Abu Zubaydah ‘became completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth’ … Abu Zubaydah remained unresponsive until medical intervention, when he regained consciousness and ‘expelled copious amounts of liquid’.”

The Guardian further stated: The CIA doctor overseeing the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said that the prisoner was ingesting so much water that he or she was no longer concerned that regurgitated gastric acid was likely to damage his oesophagus. But, the doctor warned, the CIA should start using saline, because his electrolytes were becoming too diluted.

My first thought is, what kind of a doctor would participate in that sort of treatment? Whatever happened to “first, do no harm”? And he or she was being paid with our tax dollars.

That there is even a question in any civilized human being’s mind that this treatment is torture makes me weep for humanity. And that’s but one of the grisly tales in that report. Standing on broken limbs, rectal rehydration, sleep deprivation, beatings, detainment in coffin-sized boxes, and hypothermia are only the tip of the iceberg. If this is what we are capable of as a society, then all is truly lost. I’m sickened.

But I’m hardly one to talk. What happened to that 18 year old boy who tried to drown me? He stopped coming around for some reason. It probably had something to do with the fact that he stopped by to visit my sister one day when I was the only one home, and I kicked him so hard in the stomach that I actually felt my toes going underneath his rib cage. As he stood doubled over, gasping for air, I quietly shut the door. I never saw him again.


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