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Savor the Moment: Banish the Night Visitors

Ah, my sweet bed. A comfy, cozy haven. I love being  tucked safely under the covers in peaceful bliss. All is well. And then . . .the night visitors arrive. Those pesky thought intruders that come unbidden at random times but are most reliable in the early morning hours. As I slowly start to wake up they appear at the threshold of my consciousness and enter without waiting for an invitation. They’re often a decidedly dark cast of characters and I really wish they’d take up residence at a Motel 6 instead of in my head. On occasion, there are a few lighter visitors, the thought equivalent of Girl Scouts selling cookies. I welcome those, who doesn’t like a little Thin Mint thought? But it’s the others that fill me with dread.


Usually the thoughts announce themselves with a question. “Is today the day?” When I was much younger the questions would have been full of youthful drama. Is today the day I fall in love? Get into graduate school? Sail off on a schooner? But now the thoughts are harbingers of existential dread. Is today the day it happens? “It” is not a good thing. Is today the day my body fails me? My brain betrays me for good? Or the most terrifying of all, is today the day I become incapacitated and dependent on others for everything? These are not totally irrational thoughts. We all have a “use by” date and I’m approaching mine but where’s a little denial when you need it?

Since this is not the crowd I’d invite for house guests I work on escorting them out but they don’t go easily. Hints are ineffective. Getting annoyed only causes them to hide for a moment before they reappear like a drone on the horizon. The more I try to actively push them out, the more they push back. So I give in. Sometimes I just observe them like leaves floating on a river. Sometimes I try to actively invite other thoughts into my mind. I seek out positive possibilities where I can find them. Maybe today’s the day it’s going to be a nice morning and I could enjoy a moment outside with a cup of coffee. Maybe today’s the day I get to have lunch with a friend. Or perhaps today I get to run my dog in agility. Unlike the dark visitors that push for center stage these thoughts need to be drawn out. Actively engaged with. Since denial has never been in my repertoire I have to consciously alter my focus to something hopeful and life affirming because staying in bed and contemplating the menu of mayhem that could befall me is a waste of the moment and doesn’t end well. I’ll bet the Wicked Witch was having a pretty good day until that house fell on her. If she’d squandered her time worrying about Dorothy she would have missed out on some witchy pleasures in the meantime.

“Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.”                                                                                ~Leo Buscaglia

Having intrusive thoughts of existential worry does not mean you’re crazy or abnormal. For most of us, it’s just a part of the human condition. Don’t berate yourself for your thoughts but try not to keep looking for the house that could fall on you. Turn to the simple pleasures of the moment. Sip and savor.


Here are some good reads on mindfulness to consider:


Bedroom Antics

I remember when “going to bed” was an entirely different experience. I used to be able to sleep most anywhere, if sleep was what I wanted to do. As long as there was a relatively horizontal surface I was good. A fluffy pillow was a bonus. You could have parked a Mack truck under the mattress and I probably wouldn’t have noticed. But sleep was just one thing one did in bed and not necessarily the best thing. Just take your clothes off, jump in, and go for it. A candle was high romance. Continue reading…

Digging in the Dirt: Who needs Prozac?

A neighbor saw me digging in the dirt the other day and told me he’d read something about research, bugs, and  a serotonin boost for those who garden. I’d be happy to stick my face in the dirt and dig to China if need be to get a little squirt of that happy neurotransmitter. I checked it out and here’s what I concluded. Continue reading…

Priorities: Getting Them In Order

I’ve been thinking about social media, the internet, and the future of this blog. It’s been almost one year since I wrote my first post and I need to make a decision about where I’m going to go with my writing in general and this blog in particular. I’d wanted to write for years but somehow never found the time. A familiar tale for many. But last year, as a career change loomed on the horizon, I felt it was time. After years of listening to others I wanted to have a voice and what better platform than a blog? All I had to do was hit the “publish” button and voila, published. No pesky rejection letters for me. I could have total control over my posts and I thought eventually there might be a small amount of income. I was thinking really small. Like under six figures, including decimals. Continue reading…

The Journey is the Thing

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.- Greg Anderson


We agility people like our ribbons. We like to adorn crates, cars, house and all available surfaces with ribbons. At an agility trial you can get a ribbon for running the course correctly, a qualifying run known as a “Q.” You can get a ribbon for placement in a class. Less frequently you can get a title ribbon meaning you’ve racked up enough Qs to earn a new title. And way less frequently you can get a humongous ribbon for a special event. Contrary to what Freud might think, I’ve never had penis envy but I’ve had ribbon envy for some time. They’re big, they’re pretty, they are quite a statement about what you did and I wanted one. I never thought I’d get one of those big beautiful babies but then, amazingly, I did. My Bea was the fastest dog of the day in the sporting group and I was over the moon thrilled. For about five minutes. Continue reading…

Fear: Don’t Confuse Me With The Facts

Vaccinations have been a hot topic following the recent outbreaks of measles in the United States. I thought we were all done with measles but no, they’re baack. In 2014 there were 644 cases reported in 27 states and 176 cases so far in 2015, most of those linked to an amusement park. (Ahem, Mickey, had you been vaccinated?) As parents increasingly opt out of vaccines, states have begun to introduce legislation to strengthen immunization policies. But bills to eliminate personal belief exemptions in Oregon and Washington state recently failed. Parents are afraid for their children and want personal choice over medical decisions. Who cares about the potential for a return of many long eradicated diseases like measles, mumps, and whooping cough. Who cares that one’s personal decision could negatively affect the many. Fear trumps reason. Continue reading…

Pleasure: Seize the moment

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”                     - Thích Nhất Hạnh

I envy my dogs sometimes, especially my spaniel who has an unmitigated joie de vivre. My Gordon Setter can be more like me, steeped in perpetual angst, but Beatrix? She’s joyful. It can be raining and muddy outside and she’s content to stare at the tree in squirrel stalking stance for hours. Fully present in the hopefulness of the moment. If the sun is shining she can fling herself to the ground and roll around squeaking with exuberant abandon. Dinner is a festive feast every day, no complaints about the same old thing. I have a lot to learn from her.  Continue reading…

The Highly Sensitive Person

There are times in life when I have to contain my impulse to jump up and run screaming.These are not times that would be obvious to most people. They may be at moments that appear to be perfectly lovely. One of them is when I’m playing games with my group of extroverted friends while conversation flows and music fills the air. I love each one of them. I enjoy their humor, intellect, and energy. I like music and I love playing games. So what’s my problem? When you put it all together it’s too much. The total of all that good feels overwhelming for me because I’m an HSP – a highly sensitive person. A delicate flower in the sensory stimulation department. Continue reading…

Goals: Don’t be Attached to the Outcome

One of the activities that occupies my head space is dog agility. This is a sport where you train like crazy, shlep enough supplies for a military deployment, sit around for hours waiting your turn, and then run like hell for about 30 seconds. Curious? Watch some international competitors here. I don’t move quite as fast as those top handlers however. My style is more like the Titanic – slow to turn. But even at my level, people set unrealistic goals and that’s where the troubles start. Continue reading…