It’s 11:27 pm, minutes before July ends, and I’m in my office listening to the rain outside my window beat against the glass. But I’m not sure which is more soothing, the rain or the splashing sound of the waterfall coming from the Penguin filter attached to my 10-gallon fish tank. That’s right. I bought a fish tank two weeks ago to give some beauty and life to my home office: Nine colorful fish, live plants, a mini castle, a baby water frog and two snails make great "live" decor pieces. (I wanted to start August on a brighter note) speaking of which, if you're into astrology, read your August scopes, now featured on my website by astrologer Marie Moore. She was sweet enough to collaborate with me. Awesome girl! (Monthly Scopes For August 2013)
So yeah, my 10 gallon fish tank and water "creatures" make a wonderful decor piece. Does that sound cruel and inhumane? Hmm…. (don’t worry, their alive and well: clear water and no parasites) and extremely relaxing and amusing to watch. Fish are weird – surprisingly, you end up learning a lot – and yes, fish really do sleep. It’s called recharging their energy. When you see a fish floating calmly in one position somewhere behind a leaf or coral, they are literally “relaxing and recharging.” No worries, their not dead, although I do check the top of the tank every morning to make sure there's no "casualties."
Their energy reduces and so does their metabolism, as they get some “shut eye,” trust me, they get more shut eye then I have in the past, but more about fishes later. Yes, I'm foreshadowing here. Hey, is it cruel and unusual that I'm craving sushi right about now? Mmmmm...
I turned a spare bedroom in my house into a cozy office and so far, it’s quite blissful. The new addition to the family helps.
There I do my thinking, philosophizing, writing, brainstorming, studying, inspiring, fantasizing, connecting, collaborating and anything else that comes to heart, mind and soul. I guess anything you can classify as “work from home” Oh did I mention the "gathering" of the mugs where warm coffee and Persian tea had once floated. Just kidding, it hasn’t been that long. – Hey, don’t point fingers; it happens to the best of writers, you do it too! Clean that mess!
Here's a picture of my office. I'm not sure why I'm sharing my little sanctuary, but nights like tonight, I'm in a sharing mood. I used to have two large book cases stacked with books, but had to move them out of my space - although I love reading and I'm now an avid reader (again), keeping too many books in one room gave birth to some crazy dust bunnies!
If you're a book collector and love books like I do, then you know what I mean by dust bunnies. You also know what I mean by "aesthetically appealing." Not to mention, I love the smell and warmth of old books, something about them takes me back in time. (So I don't blame you for basking in a pool of books, if you do..is that Hemingway?) But where does it take me? Who knows, but our souls travel back and forth through various sensory experiences. Ever watch the movie Cloud Atlas? No? Watch it, awesome movie!
Anyway, the transition has been great though–once I took my laptop, work and desk out of my bedroom, I was instantaneously able to sleep better. Insomnia? What insomnia? I couldn’t believe it, my normal sleep patterns had returned – it almost feels surreal and unreal considering I have struggled with the lack of sleep for years now. (Wait, it didn’t return, I never had sound sleep, ...what am I talking about!? So I'll have to say, for the very first time, oddly!) Bad, Bad PC!
But I learned a few things – things like computers, the buzzing and droning sound of your PC cooling off or recharging will keep you awake all night, if you’re like me and keep it on at all times. Computer experts, please don't cringe! But anything that distracts you from sleep, can also stir loads of anxious energy.
How about Brick Breaker? I used to play that silly game on my phone every night – reached 8310 points and got noting out of it, specially no rest! Another terrible distraction. Phone games!
(I know some of you are cringing, but old habits die-hard) Also, having your laptop or cell phone in your bedroom or beside your bed is a huge distraction. Tell me your not a phone shover. Are you a phone shover? Do you shove your phone underneath your pillow?
You’ll constantly be tempted to check, send or read text messages that will tell you to check emails. Which you'll get up and go on your computer, to check your email again, and again or Facebook, horoscopes, the news or whatever social media platform you religiously follow - not to mention, I don't think it's very healthy...hmmm...(see the vicious cycle?) Where does this lead? To the path of "no sleep" and you'll get a statement like this, from of course, our infamous G.C Grumpy Cat (lol) Don't listen to her though. *wink*
It’s crazy though– keeping your ringer beside you. You’ll befriend terrible sleeping patterns, most likely induce your insomnia again and become a restless sleeper who looks like A Walking Dead Zombie by sunrise. (Hmm, maybe you should cast as an extra??!! Don’t mock, I've considered it before. Acting as a pale vampire was also another option) but I usually ended up looking like this frazzled owl.
See photo options below!
She doesn't look too impressed! There were days where I felt like this after hours of being wide awake!
Okay this isn't too bad, but I've always been a little bit pale myself. Again, lack of sleep drains the blood out of you! This painting though, is quite interesting. But in the end, this is more like how I truly felt. WOO has any coffee left? (Lame, I know)
But let me guess, if you look like you have extra large garbage bags underneath your eyes, then you were up all night thinking way too much, googling your potential disorders and symptoms or finding out if that’s an abscess or tumor growing on your left but cheek) after you searched up every self-help article out there. Admit it, we all do it. I've done it. And no, I don't have an abscess or tumor growing, but I did search up whether penguins have knees!
Oh wait, do you search with your tongue sticking out? Come on, you can tell me! What's more? I'm not sure, keep reading and something might come out of my ramblings in this post.
Did you know that birds on my side of the world start chirping precisely between 4:15 and 4:30 AM? *Cough* How do I know this? Easy. Through years of being up late, observing, listening, going crazy, tossing and turning and being obsessively, yes, obsessively distracted by my computer and phone which I kept right by my bedside. (Bad Idea) But I'm sure you guessed I was going to say that. (Now if I'm up late, it's by choice and not force.)
Luckily, I don't watch television. Unless, I catch a glimpse of City Pulse at this new awesome breakfast joint that just opened up in my town.
Anyway, back to the point. Friends used to be surprised at how fast I was able to respond to their text messages and emails – almost promptly no matter what time of day it was. I’m not saying I’m no longer a reliable or available person, but having quick and easy access to these means of social media tools or technology 24/7, really messed up with my personal schedule, a few relationships, priorities and sleep patterns - keeping me up all night with all sorts of thoughts. As a writer or artist with a vivid imagination, this can be painful sometimes.
You don’t even realize how habitual it becomes or how addicted you are to the internet late at night, until you lose your Internet connection one day, because the "new" technician accidentally unplugged something a few blocks down your street. Oh no! Which leaves you frantic because you couldn’t greet GOOGLE in the morning with a warm cup of coffee! Sounds familiar? You relate? Good!
Yup, it can become addictive, but then again, if you're a blogger/writer like me, you feel me. It's a bitter sweet love. Here's a funny line. I absolutely love a witty pun. If you understand physiology, you'll love this one. What does this have to do with technology or what I'm talking about? I don't know. I just wanted to make you smile. *blank stare*
So yeah, if you want to restore your good sleeping habits, take your computer, Laptop, iPhone, Galaxy, Blackberry, Blueberry, Raspberry, Cherry or whatever else "fruit-like" gadget you have that haunts and taunts you to have a “short fling” with it in the middle of the night, OUT of your bedroom. Period. (With the exception of your alarm clock, yup gotta keep that!) and this active change will work wonders. I don’t know. It has for me and it might for you too. Worth a try.
Of course, I learned this unexpectedly as my initial intention was not to get better sleep (I had given up on that) but to have a cozy and private office. I guess it was serendipity teaching me another lesson. So instead of looking at a blackberry all night, I eat one. Get it? *shrug*
Now I have a major rule; when I’m tired I go to bed and DO NOT under any circumstances, lug my little technological gadgets with me. Laptop, blackberry, and timer all stay behind. Our relationship ends at the office door. That’s right, I keep business and sleep separate. I blow a kiss to my nine fishes and off to bed I go. The sweet sound of silence, serenity and calm is almost delicious! It’s a whole new world for me in there. The pillows feel softer; the covers feel cozier and no longer am I tossing and turning like a BBQ chicken on a rotisserie! Is that bounty I smell?
For years on end, I never needed an alarm clock, because I was always up – the last to fall asleep. I was considered the family "home alarm system." No really, who needs an alarm system, when you have an insomniac in the house? I even wrote a poem and published it in my book Epiphany - A Collection of Poems, called Ode to Insomnia. After all these years, I had to pay tribute, come on! You can read my poem by clicking the title right here----> (Ode To Insomnia) and if you like what you read, you can purchase my book if you're a poetry lover, or you can purchase an early Christmas present for someone. And if you live in the Toronto Area, I'd love to sign it for ya! Just saying. ;-)
I dedicated the poem to my beloved sleeping disorder whom I have actually separated from since I’ve relocated rooms. Anything that buzzes, beeps, makes excessive noise or lights up like a faint little phantom in the middle of the night, stays away from my "sleeping corridors." I love using fancy names...just for the heck of it. I blame it on my English Degree!
Anyway, the change felt awkward at first to be honest. In my mind, I don't like the idea of change. But I'm pretty adaptable. But the silence was too loud in bed. I continued to toss and turn. My emotions and thoughts held my body hostage and captive uttering blood thirsty threats! (Open your eyes and check your email, now!) is what I heard in a deep exorcist like voice. Ugh, just the thought stressed me out. REM? Never heard of it! So I no longer have the need to check my email compulsively. My "social" life has taken a decline and chatting is completely out of the picture as well. I think knowing what your priorities are, naturally creates a good balance.
So moment of truth. I'm not perfect! (perfection?)
I was tempted to bring my gadgets back into my bedroom one night, but I held back and decided to stick to my guns. Self-discipline can be royally tough! But no means no. It was uncomfortable for a few nights, even boring, the hours stretched out longer, felt like eternity all over again. I thought I was seeing things in my room. I thought I felt something on my left leg which was sticking out of the covers (yes, I retreated leg back under the covers right away). So you see, silence can make a woman go mad. I started to hallucinate, not being used to this thing called "sound sleep." I started to pursue my imagination. But the thing in my room was the light reflecting against my mirror, and the thing against my leg was a loose thread from my sheets brushing gently across.
Yup, say it. How embarrassing! With the exception of moths. I have these crazy moths flying around in my bedroom each night - I swear, their on steroids!
So after much thinking and reflecting, something happened. I started to exhaust myself slowly and “pass out” naturally - earlier and earlier every night. I started to feel at peace. I started to get used to the idea of sleep and solitude, until it turned from an idea to a real applied action. Can I get an AMEN???
I didn’t provide myself with a second option. I programmed my brain to visualize and see my bedroom as a place for rest and sleep; and nothing more whether I liked it or not. So when I enter my room now, I put on my P.J’s, and it’s time for bed! (Unless I’m already in my P.J’s. Hmmm - yes, I can be a lazy kid at heart)
A promise made to the self is just as important as one made to someone else. It’s all about integrity, loyalty and self-respect. Yup! Oh and building better and healthier habits permanently.
So no regrets so far. I’m getting better sleep after more than 20 years of struggling with the lack of sleep, and more work done in the “office.” I’m no longer tempted to mix my relationship with my bed; with my work. We sleep together every night, all night and have become quite intimate. Yup, I love my sheets!
In fact, I have no desire to destroy my relationship with my new found love (sleep) over anything or anyone, specially not my PC. Yes, I’m really surprised at how fast I adapted too! Who knew what a little bit of change could bring. So here’s a few words of wisdom. If you don’t try, practice, engage or implement new life style changes into your daily routine, you’ll never know how much better and happier you could be living. Changing one thing about your habits can have a domino effect, and can eradicate annoying habits causing pleasant surprises, unexpected bliss, a few self-reflecting smiles and lots of miracles!
What’s going on in the office?
Okay, here’s the truth. I hate plain white walls. I feel like I’m in an insane asylum with out my straitjacket and lithium shots! White walls drive me crazy. I find them boring. So I thought about painting it mauve or plum or puke yellow. Just kidding - but I couldn’t bring myself to it – then I’d have to color the rest of the house (I have mild OCD??) and I share this roof with two other family members, so coming to a mutual agreement right now is out of the picture.
I thought about plants, lots of them: maybe a colorful cactus, a wandering Jew (No seriously, that’s exactly what it’s called!) also known as the Inch Plant, see photo below.
Then I thought nah, maybe I’d get an Asparagus Fern or a Mother-in Laws Tongue aka known as the Snake Tongue. I’m smirking here; I find the names of these plants exclusively hilarious! Oh the irony! Yes, I found this on Google, apparently their "office friendly" plants. Check them out.
But plants were not enough – I wanted to be around something other then people or lush vegetation– something more alive and positively distracting. Plus, I don’t think I wanted to deal with unexpected pollen allergies or mold from the plants. I wanted something more, something that moved, squirmed, meowed or barked!
Okay, I admit – I wanted a pet. Fishes are pets? No? Semi-pets? *Raises eyebrow - shrugs*
My last choice broke down to the Jade Plant also known as the Friendship Tree, Lucky Plant and Money Tree – but since I haven’t had any luck in neither friendship nor money in the last little while, I decided to opt out and go for a 10 gallon fish tank with a Penguin filter which thankfully, doesn’t make too much noise! And is low in maintenance. I'm usually passionate about anything or anyone I love, so taking good care of it, isn't much of a huge deal or obligation for me. But maybe someday I'll change my mind and get Jade Plant too, they look pretty sturdy and everlasting. Hmm...time will tell.
And If you own a fish tank with a filter, then I’m sure you’re nodding your head and can relate if you got a healthy filter. My first filter sounded like a roaring engine on caffeine. I think it gave my frog a heart attack and was excruciatingly annoying. So I took it back to Big Al’s and got a brand new one at no cost. Works like magic. If you have a filter that sounds like the Soviet War in Afghanistan all over again, get that checked out. It’s not normal. Oh yeah, this is the box I scrimmaged through! Felt like Christmas. Have you ever done anything exclusively for yourself? Feels great, you should try it, spoil yourself!
So the fish tank is a nice compliment to the atmosphere in my office– 10-gallon starter tanks are great to start with – but be careful, it could turn into an addictive hobby. Just saying! Here's a few fishes that are currently swimming in my tank. I've spoiled them rotten. Wait..um, not literally!
This hear is an Angel Fish... cool little fella. Very calm, reflective and likes to hide when the mood strikes him. I've named him Enigma. His face looks like Grumpy Cat. This isn't my exact fish, but I got one of these little ones and their "angelic," pun intended!
I got two guppies that look exactly similar to this one. They look like elegant ladies flowing in long skirts. Somehow, she reminds me of Beyonce - elegant and absolutely beautiful! Yes, I had to mention the diva.
Last, I got a frog pretty much like this little guy. He's quite amusing and I'll leave it at that. The rest of the fishes, I have no idea what their called, but their all fairly beautiful.
In between studying for my Private Investigators exam, family stuff, relationship, law studies, blogs, project planning, preparing for work in a few weeks and occasional social media updates, I find comfort in the simple things in life – in the solitude between long hours of work. (Yes, I have a pretty cool career lined up as a Private Investigator, but more about this next time) No worries, I'll still be around, forever blogging and writing for you..
So if you’re looking for ways to liven up your work environment, purchase some plants, fishes, inspirational posters, scented candles or paint your walls; just a few options that may work out for you. Or you can hunt for a really artistic hand woven rug from a vintage store. Choose one and follow through! It will seriously liven up your mood and space. Did I mention I hate white walls?
So what's next? I don't know, but I do know I'm enjoying creating better and healthier habits and getting out of old ruts. I think a better health regime is next - fruits and veggies galore!
One more thing, if you wake up and find yourself out of kilter, play an upbeat song before you get to work. It'll raise your mood quite drastically. Here's my favorite "mood lifter" by Skunk Anansie, called The Sweetest Thing. It automatically makes me wanna dance no matter how I'm feeling. Damn those feelings!
If you’ve recently upgraded your office – I’d love to hear from you. Send me pics. Tell me what you did and if you’re like me and found a solution to your sleeping problem, I’d also love to hear from you. Let's connect. xoxo
P.S Enjoy this beat!