Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Insomnia is a large part of my life. It is a foe I face daily, sometimes it wins, sometimes I win.

Actually, even on nights when I am plagued with insomnia, sometimes I win. On those nights that I find myself unable to relax, unable to turn of my mind and go to sleep, I have quiet time to reflect and to contemplate. I can pick a topic, meditate on the topic, and sometimes end up with some really great and thought-provoking moments.

Insomnia (at least for me) comes in several versions or flavors. There is the insomnia that won't allow me to fall asleep at bedtime. My mind is racing, my body is jumpy, and I can tell that getting into bed will be an exercise in frustration. I might read for hours, get out of bed and watch tv, or get on the computer and putz around (curse you Facebook).

Then there is what I call secondary insomnia. I go to sleep with little or no trouble. I sleep blissfully for anywhere from an hour to three and then something wakes me up. I might have a strange or bad dream, I might need to go to the bathroom, Connor needs me for something, Drew has a bad dream that wakes me. Suddenly I am awake and no for sure that I am not going to fall asleep again without a real struggle. These are the nights that I have to get out of bed and find things to occupy myself with while I try to get sleepy again, not so easy after what amounts to a power nap.

I have an arsenal of tactics to deal with insomnia. If I am in bed and feel like getting to sleep might be a bit of a struggle I have mind-visualizations that help me to quiet my mind. Basically give it something to work on, that will keep it on a fairly quiet task. This can lead to sleep. Some of my favorites.....

When we were planning to knock down our house and rebuild on the property, we were looking at literally hundreds of house plans. Each week I would pick a few that really caught my attention and if I found myself having trouble sleeping I would walk through these houses in my mind.

Once we settled on a house plan, I would walk through the house in my mind, seeing it complete and decorated, filled with the people and the things that I love.

I am an enthusiastic amateur genealogist and will use my research to help me sleep. I will pick a family line and track it back in my head for as far back as my research has taken me and I can remember without my notes. I will pick one person in that line, or one couple, or one family and I will try to visualize moments from their lives. One ancestor came over on the Mayflower and actually met Squanto, one was a 12 year old girl married to a man much her senior and brought by him to the New World in 1638 (what did she see/smell/hear/think as her foot stepped on the gangplank to leave behind all she knew?).

I am an historian. I will try to imagine what my property was like when my grandparents first saw it 80 years ago, what was it like when the first European saw it, the first Native America, what was it like before then. What were the sounds like, the vegetation, the topography? I will do the same thing to the mountains of North Carolina (where my father's family started in 1740), and the Eastern Shore of Maryland (where my grandfather's family goes back to 1693).

Lately I have been running numbers in my head- strange because I am so abysmal at math. Still, I will pretend I have won some huge lottery and try to figure out how much I would have to invest at what interest rate to secure a comfortable living for the rest of my life. Then I will take the remainder and fantasize about changing the lives of those I love, and those that would benefit.

When all else fails and I have had a few nights of insomnia in a row I will call in the big guns. I might take a Tylenol PM, sip Nyquil, or have a glass of wine. I have a series of things that will help to make me so sleepy at the beginning of the night that I am unlikely to have trouble sleeping through the night. Sometimes, like tonight, a glass of warm milk with a little ginger and honey in it will do the trick.

Yep, insomnia and I are quite familiar with each other. It is a drag, but I try to make it work for me. Most times I find that the ability to exercise my mind in the peace of the middle of the night has its benefits. Still, all the cool thoughts and reading, tv watching, and writing is not worth the lost sleep. Ahhhhh.. to sleep the sleep of the non-insomniac.

Well, off to sip my warm milk and catch up on a little reading. It's 2:09am, maybe I'll get back to sleep before the birds wake up!

Friday, May 21, 2010


What is forgiveness? Is it an active action, can it be passive, does it imply that the "offender" wasn't wrong? I find myself contemplating forgiveness quite a bit lately, and finding myself perplexed by it's presence in my life.

My childhood wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. Some kids had it much worse, some had it much better, but without hesitation I can say that I had it pretty rough. My parents each came with their troubles and shortcomings and all that had a varying effect on my growing up.

Thankfully, along with the difficulty, I was given amazing amounts of grace. It is that grace that I count when I look back on my life and see where I have ended up. A unique mix of my grandmother, my village, and the friends (and their parents) allowed me to "get above my raisin'" and in a good way.

But, back to forgiveness.....

I have plenty of reason to be very angry at my parents. My mother was a messed up and fractured human being. She had such deep-seated troubles, and was constantly taking it out on those around her. Her way to deal with her disappointments, her fears, and her own mixed up life was to try to destroy those around her. My father, he lived a life that told him not to be weak, don't trust, and don't allow those around you to rely on you. Survival of the fittest was his way of surviving.

I was able to find forgiveness for my mother in trying to understand what motivated her own rage. By examining her life, asking questions of those who knew her growing up, and looking at our relationship as mother and daughter, I was able to find peace in my heart. I was able to see her for the frail human that she was, and to let the anger go in the face of my sorrow for her. It didn't change the wrong she did, did not excuse the inexcusable, but allowed me to have peace and forgiveness for her.

My father was a little more complicated. The wrong he did me seemed much more deliberate, more calculated to hurt. He put himself first, when I felt he had the capacity for doing other. I raged against the wrongs he did, the rights he left undone, and the emotional inability for him to connect the way I wanted. For year we didn't speak and I was content to have it that way.

Then, through a weird alignment of events, I found myself with my father in my home. I saw him for the frail human he is (that we all are). Suddenly, all that anger coupled with the new understanding I had of his life through my genealogy research and I found myself less angry. Over the last several years we have healed our relationship and now hardly a day goes by that we don't talk, and several times a week we see each other. Our relationship has found forgiveness.

So, here is my question... By forgiving someone are you saying that they weren't wrong in your relationship? Are you saying that whatever event that led you to need forgiveness is now null and void? Is it possible to continue to acknowledge the wrong done to you, but allow it to live in the past? Can you look at an individual and see their actions (or lack thereof) in the context of their greater life and allow the peace of today to speak in the place of the pain of yesterday- without saying that yesterday wasn't painful?

I find myself in the curious position of feeling that while my parents did me wrong, I can find peace in my relationship of today. It doesn't change the past, doesn't change the moments that I am that injured young woman who has been profoundly hurt by her parents. For today, I think I have found a place where the love I feel for a man who has been hugely important to me has supplanted the pain I felt when he betrayed me. My sorrow for the little boy he was- betrayed by those he relied on- has given me a peace and understanding I will hold on to, because it is better than anger.

Forgiveness is a far more complex thing than I ever thought possible. It is possible to say "I forgive" without saying, "It's ok what you did." Who knew.....


Freedom came to my cyber-life today in the form of my new Toshiba laptop. I am so beyond thrilled to have the mobility, the freedom, and the functionality. That old desktop was garbage straight out of the box, gave us nothing but grief the whole time we owned it, and I am so not sorry to see it go!

Can't wait to get back to blogging. It was hard to do when the old HP was seizing up, crashing, and generally causing all kinds of headaches. Ahhhhh... freedom!