Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Be Gentle with Yourself

Yesterday, after I'd shared the nightmare I woke from with a dear friend, one of her pieces of advice was to be gentle with myself physically.  That, for me, is a helpful reminder.  It seems like common sense.  I'd been denied several hours of sleep, and gone through an adrenaline rushing, emotionally challenging experience - why wouldn't I care for myself.  But, because sleep issues and even dreams are so often a part of my reality, I forget that sometimes it's okay to give myself a little bit extra grace.

I tried to do that yesterday. 

It was, quite honestly, a pretty hard day.  Even now, if I close my eyes and let it, the images and physicality of the dream return.  The strange newness of a series of themes that have long been a part of my dream life.  Their invasion from neutral space into very personal space.

I tried to focus on other things.

I took the advice of my friend, and prayed through some specific scriptures.  Especially Psalm 91.  I giggled when I emailed her later in the day to say that a passage from Acts had been coming to mind each time I prayed Psalm 91, and she wrote back to say that she'd also had that passage on her heart after hearing my dream, but hadn't shared it with me.

I ate red meat.  That doesn't seem like much, but I don't actually eat a whole lot of red meat, and it's one of the things that sticks out from yesterday as a "thing done right".  I've always preferred chicken to beef.  But, when my body is depleted, when I'm physically exhausted, I tend to crave red meat.  Steak preferably, or maybe a really good burger.  So, last night, in my exhausted state, I sat in a pub with a friend, staring at the menu, debating options, and asked my stomach whether it would prefer chicken or steak.  The resounding answer was steak.  Which, in combination with the tomato-meat sauce over pasta that I had for lunch yesterday, means I had two full meals with red meat and hearty proteins.

I worked not to indulge in sugar, and continue to fight the cycle of feeding stress and exhaustion with chocolate, and then having an even worse energy crash when the sugar high bottoms out.

I still have my car for a few more days, but I looked at the weather forecast for today and gave myself permission not to drive last night.  We're having snow and icy rain again, and I didn't want to drive in that last night, or this morning.  So I left my car where it was parked at my parent's house, and took the bus home from the train station last night, and the bus to the train station this morning.

I gave myself permission not to freak out over the things left undone on my "to do" list for the day.  Because there were quite a few.   Not only because I was so drained, but because I had plans to meet a friend that would take some time.   I'm sort of task oriented, and I get great satisfaction from checking items off my list. But last night that just didn't really happen.

When I got home earlier than expected, that, too, was a gift, giving me time to quiet myself and pray through my bedroom, to calm myself and find God's peace in such a way that I wasn't afraid to close my eyes and try again for sleep.  And it was definitely better to use the time for that than for checking items off a list.

For those of you who prayed last night, thank you.  I slept a bit better.  I still woke around 4:30, and only sort of dozed after that, but I didn't have a repeat nightmare.  Unless you've had these sorts of nightmares, I'm not sure you can fully understand how much of a gift of grace and blessing that really is.  I'm still tired, still drained, but I see light.  There are good things happening as this week progresses.

I came across this quote on Kelle's blog the other day, and it's what I'm aiming for as this week and life carries on:

"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit."

-Dawna Markova