Focus on Sleep

January 19, 2021 2:19pm
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I have a longstanding issue with sleep – namely, I don’t get it nearly as consistently as I think that I should.

Along with a handful of other habits, sleep is one that I’ve targeted to improve on in 2021, so for the last couple of weeks I’ve been keeping track of how much I get each night and … it ain’t pretty!

As you can see, I’m writing this after my worst night of sleep of the year.

For quick reference – red is anything less than 6 hours of sleep and green is anything 7 or greater.

And there is way too much red in the last 18 days, that’s for sure!

One of the best articles that I’ve read about sleep and its importance lately is this piece by James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits (which I loved!)…

How to Get Better Sleep: The Beginner’s Guide to Overcoming Sleep Deprivation

There’s a lot of stuff to digest in that article, but I think this is the line that sticks with me the most – “After two weeks, the six-hour group had performance deficits that were the same as if they had stayed up for two days straight.”

I say this because for most of my adult life, I’ve always just kind of figured that less sleep is what adults do and that six hours a night was a pretty good compromise. And that’s without even knowing how much I was actually averaging on a given night, particularly when I would stay up late crunching on a deadline for the next morning or more typically just screwing around on the computer.

And what’s interesting is that now that I’m tracking my sleep alongside other habits I’m trying to build like drinking more water and reading and especially writing more consistently, I can already see that there’s a direct correlation with having what I consider to be a productive day filled with these other things that I’m trying to improve and simply starting my day with having gotten a good night’s sleep in the first place…

…to the point where about a week ago I actually moved the column where I track sleep from the end of my spreadsheet to the beginning because it seemed like a symbolic move to help remind myself that sleep isn’t how I end my day, it’s what’s at the start of a good one.

Unfortunately, the only tried and true method for getting good sleep – at least for me – means getting to bed earlier because during the week I have to get up at a set time every day to get the kids off to school, so it’s not like I have a lot of opportunities to just sleep in to make up for a particularly late night. Which sucks because I’m very much a night owl and a lot of times I’ll find myself faced with a sudden bout of creativity at 12:30am when otherwise I should be calling it a night!

Luckily, I can say that falling asleep itself has gotten easier for me. Another habit I’ve been trying to form is including meditation into my day, so I’ll try to do five minutes of that before I head off to bed and between the sounds of waves or rain falling in the app that I use and making a conscious effort to clear my mind, I think it really does help. That and I’ve started dimming the lights in my office in the late hours, even if I’m still up writing or watching videos or whatever, because it seems to help set the mood that it’s time to start unwinding.

I’ve told myself many times that ultimately what I need to do is take a good two or three week period and just make good sleep my #1 priority – meaning that no matter what’s going on, at 11:30pm or whatever makes sense, I go to bed so that I can really aim for that 7-8 hours of sleep that my body needs. It’ll be a rough adjustment and I’m sure I’ll feel like I’m sacrificing other things I need to do for sleep, but pretty much all of the evidence shows that eventually I’ll be far more productive (and happier, too!) by allowing myself that time to recharge instead of perpetually trying to burn the candle at both ends until I eventually crash and lose a few days to complete and total burn out while I’m finally forced to recover!

How to Write About Racism

June 4, 2020 2:50pm
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I was honestly thinking about just skipping my humor column this week because it’s hard to imagine anything funny when it comes to racism, but last night I hit an unexpected burst of inspiration at around 3am and I ended up coming up with something that will go up tomorrow morning.

I’m not entirely sure how it will be received. It’s definitely not a traditional humor column and more so just has what I thought were some funny quips mixed in with a lot of observation and my own two cents on everything that’s been happening around the country.

Some people will probably think it’s preachy, but that’s ok.

It’s one thing to write about the unique challenges I’ve faced with the family during the COVID-19 lockdown over the last couple of months, but racism and police brutality are very different. In a way, I feel kind of helpless because I’m not sure what I can do besides trying to be a positive voice and donating money to people on the front lines and just listening more.

The other day I was commenting on a Facebook post where a lot of black folks were sharing stories of being harassed by the police, and it made me sad to think that the worst encounter I’ve ever had with the police was almost disgustingly tame by comparison. I was 17 or 18 and had just recently gotten a sports car – a bright red Pontiac Firebird – and I was driving with some friends out in the country in an area that allowed me to have some fun.

We were going a lot faster than the speed limit – probably 85 in a 55, if I had to guess – and eventually we found ourselves behind a cop.

“No big deal,” I thought as only a teenager would. “He can’t pull us over if he’s in front of us!”

Well, the cop pulled into the next gas station we passed and not long after I saw him pulling right back out after us in my rearview mirror.

One friend in the passenger seat may or may not have flipped him the bird as we drove past…

And a couple of miles later he caught up with us and pulled us over, though luckily by then I’d dropped back down to the actual speed limit.

Now here’s the difference – nobody got pulled out of the car. My friend got an offhand comment about his attitude problem, but nothing more. And all I ended up with was a fix-it ticket for driving on bald tires.

Needless to say, reading stories of black guys getting guns pulled on them and thrown to the ground and even just harassed about where they were going when they were just screwing around with their friends like I was is very humbling.

So anyways, tomorrow’s humor column is going to be a little different, but hopefully it makes you think about inequality and how we all need to demand better from each other.

Her Story

June 19, 2018 2:17pm
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I discovered this last night and ended up binge-watching the entire thing because it was such a compelling story. It’s about a couple of trans women and the challenges they face, particularly in the dating world but also just in general as they try to co-exist with the rest of society.

I think one thing in particular that intrigued me was how well the writers did at introducing an issue that many people might be aware of on the surface, but then exposing some of the layers underneath to make you re-examine aspects that maybe aren’t as cut and dry as you might have thought. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the arc between Violet and Mark in the later half of the series really struck me because it seemed so simple to paint him with one brush, while she was more reluctant for complicated reasons that were more than you would expect.

The web series is only six episodes – less than an hour long in total – though it sounds like they’re still trying to get funding to make it into something bigger.

Either way, it’s not hard to see how they won an Emmy for this – it’s thoughtful and entertaining and challenging, and I think it’s worth watching for a lot of honest insight into the struggles that trans people go through.

Day #4 – A Trumped Stream of Consciousness, Part 2…

November 14, 2016 12:27am
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It’s hard to say whether things are truly cooling down or if social media has just gotten quieter over the weekend because people are actually out doing things instead of sitting at work posting 😉 , but the time to process and soak up opinions and information has been useful, I think.

In particular, I’ve been weighing a lot the idea of responsibility as a result of the “I’m not a racist, I just like what he says about ______”-argument and I think the reason why I struggle with it is because for me when we talk about all of the different political issues, I find myself dividing them up into different groups and prioritizing them. So while I’m also concerned about the economy and ISIS and immigration and whatnot, when there are civil rights issues on the table like repealing LGBT rights or marginalizing women, it’s hard for me to even talk about something like immigration because I don’t see how we can discuss other things when equal rights for our citizens isn’t the #1 priority.

That said, I do find it interesting how it’s already being reported that Trump is wavering on some of his key policies such as looking into amending Obamacare instead of repealing it altogether, softening his stance on immigration, and even using fencing for parts of his monumental wall instead of just miles and miles of infallible concrete as far as the eye can see.

Same thing for his cabinet – for an anti-establishment candidate, Trump certainly ran straight back to the well to pick top lobbyists and the current head of the RNC for his cabinet just like the politician’s playbook calls for, not so much “emptying the swamp” as emptying the swamp … right into his new administration.

I also read that there’s some confusion about how his businesses will actually be handled because traditionally it’s expected that a politician would put his assets into a blind trust to avoid any conflict of interest over policy decisions … however having the kids run the business in his place is a very different thing than a blind trust!

…particularly when it’s also being reported that he may desire to only live in the White House part-time and spend some of his days back in his penthouse in Trump Tower, which obviously has direct access to the office where he normally works…

I’ve got to say that it was a little weird reading about that suggestion because not only does it pose the question that a lot of people are asking about whether Donald Trump expects to be a part-time president, to me even more so it raises a lot of logistical questions about whether something like that would even be possible!

Already almost immediately after he won the election, the FAA declared a temporary No Fly Zone over Trump Tower in Manhattan until he is expected to move to the White House after being sworn in in January, however even though mum is typically the word when it comes to presidential security measures, it’s no secret that lots and lots of security is built into the White House and its surrounding area to protect the President and all of his staff.

Plus, his staff is all there, too! 

How would President Trump work from his golden tower in NYC while the rest of his support staff is left running around back in Washington??? Not that leading his own companies is a 9-to-5 job, either, but the president pretty much works non-stop all of the time … aside from maybe spending vacation time in New York, and even then, what kind of disruption to the rest of the city would it pose to have the president coming in and out on a regular basis?

Are the windows in Trump Tower bullet proof? And missile-proof?!

It’s kind of like the same reason why he won’t be able to use his own jet that he’s used for years as well as the entire campaign. The two jets currently used today as Air Force One are highly customized aircraft between being able to also transport his entire support staff and also hosting security features managed by the defend the President and his staff against everything from other aircraft to even the EMP that would result from a nuclear blast.

It’s not like they make an aftermarket air force defense kit that Trump can just pick up to have installed onto his own plane, and I would think that the same thing would apply to Trump Tower, too.

Would they just close Fifth Avenue whenever President Trump feels like sleeping in his golden bed instead of the public housing that taxpayers pay for at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave?!

Ultimately I’m sure a lot of this stuff will work itself out, and for what it’s worth, Donald Trump is allowed to have anxiety for the job just like anybody else would … even though right now some people are interpreting all of these things bundled together as a question of how much he really wants the job in the first place.

Is there any possibility that Donald Trump actually wanted to win the presidency more than he really wants to be the president for the next four years, where his every move will be choreographed by Secret Service agents and his gold anointed life as a billionaire in Manhattan will have to be put on hold for him to hold this otherwise highly coveted office that only forty-four other men have ever held in the history of the entire country?


Day #2 – A Trumped Stream of Consciousness…

November 11, 2016 2:14am
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Last night’s post really blew up on Facebook in ways that I didn’t intend. I purposely made it public instead of using off my No Politics filter and the result was a lot of name calling and fighting, and even a really nasty exchange with my Dad.

It still shocks me how anyone could look at so many examples of violence and hate and have their first response be anything other than shock and disgust.

That said, late this evening it was reported that one of the stories about a Muslim woman getting her Hijab torn off was fabricated, and I fear that people will use that example to assume that every last story they hear must also be false.

I refuse to believe that.

It’s also been hard for me to process people arguing that the protests taking place are “just sore losers” and not a legitimate voice worth listening to. If nothing else, our own Constitution guarantees people the Freedom to Assemble, and though it doesn’t condone any violence or destruction of property, I think compared to people actually getting hurt in the name of racism/sexism/etc… it’s a minor concern at best.

That said, with all of the negativity and fear being harbored, I’ve found comfort in a smaller group of likeminded friends and family whom I respect and trust on social media – many of whom are also struggling with how to process everything that’s taking place – and it’s nice to see that there are others who also deem what’s taking place to be something serious that shouldn’t just be swept under the rug.

I also took a lot of comfort in this compilation of stories from teachers about how they’ve addressed their students’ responses to Trump’s election from pretty much all grade levels. As much as I worry about youth hearing the horrible things that are being said and parroting them, the fact that many children identify that this sort of behavior is wrong and are willing to help support one another across demographic barriers gives me hope.

And finally, in that same story I came across a quote by Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu that I liked quite a bit:

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”

As I walked through Walmart late this evening, I found myself reminding myself that there are so many good people still in the world – complete and total strangers, with no idea how or if they even voted – and it made me think of the things that I can do to help try to see that light among the darkness…

  • Be kind to people, especially those who I’ve never met … because why not?
  • Heaven forbid I witness something, be the person who steps forward to call out bigotry and not the one who turns a blind eye.
  • Don’t allow myself to become complacent should these bad stories continue to surface.
  • Use this passion for what’s right to make good art, whether it’s humor or editorials or just my own processing, and encourage my colleagues who strive to do the same.
  • Look for the best in people, in society, in our future, even when all signs point to chaos. Have faith in America.

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