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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bright lights, bright mornings…?

I’m not going to lie.  I get really crabby in the winter.  My family quietly urges me to seek sunlight, drink joyous teas, meditate, sing, eat, dance, and everything else possible so I don’t morph into the grouchiest grouch who ever got out of bed.  On the wrong side.  Everyday.  
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD as it is so appropriately called, is the real deal.  And I’m not self-diagnosing, but the winter blues is not something that we made up because we were crabby and couldn’t go outside and play.  It’s caused by a decrease in sunlight, drop in chemical levels in the body, and, although not technically documented, also by being trapped in your house with your children asking you to play Candyland and feed them snacks for hours on end until they request to watch TV and then use every single sheet and blanket you have to build a fort which covers two-thirds of your living space and you have to just about crawl through a window to get to your bathroom and they never, ever clean it up no matter how kindly you ask.
But I digress.
I was talking about being cranky in the winter, right?
My husband is convinced that my body gets angry when it doesn’t see the sun, so he brought me home a new alarm clock.  It’s one of those fancy kinds that uses light to wake you up gradually that is supposed to prepare your body to wake up and face the day with a smile.  For thirty minutes, it simulates a sunrise so that by the end of it, you’ve got a grin-inducing non-UV light in your face.  If that doesn’t work, you can set it to the radio or even a chorus of birds chirping in the early morning fake light that glows in your bedroom.
It’s actually pretty cool, and I am grateful for my fancy present.  The problem is that having this new alarm clock means getting rid of my old one, which I have had since I’ve been thirteen years old.  (That’s over twenty years, people.  They just don’t make appliances like they used to.)  This old clock has been with me forever.  Its buttons have been memorized by my fingers in such a way that I can set it in the dark with my eyes closed.  That clock and I have woken up at every hour of the day.  It has seen me through dozens of afternoon power naps and held strong even in my grumpiest mornings.  Its faint ANT ANT ANT ANT ANT ANT ANT has become music to my ears.  
And now, some new fangled extravagant happiness-producing bird-chirping hunk of light on my nightstand is replacing my old friend.  I’m not sure how I feel about all of this.  Saying goodbye to that oversized and outdated appliance is making me feel…wait for it…kind of sad.  
So it follows that getting my new alarm clock, which should make me happy, and saying goodbye to my old one, which makes me sad, should in fact cancel each other out and I’ll keep on keeping on with my regular self.
Until spring finally springs.
A final note: Seasonal Affective Disorder is indeed more than just your kids driving you bonkers.  You can do yourself a favor during these winter months by making sure you eat healthy, exercise, get plenty of sleep, by getting outside more, and by doing things that you know make you happy.  Call me crazy, but these seem to be good tips for every season of the year, no matter which side of the bed you get up on.

Enough room for love

Of all of the misused and overused words in the world, one of the biggest culprits is the word that is on everyone’s mind this time of the year.  Love.
Think of how many times a day we use it, and what we use it for.  I know how many times I day I tell my children or my husband that I love them, but I also say things like, “I love Chinese food!” and “I love it when I do a few loads of laundry and don’t have any mismatched socks!”  I talk to my mom nearly every day on the phone and end it with “love you.”  I end every email with my husband “love, Karrie.”  I sometimes tell my children that I love them so much, I could squeeze them until their heads pop off.
We love songs and television shows.  We love movie stars and seasons of the year, restaurants, cars, and fashion.   Toby Keith sang about how much he loves a bar, and Ray Charles sang that he can’t stop loving you, and the Beatles are well known for preaching that, above all else, all you need is love.
It all seems like a lot of love.  Almost too much for one word to handle, and if Love knew what it had to go through every day, it’d probably be fairly stressed out.  How can one simple four-letter word (that doesn’t follow simple grammatical rules, by the way) have to cover everything from socks to pop music to the Indian restaurant about an hour away?
The answer, I think, came to me during my first job in the real world.  My boss was a very wise man, as down to earth as they come and his knowledge continues to resonate in my head.  The father of many children, one dark early morning before they had even turned on the overhead florescent lights, we sat drinking coffee by lamplight and discussing our work for the day and like we did so often, we got off topic.  There in that office, he shared something so special with me that I carry it with me and see the truth in it in so many facets of life.
“When I got married, I thought I loved my wife more than all the world.  And then when we were about to have our first child, I got really scared.  I thought to myself, I love my wife so much, how can I ever have enough love for a child, too?”
A newly married woman, I sat in awe and listened.
“And when the child was born, I realized that I had enough.  I loved that child like I loved my wife.  The three of us were in so much love with each other, it was beautiful.  I thought I had maxed out on love, so when a few years later we found out we were expecting another child, I got scared once again.  How could I possibly have enough love to share with my wife, my daughter, and now another kid?”
Knowing this bearded boss of mine had a mind and heart of infinite wisdom, I waited for his answer.
“And you know what?  I did.  I had enough for that child, too.  And the next, and the next, and the next, and the next.   And enough for my wife, and God and all things that are good in the world.”
So whenever I feel like the word “love” is overused, I go back to that sunrise conversation because I learned that love is not something that can be measured, defined, calculated, or even described.  We can love everything, with enough room to go around, and that’s what makes this world such a special place.  Maybe John, Paul, George, and Ringo were right, and it’s really all we need.  (I just love the Beatles.)

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