Smarts

Two topics for this bright and sunny Sunday afternoon (yes, there’s snow, but the sun is also here declaring itself).

First topic: naps! Saturday’s Globe and Mail newspaper had a cheery brief on the benefits of napping. Studies show that a 45-minute nap improves both cardiovascular health and mental agility. Agility is not quite the word I’m looking for, but you know what I mean. Nap yourself to intelligence! Should have napped longer today, I guess.

I am napping regularly these days. It is part of my early rising routine. Every day that involves getting up early, includes time for a nap. I nap up to an hour, but rarely longer, and often shorter. Napping has all kind of negative associations, and I had to overcome those by being really really super-tired in order to test out the benefits. No, it isn’t lazy. And no, it’s not a waste of time. On writing days, I’ve gotten in the habit of napping as soon as the kids are out of the house. Within an hour, I’m up and productively at my desk. Without the nap, I’d be up and unproductively at my desk. (I’ve tested both methods). I love rising early. I’m up to four early mornings a week, at least for now, and I love the quiet, the energy, seeing the morning light arrive, and starting my day with focus. I’ve fed myself–metaphorically, anyway–before the demands of the day kick in. It’s a very different way to start the day. Though I look forward to Thursday mornings, when Kevin gets up early instead, that extra hour and a half of sleep is instantly erased by the immediacy of what the day wants from me; often, I’m not even out of bed before the demands arrive, in the form of children needing things. And that’s what I’m here for! But it’s so much easier and more pleasant to give, when one has already received.

Second topic: poetry club! Just a quick summing up of last night’s poetry club, for which we read Billy Collins’ Sailing Alone Around the Room. Kevin read the book too, as I was hosting and he was looking forward to participating–and seeing what the club was all about. I can highly recommend the Montforte Dairy’s Elsie goat cheese pesto spread (which I got from Bailey’s). And I can fairly highly recommend the poems too, though I went to bed wondering … are they too accessible? Is that a fault, in poetry? Collins is a funny funny poet, but it can feel at times that a deeper moment is being sacrificed to a good punchline. Still, there were poems that stabbed into me with a shock of emotion. We talked a fair bit about why we were drawn to particular poems–and because most of us had different “favourites,” we asked how poems could be judged objectively. How do you know that the poem is “good”?

I really enjoyed the many poems about writing. His world felt very domestic and contained, to me, and it revolved around quiet interior days of writing and work, and walking around the house, thinking about writing. What I enjoyed most about these poems was their lack of angst or questioning. He writes with full acceptance that he is a writer. There is no hint of self-justification, nor does he question his own abilities, or the worth of his work, he’s just being who he is. Very refreshing. I would like to arrive there. Certainly, I’m closer than I was a few years ago; even, perhaps, a year ago.

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Speaking of a year ago … Kevin keeps marvelling at how easily our family has accommodated my triathlon training schedule. It is fairly remarkable. This past week, for example, I spent 12.5 hours training. That’s 12.5 hours, out of the house, not looking after the kids. If you’re wondering how we manage it, I would say it’s been a long slow and steady change, adjusting everyone to me being out of the house more frequently–which was an adjustment to the way I thought about my role, too, as much as anything. When I started this blog, two and a half years ago, my youngest was four months old. I was breastfeeding constantly, and up often during the night. That is no longer my reality, with my baby on the cusp of turning three. As he’s grown, and I have said goodbye to pregnancy and lactation, I’ve also grown accustomed to expressing myself as someone other than “mom.” I leave the house as often as four or five evenings a week–only for a couple of hours at a time, mind you–but that’s a massive change from my early years of motherhood, oh, eight or so years, when leaving the house by myself in the evening was an enormous production, and happened so rarely it might not have been more than once a month. And sometimes less.

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Apple-Apple’s supper menu for tonight (Sunday supper, cooking with kids): baked potatoes with cheese sauce, broccoli and cauliflower on the side, and scones and hot chocolate for dessert. I can smell it cooking as I type.

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