During Olivia's life, the nights were the hardest. We would wake up to "close calls" very often, sometimes more than once in a night. Those moments were so dark — literally and emotionally. During the evenings leading up to those nights, I started to realize I was gearing up for disaster. I felt more tense in my body. My mind was identifying "threats" much more actively than it had during the day. Eventually, I realized this was a pattern that existed before Olivia, as well. I just didn't realize it.
After Olivia passed away, the threat of "Olivia could die" was gone. I felt the huge empty space it left. It was actually wonderful — that empty space. I felt it fill with peace.
But within a few weeks, my pattern was back, stronger than ever. I couldn't sleep. The nights were filled with terror. And as each day went on, the closer we came to night, the more tense my body. Even plain facts in my head were shifted — decisions being made about what was true and what was likely. By the time I laid down to sleep, I was sure my family was in danger. Not only in my mind, but in my body. Of course it was hard to sleep.
But in the morning.... the GLORIOUS morning... the sun came up. I made a coffee. Our family was all still there. We ate breakfast together. We planned what we would do that day — things we wanted to do. Everything was okay. Part of me could hardly believe it.
These mornings came most of the days Olivia was with us. They came after the darkest nights during the months after her passing.
This pattern still exists for me today, years after Livie has passed away. And, as I said earlier, they existed before she was born, too.
Part of the pattern has to do with physical light and dark. There is something that is uncertain about not being able to see. I guess that's obvious.
But part of the pattern, I'm learning, has to do with my energy and my perspective. This is a lesson it's taken me 41 years to begin learning, yet it is so incredibly simple.
When I am tired, I see more danger; when I am rested, I see more hope. When I am tired, I see more dark; when I am rested, I see more light.
This has been incredibly helpful information over the past year, when the world seems to be falling apart. I have been able to do a very simple thing for myself that has dramatically changed my experience of life:
If I am afraid or worried about something, before making any decisions, I first check in with my energy levels.
Is it night? Am I tired? If the answer is yes this is not a time to make decisions — the only decision to make at this point is to go get some rest. THAT is the threat to be handled in this moment. All other threats are respectfully put in line behind this one. They may be real or they may not, but this is not the time to decide. Only to rest.
Is it morning? Is the sun out? Am I fully rested? Then this is a time for me to decide what to do about this apparent threat. It may still turn out to be nothing. But in any case, I would say without exaggeration that 99% of my biggest worries have disappeared by waiting to look at them until I am rested. That's a large percentage!!
Think about the implications of this!
Our perspective changes our experience of life. Instead of working so hard to change the realities of life — things we cannot control — we can work to change our perspective. And, in my experience, the very first and best way to do this in a positive way is to get some rest. How simple. But it's not the first time this one simple word has surprised me.
In repentance (a major shifting of the mind) and rest is your salvation; in quiet and trust is your strength.