1.02.2015

The Stress Cup Has Been Largely Emptied and Re-Sized (Bigger)

On New Year's Day morning, my dog Buddy decided to wake me about 7:45 AM, which I interpreted as his need for food and a pending bowel movement.

Notwithstanding the fact that I was the designated driver (DD) on New Year's Eve and didn't consume any alcoholic beverages, an impromptu Denny's run in the wee hours of the morning delayed my bedtime until around 5 AM, by my best estimates. So when Buddy wandered to the side of my bed and began his telltale whimpering, I had enjoyed a little less than three hours of slumber, albeit deep.

Knowing that Buddy's second attempt to indicate he needed to go out was usually conveyed by him peeing on the floor, I forced myself out of bed and let him out into the yard to relieve himself. My other dog Foster followed Buddy out, because why not?

When the dogs came back in, I returned to bed, but I had not fed Buddy and about 9 AM, he was by the edge of the bed and whimpering again.

"Jesus, Buddy," I said, exasperated. I knew Buddy would pester me relentlessly until Maslow's Basic Needs were met, so I got up and fed the dogs. I poured myself a large glass of water and drank it while the dogs ate. I let both dogs out again for good measure.

When I returned to my bed this time, my mind had started wandering furiously, thinking about the previous night's fun. I knew it would be pointless to try to fall back asleep. If I tried to force it, I'd probably end up wasting most of my day off from work in bed, and I wanted to get some stuff done.

On holidays is when I do my creative work, which I treat like a second job, one that doesn't pay even close to the wages of a Chinese sweat shop worker, but which is immensely satisfying to the soul. I usually start my artistic "work" days about noon. That's generally when I am at my best on any given day. It gives me the morning to chill out and think and relax and gear up for "work."

I put "work" in quotes to distinguish it from day job work. The latter generates income but is unsatisfying creatively. I consider that to be underwriting for my "work," which refers to my artistic endeavors and, optimally, creations. "Work" has immense value, but very little of it is monetary value. In theory, its value could translate into bankable money, but there are obstacles to that, beyond the scope of this post.

I spent the couple of hours before noon on New Year's Day making breakfast, drinking coffee, and watching a few episodes of "Californication" on Netflix. I never thought that would be a show I would enjoy, but I was hooked almost as soon as I started watching it. The main character, Hank Moody is both admirable and pathetic, which makes the show compelling. You want Hank to succeed and be rewarded, but he is his own worst enemy in the aspects of his life that really matter. I think a lot of people can relate to that, and I am one of them. Of course, the show also has lots of boobs, and that's compelling too.

After the noon bell struck (not a real bell, but an inner one that keeps me honest), I decided that my "work" for the early part of the afternoon would be practicing piano. I did that for a couple of hours before I was sidetracked by the Demon Social Media, as I call it. I have gotten better at avoiding Facebook and email when I need to focus on a task at hand, but once the Demon gets its grip on me, it is hard to shake it off. There's something Skinnerian about social media. Like a rat pressing a bar to get a food reward, I always think I am going to see something useful and rewarding on Facebook. I almost never do. But I am rewarded just often enough, with a clever meme or a message from a band mate about a gig, that the behavior is reinforced. Strongly. But I can overcome the animal urge to check social media with a generous input of willpower.

I had text messaged my friend Sherry about getting together for a late lunch or an early dinner on New Year's Day and we settled on 3:30 PM as the time she would come over to my house and we would go somewhere. We ended up going to the Vintage Brewery, for a meal and a craft brew, after finding the Seafood Center closed for the holiday. We returned to my house and watched a movie ("Dark Skies") on Netflix, during which I began to realize how tired I still was. I had to sit up straight on the couch to remain conscious during the movie, because every time I tried to lie down, I would immediately begin to doze.

After Sherry left, I practiced a little bit more piano, but then decided to get an early night to get some much needed sleep.

I got almost a full eight hours of sleep last night, which emptied my STRESS CUP. If you recall, I have a theory that everyone has a stress cup that is filled with the day's physical and mental stressors. The stress cup has a finite size for handling stress and it can overflow if there is too much stress or it is not emptied regularly. I was not experiencing a lot of stress in my life the past few days, but I also was not emptying the cup. Due to my band EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE playing a New Year's Eve show, I had been burning the midnight oil quite a bit the past few days preparing for it. Little by little the stress cup filled and because I was not sleeping enough to empty it, it was approaching overflow.

The size of the stress cup can also be increased with exercise and a healthy diet, that allows the body to adapt to stress better. This morning, I did a 90 minute workout on my bike trainer, the endorphin high from which I am still riding as I write this post late in the afternoon. My stress cup is largely emptied and supersized. My load is light at work (no quotes...I am at my day job), so there is little in the way of stress being added to my stress cup. New Year's Day fell on a Thursday, so I have a full weekend ahead of me.

Tonight, I am going to meet "the girls" (lady friends Sherry, Alyssa, and maybe Danielle) for a drink about 6 PM, before I head to PUNK ROCK FEST at the Majestic Theater in Madison for a night of rock-n-roll. The plan is to join Sherry for a Jazzercise class tomorrow morning, assuming I am not out too late at the punk rock thing. Then my weekend is wide open for "work" (quotes). I'll probably write some book content and practice some more piano, as well as songs for my various musical projects. I really don't have anything scheduled except for the optional Sunday open jam at Funk's Pub in Fitchburg. I will probably hit that if I get a lot accomplished this weekend. I keep the open jam optional so I can be flexible. I like to go an socialize on Sunday nights before starting the work week again on Monday.

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