I kept sleeping with The Sandman. I had a season-long affair with him and stayed in bed cheating myself out of writing and exercise, my two favorite activities.
That was the first (and hopefully last) summer break I’d waste sacking out, catching zzz’s, Rip-van-winkling. You catch my drift? Drift. Drifting off. You are getting sleepy. Sleepy…
Last summer, I became awake-deprived. I spent over two-hundred hours of my non-teaching season sleeping in. This totals about five work weeks of slumbering instead of celebrating recess away from standardized tests, lesson plans, report cards, and faculty meetings.
Although I prefer waking by 5:00 AM, my new mattress, vivid dreams, and schedule to Nowhere entranced me to stay tucked in as late as 10:00 AM.
I snooze-buttoned for a few extra minutes of rest that tick-tocked into scores of daylight snores. Eventually, I quit setting the blaring clock and wrapped it in a beach towel. I hid its digital red face from the glaring sun that peeped and creeped through my bedroom blinds. My terrycloth swaddled clock hushed and hibernated the rest of break.
My dogs slept in. My cat slept in. My teenagers slept in. I slept in.
By the time I showed up for life, errands, chores, and duties took precedence over freetime.
The biggest thing I lost was productive writing time. I’m best in the morning, when my creative muse is colorful, spry, and focused. My morning muse taps into stories from the library shelves of my memory, heart, and imagination. My post-noon muse is heavily distracted, bogged down with random thoughts, to-do lists, and my kids’ and my social needs. By nightfall, my composition attempts are incredibly awful:
See Spot fetch. See Spot drink. See Spot pee. Good dog, Spot.
I wasted my summertime story goals and barely blogged, failed to finish my next story, and neglected the draft of I Hate Puppies, my best novel idea yet.
I contracted word-nerd laryngitis and buried my voice and creativity somewhere out there with the manuscript of See Spot’s Bones.
When it was time to return to work, I felt exhausted, listless, and puffy. The biggest thing I gained in June, July, and August was a larger waistline. Yes, I traded zippers and buttons to squeeze in mindless, edible fun: campfire s’mores, potato salad picnics, and lunches of pizza and Caribbean drinks. Obviously, my vivid dreams didn’t burn enough calories. While sucking down my second blue adult slushie at a back-to-school pool party, I vowed to treat myself to less zzz’s during the new school year. Then, floating on a flamingo raft, I took another nap with The Sandman.
September, the busiest month for teachers, barreled in. I unwrapped the conked out clock from the beach towel and bid goodnight to the slothful summer. At first, pressured by a full-time schedule, I easily rose by 5:00 AM. I zipped around like an Energizer Bunny, reclaiming two extra hours of me-time.
This abruptly ended in October, when I took a second job teaching three cyber English classes for our high school. This position forced me to stay up past my bedtime, so there was no more zipping (except for the pants I shrunk back into.) Most of the school year, I woke to work, not play. My mornings deserved more recreation and creation. I craved me time, living-my-best she time.
This spring, I tried giving up The Sandman for Lent, but he kept building sandcastles around my groggy eyes.
I sawed more wood than Paul Bunyan and was tired of it. With another summer break on the horizon, I needed to climb out of that lazy rabbit hole.
I finally discovered a hip, playful way to get my tail out of bed earlier. Who would’ve thought that a recent display of musical Easter bunny toys at a drugstore could be so inspiring? In their pink and purple fuzziness, they silently stood immobilized. I pushed the buttons on all their plush paws, springing them to life. They bounced and bopped to The Bunny Hop, a spirited tune that stuck in my brain like gooey jelly beans.
This lead to an innovative, fun way to get a jumpstart the next day which was Orthodox Easter. The alarm went off, and I prayed, “Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!” and instead of hitting snooze, I made myself rise and shine with “The Bunny Hop.” That’s right! I sprung out of bed, with my hands on my own hips and hummed and danced to the old fashioned party song: side-stepping, kicking, and hopping back and forth down the hall and around the kitchen until the song ended in my head. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Doo-doo-doo. Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo, Hop! Hop! Hop!
Easter morning was filled with the blessings of extra time to give thanks to the Lord, walk the dogs, fill my girls’ Easter baskets, and journal this story all before getting ready for church.
Bunny Hopping has since brought me extra morning hours, resurrected with a basketful of time that won’t be wasted. I’m looking forward to a healthy, prolific summer break, making leaps with my creativity and physical activity.
As for The Sandman, I bottled him up in an hourglass. I often flip it over, grains swiftly sifting but not burying me. I have resurrected and now control this thing between me and my hourglass. So can you. Shine on!