I hate earthquakes.
Like hate hate them.
They terrify me. And yes, I've been in a few. Not big ones, because we generally don't get big earthquakes here, even though the experts say that the Northwest is due for a whopper like the one that hit Japan.
And so I, like so many others, have been on edge since the events of last week.
It didn't help that there were tsunami warnings on my beloved Oregon coast. Or that the nuclear power plants in Japan were in danger of meltdown. Or that some yeehaw "scientist" predicted that a huge earthquake might hit the West Coast. Or that we started bombing the hell out of Libya.
All of these things, and earthquakes in the lives of so many friends, have lodged themselves inside of me and wrapped themselves into a ridiculously big ball of fear.
It culminated the other night. We went out to Happy Hour with friends and, while I only consumed two glasses of wine, it didn't occur to me until later that the pours that night were huge. Like nearly double size. I think. Don't really remember. But what I do remember is that an excess of wine is not good for my sleeping habits.
And that night I awoke in the middle of the night and I could not get back to sleep. This is unusual for me. While I often wake in the middle of the night, I generally go back to sleep easily and quickly. Not Friday night. Of course, the moon was nearly full and the sky bright. And that didn't help either. Because it just made me think more about the Super Moon which was supposedly going to trigger the above-mentioned earthquake.
And then, in the way that fear has, thinking about the earthquake made me think about other problems in my personal life. (Which, let me just note, pale in comparison to what the people of Japan face. In the light of day, I know that. In the dark of night, fear makes me forget it.) I tossed and turned, unable to switch my brain off and get back to sleep.
Finally, in desperation, I started counting my blessings. You know, like that old song, the lyrics of which go something along the lines of "Just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you'll fall asleep counting your blessings." Nowadays we call our blessings gratitude, and the word is overused and the act often made fun of, probably because Oprah promotes it and people make fun of everything she does.
But I have to admit that it helped. I lay there and thought of all the things that I feel grateful for, from the fat cats that were hogging the bottom of the bed to my writing career. And pretty soon I fell asleep.
So why do I mention all this on a blog devoted to writing? Because I imagine quite a few of us are feeling fearful these days. Or if not fearful, then on edge. Anxious. Nervous for no reason. And none of these feelings, not a single one, are compatible with writing. I think that counting your blessings, or making a gratitude list, works because it helps us to remember. When we're fearful, anxious and on edge, we don't remember how lucky we are. We don't remember our true selves. And most of all, we don't remember that we can write ourselves back to ourselves. All we have to do is pick up the pen. Which is what I did the next morning, as I do every morning.
And then I felt better.
What do you do when you get anxious or fearful? Please feel free to share in the comments. Because what works for you might well be useful for someone else. Thanks.
***And please, remember to come back to this site on Friday because I have an amazing interview that will inspire the hell out of you lined up.
Photo by runrunrun from Everystockphoto.