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How not to cure insomnia: Gratitude Notes


This morning I woke up at 2:49.

In case you’re wondering, 2:49 a.m. (or really anything before the 5’s) is not a time I’d ever choose to be awake. And as I lay there willing sleep to return, my thoughts were not particularly pleasant. Something about how getting less than four hours of sleep might be less than ideal for getting anything done that day.

Tip #1: this is not a good cure for insomnia.

After realizing the futility of my anxious worrying, my thoughts turned to something more positive — my husband. He also woke up at 2:49, but got out of bed to do something productive. He’s much better at accepting sleep defeat than I and as a result, gets far more done in the wee hours every morning.

I thought about how grateful I am for him – who he is, who he’s becoming and helping me become. And I started to feel a tiny bit better.

Then without even trying, all the other people I’m grateful for started flooding my mind. I thought about my son, my parents and siblings, my in-laws, my aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and neighbors. I spent the next 40 minutes in this stream-of-consciousness gratitude zone.

Tip #2: this is also not a good cure for insomnia.

With Thanksgiving close at hand, I’ve been pondering what I can do to increase my focus on gratitude. There are tons of ideas out there for capturing and expressing thanks, including:

But since these are all things I either keep for myself or within my immediate family, I still wondered how to better show my gratitude to others.

The aha moment. In the final seconds before getting out of bed, it hit me. I’m a traditional East-Coast girl. What I will do to show gratitude this Thanksgiving is write traditional East-Coast thank-you notes. The kind that go in an envelope. With a stamp.

A great thing about this project is that other than the cost of the stamp, it won’t cost me a thing. Unless you count time, which it turns out you have a lot of if you wake up at 2:49 a.m.

Keep it simple. While in the past I’d have been sidetracked by designing the card, buying supplies, and spending hours creating it, my newfound commitment to simplicity is quite liberating. I’m using only what I already have on hand – no fancy turkey cut-outs; no breaking out the Stampin’ Up set; no embellished, bedazzled or grommet-ed anything.

Really the only craft going into these notes is my handwriting. (Eep. I might have to unearth the calligraphy pen.)

Who I’m thanking. Since the aforementioned usual suspects tend to already hear from me at various times of the year, I’ve decided to start with some non-traditional thank-ees. A few on my list:

-My son’s high school guidance counselor
-Our sweet 93-year-old neighbor
-My 9th-grade English teacher
-The assistant manager at my grocery store

Tip #3: As you may have guessed by now, thinking about the many people and things you’re grateful for practically ensures you will not get back to sleep.

But it’s a heck of a way to wake up.

And for that, too, I am grateful.


Ed. update (11/19/10): Last night I slept for eight hours straight. Can’t remember the last time that happened. Perhaps expressing gratitude does help cure insomnia after all…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Catherine Cook permalink
    11/18 9:09 AM

    Favorite blog post so far, hands down. Absolutely lovely.

    • Jennifer permalink*
      11/18 9:14 AM

      Really? I’d had you pegged for the nail polish one. ;-) But thank you so much — and for continuing to be one of the many reasons I’m grateful.

  2. David Mayne permalink
    11/18 5:34 PM

    Good stuff. A fun little read. Thanks for the ideas.

    • Jennifer permalink*
      11/18 6:42 PM

      Thanks, David — pretty sure you’re way ahead of me on this…

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