As I grow old--gracefully, I hope--I wonder how I ever lived on 5 or 6 hours of sleep. Or why, for that matter? Did I need less sleep in my 30s? Or was it a passive-aggressive expression, a way to extend the day as long as I could as a denial of my work self, because going to bed acknowledged that I had to get up for work again the next day? How silly is that? I love sleep. I don't go into 12-hour depression hibernation or anything, but I love getting 8 hours of sleep. I love feeling the restorative power of sleep. I love that I know myself well enough to understand my sleep needs, and that I honor myself enough to meet them.
I know a lot about myself these days, and it pleases me. The arsenal of facts is not replete with prettiness, but the self-knowledge and self-acceptance I appreciate. I know that despite my mother's urging to wear my hair short again, I look better with longish hair that I maintain in its original, God-given shade (which I also think looks good), with the help of my stylist. I know that I don't look good in khakis and would rather not provide an opportunity for someone to make a game out of counting the dimples in my thighs if I wear them. Nor do I look particularly good in jeans--at least the ones hanging in my closet at present (but I'm trying). I know that spiked heels hurt the balls of my feet after only a few minutes and from the get-go make me look like an orange on toothpicks, so I get a height boost from wedge heels these days; they balance me a little better. I know that if I eat late I get a bad night's sleep--especially if it's a restaurant meal that is typically more rich than anything I might make myself at home. And I know that I should never eat caramelized onions unless I'm going to be home alone later and not sharing a car ride to get there.
I know that I cry easily. I'm not talking about when my feelings are hurt or if I'm in pain. Play the national anthem and see me weep. Show me again the passengers on the flight that went down in the Hudson meeting Captain Sully and his crew, I'll cry again. Extreme Makeover Home Edition? Exactly. I know my feelings are hurt more easily and often than I like to show. I know that I will struggle for longer than I should before asking for help. And I know I will spend the rest of my life trying not to be a Marshmallow Kid.
Somewhere in my life--in conversation, perhaps in a college course in Psychology--I learned of an experiment in which children were tested for impulse control. From what I remember, the primary investigator or research assistant, i.e., some soft spoken, friendly grown-up, would sit down with the child subject at a table on which sat a plate of marshmallows. The adult would say, "I'm going to leave the room for a few minutes, and I'm going to leave these marshmallows with you. You can help yourself while I'm gone, but should you not eat them, I'll put another treat on the plate when I get back." Well, I don't even like marshmallows, but I know that those marshmallows would have been in my mouth before the door was shut behind the tricky grown up who then would have watched me chew them from behind a two-way mirror.
I know that being a Marshmallow Kid, among other things, has contributed to my life long battle with weight. With being overweight. Fortunately, as an adult, I have learned that when I exercise I am more successful at feeling better and losing weight, and am happy to report that I have been exercising again. Most recently, in an effort to keep on top of current research for the my A&P class, I have learned that sleep deprivation has been linked to diabetes and obesity and a myriad of other conditions.
On that note, I think I'll skip the marshmallows tonight and head up to those comfy sheets.