I've found a new hobby these past couple of weeks.
This is, in truth, a new hobby for Rachel Westover Nielson, as I've spent the past ten years or so in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation.
When I was a busy high school honors student (involved in far too many extra curricular activities), my mom would often wake in the middle of the night to see the hallway light shining under her bedroom door. This was a sign that her middle daughter was still awake, and she would emerge in a huff and put me to bed. "Something has to go, Rachel--and it can't be your mental health!"
Unfortunately, my habits didn't change much when I headed to college. I remember admitting to my father during those 18-credit hour semesters that I felt "guilty" if I got more than four hours of sleep a night. To this, he too informed me that I needed mental help.
Well, beginning my career as a teacher did not provide the mental therapy that my parents prescribed. My first few years on the job, I was lucky to get home by 8:00 p.m., and then there was dinner to make, church service to complete, an apartment to clean, a husband to love. I don't think 3:00 a.m. was an unusual bedtime at all in those chaotic days.
But things have suddenly changed. I think after ten years of pandemonium, I got tired. I suddenly let myself get a taste of sleeping. I started taking naps after work. (Gasp!) I started taking naps at work. (I have a couch in my classroom that is oh-so-comfy.) I started going to bed before midnight. (My mom is rejoicing in heaven.) And guess what?
I like it.
The other night, after a stressful evening of working on our budget, I looked over at Ryan and said, "Well, I'm tired. I'm going to bed."
It was 7:45 p.m.
He was flabbergasted; I was too. But in a good way.
Today at school, one of the other teachers asked, "Rachel, are you still running all the time?" (He was referring to the half marathons that I have trained for over the years.)
"No, not really." I responded, not even feeling a twinge of guilt.
"Well, what are you doing instead? Have you replaced running with another time-intensive hobby?"
I thought about it for a second and then laughed. "Yeah. Relaxing."
My oh my is it wonderful.