28 October 2013

Pro or anti Daylight Savings Time?

Daylight savings sneaked up on me this last weekend here in Spain. Fortunately I had slept late, a prereq for a nice weekend morning, and my Sunday am appointment was not missed either. I noticed that despite having an extra hour, I was still running late in the end. Seems like you go into leisure mode when you think you have an extra hour!

Another shock came today when I went to the store after work and came out of the store to pitch black skies of night. How does that surprise you every single year?

The pro in this case was waking up to light. I really, really don't like to get up in the dark, so I do not mind at all the next few weeks that will give me a day lit morning.

I will miss the longer evenings though. For some reason, even though the temperature didn't change, going for a long walk in the dark doesn't have the same appeal as a sunset stroll. In the heat of summer, however, we had to wait until 10 pm for the streets to cool down enough for a walk. Us and the rest of our Spanish village! Now we are all scurrying to the park at 5 or 6 pm. Our internal meters all seek the same bit of light. Or it could be I'm getting to be more Spanish in my life style? They seem to do things in groups, rarely are people doing things solitaire.

 With Europe changing a week before the USA, I get messed up in my internal calculation of what time it is for my people back home. Then there's my grandpa in Arizona which doesn't participate in daylight savings so while his time doesn't change, I have to try to remember is this the season where he's 8 or 9 hours different from me?

I know a few people who are adamantly anti-time changing antics on the clock. Just leave it alone, they say. They don't care about long days in the summer.

I also have heard the other argument that they should just leave it switched so that the longer light is in the evenings, don't switch back and forth.

Extra light? No change? Which one are you?

06 October 2013

Psyching yourself out

Breathe in, breathe out. I went thru a spell a while back where it felt like I couldn't get my breath. I told a stomach doctor that after I eat sometimes I feel like can't breathe very well. He said don't eat so much. Thanks, I couldn't have figured that out by myself. But in reality it didn't seem to be related to the food. I also noticed the sensation of being short of air when I lay down at night.

I recognized lying in the darkness that I could escalate the situation or calm it simply by how I thought about it. I could concentrate on the tightness in my abs or I could concentrate on air flowing in and out of my chest as I breathed slowly and steadily.

I started thinking about the power of the mind. As a writer, I do often try to get inside people's heads. The thing is I'm not a super psychology student and it's not my first instinct to look into the thoughts or motivations of someone else. I like plot so I easily get swept away in the activities. Next they did this, and then they did that.

But seeing in myself my own "opportunity" to talk myself into near panic over catching my breath or calming myself down if I talked differently made me think about the psychology of characters and strangers more.

A friend of mine described how she took the anger level of driving way down by imagining that the person that cut her off had to pee or was on their way to an emergency. Or even she could imagine that they were having a really bad day and if cutting her off could make them feel more in control of their lives maybe they just needed that at the moment and she would "give" them that.

The power of our thoughts on our perspective is amazing really.  You hear stories of the bitter victims of disease faring worse than those who make peace with it and fight on. In both cases they are fighting but one seems to do so with more grace and sometimes more success.

Whatever was causing my own breathing issues went away on it's own with no medical intervention. I could have spent a lot of time in emergency rooms at bedtime had I listened to the panic voice in my head. Instead, I concentrated on the air I did have. I wonder what other situations in life I could adjust the way I see? Opportunity or problem? I think in psychology they would call it "reframing" how I look at the situation.

So as I'm beginning to think of my next book I'm going to write I'm trying to imagine what kind of psychological journey I can take my characters on this time. From panic to serene? Maybe that's a bit too much, but it makes me want to look at how people cope and their motivations more.