Discover more from The Bitter Pen
More Floaty Fun
And something Completely Unrelated -- and a Bonus Comic!
Next Week: An answer to a reader’s question: “But what happens when God taps back?”
In response to last week’s comic, a reader emailed: “Truly inspired, but doesn’t she have awfully volatile ego states? Please do not model future characters off me.”
There is another comic below, should you decide to skip the written stuff.
Something Completely Unrelated, Chapter 001:
What I’m going to get at here, today and in future writings, is completely unrelated to comics, and wholly related to the pursuit of well-being. This is an area in which I have some expertise.
Two-and-a-half chunks of life ago, a therapist asked me for a simple expression of what I wanted for my two young sons, how I wanted to help them become who they are meant to be in the world.
I did not, in the moment, have the succinct answer he sought.
But I did within three minutes of leaving his office, driving north on Fifth Avenue. This was one of those rare mystic experiences when answers surface from within, this time in three parts.
Know What You Need and Honor It
Part 1 of 3
Simple enough, right? But we all ignore our own needs from time to time. Start with the most obvious:
How many of us sleep enough hours? With the same wake time each morning? And a reasonable bedtime each night? How many have developed the routines science says we need?
(See below the next comic for sleep guidelines.)
Know What You Need
Other clear needs: nutrition, social connection, community, alone time, exercise, work, play, and so on.
The trick is identifying what we each need, because it’s true we’re all different. My colleague Narges, for instance, needs way more social connection than I do. And I need way more alone time than her.
And Honor It
Chances are you know in this moment what need is in need of attention. The trick is to set up an effective practice. For me, I track a handful of daily needs, well, daily. As of this writing, for instance, I have woken up at my chosen time for 446 days in a row.
I track this, along with exercise and art and writing, in an app called Goal Streaks. I set a bare-minimum expectation — 21 minutes of writing or art a day, say — and once I meet the minimum I can continue or move on to life’s many responsibilities.
Using just 21 minutes a day, I have improved as a writer and artist. I have stayed physically active and, to my happy surprise, get sick far less often.
Next Week: Part II (which I guess is obvious)
From the Archive
This one was drawn a while back, when I had hope that Twitter would take on a more fitting name than X:
I tried to find a succinct source for sleep guidelines matching the ones I got years ago. No such luck. So here’s what I read those years ago in an airline magazine, which happily works pretty well for me, a light sleeper through genetics, according to 23 & Me:
Get up at the same time every day
Go to bed when you’re tired (and I add, when you know you’ll have time enough to get your 7.5 to 8 hours)
Even if you don’t sleep well, get up at the same time; our bodies love routine and energy usually kicks in after the initial slog
Make up for the lack of sleep by going to bed earlier the next night or by taking a nap in the afternoon
If you’re going to nap:
Start between 2 and 4 p.m., when most of us have a nature dip toward sleep
Sleep for less than 45 minutes or more than two hours
Sometime shortly after 45 minutes, our bodies start releasing chemicals to put us into a deep sleep
Sometime shortly before two hours, those chemicals are done doing their jobs
It’s when we wake up in between 45 minutes and two hours that we find ourselves disoriented, perhaps for the rest of the day. That’s because we now have chemicals in our body in a tug of war between “sleep deep” and “wake up”
Thanks for reading The Bitter Pen! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.