Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sleepless in Lisbon

my love in travel and life
I have sleep issues. Unlike my husband, I cannot fall asleep one nano second after climbing into bed, while a siren blares on the street outside and dogs bark outside our window. No. I must be in the perfect “sleep” position, pillows in strategic locations, my mind at rest and filled with peaceful thoughts. If I start planning the next day’s schedule, bye-bye sleep.

Now throw in a different continent, different time zone, strange bed (same pillow because I’m not stupid and that thing goes everywhere with me), an outrageously loud elevator banging and clanging right outside our door and an amazing Airbnb apartment with floor to ceiling windows on two sides and a city that never sleeps, where apparently the lights literally never go out. Where is the darkness? It is night and night is dark! This is me in Lisbon, Portugal. Sleepless for two nights. On night two I found sleep at 4:30 AM. This does not make me an appreciative traveler. It makes me cranky. It makes me think Lisbon (a beautiful city) is stupid. It makes me think the people here (who are polite and helpful) are mean and rude for speaking Portuguese. Why can’t they speak words I know?! The only Portuguese I’ve learned are “good day” and “thank you,” and everything else comes out of my mouth in French, which makes me feel stupid because it’s not even good French! The other day I said, “merci” to a woman followed immediately by “sorry” and that didn’t feel awkward at all. . . 

Travel is like life on steroids. Your eyes see things in HD. Noises are different and louder. People are closer and there are more of them (okay that’s actually true in Europe). It’s harder to hide feelings when you’re exhausted and fears have a way of jumping to the surface.

Don’t get me wrong. I love travel and new cities and seeing how other people on the planet live. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stared at a toilet in a strange country wondering, "How in the world do I flush this thing?" That’s why we travel, right? To experience different plumbing? Okay, maybe not.

Finally, though on night three in Lisbon, I slept EIGHT hours. Eight hours of sleep is heavenly. Eight hours of sleep makes me happy. It makes my husband happy and not scared to spend the day with me. Eight hours of sleep helps me appreciate the view from our ninth floor apartment.

a room with a (fabulous) view
Sometimes I let ridiculous things steal my joy. I let small things distract me from the world around me. I forget that once this day is gone, I don’t get these experiences back. This happens at home too. It’s not just a travel thing. I wonder how awesome each day could be if I didn’t get sidetracked by what I think isn’t fun or good.

On sleepless night one in Lisbon as I lay in bed I was frustrated and then mad and then afraid and then very, very lonely because insomnia, wherever you experience it, is a lonely business. I prayed and repeated my “insomnia mantra” which is a Bible verse I have tweaked for myself. It goes like this, “The Lord is my refuge in sleep.” (Shawna’s revised version). I said this over and over and still was filled with anxiety.

The next night I didn’t find sleep until 4:30 a.m. but fear didn’t fill me. I lay sleepless, but not afraid. I let peace find me. I didn’t get mad at myself or beat myself up about my inability to sleep. I’m pretty hard on myself. I don’t often give myself a break for messing up, and I don’t forgive myself easily. 
books in any language captivate me

Last week Kevin and I attended the Storyline Conference in Chicago (three days of awesomeness), where I heard Glennon Doyle Melton speak. She was amazing. I think we should be best friends. I immediately downloaded her book Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life on my Kindle. I read her book in two days and here is my big takeaway. Accept grace. Forgive ME. Accept grace for ME. Forgive ME. I’m not good at this. I want to be. I think God wants me to forgive myself easily, to accept grace for myself as a natural thing. I know that’s what he does. He forgives every time I ask. Every time I mess up, there he is saying, “Shawna you are forgiven. I love you as much now as I did on that day when you were filled with such a deep depression you didn’t want to wake up anymore. I love you as much today as I did on the days you spoke hurtful words to your children.”

I am not all the way there yet but I will be, because God is bigger than my mess. His grace is bigger than my unforgiveness. I’m living into a day where I truly believe God thinks I’m just as amazing on my bad days as he does on my good days. I hope you’ll join me on this journey. I hear the ending is awesome.

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