I was reading a piece over at the BBC News site and in its text there was an old English word that grabbed my attention: uhtceare.


Uhtceare (pronounced oot-key-are-a) describes the act of lying awake in the wee hours, overcome with worry. I find it very interesting that this word, from ages and ages ago, so aptly describes what many of us experience today, and – apparently – always have. I mean – I’ve succumbed to night after night of worry. I can’t stand it, but it’s true. I’ve lost sleep to worries over money, health, paint colors, whether or not I said something I shouldn’t have, wondering what I’ll wear to something or other, world peace, war, lack of confidence, professional crises and just about anything else you can come up with. Each time I’ve gone through this exhausting routine, it has run its course and then ended. Thank the lord. Still, I can’t claim I’m a stranger to the word’s meaning. Can you?


But here’s the thing. When I’m suffering through those long, hard nights (or early mornings), I am not alone. Nor am I the first. Uhtceare has been tiring out good souls for eons, and will no doubt continue long after I embrace the final Big Sleep.


Having a word to describe the energy-zapping, sleepless nights won’t do anything to revitalize my body or soul. But I do like knowing the word, just the same. And I hope against hope that I sleep so well I can forget having ever learned it.

Cookie Hips – Update



Remember when I shared my stress over an upcoming, unexpected physical exam? Well the whole thing went down the other day, and I survived.


I was so worried about it. That’s a bad habit of mine, worrying about things I cannot change. I lost sleep the night before, which is silly, but that’s how I can sometimes be. Mister wasn’t worried, so why was I? Because I’m not him. Because I’m not always together enough to recognize the obvious. Because of a lot of things.


In the end, the physical was just swell. On that morning, before it went down, I finally let go of my stress. By the time dinner rolled around, I was as happy as a denuded lark in a thistle patch. And the duck dinner I’d saved as my reward? Heavenly. Absolutely heavenly.

Jumping Waves



Have you ever jumped waves? It requires an ocean (or a lake large enough to have tides). I hadn’t jumped waves for eons, so last week when Mister and I waded into Maui’s warm Pacific waters, I wasn’t sure I’d remember what to do. As it turned out, knowing how to jump waves is one of those things we just don’t forget.


We made our way out to a point where I could still stand. Once in a while Mister wandered out farther, as he’s taller than I. But mostly, we stayed together. When the waves were evenly spaced, we were able to predict when to jump, keeping our heads above the water. When the waves wanted to have a little fun with us, none of our predictions helped. We took buckets of water in the face, ears and nose. There was a lot of laughter, and we barely stopped smiling.


When jumping waves, one can either use the ocean floor to push off, or simply tread water. With strong enough legs, treading alone allows a gal to keep her head up as the waves roll by. I used both techniques to great success. Though I suppose the amount of sea water I took in my sinuses might suggest otherwise.


One day, a nearby snorkeler told us there was a giant sea turtle just beneath Mister’s feet (we were out a bit deeper that day). We tried and tried, but we never saw the turtle.


On another day, an older gentleman kept trying to coax his wife out into the waves with him. She resisted for quite a while, but finally gave in. The only sound louder than their shared laughter was our own.


Before this vacation (our first in years), I was so stressed out that I was starting to have physical reactions. Nervous ticks, twitches, spasms. I had been so focused on what I perceived as Mister’s need of a break and a chance to relax that I failed to notice my own desperate state. When I finally realized how frenzied I was, I stressed myself out further by fretting over how (or even if) I’d be able to let go and have fun. How was I going to relax? How was I going to trust that everything was okay?


On that very first morning of vacation, during our very first wave-jumping session, Mister reached out and pulled me close. I lifted my feet from the sandy ocean floor, and allowed him to support me and keep me afloat. As a giant wave rolled in our direction, he said, “It’s okay. I’ve got you.” Then he jumped and lifted me above the passing wave. I wasn’t alone and didn’t have to fear the world as it tumbled toward me. I was in Mister’s arms. As I looked at the shoreline, I could hear another approaching wave. I felt Mister pull me closer and I knew he’d time his jump perfectly. He had me. He really and truly did.




I forget. Often. Not where I left my keys or the phone. Not my name or where I live. I forget joy.


It’s an ugly habit, forgetting joy. I am blessed beyond words and yet I often forget to simply relish every ordinary, uneventful, run-of-the-mill day. Because I am blessed, that means I am forgetting to relish most of my days, for the majority of my life is run-of-the-mill. Wonderfully so.


Cut to an early morning last week. I was sitting in the rumpus room, sipping coffee and thumbing through the latest Oprah magazine and listening to jazz. I could hear hummingbirds wrestling for ownership of the feeder outside the kitchen window. Squirrels were practicing acrobatics in the neighbor’s trees, just within earshot. Mister was taking a shower, down the hall. As I cracked the spine on the mag, I started reading about how others conquer worry and fear in their lives, and as I read, I realized the music was providing the perfect soundtrack to my morning: “Hymn to Freedom” performed by The Roger Kellaway Trio. For just a moment – a moment was all it took – I was present. I felt gratitude. I felt comfort. I felt alive.


I don’t know why I get so wound up. I don’t know why I lose track of my soul. I don’t know why, period. And I don’t like it.


So what can I do about it? How do I stay in touch with my spirit, the spirit that is gratitude and vibrancy? How do I diminish the anxiety, worry and fear that I’ve created in my realm? How do I re-claim me?


I’ve got a few ideas on this front. Maybe dance more. Maybe laugh more. Maybe start meditating. Maybe a lot of things. Only this time – unlike so many times before – maybe I’ll actually do some of these things and not just think about them. Maybe I’ll set a timer for 2 minutes and just laugh. Maybe I’ll set a timer for 5 minutes and just meditate. Can’t I spare 7 damn minutes a day, for my sanity?


When I think about my state of being, how it feels to be on edge most of the time, I can’t believe I even have to deliberate over setting aside a few minutes a day for myself. This life is all too short, and Lord knows I’ve wasted far too much of it already. I pray I can actually commit this time. I pray I can care enough for myself to make me a priority and to save me from, well, from me and my neuroses.


I do love this world and this life, y’all. In fact, I think now would be a good time to take a super-long walk. For exercise. For deep breathing. For me. And that’s the best reason of all.