Do you ever get the feeling that your brain is racing and won’t turn off or shut down so you can sleep? I sometimes suffer from what I call ‘butterfly brain’ where my thoughts flit here and there and never stay in one place long enough to form a complete sentence.  I learned a long time ago that this makes it very hard to go to sleep at night; or I fall asleep and am wide awake just 15 minutes later with my thoughts still racing. So what to do? I hate milk so warm milk is out of the question; reading doesn’t work because if what I’m reading is that boring I won’t read it; I have been known to stay up half the night reading because I can’t put the book down. So here is what works for me:

First, I relax by tightening my muscles starting with my feet and working up, then relaxing them in the same order. Then I imagine a tiny hole in the top of my head and watch all the thoughts fly away. The next thing is to focus on breathing; I count every exhale up to 4 and start over. It is a lesson in mindfulness because if I’m not paying attention, I’m way past 4 and have to start again. It’s amazing to me how just focusing on 4 exhales over and over is relaxing. It also takes the focus off the butterfly thoughts.

Usually these techniques work for me. If they don’t, there’s always that book I want to finish reading!

New Year

It’s that time of year when people make resolutions to be better in the New Year; lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, and on and on. How many people actually keep all their resolutions? I suspect that some do, but many fall by the wayside. So this year I’m not making any resolutions. Instead, I am going to pick a few words to live by for the rest of the year.

This isn’t my idea; a couple of people I follow have suggested it and I think it’s a wonderful idea. So here are my words for the year:

Forgiveness. I will forgive myself when I fall short of my own expectations. I will not berate myself for failing; I am human and am allowed to fall. The trick is to keep getting up and continuing on my way. I will forgive others who hurt me. This doesn’t mean it’s okay that they hurt me, but that I will not hold a grudge against them. We are all human; we will all hurt someone at some time. Someone who hurts me, intentional or not, will still be my friend, unless s/he makes a habit of it then s/he is gone. I will forgive and not hold a grudge, but that person is out of my life.

Gratitude. I will be grateful for every day, for every disaster I experience, for every blessing I receive, for everyone in my life. No matter what happens, I will express my gratitude to others, to myself, and to the Universe and the Creator.

Patience.  I will be patient with myself and with others. I will not hold people to my standards unless I am sure they can meet or exceed them.

Encouragement. I will use my daily affirmations to encourage not only myself but also others. I will encourage others to reach their full potential by helping them realize how much they are capable of doing.

Focus. I will keep my focus on the positive things and not the negative. I will not dwell on the bad things that happen because that will only invite more negatives into my life. By keeping my focus positive, I will attract more positives into my life.

A new beginning

Every day is a new beginning; we have a chance to start fresh with a clean slate. No matter what happened yesterday, or last week, or last month, or last year, or even last decade, today is really all we have. It is often difficult to start over daily; we have too much hanging over us from previous days. But it can be done. Focus on the positives, not the negatives. What we tell ourselves will happen is what usually happens; so focus on positive things. Choose a mantra to get you through the day, and make it positive. For example: I am a talented human being; I am a beautiful person; I am a great (wife, mother, nurse, accountant, daycare worker, whatever it is you are.) Pick whatever works for you. And while you’re at it, find 3 things you love about yourself and repeat them to yourself periodically through the day. Write them down on a piece of paper, carry it with you and look at it as often as you need to see it. Finally, when things begin to go wrong, instead of asking ‘Why me (or why now, or whatever hits you)’ try being thankful for whatever it is. For instance, if you get a flat tire, try being thankful that you have a car, even if it is old and falling apart. It isn’t easy, believe me, I know! But you can do it. After all, today is a new day.