Category Archives: Simple Effective Ways To Improve Your Life

How Sleeplessness Can Set You Free

As I laid in bed awake, watching the hours go by, tossing and turning, I wondered what was keeping me awake, and if there was something I could do to relax and sleep. I knew there was nothing significant going on in my life that I should be loosing sleep over, so it had to be something deep, hiding in my subconscience.  I thought back on my day, and remembered standing in line to purchase some clothes at a local department store, watching a woman at the check out counter. She was middle-aged, unnaturally tan, with a hair style that was overly teased, and she had a stack of no less than ten pairs of the same shorts, all in different colors.  I imagined her wearing the shorts, a different color each day, secure and happy with her summer attire, carefully planned to look the same, yet refreshed each day.

I realized that I had been thinking about my new purchases as I lay in bed, planning how I would incorporate them into my wardrobe with jewelry and shoes to match, it was daunting.  Was I like the woman with shorts, taking my appearance so seriously, and why was I doing it?

Next I remembered an episode of the recent remake of ‘The Odd Couple’ on TV.  Perfectionist Felix was driving a car for the first time, and Oscar was in the passenger seat, coaching and encouraging him.  Felix was gripping the steering wheel in a panic, and screaming as he drove down the road, while Oscar kept telling him to relax.

Could I be a Felix, screaming with panic inside as I steered my life with a death grip,  unable to relax and enjoy the ride?

I then remembered words of Life Coach Martha Beck, in her book, ‘Finding Your Way In This Wild New World,’ where she explains that we come up with our best ideas when we aren’t focused on solving them.  That a relaxed state of mind is the quickest and easiest was to connect with your true purpose in life, and create a life where your wildest dreams come true.  Relax, she was saying, as we steer our way through life, even though we may feel like screaming as we hold on for dear life.

Could it be true, I wondered?  Was it really OK to not worry about being ready for my day tomorrow?  Was it OK not to worry about sleeping well and being sharp and ready for the day?  I knew I had the ability to sleep, but I wondered how to let go of the pressure to sleep and relax.  I asked myself what I would be like if I didn’t sleep, and I realized I would be tired, not caring so much about my outfit or appearance, not caring so much about following my routine or pleasing others, and open to new ideas and ways.  Interesting.

The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  If we aren’t relaxed enough to sleep, the fatigue that comes the next day is nature’s way of forcing us to relax and be open to feelings and thoughts we wouldn’t have in a well-rested mind set.  Our cloudy minds are open and more able to come up with solutions to the very problems that are keeping us awake.  Eureka! Once I realized it was not only OK, but beneficial to be tired the next day, the pressure was released, and I was able to relax enough to actually sleep.

I realized easy it is to be like the woman in the store with the shorts, living in a society that puts a high value on fashion and appearance. We feel if we look a certain way, we are safe and in control.  How scary it seems to go out in the world with little preparation, without an image to convey that makes us feel confident.  How freeing it would be to prepare less, and observe more, to worry less and be as we are, however tired or imperfect that may be.

Will this work every night?  I’m not sure.  I may just lay awake tonight worrying about it, and that’s OK with me.


How To Ask The Universe For Something, And Get What You Want

Imagining Goes A Long Way

In my search for ways to improve my life, I read Martha Beck’s book, “Finding Your Way In A Wild New World,” and decided to give her approach a try. Although the book is brimming with great methods and ideas, I decided to try her magical method of asking for specific things you want, and making them happen.  You begin by asking the universe, God, the Everywhen, or whatever you want to call it for something you want, for something that would improve your life and bring you joy, then imagine how you would feel if you got it, then let it go, and go about your life. As you go about your life, be aware of messages coming to you in unexpected ways that will bring you exactly what you want. They can be words from a friend, a stranger, something on TV, in a book or magazine, or that brilliant idea that suddenly pops into your head. Voila, you got want you wanted. She says to begin asking for small things, and build up to the big ones. So I tried it….and it worked. Here are some examples of how this “magic” worked in my life recently:

How I Turned A Busy Commute Into A Joy Ride

While working for a local nonprofit, I enjoyed the work, but the commute every morning was killing me.  Every morning I left my peaceful street in my quiet small town, and boom, I merged right into heavy fast traffic on a busy truck-filled highway.  Not the pleasant drive I had envisioned when I took the job.  I thought about alternate routes on my way, but they had challenges too and would make my trip much longer.  At my wits end, I decided to try Martha’s technique again.  I asked the universe for a low-stress commute to work, then I imagined how I would feel if I had it.  No cars around, just me buzzing along…how nice that would be!  Then I went about my life without giving it much thought.  A couple days later I woke up with an idea.

I remembered an intersection on the highway with a traffic light that was located before the entrance ramp where I merged on to the highway.  It was only about five minutes out of my way.  I tried it that morning, and it was a miracle.  The traffic light served to break up the traffic so I entered the highway with very little cars.  I drove along with virtually no cars around me until I reached my turn off.  By that time the mass of cars and trucks stopped by the traffic had just caught up with me.  It was perfect.  Every morning it was the same.  I honestly believe the idea came to me simply because I asked for a solution, then let go of my negative worrying long enough so the answer could come to me.  Thank you Martha!

The Amazing Way I Saved A Baby Bird

As I mentioned earlier, Martha’s technique for getting what you want works for big things as well as small things, and the more I use it, the better my life gets.  Here’s a small, but amazing example for how it worked for me on the day I found a bird in distress.

I live on a tree-lined street in a small town with a sidewalk between my front yard and the strip of grass where the trees are.  I was looking up in one of these trees at some dead branches that needed to be cut down, when I heard some pretty loud chirping.  I looked down and there was a bird just sitting in the grass near the tree.  I looked closer and I could see it trying to move, but not getting anywhere.  I cringed.  I looked up and saw a nest in the tree that I figured the bird fell out of, although it didn’t look like a baby.  I thought it could’ve just  been stunned, and may recover and fly off, so I went inside my house for awhile.

A few hours later, I went to check on the bird, and it was still there.  I got very concerned imaging dogs, cats, or raccoons getting it before long, but didn’t know what to do with it.  I asked the universe what to do with the bird, and I imagined how happy I would feel if it was OK.  A few minutes later, I heard someone from across the street yell over to me, asking me if I lost something.  It was a young man, walking by himself, a little rough looking, but clean cut.  I told him about the bird, and he came over to see it.  He then told me that his boys would love to take care of the bird, and if I had a box, he would take it with him.  He was a country boy, so I felt confident that his boys would really like it.  He went on to tell me that his younger son loves to catch worms.  I ran inside, found a box, and when I reached down to scoop up the bird, he turned his head back, and opened up his little beak, expecting me to feed him.  I then realized it was a baby bird that fell out of the nest, and that he was big, but not quite ready to fly.

We put grass in the box, the man walked off with the bird, leaving me with tears in my eyes.  My life has improved, been enriched, and continues to take magical turns, as I practice Martha’s technique.  With the world changing, getting faster, and more crowded, it’s nice to know a simple way to quietly steer things peacefully your way, as you make the world a better place.


How To Worry Less and Accomplish More

An Effective Technique To Help You Calm Down and Sleep

No, I am not a therapist, psychologist or self-help guru. I am, however, a successful graduate of the school of life, which, at age 51, includes everything from a failed marriage, many 12 Step Program meetings, years of therapy, dating disasters, raising a child, finishing college, publishing a story, dreary jobs, reading everything by life coach Martha Beck, surviving excruciating self-revelations, and finally arriving at a place where I have everything I longed for.  A beautiful home, loving husband, nice job, and some good, good friends.  And cats…of course, cats.

One thing I still struggle with, however, is worrying at night when I should be sleeping. You might even say that I panic.  It’s almost like I find something to worry about, as if global warming, political and religious extremists, financial disasters, thumping music coming from my neighbor’s car, and of course, my cat’s latest rash weren’t enough. Still, worrying really doesn’t solve anything. I know this, yet I hold my frets with the obsessive strangle-hold of a wolf pouncing on fresh prey. Recently, after a hair-raising day of watching my 19-month-old grandson and another night of little sleep, I began to think a little harder about the situation. I realized that many successful people I know actually have a lot more going on in their lives than I do. One person in particular has several children, pets, a large house, and is a successful writer. It occurred to me that she must have the same worries and concerns that I do, yet she is not stifled by them; in fact, she thrives despite them. Hummmm.

And then it happened. My strangle-hold on my worries began to loosen. I realized there is no possible way for any one person to solve every problem in their life. I don’t have to diagnose my cat’s mange, figure out how to pave the driveway without paying for it, or steer the politics of the world in a peaceful direction. All I have to do is go forward in my life and do what I want to do to live this moment.  I can let go of trying to solve problems, and enjoy the single moment I am living now.  That is what my successful friend was doing. She was doing a lot, but she was not consumed with solving problems in the background or beyond her capabilities. The irony is that by not worrying about problems, real ways to solve them magically appear. We make more money because we are calm, engaged in our work, and joyful about life.  We can envision creative solutions to problems because we have changed our focus away from what we can do to solve problems to what we can do to express ourselves and fill our time with rewarding activities.  And, amazingly, in this universe that is exactly what attracts the very opportunities we need to solve real problems in our lives that once worried us.  I knew these things, because deciding to embrace the conditions of my life, in it’s various stages, is how I found my job, house, and husband, to name a few.  But I needed to learn it again, on a deeper level.

A few days later, while casually looked through a fashion magazine, feeling calm and happy, I found this gem of a relaxation technique:   The Navy Seals’ calming exercise 4 x 4 x 4.  Breathe in while counting to 4, breathe out while counting to 4, for 4 minutes.  I tried it at night, and by gum, it worked.

And so, my friends, I hope I leave you now a little calmer and wiser… a little more at peace with your lives and hopeful for a rewarding future. I know I feel that way now, and wouldn’t you know it, my cat’s rash has gone away by itself too.