Falling asleep is another of the moments I anticipate with pleasure. I usually have a plan of something interesting I'm going to think about in those moments. When I was a new mother I read an article (you know..how much of our life's wisdom comes from 'I read an article'??) about how worrying in bed is so detrimental to our peace of mind and our mental health and how Mothers in particular so easily fall into the trap of using what should be a restful time to think about all their problems because that may be the only time they stop 'activity'. What results is that going to bed actually becomes the trigger for worry. A very difficult habit to break out of. Reading that article I recognised the budding of that very thing in myself and from that moment on I made a huge effort to try and nip it in the bud. I'm not saying I ever fully mastered the art of serene bedtime and many's the night over the years I have lain awake trying to slow my mind down. However to recognise a danger is half the battle.
But even before nodding off and even before climbing in, I have discovered there are a few moments which, if used well, can actually be the most productive of the entire day.
Did you know Mark Twain did most of his writing in his BED?
I don't think there's one among us who doesn't relish the memory of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, whether from reading them by torchlight under the blankets in the forbidden hour, or from the myriad of movies and animated films. Now I'm not suggesting you write an iconic novel in your bed, but I have a little suggestion which I have found invaluable ever since I was a child and my very wise mother imbued a lovely habit into her children. She taught it as a way for us to take ownership of our actions and to guide us in our friendship with God. It's very easy for children to rattle off bedtime prayers almost as though they are nursery rhymes, but to teach them to ponder, to look at themselves and their little faith journey and to evaluate their day...that is a treasure which will always stay with them. To the best of my knowledge, my siblings have maintained this custom in one form or another and are carrying on the tradition.
All of us, whether from a faith perspective or otherwise, can improve. We find it so easy to notice the faults in everyone else...our spouse heading the pack and closely followed by our children...friends...family... acquaintances...emm...strangers...and taking up the rear (if at all) ourselves!!
Yet we know that no manner of nagging, pointing out or suggesting on our part can change a single person (well, maybe our children, but you know what I mean). The only person I can change with any real affect is ME. But how can I change if I have no faults and when it's everyone else who has the faults-they're the ones who need to improve??
This is where my little suggestion comes in.
Here's how it goes:
1. Get yourself a pretty notebook. (or chic, or funky..whatever is your style) Well any notebook will do but I think if it's pretty and tactile we're more likely to keep up the habit. Have a look at Etsy.com for something special like this . Add a pretty pen if you like.
2. Sit down for maybe two or three minutes and just think back on the day. How did I work? How did I treat those around me? My spouse? How did I spend that precious and unrepeatable time that I was given today? Was I thankful? And especially...what went well...what am I proud of? Can I do something better tomorrow, or do I need to scrap the whole day and start afresh? Did my God even cross my train of thought?
3. Now write down a few little notes, little reminders and a small plan of something I can do better. Here can I recommend just from my own experience...have this as something very small, otherwise nothing is surer than that it won't be done. The days I plan that I'm going to be perfect tomorrow are usually the ones that fall flat on their face!!
You don't need to make these little scribblings legible to anyone else, write in code, or one word points, you're not writing a novel, you just want a few very short pointers. But to physically write them down all the same is so important.
4. If you believe in God, now is the moment to say Thank You. Thank You for this insight, thank you for what I did well, Thank You for today. And Sorry. I'm sorry because You love me so much and I love You less. I'm sorry because I didn't notice all those moments You put in front of me today. And finally...HEY!! Tomorrow...Bring it on!!!
5. If you don't believe in God...shur, why not do those things anyway...just in case???
All of this should literally take two or three minutes. Next morning you'll be glad you wrote it down because you'll be amazed when you look at your notes and remember your little resolution...did I think that?? Wow!! Go Me!!
I'm telling you...just try this for a week. You'll be delighted how something so small can have such a big affect.
And now...Sweet Dreams.
(and no worrying!! Do you hear me?)