10 Steps to a Good Night’s Rest

Having trouble sleeping at night? You are not alone. Just survey your friends and see how many are popping pills or using alcohol to get a good night’s rest. Notice the numerous ads for Lunesta, melatonin, and the plethora of anti-depressants, all in an attempt to settle down our over-active minds and bodies.

With the busy and time-pressured lives most of us lead, it is no easy feat to relax and settle down for a good night’s rest. But there are some natural, time-proven ways to calm the mind and the body without resorting to pill-popping.

1. You’ve heard it before but are you doing it? Eat a balanced diet. Include high quality protein, especially fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Lots of green veggies and fresh fruit in season. Skip the canned stuff. Balance your intake of minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and iron.

2. Limit alcohol and sugar consumption several hours before bedtime. Alcohol may relax you for a while but when it wears off it affects your REM dream sleep which is critical to feeling rested in the a.m.

3. Avoid falling asleep with the television on.
   
4. Get off the computer an hour before bedtime. The glare from the screen messes with the melatonin levels which put us to sleep. Did you know most computers are set to maximum brightness?

5. Read relaxing and encouraging literature like the Bible, or your favorite spiritual book. What you put in your mind last thing at night stays with you during sleep time.

6. Quiet your mind by playing some soothing music preferably with no lyrics.

7. Practice deep abdominal breathing.

8. Avoid drinking liquids at bedtime. The urge to urinate will wake you up earlier than you probably would like.

9. Pray. Focusing on God, Jesus, or whoever your higher power is brings a sense of calmness and peace to the mind like nothing else can.

10. Journal the cares and anxieties of the day to get them off your mind and onto paper. It works.

Try some of these suggestions to help you calm your mind and get the sleep your body needs. For those who claim they only need 4 hours of sleep, you are depriving your body of much needed time to restore and rejuvenate. Our minds and our bodies need to be fed the proper diet of good food, good thoughts, and lots of rest and relaxation. Here’s to a good night’s sleep and until next time – keep looking up!

When the Going Gets Tough

March is upon us. It seems the weather can’t seem to make up its mind. One day it is blustery and cold and the next it feels like spring. Changing from one season to another seems to be difficult even for mother nature and for we human beings, seasons of change and transition can be even more challenging. But not to fret. Just as the blossoms of spring are sure to bloom, so too, we will blossom and bloom when the time is right.

Ever feel like God is calling you to something new but you don’t know what? Perhaps you’ve lost your passion for things that used to motivate you or don’t know what season you are in right now, but I can tell you this. When things get uncomfortable and stuff starts happening, you can be sure something is up, but it is not the time to throw in the towel.

Someone said to me recently “You are used to toughing things out” and I realized that is true. I have been. As a single parent, working a demanding career, and not having family support around, it has been quite tough. But there are times in life when we need to tough it out, regardless of what others think or say. What really only matters is what God thinks and says. What matters is doing the right thing no matter how hard or inconvenient it may be.

So let’s put this into more practical terms. Are you in a difficult marriage or relationship? Tough it out. Are you struggling with health issues, financial issues, or house problems? Tough it out. Are your kids doing the wrong thing even though you’ve taught them otherwise? Tough it out.

Too many times we throw in the towel because the going gets rough. Too many people get a divorce, quit their job, or disown their kids because things aren’t going the way they would like them to go. Guess what? That’s life. Life is not always a bed of roses. Things don’t always go according to our plans and schedules. Sometimes people make poor choices that affect us. As a friend used to tell me, “It is what it is.” So, what to do in these seasons of challenge when the whirlwinds swirl all around us?

Two words. Have faith. As I say in my book, faith is the power behind the promises, the fuel that fires up our engine. We all have it to some degree because it is a gift from God. The question is are we going to activate it? There are things we can do to strengthen our spiritual muscle to get thru the tough seasons of life. For more, check out my newly revised edition on Amazon.com or your favorite online retailer and in the meantime, keep looking up!
http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Faith-journey-wholeness-ebook/dp/B007P90GDU/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1395253800&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=the+power+of+faith+ariel+paz

Come a Little Closer

Most of us are really busy. We have our schedules and our plans. We like our routines and our lifestyles. We get so wrapped up with the stuff of life and the common complaint is
“I don’t have enough time to ……” You fill in the blank.

The stuff of life can keep us so busy and wound up, we rarely have time to do what Steven Covey, author of numerous best selling books including “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, calls “Quadrant 2 Activities”.

Quadrant 2 activities are those activities which are important but not urgent or pressing. Some of them include planning, prevention and spirituality. These are all so important but none of them are critical and each takes thought, energy, and time. But it is time well spent.

How much time do you spend in Quadrant 2? Many of us spend far too little time working in this area. It is not until something drastic happens that stops us dead in our tracks that we say “Whoa, wait a minute. Maybe I need to slow down and rethink things.” 

When things get uncomfortable, we could be entering into a season of transition. God may be leading us away from certain  activities or people and we don’t know why. He is always trying to get our attention onto what really matters to Him. There may be illness, financial setback, or broken relationships or we may just feel stuck and not moving forward. The pressure may be mounting and the stress hard to manage or we could be plain old bored. Ever feel like this?

When things in life begin to shift, it can feel uncomfortable. We may resist and rationalize. But when  God is calling us to something new, it is important to stay with the discomfort, even when it interrupts our busy lives and messes up our agendas. God has the plan. All we need to do is let go and surrender to it.

The questions whirl thru my mind like the swirling winds of March, trying to figure out what is going on. I need not fret. God is faithful. All I need to do is to call out to God, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening”, then listen and wait. The answer is always the same.

Come a little closer. Let that go.

Is Jesus calling you to come a little closer? Perhaps like me you sometimes get too caught up in the rush of the world to hear His still soft voice.

“Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8).

What is it that God is working on and in you today? What is he calling you to let go of or to embrace? Are you willing to listen? To surrender? To obey?

Close your eyes and to this song by Dierks Bentley. Jesus is saying the same thing to us.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVGw7FbohY4&feature=kp

Until next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

This is Only a Test

Has the weather got you down? Things taking longer than you’d like to change? Traffic getting on your nerves? Or maybe you’ve picked up a few pounds, lost your job, or are just plain stressed out by life in general? It seems winter can be a particularly grueling season to get thru. If so, you are not alone, trust me. Everywhere I go people are asking the same question “Is this ever going to end?” And the answer is always yes. Or as I like to say “This too, shall pass.”

Trials and difficulties are not unusual. Things don’t happen as quickly as we’d like. Our plans get side-tracked by accidents, illnesses, or other unforeseen circumstances. I call them tests. What irritates you? What makes you lose your peace? What makes you ditch the diet and hit the sweets or the peanut butter? If you stop to take a look at your life, I bet you’ll
see a few patterns of your own.                          

This week, I’ve had a lot of tests and I’m sure you have as well. Like when the smoke detector on my cathedral ceiling went off at 4 am. Or when the heavily coughing neighbor stepped into the elevator with me. Or when I couldn’t get the casters on the newly delivered office chair to fit into the base.

Every day is usually a series of tests. Will I be kind? Will I guard my tongue? Will I not react? Will I ask for help? Will I trust? Will I be positive? Will I reach out to help someone else? Will I be generous? Will I be patient?

A good day is when I only have one or two tests and I pass them both. When I reflect back on my day, I think about how well I handled a certain situation. Then there are those days when I remember  how I reacted or what I said or thought and have to ask the good Lord for forgiveness. Self-reflection can be quite a humbling experience, that’s for sure.

The good news is every day we start with a clean slate.  God’s mercies are fresh every morning. I try not to hold a grudge against anyone, including God or myself. Forgiveness is the key to moving on and staying in peace and living in joy. Faith is knowing that whatever happens, God will see us thru it.

So, what kind of tests have you had this week? Pick one scenario that really gets your goat and then resolve to be at peace with it the next time it happens. Resolve to have faith and trust God to provide whatever is needed for the situation and He will. All we have to do is ask.

Until next time, repeat after me “This is a test. This is only a test.” Before you know it, you’ll be speeding along the highway of life and getting an “A” on the quiz!

Running the Race of Life

It was a glorious sunny Saturday this past weekend, and I decided to attend an event at a local running store.  I passed the full parking lot and found a spot down the road.

They certainly must have a lot going on today.

Sure enough, the place was packed with runners, yoga practitioners, and various and sundry folks of all ages looking to stay fit. The energy was electric and it was a nice change of pace from my normally quiet Saturday morning.

Seeing all those glowing faces reminded me of the days I used to run 5ks to raise money for charities. I even ran a 10k one year and came in 15 minutes ahead of my goal time. My then boyfriend rode alongside me on a bicycle the whole way. One time I came in 3rd place and got a trophy for my age group. I know what it takes to train, to run, and to win.

I also know we are all running our own race. Life is not just a 5k sprint or a jog in the park. Life is a marathon, and marathons require endurance. Ever look at someone else and think “Gee, they have such an easy life”? Perhaps that explains our fascination with Hollywood and sports figures. We think their lives are so glamorous and problem-free, but as the tabloids reveal, they most definitely are not.

We never know what someone else may be going thru. Trials are inevitable because each of us has our own lessons to learn while we are here on this earth. The critical question to ask ourselves is this: are we prepared to deal with the trials that will eventually come our way? Have we trained ourselves to endure the race? Hebrew 12:1 says “And let us run<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> with perseverance<sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> the race marked out for us”.

Jesus said that he came so we could have life and have it more abundantly.  He also said this. “Ask so that you may receive and your joy may be complete” (John 16:24). My eyes go to two words – “ASK” and “JOY”.

When I am going thru something, I ASK God what do I need to DO and what do I need to LEARN. I stop running, racing, and slow down to listen for the answer. It may take some time, but I need to do my part by asking, seeking and knocking. The bigger the issue, the longer the process of asking, seeking, and knocking.  You know how that expression goes “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and it is true. When I taught aerobics for Bally’s (now LA Fitness), I had a funny t-shirt that said “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get a sub”. It was a play on words from the old commercial, about falling and getting up. If you’ve stumbled lately, take heart. Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and get back in the race of life. The journey is worth it.

If we want an abundant, fulfilling, joyful life we have to train, endure, and keep on running towards the finish line. Sometimes we may stumble, but we pick ourselves up, rest awhile, and then get back on track. An abundant, successful, joyful and peaceful life doesn’t happen on it’s own. It is by God’s great grace AND our efforts combined that makes a wonderful life.

Until next time, what do you do to keep yourself focused on your goals? What tips do you have for training yourself to face life’s challenges? Stay tuned and until next week, keep looking up!